Pasta with Pea Pesto and a Fried Egg

This post could also be called post-Thanksgiving what in the world do you make with only a half bag of frozen peas and literally no other produce. We got back from a visit with my family for the holiday. It was perfect: lots of fires, eating, sleeping, farm-going, and just relaxing. We were so grateful to have a break from what has been a very busy fall.

However, I haven’t gone grocery shopping since well before the holiday and our pickings were limited to the freezer and pantry for tonight’s meal (I also managed to salvage some herbs that have lasted outside through the last few frosts). This is kind of like a reverse carbonara, with the egg sitting on top of the pasta instead of in a creamy sauce, and the peas made into a creamy sauce instead of on top of the pasta. It was a great hearty winter meal with the farm egg on top, but it’s also great (and slightly lighter) without–so, take your pick either way.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Miss you lots.

peas and egg

Pasta with Pea Pesto and a Fried Egg

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, or other pasta
  • 1 1/4 C. frozen peas, defrosted
  • large handful of herbs (mine were parsley, sage, and chives)
  • 1/8-1/4 C. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 C. almonds
  • 1/4 C. crumbled feta (or more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • eggs (one for each person)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, make the pesto. Combine the peas, almonds, and herbs in the food processor and pulse till coarsely chopped. Add the juice and zest of the lemon and run motor. With motor running, add enough olive oil to make a smooth paste. Taste for salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water. When almost done, fry an egg–one for each person–sunny side up. Reserve 1/2 C. of pasta water and then drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the pesto and enough water to make a creamy sauce. Toss pasta with the feta and then plate pasta. Serve each pasta portion with a fried egg on top.

Hearty Veggie Stew – lemony chickpea, spinach in coconut milk

What a long hiatus from our food blog! Last month we had an amazing reunion at Sara’s wonderful wedding. The happiness and love surrounded all of us and it felt like we all still lived a block from each other, even if it was just for 48 hours. Though, not surprising, the food and drinks were much better than our college days! Even the late night party pack (buffalo chicken pizza…) far surpassed EBAs! Also, breakfast food truck…salivating… I was lucky to have another friend’s wedding the weekend after so stayed in the US in between. Timing was on my side since Naomi was able to get away for a few days; not an easy feat when you’re a kick-ass resident. We hiked, cooked, sauna-ed and experienced the mountains just starting to burst with color. Did I mention that it was an amazing reunion? Needless to say, I felt a bit forlorn coming back to Switzerland, but luckily, fall is settling in on this side of the pond too – my favorite season.

Why do I love fall? The temperature is ideal for running; you don’t have to gear up in all the layers or calculate your run so you have optimal shade. The smell in the air is a mixture of the leaves turning and the dew in the morning. My favorite holiday of all time – Thanksgiving – is around the corner. And in Switzerland I get to celebrate it TWICE – Canadian Thanksgiving (last night!) and American Thanksgiving. Finally, hearty soups and stews are back! I love anything that has broth so with that I wanted to share this lemony spinach, chickpea, coconut milk stew, which we ate with rice, but you could do with any grain. Most importantly, this is a dish where even my carnivore husband said there was nothing missing and that it was amazing despite it being vegetarian!

Recipe adapted from www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoon of olive oil
    2 onions
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    2 tablespoon grated ginger
    3/4 cup of sun dried tomato
    1 large lemon, zested and juiced 2 cups of chickpea
    1 pound baby spinach
    14-ounce can coconut milk
  • Salt/peper to taste

Heat oil then toss in onions, garlic and ginger. Add lemon zest and chickpea to brown. Once browned add in the coconut milk and lemon juice. Add spinach and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste!

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Breakfast at Sara’s Wedding Tent

Rice Cooker Mushroom Risotto

The fall has been great, but so busy with travel and work. Thus, it has been a while since I’ve posted. I feel bad having this recipe be yet another risotto (which is one of my go-to meals), but I couldn’t resist since a) I figured it was better to post a normal weekday meal than nothing at all and b) since this technique is new and a pretty big time saver.

