Shrimp and Arugula Avocado Pesto Pasta

We don’t tend to eat pastas that often, but when we do, we try to go for interesting flavors.  I’m always also looking for easy recipes that I can throw together in the evenings after work, and this concept was recommended to me by a friend at work.

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I came home to assemble it and it tasted like one of the healthiest pastas I’ve ever had!  Plus it helped that it had one of my favorite ingredients, shrimp!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguine pasta
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for sauce, 2-3 tbsp olive oil for cooking shrimp
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 avocados

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook linguine according to box instructions (usually about 13 minutes).
  2. In a medium sized bowl, toss the shrimp with the paprika, about 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp of lemon juice.
  3. In a large skillet, spread some olive oil and when hot, add the shrimp.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the shrimp has lost the translucent color.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, add the arugula, avocado, and olive oil and pulse and puree until creamy.  Feel free to add more olive oil if you want a thinner sauce.
  5. Once the pasta has been cooked, drain and return to pot.  Add in the sauce and stir all together.  Add the parmesan cheese here, as well and stir.
  6. Serve onto shallow pasta bowls and place shrimp on top.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.

Easy Feta and Roasted Tomato Salad

Light salads often feature as a first course in our more elaborate dinners on the weekends.  Oftentimes I know I want to make a green salad but am never sure what to throw into them.  The best salads, though, are often when you discover leftover bits and pieces in  your fridge, that when assembled look picture perfect.  This was one of those.

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I happened to have a bunch of roasted tomatoes leftover from a previous brunch, and so decided to throw them into this light salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 lb arugula
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with foil with the flesh sides up.   Season with salt and pepper and oregano.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the tomatoes look slightly browned.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Cut the block of feta cheese into 2″ squares and set aside.
  4. Once the tomatoes are done, let them cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Assemble the salad by placing the arugula in a shallow bowl, followed by an arrangement of feta and tomatoes to your taste.
  6. Serve immediately!

Chilled Persian Yogurt Soup

While technically Autumn has started, it still feels warm and muggy in New York.  This soup was a nice antidote to the hot air outdoors, and was refreshing to eat.  While I’m not sure if I could taste the added flavor from them, the rose petals do add a flair of “fancy” and can be found at Kalustyans.com.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried rose petals (optional)
  • 2 cups 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Ground sumac, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate (or just a baking sheet lined with foil) and toast for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the rose petals with cold water and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the petals and squeeze dry.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the ice water. (You can add water if it seems too thick). Stir in the raisins, cucumber, mint, dill, chives, walnuts and rose petals and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, sprinkled with sumac.

 

From Food and Wine

Catalan Fish Stew

I’ve been reading quite a few articles in the paper lately about Catalan cooking and so when I came across this recipe, knew that I had to make it.  The mix of olives and fish and jamon make for a very hearty dish that comes together pretty easily for a weeknight.

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I have also never understood how one is supposed to box grate a tomato (which the original recipe calls for) since it usually ends up with a sad looking mush of tomato and not nearly the yield that I would have expected.

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I started substituting this with my favorite boxed tomatoes (which is always good to have around the house, especially for those nights when you’re too tired to cook but can make a simple pasta).  Once the substitution happened, not only did it speed up my cooking, but I was less averse to trying all these recipes with the box grated tomatoes.

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Just make sure to go easy on the dollop of the mayonnaise sauce – the stew itself is already pretty rich and hearty so start with a small dollop per serving, and then add it on if you want more of that flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz box finely chopped or strained tomatoes (I always buy Pomi tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup bottled clam broth (same as clam juice)
  • 4 ounces sliced serrano ham, cut into thin strips (Jamon and Proscuitto work, as well)
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds halibut fillet, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)  or regular paprika

Directions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until they are softened and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the box of tomatoes and cook over high heat until it is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the clam juice and boil until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the serrano, olives and halibut and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fish is cooked through and the stew is thick, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the remaining garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, pimentón and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Serve the fish stew in shallow bowls with a small dollop of the pimentón mayonnaise.  

Adapted from Food and Wine

Chicken Chasseur (Hunter Stew)

img_2233I enjoy broiled, baked or roasted chicken as much as the next person, but it does get boooooring! While staring at my fridge and pantry hoping for inspiration, I realized that I had all of the makings for chicken chasseur. I’m sure that there are many versions of this dish, some that are more complicated and also fattier. I have nothing against some good old fat – especially butter  or lardons- but this version is based on one by Jacques Pepin from his cookbook Jacques Pepin’s Table. His version calls for chicken thighs on the bone, which are flavorful and less prone to drying out than the breast meat; however, I had boneless chicken breasts in my fridge so that is what I used. I made a couple of other small adjustments to suit personal taste. This version is delicious and simple enough to make on a weeknight and is ready in under an hour.

Chicken Chasseur

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon EVOO

About 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (If they are large, cut them into two pieces each)

1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (White and light green part only)

1 large shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1.5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine (I happened to have an open dry rose so that was what I used)

1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes in their own juice (I like fire-roasted)

6 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped (about 1 Tablespoon)

12 ounces of small to medium mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed (Cut in half  or even quarters if they are larger)

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1.5 teaspoon fresh

3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1.5 teaspoons fresh

1 teaspoon Kosher or Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the EVOO in a large non-stick or heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the chicken breasts in one layer and cook them for 5 minutes on each side over medium high heat. Transfer the breasts to a large platter and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.
  2. To the drippings in the pan, add the leek and onion and saute for 1 minute. Add the flour and mix it in well for about 30 seconds. Then pour in the wine and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add back the chicken breasts. Stir in the garlic, mushrooms and all of the herbs and seasonings EXCEPT for the tarragon. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes more. If you are using chicken on the bone or dark meat, you may have to cook a little longer.
  4. When ready to serve, sprinkle in the tarragon. This is delicious as is but I like to serve it over a flat ribboned pasta like a pappardelle. It only needs a green salad to complete the meal – well and wine, of course!

