Kale Pesto

June 9, 2013

Kale Pesto - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I love pesto, but I’ve been wanting to try new things besides basil pesto.  This kale pesto is really yummy, and can be used in a number of ways: on a sandwich, in an egg scramble, on chicken or fish, on pizza (which we did the night after we had it on pasta…yum!), or, of course, on pasta.  This recipe is enough to cover a pound of pasta, plus extra for other things on later days.  It really freezes well, too!

Kale Pesto

1 bunch kale, stems removed

1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 clove garlic

zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add kale and boil for about 30 seconds.  Immediately drain kale and run cold water over it to cool it off.  Squeeze off excess water and put in food processor, along with nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Process for about 30 seconds, until its all ground to a fine meal.  Scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Scrape down the sides again, taste, and add more olive oil if needed (and salt and pepper), and pulse a few more times.  The consistency isn’t as creamy as basil pesto, and I found that I needed more olive oil than with basil pesto.  I think I used almost 1/3 cup.

If making pasta, cook your desired type of noodle to al dente and place it in a large bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.  Add about half the pesto to the pasta, and combine thoroughly, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water as needed.  Serve immediately, topping with parmesan cheese, and maybe a little toasted walnuts for garnish.  It’s also really good with some halved cherry tomatoes stirred in.

Greek Quinoa Salad

June 2, 2013

Greek Quinoa Salad - Sweet and Savory KitchensMargaux says…

In the warmer months, we eat a quinoa salad at least once a week. Everyone loves it…including my picky son, it’s super quick and easy, and nice and healthy. I should really call this one “clean out the fridge” salad, because I often make it when I really need to go shopping and I have to just use up whatever is left in the fridge. We always have most of these things on hand because they’re all favorites of my son. I find that you can add or subtract any ingredient, based on what you might have on hand. Some other things that would be good tossed into this are avocado, parsley, chopped fresh spinach, mint, celery, zucchini, green onion, radishes, pine nuts or white beans.

Greek Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 red onion, fine chop
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (leave out for vegan)
1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse and drain quinoa. Add water and quinoa to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it starts boiling, cover, run down heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Dump immediately into a large serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies. When the quinoa is cool, add all veggies and beans to it and mix.

Make dressing: Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over salad and mix well. Carefully stir in feta. Serve at room temperature with warmed pita and white wine as a main dish. Also great as a side at a BBQ, or with chicken.

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says . . .

I’m really loving non-traditional pasta dishes like this with just a few ingredients tossed with some pasta.  Probably like most Americans, I always assumed pasta came with meat sauce, marinara, or, if you’re feeling fancy, Alfredo…Jason and I survived on spaghetti marinara for the first few years we were together, living in our dinky little basement apartment in Lincoln Park.  It was either that or Ramen noodles, and I really hate that stuff.  So it’s been really fun the past several years, since I’ve become a stay-at-home mom/foodie cook, discovering all pasta has to offer.

This Martha Stewart recipe has been sitting in my files for a few years now, and I really wish I would have pulled it out sooner!  The sweetness of the roasted cauliflower and onion coupled with the salty bite of the capers is really fantastic.  This is in the “can’t stop eating it” category, for sure.  We ate it as a main dish, with a green salad.  For those of you keeping track, my little picky eater loved it, too!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve noticed lately that cauliflower seems to be the new kale.  It’s everywhere!  When I told Margaux that I wanted to make this cauliflower pasta recipe, she said she’d been intending to make this one from Martha.  So we’ve made both and this is our first post.  I’m not sure I know which is my favorite – I loved both.  Look for a post on the other recipe soon.  We served this as a side dish to a roasted chicken breast and served the leftovers as a main dish, both with a green salad.  Yum either way!

