Tag Archives: vegetarian

Portuguese Salad

In a sense, this salad is glorified gazpacho, but chunkier—and it paired wonderfully with our Cataplana (Portugal’s Simple Seafood Stew) entrée. As it only feeds 3 to 4, we doubled the amounts to feed the party of 6.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, our gas oven broiler doesn’t do the best job. When I walked into the kitchen and saw The Hubs down on his knees with his arm stuck into the oven rotating the peppers with tongs, I gently told him that it might be much easier to char them directly over a gas burner. Smart man that he is, he took the hint, because when I walked back in, he was searing the plum tomatoes, two at a time, directly on the grates.

When it comes to hosting, we like to do as much as possible the day prior to the event. For this side dish, he blackened and peeled the tomatoes and bell peppers, then salted the peeled cucumber slices. About half an hour before the feast was served, the salad was finished with the dressing.

Portuguese Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili paste
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Turn the broiler on, and set the red and green bell peppers underneath. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly blackened on all sides. When done, place in a small plastic bag and let steam for a few minutes. Repeat with the tomatoes, but first lightly coat in olive oil. They will cook much quicker. Remove when lightly blackened all over and let cool on a tray.
  2. While the bell peppers and tomatoes cool, slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch inch thick slices. Set on a rack or on a paper towel, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let those hang out for 20 minutes or so until they release some water. Dry with paper towels.
  3. Remove the bell peppers from the plastic bags when cooled. Peel off the skin, remove the stems, and chop into 1-inch squares. Repeat this process with the tomatoes, discarding most of the pulp.
  4. Toss the chopped bell peppers, tomato, and cucumbers in a large bowl. Add the chopped cilantro, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and chili paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat right away, or let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes for the flavors to really marry.

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Adapted from a recipe on Serious Eats by Nick Kindelsperger

Corn Sauté with Miso and Scallions

To create this corn side dish with rich, toasted flavor, strip the corn from the cobs when they are raw and then cook the kernels in a nearly smoking skillet. It is important not to stir the corn for a few minutes to give it a chance to brown. Once the corn is cooked, mix in plenty of salty, savory ingredients to balance the sweetness. Finally, an acidic component rounds out the dish.

Because fresh corn can vary in sweetness, the recipe calls for seasoning with a range of rice vinegar. We made it twice so far, and prefer the version with just 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. When browning the corn kernels in a nonstick skillet, we found it took longer to get that caramelization, nearly three times longer! But so worth it because it was delicious and paired well with our grilled baby back ribs.

Corn Sauté with Miso and Scallions

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin on bias
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. white miso
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (4 cups)
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer scallion mixture to large bowl and whisk in miso and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Wipe out skillet.
  2. Heat oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add corn and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, without stirring, until corn is browned on bottom and beginning to pop, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring once or twice, until corn is spotty brown all over, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  3. Add mirin and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer corn to bowl with scallion mixture.
  4. Stir in scallion greens. Season with salt and remaining vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

These noodles are an addictive combination of salty, spicy and sweet. For best results, use thick Asian wheat noodles, such as udon or lo mein, that cook up with chewy resilience. We try to include vegetarian dishes into our repertoire of meals, and this recipe is anything but ho-hum. Plus the ease of prep and limited ingredients let you serve dinner in under a half hour.

Chili crisp, a Chinese condiment sold in jars, is chili oil amped up with with red pepper flakes and additional spices. If you can find it, it’s a more flavorful alternative to standard chili oil. We used a chili-garlic paste, including the full two tablespoons. In fact, The Hubs added even more to his portion before tasting it–which probably wasn’t that wise 😉

If you want to amp up the veggies, one reviewer suggested including mushrooms, which we both agreed would be a good addition. Our Udon noodles weighed in at only eight ounces as opposed to the ten ounces the recipe called for. Luckily we didn’t have another mouth to feed because we polished off the entire skillet’s worth!

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dried Asian wheat noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chili oil OR chili crisp, plus more to serve
  • ¾ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain, rinse and drain again.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, until the stems are tender; transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, mix the soy, sugar, chili oil and half the peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  4. Add the bok choy and noodles, then toss until warmed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts and drizzled with additional chili oil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

Here, braising coaxes asparagus’s gentler side into the spotlight. It’s not the typical crisp-tender, not browned, nor vibrant green—but it may end up being one of your favorite ways to cook the spears. The vegetable is vigorously simmered in a copious amount of liquid, allowing the braising liquid to evaporate, leaving behind a light glaze that coats the asparagus.

