Tag Archives: italian

Parsley-Kale Pesto (or, “I can’t believe it’s kale!”)

In my pantry today:

  • 4 c (cooked) whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 c parsley
  • 1 c marinated kale
  • 4 L cloves garlic
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 2/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste, y’know?)

Kale-Parsley PestoWell we had spaghetti sauce and salad stuff, but neither one of us necessarily felt like being transported tonight via flavor to the isle of Sicily. Maybe something a wee bit lighter (-seeming, at the very least) like olive oil and garlic? Then a bulb came on above both our heads at the same moment — pesto!

Since kinda-recently learning of coconut oil’s health benefits I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my cooking — the trick there is not to make coconut pasta, so tread lightly. It, the whole wheat pasta and walnuts are the main proteins here (unless you wanna count the Parmesan too, but ’tis a mere pittance), nevertheless feel free to add chicken or shrimp if you don’t believe in things like that.

Parsley-Kale PestoAlso, ha! Made ya like kale, right?

Put all that stuff in the food processor and let it whirl until — magically — pesto appears! Adjust the oil if you want it more/less soupy. With the minimal amount of coconut in a dish that roars of garlic, there was a faint hint of Thai in this dish… just enough to make it delicious and foreign, but not enough to make it taste counterintuitively unfamiliar.

I had enough left over from our [2 person] meal that I used 2 tbsp of it to make a pesto vinaigrette (this stuff, red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil) and still had 1/3 c of it to put in the freezer. 5 spoons.

Proof is in the Photo …pudding?

Fruit-marinated and apple/cabbage-topped pork loin

Fruit-marinated and apple/cabbage-topped pork loin

I have been only slightly below average at remembering to take photos of things I am proud to have cooked and dreadful at remembering to write down actual lists of ingredients or recipe instructions. Please take kindly this generalized optical offering of my recent wares.

Lemon-pepper papardelle with garlic-wilted spinach

Lemon-pepper papardelle with garlic-wilted spinach

Makin' a pizza with whole-wheat crust

Makin’ a pizza with whole-wheat crust

Farfalle with... chicken and carrots?

Farfalle with… chicken and carrots? I don’t remember.

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Tomato-Topped Tortellini (or, “Salad Capricious”)

In my pantry today:

  • Trader Joes® spinach tortellini
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 M sweet onion, minced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • dash asafoetida
  • dash sea salt
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

tortellinitomatoHeat the oils to ML and address it with your minced finery. Turn them back to L and let sit for an hour or two; this seems like a huge investment for an otherwise simple meal, but trust me on the flavor quotient. If you don’t have that much time to invest, don’t worry your heart — this will still turn out beyond edible.

Closer to mealtime, boil/drain your tortellini and prep tomato and cheese slices until the slice:cheese ratio works for you. While the love for cheese can connect almost all of is it also comes with a wide gradient of loves; slice for yourself and don’t look back.

Add your oil, garlic, onions and Parmesan to a pot where you’ve replaced the tortellini drained. Toss gently and let sit for 5m before serving topped with slices of tomato/mozzerella. Drizzle the tiniest bit of balsamic vinegar over the whole shebang, close your eyes and dream of Italy. 5 spoons!

Getting Over The Hump, Italian-Vegan Style

In my pantry today:

  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 5 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1.5 c macaroni, dry
  • 1/2 c Nutrela
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin 
  • 2 dashes of salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 3 drops doTerra oregano essential oil
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

meatlessmarinara

I started my morning by tossing some stuff in a crock pot and walking away. First, it was slice-chunks of onion and garlic in 1/3 c olive oil resting covered on the highest setting for about 20m. Stir in Balsamic vinegar, cumin and turmeric. Add a quick dash of salt. Cover and let continue to cook for another 20m. Now this all seems very time-dependent and I know most of us are not common to such luxury; in my defense all of the time between food handlings was wisely spent cleaning up after myself and getting ready for a day outside of the home. Food needed to be ready this evening so as to keep us away from unintentional glucose emergencies that end up requiring an errant drive through. In the cupboards were cans of tomatoes and macaroni. I am nowhere near a regimented dietary state, but I can foresee history’s repeats and perhaps solve a steep caloric intake of not-really-food items with a nice marinara. The power of a nice marinara should not be underestimated.

nutrelacrumbled

Before leaving the house, turn the crock pot to its lowest setting. Return home several hours later and rejoice at the odor which awaits you. Decide that the Nutrela deserves another chance because you have no other desirable proteins and a little extra time. Boil it for 17 instead of the 7 instructed on the box. Shrug at the point of defeat against texture; drain and fastidiously squeeze out the additional water inside each nugget (that’s not as bad as it sounds — just lay them all out and press a clean cloth into them with a firm hand). Dice them until they become almost a ground sausage consistency. In a small saucepan add the now-ground(ish) Nutrela with 1/2 tsp garlic paste and 1 drop oregano essential oil. Take a second to tenderly smash while stirring to ensure the not-meat’s submissive essence then set aside for a nutrela2few minutes while the macaroni finishes boiling. Add two drops of oregano oil to the marinara; stir. When those little elbows are drained, mix some marinara into the saucepan and serve over macaroni that was pelted before and after said sauce with Parmesan (or substitute a vegan option, since this recipe is vegan until this part). So the Nutrela downgrades a 5 spoon marinara dinner to a 4 spoon dining experience. Nutrela you are not a terrible foe, but my battles with you have only just begun.

