Category Archives: vegetables

Springtime in a Bowl – Shrimp, Asparagus and Tomato Pasta

It is really Springtime now and it just makes you want to lighten up the menu a bit and my mind immediately goes to asparagus!  This recipe is a variation on my Summertime Tomato Pasta. I wanted to use some of those beautiful asparagus out there. Even though I knew Joel would pick them out , I still made this dish. The asparagus are large enough for him to easily pick out and put on my plate. This dish is light and delicious and pretty quick to prepare. It is like springtime in a bowl!  There are so very many things to do with asparagus but this just appealed to me tonite and if you leave the shrimp out you have a lovely vegetarian pasta dish. I used the shrimp.  I also used linguine in this , it just seems to hold on to the flavors nicely. Happy Spring and Enjoy. This recipe was inspired by Giada de Laurentis .

Ingredients:

1 lb. box linguine ( I used Fini Linguine , it was lighter than regular linguine and was just perfect)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 containers of little grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any small tomato ( app. 20 oz. of tomatoes)  I cut tomatoes in 1/2.

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

* crushed red pepper ( we like the heat) use your own discretion depending on how you like it, totally optional

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1/2 cup dry white wine ( I use whatever I have open)

1 lb. Asparagus , trimmed, stalks cut on a diagonal into app. 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

fresh basil chopped ( app. 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to box directions.( Fini Linguine cooks in 6 minutes perfectly)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes, app.  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and app. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft , it takes about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic. Cook for another few minutes ( don’t burn the garlic)keep on low heat and stir around. Add the wine and the asparagus. Bring to a low boil and simmer for at least 5 minutes . Taste for Salt and Pepper, if it needs more this is when I would add it, and I did. I added a bit more salt here, pepper was fine. You need to use your own discretion about the salt .

Sprinkle shrimp in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and continue to simmer until the shrimp is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Shrimp needs to be firm to the touch, and opaque if cut into. Stir in the chopped basil and the oregano.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well to combine.  You can always add more crushed red pepper when finished.

This was really delicious and light. Joel of course picked out every piece of asparagus, and put them in my bowl. That was fine with me because I love asparagus.

*this dish will easily serve 4, if you like you can always add another 1/2 lb. of shrimp for 4 people.

Veggie Frittata for Mothers Day

This will be the first Mothers Day without my Mother. She will most certainly be missed and so much of the food I make and love comes from a long line of great cooks in my family. We will enjoy the day and think of my Mother who really did love all the Holidays and any reason to get together with the family. RIP Mom.

This Frittata is a delicious addition to any brunch, breakfast or lunch. Easy to prep ahead and served hot right out of the oven it is just delicious.

Have a wonderful Mothers Day and Enjoy from my kitchen to yours.

Veggie Frittata

1 small zucchini , 1 inch diced (app)

1 red bell  pepper, seeded and diced (1 -2 ” diced)

1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced ( 1- 2″ diced)

1 red onion ( 1 – 2″ diced)

1/3 cup good olive oil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 cloves)

12 extra large eggs (let them sit out at room temperature)

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green ( app. 3 scallions)

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the zucchini, peppers, and onion on a sheet pan.( you want all the veggies the same size so they all cook evenly and at the same time) Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and toss well. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Add the garlic, give it a toss, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down Rome and Thanksgiving 053DSCN2293IMG_1999IMG_1438DSCN2950DSCN3141to 350 degrees.  This can be done one day ahead and leave in a container in the fridge till you’re ready to use.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half , Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

In a 10″ ovenproof sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the scallions over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the roasted veggies to the pan and toss with the scallions. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and cook for 2 minutes over medium=low heat without stirring. Transfer the pan the oven and bake the frittata for 20 – 30 minutes, until it is puffed up and set in the center. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Gruyere and bake for another 4 minutes or until the cheese is just melted.  Put the pan right on the table and cut wedges and serve hot! Enjoy and Happy Holidays.Featured Image -- 7127

Cinco de Mayo Salad and Green Goddess Dressing

photo (2)photo (5)photo (2) photo May is here and it brings warm weather and beautiful flowers and springtime has finally arrived. This is a perfect way to bring a little Cinco de Mayo into your home in a pretty healthy way.

