Category Archives: vegetables

Pasta e Fagioli ( Pasta and Bean Soup) Weekend Cooking

019I have been making this soup forever and it’s a most perfect soup to make during the weekend when you have a little time to cook and gather ingredients. I make a big pot and freeze some for later and keep some in the fridge for lunch the next day. 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 used to only make this with dry beans but in the name of time and taste I used canned beans and have now always made this with canned.  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 and did I mention super easy????

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

2 cans rinsed and drained Cannellini Beans

5 cups water or chicken broth or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian — water works just fine but you’ll have to check your salt and pepper if using broth especially boxed broth which contains salt. Your call– super easy recipe.

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

Kosher Salt — to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

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. Add some kosher salt about 1/2 Tablespoon and some grinds of the pepper mill now and you’ll be tasting all along for salt and pepper

Add the beans and the 5 cups of water  and 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.

Right before you’re ready to serve bring to a low boil and 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.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

I picked up a couple of bags of cauliflower rice last time I was in the supermarket and I made a cauliflower pizza one night and then I made this rice last night. The original recipe was posted back in October 2018. I have to admit that since you can now find  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”.  Green Giant chopped cauliflower in a bag as well as at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and almost every supermarket now has pre-chopped cauliflower rice.  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 I have added chicken and shrimp but you can certainly leave it vegetarian and add more vegetables or tofu.  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. I served it up in a large bowl and it was really a filling delicious dinner. 

Leftovers for lunch are the best part of any good recipe and this is so good the next day with a quick heat-up.

Follow me @cookingwithcandi on Instagram and if you do make one of my recipes please post and tag me .

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.

3 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce- you may want to add more at the end , you’ll wait and taste–add to your own liking and you can even leave it on the table and have everyone add to their own liking

1 1/2 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.

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger– you can use fresh if you prefer

2 large eggs-beaten

1 – 1 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots –I had it in the house and how easy was this? you can use broccoli or corn or all. Or just plain frozen peas which works well when that’s all you have.

1 onion diced

3 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 thin chicken cutlets that I  cooked in a pan ( sprinkle with salt and pepper first) and in a little vegetable oil just cook till ready. if I were making for more people I would probably add about 1/2 lb. of cutlets diced up.  I use 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of thin chicken cutlets .

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 scramble them and then I set them aside .

I put chicken cutlets in a bowl and give them a light glaze of olive oil and lightly salt and pepper. Heat up a grill pan or any pan and pan fry the chicken. A grill pan gives it nice marks but it really doesn’t matter. Cook chicken till just cooked remove and cover with aluminum foil. I start  cooking everything else and while onions are cooking and chicken has cooled down a bit I cut it up into small pieces and return to bowl.

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 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. After the first five minutes of cooking I throw in the cooked protein that I am using and continue to heat it all up stirring as I go. If you ‘d like you can also add more soy sauce at this point. Just heat till hot and serve.

Taste for Salt and Pepper and Soy Sauce.

This is a very loose recipe so feel free to experiment. As you can see from photos I have made it with peas and carrots and just peas and if I have kale in the house I throw it in as well.

Cauliflower Chicken Parmesan

Here it is with cheese baked on top --honestly delicious either waycheese on topI came across this recipe a while back and every time I make it and post a picture of it people request recipe again so here it is again. I pretty much followed Jennifer Fisher’s recipe on her site for this recipe. I made a few changes but basically that was it. It’s pretty easy and ingredients are easy to obtain which is so important.

Very delicious and pretty healthy and a good way to get vegetables into everyone.

Thanks to @jenniferfisher.com for this delicious recipe.

This is what I did and I think it’s the kind of recipe you may play around with yourself.

Ingredients:

1 bag Cauliflower Rice– 16 oz.

