Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pasta Verde

1 lb gemelli, or other short pasta 

2 Tbs grainy mustard
2 Tbs white-wine or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 

1 sweet onion, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
8oz snap peas, tough strings removed
3oz baby spinach, (or 1 bunch regular spinach, stems trimmed and leaves coarsely chopped)
1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin strips

1) In a medium bowl whisk together mustard and vinegar. While whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
2) Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Set aside. 
3) Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until just softened, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini; cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add snap peas and spinach; cook, stirring, until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions and basil. Add to pasta along with vinaigrette; toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Review:   I spent much of my afternoon in the kitchen.  I prechopped veggies for the rest of the week.  I cleaned cilantro and packaged it for freezer storage (we do this with cilantro and parsley, so we always have "fresh" herbs to use).  I made kale chips.  And, then I made dinner.  By the time I began making this, I was already tired of cooking!

I omitted the snap peas, as I haven't been liking them for some reason.  I then doubled the basil and spinach.  The zucchinis, of course, came from my garden!  When this was finally done, I hated it a little, just because I was worn out.  But, it was delicious and didn't let me continue to hate it.  Mike loved it and thought it had a sweet taste to it.  Oddly, I think that was the scallions.  So, this was worth the effort, though slicing basil into thin strips is tedious. 

Crispy Kale Leaves

1 lb kale, rinsed and patted dry
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 325F.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
2) Tear kale into 3-inch pieces, removing tough stems.  Transfer leaves to bowl.
3) Toss kale leaves with olive oil in bowl, until well coated.  Spread on baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.  Turn kale with tongs, and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or until edges are browned and leaves are crispy.  Sprinkle with salt.  Serve warm or cold.

Review:  Yum, yum, yum, yum.  Kale is incredibly messy to clean up, but is typically worth the effort.  This was definitely the case with this yummy snack.  It only took 15 minutes to crisp up.  We quickly devoured all the leaves and then lamented that there wasn't more!  It had a savory, but bitter taste to it and the crunch was wonderful.  I wondered if it would be even tastier by adding some rosemary next time.  Do know that these are good for only a few hours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Garbanzo Bean Dinner

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup jarred banana pepper rings, drained
2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 Tbs turmeric
salt and pepper

1) Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add pepper rings and beans and saute until warmed through, about 3 minutes.  Stir in diced tomatoes.
2) Add turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over basmati rice, if desired.

Review:  I served this over brown rice.  Well, actually, I just dumped it all together and stirred it.  I was frustrated, because I had whole peperoncini in the fridge and had to clean and slice them.  That was pretty tedious.  But, the dish came together pretty easy after that.  The flavors were pretty complementary and I found it to be pretty tasty.  It also made a lot of food, so there was plenty for dinner and leftovers for tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pasta With Goat Cheese & Roasted Asparagus

2 lbs asparagus, tough ends removed
4 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
12oz cavatappi or other short pasta
5oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 to 3 Tbs snipped fresh chives, for garnish 

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Place asparagus on a large rimmed baking sheet; dot with 1 tablespoon butter, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, tossing occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes; cut into 2-inch lengths.
2) While asparagus is roasting, generously salt boiling water. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Set aside 1 1/2 cups pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
3) In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth. Add goat-cheese mixture and asparagus to pasta; toss to combine, adding more pasta water if necessary for sauce to coat pasta. Serve pasta garnished with chives.

Review:  I cut the asparagus before roasting.  I hate chopping roasted vegetables, because they're slimy and hot.  This dish was really easy to make and came together pretty quickly.  I love recipes that seem fancy and taste awesome, but take about 20 minutes to make.  I think they make me look like a pro. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Farro & Pine Nut Tabbouleh

1 cup farro
2 large heirloom tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 small jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

1) Cook farro as directed on package; set aside. 
2) Halve tomatoes. Scoop out and discard inner meat and seeds. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Peel cucumber, halve lengthwise and scoop out seedy center. Cut cucumber into ¼-inch pieces; add to tomatoes. Add garlic and onion. 
3) Transfer to bowl. Add cooled farro, chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, parsley and jalapeño; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and stir again. 
4) Marinate at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving.

