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.
Mother Nature has been so fickle lately, flitting between gray, dreary, and frigid one day to 63* and sunny the next. She's a tease, I tell you, and I am ready for her to make up her mind. I've spent the last two months hoping for a big, big snowstorm, eager for a Winter as entertaining as last. But now that we're into February with no more than a few inches on record, I'm over it. Spring can dig in her heels and stay permanently, as long as she brings sunshine, warmth, and backyard barbecues with her. There are only so many casseroles and stews and butternut squash one can take in one season!
Last weekend I grew tired of waiting and took matters into my own hands when I made our weekly menu. I've had veggie burgers on the brain for over a year since discovering my favorite veggie patty, ever, at Boylan Heights here in Charlottesville. I am not a vegetarian, but I do eat a mostly vegetarian diet and am a fan of beef only on the rarest of occasions. What I love about that Boylan Heights veggie patty, and now this veggie patty, is that it doesn't try to imitate the taste or texture of meat. Instead, the actual ingredients of the patty are allowed to shine - in this case mushrooms, lentils, and Kalamata olives. Yum.
For an extra-summery feeling, try serving the patties on english muffins adorned with lettuce, red bell pepper, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber, and tzatziki. I promise you'll feel better about the state of the weather, at least for the evening. Also, if you read through the comments on the Post Punk Kitchen post linked in the recipe below, you'll find many variations and substitutions for the ingredients in this burger. Just in case mushrooms or olives aren't your thing.
This is not similar in taste or texture to the Boylan Heights veggie patty, and that is not what I was going for. If you're interested in the BH recipe, you can find it here. I'll make it eventually, but it seems a bit complicated/time consuming and at this point I am happy to just visit the restaurant and let the chefs there make it for me. Plus, their sweet potato fries are the best around.
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1-1/4 cups lentils (I used dried lentils cooked in veggie broth, but the original recipe calls for canned)
1 cup breadcrumbs, divided (I used panko)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for about 3 minutes with a pinch of salt. Add mushrooms, garlic, black pepper, thyme, and parsley and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until mushroom is cooked.
While mushroom mixture cooks, place the olives in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove from food processor and set aside.
When mushroom mixture is cooked, add to the food processor. Add all of the other ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 a cup of the breadcrumbs. Pulse until mostly smooth, but there should still be some texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to the burger mixture, along with the chopped olives, and thoroughly combine.
Divide the burger mix into 6 equal pieces. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Form mixture into patties, spray with a little more cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes. Flip burgers and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes, until nicely browned. (I also pan-fried these instead of baking them, which was tasty too).
It may seem odd to be posting a recipe for empanadas in the dead of Winter. To me empanadas are a Summer food, or maybe Fall; plucked up from a street vendor or taco stand, wrapped in waxed paper, eaten as you walk an outdoor festival or Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall. They are perfect on-the-go, warm weather, sandals and short sleeves food; self-contained pockets of goodness you can eat as you walk. Outside. In the sunshine. So why, then, am I sharing these with you in the gray and bitter cold of January?
Well, for one, I am long overdue in posting this recipe on Bella Eats. Had I uploaded the images of empanadas just after making them, at the beginning of October, when butternut squash was just starting its weekly appearance on our menu, there would still be Fall festivals and backyard BBQs to attend. I wavered with whether or not to even publish this one, thinking that I’d lost its window of opportunity along with that of a handful of apple dishes I’d prepared, until I received an email from a friend on Saturday. She and her husband were on their way to Bali. Bali! In January! How lovely.
Shortly after reading that email I watched Eat, Pray, Love (which, it turns out, is not nearly as good as the book) and stared longingly at the beaches and bike riding and sundresses of Indonesia, the warmth of it all seeping from the screen. That is what I crave this time of year, the ability to escape to someplace warm and tropical, if even for just one meal. If you’re at all similar to me then a dish like these empanadas, which are made up of Winter-ish ingredients but convey the spirit of warmer times, will be just what you’re looking for this January.
Unless, of course, your resolutions for the new year include limiting luxuries like butter in your diet. To that I say, “everything in moderation” and “invite some friends over”! These rich, savory, chock-full-of-butter pockets certainly are not something to have on hand for multiple days at a time, and so are really the perfect thing to make and experiment with when you have plans to eat with a group of people. Just as empanadas are an excellent walking food, they also work well at a mostly-standing, “lose the Winter blahs with tequila in one hand” party. I have a feeling that we will all be looking to add one of those gatherings to our calendars towards the end of this gray and dreary month, so keeping this recipe close will be handy. Trust me.
