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Archive for March, 2008

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Adapted from Martha Stewart’s New Classics, this was easy to make and very pleasing on the palate. First time I ever tried cavatelli pasta, and I really liked it. It has an interesting texture, and holds the flavors it is served with inside its tubes. I added some leftover chicken to the recipe, but it can be easily enjoyed vegetarian. Buon appetito!

Cavatelli with spinach and lentils

2 cups of lentils (14 ounces)

2 garlic cloves

1 dried bay leaf

1 pound of cavatelli, or your favorite pasta

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 leeks, white and green parts only, sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon coarse salt

freshly ground pepper

8 ounces of baby spinach

In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, 1 garlic clove, and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover by 2″. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and discard the garlic and the bay leaf.

 Brin a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain, but reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta in a large bowl.

Mince the remaining garlic clove. In a large saute pan, heat the oil and add the minced garlic, leeks, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked lentils and season with salt and pepper.

Add the spinach and reserved pasta water to the pan; toss to wilt the spinach, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the pasta, toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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Tonight I made a recipe that I saw on Simply Recipes that sounded too good to pass on. It was quite easy to make, and came together in a jiffy. Preparing it was half the fun, especially adjusting the seasonings; eating it was the rest of the fun – we literally inhaled it and it was gone! Where did it all go? One bite just led to another and another – make sure you try this one – a real winner. Enjoy! (Thanks, Elise.)

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Festa Italiana

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There is an Italian foodie fest called Festa Italiana, hosted by Finding La Dolce Vita and Proud Italian Cook. I am submitting my Peasant Polenta Pie (which you can find here), and I am looking forward to discovering that long table under the grape vines, spilling over with enticing and new Italian recipes and ideas. Join me there at Festa Italiana, to be held sometimes soon after March 22!

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Great Cooks!

I’ve just joined the Great Cooks Blogroll, and wanted to invite you to check out this fabulous resource of recipes, cooking advice, and meal ideas. You can find out more here.

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Don’t miss this week’s edition of Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon A Feast. Another truly delicious collection of pasta dishes from every corner of the world’s cuisines. What a great selection – I am always honored to be included with such a fine group.

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Choco-alert! Here’s a new spin on biscotti. They’re brownie-inspired, and will hit you in just the right spot. Adjusting my basic biscotti recipe, I added some cocoa, nuts, and chocolate chips, and the results were indescribably good! Enjoy!

Brownie biscotti

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa

6 tablespoons margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until aromatic and lightly browned (about 6-8 minutes). Remove from oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa into a medium sized bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the sugar and the margarine, and cream together until blended and light. Add the vanila and mix in. Add the eggs and mix until just combined. On low speed, mix in the flour. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips by hand.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into 2 equal halves. Flour your hands and shape each half into a loaf with the approximate dimensions of 8″ length by 3″ width by 1″ height. Place carefully each loaf onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between loaves. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, til lightly golden. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Next, transfer the loaves to a cutting board, lifting carefully to avoid crumbling and breakage. Clean and regrease the baking sheet. Brush each loaf with the egg white and sprinkle each loaf with the sugar. Then cut each loaf cross-wise on the diagonal, at about 1/2″ per slice, so that each loaf yields approximately 12 slices. Place each slice on its side on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 7 minutes. Then turn each slice over to the other side, and bake for approximately 4 more minutes, then remove from oven and cool the biscotti on the baking sheet on a wire rack until cool. Makes approximately 24 slices.

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One of the dishes I truly missed when I became lactose-intolerant was quiche, which, as some of you may know, includes cheese and milk in its list of ingredients. With all the varieties and flavors of soy cheese now available, and of course, soy milk, making a quiche dairy-free is only limited by your imagination. For tonight’s dinner, I sauteed some asparagus and laid it out in a pinwheel pattern over the other sauteed veggies underneath. The results were . . . appetizing and quite delicious. Experiment on your own, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Enjoy!

Asparagus-shitake quiche

Crust: 

1 cup whole wheat flour

4 tablespoons margarine

1 teaspoon dillweed

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup plain soy yogurt

Filling:

 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, sliced

1 handful of shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 pound asparagus

1/2 teaspoon thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of your favorite soy cheese (I used parmiaggiano/mozzarella combo)

4 eggs, beaten with 1 cup plain soy milk

paprika, for dusting the top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix all the crust ingredients together until uniformly blended. Press into a straight-edge pan or dish, pressing up the sides of the dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, but keep oven on.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pan, and saute the shallot, mushrooms, asparagus, and thyme for about 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Now assemble your quiche: sprinkle your soy cheese onto the crust. Next, spread just the shallot and mushrooms and a few cut up stalks of asparagus evenly over the cheese. Then pour in the egg/soy milk mixture. Finally, arrange the rest of the asparagus decoratively on top. Sprinkle the top with paprika, and bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes.

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There’s nothing like pasta after a long day at work. And when you have a favorite dish that you can throw together in 30-40 minutes’ time, well, that’s priceless. Here’s mine, using some of my favorite veggies, prepared in my favorite manner. Roasting vegetables is effortless cooking that delivers maximum return. Select your favorites, and enjoy a comforting meal at the end of your day. (I added some leftover chicken to this dish, but that’s totally optional) Enjoy!

Pasta tossed with warm roasted vegetables

2 dozen brussel sprouts, tough ends cut off

1 head of cauliflower, separated into flowerettes

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1 shallot, sliced

1 pound of pasta (you choose – spaghetti, penne, fusilli – all work well)

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and patted dry of oil

1 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup shredded soy parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the brussel sprouts and cauliflower in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then spread out in a single layer in a large baking pan. Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes or until nicely browned, stirring and turning the veggies about mid-way through the roasting process.

While the veggies are roasting, saute the shallots in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small saute pan, until softened and lightly golden. Set aside.

Place the uncooked pasta into a pot of boiling water, and cook according to instructions. Drain when al dente.

In a large bowl, place your cooked pasta and add in the roasted veggies and the sauteed shallots. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, broth, balsamic vinegar, parsley, and soy cheese. Toss everything together until well-coated, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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After all the good eating I’ve done during this past week while I’ve been away, I am practically in a food coma. I came home and immediately knew that I needed to eat something wholesome, light, healthy, and cleansing. What could be better than an Israeli salad? Tangy and crunchy, fresh and just bursting with great flavors, and soooo good for you. I may even be able to peel off a few of the pounds I just added on. Enjoy this addicting salad.

Israeli salad

4 tomatoes, diced

1 English cucumber, diced

12 radishes, diced

1 bell pepper, any color, diced

2 scallions

1 large Kosher Jewish pickle

1/2 cup green olives with pimientos, chopped

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and bell pepper. In a food processor, quick pulse the pickle and the scallions for a coarse chop. Add to the vegetables in the large bowl, along with the olives. Finely chop the parsley in your processor and add to the veggie bowl. Then toss all the veggies with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for several hours and serve. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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Back after a lovely getaway. It’s good to take a vacation, and it’s good to be home again.

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Please be sure and visit Once Upon A Feast for this week’s edition of Presto Pasta Nights. I’ve never seen so many delectable pasta-bilities, so inspiring. I’m proud to be counted in this celebration. (Don’t you just love the new logo?) Great job, as always, Ruth!

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