I am one of those people that refuses to let go of a season, so I apologize if Spring drags on a bit for me here (especially since I am always late posting). But we are still in the transition period from Spring to Summer, so it's not THAT bad (I hope).
Anyway, during one of my weekly lunches with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies, we decided to make a shaved asparagus pizza with some gorgeous purple asparagus that she got from a local farm (she talks about it here).
Isn't it beautiful? It turns out that this asparagus is super juicy, so it released a lot of liquid during cooking that we had to mop up with paper towels. If you have some big, juicy stalks and want to make pizza, I recommend sauteing them a bit first or tossing with kosher salt and draining on paper towels for a bit to draw the moisture out.
Here is the beautiful whole wheat pizza dough that Melissa had ready to go when I got there.
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.
White lasagna with shredded chicken, spinach, butternut squash, whole wheat pasta, and low fat cheese for a super delicious, creamy, but light dinner? Yes, please!
Spiced butternut squash puree? Creamy bechamel? Gooey cheese? Yes please! This dish is so comforting and delicious - just perfect for fall.
Roast some butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mash it up with mascarpone, Parmesan, brown butter, garlic, and shallots.
Stuff the filling into large pasta shells - I used whole wheat to add a semblance of health. I found one box of shells to be too many, actually - so I filled the others with cheese and tomato sauce.
After missing a few months, I am finally back for the September Food 'n Flix movie, hosted by France at Beyond the Peel. The movie for this month was It's Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin. Streep and Baldwin play a couple that have been divorced for over a decade but fall into an affair with each other after their youngest leaves for college - despite Baldwin being remarried and his cheating being the reason for their divorce in the first place. Martin plays a new love interest for Streep who she could really hit it off with - if her affair with her ex wasn't always getting in the way!
In the film, Streep owns a bakery and is an amazing home cook (her food being one of the things Baldwin misses most about her). I was inspired by her gorgeous vegetable garden and her pastry skills to try a new version of my Squash Galette.
I am so obsessed with figs right now. I buy a pint (or two) every week. And while they are amazing on their own or simply drizzled with honey, I like to give them the fancy treatment from time to time.
Like with this gorgeous pasta dish with figs, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, spinach, and lemon zest.
Or done up in a super classic pairing with prosciutto and mozzarella.
I cut some Black Mission figs in half, sandwiched a piece of mozzarella between them, wrapped them in the prosciutto and skewered them.
Then I broiled them until the ham was nice and crispy and the cheese was melty and drizzled the whole thing with honey. Ridiculously yummy - and the house smelled fantastic!
I am nowhere near done with my fig phase, still - more to come!
Fig and Walnut Pasta
adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
whole wheat spaghetti, enough for 2 people
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
1 small lemon, juice and zest
1 big bunch of fresh spinach
4.5 oz goat cheese
3.5 oz walnut halves, toasted in a dry pan
5 fresh ripe figs, cut into quarters
Boil the spaghetti to al dente, according to the instructions on the package, and set aside when done.
Add olive oil to a large frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic and let it sweat for about 30 seconds before adding the wine and lemon juice. Stir around, add spinach and goat cheese while stirring (save a small piece of the goat cheese for later). Let it simmer for three minutes before adding the spaghetti and the roasted walnuts. Stir for 30 seconds, taste it and add salt if needed, make sure that the spaghetti is covered in the goat cheese/wine/lemon cream then turn off the heat.
Add the figs and gently fold them into the pasta. Serve on a big plate or in a bowl with the rest of the goat cheese and lemon peel sprinkled over it.
So I went and bought the vegetables I wanted to use - carrots, celery, beets, fennel, and asparagus.
Then I sliced them up using the slicing blade on my food processor (a mandoline would also work) and tossed them with high quality olive oil, lime juice, and sea salt.
I actually stored the vegetables like that in the fridge and throughout the week or so that they lasted I would take out what I needed and add it to raw kale massaged with olive oil (which takes some of the bitterness out) along with watercress, grapes, pepitas, and fresh mozzarella for a delicious summer salad.
It is so healthy and fresh and keeping the vegetables raw means that you are getting the full nutritional value from them, plus they keep you super full. But this seriously tastes so good that you will not even be thinking about how healthy it is.
I am obsessed with all things spinach and artichoke right now, it must be Spring getting to me. Tossed in a casserole with chicken, pasta, and cheese these veggies become instant comfort food (similar to my long time favorite Spring Shells casserole). This comes together quickly and only needs to bake for 10-15 minutes, just enough to brown the top (all the ingredients are already cooked).
Last week, I stumbled upon this really cool concept blog called Food 'n Flix that invites bloggers to watch a movie, make a dish inspired by the movie, then blog about it. This month, the movie is Big Night (hosted by Spabettie) starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as two hilarious Italian brothers that own a restaurant together. In order to save the restaurant from bankruptcy, they risk everything they have on one extravagant dinner to impress a celebrity singer.
I loved the movie, it was cute and funny and well acted, and it made me SO HUNGRY. It inspired me to make a Tricolore Lasagna in the colors of the Italian flag (green, white, and red).
We didn't really do anything for Easter this year, and I didn't want to let it pass without a little bit of celebration - so I made some adorable little egg dishes in honor of the holiday.