Roasted Pasta Primavera

My wife and I were having lunch and she asked me “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Why not make some past primavera? And be sure to add some squash. My mom always stir-fried squash for me; sometimes with scrambled eggs.”

And I did. So delicious.

Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 1¼ lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh vegetables cut into strips or diced (I used corn, squash, zucchini, red and green pepper—all from a local farm. And Japanese Eggplant, Jalapeno Peppers, and tomatoes—all from my garden. And some spinach.)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta + Sauce
  • One package of fresh Rana linguine
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden brown.
Pasta + Sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until melted and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then gently stir in the vegetables and Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.

Earth Day 2018

Reading from today’s Daily Word:

Earth Blessing
I live in harmony with the earth.

In 2004 Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Kenya through the Green Belt Movement. In her acceptance lecture she said, “We are called to assist the earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.”

I am part of a beautiful web of life; intricately woven so that my actions impact the entire web. I am a good steward of the earth’s resources as I am a good steward of my own body. Centered in divine wisdom, I use what I need in ways that support the renewal of the earth. I experience a sense of peace living in harmony with the earth.

And there is this:

“I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.”
― Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.

The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.—Genesis 1:12

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Spring Is In The Air

I hope! Because it is snowing again this morning!

And then later in the day I hope to see this:

 

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Roasted Chickpea and Fennel Ratatouille

This is a great recipe. My wife Susan found it for me and suggested that I make it.

If you have made Ratatouille on the stove-top, adding ingredients one at a time, you are going to love this. Rich and hearty. So delicious. And so easy to prepare!

The recipe is from Mark Bittman and he writes:

“This ratatouille with chickpeas and fennel is among the best I’ve ever made. It’s a recipe for what you might call A Vegan Day. Being a vegan is not my point, and anyway, it’s as easy to create an unhealthy full-time vegan diet as it is to eat brilliantly as a part-time vegan.

“When fruits and vegetables are at their best, they give you insight into how the vegan thing can work for you, if only for a day. And given a moderate degree of freshness, most conventional vegetables from ordinary supermarkets can be made to taste good when gardens go dormant.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pound eggplant (smaller is better), peeled if you like, and cut into large chunks
  • ¾ pound zucchini, cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and chopped, or 1 28-ounce can, drained
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced (I didn’t have these so I used 3 seeded and sliced jalapeno peppers.)
  • 1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients except oil, chickpeas and herbs in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to combine.
  2. Transfer to oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender and some water has been released from the tomatoes to create a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Add chickpeas, stir and return to oven until beans heat through, 5 to 10 minutes. Add herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

 

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Hoppin’ John

For years, and always a few days before the New Year, Susan will say, “Bruce, would you make Hoppin’ John for New Year’s Day?” It is a Southern peas and rice dish traditionally served on New Year’s Day.

And finally I make it this year. Not on New Year’s Day but a few days ago on January 9.

It was delicious!

I based my dish on the instructions on the GOYA Blackeye Peas bag. Noted below are my additions.

Ingredients

1 bag of GOYA dry Blackeye Peas
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped (my addition)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup cooked, chopped ham (my addition
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (my addition)
1 teaspoon oregano (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon thyme (my addition
4 roasted tomatoes (see previous Blog post.)
3 cups water
1 cup rice (I cooked the rice separately.)

Directions

Sort and wash beans. In an large 8 quart pot, soak  beans in 4 cups water (I used homemade chicken stock.) DO NOT DRAIN!!! Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Add onion, peppers, celery and cook until tender. Add mixture to beans in pot. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Beans should have about 2 cups of liquid when they are tender. Serve with cooked rice.

Note: a vegan Hoppin’ John could be made by leaving out the bacon and ham. Might want to add some Liquid Smoke.

You can read about the history of the dish at Wikipedia and Serious Eats.

 

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Pasta alla Louise

Yesterday, January 8, was Susan’s birthday.

I gave her a choice of four different meals for dinner: pasta and spinach, meatballs and rice, meatloaf, or hamburgers. She chose pasta.

