farfalle with zucchini greek yogurt and lemon

It’s true, there is yogurt in this pasta. Your first inclination might be to think that is not quite right, but think again my friends. Everyone secretly loves a creamy, cheesy pasta dish, but it inevitably makes you feel super bloated and full for about 2.37 days. Greek yogurt is the solution.IMG_6082Tangy is Greek yogurt’s most widely recognized characteristic, and it definitely brings that to the table here. But paired with a tiny bit of cream cheese, a healthy dose of salt, and the brightness of lemon zest–it really works.  And it’s just creamy enough to give that element of comfort minus the food hangover.
IMG_6074Rainy spring nights are the perfect setting for a heaping bowl of pasta, and thankfully (albeit slowly) vegetable isles across the northeast are once again showing signs of life. Grated zucchini is a pop of color and a subtle flavor that melts right into the mix and doesn’t event require additional cooking.  Frozen peas add a sweetness that offsets the zing of the yogurt and lemon. Someday I will swap them out for fresh peas…someday.
IMG_6083Important note to leave you with: feel free to get heavy handed with that parmesan cheese. It’s for your own good.

farfalle with zucchini, greek yogurt, and lemon
…slightly tweaked from Al Forno in Providence, RI via Food & Wine
serves 4-6

1 pound dried farfalle pasta
1 cup frozen peas
2 large zucchini, grated
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tbs plain cream cheese
2 tbs unsalted butter
zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnishing
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, and cook pasta for 10 minutes or until just cooked.  In the last minute throw in the frozen peas to flash cook. Drain (reserving a cup of pasta cooking water) and set aside.
2. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter and then turn off the flame. Add in the yogurt, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Incorporate the zucchini, peas, and pasta.  Stir together, incorporating reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if desired.  Add the parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning, add additional salt and pepper if needed.
4. Serve hot with extra cheese (see note above).
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farfalle with zucchini greek yogurt and lemon

thai lettuce wraps

Sometimes it seems like I only eat well on weekends. Weekdays can be draining with the whole working, commuting, waking up thing. It shouldn’t be like this. We should eat well always.

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So it was Tuesday. I was craving take out. Mostly because the idea of being off the couch for long enough to put something vaguely resembling a meal together in the kitchen seemed daunting. But I knew I had gone a little buck wild at Whole Foods and needed to eat some of the lovely produce I had purchased, so the only solution was to turn them into a take-out-esque meal to satisfy the take out cravings.

Behold Thai chicken lettuce wraps. They are sneakily convenient, most of what I needed I had in the house. With more vegetables these could have easily been vegetarian. They would happily take some shrimp in place of chicken, and if I could handle spicy foods I would definitely have added some chili flakes to the sauce. Alas, my taste buds are wimpier than my stomach for those sorts of things.

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And poof, the cry for take out was silenced.

thai lettuce wraps
serves 4

For the wraps
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
1 head of iceberg or butter lettuce

For the slaw
1 cup pre-shredded slaw mix (or just red or green cabbage)
1 tbs red wine vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
1 ½ tbs creamy peanut butter
2 tbs terryaki sauce
1 tsp seasame seeds
1 tsp brown sugar

  1. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Combine all slaw ingredients and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Trim excess fat off the chicken thighs and dice into small pieces. Cut the vegetables into similar sized pieces.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides (about 7 minutes).
  4. Turn heat down slightly and add in the vegetables stirring occasionally, cook until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sauce coating everything. Chop peanuts and stir them in as the final touch.
  5. Carefully remove leaves from the head of lettuce to form little cups for the filling. (Some will rip, it’s inevitable. Don’t panic, that’s why they are wraps.) Add filling and slaw to each individual cup for eating.

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thai lettuce wraps

the veggie bowl

IMG_5710Oh January. You saucy minx.

Just as the post-holiday blues hit and we all vow to eat nothing but vegetables until eternity, you swoop in with biting cold temperatures that produce cravings of warm, cheesey, carby things.

This little number is the perfect crossover between what your heart is telling you you want and what your brain is in the background mentioning might be the healthy choice.  Finding the middle ground of these forces is the only way to live.   In my experience, if you fall too far down the treat rabbit hole you will just find as much discomfort as you might in a hunger-induced juice cleanse haze.

Whatever the month, you should always get to eat delicious things.  Start strong in January.  Eat your veggies and keep your cheesy goodness too.

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the veggie bowl
serves 2

This is similar to a previously semi-indulgent farro bowl, with some seasonal changes. You can add more veggies than the ones here (they are just what happened to be available in my fridge). Sub in different greens like kale or chard; broccoli would be a wonderful addition, as would asparagus. If you like things spicy add some red pepper flakes when you cook the vegetables.  You could also throw in some chicken or even steak for extra protein. GO CRAZY.  And I suppose you could exclude the cheese, but I wouldn’t.

1 cup farro
2 tsp chives, chopped
1 tbs seasame seeds
4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese (of your preference, I recommend a cheddar jack or parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the farro, mix in the chives, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet cook the vegetables over medium high heat.  Start with the onion (as it takes the longest to get tender), cook for 2 minutes then add mushrooms.  Stir occasionally and season as you go.  When the mushrooms begin to brown and the onion is translucent, add in the spinach and sesame seeds and reduce heat to low. Cook until spinach wilts and remove from heat.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is just at a rolling boil, add the eggs in their shells and let them cook for 6 minutes. Pull them out and run them under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel them and cut them in half.
4. Add the vegetables and cheese to the farro and chives, and stir together.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and give each bowl an egg.

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the veggie bowl

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