Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Acorn Squash Saltimbocca with Browned Butter Sauce

I almost exclusively roast the acorn squash that I receive in my CSA box. It’s a gold-standard crowd-pleaser. 🙂

After making and absolutely loving both a classic and a summer version of chicken saltimbocca, I was excited to try this unique acorn squash version. Unlike the chicken versions, the squash is roasted instead of fried. After roasting, the skin was tender and completely edible. The browned butter sauce made it amazing- especially because it incorporated sherry vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I reduced the amount of browned butter (and there was plenty!). I served it with roasted CSA beets, kohlrabi and potatoes along with a green salad. It was a sweet and buttery CSA feast.

I served it as a main dish but it could also be served as a seasonal side.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main dish

Buttermilk “Fried” Pork Chops

I have learned so much about cooking by watching Sara Moulton, particularly when she had a live cooking show many years ago. I’ve just started watching her PBS series and I’m thrilled. I have to watch a lot of episodes from previous seasons to catch up! 🙂

She cooked this dish on the show with her son who is reportedly obsessed with making it. We absolutely loved it too- it’s a wonderful weeknight dish. I made the “warm weather” version, serving it over salad dressed with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, but plan to try the “cool weather” version as well, serving it over sautéed apples and cabbage with butternut squash or sweet potato purée.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used larger pork chops, used basil, thyme and cilantro in the dressing and topping, and modified the method. I served it with roasted potatoes on the side for my starch-loving husband.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Pork Chops:

  • four 1 inch-thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 t Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 to 2 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 6 to 8 T extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, cilantro, and/or basil
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional
  • Warm Weather Version: green salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, for serving (dressing recipe below)
  • Cool Weather Version: sautéed apples and cabbage, for serving
  • Cool Weather Version: butternut squash or sweet potato purée, for serving

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 T rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh mixed herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Pork Chops:

  1. If time permits, freeze the pork chops for 30 minutes to make them easier to cut.
  2. Carefully cut each horizontally to make 2 thin chops for a total of 8 chops.
  3. Place the meat on a cutting board between 2 layers of plastic wrap.  (Alternatively, sprinkle a small amount of water into a large resealable plastic bag.  Place a pork chop in the bag and close, leaving 1/2 inch open.) Pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until the chop is about 1/8 inch thick; remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chops.
  4. Whisk together buttermilk, Tabasco, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup; press in the garlic. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag.
  5. Place the pounded chops in the bag with buttermilk mixture, one at a time making sure each one is coated, and marinate at room temperature, turning several times, for 30 minutes.
  6. Spread out the bread crumbs in a pie plate.
  7. Remove the chops from the marinade and season them with salt.
  8. Working with one chop at a time, toss the chop in the bread crumbs; shake off the excess crumbs.
  9. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stainless steel, cast iron, or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot; add half the chops. (I used a 14″ skillet over scant medium heat. Next time I will try a cast iron skillet to ease the clean up!)
  10. Sauté them, turning once for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  11. Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining chops, adding more oil if necessary.
  12. Chop the herbs for the topping. (I used cilantro and basil.)

To Serve:

  1. Divide the pork chops among dinner plates, top each portion with come chopped herbs, and serve with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, serve the pork chops over the dressed green salad.

To Make the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a measuring cup.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: These pork chops are delicious hot, at room temperature, or even chilled.

Chicken Saltimbocca with Crunchy Pea Salad

I have several weeknight chicken dishes to share. I’m starting with this classic Italian dish.

This is a home-cooked version of an incredible restaurant dish, substituting chicken for veal. Saltimbocca translates to “jumps in your mouth,” the perfect description for this amazingly flavorful prosciutto and sage wrapped meat.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Aaron Crowder, Katie Jackson, and Nick Perkins. I substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and used a combination of parsley and cilantro instead of fresh mint. We ate it with sautéed broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 2 (8oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 4 to 8 thin slices prosciutto (enough to wrap the chicken)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, very thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, cilantro, and/or mint leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • flaky sea salt
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. If using chicken thighs, place a thigh on a cutting board between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing the meat, about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining thighs. (If using chicken breasts, place a chicken breast on a cutting board. Holding a knife parallel to board and working along a long side, cut through center of breast until you are ½” from the other side. Open like a book and place butterflied breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing meat—about 1/4″ thick and 8″ wide is ideal. Repeat with remaining breast.)
  2. Place eggs, panko, and flour in separate shallow bowls (cake pans or pie plates work great).
  3. Season meat lightly with kosher salt.
  4. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, press 2 sage leaves onto both sides of meat.
  5. Wrap 2 pieces of prosciutto around each cutlet to make a belt that holds in the sage. (I used about 2 1/2 pieces per thigh.)
  6. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
  7. Dip in eggs, letting excess drip back into bowl.
  8. Coat in panko, pressing lightly to help it adhere, then shaking off excess.
  9. Place cutlets on a rimmed baking sheet.
  10. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until very hot (an instant-read thermometer should register 350°–375°).
  11. Carefully lower 1 breast along the side of the skillet closest to you and let it slide into oil so it’s lying flat. (I cooked 2 thighs at a time.) Swirl oil in skillet carefully so that cutlet is submerged and cook just until bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  12. Using tongs, carefully turn and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; season with kosher salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining meat.
  13. Toss scallions, peas, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt.
  14. Arrange chicken on a platter and top with pea salad. Sprinkle with sea salt; serve with lemons.

Pasta with Sausage, Basil, & Mustard

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there! ❤ I have a moment to share a recipe with you while my husband is making our celebratory pancake breakfast. 🙂

This is another dish from Food and Wine magazine’s 40th Anniversary Special Edition titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.” I’ve already made it twice because my son is obsessed! 😉

The recipe for this quick, easy and very tasty dish was adapted from British cookbook author Nigel Slater. I used a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausages. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage meat and brown over moderately high heat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, mustard and crushed red pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the pasta and basil and toss to coat. Serve at once.

Quick New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

This quick recipe results in a full-flavored replica of a classic version that has simmered for hours. I served it to my family for our past two Mardi Gras feasts- followed by a mandatory King Cake, of course! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from David Guas, a New Orleans native and chef-owner of Bayou Coffee Bar and Eatery in Arlington, Virginia, via The Washington Post.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 ounces smoked, cooked pork sausage
  • 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 7-8 scallions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 stems flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced
  • about 1-2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice cooked in 2 cups chicken stock, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the sausage and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times, so some of its fat renders. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic to the rendered fat in the pot; stir to coat.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until just softened.
  6. Add the beans, stock, thyme, bay leaves, black and cayenne peppers.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig stems with a slotted spoon.
  9. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash about 1 cup of the beans against the side of the pot, or until desired thickness is achieved.
  10. Return the sausage to the pot. When heated through, stir in the parsley.
  11. Serve hot, over cooked rice, with hot sauce, as desired. I have served it in individual bowls topped with a scoop of rice or in a serving dish over rice.

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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