veggies

Palak Chaat

We here in DC are lucky enough to have one of the most critically acclaimed Indian restaurants in the country, right here in our city.  Rasika, is an elegant and delicious journey through various Indian regional dishes.  Their most famous and addictive menu item is Palak Chaat – a pile of fried spinach covered in yogurt, tamarind and date sauces.  The dish is equally crispy, creamy, cool, hot, tangy and sweet.  It is not unusual for a single table to get multiple orders because sharing is near impossible.  I have always wanted to replicate the dish at home but getting it right was tough.  First of all without a deep fryer, getting that spinach super crispy is near impossible.  I decided to replace the spinach with kale and roast it instead of frying it.  As good?  Probably not, but way easier and healthier.  You still get that satisfying crunchy base for all the yummy toppings.  And those toppings are key – if you can find Tamarind sauce (I have the Maggi brand seen below) its the best option.  If not, get some tamarind chutney and thin it out with water until you can drizzle it.  If you have a local Indian market this is a great item to grab.

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This could serve 4 but honestly Patrick and I have eaten all 4 servings between the two of us so go ahead and make a double batch – this version is guilt free!  I still need to go to Rasika every couple of months to get my fix of the real thing but if you don’t live in DC this is the next best thing.

Palak Chaat (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   Rasika’s most famous dish
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

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Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.

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Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.  Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).

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When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

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Palak Chaat

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.  Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper. Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).  When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

 

French Green Salad

Sometimes you just want a leafy green salad, am I right?  Especially when it gets hot out, and especially after you spent the weekend eating lots of fried things (guilty).  I tried my best to copy the green salad they serve at one of my favorite restaurants Le Diplomate.  Just like them I add fresh tarragon to the Boston lettuce and merely kiss the salad with dressing.  The addition of hazelnuts was my idea to give a little nutty flavor and crunch, but you can certainly omit them.  This is the perfect side for a nice grilled steak or some chicken.  Or grab a big hunk of french bread and a glass of rose and call it lunch!

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French Green Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the salad vert at Le Diplomate
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 heads of Boston (also called Butter) lettuce, well rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of tarragon

In a small bowl combine the olive oil, champagne vinegar, shallot and dijon mustard.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a small dry skillet toast the hazelnuts over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Right before serving pull the tarragon leaves off of the sprigs and toss the leaves with the Boston lettuce pieces.  Add 3/4 of the dressing, toss, then add the rest only if you need it.  You want this salad to be very lightly dressed.  Top with the toasted hazelnuts and serve.

French Green Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 7 minutes
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Inspiration:  the salad vert at Le Diplomate
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 heads of Boston (also called Butter) lettuce, well rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of tarragon

In a small bowl combine the olive oil, champagne vinegar, shallot and dijon mustard.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a small dry skillet toast the hazelnuts over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Right before serving pull the tarragon leaves off of the sprigs and toss the leaves with the Boston lettuce pieces.  Add 3/4 of the dressing, toss, then add the rest only if you need it.  You want this salad to be very lightly dressed.  Top with the toasted hazelnuts and serve.

Cheesey Creamed Spinach

This dish is inspired by an incredible meal Patrick and I had when we were in Chicago last summer (you can see more about our trip here).  Of course we had to hit up one of the city’s steak houses and Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf did not disappoint.  Dimly lit, with strong drinks and large steaks it was everything we could want right down to the amazing creamed spinach side covered in melted cheese.  The minute I got home I wanted to start figuring out this recipe but being that it was July in DC I had to wait for the temps to drop for this ultimate comfort food classic.  It took a couple of tries but I think this version comes pretty close.  For anyone who has ever cooked with fresh spinach you know how much it wilts down.

