I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
In the ever continuing quest to eat less grains, I decided that I wanted to see how lentils paired with salmon. I found a couple recipes that I liked and combined them into one that worked for me. The lentils are cooked up nice and tender with veggies, and then mixed with the same mustard and herb butter that tops the salmon. This butter, you guys, it's outstanding. I had a little bit left over and I spread it over toasted sourdough and savored every bite with eye-rolling pleasure. I want to make more of the butter just to do that again. This meal is so healthy and so yummy that I can't stand it.
1⁄2 pound French green lentils
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into half moons and thoroughly washed
few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
3⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic (2-3 cloves)
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 1⁄2 cups Chicken Stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp good red wine vinegar
4 (8-oz) center-cut salmon fillets, skin on
2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tsp grainy mustard
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Place the lentils in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan, add the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the drained lentils, celery, carrots, chicken stock, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf, add the vinegar, and season to taste.
Stir together the softened butter, chives, grainy mustard, and lemon juice with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add 3 tbsp of the butter mixture to the lentils and stir to combine.
Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté salmon, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Serve salmon, topped with remaining 2 tbsp mustard-herb butter, over lentils.
So this little beauty came about due to inspiration from Bev Cooks and the need to get rid of a lot of leftover ingredients from other meals. Sort of a clean-out-the-fridge-in-the-most-delicious-way-possible sort of thing.
I had leftover ricotta from this recipe, with you may recall from last week. Well, not really leftover since I purposefully made double the amount I needed.
And I had little nubs of radish left over from this Spring salad I made inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe. I didn't post about it but it had butter lettuce, shaved radish and fennel, blanched peas and asparagus, and fresh mozzarella in a lemon juice and sour cream dressing.
You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."? I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner. The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.
This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks. So much green!
But more importantly, it has bacon. You start by crisping the bacon and removing it. Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary. Meanwhile, blanch the peas.
On one of our weekly lunch adventures, my friend Melissa and I decided to try out a risotto made from barley. Barley is a whole grain that (unless you have a wheat allergy) is better for you than rice, even brown rice. The grains are larger and chewier than rice, but they make a very good substitute. I actually like barley better than rice because the chewiness gives the dish more body.
I've been playing with combining squash and pasta for comforting Fall/Winter dishes. Like last weeks White Lasagna or the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from the beginning of the month. And now I have a few more, starting with this Butternut Squash and Leek Pasta Sauce.
This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.
Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.
Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.
The recipe calls this "mac and cheese", but I feel like it is more of a "cheesy casserole". Either way, it is tasty and good for you - packed with protein rich quinoa and tasty veggies. You can make it even healthier by using fat free milk and fat free cheese. It is also totally customizable to your tastes!
Start by sauteing whatever veggies you want to use. I went with leeks and tomatoes as suggested by the recipe, but you could do onions or shallots, bell peppers, corn, spinach, anything you want.
Add the quinoa and allow to toast a little bit to get extra flavor.