Pasta, Crispy Tofu and Green Bean Salad

by Jennifer

This pasta salad, from either Cooking Light or Eating Well (can’t remember!), is better at room temperature but can be eaten cold as well.  I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe;  it serves 4 – 6.

  • 14 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed using either paper towels, plates and something heavy, or the EZ-Tofu Press;  slice pressed tofu into cubes
  • 1 TBS neutral oil
  • 1 lb short whole wheat pasta, such as farfalle or penne
  • about 3 1/2 cups cut green beans, in about 2” pieces (roughly 13 – 14 oz)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into four pieces, each piece halved crosswise and sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Five minutes before the pasta is ready to drain, add the green beans.  Drain when time is up and rinse pasta and green beans with cold water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS neutral oil in a nonstick (this is key) skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Cook tofu until crispy and golden on all sides.  Transfer tofu to paper towels to drain and cool.

In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar through salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine pasta, green beans, tomatoes, yellow pepper, basil and dressing.  Serve at room temperature or cold.

Advertisements

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.

Penne with Zucchini, Walnuts and Pesto

by Jennifer

This pasta recipe comes from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook;  the pesto comes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  The pesto freezes well;  I will make it every time I have enough basil in my deck pots, or there’s a bunch from our CSA, then freeze it for pasta or pizza later.  On the side I served some local, ripe tomatoes tossed with a dressing of 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar, 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, salt and black pepper (whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl, then add the tomatoes and toss to coat).  Serves 4.

  • 14.5 oz – 1 lb penne, whole wheat preferred
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into 2” long thick matchsticks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe pesto (see below)
  • 3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions;  reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook zucchini until tender and turning golden, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Season zucchini with salt and pepper.

Toss drained penne with pesto, cooking water, zucchini and walnuts, and serve with freshly grated cheese on top.

Pesto – adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBS pine nuts
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a food processor, finely chop the garlic and pine nuts with the salt.

Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.

While the processor is running, pour in the oil, stopping to scrape down the sides.

Add the cheese and process just until combined.

Makes about 1 cup.  Freezes well.

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Pasta, Broccoli Rabe

by Jennifer

My father visited recently and brought us bags of dried pasta he had bought at Claudio’s at 924 South 9th in Philadelphia, and it’s fantastic.  I used one of the bags for this meal;  in the past, I’ve used regular store-bought penne, and it was delicious, but if you can get your hands on amazing Italian pasta, do it as it really elevates this simple dish.  More broccoli rabe from my CSA (hurray!);

this time I just sauteed a couple chopped garlic cloves in some olive oil until fragrant,

then added the broccoli rabe (any tough stems removed, washed) and cooked, tossing in the garlic and oil occasionally,

until it wilted, then seasoned it with Maldon sea salt.  The original pasta recipe, from Gourmet magazine, calls for 1 TBS of fresh chopped marjoram or oregano, and tonight I had neither, and it was still, well, you know!  Serves 4.

  • 1 1/4 lbs portabella mushrooms (6 – 7)
  • 3 TBS neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. short pasta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Prepare your grill.

Slice stems off mushrooms and, using a spoon, gently scrape off the mushrooms’ gills.  Brush both sides of mushrooms with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill for 5 minutes on the first side, or until grill marks begin to appear, then flip and cook 2 – 3 minutes on the other side.

Remove from grill and when cool enough to handle, cut each mushroom in half, then into slices.  Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, reserving 3 TBS cooking water before draining.

