Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Bean Salad With Almonds

1/2 cup whole roasted almonds
2 Tbs tamari
1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped roughly (optional)

1) Place almonds in a small nonstick saute pan. Lightly toast over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tamari and stir until the almonds are coated evenly, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cool. Chop almonds roughly.
2) Prepare a large bowl of ice water. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook beans until crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3) Drain the beans and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Remove green beans and drain well.
4) In a large bowl, combine the sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and remaining 1 tablespoon of tamari. Add the drained green beans and toss to coat. Garnish with roasted almonds and fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately, while warm.

Review: This dish was doomed. I counted on Costco still having the 2 lb bags of haricots verts, but they did not. So, I used frozen green beans. I also didn’t read the directions thoroughly (I’m notorious for this) and thought I could save a few steps, and save the purchase of tamari, by purchasing tamari almonds from the bulk section of the store. Alas, as I make the salad, I read that I need tamari for the dressing. Crud. I also wasn’t in the mood for this disaster, as I had my first sign language class tonight. I didn’t have time to eat between leaving work and heading to the class. So, at the end of class (8pm), I was starving and irritable. I decided to make a dash to Pita Pit for dinner instead of cooking. However, I found the place to be deserted except for one family who appeared to be ordering. Instead, they were thinking. Which they continued to do for 10 minutes, without ever offering to let me go first, since they didn’t know what they wanted. So, I gave up and headed home, in an irritable, hungry huff. So, I think I made this and ate it begrudgingly, since I’d had my heart set on fast food. Oh, well. This was better for me. And, it was yummy, despite the lack of tamari in the dressing. :) I did leave the cilantro out, though, since it just didn’t sound like it fit in the salad.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cavatelli Salad With Artichokes & Goat Cheese

1 lb cavatelli pasta or medium shell pasta
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 6oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
4 large green onions, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 Tbs chopped fresh basil
6oz soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

1) Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl.
2) Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Pour over pasta and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, artichokes, green onions, and basil; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate pasta salad at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
3) Mix goat cheese into salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Review: Mike chose Roma tomatoes for this salad, because he thinks they taste the best. It worked great. This was pretty yummy, though I mixed the cheese in and then refrigerated the dish overnight. It then looked like it had a white slime, instead of cheese mixed in. However, it tasted great. I would reduce the amount of onion, though. It was just a bit too much for my liking.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inside-Out Lasagna

8oz whole-wheat rotini or fusilli
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8oz sliced white mushrooms (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
8 cups baby spinach
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes, spinach and crushed red pepper (if using). Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring once halfway through, until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.
4) Toss the sauce with the pasta and divide among 4 bowls. Dollop each serving with 3 tablespoons of ricotta.

Review: This was pretty easy to make. I'm not sure how this was decided to be an inside out lasagna, but it's cute in idea. It was also quite filling and yummy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rigatoni With Sweet Potato, Oregano & Parmesan

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 lb rigatoni
4 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 to 8 fresh oregano stems
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1) Preheat oven to 375° F.
2) Rinse the sweet potatoes and prick their skins several times with a fork. Place them directly on rack in oven. Bake 1 hour or until soft; set aside.
3) Cook the rigatoni according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.
4) In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until just golden. Add the oregano and sauté about 1 minute, until fragrant and slightly crisp.
5) Place the rigatoni in a large bowl. Scoop the potato flesh into the bowl of pasta. Add the olive oil mixture and pasta water and toss. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and Parmesan.

Review: Once again, in Idaho, there’s a difference between sweet potatoes and yams. The picture online had great orange chunks of sweet potatoes. However, I used Idaho sweet potatoes and it just looks like my pasta began shredding! It was super yummy and really filling. Sweet potatoes are really becoming a favorite food of mine!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Linguine With Asparagus & Pine Nuts

12 oz linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup shaved Parmesan
    1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
    2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
    3) Add the asparagus mixture to the pasta along with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the Parmesan before serving.

    Review: This was alright. It didn’t wow me, but was completely edible. I also became aware of the fact that I am in need of a second spaghetti server. Hm, and finally got the pink ones in stock! Maybe Mike won’t notice the presence of another pink item in the kitchen . . .

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Chickpea Pasta With Almonds & Parmesan

    1 Tb olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    7 cups vegetable broth
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    kosher salt
    1 lb angel hair pasta
    1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    1/4 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    1) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
    2) Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, red pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.
    3) Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until the broth is nearly absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and parsley.
    4) Divide among individual bowls and top with the almonds and Parmesan.

