Fresh asparagus stalks are firm, straight and smooth. They should be a rich green color with a small amount of white at the bottom of the spear. A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age. Also look for asparagus that stand up straight–the stalks should not be limp. The asparagus tips should be tightly closed and compact. If possible, buy asparagus that are standing in a shallow bin filled with a small amount of water which keeps the base of the stem from getting dry. There are endless ways to prepare asparagus and here is one of mine.
Asparagus and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halve, about 6 oz each
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 slices prosciutto
10 very thin asparagus spears, trimmed – divided
4 large, thin slices provolone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with a cover (or you may use foil) or use individual baking dishes.
Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet until very thin. Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place two slices of cheese on top of the chicken. Place a prosciutto slice on top of the cheese. Place 5 spears asparagus down the center of the chicken. Repeat with the other chicken breast and roll the chicken around the asparagus to make two compact rolls. Place the rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover the dish and return the baking dish to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken rolls with fresh chopped herbs before serving.
Sautéed Beet Greens
See Monday’s recipe for Marinated Beets. The beet greens from that recipe are used here.
2 bunches beet greens, stems removed and leaves cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Optional garnishes crumbled bacon or feta cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the greens and cook until tender. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and top with optional garnishes, if desired.
This is one of our favorite pasta dishes. Yes, I use canned clams in broth instead of whole clams. I think this version, that I have fiddled with over the years, is now just the way we like it. Lots and lots of flavor. Be sure to cook the spaghetti al dente. A great bread and salad round out a delicious meal.
Spaghetti With White Clam Sauce
2 cans of minced clams with liquid (do not drain)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 large cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt to taste
10 oz spaghetti
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.
Turn the heat to low and let the ingredients cook slowly for a few minutes to infuse the oil. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the clams with their liquid,stir and simmer for 4 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Add the cooked pasta and parsley to the saute pan and mix thoroughly. Cook until the pasta is hot. Serve immediately in pasta bowls.
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano or Greek seasoning
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups Romaine lettuce, broken into bite sized pieces
1 cup cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup sliced deli pepper rings
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
For the dressing
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and set aside.
For the salad
Place the onions, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and olives over the lettuce in a salad bowl.
Crumble the feta cheese over all.
Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve in individual bowls.
Herb and Sea Salt Focaccia
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
11/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons large crystal cut sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
Combine all of the dough ingredients in an electric mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together in a ball around the paddle.
Knead with the dough the hook attachment for 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel. The dough should rest for an hour or until it doubles in size.
Use a non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease a large baking dish 10″ x 15″. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on top of the spray. The olive oil is used for flavor in focaccia.
Gently pull and shape the dough to fit into the bottom of the pan. Don’t pat all the way to the edges of the pan; leave a little room around the perimeter for the dough to expand.
Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Using your fingers poke dimples into the dough, pressing down firmly; your fingers should reach the bottom of the pan without actually breaking through the dough.
Re-cover the dough, and let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs, garlic, black pepper and coarse sea salt.
Place the pan of focaccia onto a middle oven rack and spritz lightly with water. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees F.
Bake the focaccia until it’s light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and immediately turn it out of the pan onto a rack.
Leftovers can be reheated in a toaster or in a 350°F oven, just until warmed through.
Around the world, people eat certain foods thought to symbolize good fortune when the new year arrives. Here are a few recipes guaranteed to make you feel lucky.
Happy New Year.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Pork, thanks to its rich fat content, symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
Mustard Barbecue Sauce:
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register at least 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it falls apart.
While the pork is roasting, make the mustard sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.
When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat. Use 2 forks: 1 to steady the meat and the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.
To serve, spoon pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with some of the mustard sauce.
Legumes including beans, peas and lentils are symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked. In Italy, it is customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight. In the Southern United States, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called hoppin’ john.
4 cups shelled black-eyed peas
2 ounces bacon
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Cook the bacon in a large saucepan. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel plate and reserve for later.
Add the onion and celery to the hot bacon fat and cook until tender. Add the peas and saute for a minute or two.
Add the thyme and 2 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Add more if the peas are not covered.
Bring to a low boil and add the sugar and stir well.
Scoop off any foam that forms and discard it.
Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add the pepper and salt, stir well and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
Taste the peas for tenderness, they should be tender after this amount of time but not mushy. Drain.
Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.
Southern Winter Greens
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money and are symbolic of an economic fortune.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 pounds mixed winter greens such as collards, mustard greens or kale
6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch sticks
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or to taste
Salt and pepper
Discard stems and center ribs from the greens, then coarsely chop leaves.
Cook bacon in a wide 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown but not crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off the fat from the pot and wipe clean.