As Cook’s Illustrated mentions, the crisp bite gives way to silkiness; the fresh vegetal flavor evolves into more-complex sweet nuttiness, and the braising liquid can travel into the spears, seasoning them inside and out.

The dish is finished with a less-is-more approach adding just a splash of acidity and a handsome sprinkle of fresh herbs to accentuate the vegetable’s sweet flavor.

FYI, this recipe is best with asparagus spears that are at least ¾ inch thick. We bought ours picked fresh at a local farm market. The benefit of thicker spears is you can peel off their firm, waxy skin without whittling them down to toothpicks.

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. thick asparagus
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. table salt
  • ¼ tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tsp. juice
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh chives, divided

Directions

  1.  Trim bottom inch of asparagus spears; discard trimmings. Peel bottom two-thirds of spears until white flesh is exposed.
  2. Bring water, broth, oil, and salt to simmer in 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add asparagus in even layer. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer and cover. Cook, gently shaking skillet occasionally, until asparagus is tender and can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and continue to cook, shaking and swirling skillet, until skillet is almost dry and asparagus is glazed, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
  4. Off heat, add lemon zest and juice and half of chives and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer asparagus to platter, sprinkle with remaining chives, season with salt to taste, and serve.

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Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, this quick riff on taco salad might just be the ticket for dinner. Having a small party? Then just double the recipe and you can feed up to eight. Let guests prepare their own, layering on just the right ingredients to suit their own preferences. This way it appeals to vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Don’t eat red meat? Substitute ground turkey. Follow a vegetarian lifestyle? Swap out the meat for refried beans. Not into hot and spicy? Omit the jalapeños, and use a mild taco seasoning and salsa. Can’t tolerate raw onion? Cook it with the ground meat to eliminate some of the pungency.

Another fun twist is using beer instead of water when you add the seasoning to the ground meat. As you can see, this salad is very adaptable. I like to start with a layer of lettuce, followed by the meat mixture and cheese, then the peppers, tomatoes, onion, and olives. To finish, add a bit more meat and cheese, and a final topping of jalapeños and sour cream, if using,

To up the party ambiance, plate it all on some fun and festive picnic ware!

Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 tostada bowls
  • 1 1⁄4 lbs. ground beef or turkey (or refried beans if going vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. homemade or packaged taco seasoning
  • 3⁄4 cup water, or beer
  • 1⁄2 cup salsa (your favorite brand)
  • 1 head iceberg or Bibb lettuce, torn into 2-3″ pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1⁄2 each large red and yellow bell pepper, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1⁄2 red onion, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1⁄2 cup black and/or green pitted olives, sliced thin
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled jalapeños, 1⁄4 slices, then chopped
  • Sour cream for garnish, optional

Directions

  • Prep all ingredients.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat until there is no more pink, making sure to break up any large chunks.
  • Add the taco seasoning and the water (or beer), and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the salsa to the meat mixture and heta through.
  • While the meat is thickening, prepare the tostada bowls starting with a layer of torn lettuce.
  • Next, top with some meat and cheese, then add any of the other ingredients you prefer. Finish with another layer of ground meat and cheese, and top with sour cream and jalapeños, if desired.

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Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za’atar

This may be a new cool weather side dish favorite. A recipe from Milk Street, it combines roasted butternut squash and red onion, then finishes them with a tahini-lemon-garlic sauce and a dusting of za’atar—a Middle Eastern herb, spice and seed blend.

Before roasting, the squash and onion are tossed with olive oil and honey to encourage browning. After sprinkling on the za’atar, you scatter on chopped parsley or basil chiffonade for color and fresh, herbal notes.

Don’t worry if the pieces of squash are in different shapes; this is unavoidable. But when cutting the squash quarters crosswise, be sure they’re no thicker than ¾ inch and that the chunks don’t measure larger than 1½ inches in any dimension or they’ll take too long to roast.