    Review: This was pretty tasty. I used slivered, blanched almonds and toasted those, which was yummy. I do believe 6 cups of broth is all that is needed, as I had quite a bit of a soup at the bottom of my pot. It had a nice savory flavor that isn’t typical of pasta.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Zucchini Patties With Feta

    2 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (from about 3 medium)
    1 tsp salt, divided
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    1/2 cup (or more) all purpose flour
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh dill
    1/2 cup (about) olive oil
    1/2 cup (about) corn oil
    Plain Greek yogurt

    1) Toss zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to sieve. Press out excess liquid; place zucchini in dry bowl. Mix in egg, yolk, 1/2 cup flour, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in parsley, onions, and dill. If batter is very wet, add more flour by spoonfuls.
    2) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons corn oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into skillet. Fry patties until golden, 5 minutes per side, adding more olive oil and corn oil as needed. Transfer to paper towels. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Place on baking sheet, cover, and chill. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 12 minutes. Serve with yogurt.

    Review: These were a pain to make, especially with the step of sweating the zucchini. To make it worse, they surprisingly had little flavor. I was super disappointed. The highlight was the greek yogurt, which is still my new favorite thing. And, I bought too much just so I could have some with honey. Yum.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Scrambled Eggs With Asian Greens

    12 large eggs, beaten
    2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
    2 scallions, coarsely chopped
    1 Tbs cold butter
    1/2 cup cherry tomato halves
    2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
    2 cups (1/2 package) mixed Asian salad greens (or baby spinach)

    1) Beat the eggs in a large bowl until well blended. Heat the oil in a large, preferably nonstick skillet and saute the scallions about 1 minute.
    2) Add the eggs and butter and cook, stirring, until eggs are just cooked, but still soft and creamy. Remove from heat and toss with the tomatoes, Parmesan, and greens. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
    3) Serve immediately with toasted bread, if desired.

    Review: The seemed like an odd dish, mixing breakfast and salad. However, it was actually yummy and really filling. It was also super quick and easy to make!!

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Asparagus Sesame Salad

    1 lb asparagus
    1/4 cup rice vinegar
    2 Tbs soy sauce
    1 Tbs roasted sesame oil
    2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
    1/8 tsp coarse salt
    1 1/2 cups baby arugula or mesclun salad
    2 Tbs sesame seeds

    1) Heat a large pan of lightly salted water to boiling over high heat. Peel the asparagus stalks and trim the ends. Cut the stalks diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Blanch in boiling water 3 minutes or until bright green. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
    2) In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, and salt. Add the asparagus and toss until well combined.
    3) To serve, mound some salad greens on each of 4 plates. Spoon the dressed asparagus onto the greens and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

    Review: This was pretty yummy, but I left out the cilantro. That just sounded odd in an Asian themed dish, when I associate cilantro with Mexican themed dishes. The “dressing” didn’t stick to anything and made a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. So, I had to swish each bite around the dish.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Tacos With Spinach, Corn & Goat Cheese

    1 Tbs olive oil
    1 14-oz package extra firm tofu—drained, patted dry, and crumbled
    1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    kosher salt and black pepper
    1 10 oz package frozen corn (2 cups), thawed
    1 5 oz package baby spinach (about 6 loosely packed cups)
    8 small flour tortillas, warmed
    3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 oz)
    3/4 cup salsa

    1) Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
    2) Add the corn and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss until wilted.
    3) Fill the tortillas with the tofu mixture, goat cheese, and salsa.

    Review: I don’t like extra-firm tofu, but I found that baked tofu is yummy. Mike picked out savory flavor and I cubed it, which is easy to cut. Mike wanted black beans added to this dish, so we could eat it more as a salad. That was a great addition. Also, I couldn’t get the goat cheese to crumble evenly, so I melted it in the skillet with the vegetables, which gave all the vegetables an even coating of goat cheese. This was really yummy and was actually better without a tortilla!!

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Angel Hair With Goat Cheese, Broccoli & Toasted Pine Nuts

    1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
    3 cups broccoli florets (3/4 lb)
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
    1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or fresh basil) plus 4 to 6 sprigs, for garnish
    4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
    12 oz angel hair pasta
    2 Tbs toasted pine nuts

    1) Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.
    2) In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. Over medium-high heat, saute the broccoli florets, stirring as necessary, 2 to 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and reserve until needed.
    3) Deglaze the pan with the stock, and add the thyme leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the butter and the goat cheese and stir together until the cheese melts. Keep warm.
    4) Meanwhile, add a little salt to the pot of boiling water and cook the pasta until it is al dente. (Cook pasta according to the directions on the package). Drain the pasta well and add to the reserved broccoli in the saute pan. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    5) To serve, divide the pasta among 4 heated plates. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

