Tag Archives: pasta

Think Green, Think Fresh

Summer is officially here, and it’s hotter than the hubs of hell. Although I’m still obsessed with turnips, it’s time to move on to other vegetables. Typically when it is this hot I turn to lighter fare. The heat saps me so I want something that is quick and easy to make, and uses seasonal produce. I also like options that allow you to use what might be on hand. This pasta dish comes together quickly (than 20 minutes). Although I have used fresh spinach and sugar snap peas, you could just as easily use shelling peas, asparagus or cherry tomatoes. I’m finding a lot of uses for ricotta these days. I find it refreshing and lighter than a sauce using heavy cream. Spaghetti or linguine are you best pasta choices, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Remember when you add your vegetable to the pasta water, that you want to barely blanch them. I suggest 1 minute so the freshness of the vegetable comes through. The tartness of the lemon is the perfect contrast to the ricotta and vegetables. This recipe can be doubled if serving 4 or more people.

PASTA WITH SPRING VEGETABLES AND LEMON RICOTTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, sliced vertically in 3 pieces (it’s a nice way to expose the interior of the peas)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice, plus a few extra wedges to serve
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile make the ricotta sauce.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, olive oil, cheese, garlic, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasoning to you preference.
  3. In the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time, add spinach and snap peas to the pot. Stir and push the vegetables into the boiling water.
  4. Drain after 1 minute, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water (you will use this to thin you sauce if needed.)
  5. Return pasta and vegetables to the same pot, add the ricotta sauce and a few tablespoons of hot pasta water (you will not use all of it!). Stir well to evenly coat the pasta in sauce, you want a smooth and creamy texture.
  6. Serve immediately, drizzling extra-virgin olive oil over each bowl; add a sprinkle of extra cheese.

Serves 3

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“There is nothing that is comparable to it, or as satisfactory or as thrilling as gathering vegetables one has grown.” —Alice Toklas

Packing A Punch

There are days that start out well, then take an unexpected turn; like yesterday for example. I went to bed a little early and woke up abruptly when I heard a crash. I ran into the bathroom to find Val laying unconscious in a large pool of blood. I’m normally a steady Eddie in a crisis, but ever since Val’s brain surgery two years ago, our mantra has been don’t hit your head! I immediately called 911 to call an ambulance. As I followed the ambulance in my car I thought “Jeez she hasn’t been off our farm since March 9th because of Covid-19, and now we’re off to the emergency room!” After having a cat-scan it was determined that Val broke her nose and suffered a concussion. The good news was I brought her back home at 4:00 a.m. this morning. The lesson learned was don’t take a power slide on a tile floor. Floor 1, Val 0.

There are some punches that I can appreciate; like the first fresh garlic of the season. My go to recipe is Iberian Garlic Shrimp and boy does it pack a punch! Combine 2 heads of fresh garlic with roasted cherry tomatoes and sauteed shrimp and you have yourself a bowl full of yummy! Make sure you have a baguette to sop up all that goodness.

IBERIAN GARLIC SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heads fresh garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large raw shrimp (13-15 count) shelled and de-veined
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • 16 ounces linguine, cooked in salt water according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded pecorino

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place cherry tomatoes on baking sheet lined with foil. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over them and roll them around with your hands. Sprinkle with flake, or sea salt. Roast in upper 1/3 of oven for 25-30 minutes.
  2. Place a large pot of salt water to boil. Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain.
  3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic. Saute garlic until softened, but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and saute, tossing frequently until just done, about 2-3 minutes. If you think it needs additional time, take it off! It will continue to cook off heat.
  5. Place drained pasta in a large serving bowl. Top with shrimp and oil; then with roasted cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and zest, then chopped parsley and pecorino cheese.

Serves 4-6

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“Instead of giving up in the face of adversity, you should face it with a positive attitude and a smile.”  —Anurag Prakash Ray

A Few Of My Favorite Things

As we enter week 9 of self-sheltering, it’s interesting to learn what ingredients in your pantry you find absolutely necessary. Of course we all need an assortment of canned and frozen vegetables when fresh are not available, along with flour, yeast, pasta, rice, beans and an assortment of dried herbs and spices. I can’t live without, garlic, onions, olive oil and olives; but the one thing that surprised me to be near the top of my list was ‘capers’. I use them in so many ways, from chicken salad, pasta dishes, pizza, potato salad, to top fish, deviled eggs, and fresh relishes.

I buy them in 32 ounce jars from our local Mediterranean grocery store. They simply pack a punch, adding texture and tanginess when added to a variety of recipes. Capers have long been a favorite in the Mediterranean region. They are well-known for being a star ingredient in Italian, French and Spanish recipes.

One of the easiest and tastiest dishes you can make with capers is Chicken Piccata. The sauce is a combination of creamy, tart and lemony and is wonderful served with rice or pasta and comes together quickly. The chicken breasts are lightly breaded and pan-fried which assures that you control the cooking time so they stay moist. Two halved and butterflied breasts will easily feed four.

