Goodness, I am not doing so well in the beauty department with the recipes I've shared in 2012. But again, this one is worth trying even with the overall brownness of the dish. It is relatively quick and involves inexpensive ingredients that we typically have every day. With little flecks of green parsley it is even more tasty and just a tad prettier but, as you can see, parsley wasn't in my fridge when I prepared this meal (for the 3rd time in a month, I'll add) and it was still really wonderful. Maybe not 'share with company' delicious, but perfect for a weeknight with family, or with friends who are family.
Virginia is in a weird, in-between phase of weather right now. One day we'll have sleet and snow dust and misty skies, the next sunshine and fluffy clouds and crocuses peaking from beneath fallen leaves. Mother Nature can't decide if she should buckle down and get serious about Winter or skip on ahead to Spring. I'll take either, but the back and forth is really throwing me off. I waver between wanting a thick + meaty stew for dinner or a light salad with citrus. Grocery shopping is nearly impossible since the chances of my craving what I actually buy are slim, given that the weather is bound to drastically change 2 days later. I am falling back on old staples; meals that have proven themselves worthy no matter the time of year. Like this one, which I'll either fill my bowl to the brim with (cold, Winter day) or pair equally with a fresh salad (warm, Spring day). Either way it's a winner, and sure to stay in our rotation year-round.
Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, + Chevre
1 lb portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
3/4 lb ziti (we use brown rice pasta in our house...just as silky as semolina, but whole grain)
3 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tbsp of the butter with 2 tbsp of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes (I let them go for closer to 30). Remove from the pan.
In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 tsp of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and the pepper.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tbsp oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.
Summer. Tomatoes. Summer tomatoes. Summer tomatoes summer tomatoes summer tomatoes. The two words belong together, do they not?
With a high of 101° in Charlottesville today (real feel 115° to 120°...um, when did we move to the equator?!?), I am not finding a whole lot to be happy with Summer about at the moment. Except for tomatoes. We are overrun with summer's favorite fruit right now...big ones, little ones, red ones, orange ones. All picture frames and candles have been removed from my dining room sideboard to make way for our bounty from the farm. It is the official tomato storage and ripening spot in our house, a constantly revolving inventory of heirloom varieties. I've made pints of marinara to store away for winter, and have plans to can soups and salsas in the coming weeks. But still, my very favorite way to consume a perfectly ripe tomato is thickly sliced, with sea salt. It just doesn't get much better than that. Unless you sandwich one of those slices between two hunks of bread with some bacon...that's pretty darn good too.
Most of our meals this week involved, you guessed it, tomatoes. In sauce over pasta, in salsa on fish tacos, sliced with fresh mozzarella on pizza, the 'T' in our BLTs. And this lovely, simple, rustic tart. It breaks my 'don't turn on the oven' rule, but at least it isn't the stove top.
First, I have to say again how much I love Jack Bishop's book, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I have shared several recipes from there, here, and cannot praise it enough. We have been thrilled with every single dish we've made between its covers, and love how simple and quick they always are. This tart is no exception. The crust dough comes together beautifully and is so easy to work. The filling ingredients are simple. The whole tart is finished with just 15 minutes of prep time, which I love. If the crust weren't so butter-full we'd have this meal multiple days each week.
Be sure to only make this tart when tomatoes are at their peak...a pink and grainy 'mater just wouldn't do...
6 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1-1/3 cups)
3 medium, delicious tomatoes, cored, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick, and blotted dry between paper towels*
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt + freshly ground black pepper
First, make the crust dough (about 1 hour before you're ready to assemble the tart). Place the flour, salt, and rosemary in a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse briefly after each addition. After 4 tbsp of water have been added, process the dough for several seconds to see if it will come together. If not, add the remaining 1 tbsp water. Process just until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Do not overprocess or the dough will not be flakey. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead briefly to for a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a 5-inch disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Note: My dough was very sticky with just 4 tbsp of water, so I wound up adding some flour to help it to come together. The final dough should be smooth and supple before refrigerating. Also, if you don't have a food processor, you can still make the dough by using forks or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, then add your water.
Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375°.
Unwrap the chilled dough and roll it into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Lay the dough over a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, fitting the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to trim the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork.
Finally, fill and bake the tart. Scatter the goat cheese evenly across the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in two rings, one around the outside edge of the tart pan and another in the center, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake until the edges of the crust pull away from the sides of the pan and are golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the tart on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Cut the tart into wedges and serve. Also, it is really good at room temperature so feel free to make this ahead and let it cool for several hours.
* To dry tomatoes, lay 3 layers of paper towels on a flat surface. Place your tomato slices on the paper towels, and then cover with 3 more layers of towels. Gently press your hands over the tomatoes to extract as much liquid as you can without crushing the tomatoes. When you lift the slices from the towels, many of the seeds should stay behind. This will keep your tart crust from becoming soggy.
