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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: leeks

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February is not quite spring and the market selections still look like winter in most areas of the US, unless you like to buy produce from South America. However, that is not eating what is is season. So still plentiful are winter squashes, celery, leeks, fennel, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, citrus fruit and apples. Since I live in the south, spring vegetables are starting to appear but I try to keep in mind what most readers can find seasonally at this time of the year. Here are some recipes for what you can cook with these seasonal ingredients.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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To make this dish into a main entrée add a 1/2 cup cooked rice or quinoa to the filling ingredients before the second baking. This makes a great side dish for pork chops.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Coat a shallow baking dish with olive oil and place the squash halves in the baking dish, cut side down. Place the squash in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and turn the squash halves upright and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Drizzle the maple syrup over the squash and divide the cranberries and pecans equally and fill the squash. Add 1/2 an inch of water to the baking dish and cover tightly with foil

Return the squash to the oven and bake for 50 minutes more or until tender.

Easy Skillet Potatoes

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This side dish goes well with just about everything. I like to make extra because I can use the leftover potatoes in an omelet.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb small new potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange the potato slices across the bottom of the skillet.

Cook without stirring for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom. Turn the potatoes over with a wide spatula and spread them out in the skillet.

Sprinkle potato slices with the garlic, dried Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and lightly brown on the bottom.

Serve immediately.

Marinated Greek Vegetable Salad

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This salad is very refreshing, especially in the winter. It has great flavor and we like it served with fish.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, cut on the bias
Half a cucumber, peeled, sliced into quarters and cut on the bias
Quarter of a red onion, diced
Half a green bell pepper, sliced and cut on the bias
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cut on the bias
8-10 Kalamata olives
¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese
2-3 tablespoons of your favorite Greek or Italian salad dressing
¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Combine all the vegetables in a serving bowl and mix. Add the olives, feta cheese and salad dressing; mix well.

Sprinkle the top of the salad with the oregano and refrigerate for several hours or until serving time.

Carrots Agrodolce

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Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet) and the recipe comes from the Venetian-Jewish culinary tradition. Agrodolce is made by using sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Sometimes, additional flavorings are added, such as wine, fruit (raisins) or even chocolate.

This dish goes well with grilled meats.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

10-12 oz carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (optional)

Directions

Cut the carrots in half crosswise, then slice into lengthwise sticks, stack the carrots on top of each other and finely slice into matchsticks or shred on the large holes of a grater.

Place the carrots, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the water has evaporated, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the honey and mix. Add the vinegar, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and stir until there is a glaze coating the carrots, about 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs, if desired. Place in a serving dish and serve at room temperature.

Sautéed Fennel and Leek

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This side dish goes well with oven roasted chicken, grilled fish or sausage.

If you want a heartier side dish, add one peeled baking potato, sliced thin, to the fennel in the skillet and cook along with the fennel before adding the remaining ingredients.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, top removed cored and sliced thinly
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large leek, tough greens removed cleaned and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat; add the fennel (and potato slices if using), cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add leeks and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste; cook 10 minutes more.

Stir in lemon zest and butter; adjust seasonings and serve.

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november

A new month as turned the corner and you will start to find less of the warm weather foods and more of the items that grow well in cooler weather at your market. The produce that seemed most abundant to me at the market this week were carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, leeks and broccoli. Here are a few ideas on how to serve them.

Sweet Potatoes

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Purchase sweet potatoes that are a uniform in size so that they cook evenly.
Scrub them under water and dry them with a paper towel.
Spray or rub them with oil.
Use a metal fork to poke a few holes in each potato. (This keeps them from exploding when they cook. Don’t do this too far ahead of baking or the fork holes will oxidize and turn dark.)
Put them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, until soft.

