March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity, this time the need for a quick dinner with minimal ingredients (the fridge was almost bare). We were away over the weekend, arriving home on Sunday night hungry from a long drive. Something was required almost instantly before true bad humor hit. This recipe will do it for you…it literally took only 15 minutes from the time the pasta water came to a boil. Apart from pantry staples (a box of dried pasta, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes) only 2 sweet fresh red peppers are required. Don’t have red peppers in the fridge? Use Brussels sprouts or cabbage or winter squash (you will need to peel and cut them into quite small cubes) or red onion or fresh tomatoes in summer. If you have fresh herbs on hand or in the garden, toss them in at the end. What about basil with tomatoes, mint with carrots or peas, cilantro with frozen corn? Be inventive! It’s nice to have a color contrast but certainly not required.

3 Pepper Pasta

The 3 types of pepper in this recipe come from red peppers, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and a generous grinding of black pepper.

You will have dinner on the table faster than it would take you to run to the deli for takeout.

3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic – serves 4 to 6 generously

Ingredients:

  • Dried pasta of your choice, I used a 1 lb. box of fusilli
  • 2 fresh red peppers, cored and seeded, then cut into julienne sticks
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • Pinch or about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Generous grind of black pepper, or about 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped parsley or other herb (optional), about 1/2 cup
  • Freshly ground parmesan or other hard cheese

Method:

  1. First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pasta water should taste like the sea.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the red peppers and mince the garlic.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta and set a timer. The fusilli required 13 minutes for al dente. Since I planned to cook it with the red peppers at the end, I wanted a little bite left in it.
  4. Put a saucepan, large enough to hold the cooked pasta, over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.
  5. Add the fresh red pepper and pepper flakes, saute until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic, turn down the heat as you want the garlic to soften but not brown.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
  8. Add the pasta to the saucepan with the peppers and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and stir, add the reserved cooking water by tablespoons until the pasta softens a bit more and glistens. (You will probably not need the full cup.)
  9. Drizzle with more olive oil, grind the black pepper over the top, add the parsley and grated parmesan.

Dinner is served!

Add the red peppers to the hot pan along with the red pepper flakes

Softened Red Peppers

Add the pasta to the red peppers

Chopped Parsley

Pasta with red peppers, black pepper, garlic and parsley

Finish with freshly grated cheese

This recipe is similar to one of my very first posts for pasta with peas, another pantry staple this time from the freezer.

I am taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday, over at Angie’s. Can you believe it is #163! Click on the link to see what everyone else is bringing to the party.

March – Lamb Tagine (Moroccan Lamb with Apricots)

March – Lamb Tagine (Moroccan Lamb with Apricots)

A tagine consists of soft chunks of meat and/or vegetables scented with spices and often sweetened with fruit. It originated in North Africa, but quickly spread to France, maybe because it is similar to a French ragout. The difference is in the seasonings used and the amount of liquid. A ragout almost always requires a significant amount of wine and sometimes broth to braise the meat, a tagine needs very little in the way of additional liquid. That due to the shape of the pot (also called a tagine) used to prepare the dish. The cooking vessel has a domed tight-fitting lid. As the food cooks, aromatic steam rises to the top of the lid and drips back over the contents of the dish. and the food steams as it cooks, rising to the top of the lid and then dropping back over the contents of the dish. The food is bathed in its own juices.

Emile Henry Tagine

Don’t worry if you don’t have a tagine. I have cooked this successfully in a covered casserole dish, first covered tightly with aluminum foil and followed by the lid, It should be tightly sealed so no steam escapes.

Lamb Tagine in Copco Casserole

The classical accompaniment to tagine is couscous, but rice or flat bread works very well. You will want something to soak up the juices.

This recipe came from the New York Times Sunday addition, The New Essentials of French Cooking.

The best lamb to use is bone-in lamb stew meat. At my local butcher I found it for $3.99/pound. That is a very good price here in Northern California, making this a very affordable dish, fancy enough for company.

Lamb Tagine with Apricots (feeds 4 – 6)

  • 3 pounds of bone-in lamb stew meat (lamb neck is delicious) cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. If your lamb more bone than meat, you may want a little extra.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt plus more as needed.
  • 1 3/4 lamb or chicken stock
  • 1 cup of dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of packed cilantro, tightly packed, chopped and divided in half

For garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

I found it easiest to measure out the spices into a small bowl before I started cooking.

