Monday, August 30, 2010

Pasta Primavera

I looooove Pasta Primavera. And although the name technically implies that you eat it in the spring, it's the perfect summer meal for me. I first had it in a little Michigan town while on vacation with my parents when I was 15. It was the middle of summer and the pasta just screamed out with all the flavors of the season. I think I spent the rest of my teenage years trying to recreate it. I got close a few times, but they always came out too greasy and not very flavorful.

Fast forward to my bridal showers 8 years later. I got this cookbook as a gift from one of my Mom's oldest friends and I immediately knew I'd found the perfect recipe for Pasta Primavera! It's great served immediately, but I think it gets better the next day. I like to eat it straight out of the refrigerator for lunch. Yum.

Pasta Primavera
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 
1 large zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 red pepper
3 carrots
2 small onion, slice onion into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, smashed and copped in half
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 medium tomatoes
1 lb penne
3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cut vegetables into 2 inch strips. Cover in olive oil, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to evenly cover the vegetables. Spread evenly onto two baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring after the first 10.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Pour pasta into large serving bowl and add vegetables. Add cheese and stir to combine, using remaining pasta water to thin the pasta if necessary. Top with more Parmesan cheese and serve.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grilled Corn Salad

Grilling vegetables is hands down one of my favorite summer activities. Especially fresh picked veggies from the farmer's market. I know, what a truly exciting life I do lead. But, they're so GOOD.

Look at how pretty they are! And so warm and happy! This salad makes me smile. And it tastes like summer. Especially since corn, squash, peppers and tomatoes are overflowing at the farmer's market right now. It's the perfect time to make this salad! You can eat it warm, cold, as a delicious side dish or scooped into pita or tortilla chips for a tasty meal. Make it for your next party with friends!

Grilled Corn Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
4 ears corn
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow squash, halved
1 red onion, cut into eights
1 tomato
1/4 cup olive oil
1/6 cup balsamic vinegar
10 basil leaves,cut into chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat a grill over medium-low heat. While the grill is heating, drizzle olive oil over corn, red pepper, squash, and onion. Once the grill is heated, grill corn for 5-8 minutes to brown. Grill pepper, squash and onion until tender. Allow the veggies to cool, then chop the onion, squash, and pepper. Scrape the corn kernels from the cob. Dice the tomato and add to the vegetables. Mix the vegetables together and add the basil.

To make the dressing, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt and garlic. Whisk until well combined and pour over the veggies. Stir to combine. Enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hearty Veggie Chili

Holy allergy season batman. Please raise your hands if you've been suffering the worst allergy symptoms of your entire life. (Raising both hands and waving them spastically in the air.) To say the least, I felt awful on Tuesday. So much that I think I'm actually starting to pray for Winter. Anything to kill off all the pollen producing plants populating my province. (Oh no, I think the pollen just made it's way into my brain!)

When I start thinking of winter, the first thing I think of are soups. Warm, hearty delightful soups. They just scream fuzzy comfort food to me. So, in my allergy induced misery on Tuesday I had to make soup. Anything to make life feel more winter-like. Forgetting, of course, that's it's almost 90 degrees outside.

This is actually the perfect late summer chili. It uses a ton of vegetables that are in season right now. And for an entirely vegan soup, it's really hearty and filling. When we first tried this a few months ago, at the beginning of our semi-vegetarian experiment, John was really skeptical. He didn't think soup, especially chili, could be good without a good amount of fat. But oh is it ever good.

Make this for dinner. It will drive away the allergy blues. Super delicious!

Vegetarian Chili
Adapted From Emeril Lagasse 

2 tbsp olive oil
2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 seranno peppers, chopped and with the seeds and membranes scooped out
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 1/2 lbs baby portobello mushrooms, cubed
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and mix in cilantro. Serve with warm cornbread on the side.


Yes, I've Been a Slacker

Just a quick post for now. I realize I've been off the map for the past week. Life has been a little hectic lately, but in a good way! I haven't had a ton of time this week to cook, hence the lack of posts. But never fear, I'll be back tonight with an awesome end of summer recipe. In the meantime, I started a Foodbuzz account the other day. I'm still trying to navigate around the site, but if you're part of the Foodbuzz community, go be my friend! I like friends.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blueberry Pickin'

John and I went blueberry picking last Saturday. I know, again. We didn't go quite as crazy as last time. The blueberries weren't as plentiful, we were being pickier with choosing the best ones, and there were some giant mutant mosquitoes in the blueberry field. I won't even go into the insane number of bites each of us has lining our arms. Ouch.

Besides the mosquitoes, it was a ton of fun. John grabbed his old film camera and I got to play with the schmancy digital. I won't take pictures with the film camera. It's too much of a commitment for me. Plus my photography skills aren't that great yet and I don't want to waste the film.

