Creamy Caramelized Broccoli Soup with Lemon Zest & Chile

I have a few very GREEN soups to share. 🙂

This soup is described as “a lot more interesting than your average vegetable purée” because the broccoli is caramelized before being incorporated in the soup, adding a greater depth of flavor. By only caramelizing one side of each floret, leaving the other side bright green, the broccoli’s sweetness is preserved. It was quite delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. The soup was inspired by one served by Andrew Feinberg at his former restaurant, Franny’s in Brooklyn. Next time I will make 1 1/2  to 2 times the recipe to have more leftovers! 🙂

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 heads of broccoli (about 2 pounds), separated into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 5 to 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 tsp red chile flakes
  • 8 to 10 oz potatoes, thinly sliced (peeled, if desired)(I used unpeeled Dutch yellow baby potatoes)
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, plus more to taste
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • flaky sea salt, for serving
  1. In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high to high heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add about 1/3 of the broccoli, just enough so that it covers the bottom of the pan in a single layer without crowding. Cook the broccoli without touching it- until it is dark brown on one side (leave one side bright green), 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl, and repeat with the remaining broccoli, adding another 2 tablespoons oil for each batch. When all of the broccoli has been browned, season it with 1 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Reduce the heat under the soup pot to medium-low. Add the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  5. When the butter has melted, add the onions garlic, pepper, chile flakes, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook the onion-garlic mixture until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of water, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the broccoli, cover again, and cook until it is tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Stir the lemon zest into the soup.
  9. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a blender or food processor), coarsely purée the soup, leaving some small chunks for texture, if desired. (I puréed the soup until smooth.)
  10. Stir in the lemon juice.
  11. When serving, finish with grated cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of black pepper and flaky sea salt.

Butternut Squash, Sage, & Ricotta Manicotti

I made this baked pasta dish to serve on Thanksgiving Eve. My Mother-in-Law asked that I post the recipe so that she could make it to serve to vegetarian guests. It was such a compliment! This post is quite belated- oops. :/

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. I used manicotti noodles instead of lasagna and modified the proportions. I boiled the squash in the salted pasta water but may roast it instead next time to enhance its flavor. It was cheesy, creamy, and rich comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 6 T olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8 oz each) packages manicotti (there will be leftover noodles)
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 large shallots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 16 to 20 whole leaves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 (15 oz each) containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. In a large pot of boiling, generously salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Add squash to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain squash and transfer to a bowl. (Alternatively, the squash can be roasted at 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast, until lightly browned and tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.)
  5. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer sautéed shallots to the bowl with the squash and add 4 tablespoons milk, chopped sage, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until a rough puree forms.
  7. Fill a gallon ziplock bag with the squash mixture. Cut an opening in one bottom corner of the bag, large enough to fit the opening of the manicotti noodles.
  8. Pipe the squash mixture into the manicotti noodles, about 1/4 cup each. Place each filled noodle into the prepared baking dish. (I had 8 cooked noodles leftover.)
  9. In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup milk and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Spread ricotta mixture over cannelloni and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan.
  11. Bake until warmed through, about 25 minutes.
  12. Broil until top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium to medium-high. Fry whole sage leaves until crispy, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
  14. Serve the casserole topped with fried sage.

Cauliflower Bolognese

This healthy, hearty, and tasty vegetarian dish is from one of Bon Appétit’s “healthy-ish” issues. It initially had a mixed reception from the meat lovers in my house because the sauce closely resembled meat sauce in appearance and texture- but not in taste, of course. They gobbled it up in the end. 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I increased the amount of garlic, used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce (and to reheat leftovers). I served it with roasted asparagus. Yum.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 12 oz mushrooms, such as shiitake or crimini, stems removed
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2¼ lbs), broken into florets
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 to 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 chile, such as serrano, Holland, or Fresno, thinly sliced, or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T finely chopped rosemary
  • ⅓ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 3 T finely chopped parsley
  • freshly grated zest of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  1. Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out food processor bowl.
  2. Working in 3 batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of a grain of rice (some smaller and some larger ones are fine), transferring to a medium bowl as you go.
  3. Heat ¼ cup oil and 2 T butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes.
  5. Add onion and 2 T oil to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
  6. Add garlic, chile, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add cauliflower and cook, yes, still stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is cooked down slightly and begins to stick to bottom of pot, 6–8 minutes.
  9. Season with salt, then keep warm over low heat.
  10. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with sauce.
  12. Add Parmesan, remaining 2 T butter, and 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 3 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
  14. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt (it’ll probably need another pinch or two).
  15. Finely zest lemon over pasta and toss once more.
  16. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more Parmesan, then drizzle with oil.

