Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta

I call this “Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta”.

At the end of the day on Friday, I opened my fridge to see what I had to inspire me to prepare dinner. All week long I save little bits of leftover vegetables, sauce and stock – and lo and behold, put them together and dinner presents itself!

This week I had a container of mushrooms that needed to be sauteed. I had some white beans left over from a salad. I had extra garlic chopped. I had a handful of arugula. I had vegetable broth that needed to be used. And I had a cup of homemade marinara sauce. Not to mention that I try to have organic green peas (fresh or frozen) on hand at all times. In addition I had some fun tri- color pasta that I wanted to try.

There’s not really an exact recipe here- just let it flow.

In a large skillet, I lightly sauteed the garlic in EVOO, added the mushrooms with salt to taste. Let that go until the mushrooms were almost done. Next, I added the marinara sauce and some vegetable broth and the beans.

While that was simmering away I cooked the pasta until almost done and then added the peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Back to the sauce- I added the arugula and let it wilt. And a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.6ABF9778-95E7-4A46-A993-431CAABA1003

Pasta is cooked- so out comes my spider and I scoop the pasta into the skillet with the sauce.img_4046

I let the pasta and sauce cook for a minute or two, added more vegetable broth to taste and- DINNER WAS READY!!

The lesson here is that nothing really goes to waste. And when you cook with vegetables, mostly everything goes well together. So next time that you have a few stalks of broccoli left over, or a small handful of spinach or not enough tomato sauce to stand on it’s own- you can have a new (and thoroughly your own) dinner ready in just a few minutes.

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P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Easter 2017

I haven’t had time to write these past two weeks- I’ve been too busy living in the moment. This year I was fortunate to experience the “High Holies” of my faith in two cultures- the jubilant evangelicalism of Palm Sunday in the Caribbean and the solemn rituals of my home parish in New York. I love them both!

I also love Easter breakfast. It is hands down my favorite meal of the year, and has been since I was a child. The centerpiece is my family’s version of Pizza Rustica. It’s a once a year treat. In Italy, Pizza Rustica is made for Easter Monday, or Pasquetta. It’s an egg, cheese and meat pie that is made as picnic fare for the day after Easter,  a day Italians spend outside enjoying family and friends. Since we do not celebrate Easter Monday here, many Italian American families make Pizza Rustica for Easter breakfast.

In addition to Pizza Rustica, there’s colored eggs, homemade cinnamon bread and fruit salad all surrounded by my collection of vintage chocolate molds and other Easter decor.

Then there’s Easter sugar cookies and delicious chocolate from my sister’s store as take home favors. All in all a pretty, fun and delicious table!

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A final note- I cook mainly vegan and enjoy doing so.  I started to help my husband control diabetes. I love vegetables and legumes!!! This meal is anything BUT vegan, yet once a year…… 🙂

 

 

 

 

Late Winter Citrus Salad

It’s that time of year when you need a little spark to lighten up your dinner. One of my favorite salads is this Sicilian Citrus Salad utilizing what’s fresh in the market now. It’s based on recipes that have appeared in the New York Times over the years, but truth be told it is something that my Sicilian grandmother would have made.

And there’s another thing. Having grown up with my Italian and French grandparents, we always had our salad after our entree. A proper salad acts as a digestif. The world has changed with regards to this, but my old habits die hard and I truly relish a refreshing salad after my entree. Give it a try and see if you don’t agree.

Late Winter Citrus Salad

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of baby arugula

1 cup radicchio, shredded

1 large Cara Cara orange, peeled, sliced lengthwise and then across, white pith removed

1 blood orange, peeled and sliced crosswise

1 rib of celery, sliced

¼ cup brined cured black olives, pits removed

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 TBS red or white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Place the arugula and radicchio on a platter

Top with the citrus segments, celery and olives.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Drizzle over the composed salad.

Serves 2IMG_4067

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower and Kale Soup with Lentils

Brrr….it’s cold outside! So- that means it’s soup time!

This soup is sooooo good for you- cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens and legumes- what more could you want? It’s the ultimate comfort food.

INGREDIENTS:

3 TBS olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 TBS tomato paste

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 cup lentils

4 quarts of vegetable broth- you know, the ones you’ve made using my technique 🙂 If you don’t have vegetable broth, use water and increase the crushed tomatoes to one 14oz can.

6 cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch kale, woody stems removed, and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until soft.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and lentils and cook for another 2 minutes.img_3941

Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste . Please note the amount of salt is dependent on the sodium content of what vegetable broth you use. My homemade broth has not salt- so I use about 2-3 tsp of salt for this recipe.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the kale and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or more until the vegetables and the lentils are soft.

Enjoy!!

