Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

IMG_6611

For Meatless Monday tomorrow, I give you this gem. If you haven’t gotten on the cauliflower bandwagon yet, this may well convince you. There’s a ton of flavor going here, and I get it, at first it sounds weird. But trust me — when you put it all together, it works. There’s the caramelized cauliflower, sweetness from the raisins, acid from the lemon and umami from the anchovy, plus cheese, nuts and lots of parsley to top it off=bliss. I loved the addition of panko bread crumbs on top which gave it a nice buttery crunch. This is yet another of Tyler Florence’s hits from his “Tyler’s Ultimate” cookbook.

IMG_6613

It’s nice to have a pasta now and then that doesn’t use a traditional meat or pesto sauce. This one uses just olive oil, a little water and lemon — when reheating you may want to add a bit more olive oil to loosen it up a little.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of using anchovies, you can buy anchovy paste in a tube (literally like toothpaste)
  • On the raisins, you can use golden or regular
  • To keep this totally vegetarian, just leave out the anchovy (but I don’t recommend it!)
  • On the pinenuts, you can substitute others — almonds, walnuts are good options
  • Keep the toasted breadcrumbs separate so you still get a crunch when you reheat the pasta for leftovers — just sprinkle them on top when it comes out of the microwave.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Sautéed Cauliflower, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into bite-size florets
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins (TW: I used leftover golden raisins)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste with the side of a large knife (TW: or use anchovy paste)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (TW: I used sliced almonds)
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the cauliflower and the anchovies in a saute pan in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot and the anchovies are sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, heat on medium, cover and and steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5-7 minutes more until the water has evaporated and the cauliflower is starting to brown. Add the raisins and pine nuts and toss to warm through. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

On a baking sheet, drizzle the panko with 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread out in a layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until it’s lightly brown and crunchy.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Drain the spaghetti and place in a large bowl. Add a 2 count of olive oil and toss. Dump in the cauliflower mixture, add the parsley and lemon juice, and fold together. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and cheese.

Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

IMG_7236

 

I’m all about the summer ingredients, and this salad is a great way to get in on it. Use some greenmarket cherry tomatoes, corn and arugula, and alongside some rich, creamy burrata, you’ll be in heaven. I love what the fresh basil and mint do for this salad — the recipe (from Food & Wine) calls for a generous amount of both, and it adds such an awesome array of flavor to this — so much more than you’d get from just plain lettuce (even if it IS arugula). Unfortunately I couldn’t find fava beans for this, but I bet it would make it even more interesting.

IMG_7238IMG_7237

TW’s Tips

  • Buy quality fresh burrata — good grocery stores package it themselves and sell in the cheese section
  • If you’re not eating the salad in one sitting, don’t dress the whole thing so the greens stay fresh and crisp.
  • To keep your basil fresh, snip off the ends and put in a glass of water on the counter.

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable and Burrata Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 8 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil (see tip for keeping fresh)
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

Directions

Fill a medium bowl with ice water. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the fava beans for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice bath to cool completely. Slip off and discard the skins.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the corn and fava beans and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint, basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates. Season with pepper and serve.

Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

IMG_7249

Right at this very moment is when this salad will be at its best — with tomatoes and nectarines in their prime at the greenmarket. And it will be well worth it, friends, because this is one delicious concoction. It’s the best kind of simple — using super fresh, seasonal ingredients that don’t need anything fancy to make them taste good. For this salad (recipe from the latest Food & Wine) I got fresh feta (buy the kind that comes in a solid block for this) from Murray’s Cheese Shop (yum), which is then marinated in a combo of red wine vinegar, olive oil and crushed coriander seeds. Marry that with chopped fresh tomatoes and nectarines — an awesome combo of the super sweet from the nectarines and the more savory sweet of the tomatoes, top with fresh dill and some crushed up pita chips for crunch. The sweetness of the produce is offset perfectly by the tart, salty feta and punch of acid from the dressing. It’s an awesome combo — I ate this salad on its own for lunch and it was amazing.