Toppings:

Cheese: shredded cheddar/jack, crumbled feta, grated Parmesan, ricotta.
Fresh herbs and seasonings: chopped fresh basil, cilantro, oregano, chives or dill.
Meats: chili, taco meat, fajita chicken or beef, pulled pork, bacon, chopped ham, salami, mini meatballs.
Vegetables: chopped scallions or red onions; steamed broccoli, green beans, snow peas or asparagus; grilled corn; chili beans; chopped fresh tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes; sauteed spinach, mushrooms or onions; roasted red peppers; jalapenos; thawed frozen peas; chopped avocado or guacamole; coleslaw
Sauces & dressings: salsa; barbecue sauce; gravy; nacho sauce; ranch salad dressing;  peanut sauce, marinara sauce; pesto.
Sweets: brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
Toasted Nuts: sunflower seeds, pepitas, pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts.

Tuna, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 pears – cored and diced
  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 12 ounces tuna, packed in water, drained
  • ½ cup peeled, grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

For the dressing: blend the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, tuna, carrots and onions. Pour dressing over the salad and toss, Sprinkle with pecans and serve the salad with a slice of the carrot bread (recipe below).

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Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta

I prefer to saute the vegetables separately, so that they do not overcook before adding them to the sauce.

3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz short pasta, like rotini or penne
  • 12 large shrimp (16-21 size)
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 teaspoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of butter, add the leeks and garlic and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the leeks and garlic to a bowl and set aside.

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Add another teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the diced zucchini and cook until tender, about 3-4

minutes. Remove the zucchini from the skillet and add it to the bowl with the leeks.

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Add another teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes.

Remove the tomatoes from the skillet and add them to the bowl with the leeks and zucchini.

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Add the remaining teaspoon of butter to the skillet, add the shrimp and saute them just until they turn pink, turning them over once, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and Italian seasoning.

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Bring to a simmer. Add the cooked vegetables and heat gently.

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When the water boils, cook the pasta al dente. Drain and add it to the skillet with the shrimp mixture.

Add the grated cheese and stir gently. Serve immediately

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Carrot and Spice Quick Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, beating well. Beat in the milk, egg, vanilla and orange extracts.

Stir in the carrots and walnuts.

Add the reserved dry ingredients. Mix well.

Spoon the batter into 2 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.


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All summer long, I save the bones from grilled steak and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Come the fall I have plenty of bones to make a rich homemade beef stock.

The stock can be used for soup or freeze it in smaller containers to use over several months, whenever you need beef broth for a recipe.

Rich Brown Beef Stock

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Ingredients

  • 4-6 pounds beef  bones
  • Beef seasoning ( I use Penzey’s)
  • Half a sweet onion
  • Handful of celery tops
  • 1 whole large carrots, halved
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 large garlic clove, unpeeled and halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bones in a baking dish and sprinkle them with beef seasoning. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

If using uncooked bones increase the baking time to an hour. The bones should be nicely browned.

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Place the browned bones in a large Dutch Oven. Add the remaining ingredients and cover all with water. Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered for 3-4 hours.

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Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Reserve some of the broth for the soup and discard the bones and vegetables.

Beef, Mushroom and Barley Soup

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Ingredients

Olive oil cooking spray

  • 1 ½ lbs beef stew meat, trimmed and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and add the diced beef; cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add the leek, carrot and garlic. Saute 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add broth, water, thyme, pepper and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Add the mushrooms and barley; cook another 45 minutes or until the beef and barley are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the parsley.


SpringProduce_CH

Winter, spring, summer and fall each offer their own unique fruits and vegetables for distinct seasonal flavor. The recipes below can be adapted by whatever ingredients are in season without changing the recipe. In the summer you can make the quiche and fish packets with summer squash, corn and/or peppers. In the fall, use kale, butternut squash and/or Brussels sprouts. In the winter, use broccoli, cauliflower and/or celery.

Easy Quiche

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Ingredients

1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature or make this easy, healthy 9″ no-roll pie crust.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons oil: (canola, vegetable, olive, peanut, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk together the oil and water in a measuring cup and then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.

Pat the dough across the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass helps smooth the bottom.

Crimp the edge or flatten with the tines of a fork.

Follow directions below for completing the quiche.

