End of Summer Pasta with Zucchini and Spinach

Last night, as I started making Mushroom Ravioli with Spinach from JuliasAlbum.com for a potluck at a friend’s house, I realized that what I thought was ravioli in the freezer was actually Chinese Dumplings and the mushrooms were sludge.

But I did have some nice pasta, fresh spinach and a giant zucchini from my neighbors Amy and Steve, so I switched it up and made Pasta with Zucchini and Spinach. It was delicious and bonus point: another way to enjoy excess end-of-summer zucchini!

Ingredients:

1 lb Trottole or any other nice chunky pasta, cooked al dente
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
a sprig of Rosemary and a few sprigs of Thyme, or a generous pinch of dried Rosemary and 1/4 tsp dried Thyme.
4-5 cups thinly sliced Zucchini (If really large, cut into quarters first.)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
5 oz. spinach (I’d be happy doubling this.)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed or 1 generous tsp garlic powder
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente stage and drain, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large frying pan, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat with Rosemary and Thyme. Add zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes with the oil they came in. Sauté for several minutes, until the zucchini have broken down quite a bit and are mostly translucent. They will reduce a lot in volume. Remove herb stems.

Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Then add spinach in batches, continuously stirring and folding so the spinach wilts.

Add in the pasta and 1/4 cup of pasta water to start and stir to coat the pasta with the veggies. Add more pasta water if it seems too dry. Check seasonings and serve immediately.

For a vegan version, skip the butter and just use olive oil.

Baked Eggplant & Tomatoes with Pesto

This is a delicious dish that looks gorgeous, but is very easy and really ticks all the boxes for me! The eggplant gets all creamy and the cheese gets all melty, and the pesto gets all… pesto-ey. Well, you get the point.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, stem end removed and sliced lengthwise in 1/2″ slices (save end pieces for another use)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Pesto
4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/2″ slices (Any tomato is actually fine.)
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper the sliced eggplants and place in a bowl, leaning on the edge so the water can run off a bit from the eggplant. Let drain for at least 15 minutes.

Lay the first slice of eggplant in a 9×12 baking dish. Spread about 2 tsp of Pesto on the first slice. Top with a layer of tomatoes, and sprinkle on a spoonful each of Mozzarella and grated Romano. Slide the layer over until it is at an angle leaning on the side of the dish.

Repeat for the second layer, sliding eggplant over to partially overlap the first layer.

Continue with all remaining slices of eggplant. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 20 minutes.

Serve hot – it’s so good!

Roasted Eggplant

Eggplants by Rens on Unsplash

Here’s another glorious roasted Eggplant recipe, where the addition of one secret ingredient (okay, it’s dried onion flakes) truly takes it to the next level. It’s delicious fresh out of the oven, but honestly even better warmed up the next day. We like it on pasta, or steamed rice.

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2″ squares
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix seasonings, onion flakes and oil in a medium bowl, Add eggplant and toss well to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip eggplant over. Bake 5 more minutes. Remove and serve over rice or pasta, with some fresh, grated Romano cheese.

Would also be amazing in a wrap!

Green Beans, Mushrooms & Brie

This is an incredibly delicious dish with rich, intense flavors, and a nice bite from the green beans. I used a Brie with mushroom, but regular Brie would be great, too.

Fresh Green Beans image by Gaby Yerden on Unsplash

Ingredients:

2 cups of mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. green beans, snapped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
a chunk of Brie with mushrooms, 1.5 x 1.5 x 3″ cut into cubes

Start a pot of salted water boiling.

Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they’ve lost their water and are dry again. Make a well and add the 2nd Tbsp of Olive Oil and the seasonings and stir well. Turn heat down to low, and stir occasionally.

Toss green beans in the boiling water and let them boil for 4 minutes. Remove the green beans from the water, and add to the mushrooms. Stir to combine, adding a couple big spoons of the bean water. Let cook for a couple of minutes, and then toss in the Mushroom Brie. Add a little more bean water to loosen it all up and stir until the cheese is melted. Check seasonings and serve immediately. Delish!

Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Salad

This is a really interesting recipe from the New York Times, that replaces the oil in the dressing with the buttery fats from ripe avocadoes. I have made this a few times and tweaked it to a recipe that we just love. I used mini cucumbers, which stay really nice and crunchy, but you could also use regular cucumbers, scooping out the soft, seedy part. It’s bright, colorful and delish!

Ingredients

1 lb. mini cucumbers (6 small)
1 package grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (2 cups?)
2 very ripe avocados
Juice of one medium lime
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder

Directions

Peel cucumbers in alternating strips and slice into 1/2″ slices and place in a medium serving bowl.(You can also just halve the cucumbers lengthwise and slice into 1/2″ half circles.) Add tomatoes.

Mix juice and spices in a small bowl, and toss with veggies.

Just before serving, cut avocadoes into 1/2″ cubes and toss fairly vigorously with the salad. The avocadoes must be really ripe, so when you mix them in they break down a bit and coat the other veggies.

Check seasonings and serve. Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Feeling absolutely starved this afternoon and I remembered I had a big bag of Cauliflower Florets in the fridge. I’ve been wanting to roast Cauliflower and found a truly wonderful recipe on Food52.com.

Cauliflower in all it’s glory by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash

Ingredients:

2 large heads cauliflower. broken into florets or 1 large bag cauliflower florets
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley

Set oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl mix ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Add cauliflower and stir well to coat. Pour into a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is starting to get nice brown bits.

