the greenest pasta

The week before thanksgiving is a tough one for eating and cooking. You are likely anticipating just how much eating and cooking is in your immediate future, which fuels a desire for quick, easy comforts as you prepare for those ultimate kitchen hours ahead.

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 Also, if you live in a place where the farmers’ markets basically shut down completely as winter arrives (like in say, Massachusetts), you are probably stocking up on what’s left of the fresh produce before it all but disappears.

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 This dish pairs the need for ease with some remaining market treasures. With sliced and sautéed swiss chard, some leeks, and fresh spinach pasta; you get to feel like you’re eating your greens even though you’re also getting the treat of hearty carbs. And naturally there is a healthy topper of parmesan cheese for good measure.

 *If you want to be bold and make your own pasta, check this recipe out. If you are following my pre-thanksgiving laziness guidelines, grab fresh pasta that someone else made, ideally someone local. Don’t be afraid to use ravioli or tortellini either. The more cheese the merrier.

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the greenest pasta
serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta
6 leaves of swiss chard, stems and leaves, chopped
½ cup of leeks, finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for serving

  1. Remove the leaves of the swiss chard from their stems. Cut in small strips, and dice the stems in small pieces.
  2. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the diced leeks and swiss chard stems for 3 minutes or until softened. Add in final tablespoon of butter and the chard leaves and cook additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add stock to the vegetables and turn up heat slightly to reduce into a sauce. If you’re feeling indulgent, throw in a little more butter. Cook until liquid reduced to your preference and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. 4. Cook pasta (fresh pasta usually only needs to be boiled for a minute or so) and add directly into the sauce pan. Over low heat, stir pasta with chard and leeks until combined. Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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the greenest pasta

a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

Dear Chef,

We’ve never met, but when I heard you were retiring I immediately booked a table at Hamersley’s Bistro to try your long revered food while I still had the chance.  And I can honestly say it was pretty game changing.  As you were greeted by friends and admirers throughout the dining room, and I ate everything the kitchen gave me without coming up for air, it became perfectly clear to me why your restaurant has been an institution in this city for the last 27 years. Thanks for that one meal, I’m only sorry there weren’t hundreds of others.

Cheers to you, sir.

-An adoring fan

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a south end landmark

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crispy duck confit with roasted apple, frisee, walnuts, and dreams.
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spinach and ricotta crêpes with sugar pumpkin, broccoli rabe and creamy parmesan sauce. perfectly perfect in every way.
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seared sea scallops with sweet potatoes, roasted apple, brussels Sprouts and maple-cured bacon … balsamic glaze. Otherwise known as: all my favorite things.
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THE roast chicken. with garlic. lemon. and parsley. and chicken will never be the same.
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warm apple, oat and almond crumble with vanilla ice cream. a perfect fall finish.
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au revoir, mon chéri.


a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

spaghetti squash and pepperoni sauce

Yes, I did in fact say pepperoni sauce.

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it’s decorative gourd season! I for one could not be more excited about it. In this little corner of America, the leaves are once again mimicking the shades of a brilliant sunset…making driving on highways pleasurable and reminding us all to stock up on cider.

The farmers’ markets are also shifting out of their summer ware as zucchini and pattypans are being replaced by delicatas and butternuts. Squash is a quintessential piece of the autumnal diet.  And while each is great in its own right, spaghetti squash holds a special place in this carb lovers heart.

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It is an exceptionally deceiving substitute for pasta, mimicking it in color and hearty texture.  This dish is ridiculously easy, and comes together quickly for a veggie-centric weeknight dinner.  Salami or sopressata can sub in for pepperoni.   In a pinch you can use a favorite jarred tomato sauce.  And there are greens thrown in just for good measure so you remember to pat yourself on the back for eating so many vegetables.

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Let’s celebrate decorative gourd season the right way.

Spaghetti Squash with Pepperoni Sauce

the base of the sauce is adapted (barely) from the incomparable Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen. I trust her on almost everything because unlike me she is utterly meticulous in her testing and retesting. I take a more…devil may care approach.

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THE SAUCE
2 cups swiss chard or spinach leaves, sliced in strips
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine
hunk of pepperoni (this is to taste really, but get it thick off the log from the butcher), cubed

THE REST
olive oil & butter for cooking
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squashes
parmesan cheese for garnishing

1. Set the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and place flesh side down on the baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for half an hour, or until fork tender.

2. Remove the squash and let it cool enough to handle.  Using a fork, scrape the flesh out of the skin.  It will come out in strands and look like spaghetti.  Put in a large bowl and set aside.

3. In a large pot over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter, and add onion. Let cook 5 minutes or until just translucent.  Add in the garlic and greens, then cook an additional minute.  Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook together over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until flavors meld and the greens are well wilted (this takes a bit longer if you are using chard as it is tougher than spinach).

4. Pour the sauce over the squash and mix together to coat the strands.  Top with parmesan cheese for a truly pasta-esque experience.

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this is real life.
spaghetti squash and pepperoni sauce

farmers’ market fagioli

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So the weather is changing.  The trees are even mid color shift, and I had no idea until it was suddenly cold enough to crave soup for dinner.

Since the farmers’ markets are still open and there are plenty of amazing things available — like fresh cranberry beans and leeks and heirloom tomatoes — it stands to reason that if there is to be soup, it should be made with fresh goods.

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This seasonal take on Pasta e Fagioli is hearty like a good pasta dish and light like healing consommés of yore.  It is warming and  satisfying and everything you need for those first few cool nights of fall.