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Make sure when you drain the spinach after its been cooked that you really press as much water out as possible so your finished product isn’t all watery.  I used my Crate and Barrel pasta pot with the colander right in it which was perfect because I would really press on the spinach to get it dry.  This dish would also be really cute done individually for a dinner party.  I am mildly obsessed with these Staub mini roasting dishes which would be perfect so that everyone gets their own cheesy crust.  Probably goes without saying but this is the perfect dish to serve alongside a steak and a large glass of red wine.  I hope to get back to Bavette’s at some point but for now this should hold us over.

Cheesy Creamed Spinach (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Bavette’s Bar and Bouef
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 pounds baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the spinach for 30 seconds, then drain in a colander squeezing out any excess water.

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In a saucepan or skillet with high sides melt the butter over medium low heat.  Cook the garlic and shallots for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the nutmeg and flour and stir so that everything is combined.  Cook for another minute until the flour is incorporated then whisk in the milk.  Cook for another minute or two until the mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in the spinach and the cream and allow to cook for another minute or two.  At this point you can cool and refrigerate for several days.

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If you are going to serve it right away, preheat your broiler and pour the spinach mixture in a baking pan.  Sprinkle it with the gruyere and place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly (watch closely so it doesn’t burn).  Let it cool for several minutes then serve.

Cheesy Creamed Spinach

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 pounds baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the spinach for 30 seconds, then drain in a colander squeezing out any excess water.  In a saucepan or skillet with high sides melt the butter over medium low heat.  Cook the garlic and shallots for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the nutmeg and flour and stir so that everything is combined.  Cook for another minute until the flour is incorporated then whisk in the milk.  Cook for another minute or two until the mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in the spinach and the cream and allow to cook for another minute or two.  At this point you can cool and refrigerate for several days.  If you are going to serve it right away, preheat your broiler and pour the spinach mixture in a baking pan.  Sprinkle it with the gruyere and place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly (watch closely so it doesn’t burn).  Let it cool for several minutes then serve.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

In keeping with the clean eating theme of the week and the new year I thought I would post one of the easiest vegetable recipes I know that features one of the best veggies to help clean up your act.  Cruciferous vegetables, think broccoli, kale and our little friends the brussels sprouts, are considered “super vegetables” because they contain high amounts of Vitamins A and C, and help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.  I love them because they are usually inexpensive and also some of the only good looking things in the produce aisle once the weather turns cold.  I love roasted brussels sprouts (and also fried ones but that’s not really health conscious!) but those take time.  By shredding the sprouts you can saute them in minutes.  In the spring and summer I like to pair them with bright lemon like I do here but in the fall and winter something a bit deeper is called for.  For that I turn to balsamic glaze, essentially balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down to a rich syrup.  You can do that yourself but lots of places are selling glazes these days and that makes this even quicker to make (I like Wegmans version).  Want to speed up the process even more?  Skip the tedious task of slicing the sprouts thinly and let the slicer blade on your food processor do the work for you.  Look how fast!

If you don’t have a food processor you can thinly slice them with a sharp knife for on a mandolin several days in advance.  Just keep them in a baggie until you are ready to use them and this dish will come together in minutes.  This dish would be great alongside Veal SaltimboccaPistachio Crusted Pork Medallions or Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a healthy 2017
Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.

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Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 7 minutes
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Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.  Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

I used to be able to travel back to Boston all the time for work.  It was great because I got to see family and friends and stay connected to my hometown in a way I can’t do now.  However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t also have to do with frequent stops to the Paramount, an awesome diner like place on Beacon Hill.  Open since 1937 this place is always packed but worth the wait.  My standard lunch order was the roasted turkey Rachel with sweet potato fries.  If you have never had a Rachel, its basically a Ruben sandwich with turkey and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut.  The mix of the tangy Russian dressing with the hearty turkey and the rye bread make me super happy.  Since I no longer get to fly up to Boston for one every couple of weeks I started craving it big time.  That’s when the idea to deconstruct the Rachel came to me – turn a lunch classic into a dinner staple.  In place of the rye bread I simply breaded turkey cutlets with breadcrumbs mixed with caraway seeds (the nutty yummy flavor you get in rye bread comes from those seeds).  Then the Russian dressing and coleslaw come together as a bed for the turkey cutlet.  To elevate this a bit I made my own Russian dressing and used bagged broccoli slaw which is much more crunchy and flavorful then the cabbage kind.  A bite of the cutlet with the slaw together and BAM you have a Rachel sandwich!  This dish will definitely get me through until the next time I can go to the Paramount.  Serve it for a totally outside the box Thanksgiving with some hoppy beer and I am sure your friends and family will flip.  Have a great holiday!!

