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Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Okay, so I lied. I said I wasn’t going to do any food blogging this week given the first week of actual spring-like weather. I had a packed schedule of tennis, running club, concert photography, yoga teaching, and wedding photo meetings, in addition to some First Friday festivities I’m headed to tonight. Not to mention my regular full-time job. Whew, just listing all that out is starting to make me feel the soreness from my first tennis match a bit more.

Somehow, however, I still managed to get in the kitchen. With my camera, too! That’s true love, ladies and gents.

But it’s also a result of the weather, the same reason I thought I wouldn’t be doing much cooking. Oh spring, how I love thee.

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts How many of you also feel a sudden onslaught of energy once springtime arrives? Maybe it’s the extended hours of daylight. Maybe it’s because my body isn’t working so hard to stay warm. Maybe it’s just because I’m all around happier. Whatever it is, spring gives me pep. And I’m all about it. Ya feel me? No complaints here. Even if my shins are killing me, and my shoulders are a bit sore. And my friday night might be cut a bit short because I really probably could use some sleep. It’s spring so none of that matters.

Pasta with Shitakes and Shredded Dijon Brussels Sprouts

My brother just moved to L.A. I’m visiting him this summer, and after I do, my mom thinks I’ll never come back. If this trip were in the winter, she’d probably be right. I’m pretty sure one day I will unite with a warm weathered locale, and never turn my back on it again. Will it be L.A.? Who knows. I have my doubts, though I’ve yet to ever go there, so I can’t say for sure.

What I can say for sure is I could gush about springtime forever. If that makes me a boring weather-conversationalist, so be it. Me and spring, and summer too, have a deep connection. If you’re in on that, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, well, sorry.

Brussels Sprouts

I’ve also got a deep connection with mushrooms. I love ’em. Chewy and full of flavor, there is not a shitake I wouldn’t want in my pasta. Here, they team up with some shredded sprouts, which get coated in a light olive oil, garlic and Dijon sauce. Tossed with parsley, salt and pepper, this feels like the perfect early springtime dish before the abundance of other seasonal veggies start to shower my kitchen. It’s light and fresh, but not too delicate on flavor. The sauce can certainly hold its own to a hearty whole wheat pasta, so make sure to go that route when you make this.

Alright, I’m off to brave a few April showers. Enjoy!

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Slow-cook Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

If you have tomatoes still ripening away in your garden (or magical access to a bucket full of fresh ones nearby) you should make this. Make THIS. MAKE THIS.

I can’t reiterate it enough, but truly, when winter comes around, you won’t be sorry you took away one summer Sunday afternoon of your life to cook sauce. If you’re into the whole canning process—which sadly, even after writing about it in last year’s marinara post, I have yet to learn—now’s the time to put those wonderful skills to use. Otherwise, make some room in the freezer. Which is what I did, after cutting up a solar system full of tomatoes and doubling my original recipe.

I froze sauce last year, and every time I pulled a batch out, my life became instantly and magically brighter. Even in the darkness of early winter evenings. Seriously. Warm summer sauce on a fork full of linguine when there’s snow outside your window—well, I’ll let you describe that experience for yourself once you pop your own taste of September out of the freezer…in January.

Below, you’ll find the same recipe I posted last summer. However, I doubles the amounts simply to make it more convenient for those with the intentions of freezing/canning. If you’re interested in just making a dinner portion for six, refer to my original post.

Click here for recipe…

Tomato Olive Spaghetti

This was one of the most flavorful sauces I’ve made in awhile. Flavorful but not stinky. It had all the saltiness and flavor of a puttanesca, minus the smelliness that comes from anchovies. I’ve had puttanesca sauces I’ve enjoyed before, but sometimes those little fish make the classic sauce just a tad too overwhelming for my nose and taste-buds. Plus, I was doing the cooking, and lingering garlic on my hands I can take, but fishiness I can not.

Instead, I went for a basil-oregano fragrance, which if you ask me should be bottled and sold among the Channel No. 5’s. Perfumes these days are far too sweet for my liking. I want to eat my cake, not smell like it too. Fresh basil on the other hand, that’s a clean smell I could probably stand for longer than just a whiff.

I tossed those herbs in with some sauce and finished the whole thing off with another herby element by utilizing freshly chopped parsley. It was like Christmas on my plate, with each bite unwrapping another nuance of flavor.

This is a sauce that’s sure to hold up to whole wheat pasta, and it’s got a texture that goes ideally with a thin-stranded variety. While the foodies might call me out for this, this is as deliciously pungent as puttanesca, no fish required.
Click here for recipe…

Vegan Pesto

Around here, the evening temperatures are dropping, and it’s starting to get a little chilly.  The leaves of the mighty maple are on the cusp of turning yellow and so are the little green leaves on the basil plants growing in my kitchen garden back home.

It’s time to harvest the basil before the summer’s prized herb starts slipping away.

Every year towards the end of the summer, my mom and I start gathering up all the basil and taking it to the kitchen to whip up batch after batch of a family favorite: Pesto.  While raw pesto is delicious fresh from the food processor, it also freezes exceptionally well, allowing us to carry a delightful taste of summer well into the winter.  You’ll almost always find a container of homemade pesto hidden in one of the families’ freezers, whether it be in my North Philly apartment, my brothers west Philly house, or my parents beautiful countryside home.

Our family recipe uses all of the classic pesto ingredients minus the cheese, to create a delicious vegan version of this Italian-inspired dish.  Nutritional yeast replaces the Parmesan, but don’t worry, any non-vegan friends surely won’t notice the difference.  The pesto is heavy on flavor and nutrients.  If you have an abundance of basil on your hands, be sure to make extra to store in the freezer!

Vegan Pesto with Whole Wheat Linguine

For the pesto:

-2 medium cloves garlic
-1 heaping, packed cup of basil
-1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. pine nuts
-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tsp. salt
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbsp. reserved pasta water, optional

Remaining ingredients:
-1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (omit if freezing)
-1 lb whole wheat linguine
-Basil and sliced tomatoes for garnish, optional

Cook pasta according to directions, reserving 2 tbsp. of pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, pulse garlic in a food processor.  Add in basil, nutritional yeast, 1/3 cup pine nuts, and salt. Begin to puree ingredients, slowly drizzling olive oil into the mixture through the top of the food processor.  Add the 2 tbsp. of reserved pasta water and puree until smooth.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 tbsp. pine nuts, and toast until pine nuts begin to brown.  Remove from heat.

Return drained, cooked pasta to the pan and stir in pesto mixture.  Place in serving bowl.  Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts on top.  Garnish with fresh basil and tomatoes, if desired.