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Archive for the ‘Tasty Tidbits Tuesday’ Category

Spring Is Here And So Are The Asparagus Photo by Andrew Scrivani

Spring Is Here And So Are The Asparagus
Photo by Andrew Scrivani

Spring is here, asparagus are aplenty and we love them in our house.  I was about to toss out last Wednesday’s Food section of the NY Times when the headline, Breaking the Pasta Myth caught my eye.  I started to read the article which seemed to  be  pretty focused on fresh pasta and I’m not a fan.  I like my pasta secca or dry pasta;  the cooking time is so much more reliable and in many cases the amount of time it takes to reach al denté state, gives you plenty of time to finish up your sauce.

However, at the end of the lengthy article there was a recipe for this Pasta Primavera and as I read it, I could imagine just how good it would be and the perfect Saturday night supper for my husband and me.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 lb. sugar snap peas, stems trimmed

1/2 lb. asparagus, ends snapped

2 TBS unsalted butter

3/4 cup English peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onion or use a shallot

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

12 oz fettuccine or tagliatelle

2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at room temperature

1/2 cup crème fraîche or whole milk Greek yogurt at room temperature

3 TBS finely chopped parsley

1 TBS finely chopped tarragon

DIRECTIONS

Bring large pot of heavily salted water to boil over medium-high heat.

While water is coming to boil, slice snap peas in half and asparagus stems into 1/4″ thick pieces; leave asparagus heads whole.

Melt butter in large skillet or braising pan over medium-high heat.  Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion.  Cook until vegetables are barely tender (but not too soft or mushy), 3-4 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Cook pasta, drain well, transfer pasta to vegetable mixture. Toss with vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, yogurt  and herbs.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Recipe from NY Times

** What I did;  I increased the amounts for the ingredients because I wanted to cook a whole pound of fettuccine.  I used fat free Greek yogurt because that’s what I had.  I think next time I will use crème fraîche or whole milk yogurt because the dish was a bit dry.  And I actually had reserved about 3/4 cup pasta water which I also added.  When I reheated the leftovers, I drizzled some basting oil on top before popping into the microwave and it was very good and moister.

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That’s right, there’s no recipe;  If the New York Times Cooking and Food section can do it, so can I, lol.  I worked late tonight, almost to 7:00 and walked home.  The last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner but I did because I knew I needed to use up those asparagus and that bag of arugula, not to mention I still had the quart of grape tomatoes I bought last Friday.

So here’s what I did and you can do it too – this is really simple and very delicious if I do say so myself.  I put of pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the linguine.  I put a tiny bit of olive oil, a good-size pat of butter and a garlic clove (minced) in a frying pan and threw in a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes, on low heat.  I chopped up a bunch of asparagus  and another garlic clove and put them in my braising pan with some olive oil over low heat.  Seasoned everything with salt and pepper and added red pepper flakiest to the mixture.  Once  asparagus started cooking, I  turned up the heat under the water.  After the asparagus had begun to soften, I added a can of rinsed Canellini  beans and about 3/4 cup of broth to the asparagus mixture as well as the now caramelized and burst tomatoes.    I added the cooked pasta (reserving a cup of the water) to the braising pan, tossed it well and sprinkled it with Romano cheese.  And there you have a tasty dish made with ingredients that were hanging out in the refrigerator.

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Photo by  Andrew Scrivani of NY Times

Photo by Andrew Scrivani of NY Times

The frost has left the ground, the daffodils, hyacinths and forsythia are all in bloom BUT we’re still a ways from seeing any of the grand summer fruits and vegetables. 😦

What to do when you’re hungering for some greens and a hot meal on a cool (almost cold) night?  I adapted this recipe from one I saw in the NY Times.  I dumbed it down a bit for myself to make it easier and quicker and it worked just fine.  It has the warm triumvirate of Tunisian spices – coriander, cumin and caraway.

COLLARD GREENS TAGINE WITH FLAGEOLETS

INGREDIENTS

1 15oz can of small white beans

1 large onion

4 large garlic cloves; 2 crushed, 2 minced

1 tsp of coriander seeds  ( I used crushed)

1 tsp of caraway seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds ( I used crushed)

2 TBS EV olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, cored, diced, fronds chopped and reserved for garnish

Salt to taste

1 tsp paprika or Aleppo pepper

1 lg jalapeno, minced (about 2 TBS)* I substituted harissa sauce which I had in refrigerator

2 TBS tomato paste ( I put the rest of the can in a small plastic bag, flattened it and put in freezer)

1# (large bunch) Collard greens ( I used pre-washed and cut bag)

1 large bunch cilantro, chopped – about 1 cup and some for garnish

2 TBS minced preserved lemon (optional)

Cooked grains or couscous for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cut onion in half; cut one of the halves in half and chop the rest. Set aside chopped onion and put the quarters in a pot with the drained beans.  Add 5 cups of water (6 if serving over grains) and the crushed garlic and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Let simmer for about 30 minutes and remove garlic and onion and discard.

Meanwhile in small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, toast corriander, cumin and caraway seeds together just till they begin to release their aroma, 2-3 minutes. * I only put the caraway seeds in the pan. Transfer to spice mill. * I didn’t have my spice mill so I smashed the seeds with a hammer. Put aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in large heavy skillet (I used my braising pan) and add remaining onion. Cook stirring till tender, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, diced fennel and generous pinch of salt and cook another 5 minutes, until fennel has softened slightly.  Stir into beans* (since I was using braising pan, I added the beans and liquid to the braising pan). Add the ground spices, paprika, jalepeno if using or your substitute, and tomato paste and return to simmer. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile, stem and wash collard greens (so much easier to use bagged) Cut into 1/2″ strips.  If you have bought bagged and cut, then just slice in some semblance of strips.  Add collards to beans and vegetables. Bring back to a simmer and cover and simmer 15-30 minutes until greens are tender.  Stir in cilantro and chopped fennel fronds, simmer another 5 minutes.

