Garden Goodness – Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce

Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden!  When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce?  You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!

  1. Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
  2. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan.  Cool slightly after removing from oven.
  3. Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

That’s it!  Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!

Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!

Bowl of Fresh Picked Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Picked Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Sheet Pan of Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Picture of Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Picture of spaghetti with fresh roasted tomato sauce

Voila!

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Spaghetti Squash – Twice Baked!!!

Until recently, I had never eaten spaghetti squash, let alone cook with it.  I recently shared an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with my friend Sylvia and I was hooked!  Check out my take on this easy, delicious, and nutritious (I’m sure) recipe:

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Wash and cut (lengthwise) one spaghetti squash. With a tablespoon, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy interior from center of squash.  Lightly coat cut surface and interior with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  Place cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 375F.  You’ll know it’s ready when a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the squash.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes until you can comfortably handle the squash.  Using the tines of a fork, scrape along the interior (down to the skin) of the squash, peeling away ‘spaghetti-like’ strands of squash.  Remove to a bowl and toss with the red sauce of your choice and 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Once squash is well coated with sauce, scoop back into the squash shells, top with Mozzarella cheese, return to parchment lined baking sheet – and continue baking at 375F for another 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted.)

Let stand to cool for a few minutes – and enjoy!  Pair with a mixed salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine!  Delicioso!


Christmas Eve Tradition

Two years in a row is the start of a tasty tradition – swordfish for Christmas Eve dinner!  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a big fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and the dinner we enjoyed last night came straight from Ina!  (I wonder if I’m her biggest fan??)

Sicilian Swordfish and Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish:  Pat dry, light olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Sear a couple of minutes each side on a hot grill.  Remove to a platter, poke all over each piece with the tines of a fork, then drizzle lemon vinaigrette over each piece, cover with aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes.

(Lemon Vinaigrette:  Olive Oil/Fresh squeezed lemon juice [2/1], pinch each of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of dried oregano [or two teaspoons of fresh chopped.)

To serve – place one piece of swordfish on each plate, top with arugula, and drizzle with a couple of spoonfuls of the lemon vinaigrette fish sauce.  Top with some grated lemon zest.

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese: Start by cleaning (soft wet cloth) medium or large size Portobello mushrooms (6-8).  Place on sheet pan (top side down,) drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400F until tender, then set aside.

Bring 2 cups half-half and 2-1/2 cups chicken stock to a boil.  While whisking constantly, sprinkle 3/4 cup fine cornmeal into boiling liquid.  Continue stirring (almost constantly) with a wooden spoon until creamy consistency (6-8 minutes.)  Off the heat, stir in 1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese.  Pour polenta into a baking dish (medium size) and top with mushrooms (top side down.)  Finish with 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, sprinkled all over the top.  Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until a bit bubbly and starts to turn golden brown.  Let rest for a few minutes – and enjoy!

This was my first attempt at making polenta at home – and aside from the constant attention to stirring (similar to making risotto,) it’s so easy.  Once you achieve a creamy consistency, you could add in grated Parmesan cheese or any other element of flavor as you wish.

I hope you’ll try one of these delicious recipes yourself.  My point in sharing some recipes that aren’t my original creation is to provide pairing ideas, to let you in on easy delicious meals you can replicate in your own kitchen, and to open the door to your own creativity by starting with a published recipe – then making it your own!  Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Summer (Salad) Supper!

In the mood for a light, yet filling, nutritious, and delicious summer supper?  Here’s an idea that can be on the table in no time if you have Ina’s Warm French Lentils ready in the freezer.  (If not, you can find heat and serve lentils at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.)

Summer Salad

Warm French Lentil Salad

I tossed the mixed greens with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing, topped by a couple spoonfuls of warm lentils.  Added some tomatoes, olives, avocado, and bleu cheese – and supper is on the table.  (Walk away feeling satisfied, not stuffed, with room for a little something sweet!)

Here’s an excerpt from my post on December 25, 2013 (Christmas Eve Dinner) with Ina’s recipe for Warm French Lentils:

Saute a couple carrots (1/2-inch chopped)  and one chopped leek (white and light green parts) in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add one chopped garlic clove and saute for an additional minute.  Set aside.  Bring 4 cups water to a boil with 1 cup dry lentils, 1 turnip (cut in half) and one whole (peeled) onion stuck with 6 cloves.  Once boiling, add the carrots and leeks, reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes until lentils are tender.  Discard turnip and onion, strain lentil mixture, and toss in a bowl with 1 tsp. unsalted butter.  In a separate bowl, make a Dijon vinaigrette.  (1/4 cup olive oil, 2 TBPS red wine vinegar, 4 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 TBSP kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper.  Add warm lentils to vinaigrette, toss, and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Ready to enjoy!


Sunday Prep Kitchen (and an Easter menu idea!)

Sunday was one of my typical days of prepping all that I brought home from shopping on Saturday, in less than 2 hours!   I didn’t set out for anything in particular as I went shopping, but found many great buys that will make their way to our dinner plates throughout the week ahead.

Sunday Prep

Sunday Prep

I couldn’t walk past 98 cent eggplant or asparagus at 98 cents per pound.  Whenever I find eggplant on sale, I typically make Eggplant Parmesan, but having a tray already in the freezer, I thought about a grilled vegetable pizza and knew I’d be stopping off at the Italian import store for some peppery panceetta and pizza dough.  As I continued my way around the store, the fennel flashed me back to a delicious Italian sausage and fennel sandwich I had a couple of weeks ago on crusty Italian bread.  My mouth literally started watering, so in the cart went the fennel as I headed for the sausage aisle.  Some of the best meals happen when you have no set plan in place!

As I was in the midst of prepping, cooking, and storing, I came across the leftover mashed potatoes from a few nights ago – and they quickly became my go-to potato pancakes.  That was Sunday – and we’ll be sinking our teeth into delicious meals all week long!

What are you having for Easter dinner?  I’ve made a ham for every Easter I can remember, and I just don’t feel like a ham this year.  I started thinking about what to have, and although I’m still thinking, I might use that grilled eggplant in a vegetable lasagna (grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, and spinach, topped with goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella.)  I’m thinking of grilling some chicken basil sausage on the side (for a little Easter je ne sais quoi,) make some garlic bread, a salad – and we’ve got Easter dinner.

Whatever you’re having, you’ll want to make the most delicious Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake for dessert!

Lemon Blueberry CakeI made this for our friend Christine’s birthday on Friday night – and it’s the perfect spring/Easter dessert.  You won’t be disappointed.  Mike came across this recipe a week or so ago (Sally’s Baking Addiction website,) and I’ll be making it again real soon.

Here’s wishing you a week filled with good food and happiness!  Buon appetito!