Quiche Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups of sliced seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus or spinach for spring, zucchini and corn for summer, etc.
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated cheese (Swiss, Parmesan, Asiago, Cheddar or a combination)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or half & half

Directions

For the crust:

After shaping the pie crust in the pan, prebake the crust for 10 minutes at 425°F.

When you take the pie shell out of the oven, turn the heat down to 375°F.

For an asparagus filling:

While the pie crust bakes, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.

Set aside 12 asparagus tips.

Beat together the eggs, salt, flour and buttermilk or half & half.

Pour ¼ cup of the egg mixture onto the bottom of the prebaked crust to seal it.

Over that, arrange the asparagus pieces and chives.

Sprinkle the cheese over the asparagus. Pour the remainder of the egg mixture over the vegetables.

Arrange the asparagus tips, in spoke fashion, around the outside edge of the quiche.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is firm and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Fish Fillets Baked with Spring Vegetables

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Use any vegetables and herbs that are in season with the fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a fennel bulb, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into matchstick-size strips
  • 4 fish fillets, 4 ounces each and 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 thin slices of lemon
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Cut eight 15-inch-long sheets of cooking parchment or aluminum foil.

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Divide the fennel, carrot and leek equally on each of four of the parchment sheets. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.

Top each fish fillet with 1 tablespoon of chives and a slice of lemon. Top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each piece of fish.

Place one of the remaining four sheets of parchment on top of each fish fillet.IMG_0004

Fold all the edges toward the center and fold several times to seal securely. Transfer the packets to a large rimmed baking sheet.

(The packets can be made up to 6 hours in advance. Refrigerate until baking time.)

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Bake for 12-15 minutes. Using the tines of a fork, carefully open a packet away from you (to prevent steam burns). If the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully open the remaining packets and serve.

If the fish isn’t cooked enough, reclose the open packet and bake for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve the fish and vegetables in the packets.


maycover

Eating seasonally means buying produce that can be grown locally, in their natural weather and climate conditions. Less energy and less transit time means a cheaper price tag. Eating seasonally also means that every few month or two, we’re trying something new, and that’s a good thing for our taste buds and our health.

Looking for seasonal food ideas or some new spring recipes? Now’s the time for fresh vegetable soups; crunchy green salads using fennel, peas, parsley, asparagus and new potatoes. Rhubarb and berries are in season for some delicious desserts.

May-Produce

Here is a handy interactive chart to see what produce is in season in your area.

Breakfast or Lunch Crostata

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This is a great brunch recipe, also.

Ingredients

  • 1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • I tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Roma (plum) tomato, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in 7-8 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers; saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream cheese and chives.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped spinach for the topping and stir the remaining spinach, salt and pepper into the eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and allow to cook, over medium heat, just until the eggs are set. Remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

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Unroll the pie crust and place it in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula, slide the omelet onto the center of the crust. Sprinkle the cheeses over the filling.

Fold the edge of the crust over the filling forming pleats as you go around the filling, press down slightly.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with reserved spinach and the diced tomatoes.

Blueberry Cinnamon Banana Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 medium
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, mashed bananas, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Stir flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake about 1 hour, or until browned and crackly on the top and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Braised Spring Vegetables

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These vegetables look beautiful served on this Tuscan platter given to me by my friend, Nancy. This is a terrific way to cook vegetables. They taste fantastic after simmering in olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) carrots, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) medium potatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, trimmed, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges, de-seeded
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet (with a cover) and heat over medium-low heat. Layer the vegetables in the order of how long they cook.

On the bottom place the potatoes in one layer, followed by the fennel and then the carrots.

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Add salt to the pan; reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the vegetables after 10 minutes.

Add the asparagus, scallions, black pepper, half of the lemon wedges and the thyme to the pan. Cook just until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes more; avoid overcooking.

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Remove the pan from the heat and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Note: save the oil and any leftover vegetables to add to pasta for another meal. See recipe below.

Spring Pasta Salad

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This pasta salad is delicious for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz orecchiette or small shell pasta
  • Leftover spring braised vegetables, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Leftover olive oil from the spring braised vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well.

