Ricotta and Spinach Frittata; Black Bean, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

By Ira,

This frittata is very creamy and easy to make. You first cook the onion, then add spinach, pour the eggs on top, add the ricotta in dollops and finish cooking it in the oven. You can put together the salad while the frittata is cooking.

Ricotta and Spinach Frittata 

Serves 4 – adapted from Clean Eating magazine

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bag baby spinach (about 4 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set it aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick oven proof skillet over medium heat, add the oil, then the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the spinach in batches, and stir until each batch wilts down. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the spinach and onion mixture evenly across the skillet,

then pour the egg mixture evenly on top.

Add the ricotta in tablespoon dollops across the frittata. Let it set on the bottom for about 3 minutes, then transfer it to the oven and

cook for about 8 to 12 minutes or until eggs are firm.

Black Bean, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, or 2 small ones, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together and stir gently. Taste for salt and add accordingly.

Broccoli and Pepper Calzones with Homemade Pizza Sauce

by Jennifer

Serves 4.

  • 1 lb. pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. frozen peppers and onions
  • 10 oz. package frozen broccoli cuts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • about 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • about 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • cornmeal for dusting pan
  • Homemade Pizza Sauce – see below

Preheat oven to 450, with rack in lower third of oven.  Dust a heavy lined baking sheet with cornmeal.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add broccoli cuts and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Add peppers and onions and cook until vegetables are tender, another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.

Divide pizza dough into 4 equal pieces;  roll each piece into an 8” circle.  Spread 2 TBS of ricotta cheese over half of each circle, leaving about a 1/2” edge free.

Top with a generous 1/3 cup vegetables,

and top that with about 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.  Fold over the other half of the dough, and stretch out the bottom edge, folding it over the top edge.  Roll the edges inward, starting from one end of the calzone toward the other, sort of forming a rope.

Transfer to baking sheet, and cut three small slits on top to vent the steam.

Bake calzones until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes.  (If there are leftover vegetables, they would be great in an egg white omelet the next day!)

Serve with Homemade Pizza Sauce on the side for dipping.

Homemade Pizza Sauce – adapted from Cooking Light

Makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce;  keep unused sauce for up to a week in the refrigerator, or freeze it for future pizzas.

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBS dried basil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 3 minutes.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add wine and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add remaining ingredients except for vinegar and cook on low heat for 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Oil and Oregano; Escarole with Pine Nuts

by Jennifer

Do NOT be fazed by making Ricotta Gnocchi during the week, IF you’ve made the gnocchi and frozen them ahead of time, which I did.  If you have an hour on a weekend, you can make and freeze gnocchi for during the week.  Serve them with your favorite sauce, or with the garlic oil and oregano.  My son declared, “Mom, this is really delicious”…hopefully you will agree.

Ricotta Gnocchi – adapted from A Fresh Taste of Italy by Michele Scicolone

For some unexplained reason my children do not like lasagne, but they do like gnocchi.  Remember that homemade ricotta I made a few weeks ago?  This is one of my favorite ways to use whatever’s remaining, and it’s great to do ahead.  It takes about an hour (less if you have a helper and can make an assembly line), and you can freeze them for up to a month.   You could serve this with Quick Tomato Sauce, or as I did tonight, with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and chopped fresh oregano (don’t forget, either way, more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top).

This serves 4 adults or, in our case, 2 adults and 3 kids.

  •  1 lb. fresh (homemade!) ricotta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • about 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

To make the gnocchi:  Combine the ricotta and cheese in a large bowl.  Add the flour and mix well;  the mixture with be crumbly.

Using a fork, stir in the 2 eggs.  Begin to bring the dough together into a ball and knead, first in the bowl, then on a lightly floured surface,

kneading until you have a smooth ball, about 5 minutes.  Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

Working with 1 portion at a time, roll out a rope about 1/2” thick;  cut the rope into about 3/4” pieces.

Dip a fork in flour and use your thumb to roll each piece over the back side of the tines so that one side of each gnocchi has the imprint of the tines, and the other side is concave from your thumb.

Place the gnocchi on a dishcloth-lined baking sheet that’s been dusted with flour, making sure the gnocchi don’t touch.  You can cook them when you’re finished making them, or you can freeze them;  once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic bag.

To cook them (if frozen, do not defrost), bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Simmer the gnocchi in 2 – 3 batches, dropping in a few at a time so they don’t stick, and stirring gently when they’re in.  When they rise to the surface, let them cook for another minute and then transfer them, using a slotted spoon, to a warmed serving dish.

Combine the oil and garlic cloves in a microwave-safe container;  heat in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute, and set aside.

When the gnocchi are cooked, remove the garlic cloves and toss the oil and oregano with the gnocchi.  Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Escarole with Pine Nuts – adapted from Gourmet magazine

The original recipe said it served 4 – 6, but honestly, it was so delicious and cooked down so much, it really would serve 3 hungry people.  Next time I’m doubling it.