Any excuse to celebrate a holiday with a new recipe! Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone and here is a new salad and salad dressing to help celebrate with. While I am not a vegan and don’t always cook that way,  I tried this salad dressing which I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good”, and I have to say it is all good! All good ingredients. I am not talking diet food–just good, healthy food, that when eaten in moderation, yields very good results. I used * Vegenaise in making this and highly recommend it in the place of mayonnaise. You can also use yogurt in its place. This is low salt and low sugar. Delicious, fresh ingredients. I made it with the delicious salad listed below. I love love cilantro, and I have to say that if you don’t love cilantro, this one’s not for you. I used half of a jalapeno and it was not hot at all, next time I will use a little more.  I scraped the seeds out. Be very careful handling jalapenos and their seeds–make sure to wash your hands well afterwards and maybe wear gloves to prevent any problems.

This dressing will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

*a little story about Vegenaise, which is lighter than mayonnaise and contains no eggs, milk or animal products. No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Mix it with Dijon for great flavor in the place of real mayo. Extra added bonus is a great jar to store future salad dressings in.

Ingredients:

*this will be vegan if you use Vegenaise

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup of Vegenaise, yogurt, or mayonnaise

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)

1/2 green jalapeno, roughly chopped (you can use more or less, whatever level of heat you like)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

DRESSING DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a blender except for olive oil (I open the top and pour oil in after all other ingredients are combined.) It is a beautiful light green color with specks of dark green. Joel was definitely suspicious of the color but he really loved it! Gave it a big thumbs up!

This should serve 4 nicely as a salad but adjust quantities based on how many people you are feeding.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

About two hearts of romaine Lettuce, shredded

1/2 can of yellow corn (or 2 fresh ears of corn, shucked)

1/2 can black beans (I use organic canned beans and rinse and drain them)

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks

approx. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I used delicious cherry tomatoes, halved)

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Green Goddess Dressing (see above)

If you’re using fresh corn, you’ll have to cook it first. I used the canned version this time. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and dress it with about 1/4 cup of the dressing, just so it’s nicely coated. I then added beans, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, cilantro and corn. Add a little more salad dressing, and serve immediately. Joel likes a lot more dressing on his salad so I served with dressing on the side. And no he didn’t eat all that stuff in the salad; he just ate lettuce and tomatoes…he really doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Ranch Dressing – BLT Salad

photo (2)DSCN0290photoDSCN0292One of the best things to come out of writing this blog is being in touch with so very many different people and getting inspired by their ideas as well as my own. Bree emailed me to tell me about this dressing that she made from Ina Garten. I was so happy for the email and a new dressing to make. I followed the salad dressing recipe decreasing the salt and changing the salad to a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato salad. So yum, and thanks again Bree for thinking of me and writing to me, I love that you thought of me and that you inspired me to make this new dressing.  This is one helluva great dressing and it would make one helluva great dip. Another perfect anytime salad. Thanks!

Ingredients:

3 scallions, white and green parts , chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise ( you can use light but not fat free please)

1/2 cup Greek style yogurt , I used 2%

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken ( you can use lowfat)

Salad Greens:

for 6 people you will use 3 small Bibb Lettuces, or Boston Lettuce or Romaine. Whichever you prefer. I could only find Romaine so that’s what we had. We like our lettuce chopped so that’s what I did.

2 large ripe tomatoes or small grape ones, whichever you prefer.

6 slices of Bacon ( I used microwave Bacon) it’s awesome–no fuss no muss

*1 red onion thinly sliced ( optional)

*avocado cut into chunks ( also optional)

I made all the salad dressing because it will keep in fridge for a few days , I used less lettuce and less other ingredients just for the two of us. I used the red onion and avocado for my 1/2 of the salad.

Directions:

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic , salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for about 20 seconds till smooth. Add the mayo, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend till smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container and refrigerate for at least an hour till flavors blend together . Put together salad ingredients and pour dressing on it. So delish! Great with protein on it, and this salad dressing would make a great dip for raw veggies! I love this dressing, we ate it 3 nights in a row!