Review:   Well, I couldn't find farro.  And I don't like cucumbers and Mike doesn't like jalapenos.  So, I used bulgur instead of farro, and a fresh zucchini instead of cucumber.  I omitted the jalapeno.  And, I got to use two of my heirloom tomatoes (most have split on the vine and had to be tossed out).  Somehow, this dish just didn't come out right.  The dish was lacking a little bit, so I tossed in some cheddar before I ate it.  Yum, that made it better.  But, I wouldn't quite label this a tabbouleh recipe, but more of a grain salad. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baked Penne With Spinach & Sun-dried Tomatoes

3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lb penne
1 5oz package baby spinach
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 400F.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. 
3) Add the crushed tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to the saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened (about 10 minutes).
4) In pasta pot, mix the pasta, sauce and baby spinach, stirring until the spinach is wilted.
5) Transfer to a casserole dish.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan on top of the penne.
6) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the penne is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to brown.

Review:  I found this recipe in the last issue of Real Simple.  It was featured in an article about food swaps.  I guess there's a new trend of making dinners in bulk and then swapping with friends.  So, this recipe was designed to make four dishes of baked penne.  I had no interest in making that much and had to quarter the recipe.  However, the recipe wasn't easily quartered.  The directions also included using several pots, and focused on how to freeze the dishes.  So, I had to get creative in making the dish, and also conveying accurate instructions.  What a lot of work, for a fairly easy recipe!  We both loved the taste, as it had a bit of tang, but was quite filling and yummy. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spaghetti With Zucchini, Walnuts & Raisins

12oz spaghetti
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
3/4 cup raisins
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the walnuts and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 1 minute.
3) Add the zucchini and raisins to the skillet, season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini is just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
4) Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss to combine.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan before serving.

Review:  So, this recipe was originally slated to be cooked last week.  However, when I went to make it, the walnuts were nowhere to be found.  We remember buying them and remember taking them out of the bag once we got home.  Neither of us ate them, so it's a big mystery.  So, instead I made the recipe by substituting capers for the walnuts and raisins (I don't like raisins and left them out both times).  It was pretty delicious.  But, I didn't take a picture.  And, I used grocery store zucchini last time.  This time, I used my yellow & green zucchinis, fresh from the garden, and had new walnuts to use.  Both recipes were delicious, but the original is incredible.  The walnuts roasted in oil provides a really rich flavor that I can't describe.  It's so good, I plan on making it again next week!!!!!  YUM

Monday, August 16, 2010

Marinated Cauliflower Salad

3 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1) Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, garlic and olive oil in small bowl.  Toss with cauliflower in large nonreactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours.  Stir 1 or 2 times while marinating.
2) Stir bell pepper and parsley into marinated cauliflower.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan, if using.

Review:  I now believe this is more of a side dish.  It had little fat content, so I was still pretty hungry after eating it.  However, it had a great taste to it and it wasn't as tangy as I expected it to be. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Farfalle With Caramelized Onions & Broccoli

1 large onion
2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp dried tarragon
8oz dry farfalle pasta
3 cups small broccoli florets

1) Cut onion into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
2) Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute 10 minutes, or until browned. Add 1 cup water and tarragon, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
3) Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli and pasta, and add to onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

Review:  I always dread caramelizing onions, since it makes my home smell for a few days.  Yuck.  But, this time it didn't seem so bad and the tarragon gave it an unexpected flavor.  Tarragon has kind of a perfume flavor, so I thought the mixture would be really sweet and overpowering.  It wasn't, though.  It was savory, with a bit of spice.  It didn't even need cheese added, and we add cheese to EVERYTHING!!!! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rigatoni Peperonata

1/4 cup pine nuts
12oz rigatoni
1/4 cup olive oil
3 bell peppers (preferably red and yellow), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped capers
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and black pepper

1) Heat oven to 400F. Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the olives, parsley, capers, vinegar, crushed red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.
3) Add the pasta and pine nuts to the skillet and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.

