Grilled Chicken with Italian Herb Marinade

Grill this tasty chicken after marinating it in a lemon-olive oil marinade with Italian herbs. Easy peasy on a warm day. I served it with grilled eggplant salad

eggplant and chicken with pasta

served it with grilled eggplant salad,  linguine or spaghetti with a bit of grated Parmesan on top.

Ingredients:

herbs

Juice of one large lemon

1/4 cup EVOO

Several grinds of black pepper and of garlic-onion salt

Several shakes of red chili pepper flakes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 sprig rosemary, minced

1 sprig fresh oregano (optional but nice), minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 thin-sliced chicken breasts

Directions

Combine marinade ingredients in a plastic or glass container. Immerse chicken in it and marinade for 1 or 2 hours. Heat grill to high and place chicken on it. Turn grill to medium. Flip chicken over when one side is cooked, then pour a little marinade on it and cook the other side. Chicken should be brown but not dry.

Serve with pasta. Nice paired with grilled eggplant salad and chopped artichoke hearts and sprinkled with Parmesan.

pasta chicken eggplant artichoke heat and Parmesan

 

Red Linguine with Prawns

linguine with prawns December 31 2017I made this on New Year’s eve and served it with a glass of white wine. Happy New Year!

Serves 3 -4

Ingredients:

12 shrimp (26/30 per pound size)

1 1/4 cups water

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 large bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sugar

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp salt, to taste

8 oz bottle clam juice

1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water

4 cups baby spinach

To cook linguine:

8 – 10 oz linguine pasta (depending on how hungry your guests are)

1 gallon boiling water

Garnish:

3 Tb pine nuts (approximately)

2 Tb minced parsley

3 Tb finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

Defrost shrimp if using frozen shrimp.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in a small pot. Peel shrimp and add shells to the boiling water. Let cook for 15 minutes.

While shells are cooking, boil 1 gallon water in a large pot and add 1 tsp salt.

Dice onion, bell peppers and thinly slice garlic. Heat oil in a heavy pot and stir fry the onions and bell peppers until soft. Stir in sugar, garlic, oregano and basil.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Strain shrimp-shell broth into the larger tomato can and swish it around to get all the tomato juices out, then pour into the smaller can and do the same, and then add to the pot. Stir in clam juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer while you finish preparing the other ingredients, about 10-15 minutes.

Slice the artichoke hearts into quarters and add to the sauce. Stir in the shrimp.

Stir in the linguine to the boiling water, and boil uncovered according to package directions (usually 9 minutes).

Wash and mince the parsley and wash the baby spinach.  Stir in the white wine and baby spinach to the sauce. Drain the linguine and place on each plate. Spoon sauce over the linguine. Garnish with parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts. Mange!

 

 

 

 

Kale Kalamata Salad

curly kale

Curly kale fresh from the farmer’s market pairs wonderfully with Kalamata olives. Massage the raw kale with vinaigrette to break down the cell walls and toss in some carrots and Parmesan for sweetness. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes and you have a pretty, Mediterranean-themed salad. (Vegans can omit the Parmesan and still enjoy!)

kale salad

1 head of curly kale

Dressing: 2 Tb olive oil
1 ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tb brine from olives
¼ tsp dried oregano
a few grinds black pepper

10 pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
4 tsp pine nuts
12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Tear kale off of stems and into bite size pieces. Rinse several times, and spin dry in salad spinner. Whisk dressing together and massage kale with dressing and olives until it turns dark and is roughly 1/3 the original size. Add Parmesan and massage into kale. You can let it sit a few hours to let the flavor develop.
Just before serving, mix in grated carrot. Place on plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes halves.

Eggplant Crockpot Pasta Sauce

served with Parmesan and basil

ingeredients

The last 10 minutes of San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers Market are filled with vendors shouting “$1 a bag!” which is how I ended up lugging home 2 bags of eggplant and a huge bag of tomatoes home on the Bart train!

We’re in the middle of one of those rare but scorching Bay Area heat spells, so I decided to use my Crockpot to cook the eggplant and veggies instead of roasting them in the oven. Although not as toothsome as roasting, they came out tasty and ready to mix with penne or rigatoni pasta.

chopped vegetables

Ingredients:
A very large bag of tomatoes. It’s fine if they’re a little soft, and that’s what you’re going to get with bargain bag tomatoes anyway.
5 long Italian eggplants and 4 small globe eggplants
1 ½ small onions, (or one large onion)
2 bell peppers (or a bag of frozen sliced bell peppers).
5 large mushrooms
6 spicy chicken Italian sausages (you can use sweet if that’s too spicy for you)
8 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Parmesan rind
4 bay leaves,
Sprig of rosemary
1 Tb oregano
1 ½ tsp salt
A few grinds black pepper
1 Tb of olive oil
1 Tb red wine
1 Tb of sugar

