Tag Archives: one-dish meal

chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Don’t stop cooking just because Thanksgiving is coming! My unscientific study of the week before Thanksgiving shows that restaurants seem more busy as Thanksgiving approaches, as though every home kitchen in the land is marshaling its resources for our all-American holiday. Surely, though, the pantries are well stocked with root vegetables, broth for making gravy, more than enough herbs to season a week’s worth of meals. And those of you who are traveling for the nation’s ritual meal must have plenty of odds and ends in the refrigerator that you should use up before leaving the house. Eggs can be can be made into tarts with stray bits of bacon or cheese or vegetables, or eaten on an open-faced sandwiched, or poached over roasted vegetables. Odds and ends of stale bread and vegetables can be made into a hearty ribollita, or any number of other soups.

As we were trying to clean out our own refrigerator before heading to Delaware for the holiday later this week, chicken pot pie seemed like an obvious candidate for a scavenger meal. After I pulled the third potato and second turnip out of the crisper drawer—not to mention that giant celery root—I realized that all the root vegetables I had couldn’t just go into the filling. There was only one appropriately frugal course of action in this puritanical season: a mashed topping like shepherd’s pie would have to replace my classic pot-pie-topper, a rye crust. If you have fewer items in your refrigerator, you could simply serve this as a hearty stew, stopping the preparation after the mixture simmers and just before the topping is added and it is popped into the oven. Or you could make the rye crust, or top it with biscuits instead.

You have probably already realized that this is a bonus leftovers recipe: replace the chicken breasts with leftover turkey meat and you have a great post-Thanksgiving meal. Just use your leftover mashed potatoes on top (maybe even leftover kale in the filling) and call it a day.  Everyone else will call you a genius!

Chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Serves 6

Topping:

  • 3 large, waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, quartered
  • 1 turnip, peeled quartered, and each quarter halved
  • 1 celery root, peeled and quartered, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon

Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bunch (8 to 10 large leaves) collards, lacinato kale, or kale, sliced into a chiffonade
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with a teaspoon or two of cold water, enough to make a pourable slurry
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Add potatoes, turnip, celery root, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Test celery root and potatoes with a sharp knife; it should be easy to slide the tip of the knife into the vegetables. If uncertain about doneness, remove a sample from the pan and taste. When vegetables are cooked, drain them and put them in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a food mill. Mash them with the paddle attachment of the mixer, or by grinding in the food mill. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

2. While vegetables simmer, preheat oven to 375 F. In a large stovetop-to-oven casserole or saute pan, warm olive oil, onion, carrots, and turnip over medium-high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and turnips may begin to turn a golden color. (Reduce heat if vegetables begin to brown.)  Add herbs, chicken, stir and then cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring only once, until chicken is turning brown. Then add kale and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

3. As this mixture simmers, pour in the flour slurry, stirring constantly to incorporate. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. Sprinkle with kosher salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.

4. Scoop mashed vegetables on top of chicken mixture, and spread to 1 to 2 inch thickness, leaving the edges uncovered. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until mashed topping just browns. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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fettuccine w butternut squash + cauliflower

If you stop by your farmers’ market this morning, pick up a cauliflower and a butternut squash, as well as some parsley, and make this dish for supper. When we think of Italian food, we might not think of dishes like this, but it is a traditional Italian dish from Naples. It makes use of the best of the market this time of year, pairing creamy butternut squash (which melts into the sauce just at the end of preparation) with the marvelous texture of well-cooked cauliflower. At first I thought long ribbons of fettuccine were a counterintuitive pasta for this dish, but they are the perfect noodle to absorb this lush and hearty sauce.

