Roasted Pepper + Sausage Pasta

A nice alternative to a tomato sauce pasta night.  Roasted bell peppers, red onion and pork sausage make this perfect on a chillier night.  And isn't roasting peppers fun?  I love rubbing off the charred skin and seeing how their texture has totally changed.  Here's a tip:  yellow and orange peppers are almost impossible to tell the difference between once they have been roasted.  

Use any type of sausage that sounds good to you.  I recommend italian or herbed styles.

Serves 6.

Roasted Pepper + Sausage Pasta

8 oz pasta (your choice, I like spaghetti)

3 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced

10 oz pork sausage, casing discarded

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon chile flakes

s + p

grated parmesan cheese

Boil pasta until al dente.  Drain, set aside.  Turn gas range onto high.  Place whole bell peppers directly onto range. Blacken completely on all sides.  Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.  Rub off skins, discard stem and seeds.  Slice into strips.  Set aside. 

In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm olive oil.  Add onions, cook until soft.  Add sausage, cook completely.  Add garlic, oregano and chile flakes, cook, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add cooked pasta and roasted pepper slices.  Cook until all is hot. Transfer to bowl and toss with cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. 

 

Lemon + Parmesan Risotto

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This was one of those 'I don't have a thing to make dinner with' situation.  (Also, an 'I do not want to go to the grocery store nor do I want to order in but I am very hungry for dinner' situation.  What can I say?  I can be difficult.)  I realized, I had, and just about always have, all the things I needed to make risotto.  Risotto is great.  It's so easy, just requires a bit of patience for stirring.  This one is punched up with tastes of lemon and fresh thyme.  

We ate this as a main course - remember?  Low fridge inventory/laziness - but It would be great served with grilled chicken or sautéed vegetables. 

Makes 2-4 servings. 

Lemon + Parmesan Risotto

1 tablespoon butter

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup aborio rice

1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup white vinegar

1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable, for all you veggies), kept hot on the stove

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

zest of 1/2 lemon

s + p

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic thyme leaves and rice, stir to coat in butter and cook until rice is glossy and edges become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add water and vinegar.  Cook, stirring until almost all evaporated.  

Add hot stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously until absorbed before the next 1/2 cup addition.  Continue adding stock, stirring, absorbing until rice is creamy and soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.   

Turkey Tomato Sauce + Zucchini

Not your typical tomato sauce.  Full of veggies and lean ground turkey.  It's perfect over roasted spaghetti squash, zoodles, pasta or used for stuffed zucchini.  

To make the stuffed zucchini: Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out seeds, making a well for the sauce and arrange on a baking dish.  Spoon prepared sauce into zucchini.  Place in oven and roast 20 minutes.  Top with grated cheese while it's still hot. 

Makes about 1 quart.

Turkey Tomato Sauce 

small splash olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced

2 stalk celery, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground turkey

28 oz canned tomato puree

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs, stems discarded

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add diced onion.  Cook until soft, 5 minutes.  Add bell pepper, celery and garlic, cook 5 minutes.  Add turkey: cook, breaking up meat, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Stir in tomato puree, bay leaves, thyme, worcestershire sauce and cayenne powder.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  

 

Meatballs!

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Last weekend I had a serious craving for spaghetti and meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.  These are quick to make and delicious.  We had extras and used them for meatball subs the next day.  (Add a little provolone or mozzarella and bread to your shopping list!)

Serves 4.

Simple Beef Meatballs

1 lb grass fed ground beef

1 egg

1 grated shallot

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

s + p

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Gently combine all ingredients, avoid over mixing.  Use a heaping tablespoon to help portion and form into balls.  Place of tray and bake about 4 minutes.  Stir meatballs and bake 4 minutes more.  

Serve with tomato sauce and pasta or with bread and cheese for subs.  

Skirt Steak Fajitas + The Best Marinade Ever

I love skirt steak.  It's a great and inexpensive cut of meat from the plate section, behind the cow's front legs.  Lots of flavor but not the most tender cut.  Marinating a skirt steak before cooking it will add even more flavor and help tenderize it.  

Serves 4 with leftovers.  Serves 8 if you're serving other sides or starters.  

Skirt Steak Fajitas + Cumin Soy Lime Marinade

for the marinade:

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

for the fajitas:

2 lbs skirt steak

grapeseed oil, as needed

3 bell peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, stemmed, seeded, sliced

1 large yellow onion, sliced

12-16 tortillas, corn or flour

s + p

Stir together lime juicem soy, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, garlic, cumin and chile powder.  Cut each skirt steak to into 2 or 3 pieces so they will fit on grill, skillet or grill pan, if needed.  Place marinade in bowl or large zip lock bag, add steak, coat in marinade.  Let marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.  

