BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.
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Kabocha Squash, Sausage, & Cornbread Gratin

I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 small to medium kabocha squash
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
  • 2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  3. Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
  5. Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
  7. Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
  8. Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
  9. Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
  10. When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  12. Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  13. Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
  14. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
  15. Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
  16. Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
  17. Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
  18. Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
  19. Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

Pinchos Morunos: Spanish Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Bites

My non-pork tenderloin-eating son gobbled up these bites of meat! The sauce and seasoning were absolutely delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I doubled the recipe to use two pork tenderloin. We ate it with Basmati rice and green salad. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 one-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 T lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 T honey
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 T chopped fresh oregano
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Add the pork and toss to coat evenly, massaging the spices into the meat until no dry rub remains.
  3. Let the meat sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in another small bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, and garlic. Set aside.
  5. In a large skillet (I used a 14-inch skillet) over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until just smoking. Add the meat in a single layer and cook without moving until deeply browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
  6. Using tongs, flip the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and browned all over, another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 140 degrees.
  7. Off the heat, pour the lemon juice-garlic mixture over the meat and toss to evenly coat, then transfer to a serving dish. (I tossed the sauce with the meat in my serving dish.)
  8. Sprinkle the oregano over the pork and drizzle with the remaining 1 T of oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  9. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pasta with Kale, Sausage, & Mushrooms

This quick weeknight dish makes kale a crowd-pleaser. 🙂 It was fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Latt. I used my CSA red kale instead of black kale and I doubled the mushrooms and the garlic. I also modified the cooking sequence. This recipe could easily be adapted to make a vegetarian version by omitting the sausage.

  • 1 bunch red or black kale, washed, ribs removed
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages
  • 8 oz (½ pound) shiitakes mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz (½ pound) cremini mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock or pasta water
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta (spaghetti, ziti, penne, or fusilli) (I used La Molisana Pantacce Toscane, 106)
  • 1 T Kosher salt for the pasta
  1. Sauté with olive oil or grill the sausages to put a crust on the outside, drain on a paper towel, cut into 1/4-inch rounds, then set aside.
  2. In a hot pan lightly brown the kale with the olive oil and remove.
  3. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic; sauté until lightly browned.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium. Return the kale to the pan along with the sausages, stock, and butter. Braise for 15 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, make the pasta in boiling salted water, drain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, toss.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the sausage mixture, toss to coat with the sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

One-Pot Baked Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

So, this dish uses broccoli rabe instead of broccoli- but I’m still including it in my “series.” 🙂 This is a skillet version of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes. It was delightfully cheesy too.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used large garlic cloves and decreased the broiling time to 2 minutes. We ate it with a large green salad. Absolutely delicious!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • coarse salt
  • 12 ounces Fontina and/or aged cheddar cheese (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large sprigs sage
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • ÂĽ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound ridged medium pasta shells, or large tube pasta, such as lumaconi or rigatoni
  1. Place racks in center and upper third of oven; preheat to 325, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, for the pasta. Salt generously.
  3. Grate the Fontina cheese on the large holds of a box grater (you should have about 4½ cups).
  4. Smash the garlic cloves, peel, and coarsely chop.
  5. Pick all sage leaves from stems and set aside about 10. Finely chop remaining leaves (you should have about 1 tablespoon).
  6. Trim tough dried ends from the broccoli rabe, then cut stems into 2″ pieces. Leave leafy ends long.
  7. Heat a deep, large, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add ¼ cup oil and swirl to coat.
  8. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet. Break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir a couple of times and continue to cook, undisturbed again, until sausage is fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  9. Add garlic, chopped sage, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Gradually add about two-thirds of cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly and letting cheese melt completely before adding more, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt and remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water 2 minutes shy of package instructions (8–10 minutes depending on type).
  13. During the last 2 minutes, add all of broccoli rabe to pot with pasta. Drain in a colander and shake several times to remove excess water. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to empty pasta pot.
  14. Add cheesy sausage mixture from skillet to pot with pasta. Stir until pasta and broccoli rabe are coated in sauce, then transfer everything back to skillet.
  15. Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake on center rack until pasta is tender and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat broiler.
  16. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese.
  17. Toss sage leaves with remaining 1 T oil in a small bowl and arrange over pasta.
  18. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling in spots, about 2 to 5 minutes (depending on strength of broiler).
  19. Let pasta cool a minute or two before serving.
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Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette

I have two versions of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes to share. This is the broccoli-loaded “healthier” version.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Adam Rapoport. I increased the amount of broccoli, modified the proportions, and used sweet Italian sausage. It was a quick and tasty weeknight meal.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of broccoli florets
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 to 14 ounces fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage (about 3-4 links), casings removed
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 14 to 16 ounces orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving

  1. Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta).
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break up meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage, until it is browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  5. Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions; it will cook more in the skillet).
  6. Meanwhile, ladle about ½ cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.
  7. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in ½ cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add butter and stir until melted, then transfer pasta to a large bowl.
  9. Gradually add 1½ oz. Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.
  10. Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.

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Rigatoni with Sausage & Greens

This dish has a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. It’s creamy from the creme fraiche, meaty from the sausage, and earthy from the kale. I loved that the entire dish was prepared in a single pot- such a bonus. It was a great weeknight meal.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. The original recipe called for mustard greens; I used an abundant amount of Toscano kale from my CSA share instead. I also increased the amount of pasta, garlic, and creme fraiche. My family will gobble up any amount of kale if it’s creamy and prepared with pasta and sausage. Genius. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until 
al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
  3. Add the sausage and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl.
  4. Add the leeks, garlic and a generous pinch of salt to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, 
about 5 minutes.
  5. Return the sausage to the pot.
  6. Add the mustard greens and tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the greens are just wilted and the tomatoes start to burst, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta, crème fraîche and reserved pasta water and cook, tossing, until the pasta is hot and coated in a light sauce, about 2 minutes.
  8. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and serve right away.

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