Archive for October, 2010

Sheesh, talk about delish. This Williams-Sonoma pasta dish was out of this world. 5-star stamp of approval from the family, too.

Penne with butternut squash, sage, and bresaola (non-dairy adaptations by me)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

5 shallots, minced

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice

pinch of ground allspice

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3/4 cup chicken broth

splash of balsamic vinegar

1 pound penne

8 fresh sage leaves, cut into narrow strips

1/4 pound thinly sliced bresaola, cut into narrow strips

1/2 – 1 cup grated soy parmesan

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 3 – 4 minutes. Add the squash and allspice and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the squash is fork tender, about 8 minutes. (do not stir the squash while cooking or it will break down into a puree. You want to keep the pieces whole). Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 – 12 minutes.

Drain the pasta well and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Pour on the squash mixture. Add the sage, bresaola, and a drizzle of olive oil and toss gently. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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Well, okay, maybe not all that spicy, as I usually turn down the heat a little. But this was one excellent, full-bodied soup. Was it the grains? Plus the vegetables? Maybe the allspice? This had a richness all its own. It’s a chewy soup, and ultimately satisfying.

Spicy grain soup (slightly modified from Food&Wine)

1/2 cup pearl barley


1/2 cup short-grain brown rice

1/2 cup bulghur

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 ancho chile (or more, according to your liking for heat), stemmed, seeded, broken into 2″ pieces

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 quarts vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes

6 cilantro sprigs, plus 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon ground allspice

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium carrot, finely diced

1 medium zucchini, finely diced

1 medium parsnip, finely diced

1/2 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds

In a medium saucepan, cover the barley with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes; drain. Return the barley to the pan and cover. In another medium saucepan, cover the brown rice with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the brown rice and add to the barley.

In a medium bowl, cover the bulghur with 1 cup hot water. cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, 10 minutes.

In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chile, onion, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro sprigs and allspice and season with 1 tablespoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Puree the soup in a blender and return to the pan.

Add the  mushrooms, black beans, carrot, zucchini, and parsnip to the pureed soup and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the barley, rice, and bulghur and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro and serve. Makes 8 servings.

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Another delicious “fall” flavored pasta dish. I really liked the garlicky bread crumbs with the pasta and veggies – a really nice touch. The original called for anchovies, which I omitted – we just are not fans. I added a couple handfuls of soy mozzarella instead.

Pasta with caramelized onion, swiss chard, and garlicky bread crumbs (adapted from the NYTimes)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used whole wheat sour dough)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

1 yellow onion, halved from stem to root and thinly sliced crosswise

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves chopped

1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)

2 handfuls shredded soy mozzarella

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the bread crumbs and toast until golden, 3 – 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Wipe the skillet clean and return it to a medium-high heat. Add the oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, 15 – 20 minutes. Add the swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well. Toss with the chard mixture and bread crumbs. Add the mozzarella and toss. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Makes 4 servings.

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A wonderfully spiced, hearty and healthy soup. Easy to prepare, and I served it with some crusty bread. It warmed us.

Moroccan chicken and couscous soup (from Food&Wine)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 pound boneless chicken breast, until into thin strips

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup tomato puree

1 quart water

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup couscous

1/3 cup chopped fresh parlsey

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, til translucent, about 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the chicken, cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the sweet potato, zucchini, tomato puree, water, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the couscous to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat. Let the soup stand, covered, for 2 minutes; add the parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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Crab tater tots

These tasty little morsels I first saw on Eats Well With Others blog, and I knew I had to try them. Like Joanne, I did not deep fry mine; instead, I shallow-fried them, enough to get that crispy outer crust and a tender and melt-in-your-mouth interior. I added a little parsley to mine, too. Also, I subbed margarine for the butter. All good!

Crab tater tots

2 tablespoons margarine

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

1 cup seasoned mashed potatoes (2 medium/large potatoes worth)

8 ounces crab meat

handful of chopped parsley


salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

In a small pan, combine the margarine and water over medium-high heat. Simmer until margarine is melted. Lower the heat and mix in the flour. Keep mixing until the paste that forms peels away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat and let it cool for five minutes. Mix in the egg.

Mix the egg mixture into the seasoned mashed potatoes. Mix in the crab and the parsley. Heat the oil.

Take a handful of potato/crab mixture, roll in some panko until it is completely dredged, then place in the oil, turning once in the frying process. hey should take 2 – 3 minutes to cook. Place on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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This was a totally different take on “alfredo,” and when I perused this recipe, I became immediately drawn to it. Totally vegan, creamy and fresh, and with a little pop, too. Verdict? I loved it; husband was meh. But I will be making this again.

Acorn squash alfredo pasta (from HealthyHappyLife blog)

4 cups roasted acorn squash (about 1 medium squash)

1 cup parsley (or fresh basil)

3/4 cup almond milk

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 – 3 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 – 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons roasted garlic

1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

1 pound pasta

2 – 3 cups sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a casserole dish with an inch of water. Slice acorn squash in half and lay flat in dish. Roast for 60 – 75  minutes. When done, remove flesh and place in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the pasta. Process for about 2 minutes, so that the parsley is chopped into fine bits. Set sauce aside.

Boil a pot of salted water. Add your pasta. 3 minutes before the pasta will be ready, add the mushrooms to the pot and cook til pasta is al dente. Drain. Toss well with the acorn squash alfredo sauce and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Here is a quick and easy lunch or dinner, using the last of the heirloom tomatoes, or in this case, the heirloom grape tomatoes. Use your favorite bruschetta recipe, or the one provided below, and toss over some freshly cooked pasta. Instant gratification.

Pasta with bruschetta

1 pound heirloom grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded

1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound pasta, cooked al dente

Toss the first 4 ingredients together. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Toss with your pasta and serve. Makes 4 servings.


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