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!!

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!

 

 

 

 

The Goodness of a Bowl of Lentils in Pasta Form

I’m always on the lookout to try new ways to incorporate lentils in my diet. I LOVE lentils!

So, when I was grocery shopping last week you can imagine my delight when I came across a pasta made exclusively from 100% organic red lentils.

In thinking what to do with it, I decided to go with a saute of Swiss chard. I often add Swiss chard to lentil soup-  the flavors complement each other nicely.

Cooking this pasta was an experiment and I am very pleased with the results.And as a bonus, it’s a quick, easy meal to put together. Give it a try- I think you’ll be pleased as well.

Red Lentil Pasta with Wilted Chard

Ingredients:

½ pound (8 oz) red lentil pasta

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 bunch of Swiss chard, woody stems discarded and leaves chopped

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 TBS pine nuts, toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

In a large sauté pan, over low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two.

Add the Swiss chard, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the Swiss chard is wilted. Remove the cover.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water cook the red lentil pasta according to the package directions. Do not overcook.

Using a spider or sieve, add the pasta to the wilted chard.IMG_4046.JPG

Cook stirring for a minute or two until the flavors have blended. Add a little pasta water if necessary.

Serve, garnished with the pine nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

 

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!!

Life Lessons Learned From My Son AKA Homemade Vegetable Broth

My son, Dennis is a great cook! We learn a lot from each other. He shamed me when he discovered that I was throwing away my vegetable peelings and scraps.

Homemade vegetable broth is SO SO much tastier than anything you can purchase. I feel that it has a more neutral flavor and thus doesn’t overpower and conflict with whatever your final  product is.

There’s no formal recipe but here’s the method:

Keep a freezer bag handy when cooking.

vegetables for broth

Add to it all your vegetable peelings, cut off ends of vegetables,mushroom stems, stems from herbs, wilted lettuces, the skin from an orange, a few peppercorns.

Keep the bag in the freezer and when full- voila! You have the base for a great broth.

Put the contents in a stockpot, add maybe an onion or carrot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for about an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and portion into containers. Cool thoroughly and freeze until ready to use.

vegetable broth

Pasta e Fagioli

As the weather gets cooler, I crave this soup. It takes less than an hour start to finish. Add a green salad, and some crusty Italian bread, and there’s dinner!

PASTA E FAGIOLI

INGREDIENTS:

Sauteing the vegetables
Sauteing the vegetables

3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 large onion, diced

2 large carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of crushed or diced tomatoes

2  15 oz cans of white beans, such as Great Northern. Do not drain

2 cups vegetable stock

1 ½ tsp salt

Fresh pepper to taste

1 cup of dried small pasta, such as Ditalini or broken spaghetti

METHOD:

In stockpot, sauté the onion, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic, and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and beans, sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the broth, salt and pepper.

Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.

Ladle the pasta into soup bowls, top with the soup and enjoy!

Serves 4.

Hypopastemia

Sometime in the 1970’s, my father came across an article describing an Italian’s physical reaction to being deprived of pasta for more than two days. The syndrome was called “Hypopastemia”. It became the running by-word in our home when we missed our pasta for whatever reason and we were starting to get the “shakes”.

We ate some form of pasta 6 nights of the week – sometimes small pastina in soup, sometimes a tube shaped pasta with a meat sauce (aka gravy), sometimes spaghetti with clam sauce, but most often it was pasta with different vegetables. Saturday was reserved for steak and mashed potatoes, my grandparents concession to living in America.

So now after a long day at work the most comforting meal for me is a bowl of pasta with a lot of vegetables plus a large salad and sauteed beans.

Here is another quick recipe. I call this dish: Pasta Verdure (lush green vegetables).

PASTA VERDURE

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks

Zucchini Matchsticks
Zucchini Matchsticks

½ red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Small head of Kale or Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 cup of frozen peas

1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO), divided

½ pound Penne Pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 TBS balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat 2TBS of the EVOO.

Green Vegetables
Green Vegetables

Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini. Sauté over medium high heat, until the vegetables are wilted and just cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, BUT for the last 3 minutes of cooking time add the kale, peas and asparagus. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sautéed vegetables.

Heat over medium heat- adding some of the EVOO and some of the pasta water to loosen the vegetables and make a “sauce”. Add the red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute.

Add the balsamic vinegar.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 3-4

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!