Green Gazpacho

by Jennifer

This delicious version of gazpacho takes advantage of all the green peppers and cucumber we’ve been getting from our CSA, plus has the added advantage of protein and iron from the walnuts and spinach.  Give it at least 30 – 60 minutes to chill in the fridge before serving, or you can do what Yotam Ottolenghi does, and puree in 9 oz of ice cubes.  Below is my adaptation of his recipe from Plenty, and serves 6.

  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 1/4 lb cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 3 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 4 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBS plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the celery, peppers, cucumber, bread, jalapeno and garlic.  Working in batches and

transferring to a bowl, puree everything in a blender or food processor.  Chill for at least 30 – 60 minutes, or if serving immediately, puree in 9 oz ice cubes as well.  If the soup seems too thick for your liking, add a little cold water before serving.

 

Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce, Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad

by Jennifer

This dinner was yummy, even though the yellow plate doesn’t do it justice eye appeal-wise.  Get the salad started first as it can sit for a bit (and gets better with the sitting).  For parents of young kids, two of my three (the third is pretty selective, but he did eat some) had huge helpings of the pasta and loved it.  Serves 4 adults.

Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce

  • 1 lb orecchiette
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs – I used about half chives, and half a mix of oregano, sage and thyme
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil;  cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.

In a large bowl combine ricotta through black pepper.

Stir in pasta and reserved cooking water, mixing well, then serve hot.

Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad – from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4”-thick slices
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into four pieces each
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS chopped basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare grill for medium to medium-high cooking.  Toss zucchini and peppers with 2 TBS oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Grill vegetables 3 – 4 minutes per side, until just tender and grill marks appear.  Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  Peel peppers and cut into 1” pieces;  slice zucchini into 1” pieces as well.

In a medium bowl whisk together remaining 2 TBS oil, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add vegetables and basil, mixing well to coat, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

by Jennifer

This recipe, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, is delicious.  Come to think of it, I haven’t made a dish from his cookbook so far that wasn’t!  Serves 4 – 6.

  • 2/3 cup neutral oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4” slices
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 3 cups basil leaves, divided
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. short pasta
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 TBS capers, rinsed
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn by hand into chunks

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat 2/3 cup neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the zucchini in batches, turning once, until lightly golden.

Transfer zucchini, as they’re cooked, to a colander to drain.

When all the zucchini have been fried and drained, toss them with the red wine vinegar in a large serving bowl and set aside.

Cook the edamame in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then use a fine-mesh sieve or slotted spoon to scoop them out.

Rinse them in cold water (rinse the capers at the same time), drain well, then add them to the zucchini in the bowl.

Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions;  drain, rinse with cool water, then add to the bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, combine half of the basil, the parsley and the olive oil in a food processor or blender and puree;  add puree to the bowl, along with the lemon zest, remaining basil (roughly chopped) and fresh mozzarella.

Toss everything together, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy.

Angel Hair Pasta with No-cook Tomato and Basil Sauce

By Ira,

I make this every summer when the tomatoes are at their peak. It’s very important to use the best tomatoes you can find and a good quality salt. With so few ingredients, it makes a big difference to the overall taste of the dish. All you need to do is combine the chopped tomatoes with basil, garlic, and olive oil, then stir in the angel hair pasta and top it with Parmesan cheese. Very easy and delicious.

Serves 4-6

  • 5 large tomatoes or 7 medium ones
  • 2 handfuls sliced basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt or Himalayan salt preferably, or sea salt
  • freshly grounded black pepper
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Note that I like to have a generous amount of tomatoes with my pasta. If you prefer less sauce, use 4 large tomatoes.

Start by boiling the water for the pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt before adding the pasta.  Note that it only takes 2 minutes for the angel hair pasta to cook, so add the pasta to the water when your sauce is ready.

In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt. Taste and add more accordingly. Stir and set aside until pasta cooks.

Add the angel hair pasta to the tomato mixture and mix well. Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Caprese Salad with Homemade Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

by Jennifer

One of the best ways I can think of to eat tomatoes and basil is with fresh mozzarella, good bread, and a glass (or two) of wine.  Making your own fresh mozzarella only takes 30 minutes (with a little multi-tasking time, too) and is really easy, and the end result is so delicious, especially if you’re lucky enough to live near a dairy farm as we are.  The mozzarella is just so creamy and tastes grassy, like spring.

