Gnocchi are Italian dumplings and they should be light and fluffy when you serve them. Store bought gnocchi can be a little dense and heavy. How do you get the lightness in the dough? By not using too much flour and using flavor ingredients that are not heavy. I never just use just flour and potato in the dough. I like to add ricotta cheese and alternate the potato with other vegetables, such as butternut squash, pureed carrots, sweet potatoes or spinach. They are not difficult to make at home, so give gnocchi a try.
2 medium baking potatoes, cooked and peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups 00 (Italian) flour or all-purpose flour
Dice the cooked potatoes and place them in an electric mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment mash the potatoes.
Add the salt and pepper.
Mix the egg and ricotta together in a small mixing bowl. Add to the potatoes in the mixer along with the flour.
Mix until thoroughly combined and the dough comes together.
Place the dough on a floured board and knead a few minutes until smooth.
Divide in half. This recipe usually comes out to weigh about 2 lbs.
Wrap one half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is time to cut the gnocchi.
Wrap the other half in plastic and place in a freezer zip-lock beg. Freeze the dough for another time.
This dough freezes well. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator when you want to use it.
To shape the gnocchi:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before making the gnocchi.
Spread some flour on a large work surface and cut the dough into four equal pieces.Take one piece and cut it in half.
Roll the piece of dough into a snake about 1/2 inch thick, then cut it into 1 inch pieces.
Dust the gnocchi with a little flour and push the tines of a fork into one side of the dumpling.
Place the gnocchi on a waxed paper tray dusted with flour and cover with a dry kitchen towel.
To cook the gnocchi
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add enough salt to it so that the water tastes salty.
Place a pasta bowl close to the stove.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top of the boiling water.
You may have to do this in batches, so as not to crowd the pan.
Remove the gnocchi with a spider, allowing the water to drain and place the gnocchi in the bowl.
Continue until all the gnocchi are cooked.
Sauces for Gnocchi
Tomato and Fresh Basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled, tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the herb sprigs and basil and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste.
2 cups fresh basil leaves (about 1 large bunch)
3 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
3/4 cup freshly grated hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese, or a combo of the two
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the oil and cheeses in a food processor. Pulse until the pesto is blended into a slightly coarse paste.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the oil and cheeses.
To serve with pasta, you can toss the cooked pasta directly with the pesto. Or, if you want to thin out the pesto sauce a little, add a spoonful or two of the hot pasta water to the pesto, then toss with the cooked pasta and serve right away.
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to desired taste
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and butter, swirl to coat the skillet.
Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper; sauté 20 minutes until mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid.
Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat.
Add hot cooked pasta another sprinkling of salt, half & half and Grana Padano to the skillet, tossing to combine.
Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until desired moistness and continue to toss. Sprinkle with parsley.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
6 ounces dry miniature ravioli
3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
Place a heavy skillet over medium heat. Pour cream into skillet, bring to a simmer, and cook cream until it reduces by half, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Pour dried ravioli into boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, 16 to 18 minutes.
Drain pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water.
Gently fold cooked ravioli into cream sauce and turn heat to low. Mix in Gorgonzola cheese, stirring gently until melted. If sauce is too thick, thin it with a little pasta cooking water.
Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with diced apple, walnuts, and 1 teaspoon parsley.
2 cups penne pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into strips
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced, or more to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add penne and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat-high heat; saute asparagus and carrots until tender yet firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic; saute until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir Parmesan cheese, cream, and black pepper into vegetable mixture until cheese melts and sauce is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add pasta to sauce and toss to coat.
And Our Favorite
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Black pepper to taste
12 sage leaves, sliced
To make the sauce:
Heat the butter and sage together in a small skillet. Pour the melted butter over the cooked gnocchi, add the cheese and mix well. Garnish with black pepper and serve immediately.
Sometimes you don’t want to spend several hours in the kitchen fixing dinner but you want something really good. This dinner fits that description – quick to make and great taste all together.
Swordfish In Pesto Cream
1 swordfish fillet, about 12 oz
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup rice cooked according to package directions
Season both sides of the swordfish with salt and black pepper. Cut the fish into two equal pieces.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, pesto and lemon zest. Add mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Transfer the cooked rice to a serving platter. Top the rice with the fish and spoon the sauce over the top.