Chicken Parmesan Pasta

It’s that time of year when I leave Colorado to go back to NY for the spring. I don’t want to have to go food shopping because I am leaving and hate throwing away food unnecessarily.  I had a container of homemade tomato sauce in my freezer, I had already bought the chicken cutlets so all I really needed was the fresh mozzarella .  I even had fresh basil , of course fresh parsley would also be nice but what the heck Joel picks out all the green stuff anyway. I even had a 1/2 yellow onion sitting and waiting to be tossed! I walked in the house to a very hungry gentleman and I whipped this up in a 1/2 hour! I would like this better with fresh parmesan shavings but had to make do with grated parmesan because that’s what we had in the house.

*I had sauce in the house but feel free to use a jar of sauce–I won’t judge you –I promise. Raos actually makes a really good one and I use it when I am in a pinch. Just saying…..

This recipe will serve 4-6 . I actually cut it in 1/2 for the two of us and still had left-overs.

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne or rigatoni or any macaroni type pasta you have in the house

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, plus a little more for drizzling on pasta

2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cut into small bite sized pieces

Salt and Pepper–I use Kosher and Freshly ground Black Pepper always

1/2 onion , finely diced –I only used 1/2 because my sauce contained onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Tomato Sauce / Marinara Sauce whichever you have on hand. 1 Jar should do it (app. 25 oz. size) I used sauce I had but I also cut recipe in 1/2

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes–you know we like the heat so adjust for your own taste buds

1/2 cup water

8 ounce container of fresh mozzarella balls, or buy 8 oz. of fresh mozzarella and cut into cubes (see photo)

Fresh Parmesan Shavings-or grated Parmesan whichever you have on hand is good and will work

Extra Parmesan for serving–I mean there is plenty of cheese here so no worries

Chopped Fresh Basil– I love the flavor and I love the color it adds to my pasta –if you have some fresh parsley (flat leaf) that would be nice as well –just mince up and sprinkle a little bit in

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium size sauce pan.  Add chicken in a single layer and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Allow chicken to cook for a few minutes undisturbed until it starts to turn golden in color. Then stir chicken around to brown all over. After a few minutes remove to a separate bowl with a slotted spatulaor spoon.

Into the same skillet over medium-high heat , add the onions and garlic and stir to cook. Cook till onion is completely broken down and transparent, it could take a few minutes. You’ll want onions to be golden brown. * hint- if the pan is too dry drizzle a little bit more olive oil.

Reduce the heat to low once onions are broken down and pour in your sauce, red pepper flakes, and the 1/2 cup of water. Stir until the onions and garlic are mixed in then add the chicken back into the pan. Stir until heated through on a low simmer, about 5-8 minutes.

Making sure the sauce is bubbly and hot , place mozzarella into the pan. Let it sit, don’t bother with it for a few minutes, just let it heat through. You’ll be able to tell that mozzarella has softened without completely melting.

Drain the pasta and either pour onto a platter or separately plate it up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on Parmesan shavings or grated parmesan–just a little.

Pour on the sauce, sprinkle with fresh basil and serve immediately! Obviously if someone still wants extra cheese that’s their business. I left it on the table but even Joel who is a giant cheese lover didn’t need any extra.

*Just a little note on mozzarella–it should be soft but still visible and that’s why the small mozzarella balls worked out so well. You’ll want chunks to still be firm without completely falling apart.

Enjoy and this is really easy and fast!

 

 

 

Green Pea Soup from Bergdorf Goodman – Happy St. Patricks Day

IMG_7457IMG_7459IMG_7455 IMG_7466 IMG_7469Let’s celebrate St. Patricks Day with this delicious green soup! The first time I had this soup was downstairs in BG and I thought to myself I must re-create this delicious light soup. Low and behold along came *The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook which included this delicious recipe.   My two favorite items to order on the BG menu are the Gotham Salad and  the Green Pea Soup and they are both right there in this wonderful little cookbook. There are many other delightful recipes in the book as well which make it a worthwhile purchase. The shocking part of this delicious soup was the addition of a sweet potato and soy sauce. I didn’t see that coming, I would have made it without either of those two items. The soy sauce adds an intense layer of flavor and the potato gives it some real texture. Blend well. I used my high-speed blender for this .

