Greek Shrimp, Farro & Greens with Feta

Union Square Cafe’s Seared Salmon with Spinach, Corn & Mushrooms

I made this lovely dish for Easter dinner. The sauce was absolutely incredible. I also loved that the salmon was served over a plate of saut√©ed vegetables. The recipe was adapted from one of the most popular menu items at NYC’s Union Square Caf√© in the 1990’s.

The recipe is from the 40th Anniversary Special Edition of Food and Wine magazine titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes,” contributed by Michael Romano. ¬†I am keeping this issue as a “cookbook” because I want to try so many (practically all!) of the dishes. The issue states that this salmon dish is one of the best recipes Food and Wine has ever published. Very special.

We finished our meal with a celebratory Bunny Cake, of course!

Yield: Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course (this recipe can be doubled easily)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (I used 1/2 of a large red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves (2 thinly sliced and 1 whole), divided
  • 1/4 pound¬†shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps quartered, divided
  • 1 medium-size ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound¬†fresh spinach
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3-4 ears)
  • 1 (1 to 1 1/2 pound) center-cut salmon fillet, sliced crosswise into 4 to 6 strips
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Make the Sauce:

  1. Cut 6 tablespoons butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-low.
  3. Add onion, sliced garlic, shiitake stems, tomato, black peppercorns, and bay leaf, and cook until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 12 minutes.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup water, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 4 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low, and add cubed butter, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions.
  6. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
  8. Keep sauce warm over a double boiler.
Prepare the Spinach:
  1. Spear whole garlic clove with a dinner fork. (I’ve never done this before- genius!)
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high until just beginning to smoke.
  3. Add spinach; cook, stirring using fork with garlic clove, until spinach is wilted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a colander to drain. Discard garlic clove.
Prepare the Corn & Mushrooms:
  1. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium, and add 3 tablespoons butter.
  2. Add shiitake caps, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in corn kernels; cook until completely heated through, about 3 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and keep warm.
  1. Increase heat to high, and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.
  2. Season salmon strips with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add fish to skillet, and cook until browned but barely cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
To Serve:
  1. Divide spinach among 6 plates; surround with corn and shiitakes.
  2. Place a salmon strip on top of spinach, and spoon vinegar sauce on fish.
  3. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives; serve immediately.

Cornmeal Waffles with Greens & Creamy Chicken-Mushroom Sauce

I used to make my husband a dish similar to this WAY back in the day before we were married. He was thrilled with this upgraded version.

I was inspired to recreate the dish after seeing a creamy chicken and mushroom casserole post on Kitchen Sanctuary.com. It just looked like it should be served over waffles! The cornbread waffle recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour.com. They were absolutely amazing. (We will be eating them for breakfast in the near future.) To make it a complete meal, I layered steamed baby greens between the saucy chicken and crispy waffle.

I adapted the sauce recipe by using chicken thighs, cremini mushrooms, fresh thyme, increasing the garlic, and omitting the celery salt. I used sweet onions in the sauce but would possibly substitute shallots next time. To make the waffle batter, I measured the liquid by volume and the dry ingredients by weight. Perfection.

We ate this dish for dinner but it would also be wonderful served for brunch.

For the Creamy Chicken-Mushroom Sauce:
  • 10¬†boneless, skinless¬†chicken thighs,¬†chopped into big chunks or strips
  • 9¬†T¬†all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp¬†coarse¬†salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2¬†T canola¬†oil
  • 2¬†T¬†unsalted butter
  • 3¬†yellow or sweet¬†onions, peeled and finely diced (can substitute shallots)
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1¬†quart¬†chicken stock
  • 300 ml milk
  • 3 T¬†freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 24 oz cremini¬†mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 240 ml heavy cream
  • 6 T cornstarch (mixed with 10 T pan sauce ‚Äď to make a slurry)
  • fresh parsley,¬†minced
  1. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with 6 tablespoons of the flour plus 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Toss to cover the chicken in the flour and seasoning.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and onions/shallots in a food processor.
  3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add the chicken. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.) Brown all over (it doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
  4. Place the butter in the same pan and melt over a low-medium heat.
  5. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme sprigs and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Sprinkle on the remaining 3 T of flour and stir for a minute (it will be lumpy).
  7. Pour in a splash of the stock and stir, using a whisk until combined. Continue to add in stock, a little at a time, while stirring, until all the stock is added and you have a smooth sauce with no lumps.
  8. Remove thyme sprigs.
  9. Add the milk, bring to a boil, and continue to stir over the heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice.
  10. Add the mushrooms, the chicken and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the lid and stir in the cream, then heat through for a further 5 minutes.
  12. Remove the lid and test for seasoning. Add a little more salt and pepper if needed.
  13. If you’d like the sauce to be any thicker, then at this point you can stir in the slurry. Add a little splash at a time, while stirring, until you get the thickness you want. (I incorporated all of it.)
  14. Serve garnished with minced parsley, as desired.

