Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pasta

 I made my own fresh pasta for this dish and have attached my recipe, but feel free to use store-bought fresh pasta. I will say that my dad claims the homemade pasta made the dish. 

Also note that I always boost the vegetable amounts :)

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pasta
Fine Cooking: CookFresh

3/4 lb fresh pasta sheets cut into ~1/2 inch thick strips
1 clove garlic, minced

3 C mixed spring vegetables cut into small, thin pieces( about 2  by 1/2 in)
 (The recipe suggests: carrots, asparagus, spring onions, baby turnips, and sugar snap peas; I used carrots, thin asparagus, and thinly sliced onion)

1/2 C shelled peas or fava beans (I used frozen peas)
1/3 C watercress or pea shoots (I didn't have this, replaced it with chopped arugula)
1/4 C loosely packed herbs, such as basil, mint, and parsley
4 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in pieces
11/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water, the garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper to a simmer in a high-sided saute pan. Add the mixed vegetables and simmer, adjusting heat as necessary, until just tender, about 3 minutes. 

**The recipe notes to cook the peas for about 3 minutes on their own, and to skip cooking if using fava beans. I just cooked my frozen peas with the rest of the vegetables

When the vegetables are tender, transfer them to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Boil the remaining liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just tender. Add the vegetables and pasta along with the herbs, butter, watercress, and lemon zest back into the stock. Toss over medium heat until the butter melts, about 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Fresh (Whole Wheat) Pasta
Adapted from many different sources...

This makes about a pound of fresh pasta dough. It can be cut in half, but it does get tricky.

1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs (this is where it gets subjective)
~ 1 Tbs. olive oil
2 to 3 Tbs water

First, mix the flours and the salt together on a clean counter-top. Make a pile and create a well in the center. 

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl with the oil and ~1 Tbs water.  Pour this mixture into the flour well. This is where it gets tough...

Try to whisk the egg mixture into the flour with a fork, drawing little bits of flour from the edges of the well. Use your hands to maintain the walls of the well, trying not to let any egg mixture escape. If you are successful, there will come a point when the liquid is no longer in danger of seeping. At this point,  continue to mix the dough with your hands.
If some egg mixture happens to leak out of your well, don't worry. Use the fork to scrape as much of it back together as possible, then just move on to the hand-mixing step. The overall object is to make a smooth, consistent dough.

The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky. Add flour or water as needed to get the dough to the correct consistency.

If you have a pasta maker, run the dough through the flat roller on each setting, up to the desired thinness. If you don't have a pasta maker, don't worry. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough as thin as possible - you know, about as thin as a noodle...

Cut the pasta into strips for the recipe above, or create any shape you'd like. 

To cook, add the pasta to salted boiling water and cook it for about 5 minutes. Timing may vary based upon the dryness or shape of your pasta, so monitor it as it cooks. Drain the pasta and toss with your sauce of choice.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts Dried Cranberries, and Gouda

This is a delicious little grain salad, great as a side dish for a light entree, a quick lunch, or an afternoon snack. I absolutely love every ingredient in this...

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts Dried Cranberries, and Gouda
Fine Cooking: CookFresh

1 1/2 C cooked quinoa, preferably red
5 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion quartered and thinly sliced
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
4 oz. (about 3 C) arugula, thinly sliced 
4 oz gouda cheese, finely diced
3 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
1 large, crisp Apple (such as Fuji, Pink Lady, or Gala) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 C coarsely chopped walnuts
1 C finely diced fennel
3/4 dried cranberries
3 Tbs. sherry vinegar

*I would recommend adding:
juice of half a lemon

**If you want to make it a more "Waldorf-like" salad, add in a bit of mayonnaise or, better yet, some plain (Greek) yogurt

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then place in a pot with 2 1/2 C water and a bit of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender but not overcooked. (I like it nice and tough to give the salad a nice chewiness)

Drain any excess water from the quiona and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion until tender and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about one minute. Let this mixture cool.

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onion, apple, gouda, celery, fennel, and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk the sherry vinegar, about 3 Tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper (and lemon if using). Pour this dressing over the salad and thoroughly mix it in. 

If the salad seems dry, add more oil, vinegar, (or your choice of mayonnaise or yogurt) as needed.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spaghetti Frittata with Arugula and Fresh Herbs

I really like this dish because it combines carbs (the pasta) and protein (the eggs) into one yummy dish. It serves 4 to 6, so I adjusted some measurements to serve 3 people. My amounts are in green next the full recipe's ingredients.

After trying it, next time I think I will do a little less mint. It tasted great, but the mint got a bit strong at times. Also, I might experiment with  throwing a little garlic in - can't live without it - and perhaps a bit of spinach t supplement the arugula. That being said, it was pretty tasty just the way it was.

