Thursday, July 19, 2012

Swiss Chard & Onion Pasta

Swiss chard & Onion Pasta

This post is as much about the perfect afternoon, as it is about a delicious meal.  The pasta was easy to prepare ahead of time making it just right for a summer picnic.  Feta lends creaminess, caramelized onions a dose of sweetness, and swiss chard nutrient-rich goodness. I've added it to my go-to pasta list and hope you do too.

If only I could do the same with the afternoon, re-creating it whenever I pleased! Great friends in town, two new babies meeting for the first time and a sunshine-filled picnic. Here are my two guys, incognito, enjoying it.

Swiss Chard & Caramelized Onion Pasta

  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped white onions
  • 8 cups packed chopped swiss chard
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Water for pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Start pasta water, and when boiling begin cooking it
  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, til they start to caramelize
  • Add chopped greens to the pan, de-glaze with the balsamic vinegar and cook another 10-15 minutes
  • Just as the pasta is finishing, add feta to the greens mixture (reduce heat to low) and mix to melt
  • Add the pasta to the greens pan, mixing thoroughly with heat for a minute or two
  • Salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot or at room temperature 

About Swiss Chard
Swiss ChardSwiss Chard, also known as silverbeet, Roman kale or strawberry spinach, is a nutritional powerhouse. Popular in the Mediterranean, the stems are varied in color and can be grilled on their own for a crunchy treat. 

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    WWAD: Fava Bean Puree

    WWAD: What Would Alice Do?  When in culinary doubt, this is the question I ask myself.  A quick look at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables and I landed on Fava Bean Puree.  Many steps, not a lot of fruit for your labor but a very tasty result.  A result that my husband actually loved.  Fellow CSAers, with the excess fava beans, this post is for you!

    While the puree makes a tasty dip or crostini topper, I used it as the sauce for a vegetable pasta. Yummy!

    Up next?  Grilled Fava Beans.

    Fava Bean Puree
    • 3 pounds of fava beans in their pods (3 cups of shelled/shucked beans)
    • 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for finishing the purée
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 thyme sprig
    • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
    • Water
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Bring a pot of water to boil, and prepare an ice bath nearby
    • Add beans to boiling water and cook for one minute
    • Drain and plunge the beans in the ice bath. Once cooled, pierce the shell and pop the inner bean out of the lighter shell
    • Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, add the beans, garlic, herbs and salt
    • Saute, mixing frequently and adding splashes of water as needed, for 20-25 minutes until the beans soften up
    • Remove from heat, pull out the bay leaf and thyme sprig and mash in a food processor or by hand. Add the lemon juice, pepper and 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water if making a saucier puree

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Cherry Yogurt Popsicles

    The cherry capital of the world is in Northern Michigan, right by our family summer cottage. Traverse City and the Grand Traverse region harvest many wonderful delights in addition to all those cherries: breathtaking ocean-like sandy dunes, quaint lighthouses, sunlight until nearly 10 pm, petosky stones, birch trees, ideal swimming water, the list goes on and on. 

    While I am unable to spend the extended time there my brother does (note to self: be a teacher in my next life!!), it's a true gem of a place that I'm lucky to visit every other summer. 

    Today, like every Fourth of July, my family is hosting a party. It's one of those great traditions that has been happening for decades, on the exact same deck, with the exact same families. Here is their view:

    We will especially miss the party this year, since we'd love to introduce our newest family member.  This post and recipe is in honor of the family BBQ and Northern Michigan. A shout-out to Crystal Lake and all those wonderful Cherries...

    Happy Fourth of July Everyone!!

    Cherry Yogurt Popsicles
    (makes six 3oz Popsicles) 
    • 1 cup of pitted fresh cherries 
    • 12 oz of low fat Greek yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon of honey
    • 3 tablespoons of agave syrup*
    • 2 tablespoons of water
          *If you want a sweet popsicle, add more agave after taste testing the mixture
    • In a food processor or blender, puree the cherries and honey.  Optional: Remove 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a cup.
    • Add the yogurt, agave and water, then puree until blended. Adjust sweetness to your taste, I prefer a tart popsicle.
    • Fill the popsicle containers half way with the cherry yogurt mixture. 
    • Optional: Spoon in 1/2 tablespoon of the reserve cherry/honey mixture per popsicle to add a few dense cherry red bites of color.
    • Top with the remaining cherry yogurt mix, insert the sticks and freeze for at least 3 hours. 

      Monday, July 2, 2012

      Sweet & Spicy Cucumber Soup

      Since my day job involves website analytics, I’ve had some nerdy fun following the search terms and traffic sources to my little blog.  My most trafficked post, for instance, is this tart and the most commonly used search terms resulting in a visit include “apple and pear crisp ina garten” “quinoa and kale crustless quiche” and “sopes Mexican”.  Dorky? You bet. Fun? For me.

      My favorite stat is that, for a time, my carrot-ginger salad dressing blog post ranked 1st in a Yahoo! blog search. As a former Yahoo! employee, that makes me smile. How, you may be wondering, does this get us to cucumber soup?

      I was struggling, you see, to get rid of use all the cucumbers piling up in my produce drawer when it hit me. I’d go to Yahoo! Blog search, type in cucumber soup and use the first food blogger recipe in the search results. A little blogger pay it forward. It turns out this was a fairly auspicious decision because the soup is actually pretty darn good. Considering cucumbers are not my favorite, this is high praise!

      As foodblogger Emma Clare aptly points out, the most redeeming quality is that this is NOT another cold cucumber soup.  It’s a roasted, spicy and served warm. If you  need to use up love cucumbers, I suggest you give this new approach a try. Enjoy!

      Sweet & Spicy Roasted Cucumber Soup
      Courtesy of Emma Clare Eats
      • 4 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
      • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus one tablespoon
      • 2 tbs honey
      • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
      • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
      • 1 yellow onion, diced
      • 2 cups broth
      • 1 avocado
      • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
      • Peel and slice the cucumbers, then arrange in a baking dish. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper; pour over cucumbers and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
      • Meanwhile, saute the onion in 1 tbs olive oil for 3-4 minutes until soft. Sprinkle with pepper and cook for another minute. Add broth and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. 
      • Remove from heat, add cooked cucumbers, broth and avocado. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and serve. 

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