Monthly Archives: June 2014

Pasta with Sungold Tomato Sauce

Who says that tomato sauce needs to be red? I love those cute little orange sungold tomatoes that are everywhere at this point in the summer. This is the simplest sauce – tomatoes, fresh thyme and basil, a homemade strained tomato sauce and a little onion, garlic & parmesan. There’s so little that goes into it, so make sure you use the freshest ingredients you can find. And, if you have leftovers of the sungolds, use them for this salad, which is basically summer in a bowl.

– 2 pints sungold tomatoes 
– 2 tbsp. EVOO 
– 1 tbsp. butter 
– 4 garlic cloves, minced 
– 1 small onion, diced 
– 1 tsp. fresh thyme 
– Approx. 7 basil leaves, chiffonaded 
– 1/3 freshly grated parm 
– 1 lb. angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta  
 – 1.5 C. pasta water 

1. Boil water, salt it pretty heavily (this will be the only salt you use in this entire dish, so just keep that in mind). 

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, approx. 6-7 minutes. 


3. Add minced garlic, cook until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. Add the fresh thyme and give everything a good stir.

4. Meanwhile, cook that pasta! 

5. Take one pint of tomatoes, cut them in half, and throw them into a very fine strainer set over a bowl. With a spoon, crush the tomatoes against the strainer so the juice runs into the bowl below. Toss the skins. 


6. Take the other pint of tomatoes, add to the saucepan, and turn the heat down to medium low. 

7. Add the juice to the saucepan with the tomatoes. Stir until it starts to thicken a bit. If you want (I did), crush some of the whole tomatoes that are blistering with the back of the wooden spoon that you’re using to stir everything. 

8. At this point, the pasta should be about 2 minutes away from al dente – this is perfect. Grab about 2 cups of pasta water out of the boiling pot and set aside, then drain the pasta.

9. Add about half the reserved pasta water, stir to combine. Add about half the grated cheese and mix. 

10. Add the pasta to the saucepan and use tongs to get it covered in the sungold tomato sauce. Let this all cook together about 2 minutes more. If sauce looks kind of thin, add the rest of the pasta water. Add the chiffonaded basil and stir.


11. Remove saucepan from heat, and scoop this incredibly simple, delicious sauce into bowls. Observe how your dinner companion is eyeing the bowls “to make sure we both have equal”, give him an extra little scoop. Top with a little more grated parm and dig in. This was seriously delicious.


Shredded Carrot Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Parsley in a Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Sometimes I read about those super fit celebrities sharing their “diet tips” about how they just watch what they eat and avoid carbs, and I think, (as someone whose last meal – okay, every meal – would be pasta) ‘how in the world is that possible??’ Salads like this. That’s how it’s possible. This recipe gave me a clue about how you can eat healthily, feel completely full, get a packed serving of veggies instead of carbs, and also have it be so simple, complex and delicious that you might not even want anything else for dinner. Also, roasted chickpeas??? Yes. This is a Smitten Kitchen recipe that was adapted from another recipe, and I followed it almost to the letter since it seemed like a completely bizarre combo that I couldn’t wait to try. Enjoy. 

SHREDDED CARROT SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS AND PARSLEY IN A LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING (makes 4 servings)
– 1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried pretty well
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/4 tsp. cumin
– 1 lb. carrots, washed, peeled & grated
– 1/4 C. chopped parsley

Lemon-Tahini Dressing
– 1/4 C. lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
– 1 garlic clove, shredded
– 3 tbsp. tahini
– 2 tbsp. water
– 2 tbsp. EVOO


1. Heat oven to 425.

2. Toss rinsed, drained & dried chickpeas in a bowl with a glug of EVOO, the salt and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and roast approx. 15-20 minutes until they’re crisp, shaking the pan occasionally. 

3. In a large bowl, combine the shredded carrots & parsley.

4. Combine the lemon, salt, & garlic. Then mix in the tahini, water & EVOO. Whisk until well combined & smooth.

5. Mix the dressing into the salad (don’t use all of it at first…kind of add and stir as you go). Top with roasted chickpeas and get ready to have one of the tastiest salads you’ll ever have. Pasta who? 

Roasted Chickpeas

I could write a novel about my love for chickpeas. They’re great in salads, soups, smashes and as a base for hummus, they’re packed with protein, they’re little and cute, and apparently I could have been eating these all along as a snack, which would have changed my life. Get your oven up to 425, stat. One of the best snacks ever is just 20 minutes away.

ROASTED CHICKPEAS (makes one dish – enough for 2 people)
– 1 15oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
– Approx. 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tsp. of Kosher Salt
– 1 tsp. cumin

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Rinse, drain and pat dry the chickpeas.