Spaghetti Frittata with Arugula and Fresh Herbs
Fine Cooking: CookFresh

(1 C)  1 1/2 C cooked spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
1 large or two small shallots, thinly sliced (I actually used onion)
2 C lightly packed arugula (baby arugula is best)
(6) 8 eggs
(1/3 +)   2/3 C cream (or half & half)
(3/4 C)   1 C grated Parmesan cheese
(I did 2, I suggest only 1 Tbs)   2 Tbs chopped fresh mint
2 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs thinly sliced  fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 375 and cook the spaghetti if not already done. Let the spaghetti cool and place it in a medium sized bowl. 

Heat 1/2 Tbs butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallot (or onion) until soft and lightly browned. Add the arugula and toss until it wilts, about a minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the spaghetti, being sure to scrape all of the oils and bits out of the pan.

Whisk the eggs, cream, and a bit of salt and pepper. Sir in the pasta mixture along with the herbs and cheese. Heat another 1/2 Tbs butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbly, pour in the egg mixture and smooth it around to evenly distribute the ingredients. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until it is just set around the side, about 5 minutes. Put the skillet into the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the egg is set and the frittata is puffed up and golden brown. Allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving with a spatula.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tortilla Lasagna

This is a great variation to our usual "Mexican night", combining quesadillas with classic casserole.

As usual, I cut this in half and it worked fine...

Tortilla Lasagna
-Vegetarian Times, Jan/Feb 2012

6 8-inch flour tortillas
1 small onion, dices (~ 1 C)
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs  ancho chili powder
 (if you don't have this, substitute a little extra chili powder)

2 gloves garlic, minced
2 C strained tomatoes (Pomi brand is good)
1 1/2 C cooked black beans, or 1 15 oz can
2 medium zucchini, diced (~11/2 C)
1/2 C fresh, frozen, or canned corn kernels
11/2 C Monterey Jack cheese (I used cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the tortillas on parchment-lined baking sheets until light brown, flipping once (about 5 minutes).

Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powders and garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add 1 1/2 C of the strained tomatoes, black beans, zucchini, corn, and 1/2 C water. Season with salt and pepper, then cover ad cook for about 10 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.

Grease an 8-inch round baking dish and spread 1/4 C strained tomatoes on the bottom. Place one tortilla into the pan next, and top with 3/4 C bean mixture and 1/4 C cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the last tortilla topped with remaining 1/4 C strained tomatoes and 1/4 C cheese.

Bake 30 to 45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let cool before serving. I cut wedges and used a spoon to scoop servings out of the dish.

Serves 8

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Green Zebra

Yesterday was my birthday, and lucky for me I got to go to Chicago and have dinner at a vegetarian restaurant! It's called the Green Zebra and I absolutely love it. 

Food comes in small portions, and usually each person orders about three plates for their meal. There is a wide range of cuisines on the menu, but there is an overall Asian vibe to the food and the atmosphere.  I've gone here with multiple meat eaters - some who are open to vegetarianism and some who had never eaten a meatless meal - and everyone has enjoyed their experience. 

The flavor profiles of every dish are so complex and perfected, I have yet to find anything on the menu that doesn't amaze me. I'm excited to try making some of my own dishes inspired by the Green Zebra - I don't think I could recreate "the real deal"  though. I will of course post any success stories from my own kitchen :)

Check out the website here:

And the menu here:

Next time you are in Chicago for the evening, I would strongly recommend you give the Green Zebra a try, whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Linguine with Roasted Asparagus and Almond Pesto

This is yet another recipe from my current favorite magazine. 

Linguine with Roasted Asparagus and Almond Pesto
Fine Cooking: CookFresh

Yet another mediocre photo which does not do the dish justice...

3/4 lb. asparagus
2 C grape tomatoes
1/4 C olive oil
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/4 C fresh basil leaves
2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano- Reggiano (or similar Parmesan-like cheese)
1 lb. linguine pasta

I 'm a huge fan of garlic, so I would add at least two pretty hefty cloves into the food processor step. When I made this dish it was missing that little kick and I think a little bit of garlic would hit the spot.

Wash and trim the asparagus, breaking off the stems where they naturally crack. Heat the oven to 425 and  drizzle about 2 tbs of olive oil onto a cookie sheet. Arrange the asparagus on one half and the tomatoes on the other, and sprinkle each with a bit of salt and toss to coat. Roast on the top rack for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to shrivel and the asparagus is tender.
Meanwhile, spread the almonds out on a second baking sheet and toast them on the bottom rack of the oven for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until golden brown.

When the asparagus is done, chop off the tips and set aside along with about 2 tbs. of the toasted almonds. Place the asparagus stalks and the remaining almonds into a food processor with the basil, cheese, (garlic), and about 3 tbs. olive oil. Pulse the mixture until a thick paste forms, then transfer to the bowl you will serve the pasta in.

Cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water until al dente. When the pasta is about half done, take about 3/4 C of the water and save it to add to the sauce. Drain the pasta and toss it with the pesto. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as necessary (probably about 1/2 C) to achieve a saucy consistency. Toss in the asparagus tips, tomatoes, and reserved almonds. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

Serve with freshly grated cheese and enjoy!