Green Beans With Tomato
½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
¼ cup water
1 small shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 fresh plum tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until the shallot softens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Add the green beans, tomatoes, oregano and water. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender, stirring and tossing occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Every once in a while, it is nice to just have dinner with your partner.
Southern Pimento Cheese Stuffed Celery
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
- 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
- 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons drained chopped pimientos
- 1 teaspoon grated onion
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch salt
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- Celery stalks, cut into 4 inch lengths
Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.
Scrape into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Use the spread to fill celery stalks and serve immediately.
Grilled Crab Stuffed Salmon Rolls
- 1 Salmon Fillet, about 8 oz, skin removed
- ½ cup shelled, fresh lump crab meat
- 1 tablespoon minced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced celery
- 1 tablespoon minced green bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
- ¼ teaspoon ground garlic
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the stuffing
Mix the crab meat with the vegetables and seasoning.
For the salmon rolls
Cut the salmon fillet in half lengthwise. Divide the stuffing in half and spread on the skinned side of the salmon fillet. Roll up tight and secure with metal skewers or Butcher’s string.
Refrigerate until time to grill.
Preheat the grill to medium hot.
Place pinwheels on a sheet of heavy-duty foil that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray. Poke a few holes into the foil.
Slide the foil onto the hot grill and grill with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.
To cook indoors
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Place pinwheels the pan. Brush pinwheels with butter, cover loosely with foil and bake 15-20 minutes..
Spaghetti with Basil Pesto Sauce
- 4 oz spaghetti
- 1/4 cup prepared or homemade basil pesto
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh ground black pepper
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.
Add the pasta cooking water, the basil pesto and the Parmesan cheese to the empty pasta pot and stir until combined. Add the drained pasta, toss and serve.
Tomato Cucumber Arugula Salad
- 1 large tomato cut in half and sliced
- 1/4 of a cucumber, cut in half and sliced
- 2 scallions, finely diced
- 2 cups arugula
- Italian vinaigrette
Combine the salad ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough salad dressing to just moisten the ingredients and toss, Serve immediately
Peach Frozen Yogurt
Makes about 4 1/2 cups
- 1 pound peaches, peeled
- 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Garnish with chopped mint leaves
Combine peaches, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Transfer to a freezer-safe bowl, cover and freeze, whisking mixture vigorously every 30 minutes until just frozen throughout, 2 to 3 hours.
(Whisking helps to break up the ice that forms when freezing.) Frozen yogurt is ready when it is too thick to whisk.
Stir with a spatula, transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer. Serve garnished with chopped mint.
This is the season of abundance. Now cherries, apricots, plums, summer squash, watermelon and tomatoes, etc., start showing up at the markets – and they’re not being shipped here, unripe, from Mexico, Guatemala or Chile. This is truly the hallmark of the beginning of the season of abundance. There is so much to choose from, you have to stop yourself from buying more than you can use in a week. I try to incorporate as many of these vegetables and herbs into my recipes to get full benefit from them. I also freeze some produce for the winter, when these items are not available.
I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise in my salads, but feel free to add additional mayonnaise if ½ cup is not enough for you. Use seasonal vegetables in the salad whenever possible.
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1/2 onion finely diced
- 1/2 bell pepper finely diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced
- 1/4 cup spicy cherry peppers, diced or pickle relish
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch black pepper
Make the dressing by combining the ingredients and set aside while you cook the macaroni. Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add the dressing while the pasta is warm.
Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste, but I find this type of salad doesn’t need salt. The mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.
Chill the salad for several hours before serving.
Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken
The marinade used for this chicken recipe makes the chicken really delicious.
- One 3-4 pound chicken, wing tips removed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs ( I used oregano, basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, chives and thyme because that is what is growing in my garden.)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup.
Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken backbone; remove the backbone (Save it for broth).
Turn the chicken, breast side up, and press down firmly on the breast bone to crack and flatten it. Tuck the wings under the back.
Transfer the flattened chicken to a medium glass baking dish. Loosen the skin a little and rub the marinade under and over all the skin of the chicken.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Heat an outdoor grill to high with all the burners on, then, turn one or two burners to the lowest setting to create a low heat area.