  •  1 1/2 – 2 lbs. escarole, outer leaves removed, roughly chopped, rinsed well
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 TBS pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil;

boil the escarole for 10 minutes, drain.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, until they turn light golden, about 1 minute.

Add the garlic and red pepper;  cook, stirring, until the garlic and pine nuts are golden, about 2 minutes.

Add the escarole and toss well to coat and heat through;  when any remaining water from the escarole has evaporated, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chickpea Soup with Arugula, Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano; Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Fresh Berries

Chickpea Soup with Arugula, Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano

by Jennifer

Chickpea Soup with Arugula – adapted from Gourmet magazine

Serves 4 – 6 adults.

  •  1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained from 2 15.5-oz. cans (use the remaining chickpeas in a salad or mixed with hummus)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. baby arugula
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat;  add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the bay leaf, salt, broth, chickpeas and black pepper to taste;  cover, lower heat to a simmer, and let cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf.

Use a hand-held immersion blender and blend briefly, leaving most of the soup chunky, or remove 1 cup of soup and puree in a blender, then return to the pot.

Stir in the arugula and cook until it wilts.

Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top.

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Oregano

It is actually pretty easy to make homemade ricotta cheese, and you don’t need to buy anything special if you already have an instant-read thermometer.  Use the left-over ricotta in lasagne, cheesecake, as dessert (or breakfast!) with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey, or to make Ricotta Gnocchi….stay tuned!

Serves as many as you like!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese – from Al Capone of Capone Foods, Somerville, MA

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Cheesecloth (you can find this in most grocery stores)

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 185 degrees.

Add the vinegar and stir for 15 seconds;  let sit on heat for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 15 – 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth set in your sink or over a bowl.

Let the cheese drain for several hours or overnight, until it stops draining (mine stopped draining after 4 hours).  Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge up to 12 days.

For bruschetta:

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (mine was from Panera), thickly sliced
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Olive oil

Pour a very generous amount of olive oil into a 12” skillet, enough to reach at least 1/4” high.  Heat over medium-high heat until quite hot but not smoking;  a drop of water should sizzle immediately.

Fry bread slices until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan to a paper-towel lined plate;

smear with a generous amount of ricotta cheese (which gets all soft on the hot fried bread) and sprinkle with oregano.  Serve immediately.

Swiss Chard, Red Onion and Ricotta Pizza

By Jennifer

Swiss Chard, Red Onion and Ricotta Pizza

Pizza Dough – from Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe and Dianne Jacob

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 TBS cornmeal, plus extra for the pizza peel
  • 4 TBS olive oil, plus extra for the bowl

Makes two 18 – 20” pizzas

In a large bowl combine the warm water and yeast;  wait a few minutes for the yeast to activate (it will get bubbly/foamy).  Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, then knead on a floured surface for 8 – 10 minutes (or, if you have a standing mixer, change to the dough hook and let it knead for you).  Oil a clean bowl, turn the dough into it and roll the dough around to coat it with the oil, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about an hour.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to three days (good planning tip – you can make it a day or two before you need it, when you have a little extra time).

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta
  • garlic oil – literally, a bunch of garlic chopped up, put into a glass jar, filled to the top with olive oil;  this can keep for a long, long time in the fridge
  • salt and pepper

(For my kids’ pizza – Trader Joe’s pizza sauce and Trader Joe’s shredded mozzarella)

Chop the swiss chard, leaving out big stems, and saute in a little olive oil over medium heat.  Let cool, and squeeze out extra liquid.  (I cheated;  I got too much swiss chard one week from my CSA and did this part, then froze it, already!)

Sauteing onions

Onions are finished

Wipe out the pan and slowly saute the red onions in a little olive oil until they are soft and browned, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Rolling out pizza dough

On a floured surface, divide the pizza dough and roll out.  Preheat either your oven, with a pizza stone inside, to 450, or your grill, to same. Place the rolled out dough on a pizza peel or upside down cookie sheet sprinkled liberally with cornmeal.  Slide onto the pizza stone or grill and let cook (gas grill, close the lid) for a few minutes, until the dough puffs up and there are grill marks on the bottom.

One side grilled

Remove using the pizza peel, flip over, and brush with garlic oil.  Then put on the toppings:  I usually make my kids’ pizza first and keep it warm in the oven, at 200, until ours is ready.

Toppings on

For ours, I scattered the swiss chard, onions, and dollops of ricotta all over it.  Slide pizza back onto the grill, cook for a few more minutes, until the cheese is melted (if using melty cheese) and there are grill marks on the bottom.

Served this with a simple salad of red leaf lettuce and spinach dressed with balsamic vinegar.