Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pesto Pasta with Collard Greens and Roasted Summer Squash

Serves 6
1 lb pasta (whole wheat penne is often our choice - easy for little fingers to pick up)
1 or 2 summer squash, washed and cut into bite-size pieces
one bunch (about 5 leaves) collard greens, rinsed and cut into ribbons*
handful walnuts
two garlic cloves
two big handfuls of fresh basil (and/or parsley)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt, to taste
couple twists of fresh ground pepper
1/8 to 1/4 cup of olive oil
Bring large pot of water to a boil, and then add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes. Add greens to boiling water when 8 minutes of cooking time remains. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400. Place squash in a baking dish. Lightly drizzle with oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, until tender. Turning once halfway through roasting. Place remaining ingredients (except olive oil) in a food processor. Immediately drizzle oil into processor while it purees. Stop adding oil until you reach your preferred consistency. I like to add about 1/4 cup of the pasta's cooking water to stretch the pesto out a bit and make it smoother for the babes. When all is done cooking, lightly toss pasta and greens with the pesto and roasted squash. Serve immediately.
*I pull the greens off the vein and then pile them on top of each other. I then roll them like a tight burrito and then cut down the roll to create ribbons.

Potatoes and Fresh Dill

Serves 6
2 ½ lbs. fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled (any potato will work!)
1 T. kosher salt
3 T. olive oil
2 T. finely chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add kosher salt and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the flesh can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Drain and place in a colander. Cover the colander with a kitchen towel and steam the potatoes for 10 minutes. When the potatoes are still warm but cool enough to handle, slice each in half lengthwise. Place in a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil. Stir in fresh dill and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Rapini Stuffed Parathas

Makes 10 parathas
Broccoli Rabe – 1 bunch
Onions – 1/2 medium-sized
Garlic cloves – 2
Green Chillies – 4
Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp or to taste
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsps
Paratha Dough:
Whole Wheat Flour – 1n1/2 cups
Salt – 3/4th tsp
Water (at room temperature) – as required
Oil – 2 tsps
To make the stuffing:
Take the rapini bunch and cut off the bottom 1/4th part of the stalks. Then check for any thick stalks in between the bunch and separate the leaves and buds from them. Rinse the leaves and buds under fresh running water and set aside. In a sauce pan, heat about 4 to 5 cups of water. Add a tsp of salt and a tsp of sugar. Once, the water comes to a boil add the rapini leaves and buds. Blanch for 5 minutes. Drain all the water and rinse the rapini under cold running water. Squeeze all the excess water from the rapini and set aside. In a skillet pan, heat 2 tsps of oil. Add cumin seeds, finely chopped onions, green chillies and minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Chop the set aside rapini into smaller bits and add it to the saute. Saute for a few minutes until the mixture is a little dry. Season it with turmeric and salt. Further saute for 2 to 3 minutes and set aside.
To make the dough:
Prepare the dough well before making the stuffing. Make a nice, smooth dough with whole wheat flour, salt and water. Add 2 tsps of oil over the dough and knead again for a minute or two.
To make the stuffed parathas:
Divide the dough into lemon sized balls. Roll out the dough into a 6-inch dia round. Take a spoonful of stuffing, make into a small ball and place on the rolled out dough. Fold all the corners of the dough, lightly flatten it at the center and roll it out into a nice paratha frequently dusting with extra flour. On a tava or a pan, spread out a tsp of oil. Place the rolled-out paratha and fry it on both sides evenly for a minute or so applying oil on the other side too.
To make cucumber-tomato raita:
Use 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Add 1/2 cup of water and smooth out the yogurt using a whisk. Add a pinch of salt (or to taste), finely chopped handful of red onions, a couple of green chillies, finely diced 1/2 cup of tomatoes and cucumbers and some roughly chopped coriander leaves. Chill it on the refrigerator until serving time.
Serve these parathas with raita or any other side-dish/curry you like. These are equally delectable with chutneys or pickles.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eggplant, Onions, and Potatoes (Patate, Cipolle, e Melanzane)

Serves 6

2 small eggplant
1 pound red onion
1 pound russet potatoes
1½ cups red-wine vinegar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, shredded
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Trim the ends from the eggplants, and shave off some lengthwise strips of the skin with a vegetable peeler, leaving some strips on, creating a striped appearance. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 6 or more long wedges, about 1 inch thick. Peel the red onions, and slice them lengthwise into quarter-round wedges, not cutting at the root; you want the wedges attached. To poach the eggplants and onions, put 1 1/2 cups of the vinegar and 2 quarts cold water in a shallow saucepan, and heat to a boil. Drop in the eggplant wedges and the split-open onions, cover the pan, and return to a boil. Set the cover ajar, and adjust the heat to maintain a steady gentle boil. Cook about 30 minutes, occasionally tumbling the vegetables over and moving them to poach evenly, until quite soft and tender. Meanwhile, put the potatoes in another pot, with water to cover them by about 2 inches, and cook just until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork or sharp knife blade (don't let them get mushy). Drain the potatoes, and let them cool briefly. Peel off the skins, and cut them in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick half-rounds. Put the potato pieces in the salad bowl, and cover to keep them warm while you finish the eggplant and onions. When the eggplant and onions are fully cooked, gently lift them out of the poaching liquid with a spider or strainer, and lay them out on a tray or baking sheet in one layer. While the eggplant is still warm, scoop out the central clumps of seeds from the wedges, then cut them crosswise into 2-inch chunks. Separate the onion wedges, and then the layers. Put all the vegetable pieces (they should still be warm to the touch) in the bowl with the potatoes. Dress the salad by drizzling the olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar over the salad, sprinkle the salt on it, scatter in the shredded mint, and crumble the dried oregano over all. Gently toss the vegetables pieces to coat them all with dressing without breaking them apart. Serve immediately.

Summer Squash and Kale Saute

Serves 2
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups kale
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion and garlic and sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly tender. Add kale and remaining olive oil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes more or until kale is wilted. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well 2 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil

Serves 2-3
1 cup jasmine rice
2 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
½ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, or to taste
3 baby eggplants, cubed into bite-sized chunks
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs. white vinegar
3 Tbs. dark soy sauce, such as tamari
2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Cook jasmine rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a deep skillet or wok-shaped pan over high heat. Add oil and crushed red pepper, and let sizzle for 10 to 15 seconds. Add eggplant, and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic, and stir-fry for 3 minutes more. Add vinegar and soy sauce. Sprinkle with sugar, and toss for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat, add basil leaves and toss to combine with eggplant. Serve over hot cooked rice.