A few weeks ago I made my first batch of ricotta cheese! It was so much easier than I thought it would be. The recipe is from Fine Cooking. Thanks to the use of whole milk and cream it is rich and luscious. While I am sure it would take your lasagna to the next level, I wanted to use it in a way that allowed it to really be showcased, not masked behind tomato sauce and heavy meats. These toasts were the perfect way to use it.
Many ideas I came across for ricotta toasts were sweet with ingredients like honey, figs, strawberries and grapes. I wanted something that would qualify as dinner, so I decided on roasted asparagus with lemon and thyme and tomato and basil. This will definitely be something I’ll make again this summer, it’s light but still satisfying. I can also see adapting this to serve as an appetizer or as part of a brunch. I’m helping host a baby shower in a couple months, and I think these would be perfect.
To make the toasts I took slices of hearty bread
Brushed them with olive oil (butter is also great)
And grilled them (a panini press or grill with do, as will broiling them in the oven.)
Top with a tablespoon or 2 of the ricotta.
Layer on some roasted asparagus.
Sprinkle with fresh thyme and lemon zest, and maybe a bit of salt.
Slice and serve.
I also made some with slices of fresh tomato, chopped fresh basil and some sea salt. I will never tire of that combination. And it’s perfect for summer when fresh basil and ripe tomatoes are in abundance.
Do you have any great toppings for ricotta toasts? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried!
Fold cheesecloth to make 3 or 4 layers, wet and then squeeze the excess liquid out. Line a colander with the cheesecloth and set in a clean sink.
Put the milk and cream in a large pot. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and slowly warm the milk and cream over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s 185°F, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and then slowly pour the lemon juice over the surface of the milk. Once all of the lemon juice has been added, stir gently for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage curds to form.
Gently ladle the curds into the prepared colander. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the curds to loosely cover. Drain until it reaches your desired consistency, 30 minutes for a soft ricotta and up to 24 hours for a very firm, dry, dense ricotta. 30 minutes to an hour created the consistency I liked for the toasts. Be sure to refrigerate if draining the ricotta for more than a couple of hours. Transfer the drained ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower. It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes. This tart is one of those recipes. This curry is another. I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately. I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule. My husband didn’t miss the meat at all. This one is a keeper.
There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook. Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily. You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time. Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing. The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing. But it is worth it!
This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two. This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days. I love leftover night.
The spices are warm and subtle. The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy. I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful. The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess. I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all. If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.
The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion. The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch. We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce. Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit). I hope you try this dish! My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning. So you know it’s good.
2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
1 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
fresh chopped cilantro
naan or rice for serving
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
Add in the cauliflower and mix together. Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and lemon juice. Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.
This is far from a summer recipe. It’s soup. It’s hot and comforting. Not exactly what anyone is looking for when temps are rising outside. The last thing you probably want to do is eat a bowl of something warm. But my sister sent the recipe to me after trying it herself and I didn’t want to wait!
This spicy vegetarian posole is super delicious. I’ll definitely be bringing this recipe out again in the fall. But even with the warm weather my husband and I still really enjoyed this soup and will be having leftovers tonight.
I topped this subtly spicy soup with chunks of avocado, monterey jack cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips, sour cream and a spritz from a lime wedge. My sister recommends radish slices and shredded green cabbage. Having all of those things as options would be a great way to serve this soup to guests.
The recipe calls for a blender to puree some of the ingredients, but it just about filled my blender to the brim. My sister used an immersion blender with great results, so use one of those if you have one. A blender works fine if not.
I forget how much I love posole. There’s just something about the hominy that makes me happy. It has such a great texture, especially in soup. The chiles and poblano add a nice heat, but it’s not terribly spicy. If you like it hot, then don’t be so careful when seeding the peppers. Be sure to check the seasonings after the soup has simmered. Mine needed a nice dose of salt along with the lime juice. You could easily add some cooked shredded chicken for a heartier version.
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (extra for serving)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 ounce baby spinach leaves, 1 large handful, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces) hominy, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
fresh lime juice from 1 lime (extra wedges for serving)
monterey jack cheese
1 avocado, sliced or cut into chunks
tortilla chips or baked tortilla strips
Heat broiler with rack in top position. Place a sheet of foil on the rack. Broil the poblano until charred and skin is bubbling, 4-5 minutes per side. You can also do this over a gas burner using tongs. Transfer to a paper sack or zip-top plastic bag, close it tightly, and let steam 20 minutes. Rub the poblano with paper towels to remove skin. Stem, seed, and place in a blender.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook tomatillos until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to the blender.
