Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

PASTA NICOISE

SALAD NICOISE

Serves 3 – 4.

I don’t know if there is a thing in France called Pasta Nicoise, but this is very similar to Salad Nicoise, so that’s what I’m calling it. Based on this recipe at Bon Appetit plus other reader reviews, I made the recipe below which was very easy and quick and perfect for a weeknight.

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes

1 cup green beans, stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces

8 oz. dried short pasta

3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced

zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 can tuna in olive oil (wild caught), drained

¼ olive oil

salt

pepper

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 cups baby greens, chopped

parmesan cheese

 

Put the sundried tomatoes in a heat-proof bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes and then drain. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

After zesting the lemon into a small bowl, squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl and put the garlic in the juice to macerate for 10 – 15 minutes.

In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the drained tuna, olive oil, salt pepper, drained capers and tomatoes, lemon zest, greens and salt and pepper to taste. You can place the bowl over the water to heat up the sauce ingredients a bit or just let sit at room temperature as the pasta boils.

Cook pasta according to directions. When 2 minutes are left in cooking time, add the green beans to blanch them. Stir lemon juice and garlic into sauce. Drain pasta and beans and add to sauce bowl and toss. Garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

Here’s a PASTA NICOISE.

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SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE

Will not last long.

This is a simple and satisfying recipe that comes together pretty easily, adapted heavily from a Bon Appetit June 1991 recipe.  Totally do-able for weeknight cooking.  I used a combo of Crimini and baby Shitake mushrooms, but your favorite mushrooms will do.  You can also sub a yellow or red onion for the shallots, other cheeses like Monterey Jack, cheddar or fontina and cottage cheese or plain greek yogurt for the sour cream.  This goes well with the WHOLE WHEAT PIE CRUST (SAVORY) recipe.  This just fits into a regular 9” crust, or easily into a deep dish crust.

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons minced garlic

8 – 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced

splash dry white wine

6 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

salt

dough for one 9” pie crust

1 ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese

4 eggs

½ cup sour cream

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon dried basil

Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute shallots until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for one minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to release their juices.  Add splash of wine, raise heat, and sauté until juices are almost evaporated.  Add spinach in handfuls, with a few pinches of salt and sauté just until wilted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Roll out dough to fit your pie pan and fit into it.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat eggs, then beat in sour cream and spices.  Put half the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust, then layer in vegetable mixture, then other half of cheese.  Pour egg mixture over top.  Bake about 50 minutes until filling is set.  Cool slightly and serve.

Printable version here:  SPINACH AND MUSHROOM QUICHE

Morgan likes it.

LENTIL RICE STEW WITH CRISPY ONIONS

 

This is from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark.  Very hearty and uniquely spiced, it was great as lunch all week!I used red onions

Crispy onions:

3 medium onions, halved from root to stem and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

pinch salt

Stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (mine was rotten so I subbed a teaspoon of ground ginger)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cinnamon stick


¼ teaspoon ground cumin

pinch ground allspice

1 bay leaf

Rinse and pick out any stones before using

6 cups vegetable stock

½ cup short grain brown rice (or basmati)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ cups red lentils

bunch of baby spinach, chopped (I used “teenage” kale)if its young, you can leave in the stems

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

lime wedges

 

Make onions:  Melt butter and 2 tablespoons oil over medium low heat in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook until they release juices, about 5 minutes.  Raise heat to medium high and cook until the onions are soft and golden, about 7 minutes.  Add remaining tablespoon oil and increase heat to high.  Cook, stirring only a few times, until onions are crisp and charred in spots.

Make stew:  Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until softened, 5 – 7 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic and herbs and spices and cook for about a minute, until fragrant.  Add stock, 3 cups of water, the rice and salt.  Raise heat to high, bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low and simmer for ten minutes.  Add lentils and cook until lentils and rice are soft, about 30 minutes.  Stir in greens and mint and stir until wilted.  Add more salt, and pepper if necessary.  Serve with a squeeze of lime and topped with crispy onions.  If you have leftovers, go ahead and stir the onions into the stew before storing.

Printable version here:  LENTIL RICE STEW WITH CRISPY ONIONS

before the crispy onions

CARROT CAKE MUFFINS with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Liberally adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.  I did my usual flour substitutions, reduced the sugar, and completely changed the frosting recipe.  Nicely carroty and satisfied a pack of picky eaters.

1 cup all purpose flour

¾ cup white whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond meal

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

4 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 lb. carrots)

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 24 muffin cups (or use paper liners).

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl.  Beat sugars, oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended. Stir in blended dry ingredients. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Divide batter between muffin cups.  Don’t overfill.

Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, then frost.  (Or frost only as you use them, which makes for easier storage.  The muffins and frosting store well in the fridge for several days.)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one lemon or orange

Beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, syrup, and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Stir in zest.