Fattoush is technically the name for a Lebanese bread salad, which you technically get from the pita chips in this I suppose. I was a little skeptical of that ingredient and debated getting fresh pita and toasting it, but I ended up really liking the chips, because they’re so super crunchy and stand up to the dressing and produce better.

TW’s Tips

  • I tried this salad with both red and yellow heirloom tomato — yellow is pictured but red adds a little more variety visually
  • Use plain pita chips — I picked Stacy’s brand
  • Fresh dill=critical
  • I found the amount of feta to be a little bit much, so you could cut that back by 1/4 if you wanted to

Enjoy!

Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce block of feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 nectarines—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups broken pita chips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill, plus small sprigs for garnish

Directions

Place the feta in a small rimmed dish in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the 
vinegar with the olive oil, coriander seeds and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the feta and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning the cheese over after 15 minutes.

Transfer the feta to plates or a platter. In a large bowl, toss the nectarines with the tomatoes, pita chips and the feta marinade. Add the chopped dill and season with salt and pepper; toss again. Spoon the salad over the feta and garnish with dill sprigs. Serve right away.

MAKE AHEAD
The marinated feta can be refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

IMG_6151

I loooooove fennel. It’s such a weird vegetable — it’s white in color, has a core that needs to be removed, acts like a root vegetable (you eat the bulb vs. the plant that grows on top) and it tastes like nothing you would ever expect a vegetable to taste like — licorice or anise is the only way you can describe it, but it’s a mild version, not like biting into a piece of licorice. And then there’s the crunch you get. And on top of that, it’s so versatile! I’ve made dishes with fennel including a cheesy, rich potato fennel gratin, awesome salads, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s really awesome — you’ve got to try it.

This dish — Fennel and Garlic Shrimp — is a great use of fennel courtesy of Ina Garten. It’s fresh, garlicky and makes an awesome pan sauce that you sop up with crusty bread. Plus, it cooks up super quickly, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped the Pernod since I couldn’t find a nip and I knew this would be the only time I’d use it — but if you have it, it will add a little bit more licorice flavor
  • The shrimp took a little longer than stated to cook — just watch for them to get opaque and curled

Enjoy!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled with tails on
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they’re pink and just cooked through.

Off the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod (if using), the fleur de sel, and black pepper and serve it with bread to soak up all the pan juices.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

IMG_7078

I’m sticking with my tomato theme this week — why limit a good thing, right? This Bon Appetit recipe for Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto uses cherry tomatoes as a base for a non-basil related pesto — alongside walnuts, anchovies (trust me), garlic and Parmesan. I say trust me on the anchovies because people tend to feel squeamish about these little filets of flavor. And you’re right, I wouldn’t recommend eating one on its own. But these guys are the ones responsible for the great, funky undertone in food classics like Caesar salad dressing. It works the same way fish sauce works in Thai food — used sparingly, and you won’t be able to say “that’s anchovy,” but it adds depth and character. Using the tomatoes for a base makes for a pesto that’s a bit sweeter than what you’re probably used to, but it’s totally delicious and rich and I couldn’t stop eating it.

IMG_7079

IMG_7081And while the pesto doesn’t have basil involved, basil is added at the end of this dish in full leaf form, so you still get that great basil flavor, which cuts through the rest of the tastes beautifully.

TW’s Tips

  • Rather than toast the walnuts in the oven, I did it on the stovetop in a dry skillet — easier and you don’t have to heat up the whole oven.
  • When you buy basil, cut off the bottom of the sprigs and put it in a glass of water on your countertop. I can’t tell you how many bunches of basil I’ve had go bad in one day in the fridge despite my best efforts. This is the way to go — and if you get really fresh basil, it will last a long time — mine lasted two weeks!
  • If you don’t have spaghetti, any type of pasta will work

Enjoy!

IMG_7080

Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup walnuts
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • ½ cup (packed) basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool. (see TW tip for another option)

Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.

Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan and black pepper and drizzle with oil.

Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Ricotta and Savory Granola

IMG_7073

It’s my favorite food time of year…tomato season. What is better than a super fresh, sweet, tasty heirloom tomato right from the garden? One of my favorite things ever! This awesome salad that I spotted in Food & Wine takes advantage of tomato season and matches them up with fresh ricotta seasoned with lemon zest and sunflower sprouts, and an unconventional topping — granola. It’s so simple but so delicious!

The granola incorporates pistachios and sunflower seeds and adds such a nice crunch to the salad. It makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty to throw on some yogurt with some berries for a nice week or so of breakfasts. And the other interesting ingredient — sunflower sprouts. They’re sweet, crunchy and fresh, and add a nice green splash to an already beautiful plate.

Make this and stat while the tomatoes are in their prime!IMG_7072IMG_7071

TW’s Tips

  • Do not skimp on the tomatoes. If you can’t get them fresh at the farmer’s market, don’t bother. Heirloom — even better.
  • Same with the fresh ricotta — must be fresh! You’ll find it at a good grocery store in the cheese section. Don’t you dare use the stuff in plastic tubs in the dairy aisle.
  • Sunflower sprouts won’t be easy to find. I nabbed them at the Union Square greenmarket.

Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomatoes with Ricotta and Savory Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup light agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sunflower sprouts
  • Two 12-ounce heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the agave, water, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt until the oats are thoroughly coated. Spread the oats on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring twice, until the granola is light golden. Stir in the pistachios and sunflower seeds and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until golden brown and dry. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, toss the sunflower sprouts with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the tomato wedges in shallow bowls and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the ricotta around the tomatoes. Scatter the sprouts on top and sprinkle with some of the granola; save the remaining 
granola for another use. Serve right away.

Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

IMG_6575

Growing up in New Hampshire, Thai food was just not on the radar. Today, thankfully there are a few more options around my hometown, but in the 80s/90s, the extent of ethnic food was some woefully Americanized Chinese and some slapdash Tex-Mex. I must have had my first taste of Thai sometime around grad school — I’m not quite sure — but I do know that I was instantly hooked. There’s so much to love — the rich coconut milk, spicy curries, the acidity of lime and freshness of Thai basil. I loved the variety and the different flavors you just don’t experience when you’re eating super traditional American food. Today, you could convince me to have Thai food any day.

I’ve found it’s impossible to make Thai food at home that tastes as good as what you can get in a good Thai restaurant, but I make an attempt every now and then (especially when I can get good ingredients at the great ethnic food stores in NYC). This recipe from Tyler Florence is a solid showing. It’s got lots of coconut milk going, with ginger, lemongrass and Thai basil. The peanuts on top add a great crunch and richness.

The rice in this dish is actually really great — and I’m not a rice girl. The addition of arugula adds some interesting spiciness, and the dried apricots are a great hit of sweetness.

IMG_6577

TW’s Tips

  • Despite all the ethnic food stores here, I couldn’t find kafir lime leaves. I had to go with regular lime.
  • Go to the effort of finding Thai basil. It’s quite different from the traditional Italian basil — the flavor is really amazing. I even saw Thai basil at the greenmarket today.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp. I had to cook them a bit longer than indicated in the recipe to cook them through. Look for them to curl and turn opaque.
  • Have some Thai chile sauce on the side that you can mix in to add a little heat to this.

Enjoy!

IMG_6573

Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and smashed with the side of a large knife
  • 2 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 quart coconut milk
  • 2 kafir lime leaves, or one lime, halved
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 1.5 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 small can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 4 fresh Thai basil sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts for garnish
  • 1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Directions

First get the sauce going: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, chiles, lemongrass, and shallots and cook until the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugar, coconut milk, and lime leaves and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minute, until the sauce is reduced by about one third and thickened.

While that’s cooking, jump to the rice. Combine the rice, salt, and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, scallions and arugula.

To finish, add the shrimp to the pot with the sauce and simmer gently just to cook through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the straw mushrooms and stir. Spoon the rice into the bottom of 4 bowls. Spoon the shrimp over along with the sauce and garnish each bowl with basil, peanuts and a wedge of lime.