Review: Yum. My RealSimple recipe tells me peperonata is a classic Mediterranean condiment. I want to make it a classic in my home. I was surprised garlic wasn’t used, but after eating this, I found it wasn’t necessary! It had a briny taste from the capers and olives, but it balanced the pepper taste. Mike added Parmesan cheese to his, but I enjoyed this without anything added. Yum.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Malted Banana Ice Cream

4 large, ripe unpeeled bananas
1 cup low-fat buttermilk or low-fat kefir
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup malted milk powder
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Place unpeeled bananas in large baking dish, and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until blackened and soft. Set aside 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
2) Remove and discard banana peels. Place bananas and any liquid from baking dish in blender along with remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Transfer to covered container, and refrigerate overnight.
3) Pour chilled ice cream base into ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Review:  I found this recipe and read it, getting excited that I could make ice cream without an ice cream machine.  We bought all the ingredients over the weekend and I went to make it Sunday afternoon.  I reread the directions and *this time* saw the step where you put all the ingredients into an ice cream maker.  I didn't own one.  Fortunately, Mike had been planning on buying one for my birthday and it was sitting in his shopping cart.  So, I got an early birthday present this week.  Yay!  Now I'll get to make ice cream allllllll the time.

So, malted milk is most commonly known as Ovaltine.  We had chocolate malt flavored Ovaltine in the cabinet and didn't feel like buying a $4 jar of regular Ovaltine.  And, how could you go wrong by adding a little chocolate?  This was pretty delicious and may not last longer than tonight . . .

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Creamy Fettuccine With Asparagus

2 Tbs grainy mustard
4oz creamy goat cheese log, broken into pieces
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thirds
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbs snipped fresh dill leaves
3/4 lb fettuccine (or other thick-stranded pasta)

1) In a small skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts, stirring often, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
2) In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook fettuccine until al dente, according to package instructions, adding asparagus during last 5 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water; drain.
3) Return pasta, asparagus, and reserved pasta water to the pot. Toss with goat cheese, mustard, dill, and toasted pine nuts. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

Review:  This did not have a strong goat cheese flavor.  The mustard really balanced out the flavors and made an even dish.  It was tasty and really filling. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Greens & Quinoa Pie

1/2 cup quinoa
1 large bunch chicory (1 to 1 1/4 lbs), cut into bite-sized pieces (bottom 1 1/2 inches of hard stems removed)
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated aged goat cheese, or Swiss cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten

1) Place quinoa in small saucepan, and toast over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost dry.  Add 1 cup water, and season with salt, if desired.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, and transfer to large bowl.
2) Heat large pot over medium heat.  Add chicory, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring frequently or tossing with tongs.  Add romaine, and wilt 1 to 2 minutes more.  Transfer greens to strainer, and squeeze out excess moisture.  Transfer to cutting board, and chop into small pieces.  Stir greens into quinoa.
3) Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat 1 Tbs oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, and saute 10 minutes, or until browned.  Add cooked onions, green onions, dill, feta cheese and goat cheese to quinoa mixture.  Stir in eggs; season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Pour 1 Tbs oil into 9-inch pie pan, and place in oven.  Heat 5 minutes, or until oil is hot.  Swirl oil to coat bottom of pan, then spread quinoa mixture in pan with spatula.  Bake 20 minutes.  Drizzle pie with remaining 1 Tbs oil, and bake 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Review:  Oops, I only half read the directions and just noticed I was supposed to use AGED goat cheese.  I used regular goat cheese, but it turned out just fine.  I imagine it would be great with the swiss cheese option.  This turned out a little dry, but was tasty and quite filling.  It was even pretty solid to serve it up just like pie!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bean & Beef Enchilada Casserole

1/2 lb lean ground beef (or one package of soy crumbles)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 4oz can diced green chili peppers
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1 10oz can enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4oz)

