Monthly Archives: October 2015

Spinach Lasagna

 

Bacon. We’ve all been reading the bad press about my favorite pork product these days, but I’m sorry, I just can’t live without it. I noticed many things on the WHO list of verboten foods that I will eat much less of, but refuse to give up entirely. I have had several relatives who lived very long and fruitful lives on several slices of bacon every morning. Moderation in all things, as they say.

With this tragic news in mind, I decided to make spinach lasagna for dinner. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I took some shortcuts with this recipe and purchased quality tomato sauce in a jar, pre-made pesto, and store-bought fresh pasta. These shortcuts will shave off quite a bit of time. Here’s what you’ll need –

Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.

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1-24 oz. jar of quality tomato sauce (I used Bianco DiNapoli. There are two in the photo, but I only used one)

2 packages of Marina’s fresh pasta sheets (you can get them at Whole Foods), which equals 22oz. of pasta.

30 oz. of quality ricotta cheese

5 oz. baby spinach, chopped

6 oz. pesto (I used Cibo Naturals)

9 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced small

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (optional topping)

1 whole egg

1 tsp. Piment d’Espelette (optional)

1 tbsp. EVOO

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. chili flakes

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Add the EVOO to the pan and bring the heat to medium. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, and then add the garlic and cook until aromatic (careful not to burn!). Toss in the spinach and cook until soft. Let cool.

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Mix the ricotta, feta cheese, chili flakes, pesto, Parmesan, salt, spinach, and egg well in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, but remove the pasta before it’s al dente. You want it to be a bit toothy.

Add a generous spoonful of sauce to the bottom of the lasagna pan. Add pasta sheet to cover the bottom and then add ricotta. Repeat until you run out of pasta sheets and ricotta.

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Pour the sauce over the top of the lasagna. If you choose, you can sprinkle the shaved Parmesan cheese on top of the tomato sauce. Cover the entire pan with foil and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Eat well!

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Eat Well!

April

“Once again, my life has been saved by lasagna.” – Garfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts with Raisins and Almonds

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I brought home some beautiful Brussels sprouts from the Farmer’s Market. It seems like just yesterday that sprouts and beets were #1 and #2, respectively, on my list of most vile foods. They now proudly sit at the top of my most favorite foods. This gives me hope that someday my boys will broaden their horizons and eat a more diverse array of veggies. Honestly, corn and carrots are just not enough.

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees

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1lb Brussels sprouts with leaves removed

½ cup golden raisins

2 tbsp. quality sherry vinegar

3 tbsp. avocado oil

1 small shallot, minced

2 tbsp. slivered almonds

Soak the raisins in the sherry vinegar for at least an hour.

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Add your sprout leaves to a large bowl.

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Drizzle in the avocado oil and salt. Mix with your hands.

Place the leaves on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven.

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When the leaves begin to crisp at the edges, add the almonds and shallots. Roast until the almonds are a light golden brown.

Remove the raisins from the vinegar. Toss the raisins and your sprout mixture into a serving bowl. Test your seasoning and add more salt to your liking.

Serve warm as a side.

Eat well!

April

“Vegetarian-that’s an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter.” – Andy Rooney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon Mac + Cheese

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This past Sunday we reveled in the glorious weather: cool, grey, breezy, and a fine mist in the air. It made me want to race into the kitchen and whip up something soul satisfying (translated this means chock-full of calories). Something really wicked like mac and cheese, for example, which is exactly what my honey requested. Sadly, it was a Patriot’s bye week, which meant we didn’t have Gronkowski to entertain us in the end zone, so we needed oodles of carbs to drown our sorrows.

This recipe is a modified version of a Wall Street Journal piece (by Nancy Harmon Jenkins) that Roger spotted, drooled over, and saved for me. Because we don’t splurge too much these days, I went whole hog (no pun intended) and added bacon. We agreed that it was a fantastic addition.

Make sure you have a willing and able-bodied dishwasher around, because this recipe produces more than a few. Here’s what you’ll need –

5 cups whole milk

1 med. onion, cut in half

1 leek, split, cleaned, and cut in 2” chunks

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic

4 fresh thyme sprigs

2 med. celery stalks, cut in 4” pieces

4 tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup unbleached flour

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp. Freshly grated nutmeg

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 cups grated sharp cheddar

2 cups grated bacon cheddar cheese (Optional. I bought this at Trader Joe’s. If you wish, you could just go with 4 cups of grated sharp shedder)

8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut into cubes

5 slices of crisp bacon (I used uncured applewood smoked), chopped

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tbsp. EVOO

2 ½ cups stale breadcrumbs (leave breadcrumbs out on a sheet pan for a few hours)

1 pound of elbows or short, curly pasta

Combine the milk, onion, leek, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, thyme, celery, and parsley in a saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, then remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least 1 hour. When the milk has absorbed the flavors, strain out aromatics. Turn off heat, but keep the milk warm (use a lid) while you make the sauce.

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Next you make the béchamel sauce. In a separate large saucepan, melt butter and add flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and smoothing out lumps. Cook, stirring, until you no longer smell the odor of raw flour. This mixture is called a roux, and I cook it until it’s golden brown (see photo above).

Add warm milk, about ½ cup at a time, stirring (with a wire whisk) after each addition to thoroughly combine. Add a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Continue cooking on medium, stirring, until sauce is as thick as heavy cream.

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Remove from heat and stir in mustard, parsley, bacon, and 31/2 cups grated cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return mixture to low heat and stir until cheeses melt.

While making your sauce, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the water until just shy of al dente.

Melt 2 tbsp. of butter and toss in the breadcrumbs with remaining 1 tbsp. of EVOO until well coated.

Drain the pasta and add to the béchamel-cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Add the cubed mozzarella and mix.

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Pour into the bottom of a greased oven dish.

Top with breadcrumbs and sprinkle the ½ cup of remaining cheese and Parmesan on top.

Bake until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

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Enjoy!

Eat well

April

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” – Bill Shankly