1 large head cauliflower cut into small chunks (about 7 cups)
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1/4-1/3 cup capers, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
12 oz orecchiette pasta, whole wheat recommended
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available
1/3 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Preheat oven to 450. Toss the cauliflower, onion and capers with the olive oil in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and brown, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, al dente, according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Turn the pasta back into the cooking pot or a large bowl.  Toss the hot pasta with the roasted cauliflower mixture, 1/4 cup of the pasta water,  the parsley and lemon zest.  Stir until completely combined.  Add more pasta water if too dry. Either add the cheese to the pot and stir to combine or pass the cheese to add to individual servings.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and thought it fit right in to our Pasta Wednesday theme – easy, throw together quickly, healthy and delicious – even if it is hard to say!  It reminded me of another no-cook pasta sauce we posted a couple of years ago that had a variety of nuts but basically the same approach.  This recipe is a little less fancy, qualifying it for a perfect weeknight meal.  I love cooking with mint and nuts which are ubiquitous ingredients in Sicilian cooking.  (I must take a trip there one day.)  The quantities listed made a lot of pesto so I had a chance to experiment with different pastas.  I had it as a main dish on bow-tie pasta served with a salad.  I served, as you see in the photo, as a side dish to salmon. While  I liked it both ways, it’s very rich so I thought is was better as a side dish.  An Italian white wine is a perfect match, even better if you can find one from Sicily where they are a little on the richer side.

1/2 pound pasta makes 3 main and 4 side servings

1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled

3/4 cup diced plum tomato (2 tomatoes)

1 large garlic clove or 2 small

a handful of fresh mint leaves

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

a handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1/2-1 pound dried pasta, whole wheat recommended

Pulse the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed.  Turn into a bowl and add the olive oil.  Stir until creamy, a bit like chunky peanut butter.  Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain and rinse the pasta.  Return to the pot and add 1/2 cup of the pesto per 1/2 pound pasta.  Add a little of the pasta water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Add enough of the pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Keep on the heat to heat through before serving.

NOTE:  The pesto can be refrigerated and used at a later date or used as a sandwich spread.

Bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts
Aunt Suzy says . . . 

Randy made this really delicious pasta last fall, and I’ve been bugging him about it since we decided to do Pasta Wednesdays here at S&SK.  He finally brought over the cookbook where he found the recipe, Italian Light and Easy, a favorite standby of his originally published in 1993.  He pointed out the recipe he thought he used, but couldn’t exactly remember.  It used all the ingredients you see in this post except it was for a cold pasta salad!  I distinctly remembered that he served it as a hot dish, so I thought he must have improvised, which is what I did.  Not only is this dish Italian ” light and easy” it was lightning fast to put together, which fits perfectly with the Pasta Wednesday concept. This can be made in 30-minutes tops.  Serve with a green salad and a nice, crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio and you’re set for a great weeknight meal.

1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts

1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

10 ounces Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta – regular, whole wheat or GF

2 tablespoons olive oil

8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Cook the artichoke hearts according to package directions.  Drain.  When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Place the diced tomatoes into a small bowl and add the balsamic.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain and rinse the pasta.

While pasta is cooking, place the olive oil in a large saute pan (large enough to hold the pasta and other ingredients) and heat to medium.  After draining the pasta, place it in the preheated pan.  Stir to coat.  Add the reserved tomatoes and artichoke hearts and a little of the pasta water.  Stir to combine, adding more water if it is too dry.  Stir in the basil and parsley, salt and pepper.  Once all is thoroughly combined, you can either add the Parmigiano and continue stirring till melted or pass the cheese for people to add to their individual serving.

COOK’S NOTES:  I think this dish is perfect for whole wheat pasta which added a distinct flavor.  I imagine if you don’t have Balsamic vinegar on hand, that red wine would work as well.

Warm Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Butterbeans and HerbsAunt Suzy says . . . 

The most recent Bon Appetit is chock full of what look to be fabulous things to cook and bake, so I thought I’d better get started.  This recipe contains only a few ingredients and none of the usual suspects of garlic, onions or shallots so I was curious about the flavor profile of the finished dish.  I kept thinking “I should have added some garlic!” as I was cooking this, but am glad I didn’t – it is a WOW with many layers of flavor.  The added bonus is that it was a snap to make!  We served it with roasted chicken breasts and a green salad, but I can also see it as a first course or a vegetarian main dish.  An Italian Pinot Bianco was a perfect wine pairing.

1/2 cup pearled farro (or barley)

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

juice of half a lemon

5-6 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

1 small can butter beans (or gigante or corona)

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

Cook the farro: Place farro in a saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 or so minutes until water is absorbed.  Place in a large bowl to cool. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Whisk mayo, mustard, lemon juice and 4-5 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the cauliflower:  Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower when oil shimmers.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, uncovered, until browned in places, turning occasionally.  Add 2 tablespoons water, then cover and cook for 5-8 more minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad:  Turn the cauliflower, while still hot,  into the bowl with the farro.  Add the butter beans and stir to combine.  Add the dressing and stir to thoroughly blend.  Next add the parsley, oregano and lemon zest and toss to blend all ingredients.  Enjoy!

