Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Braising (from the French word, “braiser”) is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature in liquid.  Because baby vegetables are young and tender, they do not take long to cook, only about 20 minutes. 


Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Serves 6

½ Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb baby carrots
1 lb baby zucchini
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs vegetable stock or water
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup vegetable stock or water
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Coat bottom of 9- or 10-inch heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the baby carrots and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes. (Although vegetables won’t brown evenly, they will get some color.) Next, add the zucchini. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

In small cup, mix 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons vegetable stock and add to vegetables. Shake pan or stir vigorously while liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water; cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes.

To serve, add freshly ground pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

Crispy Roasted Beech Mushrooms

This is a snack I made around the cocktail hour. If you like mushrooms, you’ll love these. There are clean and ready to use. The Brown Beech mushroom, or Bunashimeji, and the White Beech mushroom, or Bunapi has a nutty, buttery flavor, and a firm, crunchy texture. The mushrooms grow in clusters and produce tender caps.




Crispy Roasted Beech Mushrooms

Makes about 2 cups

1 lb white and/or brown beech mushrooms
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with a rack set about 4 inches from the heat source. Put a baking sheet on the rack to heat up while you prep the mushrooms.

Use a knife to cut off just enough of the base to separate the mushrooms-you may need to use your hand to help separate them. Discard the bases and put the mushrooms into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the mushrooms and season with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat.

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and pour the mushrooms onto the sheet. Use a spatula to gently spread out the mushrooms into a single layer. Roast until mostly golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes, using a spatula to turn the mushrooms occasionally so that they cook evenly.

Season the mushrooms liberally with salt and pile in a small bowl. Serve immediately as a snack.

Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

I have to say, this is really delicious. It would be great to pack in your lunch. It’s very light and extremely healthy!

Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

Serves 4

1 lb broccoli, finely chopped (5 cups)
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam broccoli florets until just tender, 3 minutes. Once cool, chop and combine with chickpeas, scallions, and slivered almonds.

In a bowl, combine garlic, mustard, honey, lemon zest and juice. Slowly add oil, whisking to emulsify, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle broccoli mixture with dressing and adjust seasoning.

Refrigerate salad in an airtight container up to two days.

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Burger on Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

I can already hear the the ughs! You know who you are! I know Quinoa and kale are a trend, but I happen to like it and this veggie burger got rave reviews.  If you don’t like it, go visit the It’s All About the Bacon blog! (Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon too!)

There are many health benefits in eating high-fiber plant protein sources. A high-fiber diet lowers your risk for colon cancer.  And trust me on this, you don’t want to get colon cancer!

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Serves 5

1 can black beans (16 oz, reduced sodium), rinsed and drained completely
¼ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup no salt added vegetable or chicken broth
¼ cup chopped bell pepper (variety of colors)
½ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 Tbs chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ cup egg whites or egg substitute
Nonstick cooking spray
Kale salad (recipe below)

In a small sauce pan, combine uncooked quinoa, cumin, turmeric and broth. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low, then cover pan and cook for 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, until all broth is absorbed and quinoa has sprouted.

Roughly mash black beans with a fork to get a paste-like consistency.

Thoroughly mix cooled quinoa, bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, garlic, hot pepper flakes and egg into black bean mixture.

Make 5 patties.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with spray. Cook patties until heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Serves 2-4

Roasted Chickpeas
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 oz Baby Kale or Kale/Dark Greens Mix
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Regianno, shaved

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the chickpeas on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until the chickpeas are slightly shrunken and crispy. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the greens and toss until evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I usually add a bit more salt). Arrange on plates and top with Parmigiano-Regianno shavings and crispy roasted chickpeas.

Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring has arrived, and with longer days and warmer weather comes a new crop of fresh produce. It’s the perfect season to “spring clean” your diet. Fruits and Vegetables that are in-season reap the most nutritional value. Since lima beans are difficult to find fresh, I used frozen beans. You can substitute fresh fava beans in this soup.

Spring Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large leeks (white & pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup chopped peeled carrots
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
10-oz package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
5 oz green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz asparagus, tough ends trimmed, spears cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and carrot; sauté until vegetables are tender but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Add lima beans and green beans and simmer until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add asparagus and 1/3 cup basil and simmer until all vegetables are very tender, about 7 minutes longer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup basil. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing Parmesan separately, if desired.