*The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook by Laura Silverman–available through Amazon or Bergdorf Goodman

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 whole sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, if you have white pepper use it but I didn’t so I used black

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 lb. fresh or frozen , thawed green peas. I used one whole bag of frozen green peas.

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat parsley

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, sweet potato, garlic, salt and pepper until the vegetables are tender but not brown. I let it cook down for about 1/2 hour.

Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas and just blanch them for a minute.

Turn off the heat. Cool slightly, then add the parsley ( don’t omit the fresh parsley, please) Taste for Salt but I found it was just right with the 1 teaspoon.

In a blender or food processor, do it in batches ( I did it in 3) , puree all the ingredients until smooth. Serve warm!

Love the taste and enjoy all the healthy benefits!!!

*can be made vegan with vegetable stock

Cauliflower Fried Rice

My new obsession is cauliflower rice and I have to admit that since you can now find the cauliflower already chopped up and ready to use there is no excuse not to make this. I used to have to chop the cauliflower in my processor which was time consuming and I would have to dry it on towels as it was always slightly watery. Now it’s available in pre-prepared cauliflower rice packages and this is a “game changer”. Both Green Giant chopped cauliflower in a bag as well as at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. The pre-chopped bags come in 16 ounce size bags which is what I used for this recipe.  You can buy extra bags and keep them frozen!  It’s wildly popular so grab it while you can and get a few extra bags while you’re at it. Of course you can always chop your own if you don’t have access to any of these products.

This was so delicious and I added chicken this time but you can certainly leave it vegetarian and add more vegetables. There are so very many variations on this theme, feel free to go wild with it. It’s a low carb alternative to regular rice and a delicious healthy way to do so.

This is what I did and the next night I heated up left-over rice and topped with a fried egg!  Delicious!

Ingredients:

1 bag chopped cauliflower rice ( I found Green Giant brand and used it) I used a 16 oz. bag  you can use up to 24 oz. Or 1 medium head of cauliflower.

2 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce- you may want to add more at the end , you’ll wait and taste

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little bit for eggs as well. You can cut the oil down on eggs if you’d like. I felt like I needed the 2 tbsp. of oil for onions , etc. You can start 1 tbsp. and add as you need.

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger– you can use fresh if you prefer

2 large eggs-beaten

1 cup frozen peas and carrots –I had it in the house and how easy was this? you can use broccoli or corn or all.

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic -minced

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , about 6 grinds on the pepper mill will do

*pinch of crushed red pepper

*chicken, shrimp whatever protein you like . I used a thin chicken cutlet as it was just for me, if I were making for more people I would probably add about 1/2 lb. of cutlets diced up.

2 green onions (scallions) thinly sliced

*salt and pepper to taste — you may want to add a little but don’t add till the end and you’ve tasted it. I added a little sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Directions:

If you must make the cauliflower rice, take out the processor, pulse cauliflower in the large bowl of a food processor until it resembles rice, about 3 minutes, set aside. If you bought the bag–you’re ready.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and a little black pepper

Heat about 1/2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over low heat , add beaten eggs and cook until cooked through. I didn’t scramble , I made a large pancake. About 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once. Let cool completely before dicing into small pieces, set aside to cool.

Heat 1- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until onions become translucent, at least 5 minutes. I like my onions translucent for this recipe. Lower the heat and stir in peas and carrots (and any other veggies you’d like) and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. I cut up a thin chicken cutlet into small pieces and added it with the vegetables. I ended up using the 2 Tablespoons of oil, do what works best for you.

Stir in the cauliflower, diced up eggs, green onions and soy sauce mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through and the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes . Taste for soy sauce and add if necessary. I didn’t add any salt because the soy sauce was salty enough.

This is a very loose recipe so please feel free to experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower–Thyme, Garlic, Onion and Parmesan

IMG_0626

I am a big fan of cauliflower and will eat it almost any which way it is prepared but this way was pretty delicious. You can take out the parmesan out at the end if you so choose. I love the way the parmesan melts in and the flavor is wonderful, but if you want to exclude it you can do so. I roasted for almost an hour at 425 degrees, you can check on it after 40 minutes. The onion starts to caramelize nicely but it can get burnt so keep your eye on it. This makes for a pretty awesome side dish to go alongside almost anything.

