Posts Tagged ‘Vegetable’

A whole and halved red bell pepper

A whole and halved red bell pepper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well this is a first for me.  I am in the process of cooking and posting simultaneously.  This could be interesting or disastrous.  I have to keep jumping up to stir the vegetables in the braising pan.  I spent some time prepping, sort of creating my own                  mise en place.  I thought it would be prudent to chop each of the vegetables ahead of time so I could add them to the pan in order of the time it would take for that vegetable to soften.  

So I started with some olive oil in the pan and tossed in the celery. I chopped two stalks.   Originally I was going to start with the sliced garlic, however, I somehow never quite soften garlic without browning several;  I let them sauté a while and then added the Vidalia onion.  I had cut up about 1/2 of a largish medium onion.  I didn’t chop it or dice it, it was somewhere in between.

The idea here is to  put in those veggies that take longer to soften and also add some of their own liquid.  Next came Red Bell Pepper. I used a whole pepper and sliced and cut it up in about 1″ pieces.  I  tossed in the garlic slices a few moments ago.  Probably the vegetables are supposed to be crisp but I think my husband is not going to like this dish if everything is a little chewy.  I just tested a piece off celery and clearly that should have been on its own in the pot for longer before I started adding other ingredients.  And what does a good cook do?  I put the lid on the braising pan which should quicken some of softening and also add some more liquid because basically what juices and oil in the pan are supposed to be my sauce!   Oh boy, we’ll have to see how this plays out.

ALERT! I should have turned the gas down lower when I put the lid on – it was only a few minutes but the onions turned brown.  

I removed the lid and added zucchini and yellow squash.  I used 3/4 of the yellow and about 2/3 of the zucchini.  I put the lid back on and lowered the gas and I see that I don’t have much liquid in the pan.  I think I’ll be adding pasta water to this thin sauce but I still have the tomatoes to add and they’re juicy – I am loving me those Jersey Tomatoes.  This vegetable sauce is really a work in progress and I am up and down and up and down, stirring everything.  

I just put the pot of water on to boil – I will be cooking linguine which is Peter’s favorite.  The water is boiling but I turned it off because since I have never made this dish before I don’t really know how long it’s going to take and the veggies can sit in the pan while I cook the pasta.  I added the tomatoes and the mushrooms.  I had chopped up two fairly large tomatoes and sliced about 20 white mushrooms.  I also put the lid back on.  The lid is going on and off about as often as I jump up to stir or check the pan.

The linguine is in the pot and I checked the vegetables – the tomatoes are doing their job and juicing things up.  Of course mushrooms are mostly liquid and they’re helping.  Gotta go in kitchen and stir the pasta.

NOTE: When I added the tomatoes (which I had salted right after I cut them up so they would juice more) I added some salt and pepper to the mixture.  I’m going to sprinkle some Romano cheese into it also.

The pasta is almost done, I have scooped up a measuring cup of pasta water and turned off the sauce. It looks juicy and everything looks soft.  I’ve decided to serve it all in the braising pan.  I drained the linguine and put in the pan with the vegetables – It looks good!  I sprinkled some of the cheese all over the top and voila Dinner is served!


By writing a blog and cooking at the same time, I was really distracted and it was only when I opened up the refrigerator to get a beer, I saw the arugula.  Oh dear, that was supposed to be salad tonight-oh wellllllllll.

AND it was absolutely delicious!  I mean really delicious and we ate most of the pound of linguine I cooked.

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Linguine with Spring Vegetables

Linguine with Spring Vegetables

Pasta is such a seasonal dish especially when you cook it with vegetables.  The winter sauces are hardy, rich and often made with root vegetables.  Come Spring and Summer, we lighten up the dishes with lighter sauces and lots of garden fresh vegetables.

Coarse salt and ground pepper

3/4 lb linguine

1 lb asparagus (trimmed) and cut into 1″ lengths

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

4 oz sugar snap peas (stem ends trimmed), halved

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 TBS buter cut into pieces

2 TBS fresh tarragon leaves

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 4 minutes short of al dente; add asparagus, zucchini, and snap peas.  Cook until vegetabless are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water.  drain pasta mixture and set aside.

In the same pot, bring cream and butter to a simmer.  Toss in pasta mixture and enough pasta water to create a thin sauce (it will thicken as it stands).  Season with salt and pepper, and top with tarragon.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food

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When I arrived in OG today, the larder was pretty empty at first glance.  BUT then, a closer look and some culinary creativity and voilà – Pasta Primavera!

I had a package of cooked chicken strips that I purchased at Costco in the freezer (so I defrosted them) and some carrots and celery left over from my last Mah Jongg night when they were part of a veggie and dip plate.  A red onion had been hanging around the house for some time and of course I always have fresh garlic in the house.  I bought 5 lbs of fresh asparagus at Costco today and I also keep a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer. Definitely the making of a tasty pasta and vegetable dish.

I sauteed the garlic, red onion and tossed in the celery, carrots and asparagus in olive oil.  I ha some vegetable broth in the refrigerator but alas, it had a sour smell so I poured it down the sink.  I found a can of Swanson chicken broth and added that to the veggies.  After a bit of cooking, I added the chicken strips, and two handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables.  Salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes and while that was cooking, I filled a pot with water to cook some pasta.  Buccatini seemed like the perfect choice.

When the buccatini was done, I drained it and before I put it in the bowl, I put a little basting oil in the bottom of the bowl.  Added some pasta, then some of the vegetables and kept alternating till all was in the bowl and topped it off with a good amount of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 

It was delicious!  Yes I do say so myself!

pasta primavera, Costco, buccatini

Cheap and easy eats

PS. This is not a photo of my dish because those who know know, that’s fettucine and not buccatini!