The recipe comes directly from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, and you can get what you need (mainly, a thermometer, rennet – you can even get organic vegetable rennet!, citric acid and cheese salt) from her website (www.cheesemaking.com) pretty inexpensively.  On the side we had a simple salad of Boston lettuce and cucumber, both from our CSA, dressed with good extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese (see below)
  • Ripe tomatoes, ideally from a local farm
  • Fresh basil, ideally from a pot on your patio, in whole leaf form
  • Really good extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • Good, crusty bread

Layer, in an attractive way, slices of cheese, tomato and basil leaves.  Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Serve with bread, and wine, and call it a day.

30-Minute Mozzarella – makes 3/4 – 1 lb.

  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1 gallon whole milk (you can use 2% milk instead, though you may get a little less cheese in the end)
  • 1/4 tsp rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
  • 1 tsp cheese salt

Pour milk into a large pot (with a dairy thermometer hooked on the rim), and stir in the dissolved citric acid.

Over medium-low heat, bring the milk to 90 degrees, stirring occasionally (the milk may begin to look curdled).

Stir in the dissolved rennet and cook, stirring gently and constantly, until the temperature reaches 100 – 105 degrees, and curds should be clumping together.  Turn off heat and continue to stir gently for another 3 – 5 minutes,

until whey is almost clear and the curds are in big clumps.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to a microwave-safe bowl and drain off liquid.  Heat curds in the microwave on HI for 1 minute.

Using a spoon, drain off any liquid and knead the cheese with the back of the spoon until it begins to look smooth and shiny.

Heat cheese two more times in the microwave, on HI, for 35 seconds each,

kneading well with the back of the spoon until very smooth and shiny.  Add the salt after the last microwave cook-time, kneading it in.

Fill a bowl with ice water, and continue kneading and stretching the cheese like taffy until it cools enough so you can handle it.

Roll the cheese into balls and

submerge in the ice water bath for about 30 minutes, which will cool the inside of the cheese quickly and help keep a smooth consistency throughout (you can also eat it immediately if you’d rather).

Wrap in waxed paper and store in a plastic container until ready to use.  Wonderful on pizza or cubed in pasta dishes, too.

Pasta with Garlic, Herbs and Fresh Mozzarella; Braised Bell Peppers

by Jennifer

This dinner was terrific and fairly easy to put together.   Get the peppers started and then go to work on the pasta.  Serves 4.

Pasta with Garlic, Herbs and Fresh Mozzarella – adapted from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 lb. dried twisty pasta, such as gemelli or fusilli
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5 oz. package basil, chopped
  • 1 packed cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Maldon sea salt
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup packed small arugula leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente;  before draining reserve 1/4 cup cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the garlic through sea salt in a large serving bowl.

Just before the pasta is finished, add the vinegar and arugula to the bowl and toss well.

Add the hot pasta and 1/4 cup cooking water and toss well.

Braised Bell Peppers – adapted from Eating Well magazine

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 large red peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 large yellow peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced vertically
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil on a large skillet over medium heat.

Add peppers through salt and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

Stir in water and tomato paste,

bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Stir in basil, vinegar and pepper, and serve.

Pasta in Garlic Almond Sauce

by Jennifer

This recipe, adapted from Gourmet magazine, serves 4.

  • 3/4 cup whole roasted almonds
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. cavatappi or other short tubular pasta
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, puree the 3/4 cup almonds, garlic and water.  Cook cavatappi in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente (a couple minutes short of the listed cooking time).

Reserve 2 1/2 cups cooking water;  drain pasta.

Have the rest of the ingredients ready.

Heat oil and 1 TBS butter in a 12” skillet over medium heat;

add almond puree and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the reserved cooking water along with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer another 3 – 4 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Whisk in remaining butter until melted,

then add the pasta and peas.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, another 3 minutes or so.

Stir in cheese and lemon juice.

Remove from heat and stir in half the basil and mint, along with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pasta in bowls, sprinkled with remaining basil, mint and cheese.