When done, remove steak from marinade, discard marinade and blot steak with towel.  Heat a grill, skillet or grill pan over medium high heat.  Oil grates with grapeseed oil to lubricate if necessary to prevent sticking.  Once hot, place steak on grill.  Let once grill marks form, (about 30 seconds) give it a quarter turn.  Cook about 1 minute, flip, do the same, cooking to desired level of doneness.  Set steak aside to rest before slicing.  

While steak is resting, cook the onions and peppers.  If cooking on the stove, add a splash of oil to the skillet or grill pan still over medium high heat.  If cooking on a grill, place oiled skillet or grill basket directly on the grill rack and heat.  Once hot, add onions and peppers, cook, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Cook until onions are soft.  

Throw tortillas in the hot pan or on the grill for 15 seconds, it will warm them and improve the flavor.  

Serve with sour cream, salsa, lettuce, fresh herbs, rice and beans, hot sauce, whatever you like.  

 

French Onion Risotto

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You heard me.  Just when we thought risotto couldn't get any better.  

Serves 2 huge portions or 3 normal portions.

French Onion Risotto

6 cups beef stock

2 bay leaves

4 springs thyme

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 yellow onion, sliced

splash olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup aborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

Heat stock, bay, 2 thyme sprigs, a couple slices of onion and peppercorns.  Keep warm without boiling or simmering. 

Add onion slices and 2 thyme sprigs to a saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring every minute or so, cook for 20 minutes.  Add a splash of olive oil, reduce heat,  cover and cook 20 minutes more.  Remove thyme sprigs.  

Strain stock.  

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter in splash of olive oil.  Add aborio rice, stir to coat, cook 1 minute.  Add white with, cook and stir until evaporated.  Spoon stock, half a cup at a time, into rice, stirring until absorbed into rice.  Repeat until almost all stock is gone and rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir in caramelized onions and cheese.  Spoon onto dinner plates, garnish with a pinch of onions, cheese and stock.  

 

 

Braised Short Ribs Dinner

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I cannot express how tantalizing you kitchen will smell as these cook and how that smell quickly turns torturous as you realize you're hungry and that the short ribs are on oven lock down for 3 hours.  That said, it's worth the wait so plan a snack and gather your will power.   

The second best thing about this dish (the first is the taste!) is that it's a one pot meal and it's hearty so, besides maybe a light salad, there's no side dish to prepare.   

Serves 2.   

Braised Short Ribs

1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon mustard seed

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds 

high heat oil (like grape seed or sunflower) 

2 bone in short ribs (about 1.5 lbs total) 

1 cup red wine 

3 carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, halved

1 shallot, studded with 3 cloves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 bay leaves

2 14oz tins beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 cippolini onions, trimmed

2 potatoes, coarsely chopped

Wrap black peppercorns, mustard seeds, red chile flakes, thyme, oregano, rosemary and coriander in a square of cheese cloth.  Tie up with kitchen twine.  Set aside.   

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  

On the stove, in a large heavy pot, heat a splash of oil over medium heat.  Place ribs in pot and brown 5 minutes on each side.  Remove ribs from pot and pour out excess oil if necessary.  Return pot to heat and deglaze with red wine.  Add one of the carrots, celery, shallot, garlic, bay leaves, 1 tin of beef broth and tomato paste.  Stir until tomato paste is combined.  Place ribs in pot, bone side up.  The liquid should come up about halfway up the ribs.  Cover with lid or foil.  Place in oven and cook 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove from oven, remove lid carefully and remove carrots, celery and shallot.  Discard.  Add 2 remaining chopped carrots, cippolini onions and potatoes.  If liquid level has diminished, add another tin of beef broth.   

Cover, return to oven and braise one hour more or until ribs are so tender they may be cut with a spoon.  

Spoon ribs and vegetables into bowls and serve.   

 

Chipotle + Turkey Enchiladas

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These enchiladas use the smoky chipotle sauce from the previous post.   

Makes about 14 enchiladas, serving about 7 people.   