There is this myth that risotto is hard to make and requires all sorts of stirring and effort, neither of which is true in my book, but this recipe truly nips that myth in the bud. Indeed, I made this risotto, mainly unattended in my rice cooker, while doing a yoga practice in my living room. In fact, it was so easy that it makes me hopeful that it (and more recipes like it) will encourage and help me to both exercise and get dinner on the table post-work in a timely manner. I can also see rice cooker risotto as a great way to easily put together a dinner-party worthy dinner when you’re slim on time. And while Naomi’s last post on slow-cooker pork almost convinced me that I probably need a Crockpot, in the meantime here’s one more use for it’s alternative, the rice cooker–that seemingly one-use appliance.

Enjoy!

Rice Cooker Risotto

Rice Cooker Mushroom Risotto

adapted from Rice Cooker Risotto Recipe, My Baking Addiction

  • 4 Tb. olive oil, divided
  • 16 ounces baby portabella mushrooms
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 1/2 cups veggie broth, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas; thawed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tb. fresh sage or parsley, chopped; optional

Heat 2 Tb. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onion till soft, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, make sure that your stock is hot (microwave it or heat on stove). Add mushrooms to onions in saute pan and cook until soft and slightly browned; about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add remaining 2 Tb. olive oil to rice cooker bowl. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly. Add garlic, wine, two cups of stock, and pepper to rice cooker and stir to combine. Close your rice cooker and begin the cooking process by turning it to “Cook.” Cook for 10 minutes. Open lid and stir in mushrooms and remaining stock. Continue cooking for 17 minutes. Stir in cheese, peas, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, if using. Serve immediately.

Planned Happiness Via Garlic Toast with Rabe and Onions

ImageWe signed up for a CSA and it started this week.  Our kitchen is flooded with every green thing imaginable: spinach, scallions, green garlic, rabe, several varieties of lettuce….you get the idea.  I’ve been a pretty uninspired cook lately but I found that heaps of pre-paid produce snap you into gear whether you feel inspired or not.

The other thing that has helped is a book my dear friend Emily recommended called The Everlasting Kitchen.  It’s a lovely, lyrical little book that gives loose instructions about how to minimize waste in your kitchen and make the most out of all your ingredients.  It’s more full of suggestions than recipes, which appealed to me as a more advanced home cook, and it’s full of time- and money-saving ideas.

Therefore, today I present you with a very simple recipe.  The trick of it is not in the ingredients or the technique- it’s in the fact that I threw it together in 10 minutes on a Thursday night and was still able to enjoy the flavors of roasted garlic and caramelized onions, which usually take at least 45 minutes.

At the beginning of the week, I roasted batches of vegetables that like to roast, such as sweet potatoes and broccoli.  I threw in 5-6 garlic cloves on the baking sheets (no oil, in their skins.)  When all the roasting was done, I stored the veggies in containers and saved the garlic to the side.

Two days later, when making a frittata (tasty, recipe to come), instead of using just the one onion I planned to use, I sliced all three of the ones we had and spent a good leisurely hour talking on the phone and getting a skillet full of melted gooey and brown onions.  I placed those in a plastic bag with the garlic in the fridge.  I wasn’t sure of my plans for them, but roasted garlic and caramelized onions are never a hardship to have on hand.  (PS: I caramelized the onions in butter and I’m not sorry.)

 The Everlasting Meal also reminded me of the simple beauty of toast as a centerpiece of a meal.  Sometimes I forget that you can heap a bunch of vegetables on a good piece of bread and that can be it.  So that was it: no recipe, just toast a piece of bread, rub roasted garlic over it with a fork, pile caramelized onions on top.  Rinse and chop broccoli rabe and wilt it in a hot pan with some roasted pepper flakes.  Then add it to the toast and enjoy the fact that you planned for your own happiness (in the form of garlic and onions) earlier in the week, and you are now able to reap the rewards.

Soba Noodles with Tahini Miso Ginger Sauce

Wow, has it really been that long since we’ve posted!?! I’m sorry that I’ve been so out of touch here. Between residency placement, school, worldwide travel, and on my end, the much more mundane 8-5 and remodeling of our new house in every spare moment, I know we’ve all been crazy. So, creative cookery hasn’t quite been at the top of my list.