Le Polpette Più Straordinaria (Or, “Meatballs!”)

In my pantry today:

  • 4 c crock pot marinara from freezer
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausages
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
Meatballs ft. Steam of Deliciousness

Meatballs ft. Steam of Deliciousness

It’s a new year and the freezer is full of meat. Well, not full but still housing a little more than I’d like to have on hand and I would really like to free up space in both my freezer and capillaries so tonight’s dinner was meatballs. Using the freezer marinara also helped — plus, who wants to make homemade meatballs and use anyone else’s sauce in which to bathe them? I mean, that would just be wrong… right? So start this journey by ensuring everything is thawed and at the ready: your sausages have been removed from their casings, your garlic is minced and your oven is preheated to 350°.

meatballs1Heat the marinara over ML heat until it is hot but don’t let it get to boil; it can just sit patiently. All of the other ingredients can go into a mixing bowl and have your hands either lovingly or angrily (how was your day?) mash everything into a thick paste. Roll into balls 1-1.5″ in diameter and space them on a baking pan with raised sides to catch any runoff. What I had in the freezer was 93% fat free ground chuck so there was little in the way of grease, so I can sate my guilty conscience there. Cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then pick each hot little ball off the pan and plop it into your sauce. Cook on L until dinnertime. I love little nuggets of garlic in my meatballs, knowing they are shrouded in Parmesan and coated with meat then again smothered with homemade marinara… 5 spoons.

 

 

Oregano Bruschetta

In my pantry today:

oreganobruschettaStart out by slivering your garlic and putting it in an olive-oiled skillet warming to the M side of ML. While it slowly begins to crisp, get to quartering your little heirloom tomatoes. When the garlic begins to turn golden, remove the pan from heat and let it cool while you wash your cutting board and various utensils. Add one drop of the oregano oil to the partially-to-mostly-cooled pan and add the pan contents to the ‘maters. Toss, seal and let marinate overnight. On the morrow, serve after sitting outside the fridge long enough to come back to near-room temperature atop crostini, drizzling each with a little balsamic vinegar and sea salt. The oregano oil fills in any space left by the absence of fresh basil, being as savory a flavor as it is in this form. Things could really only have been made better by having baked the crostini myself — I know that it would’ve been made with love, which is no guarantee you’ll receive from a store bakery. 4 spoons with crostini, 5 without or with imagined others!

Lasagna, ft. Sausage, Kale and Cheese Trifecta

In my pantry today:

  • The butt-ends of two boxes of lasagna noodles
  • 1 freezer bag crock pot marinara (approx 3 c)
  • 1 freezer bag cooked ground Italian sausage (approx 3/4 c)
  • 3 medium leaves kale
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 dash salt

lasagnaThaw then marry your marinara and sausage in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Also start a large, oiled pot of water with an accompanying dash of salt. When your water begins to show signs of a boil, hold each leaf of kale by its stem and dip into the water for a count of 12. Wrap them in a clean towel and gently squeeze out all the water. Move them to the cutting board, remove stems and mince; set aside. Your pasta can go in now and cook until it’s a little too al dente to be al dente, then drain it and rinse with cold water until everything is chilled to room temperature.

Shred asiago cheese, set aside with mozzarella. Mix egg with ricotta cheese and dash salt. Rub a little olive oil inside a 6×6″ baking pan and begin layering by laying the most whole of your noodles along the bottom of the pan. Pour on 1/4 your sauce, scatter in half your kale bits, sprinkle 1/3 the asiago on, drop in dollops of ricotta and spread gently across the breadth of the pan, then add as complete a layer as you can with the noodle amputations and do this all again. Add a final layer of noodles, then add the rest of your sauce and top with the rest of your asiago and all of your mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake foil-covered pan in 350° oven for 45m, then take foil off and cook another 10-20m until optimum browning has occurred. Though next time I’d use more kale and sausage, this was still pretty good and worth all 4 spoons!

 

Miracles in Quick Marinaras (or, “OregaNO YOU DIDN’T)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 package refrigerated cheese ravioli
  • 8 oz ground sausage
  • 16ish oz canned tomato puree
  • 1 10 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp hot red chili/cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 drop doTerra® oregano essential oil

So a roll of ground sausage was going to thaw and go to waste were it not cooked. Don’t you judge me.

That being said, I actually drained off a little more of the grease than I meant to and left my diced up onion and garlic a bit dry in the pan. I kinda stir-fried in the turmeric, Italian seasoning, red chili powder and asafoetida, letting things simmer  in what little fat they could until the pan started developing liver spots. At that point, tomato reinforcements were called in to cool things down.