Besides the cauliflower and squash, everything else in the dish is a pantry staple. The list of ingredients below is long, but when you parse it, you see that at least the process is not that fussy. All the vegetables and most of the seasonings go right in at the beginning, with only the pasta to cook at that point, and parsley and cheese to add at the end. If you cut up your squash and cauliflower beforehand, it makes an eminently doable weeknight dinner. For a dinner with meat, I would just fry some nice Italian sausages to serve after. But the dish is so hearty—I radically increased the amount of vegetables from the original recipe—that it’s not really necessary. Seriously, look at that giant measure of vegetables, below! It’s so virtuous that you can probably excuse all manner of sins for the rest of the week.

Fettuccine w butternut squash + cauliflower

Serves 6

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich, Lidia’s Italy, which is a great cookbook

  • 4 cups cauliflower, cut into florets and quartered
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed with peel removed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups of tomatoes from a can of whole, peeled Italian tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 lb. fettuccine

1. In a large sauteuse or skillet with a lid, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until you can smell it, then add onion slices, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Ad squash and cauliflower, capers, salt, and crushed pepper. Toss and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, add the lid, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan to prevent the vegetables (particularly the squash) from sticking.

2. Add the cut-up tomatoes, plus the vegetable stock, if using, or water. Stir and cover the pan again. When the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer, about medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes. Test a large piece of squash to be sure it is softened, then uncover and continue cooking until the juice in the pan is very thick and will coat the pasta well, about 5 to 8 minutes. Taste the sauce and add salt as necessary, and keep it at a low simmer.

3. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the fettuccine and cook barely to al dente doneness. Remove a cup of pasta cooking water from the pan, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce (if that pan is not large enough, pour the sauce into the empty but hot pasta cooking pan and add the pasta back to it). Over medium heat, warm the entire mixture, tossing it well. The squash will break up a bit to help coat the pasta. If it seems dry, add a bit of the pasta cooking water. If the mixture seems to wet, cook it a bit more to reduce the juices. Then turn off the heat, toss with parsley and grated cheese, and serve in large, warmed bowls.

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ham, bean + cabbage soup

With a hurricane bearing down on the northeast, something strange happened. It would seem that I am genetically programmed to cook ceaselessly—like, everything in the refrigerator—when a storm is approaching. Apples were turned into a crumble, and also added to a slow-cooked pork loin roast with onions. Bits and bobs of cheese (four totally random kinds that had accumulated in the drawer) went into a big dish of macaroni and cheese. A container of leftover ham, the odd turnip, potato, carrots, celery, and beans was clearly the base for a soup. Hurricane soup! What could be more appropriate with a weird hybrid storm approaching? Soup is called for in this situation. Soup is part of the emergency planning scenario. The thinking was that even if the power goes out, we can use the gas stove to heat up the soup. And the longer the soup sits around, the better it tastes.

I’m not going to lie and say that this soup is terribly gorgeous. It is fairly unattractive. But, hey, any port in a storm, right? It is delicious, and filling, and flexible. You can add or subtract from the amount of carrots, turnips, cabbage, and potatoes I used. You could substitute other root vegetables, or swap in kale for the cabbage. Heck, you could substitute a few slices of smoked bacon in place of the ham. The soup won’t mind. It just gets better and better. If you still have power, and a gas stove so you can keep cooking if the power goes out, start a pot of soup. It’s time to get serious about storm preparation. Good luck to everyone on the East Coast, and I’ll see you on the other side of Sandy.

Ham, bean + cabbage soup

Makes 8 large bowls of soup

  • 2 small or 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into slices
  • 2 celery stalks trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups cooked ham, chopped
  • 4 cups cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch chiffonade
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 cups cooked white beans (such as navy or cannellini), with some of their cooking liquid
  • salt, if needed

1. In a large soup pot, combine onion, carrots, celery, turnips, potato and vegetable oil. Turn heat to medium-high and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until vegetables are fragrant and onion is translucent, but not browned. Reduce heat to medium if necessary to prevent browning.

2. Add rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, and ham, and saute for 2 to 3 additional minutes. Add cabbage, stock, and cooked beans. Then add water to cover vegetables and ham by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 60 minutes, until turnips and potato are cooked, and soup is thick. Leave to simmer for longer, if desired. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve piping hot with crusty bread, or biscuits, and a salad.