P.S. I got Joel to taste it but he still doesn’t like it that much–just getting him to taste cauliflower was a milestone!

Ingredients:

1 whole head cauliflower

1/2 large yellow onion – I sliced in 1/2 and made 1/2 moon thin slices, you can slice it however you’d like

4-5 thyme sprigs –I left them whole

4 unpeeled garlic cloves — 4 nice size garlic cloves

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Kosher Salt –app. 1/2 Tsp. was enough especially if you’re using the Parmesan Cheese

Freshly Ground Black Pepper–app. 6 grinds on the mill was what I used –you can taste for Salt and Pepper

*optional but delicious addition 1/2 cup of Grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

You’ll need a large rimmed baking sheet

Wash and dry head of cauliflower, cut up into florets. Slice up onion ( I only used 1/2 of the onion because I didn’t want it to overwhelm the flavor) you can add more if you’d like

I then took out a large bowl and tossed the cauliflower florets, thyme sprigs, unpeeled garlic, and olive oil together in a large bowl. I added app. 1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper. I let it sit for a little bit while I prepped the rest of my meal.

I then spread out on large rimmed baking sheet and roasted for 1/2 hour, tossing occasionally. After 45 minutes I sprinkled with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, tossed to combine, and roasted for about another 12-15 minutes till cauliflower was slightly browned and tender. Perfection!

Pasta e Fagioli ( Pasta and Bean Soup)

019I have been making this soup forever,  This is really just a tomato base soup with beans and pasta. How bad can that be? unless you hate beans and pasta that is. I usually have ingredients in the pantry and it is a wonderful warm experience, with a nice salad this is a perfect meal. I did use dried beans so I needed to soak overnight, if you want to cheat you can just use canned beans , I must admit this makes it a whole lot easier  and honestly no one knows the difference! It is a wonderful hearty soup halfway between a soup and a pasta no matter how you do the beans!

Enjoy this amazingly delicious comforting soup.

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes ( San Marzano)

10 – 12 fresh basil leaves

red pepper flakes

handful of italian parsley, chopped

5 – 6 cups cooked beans and their liquid ( I use cannellini beans usually) any type of bean will work I use Cannellini or Red Kidney beans and a combination of both is beautiful.* feel free to use canned if you don’t have time to cook the beans. ( 2 cans rinsed and drained) the canned beans work out perfectly and it’s a very quick and easy way to go. You can easily use 2 cans of cannellini beans here or red kidney beans. Just drain and rinse and add them in –this makes it a whole lot easier

5 cups water

app. 1 cup pasta, elbows, tubetti, ditalini, or broken spaghetti

salt and freshly ground black pepper ( I probably used about 1Tablespoon of Kosher Salt but you’ll have to taste for yourself , start with a Tablespoon and use more as needed) Pepper I just add in a few grinds of the pepper mill ( about 12) and taste , taste , taste!

Directions:

In a large , heavy stockpot ( Le Creuset) saute onion in olive oil. When onion is golden and transparent, add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes and herbs. Cook until the tomatoes begin to thicken and reduce, about 10 minutes.  Taste for salt.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid. (* see notes on cooking beans) Add the water. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes – until the beans begin to break down and the soup begins to thicken. Lower heat to a slow simmer, as low as you can.  Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking and burning bottom of the pot. Taste for salt and pepper again.  I always like it to simmer for a long time, an hour would probably do it, but if I have the time I let it sit for as long as I can.  Sometimes after it’s been simmering for a while ,  I turn off the heat and right before serving just bring to a boil and add pasta. Just be careful not to let it burn, stir frequently . If you need more liquid add water a little at a time, I showed a picture of my pot filler which is the greatest thing to have in a kitchen, makes it super easy to fill a pot.

When you’re ready to serve, right before add the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5 – 10 minutes depending on type of pasta you’re using. I used ditalini.

Serve immediately in large soup bowls.