Grill the chicken, skin side down over the hot side of the grill, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and move to the low heat side of the grill.
Cover and grill over low heat until cooked through, about 20 – 30 minutes. Internal temperature should be around 170 F.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 180 F. Carve the chicken and serve.
Big Batch Basil Pesto
Pesto freezes well. I don’t add Parmesan cheese to basil pesto until I am ready to serve it.
Makes 3 cups
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Wash basil well and drain in a colander.
In the bowl of a processor, place the garlic, salt, pepper and walnuts. Process until ground. Add the basil leaves and return the top with the spout removed.
While the machine is running slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a refrigerator container or into freezer containers.
Drizzle a layer of olive oil on the top of the pesto to keep it from turning dark.
Green Beans and Potatoes with Pesto
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into thick slices
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup Basil Pesto, recipe above
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Place the potatoes in a large steamer basket fitted over a pot of boiling water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes.
Add the green beans to the potatoes in the steamer and continue to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. Drain
Transfer the vegetables to a large serving bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the pesto, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Stir to coat evenly.
Leftover Grilled Chicken Salad Plate
- Leftover grilled chicken, sliced (see recipe above)
Any combination seasonal vegetables, such as :
- Sliced tomatoes
- Cooked corn on the cob, shucked
- Red onion, sliced
- Sliced bell pepper
- Boiled potatoes
- Sliced cucumber
- Cooked green beans
- Slices of ripe cantaloupe melon
- 3 cups fresh lettuce
- Homemade Ranch Dressing, (see recipe here)
Line a serving platter with the lettuce. Arrange the chicken slices and vegetables over the lettuce in an attractive pattern. Drizzle with the Ranch dressing before serving.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa, plus extra for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 2 1/2 cups cappuccino chips or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Chocolate sprinkles for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat a 9″ x 13″ pan cake pan with cooking spray and lightly dust with cocoa powder.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Squeeze the shredded zucchini dry in a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and oil until well blended and light.
Add the egg and continue beating. Beat in vanilla, buttermilk and applesauce.
Stir in the flour-cocoa mixture. Fold in the grated zucchini and mini chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
To make the topping:
Heat the chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Pour into a bowl and chill.
When ready to frost the cake, whisk the topping and spread on top of the cake. Add the chocolates sprinkles, if using.
Store the cake in the refrigerator.
In the US, we waste roughly 40 percent of all the food we produce. Food production is a resource-intensive process, requiring water, energy, land, soil, human labor and an elaborate web of production, processing and distribution. When we throw away food, all these resources are squandered.
Fortunately, the food waste dilemma is solvable. While the problem must be addressed at every sector of the food system, as individual food consumers, there are plenty of ways we can all help reduce waste – especially since there’s so much room for improvement. If you are interested in embracing a more sustainable lifestyle, eliminating food waste is an important and easy way to start. Reducing your food waste is actually very simple; all you need to do is buy what you need and eat what you buy.
If you buy more food than you can eat, you’ll eventually have to throw some away. Avoid waste by shopping smarter. Make a plan of what to cook for the next week based on what is available seasonally. Write a shopping list based on that plan.
Make a conscious effort to keep track of the food you have – and then remember to eat it.
Learn to store foods properly to keep them fresh as long as possible. Use this chart to learn this information: http://www.savethefood.com/food-storage
The dinners this week will highlight my frugal nature. If you recall last week, I made several toppings for grilled steak and those leftover toppings can become the star in a new dish.
The leftover topping recipes can be found here.
Pizza with Peppers and Onions
- 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
- 1 cup leftover Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic Sauce (see link above)
- 2 cups leftover Peppers and Onion Topping (see link above)
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the lowest position in the oven.
Spread the pizza dough to the edges in a greased pizza pan.
Top the dough with the mozzarella slices.
Spread the tomato sauce over the cheese. Top with the peppers and onions and then with the oregano. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
Place the pizza on the bottom oven rack and bake 15-20 minutes.
Chicken Cutlets with Mediterranean Salad
- 2 thin chicken cutlets
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup leftover olive topping (see link above)
- 1 small head of romaine lettuce, sliced
- Half a cucumber, sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
- 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
Set up the dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the beaten egg, one plate for the flour and one plate for the bread crumbs.