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chicken w glazed turnips

I feel there should be an annual celebration the week when turnips finally appear in the farmers’ market. To me, this is one of the great advantages of fall. Last week, when I saw the first ones at the Wednesday market, I was on my way from one meeting to another. I grabbed three gorgeous purple globes and popped them into my bag. They went to every meeting with me the rest of the afternoon, including a cocktail reception in the Beinecke Library. I must confess that I was quite distracted during the reception. All I could think was, “when was the last time that Gutenberg Bible across the room was within spitting distance of a bag full of turnips?” See, the turnip is the little black dress of the vegetable world, and perfectly at home in a building full of incunabula. And I’m sure they were just as popular in 15th century Germany as they are today. I always wondered about those ensembles advertised in J. Crew as “perfect for the transition from work to evening.” Now I know what they were talking about.

I  thought Melissa Clark’s article about roasting chicken thighs with whatever for supper last week was smart advice. I frequently turn to my skillet, rather than the oven. But I think the method below would work just as well for: cubed potatoes, butternut squash, rutabagas, broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes. Just for starters. Usually we don’t have boneless, skinless breasts, but that happened to be what I had this week. I was afraid the dish would not be very flavorful, but it was just the opposite. The chicken browned very nicely and left a great fond in the pan, which really enriched the turnips and turned them a delightful deep caramel color. Anyway, I think pork chops and chicken thighs would also be nice here. In fact, I plan on trying the pork chops next.

Until then, dear reader, I give you: the humble turnip. She walks with kings, nor lacks the common touch.

Chicken w glazed turnips

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large purple-top turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey

1. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on both sides of chicken breasts. In a large nonstick skillet or saute pan (that has a tight-fitting lid), warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until each side is deeply browned. Then add the lid to the pan and turn heat to medium-low, cooking with the lid on for about 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 170 F. Set chicken aside on a plate and cover with foil. There may be a good bit of brown fond in the pan from the chicken. This is good.

2. Add garlic and butter to skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add diced turnips and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until turnips are dark brown and beginning to caramelize. Add thyme, broth, and honey to the pan and replace the lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, until turnips are cooked through. About halfway through this cooking time, remove lid and thoroughly stir and redistribute turnips.

3. When turnips are tender and cooked, return breasts and any accumulated juices to the pan. Heat together for 5 minutes. Serve each person some chicken and turnips piping hot, perhaps with brown rice cooked in chicken broth.

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pasta w cauliflower + sausages

Cauliflower may be one of my desert-island vegetables. To me, it is the darling of the cruciferous kingdom. Unlike its cousins—cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi—cauliflower has a certain irresistible charm. I never understood why babies were said to come from the cabbage patch. The cauliflower patch is the real home of adorable beauties, florets folding in on themselves, worlds within worlds.

It’s versatile, too, and can be worked into tarts, eggy casseroles, gratins, or just roasted, steamed, or pickled, or eaten raw. I had spotted a vegetarian version of this recipe in my trusty Marcella Hazan and wanted to make it into a one-dish meal by increasing the proportion of cauliflower to pasta (I made the version for two noted below, with just one-half pound of pasta to about 2 pounds of cauliflower) and adding a bit of sausage. I also added crunchy bread crumbs, and salty olives. (I find that it is never wrong to pair olives or capers with cauliflower.)

The key to the recipe is timing. If you play your cards just right, you can cook the sausage first while your water is coming to a boil and the cauliflower cooks in the boiling water. Then, as the sausage vacate the pan to make way for the garlic and anchovies (and what have you), the cauliflower will be just finishing up and available to be drained and scooped right into the skillet for a second tour of cooking. Keep your water boiling and dump the pasta in right away—it should finish cooking just in time to be drained and scooped right into the same skillet (with a bit of cooking water to get the sauce sorted out) to finish the dish. While all of this is going on, you can brown the bread crumbs in a smaller skillet on the side. I know it probably seems strange to imagine cauliflower florets combined with pasta. But trust me, it works. The cauliflower is fairly velvety, and clings beautifully to the penne.