Guests can drizzle some good olive oil and grate some Parmesan Cheese over.  Should serve 8 – 10 depending on appetites. I froze remainder for another time.

*Cooking dried Beans:

Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water – about 2″ – 3″ above the beans. Soak overnight.

Rinse and drain the beans, remove any stones, foreign matter, or beans that have not expanded.

Place the beans in a heavy pot and cover with water – about 2″ above the beans.

Bring the beans to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and cook at a very low simmer. Do not allow beans to boil hard. The beans should retain their shape. Cook until beans are tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of beans and how fresh they are. Plan on cooking for 2 to 3 hours.

The beans will now be ready to be used for any recipe calling for cooked beans.

If you don’t have time to soak or you just forgot, you can place beans in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, cover and let stand for 1 hour, and then proceed with the rest of the directions.

Cremini Mushroom Pumpkin Lasagna – Seasonal and Savory for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Roux

My daughter, Kerri, has been a vegetarian (not vegan) since she was about twelve. It is always a challenge, especially on holidays, to make delicious and savory food for her to choose from that she will like. While she loves all the sides, I wanted to give her something that would always be on our table and be a tradition for her. She’s not a huge mushroom eater which is why I use cremini. They are somehow less “mushroomy” for her, and she hates anything like “fake meat.” This lasagna is sort of my own concoction. There are a lot of recipes out there, but I find this one works for me. I also need to explain a basic Bechamel (white) sauce or Roux which is at the heart of this recipe.  It consists of butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk.  Sometimes it takes nutmeg; and in this recipe I add pumpkin, but the 5 basic ingredients are always present in various amounts, depending on the recipe.  This lasagna is always on our Thanksgiving table. And even the meat eaters enjoy it! All that being said, this is not an “easy peasy” recipe. It has a lot of moving parts, but it’s so worth the effort, as all lasagnas are. Everyone who’s ever made a lasagna and starts with their own sauce, knows how much work goes into it, but it’s so worth it–especially for your family and friends.

* I usually make this early in the week and then cook and refrigerate it. It tastes better like that anyway. Then, I heat it up before serving, which usually takes another 45 minutes on top of what the recipe calls for. I always remove from refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before heating it up. It can also certainly be frozen, as any lasagna can be. I’m a big fan of freezing the leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles (You need about 18 sheets of noodles and I don’t like them all broken so I like to start out with as many as possible. It’s okay if they are broken though. No harm.)

1 1/2 lbs. cremini mushrooms, chopped roughly

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (If you don’t want to use this, you don’t have to. It’s for sauteing the mushrooms, which you can also do using olive oil.)

Bechamel Sauce (Roux):

8 tablespoons (1 stick ) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon nutmeg (you can use whole or grated)

4 cups whole milk

1 1/2  – 2 cans pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)–I like the organic one and I usually end up putting both cans in because what am I going to do with half a can anyway?

*1 tablespoon minced fresh sage ( optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the white sauce (Bechamel/Roux,) bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan (not a full on boil.) Then, set aside the hot milk. Melt the stick of butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and sage if you’re adding it, and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring all the while. I start with a wooden spoon and as it thickens (about 5 minutes,) I switch to a whisk, until it is thick. Then I add the pumpkin and continue stirring but at this point, turn off the flame and remove from heat. Set aside off the heat.

Roughly chop up mushrooms. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and release their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. (Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly and remember that cremini cook pretty quickly.) Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, then set all the mushrooms aside in a bowl.

Lasagna Assembly:

To assemble the lasagna, spray a nice, deep 8 x 12  baking dish, then spread some of the bechamel/pumpkin sauce in the bottom of baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top of this. (No-boil noodles are not soft so it might feel strange to lay them down but just put them down, usually 3 to a layer. No need to overlap because they grow as you cook.) Then add 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Then, begin to alternate. Start with another layer of noodles with Bechamel /Pumpkin Sauce on top; then noodles with mushroom and parmesan cheese; noodles with pumpkin/bechamel sauce; noodles with mushroom and parmesan cheese. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan Cheese. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes .

This recipe includes about 6 layers of noodles total, which is about 18 lasagna noodles.