Method

  1. If you have time, one day before or at least 1 hour before, put the lamb in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt. Combine and let sit at room temperature for an hour or overnight in the fridge.
  2. When ready to start cooking, heat the stock to boiling in a small saucepan. Add the apricots and turn off the heat. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. In a dutch oven, skillet, or bottom of your tagine, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the lamb in batches and brown, leaving space around each piece. Try to brown all sides of the meat. This could take 10 minutes or more. Remove the lamb pieces to a plate as they are browned.
  5. Drain any excess fat in the pan and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until they soften, another 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste, fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, and the spices to the onions in the pan. Cook until fragrant (a couple of minutes), then add back the lamb and any juices, plus the apricots, stock, and half the cilantro.
  7. (If you have done this in a skillet, transfer everything to your casserole dish, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of your skillet.)
  8. Bring it to a simmer and cover the pot tightly.
  9. Transfer to the oven and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the lamb is tender. The original recipe calls for turning the lamb occasionally, but I was busy and left it for the 3 hours without any ill effects.

Garnish

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet with the cinnamon stick. Add the almonds and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook gently until golden brown. Discard the cinnamon stuck and remove the skillet from the heat.
  2. When serving, garnish the lamb with the almonds, remaining chopped cilantro, scallions, and parsley.

Lamb Tagine with Rice

Opening the tagine dish or casserole dish is an amazing experience. As you lift the lid, aromatic steam is released full of the scent of exotic spices. Quickly garnish the dish just before serving. This can also be made ahead and gently reheated.

This is a perfect dish to dazzle my fellow bloggers at Fiesta Frida #162. Fiesta Friday is a virtual party (unfortunately) but you may be inspired to make some of the dishes yourself this weekend. Please come join the fun, we would also love to see your own post at the party. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by Sarah @ Tales From The Kitchen Shed and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons (hey, that’s me!!).

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to read the posts.

 

March – Roasted Cauliflower with Potatoes and Chickpeas

March – Roasted Cauliflower with Potatoes and Chickpeas

This is a recipe with history. The original inspiration was posted over 3 years ago by Selma from Selma’s Table, she won a Food 52 competition for the “Best One Pot Meal” with a recipe entitled Extraordinary Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Chickpeas. I have made Selma’s recipe several times, and highly recommend it. You can find her original recipe by clicking on the link here.

My vegetarian adaptation using cauliflower is a spin off from both the original and several posts by Elaine of the blog foodbod. The marinade has been around in the blogging community for some time, based on some of Elaine’s past dishes…roasted chickpeas and potatoes and cauliflower and chickpea magic, not to mention marinated cauliflower nirvana.  I have dubbed Elaine the “Queen of Roasting” because of the high quality of her recipes for roasted vegetables, it is definitely a blog to bookmark.

Marinated Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Potatoes

If you read Selma’s post, she was also inspired by Elaine, so we have come full circle.

My vegetarian version uses cauliflower, chickpeas, and potatoes. It is an excellent side dish to serve with roasted meat but can also stand alone as a vegetarian entree with a green vegetable or salad. My non-vegetarian family couldn’t keep their fingers out of the baking pan.

I am a big fan of toasty bits on potatoes and cauliflower, so I changed the original recipes a bit. I precooked the potatoes for a couple of minutes before adding them to the marinade (the softened and pre-cooked potatoes soaked up the flavors of the marinade), then roasted everything uncovered for the entire cooking period. The chickpeas became crisp and crunchy in the open pan, the potatoes and cauliflower were nicely browned around the edges.

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 large russet or Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks about 1 1/2 inches
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 3 – 5 lemons, juiced
  • I head of garlic, cloves separated and pealed
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of Harissa paste or other hot chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fill a saucepan big enough to hold the potatoes with cool water, add a rounded teaspoon of salt. Add the potatoes to the saucepan as you peal and cut them to prevent discoloration.
  2. Bring the water with the potatoes to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, turn down the heat slightly and cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, shaking the pototes around to rough up the edges. Cool slightly. More information on the why here.
  3. Prepare a large baking sheet or baking pan by lining with aluminum foil.
  4. Preheat your oven to 435 degrees F.
  5. Prepare the marinade in a large bowl. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, mayonnaise, Harissa paste, and tomato paste. Whisk to mix completely.
  6. Add the potatoes, cauliflower, garlic and drained chickpeas to the bowl with the marinade. Mix to coat.
  7. Spread everything out on the baking pan, all in one layer if possible.
  8. Transfer the pan to the hot oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until everything has a slight char and is cooked through. If you think about it, you can turn the potatoes and cauliflower over after about 30 minutes to brown the other side.

Marinated Cauliflower, Potatoes, and Chickpeas

Thank you Elaine and Selma for this amazing recipe.

Marinated and Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Potatoes

In My Kitchen – March 2017

In My Kitchen – March 2017

March is here and it’s time for the monthly In My Kitchen series. IMK posts give you glimpse into kitchens around the world. There are new cookbooks, new pots and pans, spices, flavorings, recipes, plus musings about cooking and the world. I think you will find the selection of posts fascinating. Stop by Liz’s blog to see the links. If you’d like to write an In My Kitchen post, send your link in a comment to Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things by the 10th of the month.