Butternut squash roasted with mushrooms and wrapped in a delicate, butter-full pastry has all the makings for a hearty Fall-Winter meal. The fresh tomatillo sauce, however, does throw me off. In a space where I try to share mostly seasonal recipes, anything that calls for tomatillos in the heart of January seems a bit hypocritical, does it not? Luckily, there are some good options for jarred tomatillo salsa out there, any of which would be an excellent (and much less time-intensive) addition to the empanadas. I would, however, keep this sauce in mind next Summer when tomatillos are available, and think about making and putting some away for the Fall and Winter months ahead.
Butternut Squash + Mushroom Empanadas with Tomatillo Sauce from Gourmet, October 2002 makes 8 empanadas
1 cup diced (1/4 inch) butternut squash
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
6 small garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 (2 to 3 inch) fresh jalepeño chiles, seeded and ribs discarded, finely chopped
1 pound fresh exotic mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped (I just used cremini mushrooms, because I had them)
1 dried pasilla de Oaxaca chile (I used a canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, also, because I had it) chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed and quartered
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
Empanada Dough (from Gourmet, October 2004 - makes enough for 12 empañadas)
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
First, make empanada dough. Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated (the mixture should look shaggy).
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least one hour.
Next, make filling. Preheat oven to 400˚. Combine together the squash, onion, garlic, jalepeño, and mushrooms. Toss with olive oil and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. (The Gourmet recipe differs here, boiling and sauteing the vegetables. I love the flavor that is brought forth with roasting, so chose to cook the filling using this method instead.) Roast for 25-35 minutes, until the squash is tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven and cool in pan on rack.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat dry, non-stick pan over moderately high heat until hot, then toast unpeeled garlic until lightly blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cool garlic and peel.
Simmer tomatillos, onion, garlic, chile, water, and salt in a large saucepan, covered, until tomatillos are very tender, about 20 minutes, and cool slightly. Puree sauce in a blender (or with an immersion blender) until smooth (use caution as liquid is VERY hot). Return sauce to pan and season with salt.
Finally, assemble the empanadas! Keep the oven heated to 400˚. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and form each into a disk (you will only need 8 of these pieces, the rest can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month). On a floured surface, roll out one disk into a 6 to 7 inch round. Spoon about 1/3 cup of filling onto center and brush edge of pastry with egg wash. Fold dough in half to form a half-moon, enclosing filling, and press edges together to seal. Crimp edge decoratively and move empañada to a large baking sheet. Make 6 more empañadas using the same method.
Lightly brush empanadas with remaining egg wash and sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt. Bake on middle rack of oven until golden, 25-30 minutes.
While empanadas are baking, reheat sauce. Cut each empanada in half when slightly cooled, and drizzle about 3 tablespoons of sauce around them. The sauce will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and is wonderful as a salsa or drizzled over burritos, fish, or chicken.
Winter and I have had a rocky go of it this year. We’ve waffled back and forth in a love / hate relationship that rivals the one I’ve currently got going on with my gym membership. On one hand, I’ve loved the quiet beauty a good snowstorm lays gently across my world and the resulting desire to cozy up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a season of Entourage. On the other, I am tired of feeling stuck indoors, the outside ice, mud and frigid air enough to keep me hibernating under a quilt with the lights turned low. The result has been a bit too much cozying, and my motivation to cook, write, or log miles on the treadmill seems to be hiding in the same dark place as the sun. I am lost in the monotony of February, floating through scenes of white and gray, desperately seeking a reprieve in the form of a warm day, tiny chartreuse buds on the backyard Maple tree, fresh produce from local farmers that isn’t squash or cabbage.
There have been some brighter moments lately, a few shrieks of excitement released from my heart after witnessing the sun pierce a hazy layer of clouds, revealing a small patch of brilliant blue sky. I was thrilled to notice last week that two copper-toned birds have chosen to make a nest in the cold, drab ally outside my office window, and just this morning heard a woman excitedly discussing the yellow crocuses popping out from under a blanket of snow in her yard. All are sure signs of Spring’s impending arrival and moments I am desperate to capture permanently. Should snow fall again in the coming weeks I’d like to have a photograph stashed away in my back pocket to remind me that the end is near, that productivity will return with a sunshine-filled sky and baby birds chirping on the sill.
In the meantime, the meals I am managing to cook seem to have several similar qualities. They are simple. They are hearty and warm and filling. They incorporate some ingredient that brightens the dish at multiple levels; to the eyes, to the nose, to the tongue. Whether it be golden citrus tossed in a salmon salad, vibrant leeks bobbing amongst emerald isles of kale, the scent of fresh lime wafting from my oven, each recipe is very carefully chosen to lift our spirits and carry us through these last (25!) days of Winter.