SILKY CHICKEN PICCATA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of linguine
  • 2 large chicken breasts, butterflied and halved
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (3-4 garlic cloves), grated on a micro planer
  • 1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Boil salted water and cook 12 ounces of linguine according to package directions. Drain and lightly toss with a little olive oil.
  2. After butterflying your chicken breasts, let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Mix together flour, salt and pepper to taste in a zip lock bag. Add chicken breast pieces and shake to distribute flour.
  3. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium high. Add chicken pieces to skillet. Sear chicken, undisturbed until brown on the bottom, about 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook opposite side until golden brown. You may need to adjust heat a little lower, for an additional 4-5 minutes (internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Remove from heat and tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add garlic to pan (add a little olive oil if necessary). Saute until slightly golden. Add 1 1/4 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, while scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Allow stock to simmer till reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon of stock with cornstarch, add to skillet along with lemon juice and zest. Allow to simmer until thickened slightly then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces back into sauce to reheat for 3 minutes.
  7. To serve, place a portion of pasta in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, then sauce. Sprinkle capers and parsley on top.

Serves 4

“We can do no great things…only small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa

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The Reason For The Season

I know….another tomato post.  I’m slightly obsessed; this is what happens when you pull hundreds of pounds of them from the field several times a week.  In the summer I live for two things: garlic and tomatoes.  Focusing on my two loves helps me to deal with what I don’t love, which is the heat and humidity.  When I’m in my happy place (the kitchen) it makes it all worthwhile.

This particular dish, which ends up being two dishes in one; brings tears to my eyes the first time I make it each year.  I don’t think there is anything that compares to this simple sauce that can only be made when tomatoes are at their peak.  The reason it ends up being two dishes in one is I take a portion of it out and use it for a bruchetta topping.  I know that means tomatoes for the appetizer and tomatoes for dinner, but so far no one has ever complained.  Although it is slightly labor intensive, it is worth every delicious mouthful!

Start with about 30 dead-on ripe paste tomatoes.  This will serve 4 for dinner and enough bruchetta topping for a loaf of French bread.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients.  I literally have friends begging me to make it for them.  After all, it is the reason for the season!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 30 ripe paste tomatoes
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled, separated and divided in half, grated on micro plane
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided (I use Maldon)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 16 ounces linguine, cooked to package directions
  • 2 cup grated pecorino cheese (optional)

ADDITIONS FOR BRUCHETTA:

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 loaf fresh French bread (baguette)

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place a large pot on high, 3/4 filled with water and bring to a boil.  With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the top of each tomato, through the core.  Fill your kitchen sink with cold water.  Carefully place groups of 8 in the boiling water.  Set a timer for 3 minutes.  With a large slotted spoon, pull blanched tomatoes from boiling water and place in sink with cold water.  Repeat this process until you have blanched all your tomatoes.
  2. Assemble the following: large cutting board, paring knife, serrated knife, two large bowls.  Cut the top of a tomato about 1/2 inch from top and throw in your bowl of scraps.  Next with your paring knife, peel off the skin (it should come of with ease if your tomatoes were ripe).  With your serrated knife, cut the tomato in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with your thumb and place it in the other bowl.  Repeat this process until you have peeled and seeded all your tomatoes over the bowl.  You will strain this later to collect your juice.
  3. Take each tomato half and chop it in small pieces.  Place pieces in large ceramic or pottery bowl.  I generally use 2/3 of tomatoes for sauce and the other 1/3 of the tomatoes for the bruchetta.  In a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup, strain your tomato scraps through a wire mesh strainer.  This will give you approximately 1 cup of juice.
  4. To the large bowl add the following: 1 head of grated garlic, 1 tablespoon sea salt (do NOT be afraid of the salt), half of the basil, and 2/3 of your reserved juice.  Next start with 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in your large bowl.  Stir gently but thoroughly.  You want it to be fairly soupy.  Add up to 1/4 cup more olive oil if needed.  Let macerate on your counter for at least 2 hours, up to 4 hours. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!
  5. Cook your linguine according to package directions and drain.  In a large pasta bowl, place the drained pasta and top it with the sauce.  Pass cheese.

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FOR BRUCHETTA:

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  1.  In your smaller bowl add the garlic, capers, olives, red onion, basil, salt and remaining reserved juice.  Pour approximately 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over tomatoes.  Stir gently but thoroughly.  Again you want it somewhat soupy.  The liquid will delightfully soak into your grilled bread slices.  Let this macerate on your counter for the same amount of time.
  2. Slice up your baguette in 1 inch pieces.  Heat a gas grill on high, then turn down to medium.  Place your slices on grill for about 3-5 minutes.  Turn over and grill the other side.  You are simply looking for some nice grill marks.  This can be done ahead of time.
  3. When you are ready to eat your bruchetta, top each piece with relish, making sure your are generous with the liquid.

