Monday, February 27, 2012

Shaved Asparagus and Pear Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing

Makes 4 servings
Total Time: about 15 minutes

  • 1/2 lb asparagus, washed well
  • 1 ripe pear (whatever variety you'd like)
  • 1/3 C heavy cream
  • 2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled

Heat the cream with most of the cheese crumbles (save a bit for garnishing the top of the salads) over medium-high heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the cheese has melted and the cream has thickened. (I don't add salt because I find that the cheese is salty enough in the cream, but if you need to add salt, do so here.) Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, cut of the tips of the asparagus and shave thin strips off of the stalks with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Thinly slice the pear and it with the asparagus on plates. Pour the slightly warm cream over the salads and top with the reserved gorgonzola crumbles.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Campanelle with Salmon, Spinach, and Asparagus in Cream Sauce

Some of my favorite recipes come from plans to use up leftover ingredients in the fridge and pantry items. This dish started out just that way. I love the combinations of spinach with salmon and asparagus with salmon, so throwing those all in a pasta dish with a bit of cream and garlic seemed like perfect and comforting meal on a busy weeknight.

Makes 6 servings
Total Time: about 35 minutes

  • 1 lb dried campanelle, or pasta of choice
  • 3/4 lb wild salmon filet, skin on
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut in half or thirds
  • 6 oz spinach leaves
  • 2-3 Tbsp sherry or white whine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 C grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt and pepper

Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Slide the salmon into the pan and brown each side until the fish it just cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillet). Remove from the heat and transfer the salmon to a plate or cutting board. Remove the skin and flake apart the salmon. Set aside.

Boil a large pot of water for the pasta and asparagus and season the water generously with salt. Add the asparagus and blanch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the pasta to the asparagus water and cook until just al dente. Drain and return to the pot and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the salmon, and asparagus.

Meanwhile, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat left in the skillet. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan, heat over medium, and add the garlic, stirring and cooking until fragrant. Throw in a splash of the sherry or wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown fishy bits left behind. Cook for a minute or two until the alcohol has evaporated, then add the spinach leaves (in batches if necessary) and cook until wilted. Pour in the cream and increase the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer and thicken the cream. Once thickened, taste the sauce for seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary. Pour the thickened sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

White Bean, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip

This version of spinach-artichoke dip is healthier and frankly, far tastier than its cream cheese-filled cousin. You can serve this chilled, at room temperature, or warmed. I spread it over these Parmesan-Peppercorn Biscotti from Gourmet.

Makes about 4 cups
Total Time: 20+ minutes, depending on serving temperature

9 oz fresh spinach leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C finely diced onion
1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed, or about 1 3/4 C cooked white beans
1/2 C good low-fat mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade
1/8 C grated Parmesan, plus more if serving hot
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 6-oz jar or can of artichoke hearts, drained, and cut into small-ish pieces
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) if you'd like to serve the dip warm.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the spinach. Generously salt the water, then blanch the spinach leaves for a minute, or until wilted. Remove from the water and squeeze or press into a mesh strainer to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the spinach to a medium mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion until translucent. Add the onion to the spinach.

In a food processor, pulse the white beans with the mayonnaise, cheese, garlic clove, and cayenne until very smooth. Taste for seasonings and then add as much salt and pepper as you need. (Definitely taste the puree before adding the salt because there will be salt coming from the beans, mayonnaise, and cheese.) Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the spinach and onions, add the artichokes, and stir to combine. If serving hot, add more grated cheese on the top and heat in the oven until warmed through and cheese begins to brown on top. If serving chilled, an hour or so in the fridge will do it. Enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whole-Wheat Penne with Roasted Vegetables

The whole-wheat pasta stands up to the heartiness of the roasted vegetables in this easy pasta dish. Serve with garlic toasts and wine.

Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: about 35 minutes


  • 1 lb whole-wheat penne
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled, root end left intact
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch sliced
  • 6 oz canned or jarred artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 oz grated Pecorino Romano

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Cut the onion in half through the root, then slice each half into quarters. Place on a baking sheet along with the cherry tomato halves, zucchini, and garlic cloves (use two baking sheets in necessary). Toss the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, and ground black pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until brown in spots.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Put pasta into a large serving bowl and keep warm (you can toss with a few drizzles of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking to each other, if needed).

While the vegetables and pasta are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook until the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Remove the roasted garlic from their peels and add to the mushrooms, stirring to combine. Add the chopped artichoke hearts to warm. Transfer the mushroom mixture and any leftover fat to the pasta, along with the roasted vegetables and any leftover juices. Add the grated cheese and drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if you wish. Taste for seasonings and serve.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wasabi Tuna-Cucumber Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Makes about 10 rolls
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 10 rice paper wrappers
  • 1/4 head of small green cabbage (about 7 oz)
  • Half of a medium cucumber
  • 2 cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-2 thinly sliced chilies


In a small bowl combine the honey and soy sauce or tamari. Add the sliced chilies and set aside.

Thinly slice the cucumber half so that no pieces are longer than 3 inches. Thinly slice the cabbage crosswise. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, wasabi paste, and rice wine vinegar. Fold in the tuna.

Working with one roll at a time, wet the rice paper wrapper with a wet cloth or dip in a bowl of warm water until pliable and place on your work surface. Place a heaping tablespoon of the tuna mixture in the center and near the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a few shreds of cabbage and a few slices of cucumber. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling, then fold each side. Roll up the rest of the wrapper tightly, being careful not to tear the rice paper. Finish filling the remaining rolls and enjoy with the dipping sauce.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

I make these meat "balls" as small patties so they I can get them nice and crispy on both sides without worrying about overcooking them. They stay moist for several reasons: the soaked bread crumbs, the large amount of eggs, and the quick braise at the end of cooking. Of course, all these things make them taste pretty luxurious too. I'm pretty sure you'll never go back to regular boring meatballs after making these.

I ground the meat myself, as you'll see in the instructions. If you'd rather not do that (though I highly recommend it), feel free to use pre-ground beef and pork.

Makes 4 servings (about 12 patties total)
Total Time: about 40 minutes


  • 1/2 lb boneless round steak
  • 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder meat
  • 3/4 C stale bread, cut into small cubes (get rid of any tough pieces of crust)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp thinly sliced basil
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 C red wine
  • 1 C beef stock


Cut the beef and pork into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a single on a sheet pan. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes, or until the cubes are solid but not completely frozen. Dump the meat into a food processor and pulse until ground.

Meanwhile, put the bread cubes in a small bowl and cover with the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes or so.

Transfer the meat into a large mixing bowl, along with the eggs, salt, pepper, herbs, cheese, and garlic. Squeeze out the milk from the bread cubs and crumble into the meat mixture. Save milk for another use (for cereal, a strata, etc.). With your hand, combine the meat mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated. Divide the mixture into twelve portions, shape into balls, and gently flatten into thick patties. As you finish shaping each patty, place on a large plate dusted with half of the flour. Sprinkle the other half of the flour on the top of the patties.

Heat the wine and stock in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The liquid should be simmering gently as you brown the meatballs.

In a separate large skillet melt the butter in the oil over high heat. Gently place 6 patties in the hot fat to brown (about 2-3 minutes per side). When browned but not completely cooked through, transfer the patties to the hot wine/stock. Braise for about 5 minutes, spooning the sauce over the meatballs as they cook. Transfer to a platter for serving. Repeat the browning and braising process with the remaining meatballs. If you'd like, you can reduce the sauce by turning up the heat and then spoon over the meatballs at the table.