We had less than half a red onion on hand, so we threw in a small shallot to help compensate. But the onion was so good roasted, that I want to make sure to have a large whole one when we make it again.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za'atar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise ¾-inch thick
  • 1 medium red onion, root end intact, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. za’atar
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, or lightly packed fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the squash and onion, then use your hands to rub the mixture over the vegetables until well coated.
  2. Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the vegetables, then roast until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon water; the mixture should have the consistency of thin yogurt (if too thick, whisk in additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin). Set aside.
  4. When the vegetables are done, transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with the tahini-lemon mixture, then sprinkle with the za’atar and parsley.

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Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street

Roasted Mushroom Pizza with Fontina and Scallions

Having a ready-made pizza delivered to your doorstep is certainly the easy route. But often times we love a culinary challenge, and this pizza recipe from Milk Street proved to be just that. We made our dough from scratch, even warmed it up to a perfect 75° in a sous vide bath, but it still was tricky to stretch out. You can always purchase a pre-made dough and save yourself some aggravation, just sayin’…

Be aware, heating the oven and pizza steel or stone to 550°F takes about an hour. Use this time to roast portobello mushrooms, and to combine the fontina-Parmesan cream white sauce. Don’t undercook the mushrooms. Roasting them until well browned removes moisture that would otherwise make the pizza crust soggy. Another suggestion would be to use cremini mushrooms instead of portobello caps, then you wouldn’t have to remove any gills.

The second pie was more successful!

For a time-saver on dinner day, the mushrooms also can be prepped up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated. When shaping the pizza dough, make sure that the edges are thicker than the center so they contain the cream sauce, which becomes runny during baking. For a crisp, well-browned bottom crust, if your oven only goes to 500°F, the pizza will need to bake for an extra two minutes.

The first attempt was unremarkable. The crust shape was more rectangular and we over-charred the mushrooms. Since the Fontina-Parmesan Cream makes enough for two pizzas, we made another several days later, which was more of a success story. This time we browned cremini mushrooms in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop. Plus we added about another cup of shredded fontina on top of the mushrooms. And that my friends, was a perfect pie!

Roasted Mushroom Pizza with Fontina and Scallions

  • Servings: Yields 1 12-inch pie
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 portion pizza dough (warmed to 75°F)
  • Bread flour, for dusting countertop
  • 1 Tbsp. semolina flour, for dusting pizza peel
  • 1 cup fontina-Parmesan cream (recipe below); more on top of the mushrooms if desired.
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. At least 1 hour before baking, heat the oven to 550°F with a baking steel or stone on the upper-middle rack and a second rack in the lower-middle.
  2. Cut the mushroom caps into ¼-inch slices. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Spread the mushrooms in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the lower oven rack, stirring once, until they have released their moisture, the moisture evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 15 minutes. OR, brown them in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop.
  4. Stir in the thyme and garlic, then roast/cook in skillet until the mushrooms have browned and the garlic is no longer raw, another 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a counter dusted generously with bread flour. Flour your hands and, using your fingers, press the dough, starting at the center and working out to the edges, into a 12-inch round, turning the dough over once. The round should be thin in the center, with slightly thicker edges. Lightly dust a baking peel, inverted baking sheet or rimless cookie sheet with the semolina. Transfer the dough to the peel and, if needed, reshape into a 12-inch round.
  6. Using the back of a spoon, spread the fontina-Parmesan cream evenly on the dough, leaving ½-inch border at the edge. Scatter the mushrooms over it and season with pepper. If desired, add more shredded fontina on top of the mushrooms.
  7. Slide the pizza onto the baking steel or stone and bake until the crust is well browned, 7 to 9 minutes.
  8. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a wire rack. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with scallions and red pepper flakes.

Fontina-Parmesan Cream

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium until stiff peaks form, about 2 1⁄2 minutes.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the fontina, Parmesan, rosemary and pepper.
  3. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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Adapted from a recipe by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Vegetable Fried Rice

Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.

But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry. 

To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.

There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.

In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas

Directions

  1. Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
  4. Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.

An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.

A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.

Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup packed parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste, optional

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
  3. Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
  4. Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadheh

Braised Leeks; Two Options

In the allium family, leeks are the tallest and offer the sweet taste of onion but with an earthier, grassy herbal character, and we love them! This first Braised Leeks with Bacon and Thyme recipe hailing from Molly Stevens “All About Braising” cookbook braises the leeks slowly in chicken broth until they collapse into blessed tenderness.