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Serves 4

“Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.”  –Peter Pan

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

What is it about walls that seems to bring out a collective reaction of distaste?  Let’s face it our political discourse has taken on a polarized view of such things.  But the wall I’m referring to is a wall we can all agree on.  Brickyard Farms uses “The Wall” to showcase our amazing hard-neck garlic.  The first week we have German White and the next week is for Music (yes the hills are alive).  It is incredibly satisfying to sell about 2500 head of garlic each of those weeks.  For those of you not familiar with hard-neck garlic, it is distinctly different from the soft-neck garlic you purchase in your local grocery store.  Most soft-neck garlic is grown in China and is required by law to be refrigerated during overseas transport.  When garlic is refrigerated it changes the sugars to starch and makes the garlic bitter.  It also signals to the garlic that spring has arrived and it needs to grow.  This is why you typically find a green sprout in the center of each clove.

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Many of our customers purchase in bulk; anywhere from 60-250 at a time.  We are humbled by the support and enthusiasm over the years for this savory allium.  We typically store 200 heads for our personal consumption.  In addition to this I roast an additional hundred head to use in soups and stews.  When garlic is roasted it becomes beautifully sweet and nutty.  Typically garlic is roasted as a whole head with most of its papers in tact.  You simply cut the tips of each clove, baste it with olive oil, wrap it in foil and roast it in a 375 oven or on your grill for 50-60 minutes.  This works well when you are thinking of a luscious appetizer; but I want to freeze it for future use.  The method I describe here will yield two six-cube silicone ice cube trays of roasted garlic; each cube being the amount of one large head of garlic (although you can purchase bulk quantities of pre-peeled garlic I would NOT recommend it).  My suggestion is that you go to your local farmers market and stock up!  Fresh garlic season is usually July-August; and if you’ve never had fresh garlic you are in for an incredible treat!  Once they’re frozen, you just pop out the cubes and place them in a zip-lock freezer bag or container and they’re ready for something yummy when you are.

Roasted Garlic In Quantity

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Ingredients:

  • 15-20 medium size heads of garlic (remember, fresh is best)
  • Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I use Maldon)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel all your garlic and place in an 8×8 or 9×9 ceramic dish.
  2. Pour enough olive oil in the dish to cover the garlic cloves halfway.  Toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle coarse salt over garlic and cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, then remove foil.  Roast for an additional 30 minutes or until soft and slightly golden.  Let cool.  Place in ice cube trays using any oil in the dish to cover each cube (I use a teaspoon in each one, then cover with additional oil if needed).
  5. Freeze overnight.  Remove from trays and put in zip lock bags or freezer containers.

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“There is no such thing as a little garlic!”  —Arthur Baer

 

 

An Uncommon Flower

Just past the summer solstice, and we have gone from wet and cool to hot and humid.  The vegetables are breathing a sigh of relief as the heat gives us hope of regaining momentum for the farm year.  One of the first signs of optimism is seeing the garlic scapes develop.  Garlic scapes are the flower head or bulbil of the hard-neck garlic bulb.  In early summer each bulb sends up a bright green flower head as one way of reproduction.  If left to grow these bulbils will develop small seeds, after the bloom dies back.  Garlic growers cut off these bulbils or ‘scapes’ for two very good reasons.  One, if left on the plant, the bulb will send all its energy to the bulbil and seed development rather than bulb size; and two, the scapes themselves are a delicious culinary treat.

Scapes are wonderful in stir fries, pasta, potato salad or scrambled eggs.  Anything you can use garlic in, you can use a scape.  In fact I put up several freezer bags full to use  throughout the year.  Simply cut the scape into one inch pieces and fill up your freezer bag or container.  No need to blanch and they don’t stick together when frozen.  This way you can remove whatever quantity needed and seal the bag back up.  Easy peasy.

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One of my favorite ways to preserve their early summer flavor is to make pesto.  The wonderful thing about pesto is you can adjust it to your taste preferences.  Feel free to substitute Italian parsley, cilantro, Swiss chard or spinach for the basil; or pistachios, walnuts and sunflower seeds for the pine nuts.  Pecorino Romano can be substituted for Parmesan.  It also freezes beautifully.  Simply place in 4 ounce canning jars but be sure to drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on top of each jar; this prevent discoloration.  If making pesto to freeze multiply the recipe for the quantity needed.  Try it as a substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza, spread it on a sandwich or toss it with pasta.  I like to top grilled chicken breasts, fish or a steak with a dollop of this green magic.

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GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10-12 scapes)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or other nut of your choice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves or other green of your choice
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place everything except lemon juice and olive oil in bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for 5-6 times or until ingredients turn into a paste.
  2. With motor running, slowly pour olive oil through feed tube.  Stop when necessary  to scrape down sides.
  3. Open lid and add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pulse a few times.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Place in 4 ounce canning jars to freeze and/or use in recipe of your choice.

Yields: 1 cup

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“Too lazy to peel fresh?  You don’t deserve to eat garlic!”  — Anthony Bourdain