Add after cooking sauce:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 fresh bunch of basil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 pound of penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop the vegetables and sausage and add the other ingredients in the first list to the Crockpot. I went to the trouble of dipping the tomatoes in boiling water and peeling them, but it’s not really necessary to do that.

in the crock pot

Cooked sauce in the Crockpot

I started the sauce after work and let it cook all night. (You can also start yours in the morning and cook it all day.) I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be enough liquid to cook it properly, but in the morning I realized that the vegetables had released plenty of liquid. I removed the Parmesan rind, which had given up its flavor to the sauce.

I added a can of chopped artichoke hearts. I chopped half the bunch of fresh basil I had bought at the farmers market and stirred it in with the freshly grated Parmesan. I let it sit in the fridge until dinner time so the flavors would develop.

At dinnertime, I boiled 2/3 of a pound box rigatoni pasta  and mixed it together with the sauce. I chopped up the rest of the fresh basil and sprinkled it on top with more Parmesan. This made 9 meals. Yay for leftovers!

layered with Parmesan

layered sauce with Parmesan

Marinated Eggplant

eggplant saladThis delicious Italian-style eggplant is marinated in olive oil, Meyer lemon and a touch of balsamic, with garlic and oregano. It makes an excellent side-dish for Italian food.

Make the dish a day before serving and marinate overnight in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.

eggplants3 medium or 4 small globe eggplants or 3 long eggplants

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 leek

1/4 cup plus 2 Tb garlic infused olive oil

1 cloves garlic, minced fine

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

Juice of Meyer lemon

Several grinds black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

12-oz jar Italian-style roasted red bell peppers

14-oz can of artichoke hearts in water

10 fresh basil leaves

2 slices Meyer lemon (from blossom end)

chopped eggplant with leeksCut the eggplants at different angles into 2 inches pieces. Each piece should have skin on it. If using long eggplants, slice lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half coins. Put them on a rack above a rimmed baking pan, such as a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the eggplant. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You will see it sweat. This improves the texture of the eggplant and is supposed to make it less bitter.

While eggplant is sweating, heat the oven to 350º F. Cut the white part of the leek length-wise and then crosswise into 1 ” pieces. Soak in a salad-spinner, then rise thoroughly. Spin until dry.

After eggplant sweats for 30 minutes, briefly rinse the pieces in the basket of the salad spinner, then spin, and pat dry with a paper towel. Grease a roasting pan with 2 TB garlic infused olive oil and add eggplant. Pour in the rest of the garlic oil and toss so that all the eggplant is coated with oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 350º F. Add the leeks to the roasting pan and roast an additional 15 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the hot pan. Turn off the oven and let the baking dish sit in the oven until it is cool, about an hour. The eggplant and leeks should be very tender.

Cut two thin slices of lemon from the blossom end (opposite the stem end), then cut each in half and set aside. Juice the lemon and pour it into in a deep casserole dish. Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano with the lemon juice.

Transfer the eggplant and leeks to the casserole dish. Stir in the Kalamata olives.Pour the jar of roasted peppers into the eggplant, then fish out the peppers and slice  into strips and stir into the eggplant. Drain the artichoke hearts and quarter them lengthwise and stir into the eggplant. Place the lemon slices on top.

Let the eggplant sit at room temperature. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, and fold in the fresh basil leaves. If you have time, let it sit until it is room temperature before serving, but if not, it’s delicious cold as well. Serve as a side dish or over a lettuce and tomato salad.

Fantastically Fresh Tomato Sauce

DSC03130This is truly the best tomato sauce I have ever tasted. The recipe comes from our Roman airbnb house guest, Cinzia. She made it simply with fresh tomatoes, sliced onion, olive oil and a few basil leaves. I added a bit of garlic, bay leaf and fresh oregano. We used Phat Beet’s farmer’s market tomatoes along with some dry farmed tomatoes from Monterey Market here in Berkeley. But it would be good even with grocery store tomatoes.

Makes 2 cups sauce:

8 ripe medium tomatoes

1 Tb olive oil

1/3 medium onion, sliced. We used a purple onion.

½ tsp kosher salt to taste

3 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

5 leaves of fresh oregano

10 small leaves basil (or 4 large leaves, cut up)

???????????????????????????????Fill a medium pot half-way with water and bring to a boil. Wash the tomatoes and de-stem them using a paring knife, then plop them into the boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes, and then drain in a colander to cool a few minutes.

???????????????????????????????While cooking the tomatoes, slice the onion.

