May – Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Here is the good news…there is no reason to wait until July for this delicious simple pasta sauce. You can make it with sub-par tomatoes (cherry or hot house) before we enjoy tomatoes in their full summer glory, it will still be delicious. No mint? No problem. Use some basil or all parsley instead. Or use a tablespoon of pesto sauce. Don’t let a lack of ingredients stop you from making this recipe. All you need is a green salad to accompany it for a full satisfying meal.

It could also easily be a pantry meal with oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, canned anchovies, and a bit of pesto sauce. Voila! Instant dinner.

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Ingredients:

  • 12 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus more for serving (preferably flat leaf Italian)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil or mint leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes-chopped, or all cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 12 oz pasta of any sort
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, chop the anchovies, garlic, parsley, mint (or basil or more parsley), and red pepper flakes together on a cutting board.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the anchovy mixture until the garlic starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the tomatoes into the skillet, cover, and cook until they are soft and release their liquid, stirring occasionally, 7-10 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes longer to concentrate the juices slightly.
  5. While the sauce is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is just al dente…maybe a minute or two less than the package suggests. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  6. Add the pasta, butter, and lemon zest to the skillet and toss to mix well. Stir in a little of the reserved pasta water if it seems dry. The pasta will absorb all that delicious sauce, become infused with flavor.
  7. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped parsley and mint and drizzled with olive oil. I added just a touch more lemon zest just before serving.
Mint

Mint – in a container so it doesn’t grow out of control

Recipe is from Dinner in French by Melissa Clark. She uses basil and parsley as herbs, I substituted mint since my basil is only 1/8 inch high at the moment. You could stir in a generous tablespoon of pesto in step 2.

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #328 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

Pasta with Anchovies, Tomatoes, and Mint

April – Blistered Broccoli with Fusilli, Sicilian Style

April – Blistered Broccoli with Fusilli, Sicilian Style

This combination of anchovies with golden raisins achieves a rich, complex, and delicious result without a heavy tomato sauce. The flavors are typically Sicilian and pairs beautifully with fusilli. Add in broccoli, blistered to charred perfection in a hot pan, and you have a complete meal.

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat anchovies (or simply just don’t like them), you can replace them with a tablespoon of soy sauce or miso or a 1/4 cup of chopped black olives. All those will give you a similar salty, briny, umami filled jolt. I used a gluten free fusilli but use whatever pasta shape you have in your pantry, fresh or dried.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of broccoli (or cauliflower), florets roughly chopped and stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 leeks or 1 onion or 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste or equivalent of finely chopped whole anchovies
  • Pinch of saffron threads (leave out if not available)
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, preferably oil packed, drained and minced
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins, or regular
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts, toasted in a small dry skillet until golden brown
  • Pasta of choice (I used a gluten free fusilli)
  • Grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese for serving OR soft goat cheese (my choice)

Method:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heart.
  2. Add the leeks or onion or shallots and saute until soft and slightly browned on the edges.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Stir in the anchovy, saffron, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, and pine nuts.
  4. Continue to cook over low heat until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the mix to a small bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve the skillet for the broccoli.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for your pasta. Cook according to the directions until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, start the broccoli
  8. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in the skillet. Add the broccoli and toss to combine with the oil. Shake the skillet so the broccoli settles in an even layer. Cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Toss to rearrange and cook again, undisturbed, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  9. Add the drained pasta to the skillet along with the reserved Sicilian sauce. Toss to combine, adding some of the pasta cooking water if it seems dry.
  10. Taste for salt (anchovies are salty).
  11. Serve with grated cheese or crumbled goat cheese.
Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Fusilli with Broccoli, Sicilian Style

We have been trying to skip the meat a few times a week and this was an extremely successful dish. The combination of flavors and textures…a little sweet, salty, briny, rich, crunchy and smooth…were winners.

Inspiration came from a recent recipe in the NY Times and Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase (co-author of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook).

I am taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #324 hosted by Angie. This week’s cohosts are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and myself.

Come join the party or check out the wonderful blog posts of attendees. You will see everything from wedding suggestions, home improvement, crafts, and recipes. If you are a blogger, you can add your own link. 

Before joining, if you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

We want to be able to feature you next Friday.

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

Did your neighborhood participate in National Night Out on August 1st? National Night Out happens across the U.S. and is intended to bring neighbors together and promote relationships with local fire and police. Our own had a block party, it was easy to block the street since we live on a cul-de-sac. We roped off the street at 6 pm and let the kids roller skate and play basketball. It was a wonderful party, a chance to catch up with our neighbors, share some good food and wine. Our elected officials, local police and firemen took the opportunity to come around to introduce themselves and update us on civic events and trainings.

My contribution to the party was this vegetarian pasta salad. This is a perfect make ahead salad for warm days, I was able to make it in the cool of the morning and let the flavors mingle. Leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. There is no mayonnaise so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It would be a great side for a summer BBQ.

Why do I call it corn cob pasta salad? Because the first step is to make a “broth” from the leftover cobs. I’ve read about this technique when making corn chowders, the cobs (once the kernels are removed) flavor the stock and give an extra flavor boost to the soup. Start by cooking the ears of corn in boiling water, then remove them after 4 or 5 minutes (when the corn is cooked to your liking), cut the kernels from the cobs, and return the ’empty’ cobs to the boiling water for another 30 minutes. The result is a mild corn flavored broth in which you cook the pasta. A corny stock.

You could use any shape of pasta, I used rotelle (wagon wheels) because I thought it would be fun for the kids and easy to eat off a paper plate.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I mixed it with the corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, black beans, halved pitted black olives, shredded mozzarella, and lots of chopped parsley. The seasonings are light and simple, some red pepper, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Since there is no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning if it sits out for a couple of hours on a picnic table.

Corn Cob Pasta Salad

This makes a lot of salad, suitable for sharing at a large gathering for a 8 – 12. You could add fresh spinach to stretch it even further.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned
  • 1 lb box of dried pasta, your choice of shape
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 12 black olives, halved or sliced
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on strength
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the corn to the pot, turn down the heat when it comes back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
  3. Use tongs or another utensil to remove the corn from the pot.
  4. Cool the corn until you can handle it and cut the kernels from the cob, reserve.
  5. Salt the boiling water well and add the cobs back to the pot, simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
  6. Remove the cobs from the water and skim any silk that might be floating in your corn broth. Bring the water back to the boil.
  7. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the package directions.
  8. Meanwhile combine the corn kernels, tomatoes, drained black beans, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.
  9. Drain the cooked pasta, cool slightly (don’t rinse, I add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together) and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and add the pinch of red pepper.
  10. Add the olive oil and vinegar, toss together, taste for salt.
  11. Mix in the chopped parsley and mozzarella once completely cool.
  12. Taste again and add any additional seasonings that might be needed.

Also nice in the salad would be chopped red or orange pepper, I actually forgot to add them but think the pepper would be a flavorful and colorful addition. Finely minced garlic would also be good if you are serving only adults. What about hominy? Then it would be a triple corn salad…broth, fresh kernels, and hominy. This recipe is only a basic template for a world of flavors and your imagination.

This is a great dish to share at Fiesta Friday #185. You can add your own link or stay to read about all the wonderful party food. The buffet is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

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.

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.