Pasta w cauliflower + sausages

Adapted from Marcella Hazan Essentials of Italian Cooking

  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage links
  • 1 head cauliflower, about 1.5 to 2 lbs., broken into florets
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 3 anchovies, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives (I used Lucques olives)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 lb. small penne pasta (or 1/2 lb. if preparing for two people)

1. In a large skillet, cook sausage until cooked all the way through, and center registers 170 F on a meat thermometer. Set aside. Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil. When boiling, add cauliflower florets and cook at least 15 minutes, until very soft, but not disintegrating. If you time this properly, you’ll be able to take cauliflower straight out of the boiling water and into the saute pan. If not, then remove cauliflower from boiling water and set it aside. And in any case, keep the boiling water simmering and add the pasta to cook while sauce finishes.

2. Add some olive oil to the sausage pan and keep at medium heat. To the warm olive oil, add garlic and cook until light gold in color. Add anchovies and crushed red pepper, and cook until anchovies dissolve. Now, if it is cooked and tender, scoop cauliflower out of boiling water and add to pan. (Or if cauliflower finished too early, simply add the cauliflower.) Break up the cauliflower florets with the back of a spoon, leaving none larger than a walnut. Some of the florets should mash into bits that are quite small. Add the olives as well. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, until flavors combine and cauliflower is sauteed and browning.

3. At the same time, heat a glug of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs to the hot oil. Stir frequently for about 3 to 4 minutes, until bread crumbs are well toasted. When they are a deep golden brown, set them aside in a bowl.

4. Assemble the dish: when pasta is through cooking, scoop the pasta from the boiling water, reserving at least 1/2 cup water to make the sauce. Put the pasta in the skillet with the cauliflower, tossing very well to combine. Add the reserved pasta water a bit at a time to get the sauce to coat all of the penne. Garnish each plate with bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and serve with sausage along side.

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shrimp, collards + grits

While Delaware, the place I grew up, is in many ways a southern place, shrimp and grits is not the sort of thing we ever would have eaten at home. Let’s face it, “southern” cooking cuts a wide swath through the American culinary repertoire, and while you would probably recognize much of what we cooked at home as “southern”—biscuits, cornbread, fried chicken, homestyle (i.e. well boiled and usually with a pork product) vegetables all played a leading role—taken as a whole, it bore no resemblance to the cooking of the Piedmont, or the Gulf Coast, or southern Appalachia. Nor does the cooking of any of those places bear much resemblance to the cooking of each of the others.

On our family vacations, which were always taken in a vehicle, and never in an airplane, we visited Appalachia, the lower Eastern Shore, the Delaware Water Gap (to the north), and most places in between. I never got to North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Florida until I was much older. Ty, though, has traveled throughout the south much more than I have, and has always had a taste for deep-South dishes like shrimp and grits. (Ty points out that he has traveled the SEC East thoroughly, but not the SEC West. I don’t know what this means, but suspect others might.) I never even tasted shrimp and grits until last year, in South Carolina. And let me just say up front—or you can tell me again in the comments—that this dish would absolutely not pass for shrimp and grits in Charleston or anywhere in the low country. In fact, I am pretty sure it would count as heresy. In order to make this into a relatively quick, one-dish meal, I have added fresh chorizo sausage in place of the traditional tasso ham, and I have added a lot of chopped collard greens as well. Instead of using shrimp broth, I have substituted chicken or vegetable, the two kinds I always have on hand.

However, one place where I have not and will not scrimp is when it comes to the grits. I use Anson Mills’ stoneground white grits, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. However, if you can’t find stoneground grits, please feel free to substitute whatever grits you have available where you are. (Since I’m busy confessing, I will admit that I once made this dish and served it over a nice, soft polenta. What?! Polenta is also made of corn!) The chunky stoneground grits, if soaked overnight, cook in about 50 minutes (with a little tending), which is about what it takes to prep and cook the rest of the dish. If you want the legitimate low-country version of shrimp and grits, make the delicious rendition available here at the Anson Mills site. Those folks know what they’re doing. This version, though, is pretty darned good.