Using a fork, coat the chicken first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs, pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.
Saute each breast in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side. The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.
Remove and drain the chicken on a paper-towel-lined dinner plate.
For the salad:
In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine with the other salad ingredients.
Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and serve alongside the chicken cutlet.
Extra sausage may also be used for pizza or as an addition to pasta. See recipe below.
- 1 lb Italian pork sausage
- 1 cup leftover cooked peppers and onions (see link above)
Prepare an outdoor grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas). If using a charcoal grill, open vents on the bottom of the grill, then light the charcoal.
When the charcoal turns grayish white about 15 minutes after lighting, the grill is ready. If using a gas grill, preheat the burners on high, covered for 10 minutes.
On a charcoal grill, spread the coals over the rear two-thirds of the firebox and leaving the front third coal-free. On a gas grill, turn off all but one burner. Sausages should be grilled over indirect heat.
There’s no need to prick sausages with toothpicks or a fork before grilling. Perforating the casing only releases flammable fats, juices and flavor.
Lightly brush or rub the casings with olive oil. This prevents sticking and makes them extra crisp.
Handle with care. The key to a juicy sausage is to keep the casing intact. Use tongs and don’t break the sausage skin when turning.
Grill the sausages over the indirect part of the grill until crusty and golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes.
Rotini Pasta with Creamy Pesto and Zucchini
We planted basil last week and within a few days I had enough leaves to make pesto for this recipe.
- 12 oz rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
- 1/4 cup half & half
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
- 2 grilled Italian sausage links, diced, if using
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Boil a pot of water and add salt and rotini. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil and add the diced zucchini and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes and add the diced sausage. Cook another 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the pesto and half & half. Stir well. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta. Mix well and serve.
The chart shows what is in season where I live in the south on the Gulf Coast area of the US. We are about two months ahead of the northern states in when crops mature. For example, strawberries are in season here from February until the beginning of May, while in the north, the peak season is June.
This week I am cooking what is in season and sharing the recipes with you for stuffed artichokes, spring peas, golden beets, leftover spring vegetables from the holiday week and strawberry pie. Rhubarb is available mid-April here. The veggie dishes are a little different – time to make a change in flavoring these traditional spring vegetables. We enjoyed the changes.
Pasta with Spring Vegetables
I grow so much basil during the summer that I have pesto sauce in the freezer all winter long. I had small amounts of vegetables left from the meals I served during the holiday. As a frugal cook, I do not throw anything away. These leftover vegetables can add much flavor to a simple pasta dish without a lot of preparation. I served this pasta with grilled shrimp.
- 8 oz pasta
- 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
- 2-3 tablespoons cream or half & half
- 1 cup cooked leftover spring vegetables (carrots, zucchini, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, peas, broccoli)
- 1 /2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper
Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain.
In a medium skillet, combine the pesto with enough cream to thin out the sauce. Add the leftover vegetables and warm over low heat.
Add the cooked pasta and stir until combined. Cover the skillet and heat on low until the mixture is hot. Add cheese and black pepper. Toss and serve.
Spring Pea Salad
This salad goes well with BBQ meat or roasted salmon.
- 1/2 an orange, peeled and fruit segments diced
- 1/4 of a fennel bulb, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound green peas, blanched (if fresh) or thawed (if frozen)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
In a medium serving bowl, combine the orange juice, oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Add the red onion, peas, fennel and oranges and toss gently. Let marinate for an hour and serve at room temperature.
- 2 large artichokes, cleaned
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 2 cups water
- 1 Italian sausage link, casing removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
- 1/4 cup marinara (tomato) sauce
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place cleaned artichokes, cut sides down, in a bowl with the water. Squeeze one half of the lemon over the artichokes and place the squeezed lemon half in the bowl.
Thinly slice the other half of the lemon and set aside.
While the artichokes are soaking, prepare the stuffing:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking up the sausage meat with a wooden spoon until crumbly.
Add the minced garlic and marinara sauce and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the bread crumbs and red pepper flakes. Stir for 1 minute while the bread crumbs absorb the sauce.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Take the artichokes out of the water bath and drain.
Spread the leaves of the artichokes open and fill each with the stuffing mixture.
Place the artichokes in a deep pot with water 1/4 of the way up the side of the pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the water and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the artichokes.
