Tag Archives: asparagus

pasta salad with greens and beluga lentils…

Cooking for my daughter is such a privilege, especially now since she has taken an interest in the kitchen…we cook together and my heart is full every time.   I think her constant presence in the kitchen, on my back as a baby and now on a step stool as a little girl, has lead to her surprisingly open minded eating habits and curiosity about food.  Food is such an amazing medium with which to teach. Food is art, science, math, craft, history, family, love, nourishment, celebration, and more recently for us conservation.  She is craving independence and autonomy right now in her life, and cooking (well…and playing dress up), has been such a free way for her to express and address those internal needs.

 For the past school year, we have been attending Branches Atelier, a Reggio inspired pre-school. The conversations with the teachers, fellow parents, and the children, helped to create the space (and patience for that matter) in my mind to have the confidence to allow my daughter to explore cooking.  We talk about the science of boiling, absorption, emulsification, we talk about color palettes of food, what colors can say about nutrition, we talk about smells, taste, and ripeness…and we talk about her Mormor, who passed down this passion of ours to bond in the kitchen…which I hope lasts a lifetime. 

Sadly, we had our last day at Branches, and we are going to miss our community more than we realized.  For our potluck my daughter created this dish.  Her artistic eye called for “only greens mama”.  She was in charge of the esthetics of this dish, and we worked together on developing the flavors.  We love you Branches Atelier Toddler A program, the “terrible twos” were not so terrible with you. 

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pasta salad with greens and beluga lentils…

salad:

4-6 cups (1 16 oz package) of dried farfalle pasta noodles (we buy in bulk)

1 ½ cup dried beluga lentils

2 crowns of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

10-12 stalks of asparagus, rough ends cut/snapped off

 

dressing:

¼ cup fresh cilantro

juice of 2 lemons (4-6 tbs)

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

olive oil to emulsify

salt and pepper

**I will preface these directions in that so much of this recipe is by taste and feel rather than specific directions. Trust your instincts and have fun.

Begin by cooking the noodles and lentils.  Cook farfalle in salted water until al dente (7-9 minutes).  Cook lentils until tender (10-15 minutes). Drain mix together and set aside.  Gently steam vegetables, careful to maintain crunch (5-7 minutes).  Toss into salad.  Then make dressing. Puree cilantro in blender of food processor until paste like consistency and move to a large bowl.  Add juice of lemons and spices.  Then while whisking, gradually add olive oil.  Should be 1:1 ratio with lemon juice.  Pour over salad. Toss, and season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate overnight to let flavors absorb into salad, and serve cold. 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

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Sliced new potato pizza with pan roasted asparagus…

This recipe is yet another farmer’s market delight.  We were produce obsessed while in California.  Asparagus is perfectly in season beginning in mid-April and their season bumps right up against the beginning of summer. They are one of the first spring vegetables that can be harvested, which makes sense to me given their heartiness, they seem to be the first to stand at attention. I grinned when I found out that asparagus grows in both male and female varieties.  The male being a longer, sturdier stalk, and the female, thinner, as they use much of their energy to produce seeds. I prefer the thinner, more tender stalks with which to cook. I also prefer mine green, verses their chlorophyll deprived cousin, the white asparagus.  Their story just seems so sad, purposely grown and kept underground and out of the sun, hidden from the world, *Sigh*.

This recipe can be put together in minutes and can be adapted in a variety of ways; adding caramelized onions, garnishing with a salad of spring greens on top, or just changing the herb or spice profile.

Sliced new potato pizza with roasted asparagus…

favorite pizza dough, either store bought or homemade

6-8 new red potatoes, thinly sliced

Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded

fresh thyme

olive oil

1/2 garlic bulb, roasted.

salt and cracked pepper

1 bunch asparagus

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare pizza dough per recipe and set aside to rise. 

To roast garlic, cut bulb in half across the equator.  Massage with olive oil and wrap securely in foil. Place in oven at above temperature and cook until cloves are caramelized and soft.

Prepare asparagus, snapping the stalks at the most tender point and discarding (or better yet compost!) the woody ends. Heat a medium pan over high with olive oil.  Add asparagus stalks and season with salt and pepper.  Toss regularly, but allowing asparagus to blacken and caramelized for a smoky flavor.  Set aside. 

On a mandoline, or carefully with a very sharp knife, thinly slice potatoes so that they are almost translucent.  Place in a bowl, coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. 

Roll out pizza dough.  Brush lightly with olive oil. Smash roasted garlic into a paste, and spread thinly over dough.  Layer generously with Parmigiano-Reggiano first, then arrange the potatoes on top. Place in oven until potatoes are tender and crust is golden brown. 

Serve family style with roasted asparagus on top.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!  


Spring and mascarpone…two ways…

As we are getting ready to move our little family across country, we are making visits to all our favorite places here in Connecticut. One of these favorite places is the most charming of Italian markets. I used to be able to slip away to this market on my lunch break, sit outside in the sun with a good friend, and crunch away on a savory broccoli rabe salad with creamy feta cheese, and sip a limonata.

The counters are overflowing with calzones and pastas. There are always imported goods I want to buy, Italian deserts, and gargantuan homemade garlic loafs of bread. During my most recent saunter through this market I felt compelled to buy the richest, creamiest mascarpone cheese.
I made a surprisingly light and bright sauce that we used as both a pasta sauce and a pizza sauce. Inspired by spring, I also bought anything crisp and green to throw in with the noodles. We made the pizza two nights in a row because we loved it so much, it is really rich and sultry topped with artichokes marinated in olive oil and briny black olives.
As much as we are ready to move “home”, I’m finding pockets of my life here in Connecticut filled with people and places, that are comfortable and warm in my mind’s eye, and I guess that is what home feels like?

mascarpone sauce…

½ cup mascarpone cheese
juice ½ lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced and smashed smooth
salt and cracked pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together. It will have the consistency of cream cheese, but this will melt over the hot noodles. If it still is too thick, reserve a little pasta water to thin.

spring pasta…

1 shallot, minced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut on bias
6-8 artichoke hearts, either fresh or fresh frozen, cut into fourths
1 cup green peas
chives
salt and pepper
1 pound farfalle noodles
mascarpone sauce

Boil noodles in salted water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, cook until translucent. Add veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender but crisp. Drain noodles, reserving about ¼ cup pasta water. While noodles are hot, add mascarpone sauce. If needed add pasta water to thin the sauce. Mix in vegetables. Garnish with chives and a little lemon zest.

Spring pizza…

favorite pizza dough, homemade or store bought
3-4 large artichoke hearts, marinated in olive oil, sliced thinly lengthwise
large handful of pitted marinated black olives, cut in half
semolina flour
olive oil
handful of grated Parmesan cheese
mascarpone sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put in pizza stone or pizza pan to get hot. Have pizza dough come to room temperature (if refrigerated). Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. If using a pizza pan, remove from oven when hot. Drizzle olive oil directly onto pan and sprinkle semolina flour over the oil. Then place the pizza dough onto the pan. This will ensure a nice crispy crust. Then build the pizza, beginning with the mascarpone sauce, then top with artichoke hearts and olives. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Then brush the crust with olive oil (I just use the extra oil that the artichokes came in) and place in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is crispy and golden.

I served this pizza with a handful of baby greens on the top, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice for a little freshness.
* If using a pizza stone, build your pizza on your pizza paddle with semolina flour under the pizza dough, skipping the olive oil. Build your pizza and then slide onto the pizza stone. You can still brush the crust with olive oil.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!