This salad is no exception to my new rules. Hearty grains are joined by warm, earth-scented mushrooms to create a salad base as warm and satisfying as a family quilt enveloping shivering shoulders. Jewel-toned grape tomatoes and bright flecks of fresh parsley are the harbingers of this dish, reminders that Spring, followed closely by Summer, will be joining us soon. Served over a bed of spicy arugula and layered with shavings of Pecorino Toscano, this salad makes for a lovely, filling, early dinner, and is best enjoyed beside a window in the rays of Winter's setting sun.
Warm Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms
4 oz Pecorino Toscano, feta or goat cheese, diced or crumbled (I used a hard pecorino, shaved over the top of the salad)
Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 425*.
Toss the mushrooms, tomatoes, shallots and 2 tbsp of the oil together on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toast the veggies, stirring once, until the mushrooms and shallots are browned nicely, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, bring water, barley and pinch of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender but still a bit chewy, about 30 minutes. Drain the barley well in a strainer and transfer to a large bowl.
Toss the barley with the remaining 3 tbsp oil until coated evenly. Add the roasted vegetables and parsley and toss to combine. Cool slightly and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the arugula or spinach among four large plates. Spoon warm barley salad over each plate, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.
Store barley salad separately from arugula or spinach and reheat for lunch the next day, if desired.
I’ve never really considered Thanksgiving dinner to be “The Meal of the Turkey”, like so many do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a well-cooked bird. Especially when it smokes all day on the Big Green Egg after having soaked in a sweet-salty brine for the twelve hours prior. I always take a modest piece, allow my cranberry juice to run underneath and turn the flesh a rosy pink, then cut it into small bites that I bury amidst forkfuls of fluffy mashed potatoes. Its an enjoyable piece of the Thanksgiving tradition, one that I gave up the year I was a vegetarian and admit that I did miss, although not as much as I would miss some of the accompaniments were I to ban cranberries, or potatoes, or pie (heavens what a tragedy that would be!) from my diet.
When I stand at the buffet table and survey the offerings laid out before me on Thanksgiving Day, it is all of the other “supporting” or “side” dishes that I get really excited about. The homemade rolls, the roasted vegetables, the tart-sweet cranberry sauce, the stuffing composed of spicy sausage and earthy sage, the fact that I can choose to pile two different types of potatoes on my plate - one sweet with a topping of pecans (recipe to come) and the other mashed with chunks of celery root. And of course, the green bean casserole. My absolute favorite dish on the table (aside from the desserts, which are a whole other story).
For most of my life the green bean casseroles of Thanksgiving came from the recipe on the back of the French's French Fried Onions container. It is quick, simple and perfectly delicious. When I told my momma that I'd found a wholly from-scratch recipe in the New York Times that I was planning to test out before the big day she simply asked "why?!?", assuring me that my readers wouldn't want to abandon the tradition of mixing Campbell's cream-of-mushroom soup with frozen green beans and popping the foil top on the red and white cylindrical canister filled with crunchy bits of onion. Why would you stray from a recipe that has proved itself reliable year after year? Because, friends, this version is even better.
It seems tedious, I know, to make your own cream-of-mushroom soup for this casserole when you can simply whip out a can opener and have what you need in a mere 30 seconds. And maybe frying up your own crunchy onions seems like too much trouble as well when somebody has already packaged them up and made them available at grocery stores across the world. But with a little forethought (the mushroom soup can be made up to 24 hours in advance) and only 60 seconds to fry your onion rings, you'll have a dish worthy of supporting the star of the show. Just don't be surprised if the turkey gets upstaged...
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellos)
2 small red onions, chopped
4 oz butter (1 stick)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 pearl onions, thinly sliced
In a food processor or blender, combine 1/2 the mushrooms and both onions. Blend until a smooth paste forms, and set aside
In a large, wide saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining mushrooms and turn the heat up to high. Cook while stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to crisp at the edges.
Add garlic and thyme and stir for about 30 seconds. Add mushroom-onion paste and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes. Add cream and stock, and salt and pepper to taste. At this point the mushroom mixture may be cooled and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and fill another bowl with ice water. Drop the green beans in the boiling water and cook until bright green and just tender, about 60 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into the ice water. Drain well.
Preheat oven to 375*. In a large bowl combine green beans, mushroom mixture, almonds and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish and pack down the mixture to level it. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.
Bake, uncovered, until beans are tender and top is lightly golden, 35-40 minutes. If you wish, place under the broiler for the last couple of minutes to really crisp the top.