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Porchetta

img_2226I just finished reading a mystery series that takes place in the Perigord region of France. The detective in this Martin Walker series loves to cook and there is almost as much time spent on the mystery as on the food – which suits me just fine! Perigord is the home of truffles, foie gras and wild boar as well as walnut tart. When I was in college I spent one winter vacation in Alsace with a French family that I knew at the time. The food was amazing! From the moment you woke up to cafe au lait and beautiful breads shaped like people eaten with home-made confiture to lunches (the main meal) of everything from wild roast boar to fish in a cream sauce to the hand-made chocolates loaded with liqueur that we ate after long walks in the woods – this was eating! We always had a tisane before bed to help keep our livers in good working order. Amazingly I did not gain an ounce, but I’m sure that the long walks in the mountains and the numerous stairs that I climbed, in addition to just trying to keep warm because there was no central heating, all helped.

Well, I have no idea where to buy wild boar here and I’m not sure that I would purchase it even if I could, but a good pork butt (shoulder) is readily available and happened to be on sale this week. This recipe comes mostly from Gabriele Corcos and his Extra Virgin cookbook. I made a few changes in addition to using a much smaller cut of meat. This is one of those homey dishes that just makes me sigh with delight at the first bite. Leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Porchetta – Roast Pork Roast img_2231

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

3 to 3.5 pound boneless pork shoulder (also called pork butt – no idea why since they are clearly different ends of the body!)

3 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves

3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 Tablespoon fennel seeds

1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

EVOO

2 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold but red Bliss potatoes would also work)

2 heads of garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the sage, rosemary, parsley, 5 cloves of garlic, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and process while drizzling in EVOO. You want to emulsify this into a paste that resembles pesto.
  3. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the pork so that it opens like a book with the spine still attached. Hopefully there is a good marbling of fat, which both adds flavor and keeps the roast from drying out.
  4. Spread about half of the paste over the open “pages” of the pork, reserving the remainder of the paste for serving.
  5. Close the “book” with the fat side facing up and tie it tightly with kitchen twine. You can do this part ahead of time and carefully wrap it tightly and refrigerate it until you are ready to roast it. This can be done up to a day ahead.
  6. When you are ready to roast the pork, halve the potatoes and the garlic heads and lay them cut side down in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Lay the roast – fat side up – on top of the cut heads of garlic and potatoes. Drizzle with a bit more EVOO and sprinkle a little more salt  and pepper on top of the roast.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and roast uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the wine over the roast and baste the meat with the pan juices about every 20 minutes. Roast for about a total of 2.25 to 2.50 hours or until the skin is very browned and the juices run clear or an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. has been achieved.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the roast to rest for about 20 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and carefully snip the twine. Then slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces and enjoy.

 

 

Lisa’s Vegan “Honey” Cake

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The Jewish New Year is almost here and I am always challenged to produce delicious, traditional food that also includes a vegan dessert. While I am neither vegan nor keep Kosher, my niece’s family keeps Kosher and her son (my godson) is deathly allergic to eggs and sesame. I could always make an apple tart or even my delicious vegan frangiapane apple tart, of course, but I get bored always making the same thing. I decided to experiment and came up with this Honey Cake recipe. Full disclosure – I actually used honey; however, to keep it vegan you could substitute date syrup and it would be delicious. I have included a link to a simple date syrup recipe below, although you can also find it online and in Middle Eastern grocery stores (look for Silan.)

Because honey cake tends to be pretty heavy and I am not using eggs, I needed to figure out how to lighten it up. I hope that you will agree that my version is delicious and will make a wonderful addition to any holiday table. I only wish you could smell how good this is!

Lisa’s Vegan “Honey” Cake

Yield: About 10 servings

Ingredients

3 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 cup unbleached cake flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1.25 cups granulated sugar

1.25 cups Canola Oil

1/2 cup sweet dessert wine (I used Ferrari Carano Eldorado Gold, but if you wish to keep it Kosher there is Yarden Heights Wine or even the gucky sweet extra heavy Malaga wine would work here)

1/2 cup slivered almonds, very lightly toasted

1/2 cup of raisins, soaked in 1/4 cup dessert wine or orange juice for at least 15 minutes

zest of one orange

Aquafaba from one 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (That is the liquid from the can that has been strained. You can use the chickpeas for a wonderful salad or homemade hummus.)

2/3 cup honey or date syrup

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Sift your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in all of the wet ingredients EXCEPT for the aquafaba.
  3. Add the orange zest, almonds and raisins and mix through to distribute everything evenly.
  4. In a standing mixer, add the strained aquafaba and on high speed, whip the liquid for about 20 minutes. The liquid will first foam and then will whip up to resemble egg whites. You want them to be as stiff as possible so beat them until when you pull up the beater, the aquafaba holds onto the beater. (Do NOT make the aquafaba ahead – it will not hold.)
  5. Quickly fold the beaten aquafaba into the flour/raisin/nut mixture. Don’t worry that it will collapse.
  6. Spray a 10-inch straight-sided, non-stick tube pan with a non-stick spray with flour and quickly pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly.
  7. Bake for about 1.25 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. It may take a little longer. Allow to cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes and then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  8. This can be made ahead and frozen. If you are not planning on freezing it, wrap it well once it is fully cooled or keep under a cake dome. The flavors will improve if made at least one day ahead. This should keep for several days.