Add serranos, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, spinach, cumin, oregano, and 2 cups of broth. Blend until smooth. OR you can put everything from the poblano to the broth to a pot and blend with an immersion blender.
Pour tomatillo mixture into a large pot and stir in 4 cups broth, the hominy, and the black beans.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Add lime juice. Taste, add salt and adjust seasonings.
Garnish with avocado, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, chips and extra lime juice if desired.
I get one cooking magazine in the mail. Fine Cooking. I’ve mentioned it more than once (at least a dozen times probably) on the blog. It’s most definitely my favorite cooking magazine. It doesn’t have loads of content, but what it does have is good content and not a lot of ads. Anyway, buy a copy sometime and check it out.
This recipe for chickpea and spinach curry is from the latest issue. While doing meal planning for this past week I was at a loss for Tuesday’s dinner. So I grabbed the magazine and started flipping through it. This one stood out to me right away. I love the flavors in Indian food, but it often takes a lot of time and ingredients to make good Indian food at home. This recipe allows you to take some short cuts but still wind up with a very flavorful and satisfying meal with just enough spice.
Our Tuesday nights get a little crazy, no matter how hard I try I always feel like I am rushing to get dinner ready or the house picked up. This meal fit in perfectly with our busy night (although I failed in some ways this past week and we were still rushed!). It comes together incredibly quickly and cooks up in a flash. It’s full of good-for-you vegetables and fills you up without being heavy. But your house will smell like curry for a few days. That’s the only downside. Ben came home the next day from work and said, “Indian again?” to which I replied “No, spaghetti and meatballs.” which I’d spent all day cooking. I was sure it would’ve masked the curry, but no.
You can serve this as a side dish or as a vegetarian main, which is what I did. The recipe below serves 4 as a side and 2 as a main. It’s easily doubled or tripled, so can suit whatever your needs are.
I skipped out on the yogurt the first time around, but ate it with leftovers and loved the creamy, coolness of it next to the spice. Definitely serve this with naan if you can, but I am sure it would also be nice on a bed of white rice.
If you don’t like cilantro or are serving this to people who don’t, leave it out of the dish. You can serve fresh cilantro separately and let people decide how much, if any, they want.
Quick Chickpea and Spinach Curry
From Fine Cooking
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional, I left it out)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
6-7 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional, mix in or on the side)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional for serving)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add in the onion, ginger, curry powder and garam masala and cook for a few minutes, until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and cook for one minute more.
Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add no more than 1 teaspoon)
Add in the spinach, a cup or so at a time, letting is cook down just a bit before adding more to keep you pan from getting overloaded.
Once the spinach has cooked down and is wilted, season with more salt if needed, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
You can stir in the cilantro to the dish now if desired or serve it on the side.
In my dreams I am someone who eats nothing but good-for-you foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, that are all beneficial to my health and do things like make my skin glow, provide me with all my daily vitamins, and will add years to my life. I grow all my own vegetables and get my eggs from the chickens I’m raising in my backyard. In that backyard I am hanging my clothes out to dry on the clothesline. In reality I love a greasy hamburger with cheese and bacon served up with a plate of crispy fries and followed by a creamy vanilla milkshake. I’ve never grown anything edible besides some tomatoes that didn’t make it through the season. And I actually hate the way clothes feel and smell after drying outside. I’m nothing like I am in my dreams. I like healthy foods, but I also really like to indulge. I’ve visited both extremes of unhealthy habits with food and over time I’ve become better able to understand that there is a healthy balance between the two. I believe that there is a time to indulge in cheesy macaroni and a time to take it easy and fill your body with nutritious vegetables. This dish allows you to have your mac and eat it too.
Upon first reading this recipe in Fine Cooking I dismissed it as being way too much work. I came across it again a few weeks later and thought I should give it a try. It turned out to be really delicious and not terribly time consuming. This is nothing at all like the ooey gooey cheesy macaroni and cheese I usually make, so it isn’t truly fair to compare them. However, the flavor of this macaroni was full and rich thanks to the sharp cheese and fresh thyme. Since it’s a warm baked pasta dish it still serves as comfort food, but it doesn’t carry all the butter, whole milk and cheese (and guilt) of the full fat version. One of the best parts about it is the cauliflower and onion puree. There’s half a head of cauliflower in this! And it adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess as well as a good amount of vitamin C. Purees are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet, and I’m going to look for ways to do more with them. There are only so many salads and sides of steamed broccoli a girl can take before she needs some real food. And while you eat this you can feel good knowing you’re getting some of your daily veggies.
