August 30, 2019

Sardine and Summer Squash Spaghetti with Olive, Tomato and Capers



Ingredients:
1 onion, sliced into quarter moons
2 medium yellow squash, cut into bite-sized wedges
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1-pint cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
2 4.4 oz tins sardines in olive oil
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
1/3 cup (drained) Kalamata olives
1/2 cup (loose) coarsely chopped Italian parsley
red pepper flakes
3/4 lb spaghetti


Directions:

Saute the onion, squash, and garlic until the onion is translucent. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

Add the tomatoes, sardines, capers, and olives to the squash mixture. Use a spoon to break up the sardines. Saute until the squash is fork-tender. Stir in the parsley, red pepper flakes and hot, drained spaghetti. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
Our trip to Portugal (five years ago, how did that happen?) renewed my interest in preserved fish. We went to two different restaurants there that were devoted to tinned fish. Since then, I've tried to incorporate it more into our meals. It's a great staple to have on hand. This month (whole summer, really) has been a very expensive one for many reasons so I've been trying extra hard to try and use up ingredients I already have vs buying new ones just for one dish.

This recipe is basically made up of odds and ends I had in the fridge and cabinet but is a real winner! It's really amazing what you can make out of basically nothing. It was light and super flavorful. Sardines have a reputation for being "fishy" but they really don't when prepared this way, they sort of create their own sauce. Tomatoes and squash are at their peak now and add a fresh flavor to the various preserved ingredients. Added bonus: this whole dish takes less time to make than it did for me to prepare the dried pasta.

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August 28, 2019

Spiced Okra Stew with Chickpeas and Tomato




Ingredients:
1 onion, sliced into half-moons
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb small okra
28 oz canned diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 lb fresh tomatoes, cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons Lebanese 7 mixed spice mix*
14 oz canned chickpeas, drained
pinch salt


Directions:

In a medium pot, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the okra and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Serve immediately.




*aka bahārāt, mine was a mix of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and mahlab


My thoughts:

I know okra can be a bit of divisive vegetable but I love it. It's finally in season now so it is the perfect time to experiment with a new recipe. Frozen okra is fine in a pinch but fresh okra has such a delicate flavor and an amazing crisp texture that its a shame not to take advantage of its availability.

We went to a new to us Mediterranean grocery this weekend that had a ton of Lebanese ingredients so I stocked up with a few essentials including this spice mix and some mahlab. I had the okra at home so I thought I'd make a version of the okra stew that is so popular in that region. When I've had it, it has had beef or lamb in it but since we were also grilling some beef kofta, I thought I'd make a vegetarian version and used chickpeas to bulk it up a bit. Normally I think I'd serve it with rice but we are oddly out of all rice except Japanese short grain so I made some spiced couscous instead. I served it as a side and had a massive amount of leftovers but it would also make a wonderful main dish. It's fresh-tasting (bonus points if you use fresh tomatoes) and full of warm spices. A real pleasure in late August.


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August 23, 2019

Pickled Beet and Gorgonzola Deviled Eggs




Ingredients:
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
1 16-oz jar sliced pickled beets
3-4 oz crumbled gorgonzola
1 tablespoon dijon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

The night before you want to serve:

Drain the beets reserving both the beets and the brine. Refrigerate the beets in an air-tight container. Return the brine to the jars. Halve the eggs. Add the whites to the jar, seal, and refrigerate. Place the yolks in an airtight container and refrigerate.

The next day:

Place the yolks, 1/4 cup pickled beets, 3/4 of the gorgonzola, Dijon, mayo, and pepper into a small food processor bowl or manual chopper.  Pulse until smooth. Drain the whites and discard the brine. Arrange on a platter. Fill with pickled beet yolk mixture, top with remaining gorgonzola and beet slices. Best served the same day. Refrigerate as needed prior to serving.

My thoughts:
This is a deviled egg for the bold. No simple sprinkle of paprika here! This deviled egg is packed with a pickley-sweet flavor that is wonderfully accented by the robust gorgonzola. Just as easy to make as the typical but with a vibrant pink hue and a more adult flavor profile. Perfect for snacking, a picnic or a retro dinner party.

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August 02, 2019

Lemon Dill Lamb Meatballs





Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 shallot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
salt
pepper
olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.



Mix the lamb, shallot, garlic, parsley, dill, zest, oregano, salt, and pepper until well combined. Roll into 2 1/2 inch balls. Place on the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until just fully cooked. For best results do not overbake! Broil for a minute or two if you want more browning for appearance (lamb stays pretty pink when baked!). Drain on paper towel-lined plates if needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.


My thoughts:

It has been quite a summer. A major family illness has affected not only the afflicted but all of us and I haven't been cooking as much as usual or as many varied things. I had picked up some lamb at Aldi and it sat in the refrigerator for over a week (it had a very good expiration date!) because I felt like I should make something super exciting with it and it seemed overwhelming to make lamb and then some worthy sides. Then I had the idea to take it easy on myself and make these delicious meatballs but serve them with some beet hummus (also from Aldi), mini pita (Aldi), mini cucumbers (Aldi), stuffed grape leaves (Trader Joe's), marinated eggplant and tomatoes (Trader Joe's), and feta (Aldi). It was a delicious weeknight meal and only took minimal effort. Perfect for hot days or times of crisis.


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