3. In a bowl, combine them with the EVOO, kosher salt & cumin. Toss to mix well until the chickpeas are coated.

4. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every five minutes or so, until they’re crisp.

5. Take out of the oven and let cool, then enjoy.

Mediterranean Quinoa

So…this picture is probably looking familiar at this point, but now this three-part recipe is complete. We started with the tzatziki sauce, then made the spinach and feta turkey meatballs, then this mediterranean quinoa. Then we assembled it the other way around. This was honestly one of the best things I’ve made in a while – and so incredibly healthy, filling and delicious, spiked with all those bright Greek flavors. I know I rave about quinoa a lot, but it really is one of the best vegetable-grains-disguised-as-pastas/couscous, ever. 

MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA
– 1 cup quinoa, cooked (so about 1/2 a cup, dry)
– 1/3 English cucumber, diced
– Handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
– 2 tbsp chopped parsley
– 1/3 c crumbled feta

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (make sure you rinse this really, really well first). Set aside to cool.

2. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and feta to the cooked quinoa, combine.


3. Serve with something else – this is an amazing base for spinach & feta turkey meatballs and tzaiki sauce, or even good on its own.

Spinach and Feta Turkey Meatballs

 

Meatballs top the list of my favorite foods, especially when they’re over pasta. My mom’s meatballs are completely amazing, so I’ve never tried to duplicate them, but I’ve got to start somewhere. I put these together based on a recipe for my Greek Turkey Meatloaf, and ended up with a lighter, brighter, Greek-er (is that a word? Anyway.) version of a traditional meatball. They were fantastic. I’m seriously convinced that a combo of spinach and feta makes just about everything better. 

– 1.5 lbs ground turkey 

– 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained pretty well 
– 1/2 tbsp chopped dill 
– Squeeze of lemon – this sounds weird, but just trust me. 
– 1/2 C crumbled feta 
– 1/3 panko bread crumbs 
– 1 egg 
– Salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking tray. 


2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, feta, spinach, egg, dill, lemon, salt & pepper. Dig your hands in and just mix it up – it’s kind of gross and satisfying all at once. 


3. Form turkey meatballs into approximately golfball sizes, place on the tray. 


4. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip and bake for 12 minutes more until they gain a little color and are fully cooked through. I put these on top of a mediterranean quinoa and topped them with Tzatziki sauce, and we housed them. Fantastic. 



Tzatziki Sauce

The best part about this sauce is this: it is way easier to make than to spell.

With that, the greatest Tzatziki (dammit.  every time.) sauce for anything that needs a lemony, cucumber-y, garlic-y kick to it. I used this on top of spinach and feta turkey meatballs and a mediterranean quinoa, and it was perfect.

TZATZIKI SAUCE (makes about 1.5 cups)
– 1/4 english cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated
– 1 container plain Greek yogurt (the one I used was almost 6 oz.)
– 1 tsp. fresh chopped dill
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 2 cloves garlic, grated
– a little salt & pepper

1. This is tough. Ready?

2. Combine everything. Taste, season, chill & enjoy.


Father’s Day

Everybody who’s ever met my dad knows how much he loves a story. He’s the greatest story-teller ever – seriously, ever – and despite having gone and kissed the Blarney Stone myself, I will never be able to deliver a punchline like he does. It’s a gift and I love nothing more than hanging out with him, enjoying cocktails and listening to his stories. But sometimes he needs a little material, and so this Father’s Day, Colly and I woke up really early (really  early), made his favorite mini potato pancakes  and a “#1 Dad” sign and surprised him on the 9th green at Fox Hill. He got to rave about his daughters surprising him, share the mini potato pancakes with his buddies, and drive around with that sign in his golf bag for the rest of the day. Oh, and then Collyn and I got back in the will (whew). Later on he came home to my mom’s famous meatloaf and a gorgeous little dinner outside with his family. Today was a good day. Happy Father’s Day Dad, we love you!







Grilled Romaine with Smoked Blue Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

The lovely Jonelle hosted us for dinner last week, and it everything was so delicious. From the pretty apps to the unbelievable gin & earl grey tea cocktail she made, to the london broil & grilled romaine…we had so much fun we decided to make it a monthly thing with all of us rotating as hostess. Anyway, I’d never even heard of grilled romaine, but this was incredible. If I had even the slightest clue how to work a grill myself, I’d be making this all the time.


