Creamy Ricotta & Herb Pasta

This quick summer dish gobbled up the cilantro from my CSA share. The sauce was silky and fresh.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I reduced the oil and modified the method. Next time I may add some lemon zest and/or toasted pine nuts. Easy and delicious!

  • salt
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels (I used cascatelli)
  • about 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 2 1/2 cups soft herbs, packed, such as cilantro, basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds), coarsely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • lemon zest, optional
  • handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of coarse salt, and stir until well combined.
  3. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth.
  4. Coarsely chop the herbs with a food processor, if desired. (I used 1 cup dill, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup basil.)
  5. Add the cooked pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  6. Incorporate lemon zest and/or pine nuts, if using.
  7. To serve, spoon the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and finish with more Parmesan, drizzle of olive oil and more pepper, as desired.

Irish Ale Bread with Caraway & Herbs

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Other than wearing green, we typically celebrate the holiday by having a festive meal. 🙂

This year, instead of making a new soda bread, I made this Irish version of beer bread. I loved the caraway seeds (which I also love in soda bread) and the flecks of green from the fresh herbs in the dough.

We ate it for dinner with shepherd’s chicken pot pie, roasted asparagus, and green salad. It would also be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional celebratory corned beef and cabbage meal.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the baking time to bake the loaf in a pullman loaf pan in a convection oven. The bread was delicious with and without salted butter.

Yield: one Pullman loaf or one 9-inch loaf

  • 260 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 T honey
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 12 ounce bottle or can Irish lager, such as Harp
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Mist a Pullman loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, caraway, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the dill and chives, then toss well.
  5. Drizzle in the honey and 4 tablespoons of melted butter, then add the beer and whisk gently just until evenly moistened; do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 25 minutes in a Pullman pan on convection, or up to 40 to 45 minutes in a 9-inch pan in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: Don’t slice the bread while it’s warm. Like all quick breads, this loaf slices more easily and cleanly at room temperature. Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

Grilled Swordfish with Corn Salad

Wow. This was a special summer meal. A celebration of my CSA share too. 🙂

The meal was inspired by my first batch of CSA corn. Absolutely fabulous. We ate it raw- only heated by the warmth of the grilled fish. The corn salad also incorporated my CSA scallions. We ate it with steamed CSA wax beans and with slices of my friend’s beautiful home grown cucumber on the side. All so fresh and delicious! Amazing.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. The grilling instructions resulted in absolutely perfectly cooked swordfish. Using an instant read thermometer was also essential. We were short one family member so I only served three swordfish steaks. Excellent.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks, 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick
  • 6 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced or 1 ounce chives, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 1 cup)
  • 2 oz cilantro (1 small bunch) cilantro, leaves and stems, cut (if desired)
  • flaky salt, for serving
  1. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking over medium-high heat by pouring the coals onto one half of the grill. For a gas grill, heat all the burners to high, then turn off one of the end burners before cooking. (See Tip regarding grill temperature below.)
  2. While the grill is heating, pat the fish dry and make the salad.
  3. To make the corn salad: In a medium bowl, combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the scallions (or chives) and cilantro on top of the corn mixture (don’t stir them in), and season with salt and pepper.
  5. When you’re ready to grill, pat the fish dry again. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and lightly coat with grapeseed oil.
  6. Clean the grill grates with a grill brush, then oil the grates with an oiled paper towel.
  7. Grill the fish until well browned on one side and it releases easily from the grates, 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. Flip with a fish spatula and cook until it registers 130 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes. (For a gas grill, close the lid between flips, listening and keeping an eye out for flare-ups.)
  9. Immediately transfer the grilled fish to a platter.
  10. Toss the corn salad to incorporate the scallions and cilantro, then top the fish right away with the salad, spooning extra dressing over the fish.
  11. Let rest for 5 minutes before eating. Season to taste with flaky salt, pepper and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Tip: Medium-high is 375 to 450 degrees. You should be able to hold your hand 4 to 5 inches above the grates for 4 to 5 seconds. High is above 450 degrees. You should be able to hold your hand 4 to 5 inches above the grates for 2 to 3 seconds.

Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

Vegetable Baked Rice with White Beans & Leeks

Baked rice is quick and easy to prepare and is really delicious. This baked rice dish was inspired by prasorizo, the classic Greek rice-and-leek dish. It makes a great vegetarian main dish or a phenomenal side. We ate it as a main dish with rotisserie chicken on the side. 😉 The freshly grated Parmesan really added richness to the meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Almost any vegetable can be incorporated into the dish.  I added my beautiful CSA Romanesco cauliflower (with its greens) as well as baby spinach. The original recipe suggests alternatively adding tomatoes, zucchini, and/or broccoli with the leeks, or arugula and/or sliced sugar snap peas after the dish is removed from the oven.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 to 5 leeks (about 2 pounds), trimmed, white and pale green parts, cut lengthwise & sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lemon
  • chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli florets, and/or cauliflower florets, optional (I used Romanesco cauliflower florets)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (I used raw slivered almonds), or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white basmati rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (such as cannellini or great Northern), drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water or stock
  • coarsely chopped spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas (I used 2 cups chopped baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or chopped basil, chives, mint or fennel fronds, plus more for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Soak sliced leeks in a bowl of water, remove with a slotted spoon or spider, then shake or pat dry.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1-inch-thick strips of lemon zest, then cut the lemon in half. Cut one half into four wedges and reserve the other half.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, combine the leeks, lemon zest strips, almonds, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. (I used an enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  5. If adding chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, and/or cauliflower, add to the pan with the leeks. (I added Romanesco cauliflower florets.)
  6. Season generously with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer. Roast until the leeks start to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove and finely chop the lemon zest strips, then stir the zest back into the leek mixture. Arrange in an even layer.
  8. Sprinkle the rice evenly over the leeks, then top with the beans and 1 teaspoon salt.
  9. Add the boiling water or stock, then seal the pan tightly with foil.
  10. Bake until the rice is tender, 20 to 22 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  12. If adding spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas, add them in at this time. (I added the Romanesco cauliflower greens, ribs removed and finely sliced, as well as 2 cups of baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped.)
  13. Squeeze the lemon half over the rice, then stir in Parmesan and herbs.
  14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Serve with lemon wedges, and more Parmesan and herbs, as desired.

Baked Rigatoni with Cheddar & Broccoli Rabe

I love a cheesy baked pasta loaded with greens. 🙂 This one was bursting with broccoli rabe (of which I am a huge fan) but it could have easily incorporated broccoli, baby broccolini, or other greens such as collards, spinach, and/or kale instead. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Alison Roman. I was a little bit concerned about the spice level after adding an entire teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, but the finished result was perfect. I baked the casserole in a Dutch oven and the cheesy bread crumb topping formed an incredible crispy crust over the entire top. I may consider adding garlic next time, but it was amazing without it!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 lb rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • minced garlic, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe or 3 bunches baby broccolini, trimmed, coarsely chopped (I cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and the leaves into 3-inch pieces)(see alternate green vegetable alternatives above)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated (about 3 cups), divided (I used 10 oz extra-sharp white cheddar and 2 oz white Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese)
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped, divided (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or panko (I used a blend of the two)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking together, until just barely al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. Add leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened (but not so much that they don’t have any texture left) and starting to brown, 5–10 minutes.
  5. Add red pepper flakes and garlic, if using, to leeks and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add broccoli rabe by the handful, stirring to combine and allowing each addition to wilt before adding more.
  7. Season with salt and black pepper.
  8. Once all of the broccoli rabe has been added, cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
  9. Add pasta to reserved broccoli rabe mixture along with cream, three-quarters of the cheese, 2/3 of the chopped chives, and reserved pasta cooking liquid; mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and add more red pepper flakes if you prefer more heat (keep in mind that the saltiness and spiciness will increase as the pasta bakes).(I didn’t add any additional heat.)
  10. Transfer pasta to a 3-qt. baking dish (or, if your Dutch oven is ovenproof, just leave it in there). (I scraped down the sides of my Dutch oven and kept the mixture in it to bake- less dishes!)
  11. Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl until coated; season with salt and black pepper.
  12. Scatter breadcrumbs over pasta, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.
  13. Bake until pasta is bubbling across the entire surface and breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, 22 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  14. Scatter remaining chives over pasta just before serving.

One-Skillet Hot Sausage and Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry

This was a crowd-pleasing dish to make with my beautiful CSA Napa cabbage. As suggested in the original recipe, we ate it in flour tortillas but it would also be delicious served over rice. It was reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Thai One-Pot.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I modified the proportions, used scallions instead of chives, and wilted all of the Napa cabbage.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 16 to 18 ounces hot Italian sausages, casings removed (I used 6 sausages)
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 10 cups very thinly sliced Napa cabbage, divided (I used 1/2 of a large head)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions or chives
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 8 large flour tortillas or mu-shu wraps, warmed (I used Trader Joe’s handmade flour tortillas)
  • hoisin sauce and Sriracha, for serving, as desired
  1. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, work ginger and garlic into sausage in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron (I used a 14″ stainless skillet), over medium-high and cook sausage mixture, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, crisp, and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to a clean bowl.
  3. Increase heat to high and cook mushrooms in the fat in the skillet, tossing often, until browned and starting to release their juices, about 4 minutes (if skillet looks dry at any point, add a bit more oil).
  4. Add half of cabbage and cook, tossing often, until cabbage is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. (I incorporated all of the cabbage, a handful at a time.)
  5. Drizzle in vinegar and soy sauce and cook, tossing, until liquid is mostly reduced and skillet is dry in spots, about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove skillet from heat and incorporate sausage and remaining cabbage (if reserved) into stir-fry.
  7. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with scallions/chives and sesame seeds.
  8. Serve stir-fry with tortillas, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha for making individual wraps.

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