Shrimp, collards + grits

4 servings as a main course

  • 1 cup stone ground white grits, such as Anson Mills
  • 4 and 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 lb fresh chorizo sausage links
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb collards, ribs removed, leaves cut into fine chiffonade
  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • kosher salt

1. Starting 12 – 24 hours before you make the grits, place the grits into a covered saucepan of at least 3 quarts. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of the water. Stir once, and let grits soak for 12 – 24 hours.

2. After the grits have soaked, place saucepan on burner at medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the lid and turn heat to very low. Meanwhile, bring the other 2 cups of water to a simmer and keep nearby on the stove. As grits thicken, add simmering water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Cook grits for 45 to 50 minutes, adding simmering water as needed and stirring, replacing the lid after each addition.

3. While the grits are cooking, start the shrimp and collards. Select a heavy, large, lidded skillet or casserole. Add chorizo sausage to the pan and brown very well over medium to medium-high heat. When sausages are well browned on all sides, set them aside. If only a small amount of fat has rendered from the sausages, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium heat, add the onion, and stir and cook until softened. Add collards and stir until coated with oil and wilted. Saute for about 10 minutes. Then add the bay leaf, crushed red pepper, and paprika. Stir well and add tomato paste. Mix well again. (Don’t forget to check and stir your grits, adding more water as needed.)

4. Add white wine to the skillet and simmer until reduced by about half, stirring well. Then add broth and zest and bring to a simmer. Return sausage to the pan and cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid, stir well, and add shrimp, tossing well. Replace lid and cook for 5 minutes, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Taste mixture for salt, and add more, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, as needed.

5. Spoon grits onto warmed dishes and top with shrimp, sausage, and collards mixture. Spoon plenty of the pan gravy over, and serve piping hot.

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linguine w purple pesto, green beans + new potatoes

Each summer there is this beautiful moment when the market is filled with the ingredients for a perfect pasta dish from Genoa: basil, freshly dug potatoes, green beans. The basil, of course, is to make pesto; it’s no coincidence that the most common type of basil you’ll find in the market is “Genovese basil,” bright and green, with gigantic leaves. While I’m sure Marcella Hazan would wince—the recipe here is adapted from her indispensible book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking—I have found that cooking the potatoes in boiling water first, then the green beans, and then the pasta, all in the same pot, has no deleterious effect on the finished dish. And in fact it has a quite salubrious effect on my state of mind, as well as my dishwasher’s.

If you use this method, you’ll find that you can have supper on the table in 30 minutes, if you use the 20 minutes it takes to cook very small potatoes to also mix up the pesto. Speaking of this pesto, which is made with purple basil: I find I prefer it to the typical green basil for making pesto. In fact, what I bought from the Yale Farm on Saturday, I suspect, is “Amethyst Improved,” a variety of purple basil that is actually the only Genovese-derived purple basil. (It has the characteristic shiny, turned-down, almost black leaves.) In any case, make sure you don’t inadvertently use Thai basil to make your pesto. It may be edible, but I doubt it will be quite as delicious—though it is wonderful in all sorts of other dishes!

You can, of course, make the pesto ahead and refrigerate it for a day, or make a huge batch and freeze it, making this dish later. But I do implore you to try it as I give the instructions below, with the pesto finished only moments before the pasta. It is a totally different experience. I should also mention that for many years I made pesto without a recipe, just throwing in handfuls of basil, nuts, glugs of olive oil, shreds of cheese. Do not do this. Seriously, a well-proportioned pesto (with the proportions given by Marcella Hazan, as below) is nothing like what you throw together when you don’t feel like paying attention. It really does make a huge difference to use the classic proportions. That said, I made this while I was cooking for one this week, and I give the proportions for feeding two people below. If you have six to feed, triple it, and if you have eight to feed, well, you get the idea. It is a simple math problem to work it out, and I feel you will agree with me that it is totally worthwhile.

