Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta and Pine Nuts with White Bean Dip

Yummy, fresh, and simple. I paired these two things together because there was bread with what looked like some sort of white bean dip on top photographed with the pasta on the website where I found the pasta recipe. But they didn't include a dip recipe, so I found one that I had seen before and wanted to try. I'm not sure they exactly go together, but they were both good.

The only thing I changed was that I tweaked things a bit to make it so that I had roasted flavor on pretty everything. I think it probably helped take the raw flavor out of the garlic in the pasta dish, which is good, because I found that the raw flavor in the white bean dip was a bit overwhelming. I think I may try using garlic powder next time.

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


8 ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 ounces diced pancetta
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Arrange pine nuts in a single layer on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Place in a large bowl.

Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Put asparagus on jelly-roll pan and toss with garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place in bowl with pine nuts.

Increase oven temperature to 475°F. Arrange pancetta on jelly-roll pan. Bake for 6 minutes or until crisp. Add to bowl with pine nuts and asparagus. Drain pasta and add to bowl.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.


White Bean Dip
A variation on this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis


1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Serve with French bread or pita.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thai Red Vegetarian Curry

I was thinking of making a Thai soup recently, but after getting all the ingredients, I realized that I didn't really think it would taste very good as a soup. So I decided to tweak things a bit, add a few more ingredients, and make a curry instead. And it came out really well!

Thai Red Vegetarian Curry


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
14-16 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 ounces snow peas, trimmed and sliced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
Salt and pepper
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Cooked jasmine rice

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and sauté until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil and mushrooms. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until browned, moisture is released and starting to evaporate. Add rest of vegetables and curry paste; sauté for another 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Whisk together coconut milk and cornstarch. Return tofu to pan and add coconut milk mixture. Simmer until thickened. Add cilantro and serve over jasmine rice.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Glazed Pork Loin with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

A lovely lovely meal. It was delicious and went splendidly with a Rioja wine. The pears were particularly delicious roasted in the mustard sauce. Yum.

The only change I made to the original recipe was the internal temperature of the pork. I like it more on the just barely done side, so I cooked it to 140°F-145°F (rather than 150°F).

Glazed Pork Loin with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
Courtesy of Rachael Ray


1 1/2 pounds pork loin, tied
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grainy mustard plus more for serving
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1 pound sweet potatoes cut into wedges
4 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 firm-ripe bosc pear cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. Place in the center of a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, vinegar and brown sugar and brush over the pork. Scatter the brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and thyme around the pork. Sprinkle with the oil, any remaining mustard glaze, salt and pepper and stir to coat.

Transfer to the oven and roast, tossing the vegetables occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 140°F-145°F, about 30-35 minutes. (If vegetables stick to the pan, add 2 tablespoons water; stir.)

Remove pork from pan and let rest. Stir in the pear, return pan to oven, and roast until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the thyme. Thinly slice pork and serve with the vegetables. Garnish with more thyme and serve with more mustard.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drunken Risotto with Sausage and Spinach

I have successfully made risotto! The last time I made it, it was way too crunchy. I took my time, which helped a lot. The flavor of this one is awesome too. Which is a pleasant surprise since I usually find Rachael Ray dishes a bit on the bland side. I will be making this again.

Drunken Risotto with Sausage and Spinach
A variation on this recipe from Rachael Ray


3 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound bulk Italian sweet or hot sausage
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach, chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg, to your taste
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat wine and stock and keep warm over low flame.

Use a heavy pot with rounded sides to prepare risotto. Add 2 turns oil to the pan and heat over medium to medium-high flame. Add sausage and brown and crumble for a couple of minutes, then add onions and garlic and soften them up for a couple of minutes more. Stir in rice and combine, season with salt and pepper.

Start adding warm liquids a couple of ladles at a time, stirring vigorously each time you add the liquids to develop the starch. Allow liquids to almost fully evaporate before adding more. From the time you begin adding the liquids, the risotto will take 18 minutes to prepare. In the last 5 minutes of cook time, stir in the spinach, wilting it in one handful at a time. Stir a little freshly grated nutmeg into the risotto, about 1/8 teaspoon. In the last minute of cook time melt in 2 tablespoons butter then stir in cheese - a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan.

Chicken Barley Soup

Not a bad soup, but I still have yet to find the really satisfying chicken soup I've been hunting for. Hrmph.

Chicken Barley Soup
Courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen


2 cups diced cooked chicken (or 2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts)
8 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned
1 quart water
1 generous tablespoon Better Than Bouillon organic vegetable soup base (optional, but recommended for best flavor, other types of veggie stock cubes can be used)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 onion, chopped small
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced or diced carrots
1/2 cup pearl barley
Fresh ground black pepper to taste, salt if desired

If you don't have leftover chicken, put two chicken breasts in a small saucepan with some water and a little bit of Better Than Bouillon Organic Low Sodium Chicken Base and simmer over very low heat about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is barely done. Let chicken cool, then dice into small pieces.

In a large stock pot, combine chicken stock, water, vegetable soup base, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, and dried parsley. Simmer 15 minutes while you chop veggies and chicken.

After 15 minutes, add chopped onion, chopped celery, sliced carrots, and barley. Start to simmer, and when the barley is nearly done (about 45 minutes) add the diced chicken. You may want to add a cup or so of water if the soup reduces too much.

When the barley is done to your liking, season the soup with fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste, and serve hot. (Be sure to taste before adding salt if using canned chicken stock, which can be rather salty.)

Creamy Butternut Squash and Cashew Curry

This definitely needed a bit of added salt, but the spice level and general flavor are lovely. I used butternut squash rather than pumpkin because that's what I could find. And I couldn't find curry leaves or coconut cream, so I just left the leaves out and used a full can of full-fat coconut milk.

Creamy Butternut Squash and Cashew Curry
A variation on this recipe from Bon Appétit


2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 1/2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from about one 1 3/4-pound whole pumpkin)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 small red onions, cut into 1/3-inch wedges
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3 dried chiles de árbol, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Steamed basmati rice

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add squash and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add mustard seeds; cook until seeds pop and leaves sizzle, 30 seconds. Add onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until onions are golden, 4 minutes. Add chiles, cashews, turmeric, and cumin; stir-fry 1 minute. Add coconut milk. Increase heat to medium-high. Boil until thickened, 2 minutes. Return squash to pan; reduce heat to medium. Simmer until squash is tender, 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and lime juice. Spoon over rice; garnish with additional cilantro.