Printable version:  CARROT CAKE MUFFINS

HONEY ROASTED CARROT SALAD

From Melissa Clark’s COOK THIS NOW, I didn’t change it much at all (OK, I eliminated a few bowls along the way) and it was a big hit at our latest FCA.  My only suggestion: ours was beautiful with purple and orange carrots.  To keep such carrots’ color, don’t peel them, but scrub very well.  Then, roast them on separate pans so the colors don’t mix.

1 lb. carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into ½ “ rounds

1 ½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons EVOO

salt & pepper

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup sliced almonds

about 8 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt & pepper

more EVOO

Preheat the oven to 400.  Toss together carrots, 1 ½ tablespoons EVOO, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet, then spread out in one layer.  Roast, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, 2 teaspoons EVOO, 1 teaspoon water and a couple pinches of salt.  In a small baking pan, toss together almonds with 1 ½ teaspoons of the honey mixture and spread out evenly (though they will stick together a bit).

Once carrots have roasted for 25 minutes, pour the remaining honey mixture over them and toss to coat.  Roast carrots and almonds for another 5 – 7 minutes, until almonds are golden and carrots are tender.  Remove and cool completely.  (Can be done several hours ahead and stored at room temperature.)

For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Whisk in ¼ cup EVOO until fully incorporated.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens with half of the dressing.  Fold in carrots and almonds, drizzle on more dressing to taste and toss gently.

Printable version here:  HONEY ROASTED CARROT SALAD

ORZO AND BROCCOLI SALAD

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com.  Hers had a few more things in it — cucumber and avocado — but I was worried about the avocado sitting without browning.  Also the herb she included was cilantro, with mint as an alternative, but I had nice parsley, which worked well.

1 clove garlic,

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup dried orzo pasta

8 – 10 medium asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1” pieces

1 medium head of broccoli cut into small trees, stems discarded

small handful of parsley, chopped

¼ cup EVOO

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 small cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4” pieces

¼ cup feta, crumbled

Mash garlic with a large pinch of salt into a paste, with a mortar and pestle, or using the back of a large spoon and a cutting board.  Put garlic paste into a jar or small bowl, pour lemon juice over it, and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt generously and boil orzo per package directions, to al dente.  About one minute before orzo is done, stir in asparagus and broccoli.  Once water comes back to a full boil, check for doneness and then drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.

Whisk or shake olive oil into garlic and lemon juice to make dressing.  Toss pasta and vegetables with about half of the dressing, and set aside until ready to serve. This can be made several hours ahead and left at room temperature (or refrigerate and then let come back to room temp before serving).

Just before serving, fold in the rest of the ingredients, add more dressing as needed, and serve.

PRINTABLE VERSION: ORZO & BROCCOLI SALAD

PASTA with ASPARAGUS, PEAS, ARUGULA & PROSCIUTTO

This is adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.  I changed a few ingredients and used an epicurious reviewer’s comments to change up and simplify the order of cooking.  A lovely late spring dish that even my meat loving husband and (currently) anti-asparagus daughter loved.  Read recently that unless you are shelling peas yourself, they’ll be less starchy and sweeter if you use frozen, so that’s what I did.

Note:  This is a recipe where getting everything chopped ahead is important.  Also a pasta pot where you can remove the pasta without draining the water is useful, or some other way to scoop out the pasta (I used tongs with the capellini).

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons EVOO

½ lb. spring onions, white & pale green parts only, sliced thin

1 large shallot, minced

salt & pepper

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 lb. thin asparagus, tough ends removed, sliced crosswise in ¾” pieces

2 cups frozen or very freshly shelled peas

8 – 12 oz. pasta (capellini, shell, or campanelle – trumpet shaped) pasta

1 large bunch arugula, roughly chopped

1 cup, plus more to garnish, finely grated Parmesan

½ cup parsley, chopped

2 – 4 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced and then chopped (optional)

Start salted water boiling in large pot.  In a very large skillet, melt butter with oil over medium heat.  Add onions and shallot, sprinkle them with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until tender but not brown.  Add wine, increase heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced and glaze-like, about 3 minutes.  Add broth and bring to simmer, then keep warm.

Once water is ready, cook pasta according to directions, al dente.  Scoop out pasta (see Note above) and add to onion/stock/wine mixture, stirring occasionally over low heat.  This allows the pasta to soak up the flavors.  With a liquid measuring cup, scoop out about ½ cup of the pasta water and reserve.  Keeping the water boiling, add the asparagus and peas and cook for 2 minutes.  Strain vegetables and fold into pasta mixture, along with arugula, parmesan, parsley and prosciutto if using.  Pasta will have soaked up most of the liquid at this point, so add the pasta water if it is too dry for you.

Serve immediately with extra parmesan.  Great left over, reheated in a sauté pan with a little extra stock if you have it.

Printer Friendly Version: PASTA with ASPARAGUS