1 small onion -finely diced

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil for onions

1 cup Tomato Sauce — I actually made my own because I had so much free time but you can use Raos which is my preferred brand if using jarred sauce or any sauce you’d like

1 lb. Chicken Tenders — I happen to have them in my freezer but you can use any chicken you’d like here. I cooked up and cut up into small pieces. *see note below on the chicken

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese — divided

1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese –plus more if you would like to sprinkle more on top before baking — divided 1/2 into mixture and app. 1/2 on top

Kosher Salt

Directions:

Heat the olive oil – Add the onion and cook for a few minutes till onions start to look translucent. ( app. 5 minutes) Add cauliflower rice and some kosher salt ( app. 1 teaspoon ) and cook stirring often to get this going. I sauteed for approximately 10 minutes until rice was tender (al dente), add cooked cut up chicken and 1/2 cup sauce and continue allowing to cook down. Continue stirring and cooking for a few more minutes. Taste for salt and tenderness of the rice– as I said I like rice to have a little bite not mushy. Add remaining 1/2 cup sauce and cook down a few more minutes. Toss in 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and mix well to combine.

I sprayed a small rectangular baking dish with cooking spray ( this is important) you can use an 8×8 or I think mine was 11 x 7 actually.

I transferred mixture to baking dish and top it off with the rest of the mozzarella and the rest of the parmesan. ( 1/2 cup more of mozzarella you can add more if you feel you need to and 1/4 cup more of the parm)

Bake at 350 degrees until it starts to bubble around edges and mozzarella starts to gets brown and the edges get crunchy . I cooked for app. 20 minutes. All ovens vary and I like it just starting to brown and edges crunchy.

It was more than enough for the two of us and I actually think this was good for 3 people. Maybe 4 if you have a substantial salad .

*pics on top show it both ways with cheese on top and without– obviously if you’re looking for a lower calorie route go without –it’s delicious either way

We had a small simple green salad alongside and it was perfection.

*a little note on what I did with chicken tenders. I put in a bowl and added a little olive oil ( just to give a light glaze to chicken) and kosher salt and freshly ground pepper–mixed around and heated up on a grill pan. If no grill pan any pan will do. I cooked chicken till just done because it’s going back in pan and into oven for more cooking. (but it was fully cooked)

Kasha Varnishkes–Jewish Comfort Food

This is truly traditional Jewish comfort food made with buckwheat grains and bowtie noodles. I love it and grew up eating it and  try to make it a few times a year. It is super easy and super tasty. If you’ve never made it why not start now. It’s a wonderful side dish to any meal and it can be vegetarian for all of those who need some extra vegetarian dishes on their tables just substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Kasha comes in a box. There are different types of Kasha and almost all will work. I use medium or coarse granulation.  Wolff’s brand is really wonderful so look for it and for this recipe I follow the directions on the Wolff’s box of Kasha. I actually had to order it on Amazon last year since I couldn’t find it in Colorado.

If you’re looking for an easy side dish to put together now is the time to look at this great recipe. This is also our go to the night before Yom Kippur. It’s tradition and delicious and comforting all at the same time.

Ingredients:

1 package bowtie ( farfalle ) noodles (app. 3/4 lb.)

1 white/yellow onion thinly sliced or you can use chopped onions , entirely up to you.

app. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil  you may need a  little more and may want a bit more to drizzle at the end plus more — probably 1/4 cup in total

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper–to taste

*1 small box button mushrooms sliced 8 ounce box — mushrooms are totally optional but sometimes I feel like they add a little something

1 cup kasha, medium or coarse granulation– I use Wolffs Kasha and follow instructions on the box which I have written below

1 egg for kasha as per instructions on the box

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth as per box instructions

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to directions on box for al dente.

Saute’ the onions in vegetable oil , salt and pepper until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. I use a medium size frying pan large enough to add in the pasta, and make sure you have a tight fitting lid.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to soften as well, a few more minutes , set aside. Place mushrooms and onions in a bowl and you’ll use same frying pan to cook kasha.

Coat the kasha in a slightly beaten egg. You’ll just place kasha in a bowl and put beaten egg on grains. This will help the grains not to stick to themselves while you are cooking them. Make sure the grains are completely coated with egg.  Put the kasha in the same frying pan, set over a fairly high heat. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for a few minutes till toasted and the egg has dried on the kasha and kernels are brown and mostly separate. Kasha instructions for cooking are usually on the box as well. Then I pour in the broth that I am using, a little margarine/butter is OK as well ( app. 2 Tbsp) bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower flame to simmer and cook for 10 minutes till kasha is fluffy–these are the directions on the box that I follow .

Add back in the mushrooms and onions and combine with chicken broth. Cook box of Bow Tie Pasta according to directions on box al dente.