We haven't cooking anything with them this time. We've just eating them by the handful every time we walk past the fridge. But, I wanted to show some pictures from our blueberry adventure. Go find a local blueberry farm and pick some beautiful blueberries this weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creamy Orchiette with Kale and Chard

Apparently I'm on a pasta kick right now. I promise that the next post will not include any sort of pasta! I think... well that's the plan right now. I might have to change that up in case I get a massive macaroni and cheese craving. Which is not at all out of the ordinary.

In other news, John dug out one of his old lenses this weekend. It's been my favorite toy for the past few days. He just keeps hiding all the awesome camera equipment! I'm going to raid his camera bag soon.

OK, back to food. For those of you wondering why I always use chard and kale together, I will answer your question. Because I don't want to keep you up at night. It's just not the type of person I am. The only real reason is that we usually get only about 3-4 stalks of kale in our CSA share for that week and that usually isn't enough to make a real meal for two people. We were growing chard in our backyard (this is the last of it!) so we usually just picked enough of that to make up for the sad amount of kale. That's the mystery my friends. I'm sure you were on the edge of your seat.

But regardless, you should totally make this tonight. It's fantastic.

Creamy Orcchiette with Kale and Chard
4 stalks kale
5-7 stalks rainbow chard
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp flour
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 lb Orcchiette

Cook orcchiette according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large saute pan. Cook onions for about 3-4 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add kale and cook down for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add the chard and cook down for several minutes until both kale and chard are completely tender. Slowly pour milk and mix with the greens. Sprinkle flour over milk and greens and stir to avoid clumps. Mix in Parmesan cheese and turn heat to a simmer. Cook sauce until thickened and creamy. Add pasta to the pan and mix to evenly cover the sauce and greens.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve! Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

Weekday meals for me are almost always easy. Unless I'm in the mood to cook up a storm (which usually only happens on the weekends) dinners have to take less than 45 minutes to prepare, from cutting board to plate. Not because I don't enjoy cooking, but because on weekdays I want to get home from work, eat dinner, and then relax.

This dish was one of those awesome meals that you can make in about 30 minutes. Yay!

I saw this severely misshapen eggplant at the farmers market and I had to have him. I mean, who else would buy him and truly appreciate all of the weird nooks and crannies in his purple skin? To me, he looked like the people on Wall-E.

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2-3/4 lb penne

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add eggplant to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant are cooked and slightly reduced in size. Add tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine. Next, slowly pour the wine into the pan and cook to reduce slightly, about 1-2 minutes. Add basil, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the sauce, stir and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and let sauce simmer for 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to the sauce. Stir to combine. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Margherita Flatbread Pizza

Friday night I came home from work, opened the refrigerator and realized we had one tomato, a handful of cherry tomatoes and tons of basil. And that was pretty much it. That and a half-full bowl of leftover cooked penne with no sauce. Not exactly enough to feed two people. So I ran away to the gym. I really didn't want to think about the pathetically empty state of my refrigerator. But then, I had an epiphany on the elliptical: Margherita Flatbread Pizza. I will forever be grateful to whatever sent that hurtling into my brain, because it was one of the best cooking ideas I've had in a while.

It was especially great because the flatbread recipe I used doesn't use yeast. Which first of all I'm still intimidated by and secondly takes way more time than I had. Unless we were interested in eating dinner somewhere around midnight. Which we weren't.

The flatbreads on their own are one of my favorite online recipe finds to date. They take about 10 minutes to whip together but they taste like they could have taken hours. Don't tell your friends how easy they are. They will all just marvel at your culinary genius.

Margherita Flatbread Pizza
3 medium to large tomatoes (or a bunch of cherry tomatoes if that's all you have)
20-30 fresh basil leaves
2 balls fresh mozzarella
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
1 recipe flatbread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil + more for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450 with a baking rack in the middle of the oven.

Put the mozzarella cheese in the freezer while you prepare the flatbread and preheat the oven (only for about 15 minutes). This will make it easier to slice later.

First, prepare the flatbread. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll out one piece on parchment paper into a round. Dough should be thin. The "roundness" of it doesn't matter much. Drizzle the top with olive oil and spread evenly across the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with salt.

In the preheated oven, bake the dough for about 5 minutes, just to start making it crisp. It should start to firm up, but not be completely cooked.

While dough is cooking, prepare toppings. Thinly slice tomatoes and mozzarella and roughly chop basil. Once the dough is done, remove from oven. Cover with 4-5 slices of mozzarella, keeping it away from the edge of the dough. If it gets too close, the cheese will spill over the sides when it melts. And then you will be forced to mourn the loss of your mozzarella cheese. Or eat it straight off the parchment paper. Cover the cheese with 4-5 slices of tomato. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese over the pizza. You can either sprinkle fresh basil on now and bake with the pizza or add it later. I made it both ways and it turned out great each time.

Return the pizza to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges of the flatbread are golden. Place on a flat surface to cool for 1-2 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Repeat with remaining flatbreads and toppings.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables and Showdown Results!