For the Cornmeal Waffles:

  • 1 3/4 cups (397 g) buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 T (85 g)¬†butter, melted and cooled OR 3/8 cup (74 g) vegetable oil
  • 177 g (1 1/2 cups)¬†all-purpose flour
  • 138 g (1 cup)¬†yellow cornmeal
  • 25 g (2 T) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter or oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, blend together the dry ingredients, then quickly and gently combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  3. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes, to allow the cornmeal to soften.
  4. Drop the batter by 1/3-cupfuls onto a hot waffle iron, and cook it until steam stops seeping from the iron, about 5 minutes.
  5. Set aside on a cooling rack to allow steam to release. Keep warm in an oven or warming drawer until ready to serve.

For the Steamed Greens:

  • 4-8 cups mixed baby greens (kale, chard, spinach)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Microwave greens in a covered glass dish with 2 T water for about 4 minutes, or until wilted. (Alternatively, greens can be steamed on the stove top or sautéed.)
  2. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

  1. Top 1-2 waffles with steamed greens.
  2. Smother with creamy chicken-mushroom sauce, garnish with minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Rocket Soup (Shorbat Jarjir)

This soup was absolutely heavenly. It was a purée of all of my favorite greens with added silkiness from a single potato. Perfection!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Yasmin Khan, author of Zaitoun. I weighed all of the greens, added fresh lemon juice, and increased the garlic. I also incorporated my homemade turkey stock but vegetable stock could be easily substituted to make a vegetarian version. The original recipe recommends the use of spicier, mature arugula. I was upset that I didn’t make a double batch. Next time! ūüôā

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 medium russet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 7 ounces arugula (I used wild baby arugula)
  • 5 1/4 ounces fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1 ounce cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 packed cup)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, just until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in turmeric, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  4. Add potato and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Reserve a handful of arugula for garnish. Add spinach, cilantro, and remaining arugula to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook 10 minutes.
  6. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup.) Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece of lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean kitchen towel over opening. Process until smooth.
  7. Incorporate the fresh lemon juice.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, and divide among 4 bowls.
  9. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt, some of the reserved arugula, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Ina Garten’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Ina Garten uses the genius idea of roasting all of the vegetables in this lasagna filling, as well as using no-boil lasagna noodles, to remove the excess liquid that often makes a vegetable lasagna too watery. Perfect comfort food.

This recipe was adapted from Make It Ahead: a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten, via The Kitchn, contributed by Emma Christensen. I used a mandoline to slice the eggplant and zucchini. I also increased the garlic and goat cheese, modified the technique, and used the noodles without pre-soaking them.

It was very cheesy and indulgent so we gobbled it up with a giant green salad. ūüėČ

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 medium/large), unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick using a mandoline
  • 3/4 pound zucchini (2 medium/large), unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick using a mandoline
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12-14 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 16 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • 10 ounces creamy garlic-and-herb goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 1/2 cups, 40 oz, bottled marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Italian Marinara with Barolo Wine)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, very thinly sliced (I used pre-sliced and cut them in half)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375¬įF preferably on convection roast.
  2. Arrange the eggplant and zucchini in single layers on 3 sheet pans lined with parchment paper. (I had 1 2/3 trays of eggplant and 1 1/3 trays of zucchini.)
  3. Brush them generously with the olive oil on both sides, using all of the oil.
  4. Sprinkle with the oregano (I crush it in my hands), 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
  5. Roast for 25 minutes, rotating after 15 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the garlic evenly over the vegetables, and roast for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
  7. Remove all 3 trays from the oven and lower the temperature to 350¬įF, preferably on convection.
  8. Combine the ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
  9. Spread 1 cup of the marinara in a 9√ó13√ó2-inch baking dish.
  10. Arrange a third of the vegetables on top, then a layer of the noodles (6 noodles per layer), a third of the mozzarella (9 1/2 pieces per layer), and a third of the ricotta mixture in large dollops between the mozzarella.
  11. Repeat twice, starting with the marinara.
  12. Spread the last 1 1/2 cups of marinara on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan.
  13. Place the dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30-35 minutes, until the lasagna is browned and bubbly.
  15. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Make-Ahead: Assemble the lasagna completely and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost (if necessary) and bake before dinner.