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Tasty Tidbits Tuesday

zucchini, carrots, snap peas, wax beans, string beans, celery, asparagus

Fresh Vegetable Medley

So many of  my Tuesday recipes are actual tried and true recipes and most often not original.  However, tonight I worked until 7:40 pm and needed to make a quick and healthy meal.  I have to admit that I had planned ahead for a couple of late evenings by purchasing an assortment of washed and trimmed and bagged fresh vegetables (Wegman’s) and a good size package of grilled chicken strips (Costco).

All you need is a boneless skin-less chicken breast or you can cheat and short cut your prepping the way I did.  And a variety of fresh veggies.

I put some olive oil in a large skillet, added a couple of garlic cloves (chopped) and turned up the heat to medium high.  Then I tossed in my chicken strips and a small bowl full of  cut up vegetables.  Tonight I used wax beans, string beans, asparagus, red onion, carrots and celery, baby zucchini squash, and snap peas.

I seasoned the mixture with sea salt and ground pepper, threw in some fresh tarragon, Italian parsley and fresh thyme.  Then, I squeezed a quarter of a lemon over all.

I stirred it occasionally for about 6 minutes and then covered the pan so everything could pan steam till vegetables were tender.

A glass of red wine and a tossed salad rounded out the meal.

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I had such a good time cooking on Sunday; while my Pasta Fagiole was simmering away in my crock pot, I made another soup in a stock pot.  If you are a working woman, you know why I’m cooking on Sunday to serve during the week and to freeze for that oh my God, I have nothing to make for dinner night.   This very soup is for tonight – I just have to heat it up when we get home from the movies.  I just can’t start cooking at 8:30pm, because if I do, I’ll be up till 1am on the computer.

Roasted Chicken anButternut Squash Soup

4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded, diced medium

1 small yellow onion diced medium

2 tbsp olive oil

coarse salt and ground pepper

ground cumin and ground coriander


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together the chicken, butternut squash, the onion and the oil. Season with coarse salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer and roast till squash and chicken are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth or water and 1/4 tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  With potato masher or back of wooden spoon, mash some vegetables till mixture is thick and  chunky.  Discard the skin and bones from chicken; cut meat into small pieces and add to soup.  Stir in 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice, season to taste. Serve topped with fresh cilantro if desired.

recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food

Although this soup is full of fiber, Vitamin C and Beta-carotene, my husband doesn’t think he has had a meal unless there is a green vegetable!  On Saturday night I prepared some pan-steamed broccoletti using a method and recipe that Gus, my favorite Wegman’s chef had made and we sampled that day.  So tonight with a bag of baby spinach in the fridge, I’m going to prepare the spinach the same way.  It’s so simple and the most  aspect to this is: I hate anchovies!, so needless to say when Gus said you put an anchovy in the oil, I started to make faces and squeamish sounds.  He assured me I would not taste the anchovy and gave me a sample – He was right, of course.  Here’s the method which is good way to prepare your vegetables. 

Pan-Steamed Vegetable Technique

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tsp chopped garlic,

1 or 2 anchovy fillets (or 1 1/2 tsp capers or 1 1/2 tsp olive tapenade)

1 1/2 lbs. vegetable

1/2 cup water

salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Heat the olive oil, garlic and anchovy on MEDIUM-LOW.  Cook stirring 2-3 minutes till anchovy dissolves.  Raise heat to HIGH. Add water, vegetables and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer; cover.  Cook stirring occasionally 8-12 minutes or until water is evaporated.  Season to taste, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, grated cheese and red pepper flakes if desired.

What I learned: Gus suggested if you are using anchovy fillets, you should probably skip the salt (I did).  I also used 4 fillets (I still can’t believe it although I made my husband take them out of the jar) and still no anchovy taste however, I used two bunches of the broccoletti.  The vegetables suggested by Wegman’s are thick and fibrous; cauliflower, broccoletti, romanesco, broccoli, green beans – they’re not leafy like my spinach so I’m not going to use that amount of water, I think the spinach would drown.

 Recipe from Wegman’s MENU magazine




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Image via Wikipedia

Ok ok, yes of course you can use any fresh tomatoes for this dish – BUT why would you IF you can get your hands on the gems of the Garden State; Jersey Tomatoes?  And this is P’RIME TIME!!! The Green Markets, the vegetable stands, your co-worker’s garden and I know you’ve heard me say this before (how about all this summer?) BUT go the extra distance and find locally grown fresh tomatoes, your recipes will love you for it.  Chilled soups are an antidote for summer’s heat, and because they take advantage of the season’s fruits and vegetables, they are fresh and full of flavor but low in fat and calories.


12 ripe medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut in half horizontally

15 large springs of fresh dill

1 navel orange

1 large clove garlic minced (I would probably use 2)

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth

1  1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

8 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt


Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Roast tomatoes on baking pan, cut side up, until just softened and charred on the edges, 15-25  minutes.  Reserve four halves; cut the rest into quarters.

Meanwhile, tie 13 dill sprigs into a bundle with kitchen twine; set aside.  Remove a strip of orange zest, 1/2 by 2 inches long; squeeze juice from orange.  reserve zest and juice.

Spray bottom of small stockpot with olive oil spray.  Add garlic and onions; cook, covered over low heat, stirring, until translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add tomato quarters, stock, dill bundle, zest, juice, salt, pepper, and 2 cups water.  Raise heat to high, bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium low; let simmer 20 minutes.

Discard dill and zest;puree soup in food processor until smooth; strain, and discard seeds.  Add vinegar.  Refrigerate.  Cut reserved tomato halves into sixteen wedges.  Pour soup into eight bowls, garnish with tomatoes, and add 1 tablespoon yogurt.  Snip remaining dill over soup; serve with croutons.

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