Place the lemon slices on top of the artichokes.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook on low for 45 minutes or until tender. (The size of the artichoke will vary the cooking time).
Remove from the heat and serve hot or at room temperature.
Golden Beets in Walnut Sauce
- 3 golden beets, trimmed of greens
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place the packages on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake the beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, or until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)
Place oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add the garlic and cook until it begins to soften. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 2 minutes. Add the orange juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
After the beets have cooled, peel off the skins. Thinly slice the beets and arrange them in a serving dish. Pour the walnut sauce over the sliced beets and garnish with parsley.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Until rhubarb is in season where you live, you can make the pie with all strawberries.
My family’s favorite pie.
- Two 9 inch refrigerated pie crusts or you favorite pie crust, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Granulated sugar for the topping
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In large bowl combine:
- 2 1/2 cups hulled, sliced strawberries
- 2 1/2 cups of rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour or other thickener
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
Fit one pastry sheet into a 9 inch pie pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Add the fruit mixture and dot with the butter.
Cut the top crust into 10 even strips on a floured board. Place the strips on top of the fruit and weave them to form a lattice top.
Brush the top crust with 1 tablespoon of milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and the pie juice begins to bubble through the slits.
Let the pie cool on the baking sheet (to catch drips).
Quick and easy appetizers are a must for the holiday season. You don’t need to spend a lot of time preparing appetizers for your guests in order to get some great tasting snacks to serve at a holiday get-together. Keep simple ingredients on hand that you can quickly pull together for an appetizer. Below you will find some suggestions for quick but delicious appetizers.
Tomato Pesto Flatbread
8 to 10 servings
- 1 pound fresh pizza dough
- 1/3 cup tomato pasta sauce or pizza sauce
- 1/3 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough to a large square about 12 inches long and 12 inches wide; place on a cookie sheet. Spread pizza sauce evenly over the dough; top with olives and cheese. Use a teaspoon to drop dots of basil pesto over the pizza. Sprinkle with pepper flakes.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into 3 inch squares and serve immediately.
Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms
- 16 large button or cremini mushrooms, each about 2-inches in diameter
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs or gluten free panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove mushroom stems from the caps and finely chop the stems. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Brush some of the butter over the mushroom caps; place cap side down on a rimmed baking sheet.
Add chopped stems, onion and garlic to the remaining butter in the skillet; sauté until golden brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in salt and pepper
Mix the cheese with bread crumbs and parsley in a medium bowl. Add stem mixture; mix well. Mound into mushroom caps, pressing down to use all the crumb mixture.
Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.
Saucy Cream Cheese Appetizer
- 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons mango chutney
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons hot or medium salsa
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Whole grain or multi-grain crackers
Cut the block of cream cheese in half crosswise. Place on two small glass or microwave safe serving plates. Place plates in a microwave oven and cook at high power 15 seconds (or let stand at room temperature until slightly softened).
Spoon chutney over one brick; top with almonds.
Spoon salsa over the other brick; top with cilantro.
Serve as a spread with the crackers on an attractive cheese board.
Blue Cheese Puffs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 large eggs
- 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine milk, water, butter and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium and stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue stirring for several minutes over low heat, and then remove the pan from heat.
The dough will be thick, smooth and shiny and should not be brown. Beat in 1 egg at a time, beating very well after each addition. Fold in the blue cheese and black pepper with a spatula.
Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip (or use a heavy plastic bag with a 1/2 –inch cut from one corner.) Pipe dough into 1-1/2-inch mounds, approximately the volume of a heaping tablespoon, onto parchment-lined baking sheets or cookie sheets 1 inch apart.
Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. Rotate the pans on the oven racks; reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature on the same day they are made.
Turkey Meatballs with Mustard Dip
- 1 slice bread, torn into 2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
Place torn bread in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer bread crumbs to a large bowl and add milk; set aside until bread is completely soaked.
Place onion, red bell pepper and garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped; stir into bread mixture.
Add turkey, egg, parsley, 1 tablespoon mustard, salt and pepper to the bread crumb mixture and mix well.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Shape turkey mixture into 1-inch balls; arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Let meatballs stand for 5 minutes.