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While tomatoes are cooling, pour oil into the same pot, heat a minute, and then add sliced onion and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until onion softens. Mince the garlic and stir in.

DSC03134Put tomatoes in a food processor with a steel blade, and pulse until the tomatoes become liquefied.

DSC03139Stir tomatoes into onions. Let sauce cook for a few minutes, and then add bay leaf and fresh basil and oregano. If you are using large basil leaves, tear them up first. Cover pot and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour hot broth into kasha mixture. Add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Vegetable Broth

vegetable brothPerfect to make for the vegetarian cousins for my Seder’s matzo ball soup, or great as a base for Minestrone soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and white bean soup, borscht,  or other veggie soups. It smells fantastic while cooking.

vegetables3 medium leeks

1 bunch celery, outer stalks and leafy tops

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

3 carrots

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 Tb thyme (fresh or dried, depending on the season)

1 tsp each dried dill weed, oregano,

4 bay leaves

1 – 2 Tb salt

several grinds black pepper

Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot.

soaking leeksDiscard root end off of leeks. Slit leeks down the middle several times, then chop crosswise. Place them in a salad spinner and fill it with water. Let soak while chopping other vegetables. Then lift basket and discard dirty water. Repeat 2 more times, rubbing leeks to loosen dirt, then rinse thoroughly.

Rinse onion, trim top and tail, then cut into large chunks, including the skin for its lovely golden color. Peel the bitter skin from carrots and chop roughly. (I sometimes use dried but edible baby carrots instead). Pull outer stalks from celery and discard the dirty bottoms. Rinse well and chop roughly. Cut leafy tops from the inner stalks and rinse and chop roughly. Smash garlic in a molcajete or mortar and pestle to remove shell, and chop.

cooking brothAdd all vegetables and seasonings to boiling water and let boil for ½ hour. Transfer to a crock pot and let cook all day or night, depending on when you begin.

Strain broth through a sieve and adjust salt. The broth freezes well, so put in several containers for future use.

2 Spinach & Vegetable Quiches

What do I do when I buy a huge bag of spinach leaves on sale for only $1.87?
First I make a lot of spinach salads including Raspberry Pecan Salad, then spinach over easySpanakopita, Lebanese Spinach Pies, and throw it in Linguine with Prawns, and then I make spinach quiche. 
Since there’s so much spinach, I made a few quiches and experimented with the ingredients. I used 6 cups of spinach per quiche, and added half the spinach at a time so it would fit in the pan. It wilts quickly so you can add the rest after a couple of minutes. Of course you can make these quiches with frozen spinach. I won’t tell anyone.
 
I made the crust using pie crust and the same custard for Broccoli and Veggie
 
Quiche
First make the custard. You can use this custard for either quiche.
 Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
3/4 cup warm milk (heat in microwave in a glass measuring cup)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a few shakes pepper
For each quiche, I used 6 cups fresh spinach. Here are two variations:
 quiche w slice out
Spinach Quiche with mushrooms, bacon and red bell pepper: (This can be made without bacon and still satisfy!)
2 tsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
3 large white mushrooms, sliced
2 pieces crumbled bacon (discard fat)
2 one-inch sprigs finely minced rosemary
1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1 egg for painting crust
 
Preheat oven to 425◦Sauté red onion and red bell pepper in olive oil until they soften. Add sliced mushrooms and rosemary. When mushrooms are soft, transfer vegetables to a bowl.

Add 6 cups spinach to the pan, cooking over low heat until spinach wilts. Transfer to a colander and press the water from the spinach. When spinach is cool enough to handles, pick it up and squeeze all the water out of the spinach. Mix it with the bacon and the other vegetables.

Cover the pie crust with parchment or foil and weigh it down with pie weights or beans on top. Blind bake crust for 15 minutes at 425◦

Remove from oven and paint an beaten egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard. Bake for another 5 minutes to set the egg and brown the sides of the crust.

Lower oven temperature to 375◦

IMG_3922

Place the pie crust on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

IMG_3927-1

Put the vegetable mixture on top. Pour the custard over it until it’s about 1/2 inch below the top of the crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Pour custard over vegetables. Sprinkle with reserved Jarlsberg cheese. Cover with a pie shield to protect crust from burning.

IMG_3928

Bake for 40 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool before eating.