COOK’S NOTES:  I adapted the BA recipe in a few ways. The original recipe called for barley, but I had farro on hand so used that. I think it would be good with either and possibly brown rice.  I also used less mayo than called for and believe it could be made without it altogether.  Also called for was tarragon, which I didn’t have so I substituted fresh oregano – I’ve been looking for uses since our plant is doing really well in the house this winter. I found the canned butter beans locally at Whole Foods – it took some searching!

 

Pappa Al Pomodoro

January 7, 2012

Margaux says…

Happy birthday, Desi! My son is 3 today, and it reminded me of this soup, which I made for his birthday party last year. This year we’re skipping a meal with the party, but I made the soup this week anyway because it was on my mind, and it is SO GOOD!!! This has got to be at least in my top 5 favorite soups, if not number 1. I saw Ina make it on Barefoot Contessa last fall, and have made it SEVERAL times since. It was in the same “bread” episode that I got this recipe, which is also pretty wonderful. Anyway, back to the soup…for one thing, it has fennel in it, which is fast becoming one of my favorite ingredients. If you haven’t tried fennel yet, you must…it adds so much flavor to things! The other awesome thing about this soup is the topping–you have to make that part, because it’s divine. If you’re making the soup vegetarian, it’s no problem, the topping will be just as good without the pancetta (although you may need to add a smidge of olive oil to make up for the lack of grease).

If you’ve never used fennel before, you chop it like you would an onion. First, you need to remove the stalks completely, then cut the bottom off, and then slice it lengthwise. Remove the outer layer, and cut out the core at the bottom. Then lay one half cut-side down on a chopping board, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Then slice again crosswise, in about 1/4″ slices. Super easy.

If you have leftover croutons after the soup’s all been eaten up, they also taste great on salads (including the pancetta)!

Make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with water, and eliminating the pancetta. Make it vegan by eliminating the parmesan, which I actually did last time I made it and it was just as delicious! I found that one large loaf of ciabatta will work for both the soup and the topping. I don’t remove all the crusts from the bread that I put in the soup, just the toughest bottom part (I have a hard time wasting all that bread!).

Pappa Al Pomodoro

from Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (water for vegetarian)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (eliminate for vegan)

For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped (eliminate for vegetarian)
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper

Directions
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

For all you eggplant lovers out there, this is one tasty dish!  And young, tender eggplants are everywhere in the farmer’s markets right now.  The original recipe for this called for the elongated Italian ones, which we don’t see typically in our markets.  I have used small globe eggplants in the past and this time I used the long slender Japanese variety.  Both have worked well.  While this recipe calls for cheese, it can easily be omitted with equally delicious results.  Serve with a salad, baguette and white or red Italian wine, and you’re all set for a great late summer meal.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, medium dice

8 large cloves garlic, sliced

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar

4 medium globe or 6-7 Japanese eggplants, totaling about 2 pounds or so (2-3 Italian eggplants if you find them)

1/3 cup each chopped fresh mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley

3-4 ounces fontina or provolone cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into pieces

Prepare the eggplants by first rolling them on a flat surface to soften the insides.  Cut slits in the eggplants.  These will naturally be shallower with the Japanese variety and should be a couple of inches deep in the globe or Italian eggplants.  Stuff the slits with half of the garlic slices and pieces of the cheese. Work to close the slits and set aside.

To prepare the braising mixture, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until it softens.  Add the half the garlic and cook another 2 minutes until the onion starts to brown a little.  Add the tomatoes, chile flakes and sugar and cook, covered for about 5 minutes. Place the prepared eggplants on top of the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with half the herbs.

Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the eggplants, cover the pot and braise for 60-90 minutes depending on how big around the eggplants are.  Check every 30 minutes and baste the eggplants with the tomato gravy.  They are done when very soft but not falling apart.  Remove the eggplants to a platter.  The sauce should be moderately thick, so if it’s watery, turn up the heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened. Stir in remaining herbs. Return eggplants to sauce and heat briefly before serving.