Heat the butter in the pot over medium-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, then stir in the greens, 1 handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before adding more. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in bacon, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
The Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” one of the many reasons fish has become a go-to good luck food. In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune.
1 lb flounder fillets
1 pkg (10 oz) fresh spinach or a 10 oz package frozen, thawed and drained
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
1/4 cup diced scallions
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season
Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and scallions and saute for a minute or two.
Add spinach to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the feta and Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each piece of fish.
Roll fish around stuffing. Place fish seam side down into an oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil Sprinkle fish with oregano and paprika.
Bake at 400 degrees F uncovered for 30 minutes.
Fettuccine in Lemon Sauce
In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles on New Year’s Day.because they signify. The noodles must not be broken or shortened during the cooking process.
1 pound fettuccine
1 clove garlic, grated
2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
Place the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente.
Place the grated garlic in a warm pasta serving bowl. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil while whisking.
Whisk until the ingredients have emulsified and add the cheese. Drain the spaghetti and add to the serving bowl. Mix the pasta with the lemon sauce to coat evenly.
Sprinkle the pasta dish with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
To make really good tasting chicken soup, you need a rich tasting broth. I usually start with the remains of a whole 4 lb chicken that I have either cooked on the grill or in the oven. Remove as much meat as you can, reserve 2-3 cups for the soup and use the remainder of the chicken meat for other dishes. To make the broth even richer, roast the chicken bones in the oven.
Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack and roast the bones until deeply brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer the bones to a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Spoon the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and discard. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into the pot with the roasted bones.
Add the following:
2 scrubbed carrots, cut in half
1 onion quartered or 1 bunch of scallions
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
Add these ingredients to the stockpot with the roasted bones and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours.
Remove and discard the large bones and vegetable pieces. Strain the stock in a fine mesh colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
Discard the vegetables and bones. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the souppot.
You can add more seasoning later depending on how you will use the stock. You now have a clear, flavorful stock to make some great soups.
Below are recipes for some of my favorite chicken soups:
Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup
3 medium poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
1 cup sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
14 oz container chopped tomatoes, no sugar or salt added
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups okra, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
Toasted tortilla strips (see recipe below) and cheddar cheese for garnish
Roast the poblano peppers over a grill or under the broiler. Cool and remove the skin. Chop and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.
Cook over low heat until tender.
Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Add the green beans,okra, plum tomatoes and diced poblano peppers.
Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken and heat.
Serve with toasted tortilla strips and cheddar cheese as a topping for the soup.
Baked Tortilla Strips
8 corn tortillas (6 inch)
Heat the oven to 450°F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Cut each tortilla into thin strips; place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake about 6 minutes or until crisp but not brown; cool and use to add to the soup.
Chicken Vegetable Soup
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
6 cup homemade chicken broth, recipe above
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup cooked noodles, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.
Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot.
Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add cooked noodles, if using and extra cooked chicken, if desired.
Italian Escarole Bean Soup
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups chicken broth, recipe above
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup diced, cooked spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender.
Add the Italian seasoning, the drained cannellini beans and the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cooked the beans for 30 minutes. Add the sausage, salt and escarole.
Let simmer until the escarole wilts. Ladle into soup bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.
In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.
Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked tortellini.
Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
Looking forward to spring!
In my area asparagus, Florida plum tomatoes, celery, artichokes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, arugula, spinach, beets, strawberries, raspberries and herbs are all in season. So, while I was shopping this week, I decided to take advantage of the good prices for the asparagus, artichokes and strawberries. I would have bought beets and carrots also but my friend has a great garden and he shared some of his bounty with me.
This makes a wonderful appetizer that can be prepared in advance.
1 lemon, halved
2 large globe artichokes (about 12 ounces each before trimming)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon diced pickled pepper rings
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
To prepare the stuffing:
In a large bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Parmesan, chopped parsley, rosemary, garlic, peppers, capers, red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Toss and set aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from the lemon halves into the water. Cut off the artichoke stems and make sure the artichokes are level so they do not tip over in the baking dish..
Use a heavy, sharp stainless knife to cut the top 1 inch off each artichoke. Pull out the pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where the leaves were, is a furry bed called the choke.
Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well) to scoop out the choke.
Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim the pointed ends from outer leaves of each artichoke. Wash the artichokes well with running water. Let the water run into each leaf.
I once had an embarrassing moment when I served this dish and a guest had a fly in one of the leaves.
Rub a lemon half over all the cut parts of the artichoke. Holding the artichokes over the bowl of stuffing, stuff the choke cavity and in between the leaves with the breadcrumb mixture.