IMG_3930
 
 
Spinach Quiche with Rainbow Roasted Vegetables and feta
 quiche in tart pan
You can make this in a pie pan or a tart pan.
 6 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach
I cup Rainbow Roasted Vegetables, chopped
3 Tb crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese. (You can substitute Swiss cheese, but I like the nutty taste of Jarlsberg)
1 egg for painting crust
Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of white pepper
 Preheat oven to 375◦
Wilt spinach and remove with a slotted spoon, squeezing out liquid, and place in a medium bowl. If using frozen spinach, microwave with a little drizzle of water, then drain in a sieve, squeezing all the liquid out. This is important if you don’t want a waterlogged quiche!
Stir in roasted vegetables and crumbled feta cheese.
 pie crust with parchment and pie weights
Place parchment paper or foil on top of the crust and cover with ceramic pie weights or beans to prevent the crust from puffing up.  Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425. 
Remove the pie weights and parchment.
Paint an egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard.
egg baked on crust
Bake again for 5 minutes to set the egg.
Let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
 Sprinkle most of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

Add spinach,vegetable and feta mixture

Pour custard  over vegetables.Sprinkle reserved Jarlsberg cheese on top.Cover the edges of the pan with a pie sheld to prevent the edges from getting burned.Bake for 30 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before eating.quiche slice

Spanakopita and Tiropetes with phyllo or puff pastry

These Greek spinach and cheese pies have a complex taste: sharp bite of feta, green spinach, explosion of herbs: mint, dill, oregano, basil, garlic, and green onion, wrapped in a crispy filo dough or buttery puff pastry. My recipe was inspired by my Greek-American friend Margret’s delicious version.

You can make these traditionally with flaky phyllo (filo) dough. I use olive oil spray on the phyllo instead of spreading oil or butter with a pastry brush, to cut down on the fat. I also make tiropetes, which are phyllo filled with feta and ricotta cheese. They are great for breakfast.

On the other end of the calorie range, I recently tried these at a Greek restaurant made from puff pastry. They were rich and delicious! So I made them at home. It’s much less fuss than phyllo, although it has quite a few more fat and calories from the buttery pastry.

Makes 3 logs (about 18 triangles) of phyllo wrapped spanakopita or 8 triangles of puff pastry spanakopita

3/4  package defrosted phyllo dough OR 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (defrost for only 10 minutes at room temperature)

Olive oil spray for phyllo dough

Spinach filling: You can make this a day ahead of time.

2 heads fresh spinach, well washed, stems removed and chopped (use a food processor to chop it) OR 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach – about 3 cups.

1 tsp olive oil

2 scallions

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup pine nuts

1 Tb finely chopped mint leaves OR 1 tsp dried mint

½ Tb finely chopped fresh dill weed OR ½ tsp dried dill weed

1 Tb finely chopped fresh oregano leaves OR 1 tsp dried oregano

1 Tb finely chopped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 cube frozen basil

Several grinds pepper (about ¼ tsp)

2 eggs (1 for filling and 1 for brushing on the pastry)

6 oz (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375’ for filo, or 400’ for puff pastry

Microwave frozen or fresh spinach in a covered casserole bowl about 2 minutes (longer for frozen spinach) until soft. Drain in fine mesh sieve over a bowl.

I place a bowl with a few cans in it on top of the sieve while preparing the other ingredients. Afterward, press on the spinach with a tablespoon for several minutes to squeeze out the liquid. You should have 1 1/2  cups drained spinach.

While spinach is draining, finely mince white and green parts of scallions, garlic, and mint leaves and other fresh herbs, salt and pepper Sauté onion, garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a heavy skillet. After a couple of minutes, stir in the herbs and heat for another minute.

Finish squeezing the last liquid from the spinach and discard the liquid. Stir the spinach into the onion and herbs.

Beat the first egg and add feta and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the spinach mixture until well blended.

Tiropetes

1 cup feta cheese

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

2 Tb minced fresh parsley

Mix ingredients together. Spread on puff pastry or phyllo dough as below.

Assembling Puff Pastry (I used Trader Joe’s), cut both sheets in two. Beat the second egg. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg on each piece. Spoon filling o to fill exactly half the pastry, leaving about 1/2 inch border of dough on the edges. Fold the pastry over the filling, then seal the edges with the back of a teaspoon.

Place on a cookie sheet that you have sprayed with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 400’ Let cool, then cut in half diagonally, to make triangles.

Phyllo Dough directions:

For phyllo dough pastries: spread one sheet of defrosted dough on a large wooden board or cutting board. Spray olive oil on top. Spread another sheet on top of it and spray and repeat for a 3rd sheet. Spread a 2 inch line of spinach or cheese filling about 3 inches from the edge of the shorter side of the rectangle. Leave a one inch space between the filling and the sides of the phyllo.

Roll the dough up over the filling, then tuck in the sides, and continue rolling until the end. Spray a little of the oil on the edge to seal it. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a basting brush to cover the top and ends with a beaten egg.

spanikopita with egg wash

Bake at 375’ for 40 minutes until browned.

Let cool, then slice the logs diagonally in each direction into triangle shapes.