Whisk together the leftover oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta, leftover vegetables, celery, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Italian Style Asparagus Soup

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Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ lbs asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Truffle oil or olive oil

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and set them aside. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the pot, along with the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low.

Simmer for about 45-60 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Turn off the heat.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth and return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for a few minutes until tender-crisp.

Stir in the lemon juice, basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil before serving.


sidedishescover

Once you determine your holiday main course, the next decision focuses on side dishes to accompany your meal. As we sift through family favorites and long forgotten recipe books, we mentally calculate how long each dish will take to prepare and do we have enough oven, stove and refrigerator space to cook and store everything. Delicious side dishes do not need to be complicated or expensive. In fact, with a little planning, most side dishes can be made with 5 or 6 common ingredients and prepared in a short amount of time.

Choose recipes that call for in season fruits and vegetables. These generally cost less than out of season produce. Winter favorites include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rapini, collard greens, spinach, fennel, cabbage, sweet potato, squash, yams, parsnips, kale, spinach, pomegranates, pears, clementine oranges, cranberries and apples. This way your side dishes will taste fresh.

Don’t select side dish recipes that require an oven, if you are also roasting meat at the same time. If oven space is limited, choose recipes that can be prepared on the stove top.

Create dishes that mix red, green, yellow and orange-colored fruits or vegetables to form a medley of vibrant colors. You don’t need lots of ingredients to create delicious side dishes. You need ingredients that combine well together and offer a variety of flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Try adding fruit to bitter greens for an interesting taste sensation, or spicy chilies to sweet squash. Often, one or two different spices or herbs are all you need to bring out the flavors in your dish. If you plan to have several side dishes available, try to select dishes that are different from one another in flavor, texture and overall presentation. Create one sweet, one spicy, one sour. Your guests will love the variety.

All these side dishes will be good accompaniments for the main dishes from Monday’s post.

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Chunky Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Heat a pan with a lid or cover on medium; add diced onion and garlic; simmer until onions have turned slightly transparent (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile chop sweet potatoes into approximately 1 x 1 x 1 inch/cm chunks; add to the pan when the onions are ready, as well as the salt and cover the pan.

Allow potatoes to cook covered, for 20-30 minutes on medium heat until the potatoes are soft. Uncover and mix every 5-10 minutes in between. Add rosemary, cumin and cinnamon to the pan 10 minutes after adding potatoes.

sidedishes2

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Broccoli Rabe
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe and dry on paper towels. Remove the large tough leaves, leaving just the tender leaves and flower buds.  Cut off and discard the lower part of the stems, leaving the broccoli about 8-inches long and slice into 3 or 4-inch lengths.

Add olive oil and garlic cloves to a large heavy frying pan. Over low heat, slowly sauté garlic until golden on all sides. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe to the pan, tossing to coat with garlic and oil. Add tomatoes and toss for a minute or so to remove excess water from the tomatoes. Add chicken stock and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add lemon juice, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, salt & pepper.Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

sidedishes3

Italian Rice & Savoy Cabbage

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) Vialone Nano or other short-grained rice, e.g. Arborio
  • 1 pound (450 g) Savoy cabbage
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • 4 cups (1 liter) beef broth, stock, or water, simmering
  • ¾ cup crushed Italian tomatoes

Directions

Strip off and discard any blemished outer leaves the cabbage may have. Separate the rest, rinse them and shred them.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot and sauté the chopped onion and celery. Add the cabbage leaves and continue cooking, stirring them about with a spoon, until they have wilted. Add a cup of hot broth to the pot, cover and simmer over a low flame for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, add the remaining hot broth and crushed tomatoes, add seasoning and simmer until the rice reaches the al dente stage and the broth is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.

Stir the cheese into the rice and check the seasoning.

sidedishes4

Leeks & Spinach Saute

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium leeks, white and lightest green parts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a large pinch
  • 4 cups (packed) washed and stemmed fresh spinach leaves, torn into smaller pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Trim the ends from the leeks. Slice the leeks across into thin rings (about 1/8-inch thick), discarding any woody stem in the center. Put the sliced leeks in a bowl and cover them with tepid water. Swish them around a bit and let them sit. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and transfer to a colander. Drain and rinse the sand from the bowl, return the leeks to the bowl and cover again with tepid water. Lift, drain and repeat one more time, leaving the leeks in the water with the last wash.

Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Lift the leeks out of the water and add them to the pan with whatever water is clinging to them. Season with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are limp and all of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are very lightly golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt and fold or gently stir them in with the leeks until they are wilted, about 1 minute. Add the fresh thyme and the cream and remove the pan from the heat.

Gently stir until the cream is mostly absorbed into the dish and the thyme is well-distributed. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste for salt and serve.

sidedishes5

Creamy Fettuccine With Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, add salt and the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Prior to draining the pasta reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter melts add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste; sauté 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid. Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until the liquid evaporates.

Remove the pan the from heat.  Add the hot cooked pasta, half & half and cheese to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until needed for moistness and continue to toss. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

I-wish-you-a-Merry-Christmas-Message


farmcover

A few weeks ago I started receiving my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery from a nearby farm. You can find more information on how a CSA works by visiting the Local Harvest site.

I look forward to this season every year because I now have available the freshest produce to cook with each week. The cover photo above shows what vegetables I received in my box last week. Jeta Farms is a family owned local farm, operated by Eddie Frank, and the farm sells their produce at local farmers’ markets, including the Palafox Market in Pensacola, FL on Saturday mornings.

Here are a few recipes I made with the vegetables in this week’s share.

Jeta Farms

Jeta Farms

Italian Frying Peppers

farm0

Ingredients

  • 6 Italian frying peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower heat and add the whole peppers. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides. Serve at room temperature. These peppers are delicious as an appetizer or as a side dish.

farm1

Homemade Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 2 quarts. I use old mayonnaise jars with screw top lids.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 6-8 pickling cucumbers (Kirby)
  • A few sprigs of dill
  • 2 clean quart size jars

Directions

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, dill seed and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir.

Quarter pickling cucumbers lengthwise and divide evenly in the jars; add fresh dill.

Top with the hot vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several days before eating. The pickles keep for a few months in the refrigerator.

farm2

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped leeks, light green and white parts
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ pounds peeled potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup evaporated canned milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled

Directions

Heat butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the celery, leeks and onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a processor.

Add the evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Serve in individual bowls and top each bowl with chives and bacon.

farm3

Grilled Yellow Squash

This is a favorite in our family – well – anything I put basil pesto on becomes a favorite with them.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine (pignoli) nuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the grill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium summer squash, (about 1 pound), sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high. Oil the grates.

Combine pesto and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Brush both sides of the squash slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the salt.

Grill the squash until browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve topped with the pesto and the toasted nuts.

farm7

Eggplant And Fresh Tomato Bake

Jeta Farms grows the most delicious eggplant, Rosa Bianca, an  Italian Heirloom eggplant. It is a medium size, round shaped eggplant with lavender-white skin and creamy white flesh with no taste of bitterness and very mild in flavor.

farmeggplant

This is my summer version of eggplant parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 2 Rosa Bianca Heirloom Eggplants (14-15 oz each)
  • Dried Italian bread crumbs
  • !/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • 5-6 fresh plum tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets.

Place the sliced tomatoes on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the tomatoes drain while you prepare the eggplant.

Dip eggplant slices in the egg substitute and then coat in the dried bread crumbs. Place the breaded eggplant on the prepared baking pans and bake until brown, about 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking.

Oil an 8 inch square glass baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices and add half the sliced tomatoes and half of the cheese.

Add another layer of eggplant slices, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle the top layer with dried Italian seasoning. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more.

Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

farm6

Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups self-rising flour (King Arthur brand is what I use)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray two 8-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

In a smaller bowl combine eggs, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix well.

Fold in the zucchini and walnuts.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two baking pans.

Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60 minutes.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes; then remove bread from the pans and continue cooling on wire racks.

This bread freezes well.



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