    Review: This was incredibly yummy. I’m a big fan of goat cheese and decided to make it goat cheese week. :) I used frozen chopped broccoli and tossed it into the pasta water, one minute before the pasta was done cooking, then drained the pasta and broccoli. That worked really well and was a bit easier than sauteing the broccoli and then deglazing the pan.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Butternut Squash Gratin With Goat Cheese & Hazelnuts

    3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)
    2 Tbs olive oil
    Coarse kosher salt
    4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter, divided
    3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
    1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
    1 5.5 oz log soft fresh goat cheese
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

    1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
    2) Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
    3) Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

    Review: I was super disappointed to find that Costco did not have the already diced butternut squash today. In fact, I cried inside. So, I had to buy the whole squash and dice it up. That is such an arduous task!!! But, after I tasted this, I knew it was worth it. This is such a great blend of flavors that I wished I’d doubled the recipe - I’d willingly eat it all week. Keep in mind, it did not take 35 minutes for my squash to become tender. At 30 minutes it was almost mush. I cooked it with the rest of the ingredients for only 20 minutes and I probably cooked it 5 minutes too long! Keep an eye on the dish and shorten the cooking times as necessary.


    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Rice With Squash & Cumin

    5 to 6 assorted small squashes, zucchini, yellow summer squashes, patty pans
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1 to 2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups cooked rice, (aromatic is nice)
    1 bunch parsley leaves, washed and chopped roughly

    1) Trim squashes and cut into small 1/4-inch dice. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan and add 1/3 of the diced squashes and some salt and pepper. Saute small batches briefly over high heat stirring often until lightly browned and slightly soft. Transfer to a bowl. 
    2) Cook diced onion in remaining olive oil in frying pan over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook briefly. Add cumin, reduce heat to low, cook stirring about 2 minutes, and then add to squashes in bowl. 
    3) Add rice and chopped parsley and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. 

    Review:  I used bulgur instead of rice, to keep the GI index low.  Mike and I weren't big fans of this dish.  There was too much parsley and not enough flavor.   Well, maybe not enough of the right flavors.  I do believe cumin and parsley is not a good combination.  This dish will need some tweaking, which will require a bit of thinking. 

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Spaghetti With Pumpkin Sauce

    1 pkg spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine
    8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    1/4 cup chopped shallots
    4 Tbs butter
    2 Tbs flour
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    2 cups vegetable broth
    15 oz can pumpkin puree
    2 tsp dried basil
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    14 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
    1/4 lb Gruyere
    3 Tbs shredded Parmesan
    1/4 pint whipping cream
    Grated Parmesan, for garnish
    Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

    1) Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
    2) Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat on stovetop, cook shallots in butter for 30 seconds.  Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have browned. Stir in the flour and brown slightly. Add the wine and broth, stirring until thick. Add and stir in basil leaves,garlic powder and pumpkin puree.  Add artichoke hearts, Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese and whipping cream to sauce.  Cook slowly on low heat until ready to serve.
    3) Serve sauce over noodles. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

    Review:  This was initially a very difficult recipe that involved making fettuccine with pumpkin puree and it was served with chicken it.  I liked the sauce idea and had some frozen pumpkin puree in the freezer, left over from a can used a couple of weeks ago.  The original recipe is here.  However, I was not about to make a chicken dish, nor was I up to the challenge of making such fancy pasta.  I also decided I could reduce the amount of sauce.   So, this is actually an original recipe at this point!  Once the sauce began to cool, it congealed and became too thick.  I might increase the amount of broth next time by 1 cup.  It was super yummy, however and I really liked it.  I'm a big fan of pumpkin in normal foods, and not just an ingredient for pie.  :)

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Pasta With Black Olive Sauce: Stringozzi Alle Olive

    1 pkg spaghetti
    3 Tbs olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    1 lb white mushrooms, cut into thick slices
    2 cups pitted black olives
    1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
    1/2 cup butter
    1/4 tsp red chile flakes
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

    1) Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
    2) Meanwhile, in a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute over high heat until the mushrooms are browned. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sauteed mushrooms and garlic, the olives and the parsley and puree. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    3) In the same saute pan, heat the butter over high heat until it foams and subsides. Add the olive puree and chile flakes and cook 5 minutes. Season to taste.
    4) Toss pasta in the saute pan with the sauce. Divide evenly among 4 warmed pasta bowls, grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over, and serve immediately. 

    Review:  I bought a can of chopped black olives, as it was cheaper than buying 2 cups of whole olives!  However, I fear their quality isn't good and I got a few pit pieces.  Ick.  And, this is more of a pesto than a sauce.  I liked the taste, but as you can see, the appearance is a bit offsetting.