Linguine w purple pesto, green beans + new potatoes

Adapted from Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Italian Cooking

For every 2 servings, use the following proportions:

Pesto:

  • 2/3 cup (1 oz.) tightly packed fresh purple (or green) basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, very fresh, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 oz. (a scant 1/4 cup) freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Pasta and vegetables:

  • 2 small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 oz. (a large handful) green beans or haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1/2 pound pasta (such as linguine)
  • salt

1. Set a large pot of water on the stove. Add about 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the water and the potatoes. Turn to high and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.

2. While potatoes are cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor combine the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse with the blade until the nuts and basil leaves are finally chopped, but not pureed beyond recognition. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and add the cheese by hand, mixing it in with a spatula.

3. When potatoes are cooked, remove them from the boiling water. Add the washed and trimmed green beans or haricots verts. Return the water to a boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until beans are bright green and tender. Remove these from the water with tongs and set aside with the potatoes. Add the pasta to the water and return to the boil; cook for recommended al dente cooking time on package. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can while still preserving the slices in a nice shape. Taste a bit of green bean and a bite of potato. If they are not very well salted, add another pinch of salt to the pesto.

4. Just before pasta is done, remove at least 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water from the pot. Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking water into pesto. Drain pasta and return to the pot with green beans, potatoes, and pesto. Using tongs, gently combine the potatoes, beans, and pesto into the pasta. Distribute the pasta among serving dishes and serve hot, passing more parmigiano-reggiano alongside.

 

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charred pepper + tomato soup w seared scallops

We are all in our kitchens trying to figure out what to do with all the gorgeous stuff coming from the market, are we not? When I walk to work in the morning, when I am standing in line waiting for an iced tea in the afternoon, when I am on hold, when I walk home at night, while I am in the shower, all I think about is what to do with all the tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, peaches, nectarines. Anything that stretches vegetables with other ingredients like breadcrumbs, cheese, onions, pasta—these are all out of the question. I need recipes that pack the highest density of produce into each increment of volume.

Therefore, readers, I give you this soup.

We made this for our friends Erin and Geoff, who were visiting from San Francisco week before last. In her past life, Erin headed up our local farmers’ markets (I was on the board), and even though they were coming on a Friday, I knew we had to have an absolute feast. Feast we did. This dish was a complete fabrication, and it was the first course of our meal. (Followed by the freshest possible flounder with sauce grenobloise, mashed local potatoes; then a salad of tomatoes, Greek-style; then cheeses; then blueberries with champagne zabaglione.) Given the whole Friday situation, I made the soup (which is to be served cold or at room temperature) on Thursday and it really did benefit from the time in the refrigerator. The flavors married beautifully.

Go to your fishmonger and get whatever is freshest—scallops or shrimp would work well here. Frankly, the soup would be brilliant on its own, or simply with the corn garnish. A little avocado cut up into the corn would not be amiss. The soup itself is absolutely smoky and the intensity of the peppers and tomatoes really shines through. The sweetest corn is the perfect partner, punctuating the dish with flavor and texture. If you’d like to use up some vegetables, you’re on the right trail here, and the recipe easily doubles. In fact, I heartily recommend it.

Charred pepper + tomato soup w seared scallops

Serves 4 as a first course.