There are a few things I did that are different from the original recipe. I used macaroni instead of penne. I used heaping measurements for the cheese because, well, I just love cheese. And I used 2% milk instead of 1%. I know there is a big difference between the two, and next time I will try 1% if I remember to pick some up. Ben and Carson both drink 2%, and I have recently made the switch to almond milk, so that’s all the milk we have in our house most of the time.
If you make this dish start to finish it probably wouldn’t take you all that long, but it dirties a lot of dishes. One of those dirty items is a blender, and I kinda hate cleaning the blender, not sure why. As a stay-at-home mom I rarely have the luxury of making dinner leisurely and I also don’t want me or my husband to be stuck with a bunch of dishes when all we want to do is sit down after the kids are in bed. So, here are some ways to make this easier and less stressful to prepare.
Make the vegetable puree earlier in the day, or even the day before, and store it in the fridge. Warm it up in the saucepan and continue the recipe from that point.
Grate the cheese ahead of time and store in the fridge in ziplocs or tupperware. (I prefer bags because I can throw them away. But that’s because I am lazy and wasteful.)
Cook everything, put it in the pan, cover and put in the fridge. Bake it that evening or the next day.
Give this a try. Even if you hate cauliflower I think you’ll like it. And if you have any healthy and delicious recipes to share, please do!
2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.
Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
The last month has been a crazy one, and the next two aren’t going to be any different. We are moving from our sweet little rent house into a lovely suburban home with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a nice big kitchen with garbage disposal, and enough counter space not to have to balance pans on top of the coffee maker. Yes. I have done this. Life will be so good. And about 5 weeks after we move in we will have a new baby on our hands, and so life will be a totally different kind of crazy. Can that be an acceptable excuse for why I haven’t blogged in a month?
I have been cooking, but haven’t been taking pictures of any of it or recording it anywhere. This is a big time bummer. One of my favorite things about having this blog is being able to search for a recipe I’ve made in the past and be reminded of what I did to change it that made it better, or the things I didn’t like that I’d change the next time around. When I don’t update the blog, I don’t have those recipes…unless I managed to write notes on them and put them somewhere safe…which is a rare event. So today I am playing catch-up.
One of the things I’ve had the luxury of participating in this summer is the Farmhouse Delivery here in Houston. When the bushel of local fruits and veg arrive on my doorstep carried by a shaggy headed hipster jamming out to whatever cool music is playing through his earbuds, I get positively giddy. Some of the items we receive are no-brainers. Peaches and blackberries are perfect in my morning yogurt and granola. Cucumbers, sweet peppers and the sweetest cherry tomatoes known to man get sliced and tossed into salads. Potatoes, onions, corn and slicing tomatoes have also been part of our meals. But then we get stuff like patty pan squash and eggplant. What am I going to do with this? I haven’t figured out the patty pan yet, but did find a use for the eggplant. So Farmhouse Delivery, thank you for helping me to explore more in my kitchen. And thanks, Sarah, for the recipe! I feel more of an obligation to use the produce fully since, well, we paid for it, AND it’s fresh and local and delicious. If I forget about a grocery store peach in the back corner of the fridge drawer I toss it out. If I were to forget a farmhouse peach I would probably cry a few tears and have a little memorial service for the sweet and forgotten little guy. On to the recipes…
Spinach, Basil & Walnut Pesto
A big bag of fresh basil came one weekend, and so I made 2 batches of this pesto. We ate it on pizza with mozzarella and farmhouse tomatoes. Another night I mixed it in with penne pasta and chopped cherry tomatoes topped with grated Parmesan. The leftovers from that meal got mixed with lots of mozzarella cheese, more pesto, more tomatoes and then baked in a casserole topped with Parmesan bread crumbs. So many easy and delicious dinners out of one batch of pesto.
4 cups baby spinach
2 cups basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Rinse and pat dry spinach and basil.