Turkey Enchiladas

splash high heat oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 lb ground lean white meat turkey

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/3 cup green olives, pitted, sliced

1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh

handful cilantro, chopped 

prepared chipotle tomato sauce

14 (ish) 6" corn tortillas, room temperature or warm

6 oz grated cheddar cheese

Heat splash of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add onion, cook until onions are soft, about 8 minutes.  Add turkey, cook, stirring frequently, until turkey is done, about 8 minutes.  Add zucchini, olives, corn and cilantro.  Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.    

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.  Fill each corn tortilla with 1/3 cup filling and a pinch of cheese.  Roll up and place seam side down in pan.  Repeat with other tortillas until there is no more filling.    

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with warm chipotle sauce.  (And maybe more cheese, yes?) 

Vegetarian Dinner Salad

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I really don't know what to call this salad but it came about the other night when i was feeling vegetarian and wanted a complete full meal salad, some thing healthy and vegetal with plant based protein.   

serves 4.

Vegetable Barley Lentil Salad

1 cup pearl barley

1 cup french lentils

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, halved lengthwise

5 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise

olive oil

s + p

1/4 lb peashoots, rinsed and dried (salad spinner is great for this)

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon squash seed oil  

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of cayenne pepper

about 12 cilantro leaves, chopped

4 teaspoons pepitas

4 teaspoons roasted sunflower seeds (salted or not is up to you)  

Cook barley in a small pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 45 minutes.   Fluff with fork and set aside.

Cook lentils in another small pot by covering lentils with water, no salt, and simmering for 30 minutes.  Drain lentils and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss carrots with a splash olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place on baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.  Add asparagus to the sheet, toss with a splash of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast, carrots and asparagus for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Make vinaigrette by whisking together champagne vinegar, lemon juice, squash seed oil and olive oil.  Add cilantro leaves, pinches of cayenne and s + p to taste. 

Toss carrots, asparagus and peashoots in vinaigrette.  

To serve, portion barley into 4 dishes, top with portion of lentils, then veggies.  Top each dish with one teaspoon pepitas and sunflower seeds.   


 

Ramps!

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I had ramps for the first time this weekend and can't believe how delicious they are.   

Ramps are a wild leek that are found mostly on the east coast.  They have a very short season of a joyous two weeks and are one of the first spring vegetables to show up at farmers markets.  They taste like a delicate garlicky onion.  The whole ramp is edible, minus the roots.  

Serves 2. 

Springtime Ramp Pasta

4-5 oz dried linguini

10 fava bean pods

1 oz morel mushrooms, brushed clean and halved

2 tablespoons water

olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 bunch ramps (about 9) 

juice of half a lemon

s+p

grated pecorino cheese, for serving

Cook pasta, drain and rinse.  Set aside. 

Fava beans have to be shelled twice.  First, remove outer pod, blanch beans for 60 seconds, drain and remove thin shell.  Discard shells and set clean, blanched beans aside. 

Clean ramps and remove roots.  Cut stem just under the leaves.  Set leaves aside.  Slice bulbs/stem in half lengthwise.  Set aside. 

In a pan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil.  Add morels, cook about 30 seconds and carefully add 2 tablespoon of water.  (Water will hiss and splash a bit.)  Cook until morels are soft and water has been absorbed.  Push morels to on side of pan and on the other side, heat a splash of olive oil and red pepper flakes.  Add ramp stem/bulbs, combine with morels and cook about 1 minute.  

Add fava beans and ramp leaves.  Cook until leaves wilt.  Add pasta, cook until hot.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  

Serve with a grating of pecorino cheese.  

 


 

 

 

Hoppin' John

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The concept of hoppin' john was new to me.  It's a black-eyed pea and rice dish often served new years day for good luck.  It's not new years day but an overcast April day seemed just as good for luck and black-eyed peas.  

Bacon may be used in place of sausage.  Makes 8-10 servings.   

Hoppin' John

1 lb dried black-eyed peas

drizzle olive oil

2 links andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 

1 yellow onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded, minced

32 oz chicken stock

3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

s + p

4 sprigs thyme  

2 cups water

1 cup green beans, chopped

1 cup white rice

splash red wine vinegar (optional) 

Rinse and then soak peas in water while ingredients are prepped.   

In a large pot, in a bit of olive oil over medium high heat, sauté sausage, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and jalapeno until glossy and fragrant, 5-8 minutes.  Drain peas and add to pot with chicken stock, bay leaves, coriander, salt, lots of black pepper, thyme and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 1 hour.  Beans should be tender.  Add green beans and rice.  Simmer 20 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning and add splash vinegar.