To garnish, heat oil in a non-stick skillet until it shimmers. Place flour in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add sliced pearl onions, toss to coat and fry in oil until golden, 30-45 seconds. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle on finished casserole.
In Other News...
Remember this pie?
Well, I've submitted it in the Bon Appetit Blog Envy Bake-Off, which Bon Appetit actually invited me to participate in! Exciting stuff, and you all can help me to make the finalists list if you visit this page and vote for my recipe in the pies/tarts/pastries category. Any support you can send my way is much appreciated! And if you're looking for a unique and delicious holiday dessert, my Plum Pie with Lemon Almond Crust could be just what you're looking for...
March is a big birthday month in our household. We kick it off right with Brian's at the very beginning, end it with mine and have a whole slew of friend and family celebrations in between. I've never attempted to actually calculate the numbers, but if I had to guess I would say that 30-40% of the birthdays we actively celebrate fall within March. That means a lot of cake and cocktails, which, following a winter of heavy comfort foods makes the whole month seem like a last hurrah for indulgent eats before the panic of a looming swimsuit season sets in. The mostly dreary weather of March has put a damper on my running habit as well. Although the coldest temperatures of the month are typically much higher than those in January and February, the occasional 60* teaser days make the moderately cold ones completely unbearable. I have a hard time motivating myself to tie my shoes and hit the road on a 40*, overcast evening (which in February would have felt downright warm) when my previous run had me in shorts and a tank top.And now here I am on the eve before the start of April, my legs sore from last night’s run after the prior week’s hiatus, my mouth craving a sweet because its become a daily habit and, dare I say, my body a couple of pounds heavier than it was just one month ago. I started this blog originally to hold me accountable in my healthy eating and exercise habits, but found (along with an amazing community of people and many new friends) that the creative aspects of photographing and writing about food were more compelling for me than the keeping of a food diary.
Its been about a month since I switched formats, and although the timing may have been poor what with all of the celebrations that March holds, I think the changes I've seen in my daily habits prove a point. Food diaries work. At least for me they do, which is why I'll be keeping a closer tab on myself starting tomorrow. But don't worry, I won't be switching things up on you again. I really love the direction the blog is heading and from the positive feedback I've received, I think you do to. What you will be seeing are some lighter, healthier, simpler and hopefully more economical recipes popping up on Bella Eats this month, starting with this one.
This soup was delicious. So good that Brian and I haven't been able to stop talking about it for two days. Its very simple, using ingredients that we always have on hand - carrots, celery, onion, canned beans, canned tomatoes, dried mushrooms, dried grains, good olive oil and fresh herbs are staples in our kitchen. The mushrooms added such a wonderful earthiness to the broth that I don't know if I'll ever be able to make vegetable soup without mushrooms again. And the infused olive oil adds so much depth. Please - please - don't leave it out. You won't be sorry.
Mushroom White Bean Soup with Rosemaryrecipe inspired by keep it simple foods and the new york times
1/2 oz porcini mushrooms, dried
6 cups veggie or chicken broth (I used chicken)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, cut in half and sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (15oz)
1/2 cup quick cooking barley
2 cans cannelini or navy beans (15oz each), drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
First make infused olive oil, recipe below. It will need to sit for 2 hours before serving, so be sure to plan ahead.
Boil 2 cups of water. Place dried mushrooms in a glass bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for 30 minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over a separate bowl. Lift mushrooms out of water and squeeze over strainer, collecting liquid in second bowl. Rinse mushrooms in strainer with cold water and squeeze out excess over sink. Chop mushrooms and set aside. Pour the mushroom soaking water through the strainer into the second bowl. Add water as necessary to make 2 cups. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom soup pot. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute' for 5-7 minutes, until starting to tenderize. Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and saute' an additional 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth, mushroom liquid, chopped mushrooms and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a heavy simmer and add the barley. Continue to simmer for 12-15 minutes until the barley is tender. Add the beans and salt + pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with rosemary + porcini oil drizzled on top.
Rosemary and Porcini Infused Olive Oilrecipe modified from bon appetit
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 whole garlic clove
1/2 oz porcini mushrooms, dried
Place mushrooms in a strainer. Rinse under hot water and drain well. Pat dry.
Combine mushrooms, oil, rosemary and whole garlic clove in small, heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until thermometer inserted into oil registers 180*F, about 8 minutes. (I am currently without a thermometer so left my oil on for 9 minutes, just in case).
Remove from heat, cover and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Oil can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Thank YouAll for the great comments you write on my posts, they really make my day! Welcome to my new readers who have found your way here from Tastespotting and Foodgawker, I look forward to hearing from more of you and to sharing some simple, healthy recipes with you this month. Enjoy!