Stand stuffed artichokes upright in a baking pan or casserole dish just large enough to fit the artichokes.and generously drizzle olive oil over the center of each artichoke.
Fill the baking dish with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Squeeze the lemon juice from the halves and add it to the water. Cover the pan with foil and poke several holes in the foil.
Bake artichokes for about 11/2 hours, or until tender and a knife slides easily into an artichoke and a leaf pulls out easily.
Remove from the baking dish and set on individual serving dishes.
Bucatini with Spring Vegetables
6 ounces dried bucatini pasta (thick spaghetti)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges (optional)
Trim the woody ends from the asparagus. Weigh the asparagus and set aside 8 oz. Reserve the rest of the asparagus for another recipe. Cut the 8 oz of asparagus into two-inch lengths.
In a large pot cook pasta according al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain. Return pasta to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Toss until well combined; set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of oil.
Add asparagus and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until bright green. Add cherry tomatoes,olives, basil, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and add the cooked pasta; toss to combine. Add enough reserved pasta water to create a sauce. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Pass with lemon wedges, if desired.
1 lb pizza dough
24 very thin asparagus
8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup. pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced.
Salt & black pepper to taste
Snap off the bottom ends of the asparagus.
Mix the ricotta with the basil leaves and a little salt.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Lightly oil a pizza pan.
Stretch the dough to cover the pan and brush with oil, making sure to coat edges well. Place the mozzarella slices evenly over the dough.
Scatter spoonfuls of ricotta over the dough and sprinkle with the shallots. Place the tomato slices over the cheese and arrange the asparagus in a spoke pattern over the tomato layer.
Sprinkle with the olives and black pepper.
Bake the pizza until browned, about 20 minutes.
Beet Salad With Blue Cheese
4 medium beets
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar, divided
1/4 cup honey, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 orange, minced
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced thin
2 thin carrots, shaved
6 cups baby greens
1/2 crumbled bleu cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Remove the tops and tails from the beets.
Place the beets in an ovenproof casserole dish with 1/4 cup of the raspberry vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the honey and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add water until the liquid covers the beets halfway.
Cover the dish and bake for about an hour (longer if beets are larger). The beets should be tender throughout when pierced with a knife.
For the dressing:
Whisk the shallots, remaining raspberry vinegar and honey and salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while whisking. Stir in the orange zest.
While the beets are still warm, peel and cut them into eighths.
Cover a serving platter with the greens. Arrange the beets, carrots and cucumber slices on a platter and scatter the bleu cheese on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 refrigerated pie crust sheets for a double 9 inch pan, at room temperature
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, all-purpose flour or other pie thickener
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Mix the sugar with the pie thickener in a large mixing bowl. Add the fruit, lemon juice and salt. Stir well to combine the sugar and fruit.
Fit one pastry sheet into the pie pan and place pan on a baking sheet.
Pour the filling into the pie shell.
Place the second pastry sheet on a cutting board. With a pastry cutter the sheet into 12 even lengths.
Place 6 strips on top of the pie filling and weave the second 6 over and under the strips on the pie to create a basket weave look.
Spray the strips with cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and the pie juice begins to bubble through the slits.
Let cool on the baking sheet (to catch drips).
The fall is the best time to buy greens from a grocery market or farmers’ market. Some leafy greens cook very quickly. Spinach is the best example. But others, like kale, are more hearty and need a longer time to cook. Dark green, leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Is is good idea to include them in your recipes, often. Here are some of my favorite ways to cook them.
Lacinato kale (called cavolo nero, literally “black cabbage”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone and ribollita. It is also readily available in my market.
Tuscan Kale, Roasted Chicken and Lemon Sauce
- 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1″ strips
- Simple Lemon sauce, recipe below
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts in a medium baking dish, drizzle with the 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Place the kale in a large pot, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, minced garlic and simmer over very low heat until the kale is wilted completely.
Continue to cook until the kale and onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the kale on a serving platter, top with the roasted chicken and serve the lemon sauce on the side.
Simple Savory Lemon Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons. flour
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ up. white wine
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or other herbs
Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet, add the flour and whisk for about a minute. Add the milk and wine. Remove the pan from the heat and add the seasonings, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Return the pan to the heat and whisk until thick and creamy, about another minute or two. Pour over vegetables, chicken or fish.
Rapini (Broccoli rabe)
Pasta With Greens and Ricotta Cheese
Paccheri a type of pasta in the shape of a very large tube that originated from Campania and Calabria, Italy. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe.
They can be served stuffed or with just a sauce.
