Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Even though I am a terrible food blogger and have not cooked one thing for approximately two weeks now (something both my wallet and my waistband are complaining about), my offering to the interwebs today is this simple, delicious pizza the Husband made me over two weeks ago.  Better late than never, right?

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen, tweaked Chez Nous.

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Shaved Asparagus Pizza

  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 1 (prepared) pizza dough – we used Trader Joe’s! – plus a little bit of flour for rolling the dough
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and/or Gruyere
  • about a cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5-6 small balls fresh Mozzarella, cut in half
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. “Shave” the asparagus by holding by their (untrimmed) ends against a flat cutting board and running a sharp vegetable peeler across the spear.  Repeat until you have a nice little pile of asparagus shavings, and then toss them in a small bowl with olive oil, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough on a light floured surface; sprinkle a bit of the flour on the bottom of your baking sheet (or pizza stone, if you’re fancy) and then transfer the dough to the sheet.  Spread a mixture of the cheeses over the surface, top with asparagus and with cherry tomatoes.  Drizzle with a little olive oil if you like, and then pop the pizza in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are browned and the cheese is bubbly.
  4. Top with scallions – the more the merrier – and if you like, fresh herbs, arugula, a poached, egg, whatever your heart desires.

The Verdict:

This is so simple, and yet, so good.  It even feels like it’s good FOR you (which it might be, had we not smothered it in cheese).  It’s sort of like the scallion situation I described above: the more cheese, the merrier.  Obvi.

The Only Pasta Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need.

I neglected to write a “planning” post this week – whoops!  I actually DID plan out our meals, too…though with only a couple of nights of cooking needed (we are headed to MIAMI! this weekend), I took a bit of the easy way out.  We did a lot of recycling and reusing chez nous, and we’re still dining on leftovers.  For example, this pasta salad, which I made to bring to a friend’s impromptu BBQ on Sunday evening (another reason to love spring: impromptu BBQs).

This “recipe” is an absolute go-to.  I remember making it for the first time with my mom probably ten years ago, and it’s become a staple at the yearly beachside bonfire we host with a bunch of family friends.  Of course, the first time she made this, my mom was just using up vegetables she had in her fridge – I don’t get my propensity to throw things together and call it dinner from nowhere, you see.  There are, however, two secrets to elevating this from grocery store pasta salad to the kind of pasta salad to end all other pasta salads.  See if you can spot them.

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The World’s (well, in my humble opinion, anyway) Best Pasta Salad

  • 1 box curly pasta – my favorite is Cavatappi
  • 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes, in oil – coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (orange adds a nice pop of color!)
  • 1 can corn, drained, or ideally, 2-3 stalks of fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • one bunch green onions, chopped
  • handful of spinach
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • a goodly amount of Parmesan cheese
  • fresh herbs: cilantro provides a gorgeous zing, but parsley and/or basil also good options
  • dressing:
    • a good squeeze of anchovy paste (*leave out if making a totally vegetarian version*)
    • salt, pepper, crushed reds
    • balsamic vinegar
    • olive oil
  1. Boil water for pasta; while you’re waiting, prepare/wash/chop all of your veggies, and place in a LARGE bowl, EXCEPT for your sundried tomatoes.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions.  While the pasta is still warm, toss with the veggies – and then add your sundried tomatoes and a bit of the oil it comes in.  Give it a thorough toss.
  3. Whisk together your dressing and add to your pasta.  Finish off your salad with Parmesan and a generous dose of herbs.  Serve warm or chilled – it won’t last long either way.

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The Verdict:

This one’s a go-to for good reason.  I made an extra large batch on Sunday, taking most of it to the BBQ and leaving a bit behind for me and the Husband.  By Monday evening, I had (very generously) left him two (full!) strands of Cavatappi.  I am such a great partner, sometimes.

PS: You can obviously add olives to add brininess, and whatever else your little heart desires.  I have and enforce a strict no-olive policy chez nous.

Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Sesame Crust

After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.

Sorry, Husband.

(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD.  And sometimes, they’re even good for you.  Or at least not terrible.

Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.

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Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust

for the crust

  • a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
  • about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more

for the filling

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
  • 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
  • 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In  medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball.  You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell.  Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn.  Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot.  Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent.  Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
  4. When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese.  Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes.  Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad.  Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.

IMG_3231The Verdict:

The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through.  As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be.  Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring.  What’s more fiesta-y than corn?

One Pot Pasta: Sausage & Sage Vegetable Rigatoni

Let’s just say we won’t have high electricity bills stemming from time spent in the kitchen this month.  I’ve had more important things to worry about…like, HOW in the world are we going to keep up with a bunch of 25 year olds this weekend?

And, almost as important, what do you wear while doing it? Full disclosure: I shop at Talbot’s and I LOVE it.  But I’m guessing they haven’t necessarily penetrated the 25 year old market segment.  (To the 25 year old’s detriment, to be quite frank.  Talbot’s is amazing.  And Talbot’s sale rack? Don’t even get me started.)

In the meantime, I did take a break from these important questions to whip this up last night.
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Sausage and Sage Vegetable Rigatoni

  • half box pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • 8-10 leaves fresh sage, roughly chopped
  • 1 big handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 carton mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
  • most of a bag of baby spinach
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, a bit of salt, pepper and crushed reds, and lower the temp; cook for about 8-10 minutes to get them nice and translucent.
  2. While the onions cook, boil water for the pasta and cook pasta according to the directions for al dente.  Reserve a little bit of the starchy water for making a sauce.
  3. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and sage to the onions.  Cook down 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic.  Add the apple cider vinegar and a bit off wine; cook of the alcohol.
  4. Add the sausage, crumble it in the pan, and cook all the way through.  You may want to drain off a little bit of fat – if you do, you might consider adding more wine for a little bit of a sauce.  Pasta water will also work well, if you want to add that.  When the sausage is cooked through, add the pasta and give the mixture a toss.  Add Parmesan and spinach and cover, letting the spinach wilt into the mixture a bit.
  5. Season to taste and serve, maybe top with a little more sage and Parmesan.

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The Verdict:

According to the Husband – someone who actually doesn’t like sausage – this was “awesome.”  Make it from any combination of pasta, meat and veggies in your fridge for a little frost living action.  And it made plenty for lunch…giving me more time to prep for our weekend in Cincinnati!

Asparagus Ricotta Parmesan Tart

A few weeks ago, as I was lugging home groceries, I saw this sign: thinkspring I’m not only thinking spring, I’m hoping and praying spring.  And for this bar (which is outdoor only) to reopen.  To help spring along (and to continue my quest to empty our refrigerator), I bought the spring-iest vegetable I know and turned it into a tart, inspired by my girl Martha.

Asparagus Ricotta Parmesan Tart

  • 1 premade puff pastry, thawed
  • about 1/3 cup ricotta cheese (full fat works best)
  • about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • about 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • olive oil (bonus if you can use an olive oil mister!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, stretch & roll the puff pastry out a bit – be careful not to break it.  Using a sharp knife, lightly score the pastry dough about 1 inch out from the edge, all the way around.  Using a fork, lightly poke holes all over the dough and place on a large baking sheet.  Bake the dough until golden – about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pastry shell and dot all over with ricotta cheese; lightly spread it about.  Top with a big handful of Parmesan, the sliced onion, and then line the asparagus across – alternating spear to tip.  Top with salt, pepper and some crushed reds.  Mist or brush some olive oil over the tart.  Pop the whole thing in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. If you’d like to increase the decadence, this would be delicious topped with a little truffle oil or a fried egg…
  4. Think spring, hard.
spring on a plate
spring on a plate

The Verdict:

This is such an easy meal and can be adapted so many ways, with so many different vegetables (and/or meats, if you like)- mushrooms and goat cheese? Corn and roasted tomato? Butternut squash and gruyere?  The possibilities are endless.  I will say – this is a meal that’s better for two, with some leftovers.  Or for four not-hungry people.  But who knows any of those? (Def not those ladies/gents over at Fiesta Friday.)

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