Toss together drained pasta, reserved cooking water, extra-virgin olive oil, mushrooms, cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Pasta with Turnips, Turnip Greens and Garlic Scapes; Beets with Lemon and Cilantro

by Jennifer

The benefits of belonging to a CSA:  deliciously fresh local produce, the fun of figuring out what to cook with what you’ve got, trying new recipes and making some up on your own.  The con:  deciding how best to cook and eat vegetables you’re not entirely crazy about, or just plain have never heard of.  Which brings me to turnips and garlic scapes!  I have never been a big fan of turnips, and just learned about garlic scapes from our CSA last year, and this week we received two bunches of small Hakurei turnips with beautiful greens, and those scapes, which taste a little bit like a cross between garlic and green onions, only milder.  Tonight’s pasta is what I came up with, and I must say, it was pretty tasty!  The beets are an adaptation from the original recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone:  roast 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of beets, with a splash of water in a brownie pan covered with foil, at 350 for 40 – 50 minutes, until you can pierce one easily with a knife.  Let cool, then rub off skins and slice each beet into 8 pieces.  In a bowl, whisk together the zest of one lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, 2 TBS chopped parsley, 2 TBS chopped cilantro, 1 tsp dried mint (or 1 TBS fresh), 1/2 tsp ground coriander, salt and pepper to taste.  Add beets and toss well to coat.  This dinner serves 4.

  • 1 lb spinach tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 2 bunches Hakurei turnips, with greens (about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs)
  • 5 garlic scapes, chopped (use 3 garlic cloves, chopped, if you don’t have scapes)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice off turnip greens and wash, leaving them whole if small to medium-size, or sliced in half crosswise if large.

Trim turnips and cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size.  If the turnips are small you do not need to peel them.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat;  add garlic scapes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add turnips, salt and pepper, and toss to coat turnips in oil.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast turnips for 15 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden, stirring once.

Meanwhile, cook pasta and turnip greens together, according to pasta package instructions, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.

Gently toss together pasta, greens, reserved cooking water, turnips, scapes and oil.  Serve with pecorino romano on top.

Tagliatelle with Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella

by Jennifer

My CSA (shout out to Farmer Dave’s!) has started up again, and I’m sooooo happy.  All of you supporters of farmers’ markets, local farm stands and CSAs understand:  not only is it a great way to support local business and local agriculture, but the produce you get is just so delicious.  Lettuce, freshly picked, tastes completely different from store-bought lettuce.  And broccoli rabe!  I have had a series of unsuccessful attempts to cook broccoli rabe in my life, all of which ended up with me dumping it down the disposal, so bitter it was inedible.  Yesterday I picked up our weekly CSA produce and there was broccoli rabe, and WOW, was it delicious.  Completely different from anything I’ve bought in a store.  This is what I made with it (and honestly, I wish I’d had another bunch);  serves 4.

  • 1 lb. tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
  • 1 tsp Maldon sea salt (or other coarse sea salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 red peppers, roasted (save the liquid if you make them ahead;  or you could use a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained), thinly sliced
  • 2 8-oz. packages fresh mozzarella pearls, drained

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant;

add broccoli rabe and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted.  Meanwhile, start cooking pasta.  When the broccoli rabe is wilted,

turn heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta if al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining the pasta.  Season broccoli rabe with sea salt and pepper.

Toss together the pasta, roasted red peppers and their juices, broccoli rabe and garlic, fresh mozzarella, and reserved cooking water as desired (for moistness).

Pasta with Romesco Sauce, Sauteed Kale with Garlic

by Jennifer

You can make the sauce (adapted from Cooking Light) a few days in advance, if you like, or you can put it together while the pasta water comes to a boil.  To make the kale, remove the ribs from the leaves of a large bunch of kale, and chop the leaves.  Heat a couple TBS of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add a few chopped cloves of garlic.  Once they’re fragrant, add the kale in batches, tossing until it wilts.  Continue to saute for a few minutes more, seasoning with coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4.

  • 1 lb. dried short pasta, such as gemelli or penne
  • 2 large red peppers, chopped (about 3 1/2 – 4 cups)
  • 1 cup no-chicken broth or chicken broth
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 slice sandwich bread, cubed (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, according to package directions;  drain.

Meanwhile, bring the red peppers and broth to a boil in a medium-size pot, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat;  add the bread and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes,

then add the almonds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Combine peppers and broth, bread and almonds, the vinegar and can of tomatoes with their juices in a blender;  puree until smooth.

Return sauce to the pot you used to cook the peppers, and cook over medium heat until heated through.

Toss sauce with pasta.