- 2 bunches greens, such as chard, kale or broccoli raab (rapini), washed well and cut into 2 inch lengths.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano Pecorino
- 1 pound paccheri, pappardelle or orecchiette pasta
Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over very low heat.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously and add the greens. After the water returns to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes until the greens are tender.
Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the rapini to the skillet. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic.
Season with salt and pepper.
Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta.
Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl.
Bring the water for the pasta back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together.
Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the ricotta. Add the grated Parmesan and toss with the ricotta and greens. Serve at once.
Spinach and Cheese Pizza
- 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
- 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed well
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
- Half of a medium onion sliced
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a pizza pan.
Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and add the garlic and onions. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts.
Season with salt and pepper. Set the skillet aside.
Press the pizza dough to the edges of the pan.
Top the dough with the sliced mozzarella and spread the ricotta over the mozzarella. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly over the ricotta and sprinkle with feta.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
The ingredients listed above are all at their best, so make the most of August’s seasonal foods by turning them into delicious summer recipes. Pair some of summer’s ripe tomatoes with some delicious crab. Create a salad with ripe peaches and Parma Ham. Cook up some pasta and add chopped August veggies and chill. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. Below are some ideas to inspire you to create some recipes from August’s bounty.
New York Deli Style Pickled Green Tomatoes
For each quart jar:
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups distilled water or purified tap water
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 pound firm full-sized green tomatoes
- 1 stalk celery, cut in pieces
- 1/2 Serrano chili, stem removed or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons dill seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Notes on the ingredients:
The tomatoes must be all green and cut into quarters.
You can usually find distilled water in the grocery or drug store. Distilled water is best because it has impurities removed and impurities can impart off flavors. Purified tap water is perfectly fine to use also.
Use Kosher salt not table salt. Kosher salt has larger flake shaped grains and also has small amounts of anti-caking additives but no iodine.
The recipe needs a little heat. Half a serrano works perfectly. If fresh peppers are not available, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
You must use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar imparts too many odd flavors.
Use really clean bottles and lids. Sterilize them by submerging them in a boiling water bath or on a setting for sanitizing in your dishwasher.
Add the garlic, dill seeds, celery, hot pepper or red pepper flakes and peppercorns to the jar.
Thoroughly wash the tomatoes, remove the stem and cut them into quarters. Cram them in the jar leaving about ½ inch of space at the top.
Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water and salt in a non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil and stir until all the salt is dissolved.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within 1/4″ of the top. Wipe the jar top, put the lids on and tighten. Turn the jars over and let sit for a couple of hours.
Return the jars to the upright position and leave on the kitchen counter overnight. Refrigerate the pickled tomatoes for two weeks before serving.
The pickled tomatoes will keep for months in the refrigerator.
Easy Chilled Summer Melon Soup
This soup makes a great summer appetizer or serve it for lunch.
Serves 4 – 6
- 4 cups Crenshaw or cantaloupe melon, skin and seeds removed
- 4 cups yellow watermelon, skin and seeds removed
- One 15 ounce can coconut milk
- Grated zest of one large lime
- 1 large scallion (green onion) light green section finely diced and the top chopped and reserved for garnish
- 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Basil or mint leaves for garnish
Dice the melon and set aside 4 cups of each kind of melon. Puree the melon in a food processor. You will probably need to do this in batches. Pour the processed melon into a storage bowl.
To the last batch of puree add the lime zest, jalapeno, ginger,1 teaspoon of basil, the 1 teaspoon mint, diced light green scallion and the salt to the melon puree in the processor.
Pulse a few times and pour in the storage bowl with the first batch of pureed melon. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well.
Chill the soup overnight. Garnish with scallion tops, fresh mint leaves or basil when serving.
Breaded Eggplant Salad
For the eggplant
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 cup dried Italian flavored bread crumbs
- Olive oil
For the salad
- Half a large yellow or red tomato, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup diced pickled peppers (spicy peppers are great here if you like them)
- 4 cups salad greens, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
Combine the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1 x 2 inch pieces.
Combine the beaten egg and milk in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place the coated eggplant on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake the eggplant until crispy and brown, turning them over when one side is golden, about 20 minutes.
Place the chopped pickled peppers on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
While the eggplant bakes, arrange the salad ingredients on individual salad serving plates. Top with the cooked eggplant and drizzle with some of the dressing.
Mix well; serve immediately with additional dressing on the side.
Need a quick side dish, full of flavor and certainly seasonal, try these quick broiled tomatoes.
For each 2 person serving
- 1 large beefsteak tomato
- 2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
Heat the broiler to high.
Cut the tomato in half and place in a baking dish, cut sides up.
Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto over each tomato.
Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs and then the grated cheese.
Drizzle each with a little olive oil.
Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the topping is nicely browned.