One-Pan Bucatini with Peas, Baby Greens & Pancetta

The first time I made a one-pan pasta dish, I was skeptical about the results. Now I know that this technique is absolute genius. Cooking the pasta in the pan results in fabulously creamy sauce. The bonus is the ease of producing a great dish with minimal cleanup.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, Cook It in Your Dutch Oven, via Cups and Spoonfuls.com. I literally started making the dish within an hour of reading the post. ūüôā It’s a perfect quick dinner made with pantry items- all in a single pot. Great!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • ¬Ĺ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 ¬Ĺ ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, about ¬ĺ cup, divided
  • extra virgin olive oil, for toasting the bread crumbs
  • freshly grated zest from one lemon, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon or 2 ounces of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 ¬Ĺ cups water, more as needed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 oz (3/4 pound) bucatini
  • 5 ounces of mixed baby greens (baby chard, kale, & spinach), about 5 cups
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Toast breadcrumbs in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
  2. Next, mix together toasted breadcrumbs, ¬ľ cup of Parmesan, 1/2 of the lemon zest, ¬ľ teaspoon of coarse salt, and ¬ľ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.¬† Set aside.
  3. Cook bacon or pancetta in your Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside until ready to serve pasta.
  4. Add garlic and remaining lemon zest to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add wine, scraping any browned bits and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add water and stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Stir in pasta and return to a strong simmer.  Cook pasta, stirring often until the pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add greens and peas.  Stir and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add remaining Parmesan and stir until pasta is creamy and completely coated about 30 seconds.
  10. Add extra hot water if pasta seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve and sprinkle each serving with crispy pancetta and lemon panko breadcrumbs.

Marcella Hazan’s Rice & Smothered Cabbage Soup

The use of Arborio rice in this hearty soup makes it almost a soupy risotto. My husband was skeptical about eating it after hearing the name of the dish, but he absolutely loved it! I knew it would be delicious coming from such a classic book.

This “community pick” recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,¬†via Food 52’s Genius Recipes. I used green cabbage, leeks, and red wine vinegar to make the smothered cabbage. I omitted the butter and added fresh lemon juice and Parmesan rind to the soup. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 people

For the Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style:

  • 1 1/2 to 2¬†pounds green, red, or Savoy cabbage (1 head)
  • 1 1/2 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced or 1/2¬†cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2¬†cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic,¬†chopped
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T¬†wine vinegar, white or red

For the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  • smothered cabbage, from above
  • 3¬†cups homemade meat broth or stock (we used beef here, but chicken/turkey¬†is also good)(Vegetable stock can be substituted for a vegetarian version)
  • 2/3¬†cup rice, preferably Italian Arborio rice
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • 2¬†T butter, optional (I omitted it)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3¬†cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Smothered Cabbage:

  1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage.
  2. The remaining head of leaves must be shredded very fine. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
  3. Put the leeks or onion and olive oil into a large sauté pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes colored a deep gold, then add the garlic.
  4. When you have cooked the garlic until it becomes colored a very pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar.
  6. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly.
  7. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed.
  8. When done, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Note: The smothered cabbage can be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead of the soup, or served as a side dish from here. It also freezes well.

To Make the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  1. Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot, and turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice and Parmesan rind.
  3. Cook uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow, but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick, add a ladelful of homemade broth. If you are not using homemade broth, just add water. Remember that when finished, the soup should be rather dense, but there should still be some liquid.
  4. When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, swirl in the butter, if using, the lemon juice, and the grated Parmesan, stirring thoroughly.
  5. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  6. Taste and correct for salt, and add a few grindings of black pepper.
  7. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, and allow it to settle just a few minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with more grated Parmesan.

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