Roasted Squash & Feta Sandwich

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Orange you glad this squash sandwich is for dinner?

While Hillary and I love our summertime tomato salads and fruit cobbler, cold-weather cooking is really when we hit our stride. We’re in our groove when the oven has been on 400ºF all evening or a ragù has been simmering for the last two hours. Throughout November, December, January, and February, there’s one thing in particular that pushes our culinary prowess: leftover squash.

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Farro & Beet Salad

beet farro salad
Everybody loves a grain bowl

Have you ever made a grain bowl at home and fancied yourself a chef? Your fridge was filled with a mishmash of leftovers, including a grain. You roasted up some veggies, whipped together a vinaigrette, maybe added a protein (or a fried egg) and voilà! You just made dinner, a grain bowl of arguably Sweetgreen quality, without even using a recipe.

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Rustic Summer Veggie Galette

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Close up, to show off that crust

This summer Luke and I noticed a surge in galette popularity. Every food related Instagram account I follow posted at least one galette pic. Most posted two – a savory and a sweet. If anything, it’s a surprise galettes are not already more popular. Compared to a pie or tart, they’re way less intimidating and require no special equipment. No pie tin or tart ring necessary, all you need is a basic baking sheet. Galettes have a free form construction that allows for greater improvisation. They are also more forgiving. You don’t have to agonize over rolling the dough into a perfect circle. A little extra dough here and there can be easily remedied – just fold it over!

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Bonne Maman Jar Gazpacho

gazpacho
Not tomato juice, but chilled, drinkable soup

I’ve always been wary of gazpacho. Bad batches can end up tasting like salsa or tomato juice. Often, you have an urge to over spice it. Tomatoes, some mild veggies, a little bit of salt and vinegar – how could these ingredients be enough for a flavorful, satisfying soup? But if you start adding a little bit of heat or some extra garlic you begin to veer dangerously close to Bloody Mary sans vodka territory. No one wants a virgin Blood Mary.  Lots of Americanized recipes list bread chunks or croutons in their ingredients, in order to add a little bit of thickness and texture. Or worse, they leave the soup chunky. This is called salsa. And while it’s better than a virgin Blood Mary, you don’t want to sip on salsa.

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Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad

farro salad
A salad to celebrate spring

Charlie Bird is one of those New York restaurants. It’s been around for over ten years!! That’s a feat in New York. And it still manages to have a newfangled feel. Lots of fresh ingredients, incredibly inventive dishes. The food is delicious. But…Charlie Bird is one of those New York restaurants – small plates, not so small prices. Luke and I have been only once and it was when my parents were in town. Special dinner for a special occasion. Our lives and salaries don’t really warrant dinners at Charlie Bird. Prior to our dinner, having done my research, I knew the farro salad was a Charlie Bird favorite. But sitting down for dinner and perusing the menu, there were so many other amazing options. Farro, being a humble grain, just wasn’t all that appealing! I don’t regret this decision. Dinner was perfect. And thanks to Melissa Clark, we were able to replicate the farro salad at home. Though we could never claim that our version is as good as Charlie Bird’s, we both were able to enjoy very sizable portions!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 TBS olive oil
  • juice of 1 small lemon (about 3 TBS)
  • about 1/3 cup shaved parm (you can use a vegetable peeler to shave)
  • 2 big handfuls of arugula
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup mint, roughly chopped
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, water, salt and bay leaves to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender (it will still have a little bit of chew) and the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. If the liquid evaporates before the farro is done cooking, add a bit more water. Let farro cool and then discard the bay leaves.
  2. In a salad bowl, make the dressing. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Add cooled farro and cheese and mix well. This mixture can sit for a couple of hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. When ready to eat, mix in the arugula, herbs, tomatoes, and radishes. Top with flaky sea salt, to taste.

Details: Serves 4-6. This is a hearty salad and can be eaten as a main course! Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side.

 

Spicy Pan-Roasted Cauliflower

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Cauliflower with a kick

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable. Cauliflower can be steak. It can be mashed potatoes. It can even be pizzaCauliflower rice is sneaking into recipes everywhere, turning carbohydrate laden meals into gluten-free miracles. But cauliflower is also delicious just as cauliflower. It needs no Hollywood movie before and after transformation. This recipe, courtesy of The New York Times, highlights cauliflower’s inherent sweetness and adds some kick. When cooked perfectly (which is easy to accomplish), you’ll have beautifully browned florets, tender but with a little bit of crunch. Quick and simple to make, we’ve been enjoying this recipe as a healthy weekday veggie meal. It’s also great as a sneakily addicting and seriously impressive side. Take a night to celebrate cauliflower for being cauliflower! It’s a star vegetable, all on its own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 red fresno chile, thinly sliced (optional, for a spicy garnish)
  • extra lemon, for serving

Directions:

  1. Quarter the cauliflower and cut out the core. Cut the quarters into 1/2-inch thick slices. Chop down the larger slices so that they are all about floret size.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cauliflower, tossing to coat in the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Continue to stir and flip the cauliflower, letting the slices brown as they cook. Watch the heat – you want to keep the cauliflower pieces sizzling but not scorching. Cook until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Add crushed red pepper, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir well to coat and cook 1 minute more. Garnish with sliced chile, if you like spice, and serve with lemon wedges.

Details: Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main. Can easily be doubled to serve more!

Pasta alla Norma

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Norma is not your normal pasta

We like heavy pastas in our household. Ragù. Spaghetti and meatballs. Pasta alla Gricia. We love the slow simmer, building of flavors, and richness of these dishes. And, yes, pasta is carbs. Carbs are comfort food. So why not, while you’re already eating something deemed “unhealthy,” pile on the prosciutto, guanciale, and sausage? But this vegetarian pasta, recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman, holds its own against our meaty favorites. Staring eggplant, it makes for a delicious, refined, and relatively quick dinner. And with a grating of ricotta salata and a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs, it has an unbeatable fresh flavor. Enjoy as you’re easing out of summer! Save those heavier pastas for the upcoming cold.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into thin slices (bit thinner than 1/2 inch)
  • salt & pepper
  • lots of olive oil, up to 1/2 cup
  • 1 TBS chopped garlic
  • 2-3 tsp chili flakes (depending on spice preference)
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pound long pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley or basil (or combo)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta salata (or, if you must, pecorino Romano)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Sprinkle eggplant slices with 1-2 tsp salt and let drain of excess moisture. We do this by layering the slices in a colander and then placing a small plate weighed down with a can or big glass of water on-top, pushing down on the eggplant. We’ll let this sit for 20 minutes, patting the eggplant with paper towels afterwards. There are some other methods! This will prevent your eggplant from being soggy and bitter.
  3. After drying slices, arrange on a large, well oiled baking sheet. Brush with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes flipping at least once. You’ll went the eggplant slices to be nicely browned, soft, but with a good crisp.
  4. While eggplant is roasting, make the sauce and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet heat 2-3 TBS olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add garlic and chili flakes, cooking until garlic has browned a bit and is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and juice, squeezing the whole tomatoes with your hand to crush, and oregano. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer while eggplant and pasta finish cooking.
  5. Cook pasta until al dente. While cooking, cut the eggplant slices into strips. Transfer 1/4 of slices into simmering sauce. Set the rest aside.
  6. Add cooked pasta to tomato sauce.* Dress with remaining eggplant strips and a generous topping of freshly grated ricotta salata, basil, and/or parsley.

Details: Serves 4-6.

*Note: We like to keep the pasta and sauce separate and let people prep their own plates according to their sauce to pasta ratio preference. Not so traditional of us, but we are sauce-y people!