Meanwhile in a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and add panko and ¼ tsp salt. Gently sauté for several minutes until breadcrumbs begin to brown. Reduce heat and add lemon and garlic. Gently sauté a couple more minutes and remove from heat.

Put cauliflower in a serving dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle parsley over and serve. So good!

Oven-roasted Asparagus

Beautiful image from Oklahoma Academy Country Store on Unsplash

I planted Asparagus in a back corner of my garden several years ago and always kind of forgot about it, until it was a giant mass of ferns. Yesterday, I checked and there were 7-8 beautiful little stems coming up! So I harvested them and we had them for supper last night, using a recipe from Allrecipes.com. Really fresh asparagus is such a treat!

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1½ Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed into bite-sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 425. Mix everything in a bowl, and add asparagus. Pour out onto a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes (longer if the stems are thicker). Remove from oven, and splash with just a bit more lemon juice.

Beautiful, Chunky Roasted Veggies

I love roasted vegetables, but sometimes forget how much veggies shrink while cooking. By cutting the chunks larger, and spreading them out, you can get wonderful flavor without overcooking them. Plus all of these truly beautiful vegetables are hardy, so you can prep this early and roast them later.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, halved and cut into eighths
1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into quarters
2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 small summer squash, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
1 carton baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced thickly
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 blue potatoes, halved and cut into 3/4″ slices

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
good-sized pinch each of Oregano, Basil, Red Pepper Flakes & Parsley
smaller pinch each of Rosemary and Thyme

Mix oil and spices in a small bowl. Pour a little extra olive oil on two baking sheets and sprinkle a little more garlic powder, salt and black pepper on them. Spread around with your hand, and then dump the vegetables on one pan. Pour the olive oil mixture over and toss gently until all of the veggies are coated. Spread the veggies evenly on the two trays and bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Give them a bit of a stir half way through. The veggies should still have all their beautiful colors, but still be nicely cooked.

These vegetables are so beautiful:

Update: After roasting, toss with a quick little vinaigrette. If you make a lot of vegetables, just double the vinaigrette.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp parsley
pinch of salt

Mix in a cup and drizzle over and gently toss vegetables. The vinaigrette adds a really nice bright note and I’ll probably keep making it like that.

Palak Paneer

Beautiful Baby Spinach from Pille-Riin-Priske on Unsplash.com

I’ve always loved Palak Paneer, but had never tried to make it. We had Samir’s birthday supper last night and I made it, along with Biryani and a really delicious Mango Trifle, which I’ll add soon. Kumy made his amazing Potatoes, too.

I used a modified version of Swasthi’s recipe from IndianHealthyRecipes.com, which was excellent, if a bit confusing. Basically, you cook the spinach mixture first, and then the spice, onion tomato mixture. You add the spinach back in near the end, and Paneer goes in last, just before serving. It’s actually fairly easy.

It looks like a million ingredients, but they all go together beautifully.

Part 1:

2 Tbsp oil
4 green chilies (Long, skinny ones, seeded) or 2 small/medium Jalapenos, seeded
1 lb. organic baby spinach, washed and well-drained
20 cashews (unsalted or salted is fine)

Part 2:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
2 green cardamoms, whole
1″ cinnamon stick, whole
4 cloves, whole

1.5 cups onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic

1 14 oz. can crushed or petite-diced tomatoes with juices in can. (Can carefully buzz with an immersion blender in the can if you want a smoother curry.)
1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
12 oz. Paneer, cut into 1/2″ cubes

In a dutch oven, heat oil. Saute chillies, cashews and spinach until spinach is completely wilted, but still bright green. Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl and let cool. Use an immersion blender or food processor to buzz the spinach into a smooth mixture.

Melt butter in the dutch oven and add the whole spices. Let cook until the spices are starting to sizzle a bit – maybe a minute or two. Add the onions and cook until golden – about 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice and salt. (If you used salted cashews, go easy on the salt.) Cook for several minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. If you buzzed the tomatoes, you’ll have a smoother curry. If you left the tomatoes in chunks, you’ll have a chunkier curry. Both are fine.

Add the garam masala and about 1 cup of water to the pan, and cook down until you have a nice, fairly thick gravy consistency. When in doubt – let it get a little drier. You can always add a bit of water at the end to loosen it up if you need to.

Add the spinach mixture and the dried Fenugreek leaves. Cook another 2-3 minutes to bring it back to the simmer. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed, and if it’s very thick, add a couple of spoons of water.

Add the paneer and mix gently to coat with curry.

Serve with Naan, or roti.

Red Cabbage & Sausage

Maya bought a gorgeous red cabbage when she was last home and I had a half package of turkey sausage I wanted to use use up. Cooked cabbage and sausage sounds like a nice German style dish, I thought. I love sauteed cabbage, so I improvised and came up with what ended up being a really tasty dinner. Leave out the sausage and you’ve got a lovely, colorful side dish.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
good pinch of caraway seed
8 oz turkey sausage, cut 1/2″ thick

Heat butter in a medium frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic puree and cook another minute, stirring. Add salt, pepper and caraway seed and give a stir. Add cabbage and toss to combine.

Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage pieces, stir to combine, cover and cook another 1o minutes, until sausage is warmed through.

Check seasonings and serve.

Delish!!