Pasta e Fagioli 

Serves 8

8 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leeks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups fresh borlotti (cranberry) beans, shelled
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
2 cups small pasta such as ditalini
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

  1. To peel the tomatoes, slice each in half crosswise and place flesh side down on a baking sheet.  Set oven broiler on high, and let tomatoes roast for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and let cool 2 minutes.  Peel away skins, remove cores, and dice.
  2. In a large stockpot over medium heat olive oil.  Add leeks, carrots, celery, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until soft; stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 2 additional minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, water, bay leaf, and beans. Cook 25 minutes, covered.
  4. Turn heat down to low.  Add pasta and tomatoes (and more salt if needed) and cook additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove bay leaf and add in spinach.  Serve immediately topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

PS: don’t be afraid to throw some cooked bacon or pancetta into the mix here…it can add another layer of flavor (and let’s be serious, bacon always plays.)

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farmers’ market fagioli

cheesy farro with corn and tomato

Sometimes I get over excited at farmers’ markets.  Everything is in season! Everything is beautiful! I love vegetables!

IMG_4953This enthusiasm often leads to my kitchen overflowing with an abundance of produce, and often me staring at it wondering how I plan to eat it all.  This week, I wound up with a serious amount of cherry tomatoes and some sweet local corn.

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This simple side dish (slash vegetarian entrée) barely cooks the vegetables, and combines them with hearty farro to stick to your ribs. There is also cheese, because obviously.

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So if you too tend to overindulge at the sight of vibrantly colored vegetables…give this a try.  Heck, throw in some zucchini.  Add in some bell peppers. GO CRAZY.

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Cheesy farro with corn & tomatoes 

1 cup farro
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ears of corn, kernels removed from cob
1/2 shredded cheese (variety of your choice, I went for a nice monterey jack blend)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. cook faro. 1 cup farro to 2 cups water, bring to a boil for 12 minutes, and drain.  Reserve 2 tbs cooking water.

2. sauté onions over medium heat in with olive oil. Once translucent, add in corn, tomatoes, cooked farro, and reserved cooking liquid. Lower to a simmer.

3. stir in cheese until it’s good and melted.

4. add salt & pepper to taste. consume.

This is great alongside grilled chicken or swordfish, but definitely holds up on its own.

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cheesy farro with corn and tomato

a sea of green

Sometimes, when you get all caught up in donut and cookie intake, your body revolts, and craves all things green.

Greens aren’t so bad, in truth they are actually kind of lovable.  Especially in the spring when they are at their greenest.  So I compiled all the green things in my fridge, added some frills, and ended up with this little bowl of healthy.

all the greens.
all the greens.

Simple and satisfying, it’s a perfect antidote to sugar overload. Or just to eat because you’re hungry and it tastes really good.

Get your green on.
PS. If you were asking yourself if those are assorted undergarments surrounding the edge of the bowl in the photos, the answer is yes.  The bowl comes from fishs eddy (purchased years ago), the coolest little kitchen shop in NYC.

with the frills.
with the frills.

 

All things green salad

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup scallions, sliced on an angle (just greens)
2 cups small English peas
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups baby arugula
4 eggs, hard cooked
1 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • boil the eggs: in a large pot cover 4 eggs with cold water until just submerged.  bring to a boil, then put heat low and cover the pot.  let eggs cook an additional 8 minutes.  Remove and run eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle.  Peel immediately and set aside.
  • bring 2nd large pot of water to a boil.
  • remove woody ends of asparagus, cut spears on an angle into bite size pieces.
  • drop cut asparagus into the water.  blanch 5 minutes or until tender. Put in ice bath to stop cooking and preserve color.  Remove from ice bath and set aside.
  • Blanch peas 3 minutes or until just cooked. Ice bath it. remove and set aside with asparagus. let cool.
  • Slice scallion on diagonal, just the greens!
  • Put arugula in a big salad bowl and combine all green things. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, add the cheese cheese, squeeze lemon over everything, drizze with olive oil, toss to combine.
  • slice eggs and lay them atop salad.
a sea of green

spaghetti for spring

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hello there.

I am not entirely sure where I first heard of the zucchini noodles concept, though if I had to guess I’d say it was likely Deb who introduced it to me (and by “Deb” I mean Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen, with whom I am on a first name basis with only in my heart; and by “introduced” I mean I saw it on her fabulous blog).

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With a mandolin — or with a knife and some chutzpah — you create strands of zucchini to the width and length of spaghetti.  All you need to do is flash boil them for 30 seconds, and they become malleable and able to be twisted around a fork. They add a lovely dash of green to a bowl of noodles, which helps takes away any guilt one might foolishly associate with eating carbohydrates.

This recipe comes together quickly and is comforting enough for cold nights but light enough for the start of spring.  And most importantly, it just tastes good.

Serves 4

I add ribbons of spinach to add even more green, because it makes me feel good.  Basil would be a great substitute for that or a strong addition if you have any on hand.  For me there is nothing better than a bowl of pasta at the end of the day. Or the beginning of the day…whatever floats your boat.

Ingredients:

1 zucchini

½ box of whole-wheat spaghetti

1 cup spinach leaves

½ grated parmesan cheese

AND:

¼ cup olive oil

5 tablespoons butter

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 slices of lemon

salt, pepper, red pepper flake to taste

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  • in a sauce pan over low heat, add the olive oil, butter, garlic cloves, lemon slices, and seasoning.  Let the butter melt and leave over low heat while pasta and zucchini cook.
  • With a mandolin or knife slice the zucchini into thin strands. Cut the spinach leaves into thin strips.
  • Boil the pasta according to your personal al dente preference, adding the zucchini for the last 30 seconds of the cooking.
  • Remove lemon slices and garlic cloves form the sauce pan, and discard. Drain pasta and zucchini and add them to the sauce pan.  Combine everything so sauce evenly coats the noodles and vegetables, and if necessary, add more salt and pepper.
  • Top with grated cheese and serve HOT.
  • And leave no noodle behind.
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clean plate club

 

spaghetti for spring