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.

Garlic and Kale Linguine

January 18, 2013

Garlic and Kale Linguine

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

The basis for this dish is a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for classic spaghetti with garlic and olive oil which I made recently.   Last week I saw another recipe for spaghetti and kale with similar ingredients but without the scientific technique of the CI recipe.  Randy and I both agreed that with or without the kale, the CI dish is outstanding.  The kale makes it just that much better and healthier!  This could be a main dish or a side.  Shown is a main dish portion, and we have also served with sauteed boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Either way, an Italian white,  Orivetto or Pinot Grigio, is a great accompaniment!

Makes 4 main dish or 6-8 first course servings

4 garlic cloves, peeled and processed through a garlic pressOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup high quality EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a skillet

1/2-1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano (omit for vegan)

3/4-1 pound whole wheat, regular or GF linguine or spaghetti

Place processed garlic in a small bowl and add the teaspoon of water.  Heat the olive oil to a little over medium in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, optional pepper flakes and kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until garlic is golden and kale is soft.  Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat.  Shake the pan regularly and watch carefully so they don’t burn!  At today’s prices especially that would be a shame. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and rinse briefly.  Put the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Add the reserved kale mixture along with part or all of the pasta water and toss to combine thoroughly.  Heat through, stirring.

Place on individual plates and top with a little cheese, if using, and some pine nuts.  Alternatively, if you will be eating all of what was cooked, you can stir the cheese into the pasta before serving.  Then top with the pine nuts.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Not sure why, but fish tacos have become somewhat of an obsession this summer. After making “Take 1” last weekend, I was eager to revisit this recipe that I made a few years ago. Many of the ingredients are abundant right now at the farmers markets, so these were especially delicious. The pairing suggestion was a chardonnay of the crisp and fresh variety. I was a little skeptical about serving Chardonnay with tacos, but the Hess Select 2010 from Monterey was a perfect match.  It hit all the right notes with the food and was inexpensive – what could be better?!!

This makes 4 servings of 2 tacos each

The Cabbage Slaw

1 small head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (Can be Napa, Savoy or regular – I used a combo of Savoy and purple cabbage.)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Stir to thoroughly blend and set aside.

The Lime Guacamole

2 ripe Haas avocados

1/3 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1-2 small jalapenos minced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the avocados in a medium bowl.  Add the onion, cilantro and jalapenos and stir to blend.  Add the lime juice and salt and pepper and stir until incorporated.  You can make this as creamy or as chunky as you want.  Set aside.

The Fish

1 pound Red Snapper or Rock Fish, aka Pacific Snapper (You could also use Tilapia, but I really liked the texture and flavor of the Snapper for this recipe.)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

We grilled this over charcoal, but you could use a gas grill or broil in the oven.  If using a grill, bring charcoal or gas to medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, cut the fish into 3-inch segments, with an eye to consistent thickness. Coat both sides of each piece with oil and the salt and pepper.  (Randy and I thought we would try a little cayenne next time as well.)  Place the fish on a grill pan directly over the heat.  (The original recipe did not specify this, but we were worried that the fish would fall through the regular grill top.)  Grill for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until the fish is translucent. Let the fish rest for 5-10 minutes before assembling the tacos.

Assembling the Tacos

2 ripe tomatoes, sliced in thin wedges

8 or more corn tortillas

Lime wedges and hot sauce to pass

Place the tortillas in foil and heat in a 350° oven for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from oven.  For each taco:

Spread the tortilla with the guacamole.  Place a few chunks of fish on top.  Add a few slices of tomato.  Top with cabbage slaw.  Add a squeeze of lime and as much hot sauce as you want!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I’ve been hankering for fish tacos lately and suggested a recipe I made years ago to Randy that uses grilled red snapper and the classic cabbage slaw as a topping.  He countered my suggestion with this recipe which is from a recent Co-op flyer.  Since it was hot as blue blazes out, we opted for this recipe in which the fish is cooked stovetop – no lighting and hovering over a grill!   This was fast to make and fun to eat.  While we made it on a Saturday night, this would be a great option for a weeknight meal.  We both agreed that we’d like to experiment with other fish taco recipes, so let us know about your favorites!  Look for more fish taco postings soon.

This makes 4 servings of two tacos each

The Salsa

1 small can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans)

1 cup diced seeded fresh tomatoes

1 cup diced peeled and seeded cucumber

1 small red onion, diced

1 small jalapeno, minced

1/4 cup lime juice

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, 1/2-inch dice

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the first 5 ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Whisk the lime juice and oil together and add to the vegetable mixture along with the cilantro.  Add the avocado right before serving or if you will not be using the entire recipe in one meal, serve the avocado on the side to add to each taco.  (The avocado did not hold up well in the leftover salsa.)

The Fish

1 pound Tilapia or white fish fillets

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

Warm a platter in a 200 degree oven. Whisk the spices together, along with salt and pepper to taste, in a small bowl.  Rub all sides of the fish fillets with the spice mixture.  Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large non-stick or cast iron skillet and set on a medium-high burner.  When the oil shimmers, add the fillets, two or three at a time depending on size.  Cook until lightly browned and the flesh is opaque, about 2 minutes per side depending on thickness.  Transfer the fillets to the warmed platter while cooking the remaining fish.

Assembling the Tacos

8 or more corn tortillas

Place the tortillas in foil and warm in the oven along with the fish platter. Cut the cooked fish into large chunks (about 1 x 2 inches).  Add 2-3 pieces of fish to each warmed tortilla, top with the salsa and avocado if serving separately.  We used the house made tortillas from Cinco de Mayo Mercado in Minneapolis, which are on the thin side.  We found we needed to double up on the tortillas for each taco or else they broke through.  Even with this problem, we think these are the best locally made corn tortillas around the Twin Cities!

Pasta e Fagioli

December 31, 2011

Margaux says…

I think I’ve had enough meat and potatoes to last me a lifetime. I can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth…I’m a total meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. But we had the most rich food over the holidays (like, for example, potatoes whipped with a stick of butter, 8 oz. cream cheese, and a cup of sour cream!), and then had them as leftovers, and I think I’ve really had enough.

I found this recipe last year on Food 52, and have made it a couple of times. It’s quick and easy, and very heartwarming. And you can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon,  instead using 2 tbsp olive oil to saute the veggies, and vegetable broth or water in place of the chicken broth. We’re definitely going to be eating things like this for the next several weeks!!

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from “Jenny’s in the Kitchen” blog on Food 52
serves 4-5

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small stalks celery
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dittalini
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
grated Parmesan

1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring until crisp. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and transparent. Add celery and cook another couple minutes. Add broth, salt and oregano and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl mash 1 cup of the beans, then stir them into the onion mixture along with the remaining whole beans, tomatoes, and pasta. Simmer the soup, covered, for 15 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Then remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in parsley and grated parmesan (I used about 1/4 cup). Serve with crusty bread.