Its August 4th. Can you believe it? If the summer season were a train, loaded down with multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, plump red bell peppers and blackberries the size of my thumb, I’d be the overwhelmed woman running after it, trying desperately to catch up while grasping wildly at any produce falling off the back. That’s how I feel when I go to the farmer’s market, visit our garden or just take a peek at the bella eats drafts folder.
I’m feeling very behind, watching a pile of seasonal recipes I want to share grow taller and taller and realizing that I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and behind the camera but not enough at my computer. There are simply too many wonderful foods in season right now and not enough time in the day to cook all of the recipes I’m itching to try, let alone write about them.
I was so overwhelmed last weekend that instead of sitting down to write in order to relieve some of the pressure, I simply closed the lid of my MacBook Pro, poured a lovely glass of vino verde and started baking. It did help, my de-stress baking (or maybe it was the effervescent white wine?), and made me realize that more important than giving you long, wordy posts is sharing with you the quick, simple and healthy meals we've been having at our house.
That is what summer is all about, right? Wonderful, fresh, delicious produce cooked simply and paired with other whole, healthy (hopefully local!) ingredients? If you're on board with that thinking then I have a nice little recipe to share with you. This one was a collaboration between Brian and I, thought up shortly after visiting our farmer's market and coming home with a basket full of local produce and even some locally made chevre. We happened to have a bottle of Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade in the pantry (for the recipe contest I am participating in) and decided that the tangy, smokey, pleasantly spicy sauce would pair nicely with roasted peppers, sweet corn and creamy goat cheese. Toss it all on top of a toasted whole wheat pita and you've got yourself a delicious, fast and filling summer meal.
Now, as much as I appreciate Saucy Mama asking me to participate in their contest and as much as I really, really, love each of the products I've tried, the purpose of this blog is not product advertisement. So, while I do recommend the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, I know that you can make this recipe with other sauces as well. Look for something tangy with a nice spice that hits you at the sides or back of your mouth, not right at the tip of your tongue.
And, two lucky readers will actually get to try out the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade! Just leave me a comment telling me about your favorite summer produce by Sunday, August 9th Monday, August 10th at 6pm EST. I'll announce the winners at the beginning of next week. I'll be hosting one more giveaway, courtesy of Saucy Mama, during the month of August so stay tuned...
Summery Chicken Tostadasserves 4 for a light dinner
3 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, to marinate chicken in and also to drizzle on top of tostadas
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 poblano pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
2 ears of fresh corn, corn removed from husk
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
4 oz chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
4 whole wheat pitas (8"), brushed with olive oil and toasted in oven
First, turn your oven on to 350*. Coat chicken breasts with marinade and let sit in small glass dish for 10 minutes.
As the oven preheats and the chicken marinates, chop up your veggies and toss in a 9x13 glass dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven and set timer to 30 minutes.
When oven timer has 20 minutes remaining, pour excess marinade out of chicken dish. Bake chicken for remaining 20 minutes at 350*.
Pull chicken from oven and bump oven temperature up to 400*. Stir veggies and let roast for an additional 5 minutes, while chicken cools slightly. Place pitas directly on rack to toast, turning halfway through 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, shred chicken with a fork. Pull pitas and veggies from oven. Place one pita on each plate and top with shredded chicken, roasted veggies and crumbles of chevre. Drizzle Lime Chipotle Marinade over top of tostada, to taste.
I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of leafy greens. Big, big fan. A taste for greens kind of comes with the territory when you grow up in the south, along with a decent addiction to fried okra and sweet tea. But unlike those two childhood favorites, greens can be an incredibly healthy addition to your diet - full of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate, iron and calcium - as long as you leave out the bacon that is standard in most southern dishes. And when you eat greens as often as Brian and I do you really should leave out the bacon. Or run a few extra miles a day which, lets be honest, could be worth it.
We planted kale our first year with the garden but had very little luck with it. We were late getting the seeds in the ground that spring and wound up having very hot weather very early in the season so the poor little shoots never really had a chance. The next year we tried collard greens, having heard that they were a bit heartier than kale. Wow. Heartier was right. We had more collards than Brian and I plus the handful of friends that also like greens could handle. They were enjoyed immensely through most of the summer, but at the end of the season Brian not-so-subtly hinted that he’d had enough collards to last him for quite some time, and could we maybe try kale again next year?