Sweet Summer Corn- Two Ways

I typically enjoy our amazing Long Island summer corn simply on the cob after boiling it for two minutes in salted water. No butter, no extra salt. It’s perfect. 🙂 But, I must admit that both of these dishes brought sweet corn to another level and were absolute crowd-pleasers.

The first dish, pictured above, is Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn. It was buttery and indulgent. We ate it as a side with grilled chicken. The second dish, photo below, is Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream. I served it on a separate occasion as an appetizer with tortilla chips.

The Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn Recipe is from Ina Garten’s Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks via barefoot contessa.com. The Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. The street corn had more of a spicy kick compared to the buttery chipotle corn.

Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shallots, halved lengthwise, peeled, and thinly sliced crosswise (3 large shallots)
  • 8 cups white or yellow corn kernels (8 to 12 ears) (I used 9)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime (about 2 T)
  • 1 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Standing the cob upright inside the center of a medium to large shallow bowl, cut the corn kernels off of the cobs. (This prevents the kernels from scattering all over the counter.)
  2. Heat the butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the corn, chipotle powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the corn to brown lightly, until the corn is tender but still firm.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and Parmesan.
  6. Taste for seasonings and transfer to a large shallow serving bowl. Serve hot.

Martha Stewart’s Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

  • 8 ears corn, husked and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • pinch or two cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, or more, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or goat cheese
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the hot grill.
  2. Grill the husked corn cobs, turning occasionally, until kernels are tender and charred in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, lime juice, cayenne, chili powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Cut off the tips of the grilled corn cobs and stand in a wide, shallow bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Combine the corn kernels with the sour cream mixture.
  6. To serve, top with the crumbled goat cheese. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, as desired.

Note: This dish can be served warm or at room temperature

Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken

This second breaded chicken dish is one of Ina Garten’s favorite weeknight meals, second only to roasted chicken. It has a wonderful balance between the crispy meat and lemony greens. We loved it!

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and 7 boneless skinless chicken legs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, divided (I used 1 T per batch)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I used 1 T per batch)
  • salad greens
  • lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)
  1. Pound the chicken meat between 2 layers of plastic wrap, to 1/4 inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate or in a glass pie dish.
  3. On a second plate or dish, beat the eggs and egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.
  4. On a third plate or dish, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread crumb and cheese mixture, pressing lightly.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan (I used a 14-inch skillet) and cook 3 to 6 pieces of chicken, depending on size, on medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through, 165 degrees in the center.
  7. Lightly salt the hot chicken after removing it from the pan. Place in a warm oven or warming drawer while cooking the next batch.
  8. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken as above. (I cooked the chicken in 2 batches.)
  9. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette.
  10. Place a mound of salad on the center of each individual plate and top with extra Parmesan and hot chicken. (I used shaved Parmesan as topping and sliced the chicken.) Serve.

Cauliflower Parmesan

I have made this wonderfully cheesy dish a couple of times already- just to get the proportions right. I knew that I had to increase the amount of simple and flavorful sauce after making it the first time.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I lightened the dish by baking the cauliflower after coating it instead of frying it. We ate it over linguini fini with sautéed broccoli rabe on the side. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red Chile flakes, optional
  • (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  1. In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
  2. Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden.
  3. Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
  5. Bring sauce to a simmer, add the Parmesan rind, if using, and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. If using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down.
  6. Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.

For the Cauliflower & To Finish the Dish:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 large or 2 small/medium heads cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets (I used 1 small and 1 medium)
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
  • linguine fini or other pasta, optional, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place flour, eggs, and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. (I used glass pie dishes.) Season each generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip a cauliflower piece first in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
  4. Place on 2 parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets. Roast coated florets for 22-24 minutes, or until nicely browned.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce.
  8. Scatter half cauliflower mixture over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces.
  9. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.
  10. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes. While the dish is baking, prepare the pasta, if desired.
  11. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Serve over prepared pasta, as desired.

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. 🙂 It’s a perfect quick dinner made with pantry items- all in a single pot. Great!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, about ¾ 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 ½ 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, ¼ cup of Parmesan, 1/2 of the lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt, and ¼ 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.

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