Nevertheless, I miss you all and wanted to reinvigorate the blog again, so I figured I’d post on last night’s slapdash meal of Soba Noodles with a variant on my ubiquitous tahini dressing. There’s something about it that I can’t get enough of, and it’s eternally modifiable for Asian, Middle Eastern, or “hippy” flavored dishes.  It’s all eyeball measurements, so please taste the dressing (which is the key to this meal) as you go for optimal flavor. And if you haven’t ever had ichimi tagarachi, or shichimi tagarachi, you should. The former is simply Japanese chili flakes, and the latter has orange peel, sesame seeds, and other goodies mixed in. They’re great to have around for noodle bowls or grilled veggies, etc. Same thing with furikake–there are dozens of varieties of this Japanese condiment, but my favorite has nori, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar.

Enjoy!

Tahini Soba Noodles

Soba Noodles with Tahini Miso Ginger Sauce

  • two bundles of buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1/4 C. fresh tahini
  • 2 Tb. red miso paste
  • 1/4 C. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tb. finely grated ginger
  • dash of mirin or pinch of sugar
  • warm water, to taste
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • dash of soy
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets and bite-sized pieces
  • two large handfuls of spinach or mixed greens
  • optional: cilantro, ichimi tagarashi (Japanese chili pepper), furikake (Japanese sesame seed condiment)

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, put the tahini, miso paste, and vinegar in a jar and shake vigorously till combined. Add in warm water, a tablespoon at a time, and shake, combining until the consistency is a thick paste. Add in the sesame oil, ginger, the mirin or sugar, and the soy, and shake again till combined. Taste and add vinegar or water, to taste, until the sauce is of pourable consistency, and set aside.

Add the soba noodles to the boiling water and set a timer for 6 minutes. When 3 minutes remain, add the carrots and broccoli to the water with the noodles. At 6 minutes, taste the noodles for doneness and when cooked, take off the heat. Add the spinach or greens to your colander and drain the noodles and veggies over them to wilt the greens. Toss the noodles and veggies with the tahini sauce and serve warm.

Garnish at the table with cilantro and any of the Japanese condiments.

Italian Peasant Pasta

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This is a fun and simple recipe based on a pasta dish that I had a few weeks ago at Spadaro – an incredible little gem of a restaurant located in a random strip mall in the suburbs near my parents’ house. It’s a favorite of my parents’ for taking friends and family out, and my brother and I both insist on going there whenever we’re home! Its an unassuming store front from the outside, flanked by a fried chicken place and a pizza place, but upon opening the door one finds a little piece of heaven – a small, cramped place with heavenly smells of salty, garlicky marinara sauce, run by a boisterous Italian family that know almost all their customers by name and who used to have a restaurant in Rome before they immigrated here. There is no menu because everything they serve is totally fresh, inspired by whatever ingredients they got that week, and is to-die-for delicious.

The version I made was with chard and lima beans because this is what we had in the kitchen, though the authentic version at Spadaro was made with dandelion greens (hard to find, no?) and fava beans.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 servings pasta – something that catches sauce well
  • 2-3 cups cooked chard or dandelion greens
  • ~1 cup dried lima or fava beans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cup pecorino romano, shredded
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 1-2 tbsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preparing the beans: You want them to be REALLY soft! Soak them for 48 hours, then boil for 1.5-2 hours or until they fall apart with a light squeeze.
  2. Mince the garlic and dice the leek. Sautee both with the pepper flakes in butter for a few minutes.
  3. Either mince the cooked chard as small as you can or put it in a food processor. (The latter would be ideal, but I don’t have one!) If using dandelion greens you don’t really need to do this step – simply cook them until they are wilted. Put the greens into the pan with the garlic and leek.
  4. Mash the beans with your hand – grab a handful and squeeeeeze! Its find if they’re not evenly mashed. Add these to the pan as well.
  5. Add ~1/2 cup of the pecorino romano as well as the olive oil and half and half to the pan. Let everything heat up together, stirring regularly, for 5-10 minutes so that all the flavors combine. Play around with the quantity of half and half and olive oil to achieve your preferred consistency – I made it a thick, though you could certainly make it a little more liquidy.
  6. Season with plenty of freshly ground pepper and garnish with the rest of the pecorino romano.