I always cook an amount that will result in leftovers because this is great served with pasta as a second meal.  Just cut up the eggplants, heat in the sauce and then toss with your favorite small pasta shapes.  Serve with or without grated Parmesan or Romano.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

If you read our blog, you know how much we love cooked greens!  Even as a greens enthusiast, when I saw this post on a favorite blog, Green Your Plate, I thought it sounded like an odd use for cooked greens (even if it was adapted from a Rick Bayless cookbook)!  However, the recipe showed up on the very day that my neighbor gave me a big bunch of young kale.  Plus I had a bag of turnip greens leftover from a recent batch of Turnip Risotto and a pretty large piece of  leftover cooked salmon in the fridge.  Since I had everything on hand except the tortillas, I felt the cosmos was conspiring for me to make these!   Randy and I both agreed that we would make this recipe again . . .  maybe often.  These tacos are a great weeknight meal option, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare.  You’ll see in the notes on the ingredients that there’s lots of flexibility in types of greens, tortillas and salsas, so you can utilize what’s available at the market and on hand in your pantry.  Randy had a Pilsner beer and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – both good matches.

If you like greens, I recommend browsing through Green Your Plate  – Amy has several recent posts about the wonderful greens that are available at our farmer’s markets throughout the season, along with a recap of a demo she did at our main farmer’s market on cooking with greens.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 bunches greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens or collards)

2 medium onions, thickly sliced in half moons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

Water, as needed, up to 1/2 cup

Zest of one lemon

1 cup crumbled feta or queso fresco

Cooked salmon, chicken, Spanish chorizo or andouille sausage, optional

6 medium flour  or 10 corn tortillas

Salsa for passing

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS: 

Greens – If using tender or young greens, leave them whole.  If using tougher or more mature greens, remove the center ribs and chop into 2-inch pieces.  Swiss chard stems can be cut into 1/2-inch slices and sauteed along with the onions.  Tender greens will cook in 1-2 minutes and likely not require water other than that left on the greens from washing.  Tougher greens will take longer – up to 10 minutes for mature collards – and will need more water.

Tortillas – I recommend flour tortillas for bitter greens (kale, turnips, collards) and corn tortillas for sweeter greens (spinach, beet tops, chard).

Optional Fish/Meat – The salmon was delicious with the bitter greens and I think the chorizo or andouille would work with them also.

Salsa – I recommend smokey chipotle salsa for the best match for bitter greens.  I would use a lighter, fresher salsa for sweet tender greens – maybe even a pico de gallo.

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, but are still fairly firm.  Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the greens a little at a time and stir to wilt.  Add the water if using tougher greens – I used about 1/3 cup for the kale and turnip green combo.  Turn the heat down to medium and cover to cook till tender, but not mushy.  This took about 6 minutes for the kale/turnip greens.  Remove the lid and turn up the heat to cook off the liquid.  Add the lemon zest and remove the pan from the heat.

In the meantime, warm the tortillas in foil in the oven.  To assemble the tacos, place a little of the greens/onions mixture on a tortilla.  Top with the cheese and fish or meat, if using.  Pass the salsa.

Aunt Suzy says . .

I’ve become a sucker for quinoa summer salads – you will find several of them here on Sweet & Savory Kitchens!  I’m always on the lookout for new and different quinoa recipes, so I immediately took note of this recently posted recipe from a fellow Minnesota food blogger on her Eating for England blog.  This is my riff on her recipe which embodies the flavors and ingredients of many Mexican dishes.  Enjoy as a main dish or a side for a summer grilling menu.  Beverages?  Iced tea, a lager beer or a dry rose wine all blend beautifully!

Quinoa-Black Bean Salad with Lime Dressing

1 cup quinoa (red or golden or a combo like I used)

1 1/2 cups water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, small dice

1 clove garlic, minced

6 radishes, cut in half-moons

1 small jalapeno pepper, minced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3/4 cup cilantro or parsley

1-2 avocados, cut into chunks

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve and drain.  Place in a saucepan, add the water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed.  Uncover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Fluff and put in a bowl.  Add the black beans to the quinoa while it’s still warm.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

When cooled, add the prepared onion, garlic, radishes, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes and stir to blend thoroughly.  Add the Lime Dressing and stir to combine.  Gently fold in the cilantro or parsley.  If the entire recipe will be eaten on the day it’s made, add the avocado along with the cilantro. Otherwise, pass the avocado for people to add to their individual servings.

Lime Dressing

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

juice of 1 lime

1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and whisk until slightly emulsified.  A NOTE ON THE CUMIN:  Instead of ground cumin, next time I make this I will toast 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds and then coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle for enhanced cumin flavor.  I’ll report back.