Tag Archives: veggies

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
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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
  • Print

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.

Portuguese Dinner Party

Patrick and I recently took an incredible class on Portuguese wine at our favorite local wine shop, DCanter.  Neither of us know a ton about wine, basically just what we like and don’t like, but wine classes are a great way to learn more about certain regions and what they are known for.  One you know you like certain varietals from a certain country it makes shopping a lot easier!  We love the classes at DCanter (what a cute name right??) and this one was no exception.  We stopped in Portugal over our honeymoon and drank some great wine while we were there so the class really helped us identify different labels that we like.  Of course we brought several bottles home that were part of the class (the Marcolino Sebo QP Colheita Seleccionada Red and the Quinta da Raza Grande Escolha Alvarinho white).  I decided that a dinner party was in order with Portuguese foods to match the wine.  I already had some great Portuguese olive oil on hand and Spanish chorizo sausage which is very close to the chorico that they serve in Lisbon.  I found these great almonds from a region called Douro (that also makes great wine) at Whole Foods so I was on my way to a menu!

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It was a lovely night out so we decided to do the first course out on the deck.  The chorizo thinly sliced served along with some Spanish cheeses (no luck on Portuguese cheese!) and those lovely Douro almonds.  I also marinated some green olives and set those out which went really nicely with the crisp white wine.

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Shrimp Mozambique

In addition to the cheese board I knew I wanted some seafood on the menu.  Portugal has gorgeous fish markets all over and the influence on their food from global trading is really evident.  These shrimp are the prefect example – they get their name and flavor profile from Mozambique which used to be a Portuguese colony.  This recipe is incredibly easy to make and actually comes from a restaurant in Fall River, Massachusetts where there is a huge Portuguese community.

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Portuguese Style Garlic Roasted Pork

Arguably the most famous person to come out of Fall River, MA is Emeril Lagasse.  Most people assume that he is from New Orleans but actually he is a proud son of Massachusetts.  Listen to his cooking shows and every once and a while you will hear his accent!  While he became famous for his Southern cooking, he has many family favorite Portuguese recipes that he has made very accessible.  This pork dish is unbelievably flavorful.  It takes forever to make but it’s really hands off and the smell of your house will be incredible.  Also the left overs made an amazing sandwich.  I served this along fluffy white rice.

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Sauteed Kale

Kale is ubiquitous in Portuguese cooking, especially their famous kale soup.  This quick side comes together at the last minute and is a good foil to the rich pork dish.

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Strawberry Marscapone Tart with Port Glaze

If you are having a Portuguese dinner party then you have to end it with port right?  We had a great time when we were in Lisbon trying out different ages and styles of port at their Solar do Vinho do Porto, an actual institute of port.  To serve with a nice glass of port this dessert also makes use of it in the sauce drizzled over the strawberries.  Absolutely delicious and the perfect way to end a tour of Portuguese wines and food.  Where to next??

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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
  • 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.

 

 

 

Parmesan Mini Zucchini

Make anything mini and I am on board.  Even non cute items like zucchini suddenly become adorable!  I found these at Trader Joe’s but I have seen mini zucchini at regular grocery stores as well.  Aside from being so stinking cute they are also a bit more tender and I find more flavorful than the big ones.  Not to say you couldn’t use regular zucchini in this, just cut them down to a similar size as these halved mini ones.  You want lots of exposed surface area so they can get nice and brown and crispy.  A sprinkle of parmesan over the hot zucchini and it melts on for side vegetable perfection.  These would be delicious with roast chicken or maybe pork tenderloin and can be served room temperature if you wanted to serve them at a picnic or on a buffet table.  An easy side for any night of the week really.  Thank heavens for baby vegetables.

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Parmesan Mini Zucchini (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  baby squash!
Special Equipment:  none

  • 24 ounces baby zucchini, cut in half lengthwise (or regular zucchini if you must, cut in half and then in quarters lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat your broiler.  Toss the zucchini with the olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When browned and softened toss the zucchini with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

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Parmesan Mini Zucchini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 24 ounces baby zucchini, cut in half lengthwise (or regular zucchini if you must, cut in half and then in quarters lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat your broiler.  Toss the zucchini with the olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When browned and softened toss the zucchini with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

 

Hot and Cold Asparagus Salad

Hard to avoid asparagus in stores and on menus right now and why would you want to??  It is one of my favorite spring vegetables and truly one of those things you should really only eat seasonally.  When I see asparagus on a menu in November I just know that place isn’t going to be good.  When they are in season I make asparagus a lot but usually get into the rut of roasting or grilling them which can get boring.  I have seen a lot of raw asparagus ribbon salads (a lot like my carrot one) and I thought bringing the hot and cold preparations together might be a nice twist.  Making the asparagus ribbons is really easy with a vegetable peeler – I like these Kuhn Rikon ones as they are cheap but yet stay sharp for a long time.

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Make sure to snap off the woody ends of the asparagus spears before you peel or roast them.  If you have never done this before take one end of each spear in each hand and slowly bend the spear until it naturally breaks.  That point indicates where the tender part of the asparagus meets the tougher, less edible part at the bottom.  Just snap them off and toss or use to make asparagus soup.   This would make a great first course or a side to some roasted pork or lemon chicken.