The recipe is based on one I found online called “5 Ingredient Spinach Parmesan Pasta.”

I call this recipe “Pasta alla Louise.” Why Louise? Because that is Susan’s middle name. And Pasta alla Louise sounds more pasta-poetic than Pasta alla Susan!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz uncooked pasta (I used Rienzi Glutten-free Penne Rigate)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil (My addition)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I didn’t used garlic. See Note below.)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced (My addition)
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (My addition)
  • 5-6 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (My addition)
  • Note: 3-4 roasted tomatoes (My addition. I roasted tomatoes this past summer in olive oil, lots of garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. I then bagged them and froze, 3-4 per bag. I have about 30 bags in the freezer!)

Directions:

  1. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set pasta aside.
  2. Using a large pan or wok, melt the butter over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the roasted tomatoes, pasta and spinach. Gently toss and cook until spinach leaves are wilted. Add in some of the reserved pasta water and chicken stock. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and toss until combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  3. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Here is a photo of it cooking in my All-Clad pan:

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Shrimp in Yellow Curry

Before my son and his girlfriend return to Denver after spending the Christmas Holidays with family here in Western Massachusetts, they always make time to have dinner with Susan and me a few days after Christmas. They also come to our traditional Christmas Eve family get-together but this dinner is just for the four of us. I usually make their favorite, Chicken Piccata, but this year Susan suggested we make something different.

“They love shrimp, Bruce,” Susan said. “And spicy food. Why not make this Shrimp with Yellow Curry recipe from Mark Bittman.”

And I did and we all loved it!

Mark Bittman writes:

“Many Thai dishes are not unlike what we call curries, but although they may contain curry powder, they are more often based on a combination of herbs and aromatic vegetables, rather than dried spices. A typical curry might feature a mixture of garlic, shallots, chiles, lime leaf, sugar and galangal (or ginger). This simplified version leaves out the lime leaf and sugar, but benefits from the addition of a couple spoonfuls of fish sauce at the end of cooking. It is exotic and brightly-flavored, but blessedly easy to toss together on a weeknight.”

Featured in: The Minimalist; The Essence Of Thai Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced galangal or ginger (I used grated ginger.)
  • 1 teaspoon minced hot chili, or crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (I used 1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into thin rounds and red pepper flakes.)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh or canned coconut milk
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds medium-to-large shrimp, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nam pla (fish sauce), or to taste (I used fish sauce.)
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro or mint leaves (I used cilantro.)
  • 1 package, about 2 cups, pea pods (my addition)

Preparation

  1. Place the oil in a large, deep skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies, pea pods and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and the mixture pasty. Add the curry and cook, stirring, another minute.
  2. Add the coconut milk and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is nearly dry. Add the shrimp, a few pinches of salt and a little black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp release their liquid (the mixture will become quite moist again) and turn pink.
  3. Add half the nam pla, stir, then taste and add the rest if necessary. Garnish with cilantro and serve with white or sticky rice. (I used brown rice.)

 

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North African Meatballs

My wife, Susan, asked me to make these. So happy I did. Just delicious!

Writing in The New York Times Cooking, David Tanis:

“In France, meatballs are called boulettes, and by far the favorite versions are the spice-scented North African type. Most of the neighborhood Tunisian and Moroccan restaurants in Paris offer them, served as an appetizer or a side, or in a fragrant main-course tagine with couscous.

“This recipe is an amalgam of several that I found on my bookshelf, among them one called boulettes tangéroises in an old French cookbook. Since I like things a bit spicier, my boulettes are more like Tunisian ones, in which hot pepper is more assertive.”

Ingredients

For the saffron tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • Large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

For the meatballs

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb (I used Bison.)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.
  2. Make the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.
  4. With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  5. Meanwhile, make the couscous, if desired: Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.
  6. Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous and roasted tomatoes if desired.

NOTE: I made the meatballs first. Cleaned pan. And then made sauce in same pan.

 

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Sunday In My Garden

 

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