We chose lacinato kale this spring, also known as black or dinosaur kale, because we love its deep earthy flavor and feel that it is a tad less bitter than other kale varieties. The seeds went into the ground in mid-march, and because we’ve had a relatively cool and wet summer we've been enjoying a steady harvest of fresh garden kale for the last two months. The weather is getting warmer now though, and the greens are fading fast. I’m suddenly feeling the pressure to increase our intake before they all wilt away and we have to wait for the cooler fall air for our next crop.
Luckily, this increase in consumption corresponded with a couple of key events that led to the creation of a new favorite salad. The first was an email I received a few weeks ago asking if I would like to participate in a Barhyte Foodsrecipe contest featuring their line of condiments - Saucy Mama. The second was my discovery that young, raw lacinato kale leaves make for quite the tasty salad.
Accompanied by sweet roasted vegetables, tangy goat cheese and a delightful raspberry vinaigrette, the slight bitterness of the greens (which is typically tempered by blanching) was balanced perfectly. And because kale is more firm than lettuce it holds its own quite well even after being coated with the dressing, adding a nice crunch to a bite filled with soft beets and creamy cheese. Add some toasted walnuts to the top and you have a lovely dinner salad in front of you. You won’t even miss the bacon.
It is best to use young kale leaves, just 4 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. They will be more tender, and less bitter, than their older siblings. I also tossed in some beet greens, which have a wonderful spicy bite to them and are best if used within one day of being pulled from the ground.
For the dressing I used Saucy Mama’s Raspberry Vinaigrette. In full disclosure, Barhyte Foods has sent me samples of their most popular condiments to develop recipes for a contest they are holding. Also, to be completely honest, I must tell you that this dressing is delicious. Really, really delicious.
Summer Greens Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Raspberry Vinaigretteserves 4 for a light dinner
about 1 pound of fresh greens - rinsed, dried, removed from stems and chopped (I used lacinato kale and beet greens) - should equal about 6 cups
3 medium-size beets - washed, peeled and chopped to 1" dice
2 medium-size carrots - washed, peeled and chopped to 1" dice
Preheat oven to 350*. Place chopped beets and carrots into medium-size glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir to coat. Roast vegetables for 30-40 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
Wash and dry greens as best you can. Remove leaves from stems and chop to bite-size pieces. Place in large bowl and toss with raspberry vinaigrette to coat well.
Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. While they cool, toast your walnuts.
Place a heap of greens in the center of your plate. Top with roasted vegetables, crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts.
I’ve been holding out on you. Not because I’ve wanted to, in fact I knew as soon as I made this salad that I would be sharing it with you as soon as possible. I was just hoping to get some additional photographs for the presentation because it is such a beautiful salad and so absolutely delicious. Even though it is incredibly simple (or maybe because it is incredibly simple?) it deserves fanfare. And a lot of photos. The task shouldn’t have been so difficult - I make this dish all the time. But each time since the first I’ve either been in a rush, or made it at a friend’s house without my camera present (gasp!) or its been too late and too dark to shoot anything decent. So, I’ve caved and am giving it to you now, just a few photos short.One of my favorite restaurants in Charlottesville is Bizou. The atmosphere is dark and quirky - perfectly cozy on a blustery winter day or a welcome retreat from the blinding summer sun. They have a great daily menu and a variety of specials that never disappoint, along with a nice selection of wine. Every single dish I’ve tried has been very good, but I am always disappointed if I don’t get my tried and true favorite - Golden Beet Salad. So simple, such a perfect combination of flavors, so so so delicious.A couple of months ago I was at the grocery store and noticed that they had golden beets. I rarely see them so jumped at the opportunity to replicate my favorite salad. And I’ve jumped each time I’ve seen the sunny globes in the produce department since, because you just don’t know when they’ll be present again.
My salad isn’t exactly like Bizou’s, but its close. I haven't given quantities of anything because its not necessary to be that precise. Just keep tossing ingredients together until you've got a good variety of textures and colors in your bowl. The picture above is missing walnuts, a key ingredient and one not to leave out. I did on this one occasion because we were sharing it with a friend who is allergic, but it is definitely best with them. The honey mustard dressing is an Alton Brown recipe that is delicious as it is and I’ve never taken the time to play with it. However, Bizou’s dressing had mustard seeds and I love the crunch they provide - its worth experimenting with. Also, buy good quality chevre to crumble on top. You won’t be sorry.
Golden Beet Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
golden beets, peeled, chopped and roasted with 1 tbsp olive oil for 25 minutes at 425*.
grape tomatoes, halved
cucumber, sliced thinly
red cabbage, sliced thinly
spinach or a mesclun mix
walnuts, chopped and toasted at 425* until fragrant, 8-10 minutes
5 tbsp honey
3 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Roast beets. Toast walnuts
Toss spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and cabbage together.
Sprinkle chevre and toasted walnuts on top.
Whisk dressing ingredients together and drizzle over salad.