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 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.

Broccoli and Cheddar Skillet Flan, Broiled Red Peppers and Tomatoes with Caper Vinaigrette

by Jennifer

Broccoli and Cheddar Skillet Flan – adapted from Gourmet magazine

Serves 6.

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste
  • rounded 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 lb. shredded frozen hash browns
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper, salt, nutmeg, Cheddar cheese and 3 TBS of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

In an oven-safe 10” skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden.  Swirl the oil around the sides of the pan,

then add the frozen hash browns and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the potatoes over the bottom and sides of the pan,

then arrange the broccoli on top.

Pour over the egg mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the filling is set.  Turn the oven to broil and broil until the top is puffed and golden brown.

Broiled Red Peppers and Tomatoes with Caper Vinaigrette – from Gourmet magazine

Serves 4.

  • 2 large red peppers (should equal 1 lb.)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 large tomatoes (should equal 1 lb.)
  • 2 TBS drained and rinsed capers
  • 1 TBS red-wine vinegar

Slice each pepper lengthwise into 8 pieces;  toss all pieces together with the oil in an oven-proof, shallow dish.  Broil the peppers 4 – 5 inches from the heat for 25 minutes, stirring 2 – 3 times.

Meanwhile, gently combine the tomatoes, capers and red-wine vinegar.

When the peppers are tender, add the tomato mixture and gently toss to combine.

Broil for another 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are warm and a little soft.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rice Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables

by Jennifer

This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, has a kick, so decrease the red pepper flakes if someone in your family doesn’t like spicy food.

Serves 4.

  • 14 oz. package firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 8 oz. rice noodles, preferably brown rice noodles (found these at Whole Foods)
  • 1 leek, sliced lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 TBS rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Optional:  chopped peanuts or cashews

Drain and press the tofu, between two plates lined with paper towels and something heavy on top, for 30 minutes.  While the tofu is being pressed, soak noodles in a large bowl of hot water for 6 – 8 minutes;  drain.

Slice tofu into 1” cubes.

Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.

Have all stir-fry ingredients ready to go.

Heat peanut oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  Add leeks, stir-fry 1 minute.

Add red pepper, stir-fry 2 minutes.

Add Napa cabbage, stir-fry 1 minute.

Add tofu and garlic, stir-fry 2 minutes.

Add noodles and sauce, and toss with two spatulas or tongs for a few minutes, until well-combined.

Serve sprinkled with scallions and cilantro, and with chopped peanuts or cashews if desired.