Bring to a boil and cook over low heat covered tightly. Check on it after 10 minutes or so to make sure the kernels are tender and the liquid has absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for another few minutes till all liquid is absorbed.

Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if you’d like, mix in cooked pasta, and if you’d like drizzle a little more oil on it. I like to do it all in a large enough frying pan to hold pasta . You can always mix in pasta in a large bowl separately. I like it in frying pan on stove top till I serve it. You can always make ahead and heat up in oven at 350 degrees in a pyrex dish,  you’ll most likely need to add a little oil if you do so.

*Wolff’s Kasha has directions for cooking kasha on the box. It’s pretty much the same , I just add in the mushrooms and onions for more flavor.

*should serve 8 people

Farmers Market to Table Gazpacho

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Delicious fresh vegetables from the local farmers market went into this gazpacho. This time of year you must take advantage of the awesome selection of fruit and vegetables at your local farmers market. In Colorado there is so much local produce it would be a pity not to . I bought the tomatoes , cucumbers, peppers, garlic and red onion all from our local farmers market. Whole Foods also sells many local products which is so amazing.  It’s just quite wonderful to put food on your table from your own garden or at least from one within 100 miles of where you live. Farm to Table . Simply put it’s the best .

Ingredients:

1 cucumber or 2 – 3 Kirby size cukes, halved and seeded , but don’t peel . If not Kirby cukes you can use a hothouse cucumber. Go organic, because you are eating the peel.

2 yellow bell peppers, cored and seeded. Of course you can use red bell peppers, but not green.

4 tomatoes — Whole Foods and most grocery stores have beautiful produce this time of year so use the heirlooms if you can get them or any of the fresh tomatoes will do.

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves, minced or throw them into the food processor along with vegetables

3 cups Spicy V8 or use regular tomato juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno depending on how spicy you like it, remove seeds from jalapeno

* cilantro, chopped is a nice touch for garnish

*avocado cut up is also nice garnish

*shrimp is also a nice garnish

Directions:

I cut up cukes, tomatoes, bell peppers and red onions into app. 1 inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor with steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not make baby food, don’t over process.

After each vegetable is chopped up combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic ( if you haven’t already) , juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. It’s a good idea to chill for a while, the longer it sits the more the taste develops.

The second night I added shrimp and avocado.

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Middle Eastern Salad

This salad appeals to me on so many levels. Firstly I love Middle Eastern food , I love raw salads, I love the freshness that is going on in this salad and did I mention that it’s super easy with very obtainable ingredients.

I served with toasted pita bread cut into small triangles.

*this salad is obviously large — feel free to cut in half and play around with ingredients–it’s not an exact science

Ingredients:

5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

2 pints of small grape /cherry tomatoes or any tomatoes that you want to use. You can use up to 1 lb. of fresh cut up tomatoes

1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise , seeded and 1/2 inch diced

1 can 12 to 16 oz. size of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup cut up fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice — you may need up to 4 small lemons or 2 very large ones. I use my juicer for this.

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic — app. 3 cloves

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste– start with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 tsp. pepper– you’ll taste for additional salt and pepper at the end.

1/2 cup good olive oil

8 oz. good feta cheese, buy a chunk and dice it up

Toasted Pita Bread for serving

Directions:

Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, drained chickpeas, parsley , mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, garlic 2 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream till it emulsifies. Pour the dressing over the salad tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add in the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper *if necessary. Serve the salad alongside the toasted pita.

Yum!

Tomato Time Pasta– perfect Summer Pasta made with fresh tomatoes

photo 2 (3)photo 4 (2)photo 5 (3)Nothing but beautiful tomatoes out there begging to be eaten in a million different ways. Perfect for a “Meatless Monday” dish or any night of the week . There are tons of local tomatoes out there now. At any local farmers market you can pick up pints of these beautiful babies. This is a lovely light pasta.

I had bought 2 pints of those beautiful little cherry tomatoes and right now there are those gorgeous yellow sunburst tomatoes also available.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. They varied in size so I knew if I made a sauce some were getting cut and some would stay whole. Nothing ever sounds better than a plate of pasta to me,  nothing.   These beautiful tomatoes are only out for such a limited time you have to get them while the getting is good.  Some of the tomatoes were super small and I left them whole while I halved the larger ones. There are so many variations of this sauce and feel free to improvise. We love it this way. So simple and so delicious.

Follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 lb. spaghetti , any kind of long spaghetti is good for this — sometimes I use bucatini type and sometimes I use thin type long spaghetti– use whatever you’d like

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper* we like it spicy so if you don’t want it that spicy cut to 1/4, I actually used 1 whole teaspoon and it packed a lot of kick.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes or little plum tomatoes or you can use about 3 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes of any type. I cut the larger tomatoes in 1/2 and I left the little ones whole.

app. 20 leaves of fresh basil, I just cut them up into small slivers–this is totally optional if your kids don’t like green stuff– but it looks pretty

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste –I used app. 1 teaspoon on tomatoes and added towards the end as needed

freshly grated parmesan at your discretion

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on box for al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in the event you may need a little more liquid in your sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to cooking water for pasta. The Italians like to say that their pasta water should be like sea water good and salty. After finished cooking pasta — reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside before you drain pasta.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic, cook until garlic is golden about 2 minutes. Be careful you don’t want to burn this garlic. Add the crushed red pepper now and the tomatoes, and cook over medium heat. I also added some kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon to start, you can always add more) and a little freshly ground black pepper. Stir for a while to make sure garlic doesn’t burn and tomatoes start to burst and deflate about 5  minutes and if you think you need a little more olive oil add it now . I let the tomatoes simmer in the pan for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour for the best consistency. I smashed down stubborn little tomatoes at the end with the back of a wooden spoon. A very low simmer at the end.  Taste for Salt and Pepper. The longer the tomatoes sit in the oil and cook down on a low simmer the better the sauce will be so if you have a little time let it sit.

Once the spaghetti is cooked and you’ve drained it ( remember to reserve a cup of pasta water).  Add it to the pan with tomatoes and over medium-high heat toss the pasta with the tomatoes well. Add the basil . I let everyone add their own cheese at the table.

Remove the pan from the heat and plate it up.

Yum! and even more delicious the next day.

Summer Corn Salad with Feta

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This is a delicious and easy recipe which sometimes gets overlooked because I always make my Fresh Corn Salad but this is a bit different because it has Feta Cheese and some thinly sliced radishes. I suggest you try both of these wonderful recipes — super easy and super delicious for summertime cooking at it’s finest.

You might want to check out my other wonderful corn salad which is titled Fresh Corn Salad it’s a little different and might be more to your liking. I like both just fine and I think you will too! There are so very many variations of corn salad out there and especially in the summer when the corn is so fresh and delicious.

Ingredients:

4 cups of fresh corn ( it’s so amazing in the summer) I actually used 6 ears of corn –boiled it for 3 mins and plunged into an ice bath to stop cooking. I did it the night before because it’s just easier that way

1/3 cup of fresh cilantro chopped–if you don’t like cilantro you can omit it, but it packs a  lots of flavor–just saying…..

3 Tablespoons Lime Juice –I used my juicer because this is a lot of squeezing. Or buy the fresh lime juice in those little green bottles. (see photo) but nothing beats fresh in my book

1- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, I used 1 . Feta was plenty salty here. You might want to add more, you can taste as you go.

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil–Extra Virgin is the way to go

1 cup thinly sliced radishes — they are amazing this time of year but if you hate them you can substitute with a little red onion or scallion. I love radishes and I love the pop of color and crunch they provide

1 cup cherry tomatoes–sliced in 1/2 or into 1/4’s

1/2 cup crumbled Feta— I used a 6oz. container

Directions:

Cut corn off cobs–I know it’s work but it’s worth it and mix the corn with all ingredients adding cheese last. Yum!!! refrigerate and take out before you’re eating and let sit at room temperature.  I put salad together early in the morning and refrigerated all day. You can make it and serve it right away  but it will be better after flavors marinate a bit.

Enjoy!

Tomato Time Pasta– perfect Summer Pasta made with fresh tomatoes

photo 2 (3)photo 4 (2)photo 5 (3)Nothing but beautiful tomatoes out there begging to be eaten in a million different ways. Perfect for a “Meatless Monday” dish or any night of the week . There are tons of local tomatoes out there now. At any local farmers market you can pick up pints of these beautiful babies. This is a lovely light pasta.