As Molly describes, braising reveals all of their goodness and brings out a complexity of flavor that would be lost by boiling or steaming. They are infinitely versatile and made a perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken dinner. Serve them hot, warm, at room temperature or even a little chilled. They’ll keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Option number two is a vegetarian dish from Milk Street. Braised Leeks with Balsamic Glaze are meltingly tender. They are poached in olive oil and water then drizzled with a tangy-sweet balsamic glaze. The vegetable retains its mild spring onion flavor with none of the raw allium pungency—a wonderful example of letting the natural flavor of an ingredient shine through!

Leeks are at their best in the fall and winter. Shop for leeks that feel solid at the base, not at all squishy. The green top portion should be dark, not dried out. Inspect the white portion to see that it’s smooth and bright, not split or slimy. Late-season leeks may have developed solid woody cores, an indication it is way past their prime, and shouldn’t be purchased.

Braised Leeks with Bacon and Thyme

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 to 5 lbs. medium to large leeks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut lengthwise in half
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (do not substitute dried)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Place the bacon in a medium skillet, set over medium heat, and fry, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until mostly crisp but with some softness remaining, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and set the skillet aside.
  2. Preheat the over to 325°F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. (We didn’t have as many leeks so we used a 9×9 square dish.)
  3. With a large knife trim off the root end of each leek, but leave the base intact. Get rid of the heaviest green part and any tough white parts. Cut off the tops at the point where the green turns from pale and smooth to dark and leathery.
  4. Cut the leeks lengthwise in half, without cutting completely through the root end, Wash the leeks thoroughly, holding them upside down under cold running water and flaring the layers to let the water run through to remove all the sand.
  5. Shake off the excess water and place them in one layer in the prepared baking dish. Tuck the garlic halves in the dish and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Sprinkle on the thyme.
  6. Pour off as much fat from the reserved bacon skillet, without discarding the bacon drippings. Place over high heat, add the stock, and bring to a boil to deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot stock over the leeks.
  7. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Braise for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn the leeks over with tongs, and continue braising uncovered until the leeks are fork tender, another 15-25 minutes. Scatter the reserved bacon over the leeks and continue braising for an additional 15 minutes, or until the leeks are soft enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
  9. With tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks and bacon to a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour any remaining juices, along with those from the platter, into a skillet and reduce down to 1/4 cup. Add a generous squeeze of lemon, taste for salt and pepper, and simply pour over the leeks. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Braised Leeks with Balsamic Glaze

You want to make sure not to stir the leeks too vigorously or too often when browning them. Stir gently just once or twice, without flipping them, so they color evenly. And once the water goes into the pan and the cover goes on, it’s best to simply shake the skillet, not stir its contents, so the leeks hold together.

These leeks just melted in the mouth! We omitted the sliced almonds for this meal; and next time we would cut the glaze in half. Although it was very good, we didn’t even use all of it and it was still a lot.

Braised Leeks with Basamic Glaze

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, outer layers removed
  • 2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl with water, submerge the leek halves and swish them around to remove the grit between the layers. Pour off the water and repeat until the leeks are clean, then pat dry. Cut the leeks on the diagonal into 2-inch sections, keeping the layers intact as much as possible.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, combine the oil, butter and leeks, adding them to the pan cut side down. Set the pan over medium-high and cook, gently stirring only once or twice so the layers do not separate, until the leeks are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then slowly add ⅔ cup water. Add the thyme sprigs, cover and reduce to medium-low. Cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until a knife inserted into the leeks meets no resistance and most of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a platter, leaving the oil in the skillet. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Add the vinegar and honey to the pan, then cook over medium, stirring often, until the mixture is syrupy, 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the leeks. Sprinkle with the chopped thyme and the almonds, if using.

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Hoisin Broccoli and Tofu Traybake

Traybake, a savory, one-pan meal cooked on a baking sheet in the oven is a home chef’s friend. This simple vegetarian traybake combines several pantry staples—hoisin, soy sauce and garlic—with broccoli and tofu and yields a hearty, satisfying main.

A 475°F oven develops the right amount of flavorful char on the broccoli and cooks the florets to a pleasing tender-crisp texture. While steamed rice is the usual accompaniment, we went a step further and made Vegetable Fried Rice.