Put greens in the bowl of a food processor, pour walnuts over, sprinkle with salt and begin to pulse. While pulsing, add olive oil in a stream until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Transfer to a lidded container and store covered in the fridge or freeze for later use.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese Casserole
I’ve made this twice now. It is sure to become a regular on our dinner menu. The great thing is that you can change the vegetables, spices and cheese to make it fit your tastes or what you have available. I used an onion from Farmhouse in this recipe, but other than that it’s a grocery store produce meal. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all snooty about my produce…at least not forever.
Heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat in a large, deep saucepan. Add the onion, bell peppers, scallions and saute for about four minutes, just until bell pepper has started to soften. Add the mushrooms and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 30 seconds.
Add quinoa to the pot, followed by the chicken broth, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed, stirring just a couple times.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated cheese and milk. Stir to combine then pour into a greased 9 x 13″ casserole dish.
In a small bowl, combine the Panko and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle on top of casserole and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
Eggplant, onion, zucchini and tomatoes from Farmhouse and then a great punch from the lemon dressing and an herby freshness from the parsley and mint make this my kind of summer meal. My sweet sister helped me find a recipe to use up my eggplant without feeling like I was eating eggplant. I used her suggestions of using quinoa instead of barley, and adding in a can of chickpeas and crumbled feta. This has made a terrific lunch the past couple days.
2 small to medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2-3 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 onion, halved then sliced
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
4-6 ounces crumbled feta
Roast eggplant and zucchini: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant and zucchini and onion with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool.
Cook Quinoa: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin and coriander, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.
I made this in December, back when butternut squash was a more appropriate and more seasonal ingredient but life gets ahead of me sometimes (and by that I mean ALL the time) so it is just now making its way onto the blog. So bookmark for the fall, or ignore all that stuff you hear about seasonal eating and make it anyway!
This was one tasty pizza. With all these yummy ingredients, how could it not be? I love every single thing on top of this pizza on its own and together they are just perfect.
I found this recipe in my search for vegetarian dinner options on epicurious. If you or someone you’re cooking for needs some meat, add some crumbled bacon for some meaty flavor and a nice crunch. This really is a great vegetarian pizza with such terrific flavors that you won’t miss the meat, or at least I didn’t.
The trick to making this without finding yourself with an incredibly messy and hot kitchen at the end of the day is to prep all your vegetables earlier in the day and refrigerate them. Roast the squash, caramelize the onions and saute the spinach all before lunchtime (or the night before if you’re doing this on a work day) store them all in separate tupperware or plastic bags and they’re ready to go on the pizza for dinner. Prepping has become the key to dinnertime sanity for me. And it’s smart for working folks, stay at home parents or people who just despise cleaning a bazillion pots and pans after having enjoyed their meal.
I used a store bought pizza dough ball (you can sometimes find these in the freezer section of your grocery store) but making your own is not too hard if you plan ahead. I used this recipe for pizza dough not too long ago and it was easy to make, easy to work with and tasted great. I followed the instructions up to the baking. Instead of pre-baking and freezing my crusts, I divided the dough into 4 balls (keep it in one ball for one large pizza), placed them on a greased baking sheet, covered lightly with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and put the pan in the fridge until I needed them (about 4 hours). When I was ready, I formed them into crusts, topped them and baked them. Once you get the hang of it, pizza dough at home is really easy. If, like me, you didn’t have the foresight this time around to make your own dough, a frozen one is good. Make sure to thaw it out overnight in the fridge, or on the counter for a few hours in its original packaging so it doesn’t dry out.
When I made this pizza I had a large squash, so I cubed the entire thing (probably ended up with 4 cups) and roasted it all. You can use any leftovers tossed with some cooked pasta and goat cheese for a simple vegetarian pasta dinner, or you can use it at meal time for your toddler (which is the direction I chose to go). The instructions below are for roasting just 2 cups, so if you plan to roast all your squash just increase the oil and seasonings. It might also take more time to get a good roasted color if your pan is more crowded, so stir the squash and check them for tenderness every so often after the 25 minutes of cooking time recommended below.
My biggest problem with pizza is getting it from the pizza peel or cookie sheet onto the stone in the oven. Here is a sweet and humorous home video (not my own) that shows you how to do it. The trick is to do it quickly and use enough corn meal so it slides easily off the peel.
