Mussels with White Wine Tomato Saffron Sauce

Back when I got pregnant a YEAR ago (because what’s up: you’re pregnant for 10 months, hello, fifth grade health class you’ve got some curriculum updates to do) I became wildly uninterested in anything that wasn’t bread. Or cheese. Or melted cheese on bread. For a while, I think the Husband thought he had basically won the lottery.  Pizza every night sans those pesky vegetables.  Holler.

However, even though I slowly re-introduced important food groups into my diet (thanks, Ben & Jerry’s, for all the support), mussels — something I have loved since I was a very small child — never made it back to the rotation.  In fact, until about three weeks ago, the very thought of mussels made me feel unhappy.  This made my husband feel unhappy.

To celebrate two months sans pregnancy, we had mussels, and they were delicious.  (Thanks to the one & only Ina for the recipe.)

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Mussels with White Wine & Tomato Saffron Sauce

  • 2-3 pounds mussels (or at least a pound a person)
  • big scoop of all-purpose flour
  • big pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 large shallots, chopped OR a large sweet onion
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 oz  can chopped tomatoes, juice drained
  • lots of chopped parsley
  • fresh thyme
  • about a cup of white wine
  • salt, pepper
  1. Clean your mussels: add them to a large bowl or pot with lots of cold water.  Add the flour, and let soak for 45 minutes.  Drain and then remove the beards by hand, bringing it toward the hinge and then pulling it gently off.  Throw out any noticeably bad mussels and give the whole batch another good rinse.
  2. Meanwhile, add the saffron to a half a cup hot water and let soak for about 15 minutes.
  3. In a large pot, add butter and olive oil and melt down over medium heat.  Add shallots or onion; cook until translucent and then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the tomatoes, saffron & saffron-flavored water, parsley, thyme, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add mussels, stir it all together and then cover the pot.  Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until the mussels open up.  You don’t want to undercook them – gross – and you don’t want to overcook them, either – rubbery.  Discard any that do not open. Another sprinkle of parsley won’t hurt anyone, either.
  5. Serve immediately, with garlic bread for the critical step of dipping into the sauce.

 

The Verdict:

More, please!

 

 

 

 

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Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

Another day, another big bowl of pasta.  (Beach season is almost over, right?)

This is the kind of dinner you make when mostly you’re just thinking about takeout.  In other words, it’s not really a recipe, but a scrounging of things that exist in your refrigerator (frost living!) that will save you $25 so you can apply that to your next run to Current Boutique (or whatever you save your pennies for). I’m not anything but future-oriented when it comes to consignment.

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Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

  • 1 bag pre-washed baby kale
  • 1 bag pappardelle pasta
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk, I say!)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter together over medium heat.  Add shallot and lower heat, cook down slowly, until translucent (about 5-10 minutes).  Add a bit of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Add the minced garlic.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add your pasta.  Cook according to directions.  Drain, reserving about a cup of starchy water.
  3. Add the baby kale (or whatever greens you have) to the saute pan and cook down until wilted.  Add the pasta to the pan, a squeeze of lemon, the ricotta cheese, and a splash of the reserved water.  Mix through until a creamy sauce forms – add more water, as needed.
  4. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese; eat wearing sweatpants.

The Verdict:

If pappardelle is on the menu – anywhere, including in my own house – there’s a 110% chance I’m ordering it.  I just can’t say no.  This bowl of goodness is worth the Dadbod.

Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives & Rosemary

It’s hard to believe, but a year ago, Husband and I made it official.  To celebrate, we did exactly what we did for our wedding: we went to a wedding in Boston (this time, my dear friend E’s), we spent the night in Salem, where we got married, and now, we’re spending a few days on the Cape, with my parents.  Because who doesn’t like to honeymoon with their parents?!

One of the best parts: we’re back to eating like kings again (thanks, Mom!).  For example, this star recipe – fancy enough to serve any company, and simple enough to wrap your head around the first time you make it.  Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen, tweaked by my mom and sister.

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Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives & Rosemary

  • 2-3 pounds chicken parts – with skin and bones, for flavor (I like the breasts the best, but if you’re normal, thighs, drumsticks, etc.)
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • 5 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pitted kalamata olives (use a good jarred kind)
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • about 1 cup dry white wine
  • about a cup chicken broth
  • a few sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in ovenproof pot over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper & then brown it, skin side down first.  Make sure it is nice and brown before turning it over & make sure not to crowd the pan (work in two batches if your pot isn’t large enough).
  3. Add grapes, olive and shallots to the pot, all around the chicken.  Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through.  After 20 minutes, add the wine and chicken broth, and make the chicken nice and crispy, by turning on the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken and the grapes/olives from the pot and place on a serving platter.  Put the pot on the stove again, add the rosemary sprigs, and bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any delicious bottom bits – just 2 -3 minutes more.
  5. Serve with crispy bread and a side salad.

The Verdict:

I don’t even like olives, and this is a keeper.  (To my chagrin, you need them for the salty/briny flavors.)  This is great news for the Husband, who got all of my olives.  And if you can serve this with (year-old) wedding cake for dessert, you’re truly winning at life.

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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?

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions: cook more fish at home (sorry, Husband-who-doesn’t-like-fish).  The only problem is: I don’t actually like the smell of fish lingering in my kitchen after I grill or saute it.  In general, I use the oven to bake fish (a little soy sauce, a little brown sugar, and poof! Dinner!), but I wondered: could the solution be even easier?  As in, could I, as in all things tasty and easy, use my crockpot?

It turns out, yes, yes I can, and so can the Husband, who executed this recipe, inspired by Williams Sonoma.

salmon in the crockpot? yes.
salmon in the crockpot? yes.

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

for the salmon

  • about 1/2 cup veggie, seafood, or chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or dill, which pairs great with salmon, but I can never find)
  • as many salmon fillets as you can stand to eat (or fit in your crockpot without layering)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • baby spinach, for serving

for the sauce

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • about a cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon light mayo
  • another sprig or two of thyme, twiggy parts discarded
  • fresh parsley, chopped (the Husband used cilantro, which, if you’re like me, you’ll also find works, despite the weird-sounding combo.  Parsley would work slightly better with the lemony notes of thyme, though.)
  • pinch ground cumin
  • 2-3 small cucumbers, diced
  • optional: wedge lemon
  1. In your crockpot (yay!), combine the stock, wine, onion, thyme, salt, pepper and about a 1/2 cup of water.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  2. Add salmon, skin side down, cover, grind a little bit of pepper on top, and cook on low for about an hour.  The fish will turn opaque and be completely, deliciously tender.
  3. As the fish cooks, whisk together the yogurt, a touch of mayo, shallot, more thyme, parsley, pinch cumin and the cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper and if you so desire, a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Serve the salmon on top of the baby spinach and spoon the sauce over each fillet; garnish with parsley.  Eat up.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.

The Verdict:

The Husband smothered his in sauce, but he declared this highly edible, if not outright…good.  I loved this – so easy, so tasty, so healthy, and delicious the next day, served cold with a salad of spinach and avocado.  Bonus: you can eat as many chocolate-covered pretzels as you like after this; you earned them.