**Ladle into wide soup bowls and if using preserved lemon, place a a tsp on each serving.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and fennel and serve.  I cooked some farro and put a portion in the bottom of the bowl before adding the stew. Or you can serve grains on the side.

Recipe from Martha Rose Schulman – NY Times

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Pappardelle with Caramelized Onions

Pappardelle with Caramelized Onions

 This was supposed to be yesterday’s Friday meatless pasta but yesterday was spent cleaning the house and prepping for a small dinner party.  Just in case you were wondering  what I served and I hope you are, I made Chicken with Lemon and Olives and Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula.  I will post the chicken dish sometime soon. 

Back to today’s pasta – This dish is not a quick weeknight meal BUT certainly if you have about an hour and half  you will be rewarded with one delicious pasta dish.  We have to caramelize the onions first, so let’s start there with the Caramelized Onions.

INGREDIENTS:

6 TBS unsalted butter

15 medium yellow onions (about 6 lb), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 tsp coarse salt or 1 tsp table salt

1 TBS sugar

DIRECTIONS:

In a 8 quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium-high.  Add onions and salt.  Cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, 35 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add sugar and cook, stirring often to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of pot, 35 -40 minutes (lower heat if bottom of pot begins to scorch).

When done, onions should be deep golden brown and have a jam-like consistency.  Remove from heat; season with salt.  Let cool completely.  (To store, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks)

INGREDIENTS:

Coarse salt and ground pepper

9 oz pappardelle or wide egg noodles

2 TBS EV olive oil

1 cup Caramelized Onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet (braising pan) over medium-high.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.

Remove 1 1/2 cups pasta water from pot and to skillet.  Drain pasta and add to skillet.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until liquid reduces to create a sauce that coats pasta, 3 minutes.  Add lemon juice and toss.  Serve pasta topped with parsley.

Recipe from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

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Photo from eatwell101

Photo from eatwell101

It seems like all of the recipes coming from Ada Boni’s The Talisman Italian Cookbook either use spaghetti or rigatoni.  Personally as a kid growing up, my favorite was shells because I could scoop up sauce inside each one.  This dish was/is a standard in most Italian restaurants in America.  There are slight variations to this classic and I wonder how today’s great chefs like Batali and Colicchio make their Carbonara dishes.  This one is very simple as are most recipes in this cookbook.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb spaghetti (#8)

1/4 b lean bacon diced

3/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

3 eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup white wine

1 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water until tender.  While spaghetti is cooking, fry bacon over low flame until bacon is crisp.  Add cheese (and wine) to beaten eggs.  Drain spaghetti and return to the pot.  Pour egg mixture over the hot spaghetti;  add pepper and two TBS of very hot bacon fat.  Stir.  The heat of the spaghetti should cook the egg mixture.  Transfer to hot platter; garnish with bacon.  Serve.

Call the cardiologist!

Recipe from The Talisman Italian Cook Book

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The Macaroni Marathon has left old world Italian cooking (just for a while) and moved forward with yet another contemporary version of vegetarian pasta with beans for protein.  I’m telling you the combinations are seemingly endless!

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz rigatoni

2 cups broccoli florets

1 19 oz cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup snipped basil leaves

2 slices of bread cut into small cubes

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Snipped basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In Dutch oven cook pasta, adding broccoli during last 5 minutes of cooking.  Reserve 3/4 – 1 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot.

In large bowl combine beans, garlic and 3TBS oil.  Mash about 1/2 cup of the bean mixture.  Stir in basil, pasta water and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir into the pasta and broccoli – Cover and keep warm.

Heat remaining oil over medium heat in frying pan.  Add bread cubes and red pepper.  Cook, stir 1-2 minutes until crisp.  Top pasta with croutons and basil.

Recipe from Better Homes & Garden

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Yesterday was the first glorious day we’ve had here in NYC in a long time;  Not only was the sun out but it was also the first day of Daylight Savings Time and that makes everyone’s day that much brighter.  So even though I spent 5 hours at the office, I walked home and it was still so light out I felt like it was 3:00 in the afternoon instead of 5pm.  I stopped at Fairway to pick up some ingredients for dinner.  I had it in my mind to make a pasta dish and as I was walking I had a running debate going on in my head about exactly what would this dish be.  The roasted red onions and squash won out.   I knew it would be simple to throw together and that along with a salad and a warm baguette from Fairway, there would be plenty left over for Tuesday night’s supper.  That’s the night we are going to the movies on the West Side and won’t get home till around 8:30 pm so it’s nice to know there’s food ready to be heated up.

Roasted Red Onion and Squash Pasta

2 medium red onions, cut into 6 wedges, layers separated

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cut into 3/4″ pieces (I buy already prepped)

1 TBS coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves ( I used 2-3)

1TBS olive oil

coarse salt and pepper

1/2 # short ribbed pasta such as rigatoni (I used 1 lb)

1/4 cup grated Fontina cheese (2 oz) (I used about 1/2 cup)

1 cup of reserved pasta water

Preheat oven 450 degrees

On rimmed baking sheet, toss onions, squash, sage leaves with oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange in single layer and roast until tender, about 25 minutes, rotating sheet and tossing  vegetables, halfway through.

Meanwhile, in large pot, cook pasta till tender to preference.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water;  drain pasta and return to pot.  Add vegetables and cheese and toss to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.

Recipe from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food January-February 2011

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