Note: You may not use all of the onions or spinach. Just add to the pizza what looks good to you. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash, Spinach, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza
1 medium sized yellow or red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 ounces of goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
1 ball of prepared pizza dough, thawed if frozen
Roast the Squash: Heat oven to 400°F. Toss cubed squash with a drizzle of olive oil just so it is lightly coated, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes until squash is tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to brown squash more evenly. Set aside or cool and put in a container and into the fridge if you’re baking the pizzas later in the day.
Saute the Spinach: Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of chopped garlic, let cook for 30 seconds, then add spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted down and most of the liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes. Spread a few paper towels on a plate and pour the spinach onto the towels to drain some of the liquid. Set aside or refrigerate in a container.
Caramelize the Onions: Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until onions are light brown. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook an additional 5 minutes. Onions should be very soft and brown in color. Set aside or refrigerate.
Heat oven to 450°F and heat your pizza stone or you can use the back of a cookie sheet, but don’t preheat the cookie sheet.
Take your pizza dough and either roll it out on a floured surface using a rolling pin or use your hands to stretch it out into a round. You should have either a 15 inch circle or a 10 by 16 inch rectangle. Lay your dough on a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet coated with corn meal.
Brush olive oil on the outer edges of the crust, then top the pizza with the squash, spinach, onions, crumbles of goat cheese and thyme. Transfer pizza to pizza stone or place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.
This vegetarian dish can stand alone as the main meal, or it can be served as a side dish. I served this alongside some grilled chicken. When I asked Ben if he’d be OK eating a vegetarian dinner or if he wanted chicken, well, you know what he said. If I were to serve this as a side again I might leave out the chickpeas. It seemed too substantial as a side with them. It can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold (which is how I’ve enjoyed it for dinner and lunch the last couple days).
Yes, I made yet another meal with couscous. I like couscous. My grocery store had whole wheat this time, so I grabbed 2 boxes just in case they decide to stop carrying it again. This is an incredibly simple meal to prepare. The only bad part is having the oven not only on, but on at 450°F to roast the vegetables. It’s in the triple digits outside, so it does seem a little crazy to make it even hotter inside. I do love the flavor that roasting vegetables produces, so it’s worth it. The combination of rich roasted vegetables with the cumin and the bright flavor of the lemon is wonderful.
This recipe came from my dear friend Martha Stewart. I played with it a little bit, but will not say that I “adapted” it at all. I used baby carrots, omitted the arugula completely, and then the dressing I just mixed up without measuring. I used about a tablespoon of olive oil, the zest and juice of one large lemon, and salt and pepper. I’ve said this before, I do not like things to be overdressed or sauced. You can always add more, but you can’t take any away. It’s like cutting bangs, sort of. Some of you know what I mean. Anyway, start by adding a little dressing, taste, and then add more to your liking. The recipe below reflects my changes. The original can be found here. Enjoy!
Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Couscous Salad
Courtesy of marthastewart.com
1 pound carrots, sliced 3/4 inch thick on the diagonal (or halved baby carrots)
1 head cauliflower (3 pounds), cored and cut into florets
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place carrots and cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet; toss with cumin and 1-2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheet and tossing halfway through. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups salted water to a boil. Stir in couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand until tender, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; set aside to cool, uncovered.
Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice and remaining tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine roasted vegetables with couscous, chickpeas, and scallions. Toss with dressing.
This is time consuming, frustrating, quite prep intensive, and not easy. The resulting dish is delicious and worth every drop of sweat and shed tear.
Summer rolls are one of those things that seems so daunting that most people, or maybe just me, do not even want to attempt to make them at home. Why spend so much time preparing something like this? Why not just be content to order them at a restaurant where someone else labors instead of you? Because once you know how to do it you will realize that it’s not an impossible task and that they taste better when you’ve made them yourself. Oh, and it’s quite a bit cheaper than restaurant fare.
This recipe is from Epicurious.com, and had really high fork ratings and 95% of people would make them again, so I figured I could handle it. I prepped everything and made the sauce early in the day. I didn’t really measure my vegetables and herbs. I chopped and shredded more than I needed and made more noodles than called for.
This resulted in a lot of leftover veggies, but made more rolls and I had more chances to screw up and tear the rice paper…which, by the way, is very easy to do! Use a light hand with the wrappers and be prepared to toss some into the trashcan. I like bean sprouts, so I added those to a few of the rolls when I added the carrots. After adding the carrots, when rolling the roll closed, is when I would tear the rice paper. Good news though, by the last couple rolls I was putting out some very pretty, tight, nice looking rolls.