A bit short on the hoisin sauce, we decided to make up the 1/4 cup deficit by including oyster sauce. The end result was less sweet and more to our liking.

Don’t skip the baking-sheet prep. Be sure to line it with foil and mist it with cooking spray. The sugar in the hoisin makes things a little sticky in the oven. The foil and cooking spray help ensure the broccoli and especially the more fragile tofu release from the baking sheet.

Hoisin Broccoli and Tofu Traybake

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lb. broccoli crowns, cut into 1½-inch florets
  • 14 oz. container firm OR extra-firm tofu, drained, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices and pressed dry
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil. In a medium bowl, toss the broccoli with half of the hoisin mixture until evenly coated. Distribute in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Transfer the remaining hoisin mixture to the now-empty bowl, add the tofu and gently toss to coat. Place the tofu on the baking sheet, arranging it in a single layer, being sure that all the slices lay flat against the baking sheet.
  4. Roast the broccoli and tofu without stirring until the broccoli is charred and tender-crisp, about 25 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro

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By Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Beer-Braised Cabbage

To pump up the flavors of the braising liquid in this Beer-Braised Cabbage, Cook’s Country chose a light-bodied lager. They also used beer-complementing ingredients like sautéed onion, mustard, vinegar, and thyme. To ensure the cabbage doesn’t overcook from extended simmering, the braising liquid is simmered until slightly thickened before adding the cabbage.

We paired the cabbage with a pan-seared pork chop and braised red potatoes with miso and scallions.

A great side dish that’s quick enough for a weeknight. You can substitute ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme for the fresh. This hearty side dish was a nice complement to the pork, although you can serve it as a vegetarian side.

Beer-Braised Cabbage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • ½ cup beer, preferably light-bodied lager
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • ½ tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 small head green cabbage (about 1 lb.), halved, cored, and sliced thin
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in beer, mustard, and thyme and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add cabbage and vinegar and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender, about 8 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Country

Cheesy Italian Baked Beans

Flexible in that this Cheesy Italian Baked Beans recipe could be your main dish, or part of a meal as a side. Here, traditional Italian ingredients like onion, garlic, tomatoes, cheese, and rosemary put a spin on classic baked beans.

The prep is minimal and afterward it only cooks in the oven for about 20 minutes. When it came to topping the casserole with the shredded fontina cheese, I may have put a bit more than the 1/2 cup that was called for… like 50% more 🙂

I added a final step of letting the casserole sit for 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven. We paired the entrée with a side of steamed broccolini and a toasted whole grain baguette with garlic and parmesan.

Cheesy Italian Baked Beans

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped yellow onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 28-oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped, plus additional for garnish
  • 3 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup cup shredded Fontina cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and rosemary. Bring to boiling; boil gently, uncovered, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in beans and half the Parmesan. Season to taste with crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Transfer to a 2-qt. rectangular baking dish. Top with remaining Parmesan and the Fontina. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown around the edges.
  4. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  5. Sprinkle with additional rosemary before serving.

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Adapted from a recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine

Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tagine

We found this lovely and full-flavored vegetarian dish in Milk Street’s Fast and Slow Cookbook for Instant Pot Cooking. A tagine is a North African stew cooked in a shallow, conical clay pot that goes by the same name. This chunky vegetable dish is warmly spiced like a tagine and features the common North African pairing of sweet and tart flavors.

For extra depth and a touch of spiciness, swirl in a spoonful of harissa into the tagine just before serving or offer some at the table for spooning on to taste. You will probably want to soak up the delicious sauce with crusty bread, warmed flatbread or couscous (or choice).

Be aware, you don’t want to shortcut the prep by leaving the tomatoes whole. Slicing 2 pints of grape tomatoes may sound like a bummer, but this step helps the tomatoes break down and cook at the same rate as the eggplant.

Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tagine

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 15½ oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions

  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal/Medium Sauté.
  2. Add the oil and garlic, then cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, tomatoes, ginger, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, 2½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Press Cancel, then stir in ¼ cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Gently stir in the eggplant, then distribute in an even layer.
  5. Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; set the pressure level to Low. Set the cooking time for 3 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  6. Gently stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro.
  7. Serve drizzled with additional oil and with lemon wedges on the side.

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Recipe by Julia Rackow for Milk Street