In my kitchen I have a new tagine clay pot. This one is made by Emile Henry in France, they make very high quality ceramic cookware. You can use them directly on the stove (with the exception of induction) and in the oven.

I was first introduced to the joys of cooking in clay by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Custard who is a very big fan.

  • The special clay from Burgundy evenly and slowly diffuses cooking heat to the very center of the dish. Food is cooked evenly, bringing out the flavors and aromas.
  • All Emile Henry products can go directly from the freezer to the oven. You can use them under the broiler and in the microwave.
  • The surfaces are very easily cleanable, they do not hold burnt food. All their products can go in the dishwasher.
  • All Emile Henry products meet the strict standards of California Prop 65, they do not contain any lead or cadmium and are 100% food safe.
  • All products come with a 10 year warranty.

Emile Henry Tajine

The tagine has been used for centuries in Morocco. In fact the name of the pot and that of the dishes it produces are the same. A tagine consists of chicken, lamb, fish and/or vegetables cooked in a sauce which is rich in spices and often contains fruit. Stewing food in a tagine helps it to cook evenly without drying out. The conical lid allows steam to rise, and slowly fall as the food inside bakes.

I made the same stew in both a tagine and a traditional casserole dish, the lamb cooked in the tagine was definitely more succulent although both were delicious. Look for those posts in the next week.

Lamb Tagine with Apricots

In my kitchen I have a couple of new cookbooks.

Tagines and Couscous by Ghillie Basan

I adore the spices used in Moroccan cooking and am looking forward to trying more recipes in my new pot. I will post the recipe for the lamb tagine, it was amazing!

In my kitchen I have another new cookbook, Small Victories by Julia Turshen.

Small Victories by Julia Turshen

I consider this a very practical cookbook, the recipes are fairly basic but include spin-offs for creating many new meals from the original. Each recipe also includes a tip that might be very useful (the small victory in the title), mastering the first recipe gives you access to many variations.

The recipe for turkey ricotta meatballs came from this book.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Pasta

In my kitchen I have a new silicone spatula. i couldn’t resist it as we leave for Paris on the 23rd of this month, back in early April. Next months post may come from our vacation kitchen in France.

Silicone spatula

What is new in your kitchen this month?

February – Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

February – Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s a meal I consider one of the ultimate winter comfort foods. It is certainly a classic. Remember that scene from Lady and the Tramp? A classic! The original calls for ground beef, eggs and breadcrumbs. But what about replacing those meatballs with ground turkey and ricotta? I’ve done this before with turkey burgers and recently saw the same idea using meatballs in a new cookbook, Small Victories (see the link below). No breadcrumbs or eggs required. Even better, these are baked, not fried. The meatballs are moist and flavorful, full of fresh herbs. You could serve them with zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles) for the ultimate gluten free dinner. This easy recipe makes enough meatballs to freeze a batch for a future meal, any leftover tomato sauce is delicious with baked eggs for brunch.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Pasta

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Pasta

This recipe makes a large sheet pan of meatballs, 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 28-ox cans of whole peeled Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine or water
  • 7 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced and 3 minced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh Italian flat leaved parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 2 lb. of ground dark meat turkey

Method:

Meatballs

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle the baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and smear to cover the sheet.
  2. In a large bowl combine the minced garlic, basil, parsley, ricotta, parmesan, turkey and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix everything together until well blended, not too roughly.
  3. Use your hands to to form golf ball sized meatballs, you can wet your hands to prevent it from sticking. Transfer the meatballs to the lined baking sheet. It is ok if they are fairly close together or lightly touching.
  4. Drizzle the meatballs with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake until browned and firm, about 25 minutes.

    Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

    Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

While the meatballs are baking, start the sauce.

Sauce

  1. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them, the easiest way is with your hands.
  2. Add the wine or water to one of the cans and swish it around, add it to the second can again rinsing to clean out any remaining tomato and add it to the bowl.
  3. Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook about one minute (make sure it does not burn). Add the tomatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer for about 10-20 minutes.

To finish

Finished Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Finished Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

  1. Remove the desired number of meatballs from the baking tray with tongs and gently add them to the simmering sauce.
  2. Cook for at least another 10 minutes for the flavors to meld, but they can go longer (up to an hour according the recipe but I wouldn’t leave them so long).
Tomato Sauce with Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Tomato Sauce with Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs

Any leftover meatballs can be frozen.

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Pasta

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Pasta

This recipe came from the excellent cook book Small Victories by Julia Turshen.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Cheese

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Cheese

Flyng Frisbee Quinn

Flying Frisbee Quinn with Leo and Mazee on a winter beach

I am taking this comforting winter dish to Fiesta Friday #161 hosted by Angie. Her cohost this week is Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to join the fun and read the recipes brought to the virtual party by other bloggers.