1) In a large skillet cook the ground beef, onion, chili powder, and cumin until onion is tender and meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir pinto beans and undrained chili peppers into meat mixture; set aside.
2) In a small mixing bowl stir together sour cream, flour, and garlic powder until combined; set aside.
3) Place half of the tortillas in the bottom of a lightly greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish, cutting to fit if necessary. Top with half of the meat mixture, half of the sour cream mixture, and half of the enchilada sauce. Repeat layers. Cover dish with plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
4) To serve: Preheat oven to 350F. Remove plastic wrap; cover dish with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes more. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Review: Obviously, I did not use beef. I found this recipe and thought it could easily be adapted to use soy crumbles. It converted so easily, I skipped the first step of cooking the “meat.” I tossed in frozen crumbles with everything and just threw it together. I also doubled the sour cream and cheese. I recommend doubling the enchilada sauce, as 10oz just isn’t enough. My bottom layer of tortillas became tough and chewy. I think pouring some enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan before adding the tortillas would solve that issue (and require more than 10oz). This definitely counts as “comfort food.” Mike and I both ate two bowls and then succumbed to carb comas. Yum.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Corn-Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
1 cup diced cucumber

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt

1) To make salad: Bring quinoa, salt and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes.
2) Bring 2 cups water to a boil in separate saucepan. Add corn, and cook 1 minute. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Drain again. Stir together corn, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber and quinoa in bowl.
3) To make dressing: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. Stir into salad.

Review: Wow, this made a ton of food - about 8 cups of salad. I think we had more than a cup of quinoa and the smallest head of cabbage at the store was about 2 cups worth, shredded. I also substituted two of my yellow zucchinis (fresh from the garden!) for the cucumber. This was tasty. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the dressing, but it wasn’t a strong flavor. Though, I may have needed to double the dressing amounts to make up for having so much salad, but I think it balanced well regardless.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Israeli Couscous With Saffron, Olives & Spring Vegetables

2 cups dry Israeli couscous
4 tsp canola oil
2 bulbs fennel, slivered, grated, or finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shelled fresh, or frozen peas
1 cup vegetable broth
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 pinches saffron threads
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped, pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
3 Tbs olive oil
fresh basil leaves, for garnish

1) Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside.
2) Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek and garlic, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3) Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute to deglaze pan. Add peas, and let wine reduce 1 minute more, then add broth. Add couscous, tomatoes, and saffron; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Spoon into bowls, then top with olives, olive oil and basil.

Review: Well, I didn’t quite make this exact dish. I can’t find Israeli couscous (except in mass quantities on, so I substituted regular couscous. I omitted fennel (because I don’t like it), and used only half of the recommended amount of garlic. It turned out wonderfully. It was a nice savory dish, thanks to the saffron. I do want to buy some Israeli couscous and remake this dish someday.

I made this again on 12/13/2010, using Israeli couscous:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Orzo Salad With Zucchini & Feta

8oz orzo
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/4 lbs small zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
8oz feta, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1) Cook the orzo according to the package directions.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.
2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, red pepper, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Add the zucchini and let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 20 minutes.
3) Add the orzo, feta and dill to the zucchini mixture, and toss to combine.

Review:  Yay, I love making dishes using my freshly harvested produce!  I used the zucchini I pulled from the garden this morning and it was quite flavorful!!  Way better than the stuff at the grocery store.  Yum.  So, this recipe was pretty easy.  I let the zucchini marinate while I waited for the water to boil (takes longer at my high altitude) and then for the pasta to cook.  So, by the time I was done rinsing the pasta (actually Mike finished the recipe), it was done marinating and dinner was served.  Easy, fast, and yummy.   Oh, and I used rotini, because Dreamfield's doesn't yet make a low-carb orzo.  I'll suggest orzo the next time they ask for ideas, though!


It's been raining off and on for the past few days.  Apparently rain makes normal sized zucchini.  Who knew?

And, apparently my golden zucchini wants to be a green zucchini.  :)