Mix yogurt, mayonnaise and the 4 teaspoons mustard together in a bowl; serve alongside meatballs.
You simply mix the recipe ingredients in a large bucket, cover and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 hours; then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. You will have enough dough to make 3-4 loaves of bread or 3-4 pizzas with very little work. Once I discovered the Artisan Bread method, I have been making most of my breads following their process.
If you would like to know more about this method visit their website: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/. The authors have recently written a book on how to make gluten-free bread with this method.
I like to use Italian “00” flour for making pizza. Italian “00” flour is lower in protein and makes a supple, smooth and easy dough to shape.The “00” refers to the grind of the flour and this flour is fine-textured. The resulting baked goods are light, airy and have a crisp snap to the crust. It’s ideal for pizza, flatbread, focaccia and crackers.
I purchase the flour from King Arthur. Of course, you can use other types of flour but the ingredient amounts will vary slightly.
Homemade Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Pesto
No Knead Pizza Dough
I use the method and recipe for the dough from “Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The bucket should not be airtight, so leave the lid ajar or, do what I did, drill a tiny hole in the top center of the lid.
Ingredients for the dough
- 3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 7 ½ cups 00 Italian Style flour
Ingredients for Oven Dried Tomatoes:
- 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Ingredients for the topping:
- 1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
- 1 recipe oven dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
- Crushed black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions for making the oven dried tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Pour the oil into a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the minced garlic over the oil in the pan. Place the tomatoes in an even layer on the baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 90 minutes until the juices have stopped running, the tomato edges are shriveled and the tomato pieces have shrunken slightly. Make ahead and store in the refrigerator.
Directions for making the pizza dough:
Pour the water into a 5 quart bowl or lidded food container. Add yeast and salt to the water.
Measure the flour with the “scoop and sweep” method. (Dip cup into flour and scoop it up. Level the cup with the back of a knife.)
Add all the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You only need to mix it until all ingredients are combined. No kneading is necessary. (The dough will be very moist and will actually conform to the shape of the container you put it in.)
Cover, but don’t seal the lid tightly, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top (about 2 hours).
DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! This method is designed to retain as much gas in the dough as possible. After rising, refrigerate the dough in the container and use the dough over the next 14 days. Once it’s refrigerated the dough will collapse and it will not rise again in the container — that’s normal. Extra dough may also be frozen with equally excellent results.
Directions for making the pizza:
Pull up and cut off a 1 1/3 pound piece of dough from the container of refrigerated pizza dough. My pizza pans are large, so I usually get 3 pizzas from a batch of dough.
Hold the dough in your hands and dust your hands with flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Form a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides and rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.
Place the ball in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
After the dough has rested, add the toppings.
Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the dough. Spread the pesto sauce over the cheese layer.
Distribute the tomatoes evenly over the pizza and grind some fresh black pepper over the top.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Place the pizza on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.
This will be one of the best pizzas you have ever had.
What could be easier than making your entire meal on the grill? Cook vegetable side dishes alongside your main course for a quick summer meal. Here are some of my favorite vegetables to put on the grill.
Slice eggplant into planks (1/4” thick) and give them a quick dip in a marinade before putting them on the grill. A combination of balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and olive oil is a good marinade for eggplant.
Bell peppers can be cooked two ways. Leave them whole and let them cook until charred all over for peeling, or cut them into chunks and grill until just blackened around the edges but still crisp.
The flavor of tomatoes can vastly be improved by grilling. Cut them in half crosswise and place them cut-side down on an oiled grill. After three or four minutes turn them over and add a teaspoon of basil pesto. Cook for another three to four minutes then serve.
Zucchini is another vegetable made more delicious by a quick marinade before grilling. You can even use the same balsamic-basil marinade that you use for eggplant and vary the herbs for a different taste
The onions sharp and pungent flavor transforms into mellow and sweet on the grill. Cut the onion crosswise into half-inch slices and then run a skewer through it. Grill over medium rather than high heat to keep the outside from burning before the inside is cooked.
I do not leave corn in the husk for grilling because I don’t like the taste that charred husks leave on the corn. Simply brush with melted butter or olive oil and grill to get a charred effect. If you do not want charring, wrap in foil and grill.