The Best Kept Secret of Walpole, Massachusetts

Farmer and The Dell

We’re so lucky- all our children live in places that have great foodie options!

Our daughter, Elyse, and her husband, Rob, live in Walpole, Massachusetts . Walpole is a charming and quaint New England village just a hop, skip and a jump from Boston.

However, there’s no need to travel to the city for great food. Walpole has much to offer, but hands down our favorite place to go is Farmer in the Dell.

Farmer in the Dell makes great homemade meals and desserts to either eat in or take out. Offerings include Breakfast sandwiches on biscuits, homemade flatbreads, great salads, soups, the best coffee around and wonderful desserts and baked goods!

One wintry evening we had dinner there- the Sweet Potato Chili with Quinoa was excellent and I kept thinking about it after I returned home to New York.

Here’s my version of it- it’s very easy to make and soul warming on a chilly winter’s eve!

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili with Quinoa

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 tsp chili powder or to taste

1 tsp salt

pepper

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed (my preference is always the Asian sweet potatoes)

2 cups cooked black beans  (rinsed and drained if using canned)

1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed well

4 cups vegetable broth

cilantro for garnish

METHOD:

In a large pot, saute the onions for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, jalapeno and chili powder and continue cooking over low heat for another 5 -10 minutes until the onions are soft. Stir often.

Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups of broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add the beans and the quinoa and more broth if needed.

Return the chili to a boil and cover the pan but leave the lid ajar.

Cook for another 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the quinoa is cooked.

Serve with fresh cilantro.

And enjoy!

Makes 4 hearty servings

 

 

Roasted Broccoli Tacos

Do I have to wait until Tuesday to make these Tacos?

This simple vegan recipe using  fresh ingredients is a perfect antidote to the

“What am I making for dinner?” blues.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 red onion diced, to yield 1/2 cup

1 large bunch of broccoli

2 cloves garlic, sliced

red pepper flakes to taste

soft corn tortillas

1/2 cup guacamole

1 avocado, sliced

lime

cilantro

METHOD:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the woody part of the broccoli stems.

Cut the broccoli into 1 ½ inch pieces, using both the florets and the stems

Toss onion and broccoli with 2 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast for 10 minutes.

Add 2 cloves garlic, sliced, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes.

Add a drizzle more of oil, toss and continue roasting for another 10 minutes.

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When the broccoli is done, cook soft corn tortillas over a gas burner. Flip when the edges turn dark.

This will take only a few seconds.

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Spread guacamole over each tortilla.

Top with roasted broccoli, sliced avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Makes enough for 4-6 tacos.

Serve with your favorite rice and beans.

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And enjoy!!

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes

This is a very easy, but very tasty meal for a busy person. Add a large green salad- and presto! Dinner is ready!

My preference is to use yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, otherwise known as Asian, Japanese or Korean sweet potatoes, available in specialty food  or organic produce stores. I find them less “sweet” than the  traditional orange flesh ones.

STUFFED BAKED SWEET POTATOES

Heat oven to 375.  Serves 2

Yellow Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Sweet Potatoes

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium sweet potatoes, preferably yellow fleshed.  Also known as Asian, Korean or Japanese sweet potatoes

1 can organic White Northern Beans

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium bunch of kale, woody stems removed, thoroughly washed and coarsely chopped

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and Pepper to taste

¼ tsp Red Pepper flakes

METHOD:

Scrub the sweet potatoes, poke holes and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.

Roast in the oven for about an hour or until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.Kale and Beans

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, cook the garlic over low heat in 2 TBS of the EVOO for about 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add the beans (do not drain) and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the kale, season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted.

Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. And finish with a drizzle of the remaining EVOO

When the potatoes are done, split the potatoes season with salt and pepper.

Fill them with the bean mixture and enjoy!

Late Summer Corn and Green Bean Salad

2015-07-16 18.40.13I LOVE my summer Saturday ritual of visiting the Bronxville, NY Farmers’ Market!

As the weeks progress, the offerings get more and more bountiful. This simple salad uses the summer staples found everywhere.

INGREDIENTS:

To serve 4

3 ears sweet corn, kernels sliced off the cob

1 pound string beans

2 beefsteak tomatoes

handful of fresh basil, cut into thin strips

olive oil to taste

splash of white wine vinegar

METHOD:

Heat 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil in large saute pan

Saute the corn kernels over medium high heat for a few minutes until crisp tender; season with salt and pepper.

Blanch the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp tender- about 5 minutes.

Cut the beefsteak tomatoes into wedges.

To assemble – gently toss the corn, beans, tomatoes and basil together on a large platter. Season to taste with salt, pepper, more olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Only add the vinegar right before you serve it to keep the beans from turning yellow.

Enjoy!