GRILLED ROMAINE WITH SMOKED BLUE CHEESE AND BALSAMIC REDUCTION (makes 6)
– 6 Romaine Hearts
– 1/4 C. smoked blue cheese (or gorgonzola)
– Balsamic reduction (makes sure it’s a reduction, not balsamic vinegar), drizzled
– A blend of EVOO, a little salt & pepper, and some oregano

1. Um, I guess, fire up the grill?

2. Brush the washed romaine hearts with the EVOO/salt & pepper/oregano mix.

3. Grill the romaine hearts pretty quickly, about 2 minutes on each side. You want them to have grill marks but not get burned.

4. Crumble the smoked blue cheese (or gorgonzola) over the try of romaine, then drizzle the balsamic reduction in a nice little pattern. Serve & enjoy. My girlfriends have got skillz. 
The hostess at work!

Breakfast Bake: Spinach, Feta and Caramelized Onion

I really love breakfast bakes – they’re so easy to make, you can throw it together in 15 minutes and have a reheatable breakfast for almost the rest of the week, and they’re so versatile, too. In this past I’ve made a baby kale & feta bake and one with leeks, smoked salmon, cheddar & cream cheese, but this one is more of a Greek flavor…spinach, feta, onions and a little dill. It was fantastic.

BREAKFAST BAKE: SPINACH, FETA AND CARAMELIZED ONION (makes 8 slices)
– 8 oz. spinach 
– 1/2 a vidalia onion, sliced into thin moons 
– 1 tsp. chopped dill (optional) 
– salt & pepper 
– 10 eggs (6 whites and 4 whole eggs) 
– 1/3 C. milk 
– 1 tbsp. butter 
– 1 tbsp. EVOO 
– 1/3 c feta 
– 1 tsp. herbamare or 1/2 tsp. salt & 1/2 tsp. pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 375. 

2. Grease pan lightly with dab of EVOO.

3.  Melt butter over medium low and saute onions until translucent, then beginning to pick up some rich color.   


4. Remove from heat and add spinach, stir until wilted. 


5. Add dill (optional) and herbamare or salt/pepper.

6. Make the first layer a mix of spinach & onions.

7.  Add crumbled feta for the second layer.


8. Beat the eggs, milk & a little more salt/pepper, then add to the top of the spinach/onion/feta layers. Use a fork to kind of stick the eggs down into the mix so they get covered. 


9. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife can be interested cleanly. Don’t open the oven to check on this until you’re almost positive it’s ready, or it’ll fall! 

10. Let stand uncovered for at least 5 minutes before serving. Cut into squares or slices and enjoy.


Tortellini and Basil Shrimp in a Lemon-White Wine Sauce

 

So, let’s say you go to the grocery store and shop for the week, then get to the checkout aisle and only after the checkout girl starts ringing you up, realize that you’ve forgotten your wallet back at the office, and have to leave everything there. Then, let’s say you go back home and wing a recipe by putting cheese tortellini, lemon, shrimp and basil together, make a lemon-white wine sauce with a little butter and parmesan, then sit down for a really delicious meal that’ll knock your socks off and only leave you with one pot to clean. Who needs a wallet anyway. It’s Monday. This is a great recipe to start the week.

ONE-POT TORTELLINI AND BASIL SHRIMP IN A LEMON-WHITE WINE SAUCE (serves 3-4 as a side; 1-2 as a main) 
– 1 lb. shrimp, frozed, uncooked, peeled & deveined, tails off 
– 1 12-oz. bag of frozen tortellini
– zest of 1 lemon 
– juice of 2 lemons (divided) 
– 2 tbsp. butter 
– 1 tbsp. EVOO 
– 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
– Bunch of fresh basil, chiffonaded 
– 1/3 grated parm (use same microplane you used to zest the lemon) 
– 1/4 c white wine 

1. Cook tortellini in salted water in a french oven (I would cook absolutely everything in this), set aside.

2. In the pot that you used to cook the tortellini, melt butter, add EVOO & simmer with the lemon zest on low for 5 minutes.


3. Add chopped garlic and shrimp, cook until pink (2-3 mins).

4. To this mix, add juice of 1.5 lemons, and 1/4 c white wine, then let infuse for another 2 minutes on low.


5. I removed the shrimp at this point and put them on a plate to rest, so they didn’t overcook, then cooked down the wine/lemon/butter/garlic sauce a little bit. When the shrimp cooled, I chopped it up into bite-size pieces. 


6. When sauce is mildly reduced and the alcohol has burned off the wine, add the shrimp & the juice collected on the plate, tortellini (dry – don’t add EVOO or anything, or it won’t stick!), parm, basil, and give everything a big stir.


7.  Remove from heat, cover, let sit to warm up the tortellini and shrimp again (get a salad ready or something – we had it with a green salad topped with my favorite avocado-cilantro dressing).

8. Right before serving, put a little slice of butter in, along with half a lemon, juiced, and a little more grated parm. Taste and adjust seasonings, and enjoy.