  • 3 enormous or 4 large red bell peppers
  • 8 plum tomatoes or 4 regular tomatoes, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
  • 12 sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • handful of fresh cilantro, minced

1. Turn a gas burner or two on the oven to high. Place one or two peppers on each burner and leave over flame until one side is totally blackened. Using metal tongs, flip peppers to blacken remaining surface. Be patient and turn as necessary until peppers are blackened all the way around. This generally takes about 20 minutes. Place peppers in a large metal or tempered glass bowl and cover with foil; set aside for 30 minutes or so.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to high and adjust top rack to 3 inches from broiler flame. Arrange halved tomatoes, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil. In a medium bowl, combine onion slices and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and then arrange onion slices in a single layer next to tomatoes on baking sheet. Wrap garlic cloves, drizzled with 1 tablespoon oil, in a corner of the foil lining the pan. Slide this baking pan into the broiler and cook (moving pan as necessary to distribute heat of broiler) until tomatoes are blistered and blackening, and onion is browning, roasted and soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Set up a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or a blender. When peppers are cool enough to handle, place them on a work surface and remove as much of the charred outer skin of peppers as possible. Do not rinse with water, as this will diminish the peppers’ flavor. Open the peppers and remove the stem, seeds and membranes. Place the pepper meats (without the charred outer skin) into the food process or blender. Add the roasted tomatoes and onion. Squeeze garlic out of the papery covering into the food processor or blender.

4. Add 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable stock, salt, both paprikas, and Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper to blender or food processor. Cover and pulse carefully to obtain a puree. Then turn to high speed and fully puree the mixture until it is smooth. If it remains too thick, add the remaining vegetable stock and continue to puree. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. (*) Place soup in the refrigerator to allow flavors to blend.

5. Set a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, add the corn and cook for 6 minutes. Remove corn on the cob and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Use a large and very sharp knife to remove the corn from the cob. Reserve it in a bowl and toss with a few pinches of salt, lime juice, and the cilantro. Set aside.

6. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter. When hot, but not yet smoking, add sea scallops. Cook until a dark golden brown on the first side, then flip to the second side. Allow to continue cooking until second side is very well browned and scallops are opaque.

7. Dish 1 cup of soup into a wide serving bowl. Place 3 seared scallops in the center and top with one-quarter of the corn-cilantro mixture. Repeat with 3 remaining bowls and serve.

* At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to two days.

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clams w sausage + potatoes

Maybe I am the last person to get on this bandwagon, but I don’t think I realized until pretty recently what great partners sausage and clams are. I was first tipped off to this duo when I was in Portugal two summers ago. Near the coast in Portugal, you often see cataplana on the menu—this being a dish that combines chouriço (Portuguese chorizo), fresh sausage or ham, garlic, wine, and clams. You see lots of variations on the theme, and oftentimes another popular pork, clam, and potato dish, porco com amêijoas à alentejana. Pork and clams are everywhere—so at some point during the vacation, I started to pay attention.

[N.B.: To my mind, there are few culinary destinations as great as Portugal. For starters, they serve you rice and fried potatoes and bread with every meal. And for my money, there is nothing better than a carb wrapped inside a carb, topped with a carb. (See: mashed-potato pizza, knishes, pierogis, potato kati rolls; I could go on.)]

We received our CSF delivery a couple of weeks ago, and the cupboard was otherwise bare. Like, super bare. But I had part of a package of sausage from our friends at Four Mile River Farm, and a small bag of potatoes from Rose’s Berry Farm. Potatoes are in season here in Connecticut. If you are based here, do yourself a favor and grab a box or a bag at the CitySeed Wooster Square market this weekend. I realize this may be my Irish blood in action, but there are seriously few pleasures in life as fantastic as a freshly dug potato. (I swear; you don’t even have to wrap them in another carb or anything if you don’t want to.) In any case, between the clams from Bren Smith’s beds off of Branford, the potatoes, and the sausage, the theory of many meals we had in Portugal came to mind. There are really authentic recipes for pork-and-clam dishes, especially at Leite’s Culinaria, but this was pretty darned delicious and very little work. Grab your vinho verde and enjoy.

Clams w sausage + potatoes

Serves 4 as part of a meal with a hearty salad, or 2 very hungry people.