Par-boil small potatoes until they are just about cooked through. Then thread them onto skewers and finish them on the grill. If you have some russet potatoes and a little time, make smoked potatoes. Build a fire for indirect grilling and add a handful of wood chips or chunks. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Put them right on the grill and close the lid. Do not wrap them in foil. After 45 minutes to an hour the potatoes will be done (test like you would a baked potato).
Asparagus in season are hard to beat no matter how it is prepared, but just give them a few minutes on the grill and you have something even better. Make a little garlic aioli to dress the spears after they’re grilled for a delicious side dish.
Grilled Summer Squash, Onions and Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup red and/or yellow grape tomatoes
For the marinade: In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add zucchini and onion, stirring to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Lightly coat a grill pan with cooking spray. For a charcoal grill, preheat a grill pan on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove zucchini and onion from marinade and place in the grill pan. Reserve marinade.
Grill vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes or just until tender and lightly brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes. Grill about 1 minute more or until tomatoes are heated through.
For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Preheat grill pan as directed. Add vegetables as directed above. Cover and grill as above.
Remove vegetables from the grill pan. Place on a serving platter. Drizzle reserved marinade over the vegetables. Toss to combine.
Grilled Corn Salad
- 4 ears fresh corn on the cob
- 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
- 2 cups shredded fresh spinach
- 2 cups red and yellow tomatoes, quartered
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or basil
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Fresh oregano or basil leaves
Husk and silk corn. Brush each ear of corn with some of the Italian salad dressing. Place corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning often. (Or place brushed ears in a shallow baking pan; bake in a 425 degree F oven for 30 minutes, turning once.) When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cobs (you should have about 2 cups kernels).
In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, spinach, tomatoes and the 2 teaspoons snipped oregano or basil. Add remaining Italian salad dressing; toss to coat. Spoon corn mixture into six small mugs or bowls. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with oregano or basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.
Here is another way to grill potatoes.
- 2 pounds fingerling potatoes or round red potatoes
- Half of a 16 ounce package (about 2 cups) frozen small whole onions, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Wash and dry potatoes. Quarter the round red potatoes, if using. Cut any large fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise, if using.
Place a 24 x 18-inch sheet of heavy foil on a flat surface. Place potatoes and onions on foil. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, chili powder, paprika and pepper. Bring up two opposite edges of the foil; seal with a double fold. Fold remaining ends to completely enclose the potatoes, leaving space for steam to build. Wrap with a second 24 x 18-inch piece of heavy foil to insulate.
Heat grill to medium. Grill the packets for 45 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, turning packet every 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 (2/3-cup) servings.
Grilled Eggplant Rolls
- 3 medium eggplant
- About 1/3 cup olive oil for brushing the eggplant
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 recipe for Basil Pesto, click here for my homemade recipe
- 1 cup Tomato (Marinara) Sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the eggplant and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices, discarding the first and last slices from each one; you should have about 16-18 slices.
Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Place over the hottest part of the grill, in batches and cook, turning once, until soft and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side; return the slices to the baking sheet as they are done.
Season the eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange the slices on a work surface with the narrow end of each slice toward you.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and pesto until smooth and well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on the narrow end of each slice of eggplant and roll up, not too tightly, like a jelly roll. Set aside.
Heat the tomato sauce and spoon the sauce onto a rimmed serving platter. Arrange the eggplant rolls seam side down in the sauce and sprinkle with the marjoram leaves.
Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad
- 4 medium Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette, see below
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- One 10 ounce package Italian mixed salad greens (romaine and radicchio)
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
- Snipped fresh basil
Place tomatoes, zucchini, sweet pepper, and onion in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Pour the Balsamic Vinaigrette over the vegetables in the bag; seal bag. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.
Drain vegetables, reserving vinaigrette.
For a charcoal grill, grill vegetables on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill sweet pepper and onion for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill zucchini for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill tomatoes, skin sides down, about 5 minutes or until soft and skins begin to char.
For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board; cool slightly.
In an extra-large bowl combine salad greens and basil. Add reserved vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange greens on a large platter. Cut grilled zucchini and sweet peppers into bite-size pieces. Arrange grilled vegetables and the cheese on top of greens. Sprinkle with snipped fresh basil.
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a screw-top jar combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Cover and shake well.