Man, you guys are some serious cheese fiends. I heard 5 votes (one from Facebook) for cheese and zero for butter. And my vote, hands down, is definitely cheese. I love cheese. I might have some sort of weird affection for it. If there is cheese within a 10 foot radius of me, I will find it. And eat it. And it will be great. Yay cheese!

And on that note, I present you with an entirely cheese-free meal. If I had planned ahead I would have posted my favorite recipe for macaroni and cheese or cheese-stuffed pasta shells. Or some other cheese-tastic meal. But that would require a small amount of pre-planning. Which just doesn't happen that much around here. In honor of the cheese win however, I will post a totally cheesy recipe here soon. And by cheesy I mean it will be full of cheese. Not like the jokes I make all the time. Har har har.

Aaaanyway, last Saturday we helped some friends move, so by the time dinner rolled around we were starving and exhausted. This meal was perfect. Filling, quick, healthy, and really really good.

And everything except the onion and the chicken came from our share! I love it when a meal comes together like that. It makes me feel thrifty... or something.

Make this the next time you're recruited to haul boxes and furniture for friends. Or the next time you have beets on hand. You know, whenever.

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Root Vegetables
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 chicken breasts
3 beets
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 potato
4-5 carrots
1/2 cup beer

Preheat the oven to 350.

Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.

Cut the onion into eights. Peel and chop the beets and carrots roughly into pieces. Mince the garlic.

Heat oil in a medium size dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the pot is really really hot, add the chicken and sear for 1-2 minutes, without moving. Flip and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes, without moving. Remove to a plate and set aside. We're just trying to get some good color on the chicken, not cook it though. We'll do that later.

In the same pan, add the onion, beets, potatoes and carrots. Brown the vegetables in the pot for about 3 minutes, just to give them some color. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute to distribute the garlic. Add about 1/2-1 cup beer or chicken stock to the pan. Cook the liquid down for about 2 minutes, then return the chicken to the pan. Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice on the side. Enjoy!

P.S. Because there are beets in this, everything will be a funky purple/pink/reddish color. Never fear, your food is not turning into something scary.

P.S.S. For the veg-heads out there, this is a really good way to cook the vegetables with a lot of flavor. Just leave out the chicken... obviously... and don't use so much butter and oil in the beginning. Yum!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Butter vs. Cheese: The Showdown

OK kiddies. Instead of posting a recipe today, I'm in the mood for something a little different. Maybe it's because I've been eating leftovers for 2 days and I need to change things up a bit. Who knows.

My sister-in-law Jade (an amazingly talented poet, writer and singer/songwriter, you can find her here) asked me a question a few months ago. If you had to choose between eating cheese or butter for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Keep in mind you also couldn't eat anything using those ingredients such as croissants pizza, etc. She guest blogged about this over at Mad Tasty a while ago. I helped with the food, not the blogging. We made a butter filled meal. It was awesome.

So, I'm curious. If you could only eat one of either butter or cheese for the rest of your life and not the other, what would it be?

Leave your reply in the comments section! I'll let you know tomorrow what my choice is, hands down.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSA Share #7

Mmmmm food. Lots of food. This weeks share: Zucchini, Potato, Scallions, Celery. Carrots, Beets, Tomato, Garlic, Salad Mix. Yum!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

I have to confess something. As much as I like kale and chard, I'm starting to get a little sick of it. I mean, we've gotten at least one of these leafy greens (usually both) in our CSA share since we started back in June. That's a lot of greens. And I'm running out of ways to cook them. Cream, braise, sautee. Don't get me wrong, they're delicious, but what else do you do??

Well, you know what I do? I steal some pretty awesome ideas from my friends. And I mean steal in the nicest possible way. You could say I get "inspired" but really it's just plain old thievery. My friend Kaanan (see the About page, she's been here before...) is also part of the same CSA, so we tend to compare what we've been eating a lot. She made these delicious stuffed zucchini and showed me a picture she'd taken and folks, I was "inspired" right away. So I ran home and whipped up what I could gather from her description and the picture and threw in some extra ingredients I found hiding in my kitchen that I thought would make this super tasty. They were great!

Stuffed Zucchini

"Inspired" by Kaanan's Stuffed Zucchini

2 medium Zucchini
3 stalks kale
2 stalks chard
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350. Place zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly soft. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cool, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the inner zucchini flesh. Chop the zucchini innards roughly. Set the zucchini shells aside.

Meanwhile, tear kale and chard into bite sized pieces and place in a salad spinner. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to medium low and add kale and chard and cook until wilted. Add salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar. Add zucchini pieces to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup swiss cheese. Stir to combine.

Divide the chard and kale mixture evenly among the 4 zucchini shells and sprinkle with remaining swiss cheese. Return to oven to cook for about 7-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini are heated through. Serve immediately.