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Hot and Cold Asparagus Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  spring veggies
Special Equipment:  vegetable peeler

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 8 teaspoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Preheat your broiler.  Prep the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends as described above.  Set a 1/4 of the spears aside (usually each bunch has 24 spears so set aside around 12).  Spread the rest of the spears on a baking sheet and drizzle over 4 teaspoons of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  Broil the spears for 5 minutes, then shake or toss them around and broil for 5 more minutes.  While the asparagus is in the broiler, turn the rest of the spears into ribbons by holding one end and using a vegetable peeler lengthwise.  In a medium size bowl, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and the dijon mustard – stir to combine.

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Add the asparagus ribbons and toss until all of them are coated with the vinaigrette.  Pile the hot asparagus on a plate and top with the asparagus ribbons and vinaigrette.  Serve right away.

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Hot and Cold Asparagus Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  vegetable peeler

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 8 teaspoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Preheat your broiler.  Prep the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends as described above.  Set a 1/4 of the spears aside (usually each bunch has 24 spears so set aside around 12).  Spread the rest of the spears on a baking sheet and drizzle over 4 teaspoons of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  Broil the spears for 5 minutes, then shake or toss them around and broil for 5 more minutes.  While the asparagus is in the broiler, turn the rest of the spears into ribbons by holding one end and using a vegetable peeler lengthwise.  In a medium size bowl, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and the dijon mustard – stir to combine.  Add the asparagus ribbons and toss until all of them are coated with the vinaigrette.  Pile the hot asparagus on a plate and top with the asparagus ribbons and vinaigrette.  Serve right away.

 

Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad

If you read my post from Tuesday on The Red Hen, a delicious Italian place in DC, you know that on our visit there Patrick and I were caught in the happy conundrum of wanting to order everything but really needing to just pick one entree. Roasted Half Chicken with Black Truffle Polenta, Smoky Bacon, Scallions & Warm Frisee Salad had to be sacrificed in order to get the short ribs but I promised Patrick I would try my hand at it the next night.  This is one of my all time favorite things about going to restaurants – being inspired by a menu or decor and then taking it home to put my own twist on it.  This trial run was a winner and will definitely be added to our rotation.  Two things to note – first, I actually had truffle polenta on hand from our trip to Italy but you could easily make regular polenta and flavor it with truffle oil or butter.

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Sure you could just have non truffle polenta but where is the fun in that?  That woodsy, luxe flavor really compliments the chicken so try and find some truffle to jam in there.  Secondly, I could not find frisee so had to go with the curly version of endive (I hear a sigh of relief from my Aunt Carol who is a frisee HATER!).

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I think the endive was a little bitter for this and frisee would have been better but it’s sort of hard to find so I would use any hearty green you can get your hands on.  The bacon and scallions need something that can stand up to them.  This is a whole meal in one so all I added was a nice bottle of Virginia wine from our favorite, Greenhill Winery and Vineyards.  Now just I need to get back to The Red Hen to try the original!

Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  The Red Hen
Special Equipment:  kitchen twine

  • 5 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • a couple of sprigs of herbs (I used sage and thyme)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large scallion or 2 small ones
  • 1 head curly endive or frisee
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup truffle polenta (or regular polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or truffle butter or oil if you used regular polenta)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken cavity, then stuff the chicken with the herbs and garlic head.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine then rub the outside of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken and place in a roasting dish or on a cookie sheet.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours – you know the chicken is done when you pierce the skin by the leg and the juices are clear.  Let the chicken rest under tin foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

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While the chicken roasts cook the bacon for 5 minutes over medium high heat in a skillet until browned and crispy.  Let drain on paper towels and then crumble the bacon.  Cut off the dark green parts of the scallion and toss.  Cut the light green and white parts into 1 inch lengths, then into thin ribbons lengthwise.

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In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the mustards with a whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.  When the chicken is almost done bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then slowly whisk in the polenta.  Turn the heat down to low and stir often.  After about 15 minutes the polenta should have taken on most of the water and no longer have a grainy texture.  Season with salt and serve with a pat of butter.

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Toss the endive with the dressing, bacon and scallions and serve along the polenta and chicken.

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Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad

Special Equipment:  kitchen twine

  • 5 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • a couple of sprigs of herbs (I used sage and thyme)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large scallion, cut in one inch lengths then cut into thin ribbons lengthwise
  • 1 head curly endive or frisee
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup truffle polenta (or regular polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or truffle butter or oil if you used regular polenta)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken cavity, then stuff the chicken with the herbs and garlic head.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine then rub the outside of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken and place in a roasting dish or on a cookie sheet.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours – you know the chicken is done when you pierce the skin by the leg and the juices are clear. Let the chicken rest under tin foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

While the chicken roasts cook the bacon for 5 minutes over medium high heat in a skillet until browned and crispy.  Let drain on paper towels and then crumble the bacon. Cut off the dark green parts of the scallion and toss.  Cut the light green and white parts into 1 inch lengths, then into thin ribbons lengthwise.  In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the mustards with a whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

When the chicken is almost done bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then slowly whisk in the polenta.  Turn the heat down to low and stir often.  After about 15 minutes the polenta should have taken on most of the water and no longer have a grainy texture.  Season with salt and serve with a pat of butter.  Toss the endive with the dressing, bacon and scallions and serve along the polenta and chicken.

 

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