There have been a few small changes in the garden since my first bella terra post. The thyme, sage and oregano are starting to show some green. The blackberry and raspberry vines have tiny bits of new growth. And the weeds are popping up with a vengeance. Brian (my hubb) and I have big plans for the weekend. Some fence repair, re-mulching the paths, weeding and seeding. In just a handful of days (7-10 to be exact) we should have broccoli, peas, beets, lettuce, kale and spinach poking out of the rich compost. I can't wait. :)
Here, the blackberry vine...The very first signs of life I see in the garden each year are chives. Beautiful green shoots that peek from beneath the blanket formed by last year’s growth, the late-fall crop that laid down their lives with the first hard frost to protect the next generation. They were already popping up two weeks ago when I ventured into the garden for the first time since fall. The new chives are thankfully resistant with help from the old - they managed to survive the late snow we had just last week. When I visited the garden after work one evening to check their progress I was pleased to find that they were ready for me to cut.here, on march 7th...see how they've grown?
Chives are one of my favorite herbs to use in the kitchen because they are so versatile. Toss them with fingerling potatoes to roast, sprinkle them raw over top of an omelet, fold them into batter to be baked in cheddar biscuits...their mild, onion-like flavor allows for endless possibilities. I’d bookmarked thisNY Times recipe for an herb frittata earlier this month and knew as soon as I spotted those lovely bits of green from over the fence that the time had come to try it.
I'd never made a frittata before. It seemed to me that it would be a difficult task and, having never read a frittata recipe before, I assumed that it would contain whole milk and cheese (similar to a quiche) and not be terribly productive to my weight-loss efforts. Boy was I wrong, on ALL assumptions. For one, the process was really easy. As long as you have a decent non-stick skillet and some patience, this dish really couldn't be easier. And I used just two dishes to make it...two! I really like a quick and simple recipe, but add "very little clean-up" to its list of attributes and I am in love.
Second, the frittata is much healthier than any quiche recipe I've made. The main contributor to its healthfulness? A lack of crust. That's right...no crust. And...no cheese. The greek yogurt makes the consistency so creamy that you'll never miss it. Plus, this particular recipe is loaded with spinach and herbs, not to mention heart-healthy walnuts and yummy mushrooms.
I was so impressed with my first frittata experience that I've already been dreaming up new combos of flavors. I can't wait until that pile of herbs and spinach pictured above is all home-grown from my garden, maybe with some bell peppers and tomatoes mixed in. Oh, what a glorious summer it will be...
Spinach, Herb and Mushroom Frittata258 cal, 19g fat, 6g carbs, 1g sugar, 2g fiber, 11g protein [nutritional info from thedailyplate.com]
recipe adapted from the NY Times
12oz baby spinach
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped chives
8 fresh cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
8 large eggs
1/2 cup thick Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), green stems removed, finely minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons if you don’t have a nonstick pan)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Add the spinach to the boiling water and blanch for 10 to 20 seconds. Transfer to the ice water to cool for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop finely.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, walnuts, salt and pepper. Add the spinach, herbs and garlic, and mix together well. Adjust salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Drop a bit of egg into the pan, and if it sizzles and cooks at once, the pan is ready. Pour in the egg mixture, scraping every bit out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Roll the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with the spatula in your other hand, in order to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking. Turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while, until the frittata is just about set. Meanwhile, light the broiler.
If the frittata is not quite set on the top, place under the broiler, about three inches from the heat, for one to two minutes, watching closely, until just beginning to color on the top. Do not allow the eggs to brown too much or they’ll taste bitter. (I wound up leaving it under the broiler for about 4 minutes total, until just starting to brown).
Remove from the heat, allow to sit in the pan for five minutes or longer, then carefully slide out onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
In the Blog World...
Tina at Carrots 'N' Cake has released a call for guest bloggers...how fun! If you haven't checked out Tina's blog yet you really should. She's got great daily tips for creating a healthy lifestyle through good eats and exercise. Guest blogging is a great way to spread your blog words to further reaches, so consider sending her an email with some ideas!
Two Spoons made a savory version of my scones! Yum...the possibilities are endless. :)
Ryan at Chasing Daylightmade bella eats enchi-ritos! So glad you enjoyed them, Ryan!
Jennifer and Jessica of Keep It Simple Foods have been enjoying my dark chocolate PB and strawberry breakfast combo...glad you're liking it ladies! Mmmm...a little french inspiration in the morning is a great start to any day! :)
If you've tried a recipe you've found on bella eats, let me know! I'd love to read your thoughts on it and send others your way. :)
Who else is THRILLED that tomorrow is Friday?!?!?!? :)