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel(printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the best sandwich at the Paramount
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

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Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.

Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.

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Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

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A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.  Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.  Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

Fennel Slaw

No cook dishes are key for steamy DC summers and this slaw makes the perfect side for just about any meal.  It is great with fried chicken, grilled steak, piled on pulled pork sandwiches, or as a raw accompaniment to grilled veggies.  I subbed in thinly sliced fennel for the typical cabbage for this slaw because it provides more flavor and snap to the dish.  I LOVE fennel, raw and cooked, but I know a lot of people still aren’t super familiar with it.

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This prehistoric looking bulb can be intimidating but its really easy to break down and almost all of it is edible.  The stalks can be a little woody so for a raw salad like this I toss them but if you were going to cook the fennel you can slice them up just like the bulb.  The fronds are delicious and are great to reserve and sprinkle on top of any finished fennel dish.

So first cut off the stalks, saving them for another use or for the fronds.  Then slice off the bottom, which is tough, and toss.  Cut the bulb through the middle until you have two halves.  There is a core that is also tough so for a raw dish it should be cut out (if it’s being cooked down you can leave in the core).  Cut along the edge of the core and it pops right out.  Then slice or dice away!  For this slaw I used a mandoline because it’s much quicker than using a knife, but if you don’t have one just make sure to try and get thin, consistent slices.  I have a relatively cheap mandoline that I like because it doesn’t take up a lot of drawer space and is dishwasher friendly.  This one also gets very good reviews – what you want to make sure is that it has a hand guard and at least a couple of thicknesses you can choose from.  Now that you are a fennel cutting expert you should make this and this.  I will be serving this up for the rest of the summer or at least while it’s still 90 plus!!

Fennel Slaw (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  no cook dishes
Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Fennel slaw

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Pasta Primavera

Spiralizing veggies is all the rage these days.  Pinterest is just loaded with zoodle recipes (zucchini noodles) and I get it – good for people trying to cut back on carbs or who are gluten free.  However, no one is ever going to convince me a plate of zucchini is going to be as good as pasta!  I mean it’s pasta people.  Far be it from me not to try out a new kitchen gadget though, so when my aunt put a Veggetti in my stocking at Christmas I started trying out different dishes with it.  One of my favorite has to be this Pasta Primavera.  Usually this dish has large chunks of veggies that are either overcooked or under cooked tossed with pasta as almost an afterthought.  Zoodles are the perfect antidote to this – if I spiralized the veggies they could commingle right alongside the real deal pasta and elevate this dish to another level.  While there is some cream and yes good old fashioned pasta in here because half the dish is totally made up of vegetables and feeds an army you can still feel good about it.  This is also a great dinner to make in the summer months when the zucchini and summer squash are really huge and tender.

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Now I like my little Veggetti – its small, dishwasher safe and under $10.  For those of you who are really serious about spiralizing there are gigantic versions that probably work a bit better, perhaps have less food waste.  These things can run you up to $250!  I asked around and this one from Williams Sonoma has good reviews and is still under $50 but will take up more space.  I say get a small one and see if you really use it before making a bigger money and space investment.  My little guy has two settings, thin and thick and I used thin for this dish.

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If you want to make this gluten free then by all means nix the fettuccine and add another carrot, zucchini and summer squash to the mix.  Just don’t try and pass it off as pasta…

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Pasta Primavera (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  zoodles zoodles everywhere!
Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.

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Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

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Pasta Primavera

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.  Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

 

 

 

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