  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, bulk or links cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6 small potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch halves, wedges, or slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 dozen clams, scrubbed

1. In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, brown the sausage over medium heat. Add the potatoes, garlic, olive oil (if the sausage did not render a lot of fat), and crushed red pepper. Stir well to ensure the potatoes are well coated with oil and will not stick to the pan. (Don’t worry if the sausage left a lot of brown bits on the bottom of the pan. We will deglaze that later.) Add the lid and leave the pan over medium to medium-low heat until the potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid to stir at least twice during that time period.

2. Open the pan and stir, adding the white wine and scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom. Bring this to a simmer over medium-high to high heat, and then add the clams, and quickly add the lid. Set a timer for 9 minutes. Reduce heat to medium (once the lid is on) so that the pan does not boil over. Shake the pan, gently, occasionally.

3. When the timer sounds, remove the lid and see if all the clams have opened. If they have not, replace the lid for 2 more minutes. At that point, the clams that have not opened are no good; toss them.

4. Divide the clams, sausage, and potatoes among four large dishes. Serve piping hot with lots of bread for collecting the juices.

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open-faced egg sandwiches w chard, bacon + garlic

Good morning! I have just returned from a delightful vacation in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and am having a wee problem with jet lag, leading to my rising and posting at an absurdly early hour. I had stacked up the posts that you all have been reading the last two weeks before I left, including this one. However, when thinking of Ireland, a country that knows how to appreciate breakfast for the fine and substantial meal it was meant to be, this post seemed particularly appropriate for this morning. I believe I gained approximately 12 pounds during my vacation, and much of that can be attributed to the delightful breakfasts we were served throughout the countryside. Near as I could tell—after a fairly thorough survey—the Full Irish Breakfast involves: sausage, Irish bacon, eggs, a potato farl, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. When we moved on to Northern Ireland we experienced the Ulster Fry, which reincorporates the more British element of beans, something delicious called a soda farl, and more frequently includes white and black puddings.

As you can imagine, lunch is not really necessary after having had such a breakfast. A pint of Guinness is enough to get you through the afternoon, perhaps with a bag of crisps (prawn cocktail and pickled onion being among my favorite potato chips on the trip). In any case, it is difficult to transition back to life without those glorious breakfasts, I will tell you that. I do intend to learn to make the potato farl, or boxty, as well as the soda farl. I will be experimenting with recipes, and will be sure to share them here if I can pin down the perfect construction. (Let me know if you have any farl recipes—I feel these are items for which everyone must have her own family recipe!)

Anyway, it happens that we made these open-faced sandwiches for breakfast on a weekend morning, but we have decided this would be equally delicious for supper. You can decide which you’d prefer. I’ve been buying this really delicious applewood-smoked bacon and using a few slices to doctor up greens in the evening. The key here is to brown the bacon really well, but over medium heat so the fat renders without smoking. I wish I had some of that divine Irish bacon here, but alas, American will have to do for now.

Open-faced egg sandwiches with chard, bacon + garlic

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves very fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 8 ounces) Swiss chard, washed, spun dry, chopped well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 thick slices of bread for toasting
  • coarse or kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large skillet (if you have one large enough, select one that will fit 4 fried eggs with extra room to hold the chard mixture later), warm bacon over medium heat. Slowly let the fat render and let the bacon completely caramelize. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, until garlic is very fragrant and is becoming translucent.Turn the heat to medium high and add the chard. Saute it, stirring constantly to allow moisture to evaporate. When chard is wilted and tender, yet still bright green, scrape it to the side if there is room in your skillet. (If not, put the chard aside and cover with foil to keep it warm.)

2. Toast your bread slices. While they’re toasting, pour olive oil into skillet and warm it over medium heat. Crack all four eggs into the skillet and let them fry until solid on the bottom. (After the first minute, loosen them with your spatula so they’re easier to flip.) Gently flip each egg, trying not to break the yolk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a healthy grinding of pepper on the center of each egg.

3. Assemble sandwiches. Place toast on a plate or in a shallow dish. Top each toast with one-quarter of the chard-bacon mixture and then one egg. Serve piping hot with a knife and a fork.

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