I had bought 2 pints of those beautiful little cherry tomatoes and right now there are those gorgeous yellow sunburst tomatoes also available.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. They varied in size so I knew if I made a sauce some were getting cut and some would stay whole. Nothing ever sounds better than a plate of pasta to me,  nothing.   These beautiful tomatoes are only out for such a limited time you have to get them while the getting is good.  Some of the tomatoes were super small and I left them whole while I halved the larger ones. There are so many variations of this sauce and feel free to improvise. We love it this way. So simple and so delicious.

Follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 lb. spaghetti , I like long thin spaghetti for this but whatever kind you like is good– I used a whole box but you can use however much you’d like

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper* we like it spicy so if you don’t want it that spicy cut to 1/4, I actually used 1 whole teaspoon and it packed a lot of kick.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes or little plum tomatoes or you can use about 3 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes of any type. I cut the larger tomatoes in 1/2 and I left the little ones whole.

app. 20 leaves of fresh basil, I just cut them up into small slivers

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste –I used app. 1 teaspoon on tomatoes and added towards the end as needed

freshly grated parmesan at your discretion

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on box for al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in the event you may need a little more liquid in your sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to cooking water for pasta. The Italians like to say that their pasta water should be like sea water good and salty. After finished cooking pasta — reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside before you drain pasta.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic, cook until garlic is golden about 2 minutes. Be careful you don’t want to burn this garlic. Add the crushed red pepper now and the tomatoes, and cook over medium heat. I also added some kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon to start, you can always add more) and a little freshly ground black pepper. Stir for a while to make sure garlic doesn’t burn and tomatoes start to burst and deflate about 5  minutes and if you think you need a little more olive oil add it now . I let the tomatoes simmer in the pan for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour for the best consistency. I smashed down stubborn little tomatoes at the end with the back of a wooden spoon. A very low simmer at the end.  Taste for Salt and Pepper. The longer the tomatoes sit in the oil and cook down on a low simmer the better the sauce will be so if you have a little time let it sit.

Once the spaghetti is cooked and you’ve drained it ( remember to reserve a cup of pasta water).  Add it to the pan with tomatoes and over medium-high heat toss the pasta with the tomatoes well. Add the basil . I let everyone add their own cheese at the table.

Remove the pan from the heat and plate it up.

Yum! and even more delicious the next day.

Watermelon Cucumber Salad–Perfect Summer Salad

This is a most delicious salad and a departure from the usual fare of lettuces etc. Sweet and Savory and very refreshing . Simple to pull together and easy to make. Of course you can substitute or add other items if you’d like such as olives, arugula , basil etc. This is how I did it and we all totally enjoyed it!!! The salad is a rather loose recipe and can be adapted very easily to other ingredients and your own particular tastes.

It really is the perfect Summer Salad. The saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of the watermelon make for a perfect summer salad.

Ingredients:

1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1″cubes or melon balls.

1 shallot finely chopped

1 chunk of Feta Cheese– I like to cut my feta cubed but crumbled could work as well. Feta is usually a greek style cheese made with sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. I prefer a block even though I know crumbled is more convenient. The block is usually sold in a brine and that will keep the feta moist and crumbles tend to be dryer. They all taste good though so buy what you prefer. I often buy Bulgarian Feta which is rather firm and cuts and crumbles easily. Look for it. Also French Feta sometimes–check out the assortment in the cheese section of your market. And of course Greek Feta is probably the most preferred. Salty and tangy the way feta should be. Cut or Crumble your choice.

4 Tbsp. Torn Fresh Mint — more for garnish –I love Mint but some people really don’t you can substitute Basil or nothing if you’d lke

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 persian cucumbers — I buy the small ones and cut into small cubes

1/4 red onion sliced thinly

1/3 cup Pistachio Nuts — I chop them gently — obviously no shells –you can omit this all together if you don’t like them for a nut free salad

 

Vinaigrette:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

3 small cloves Garlic–finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 Teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Directions:

Combine the watermelon,1 finely chopped shallot, and mint in a large bowl with the 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil . Season with Salt and Pepper to taste and toss to combine. Transfer to fridge and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Remove from fridge and add the cubed feta, cucumbers, red onion slices and pistachios. Toss to combine. I transferred to a serving platter , drizzled with the vinaigrette and served with extra pistachios and extra mint. 

You’ll want to use a slotted spoon for serving.