This was an acceptable sauce to go over what were most likely adequate store-bought ravioli. It was a meal, and I was tired. My wife* (the yoga instructor) brought into the kitchen her new set of essential oils; more importantly here, oregano oil. And boy, it was

I’m part of the mint family.

pungent past principle in proving its paternity.  Now I’m Italian enough, but never had I ever known of oregano as something with medicinal properties. She suggested and I was happy to agree to try a drop in the pan to see if it was terribly strong for its dual cooking application and how it might taste.

Stir it in. Wait for it. One drop, really. Just one. Wait! Feel that? It was a Tuscan breeze passing through your kitchen window. I still can’t really reconcile how one drop of anything can take a saucepan full of emo-mato sauce from 3 spoons to a celebratory 5 spoons. The force is so very with it, and I hope to one day try the force of other kinds (cilantro, clove, lemon, lime, peppermint, rosemary, wild orange). Holiday baking season will soon be upon us, and regular extracts can go sit and spin!

 

*omg I have one of those and one of those has me.

Double Feature: Basil, Beets and Barley (or, “Wait, That’s Three Things.”)

In my pantry today:

  • 5 small beets, baked and peeled
  • 3 c cooked barley
  • 1 c goat cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 c fresh basil
  • 1 c fresh spinach
  • 1/2 c radish microgreens
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion

I think I’m finally getting the hang of our CSA weekly bundles. I’ve got four days until the next pickup and only 1 tomato, 1 head of kale, 5 beets and 7 carrots left before Tuesday. This is a vast improvement over weeks prior, and I’ve yet to determine if this pace has worked. Check back after Tuesday.

I’ve also been hemming and hawing about the beets a little — they’re a new and foreign element to my kitchen, but I remind myself that that is not their fault. They may be the poor and huddled masses in my crisper drawer now, but social justice will catch up… hopefully riding the iron horse of deliciousness. I apparently made a 5 spoon issue out of it yesterday, sources report. Mince 4-6 (depending on size, y’know) cloves of garlic and 1/2 c basil in as teeny-tiny flakes as possible. Cream it with 1/2 c goat cheese and apply in neat balls to the top of chilled beet slices. I salt roasted these beets day before yesterday — cut off and reserve the greens, scrub the roots and place in a glass baking dish with a 1/2″ of salt in the bottom. Cover the dish and bake at 425° for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool, peel and refrigerate for future beet use.

While you’ve got the garlic-mincing going, go ahead and dice up 2-4 cloves and 1/2 a Vidalia onion. Start your butter and oil warming to M in a cold pan with the garlic and onion. Once it reaches full heat, reduce to L and let cook for 15m or so — until your garlic crisps to golden brown and your onions are near caramelization. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, remove the crispy garlic and sweet onion; set aside. Return heat to M and mix in your barley. Once it’s well-coated, add your mixture of spinach, chopped basil and microgreens. Toss until the spinach becomes bright green, then add back the garlic and onion and continue mixing with a pinch or two of sea salt. When everything is warm together, add dollops of goat cheese and cover the pan. Serve in 5m. The onions will deliver sweet bites in the midst of garlic’s tasty reign, and goat cheese will apply a creamy reasoning to the entire argument. 5 spoons.

Tofu Parmesan (or, “No, Really. Tofu Parmesan.”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1/3 package Nasoya® firm tofu
  • 3-4  c cooked spaghetti
  • 1 24 oz jar Prego® (roasted garlic and herb)
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 c tofu marinade*
  • 1.25 c breading*
  • 1/4 c safflower oil
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese

First thing’s first: prepare your tofu properly for cooking for the first damn time, Katherine. Stop thinking that it will magically find deliciousness through little preparatory effort. Drain your cube o’fu and gently squeeze a clean towel or paper towels around it for a little casual pre-press. Then wrap it in [clean towel/paper towels] and set a light-medium weight pot or pan on top and walk away for 30m or so. When you return, slice into 1/2″ thick steaks and place into sweet overnight dreams of flavor…

*tofu marinade:

  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix everything together and lay steaks flat (I used a rectangular tupperware dealie). Let sit in the fridge overnight, flipping once halfway through said marination.

And okay, pretend it’s now dinner time the following afternoon. Boil spaghetti until at your preferred consistency then season your Prego® with 1 tsp hot red chili powder and call that part of the meal a day. Get back to your tofu, and mix the following for its breading:

  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c ground golden flax
  • 1/2 c plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

While your oil is warming, remove tofu steaks gingerly and let sit on paper towels. Pat them on the back and let them know you appreciate their patience, then roll them in the breading and let them fry. Once one side turns golden, flip and continue cooking until the desired color. Mine came out a little browner than I’d have ideally liked, but they were still really, really tasty. When I was little, my dad used to make little bread crumb fritters when he’d fry something and there were breadcrumb left over… they were delicious, but even I knew they were bad for me. In the 80s. This, though? Well, nothing fried is really healthy — let me say that to the universe so it knows that this time I am not taunting it — but at least… well, nothing fried is really healthy. And nothing fried then covered with cheese could certainly count… but damn but it weren’t tasty.

Once fried, let the tofu sit on paper towels until crispy and dry of their shame. I layered in a bowl: spaghetti, sauce, tofu then cheeses and put each stainless steel bowl under the broiler for 5m to get the melty goodness going. 4 spoons!