Asparagus Gratinato with Grana Padano

Grana Padano is one of the most popular cheeses of Italy. The name comes from the noun grana, which refers to the distinctively grainy texture of the cheese. Though similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is inexpensive because areas producing the cheese are bigger. Grana is less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

Grana Padano


Asparagus Gratinato with Grana Padano

Serves 4

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 Tbs Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they’re thick, peel them. Place the asparagus in shallow-sided casserole dish, in single layer and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle  with salt, pepper, cheese and bread crumbs.  Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

As you may have guessed, I love cauliflower. I think I have posted about 14 other cauliflower recipes. This one is wonderfully creamy and cheesy. You can also top this with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan mixed with 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs instead of Saltines.

Cheesy Cauliflower  Gratin

Serves 8

3 lb cauliflower (1 large head), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch florets
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 cup scallion greens, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
20 (2-inch square) saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cook cauliflower in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower well in a colander and transfer to a buttered 2-quart baking dish.

While cauliflower is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, scallion greens, salt, and pepper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and stir gently to combine.

Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, pour over crumbs and toss to coat.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cauliflower.

Bake gratin in middle of oven until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Carrot & Radish Salad

A salad from last week’s farmers market haul. This is very light, crisp and refreshing.


Carrot & Radish Salad

Serves 4

4 carrots, thinly sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
¼ tsp lime zest (freshly grated)
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1½ Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Whisk together zest, juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste and toss with vegetables.

Asparagus with Mushrooms & Parmesan

It’s prime asparagus season. I picked up some very thin ones at the farmer’s market last week. Here it is prepared with wine soaked mushrooms.



Asparagus with Mushrooms & Parmesan

Serves 4

1 lb medium asparagus
2 medium Portobello mushroom caps (or mushrooms of your choice)
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbs minced chives
olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz Parmesan, shredded

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the mushrooms into 1 inch chunks. Put them into a non-reactive bowl and pour the wine over them, and toss to coat evenly with the wine. Allow the mushrooms to sit five minutes or so. This should be long enough for them to absorb most of the wine.

Combine the asparagus and wine soaked mushrooms (drained) in a large mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil and chives.

Transfer to the foil coated sheet pan, sprinkle salt and pepper and toss to distribute evenly. Then bake in the center of the oven for roughly 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during this time to turn things and check for sticking.

The dish is done when the asparagus and mushrooms are tender. If there is a lot of liquid when the vegetables are done.

Arrange on a platter, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Croxetti with Potatoes, Green Beans & Pesto

I was in New York city several weeks ago and whenever I’m there I go to Eataly on 23rd Street.  I needed to warm up and kill some time before meeting someone for dinner.  While wandering in this Italian pornographic food emporium, I meandered into the pasta section and bought some interesting pasta shapes that I hadn’t seen before.  To me there is nothing more fun than researching regional recipes.  One of the pastas I bought (and didn’t have to take out a mortgage to buy!) was Croxetti.  I was waiting for my brother-in-law, Russell to come to town to make it.  

Croxetti originated in Liguria, in Northern Italy along the border with France, during the middle ages. In the past they were made by local peasants and used by aristocratic families as a display of wealth and status. A thin, disc shaped, Ligurian pasta that has been hand stamped with the family arms on one side and different designs, such as palm trees, sunsets, and sailboats on the other side. The disks are approximately 1¾ inches in width. This recipe is very popular in the region, which includes potatoes and green beans boiled in the same water with the pasta. I think this pasta bears a scary resemblance to Communion wafers!




Croxetti with Potatoes, Green Beans & Pesto

Serves 4

3–4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, in 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 heaping cup)
2 large handfuls slender green beans (if using frozen beans, thaw them slightly)
8 oz dry pasta
2 Tbs prepared pesto
1 cup (loosely packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water (taste it; it should be as salty as the sea) to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 4 minutes. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions—adding the green beans to the pot when you have 2 minutes of cooking time remaining. Cook until the pasta is al dente, the potatoes tender and the beans still crisp.

Drain the pasta and vegetables, retaining 1/2 cup of cooking water. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot and stir in the pesto; add a bit of liquid if needed to create a thin sauce. Stir in the Parmesan and season to taste with salt and freshly grated pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.