Pea and Mint Soup

Splendid Treasures of the Turkomen

Today marked the opening of my first exhibit at my new job–Splendid Treasures of the Turkomen Tribes from Central Asia. It has been exciting to work on this show, to delve into a crash course on Turkmen (as they are known today) people, clothing, carpets, and jewelry. And I have to admit, it’s nice to see an “Associate Curator” credit at the entrance with my name next to it.

The view from my museum office.

The view from my museum office.

Unfortunately, a few hours before the opening, a snow storm hit Knoxville. And while 2 or three inches of snow is nothing in Chicago, in a hilly town like Knoxville with snow plows few and far between, it means a complete and utter meltdown. Only four guests showed at the opening, so we had a lot of Turkmen food to get through. And while it was delicious, it’s quite pastry and meat heavy, so once I finally walked through the slush and back home, something hot and lighter was in order. All I had in the fridge were some leftover green onions, and some frozen veggies. Fortunately, this soup came to the rescue. This recipe is an old standby–you can make it when you literally have nothing in your home, and it is comforting and fresh at the same time. While “pea soup” doesn’t sound too promising perhaps, I promise this is great, and it comes together in 15 minutes or less.

Pea Soup

Pea and Mint Soup

  • 1 large bunch of green onion + 1/2 a yellow onion OR 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried mint
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 16 oz. bag of frozen organic peas
  • bouillon cube (enough for making 2 C. stock) and water OR veggie stock
  • fresh ground pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • goat cheese or Greek yogurt to garnish (optional)

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium until it starts to wilt and/or turn translucent. Add the dried herbs and saute for another minute or so. Stir in the frozen peas, breaking them up. Barely cover the peas with water and add the bouillon cube, or simply cover the peas with stock and don’t add the bouillon. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add some fresh ground pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes or so until the peas are tender. Remove from the head and add the lemon zest and juice. Puree with a stick blender or in a food processor till smooth. Serve immediately, and serve hot, with an optional dollop of Greek yogurt or some crumbles of goat cheese.

Shakshuka

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So I’m really outdoing myself here with the Middle Eastern/Jewish recipes no? This is one that I know some (all?) of you have made before, and everyone loves. It was an amazing holiday season this year with several days in Texas with my big, warm, wonderful family, New Years at a friend’s beautiful home north of NYC with Chris and many lovely people, and a trip to Chamonix with my brother Nathan. After a holiday season full of giant, heavy feasts complete with cheese plate pre-dinner and decadent dessert as well as much eating out, I’m very ready to go back to healthy home cooking.

Shakshuka is a great one pot meal for so many reasons – its super healthy,  super quick at ~20 min start to finish, and very versatile (you can substitute or add just about any veggies you may have in your fridge, change up the herbs, and increase, skip or switch the harissa for pepper flakes.) The quantities below are about right for a hearty, healthy dinner for 2. Red wine is highly recommended as an accompaniment!

(PS – Harissa is a Middle Eastern and North African fire-in-your-mouth spice paste available at most Whole Foods-y type super markets and … on Amazon prime. You should have it. You should have it yesterday.)

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Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Poblano peppers or 1 red or green pepper, chopped
  • 18oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 C crumbled feta
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Crusty baguette

Directions:

  1. Sautee the onion in a generous amount of olive oil for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the harissa and green pepper and sautee for another couple of minutes until the pepper starts to soften.
  2. Pour in the canned tomatoes and turn up the heat so that some of the liquid will evaporate and everything stews together. While this is happening de-leaf the thyme sprigs and add the leaves to the mix.
  3. Make 4 wells for the eggs. OK this is not entirely necessary but I kind of like to do it. It just all looks more organized. Crack them in and cover until the eggs are set to your liking – anywhere from sunny side up to yolk cooked through.
  4. Turn the heat off, crumble the feta on top, and grind a generous amount of pepper over the top. Last, throw on the parsley.
  5. Serve with your nice crusty bread.