Tag Archives: summer food

Pasta Primavera

21 Aug

Yikes, it has been almost a month since I’ve posted! I have been super busy between having my three beautiful sisters visit from New York, and preparing for my doctoral preliminary exams. The visit was wonderful, and the prelims…well, I’m just relieved that they’re over! I’ve been studying for the past six weeks, and before that, I had two summer classes. So basically this weekend is the first and last weekend I’ll have to myself this summer :( Oh well, such is the life of a grad student.


But summer’s not all bad. One of my favorite things to do in the summer months is to go to the farmer’s market. I love supporting local agriculture, and getting fresh, high quality fruits and veggies. Pasta primavera is one of my favorite dishes that takes full advantage of all the veggies in season.


This dish is full of zucchini, squash, peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, all roasted to perfection with some olive oil and herbes de provence. In case you’re unfamiliar, herbes de provence is just a mixture of dried herbs traditionally used in French cooking, including savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender.


Hehe, I remember the first time my husband and I shopped for ingredients for pasta primavera. We had never had the occasion to buy herbes de provence before making this dish, and it seemed to be such a specialized ingredient that we assumed we’d never finish the jar. Every time I’ve made pasta primavera since then, I’ve joked to my husband that we were “almost out!” But then last night when I made it…we finally were almost out, for real! Clearly, we have made pasta primavera many times. It’s a keeper :)

Pasta Primavera

(recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 3 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips
  • 2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the parmesan and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies w/ Lemon Glaze (no, they don’t taste like ricotta…or cookies!)

23 Jul

I felt like I needed to qualify the title of my post because admittedly, “Lemon Ricotta Cookies” don’t sound too appetizing, at least not to me. Or my husband. You should have seen his face when I told him I was making these cookies! He doesn’t like ricotta even where it belongs  (e.g. ravioli or lasagna), so I think he was scared to see it used in a cookie of all things. I assured him that these cookies had rave reviews on Foodnetwork.com, and that they wouldn’t taste like ricotta. Still, he seemed skeptical. Yet his fears quickly dissipated when the sweet, citrusy smell of these cookies wafted through our house :)


So, why use ricotta in cookies if they aren’t going to taste like ricotta? Because the ricotta gives these cookies an unbelievably moist, soft texture. In fact, I hesitate to even call them cookies, because they seem more like little cakes…that’s how soft they are!

And they taste wonderful, to boot. Giada de Laurentiis has a knack for creating uniquely flavored cookies that even I can appreciate, as someone who isn’t nearly as excited by cookies as I am by cupcakes, shortcakes, cheesecakes, and pies. This is the second cookie-like recipe I’ve made of hers (the first being Strawberry & Rosemary Scones w/ Lemon Glaze), and they’ve both been winners, in my book. Giada is on a roll!


Yes, these lemon ricotta cookies were on point. The glaze gives them both sweetness and a nice punch of lemon, and the soft texture really steals the show. Plus, they were a breeze to make! With only 15 minutes of baking time, it’s almost immediate gratification :)


Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
(recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

For the Cookies-

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the Glaze-

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between each cookie.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  • As the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
  • Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon  of glaze onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours (or less– if you’re going for that whole immediate gratification thing!)

Makes 44 cookies.

Sweet Potato, Corn, & Black Bean Soup

19 Jul

I know what you’re thinking: Why is she posting a soup recipe when the heat index is above 100 degrees?! Well because this is no ordinary soup. Yes, it will entail you hovering near the stove for a half hour or so, but once you taste the result, you’ll see that this soup is actually very light, refreshing, and perfect for a hot summer day!


Yesterday was certainly one of those hot summer days. It felt like a sauna outside! My air conditioned house was a welcome reprieve after a long walk around a park with my friend (what were we thinking?!). Despite my exhaustion, I soldiered on and figured I could easily throw together this soup for dinner.

As I sauteed the corn, black beans, red peppers, and diced green chilis for the soup, my husband squirmed with delight. “My favorite ingredients in the world!” he exclaimed. I suppose this should come as no surprise, as I’ve previously posted about his obsession with black beans. But it’s nice to get some cheerleading in the kitchen every  now and then :)

Indeed, this  Sweet Potato, Corn, and Black Bean soup by Leftovers 4 Lunch is worth all the fanfare, and has risen to the top of my list of favorite soups. It’s super healthy (no cream or anything goes into it…just lots of veggie goodness), and contains inexpensive ingredients (a definite plus when food prices are soaring!)…but tastes fantastic. I love the silky smooth butternut squash base with the crunch of the red peppers and corn. The lime and cilantro give it just the right amount of acidity, freshness, and Mexican flair.

Hope everyone is managing to stay cool!

Sweet Potato, Corn, & Black Bean Soup (slightly adapted from Leftovers 4 Lunch)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (for me, it was 2 medium potatoes)
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernals
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz can diced green chilis (or less, depending on your desired heat level)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Add broth, water, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red peppers and sautee for about 3 minutes. Next, add corn and sautee until warm, about 1 minute. Finally, add black beans and diced chilis. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and sautee mixture approximately 3 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the sweet potatoes and broth mixture until smooth. Stir in corn, black beans, bell pepper, and chili mixture. Add lime juice, cilantro, and more salt and pepper, to taste. Heat through, and and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble

10 Jul


Me and Ted Allen have a lot in common. We have both lived in Indiana, we both love food, we both like to say, “You’ve been chopped” when someone does something wrong, and most importantly, we both believe that pistachios are the best nuts. In fact, we concur on the top three nuts of all time! See?:

I wonder if he’d also agree with my top three fruits rating: Pineapple, Strawberries, and Blueberries?

Whatever the case, I was ecstatic when I found this recipe for Strawberry Pistachio Crumble on Chef in Disguise. I love fruit-centric desserts because they seem more healthy (not saying they actually are…this is my rationalization speaking). And, I love nuts in desserts because the salty, savory element cuts the sweetness and makes for an interesting taste experience. So if my second favorite fruit (strawberries) and my favorite nut (pistachios) are having a party, you know I’m there!

Indeed, this Strawberry Pistachio Crumble is out-of-this-world good. I am having a very hard time restraining myself from eating the whole dish in one sitting. The crunchy nut-oat topping is the perfect contrast to the soft, sweet strawberry mixture. It was divine on its own, but would also be magnificent with some ice cream on the side.

Side note: I spent a good chunk of time shelling countless pistachios to yield 1 1/2 cups for the topping (yes, I was being cheap by buying a bag of unshelled nuts for this endeavor), but it was totally worth it :)  Lots of love went into this dish!

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble (original recipe by A Spicy Perspective, adapted by Chef in Disguise)

Ingredients:

For the Filling-

  • 4 lbs strawberries, stems removed and halved
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

For the Topping-

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a baking dish (I used 13×9), mix the strawberries, lemon zest, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, and cornstarch. Spread the berries out evenly.
  • Using a food processor, mix the ingredients for the topping until the butter is well combined, but the mixture is still crumbly.
  • Spoon the topping over the fruit and bake for 40-50 minutes—until the edges are bubbling and the top is golden.
  • Cool completely before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings.

What are your nut and fruit rankings? :)

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