hearty basil minestrone soup with lentils

I have been a bit negligent on sharing recipes since we learned we were pregnant and the school year kicked into high gear.  While we have been eating, I haven’t been sharing. Recently, we prepared and ate Eat Live Run’s shredded beef enchilada recipe and it was delicious. But once the meal was prepared I went into a feeding frenzy and gobbled it up before I could snap a photo of the delicious meal. Clearly, I need to snack these days while preparing dinner if I want to keep blogging about our recipes!

So on Monday night that is exactly what I did. While snacking on some chips and salsa, I prepared this absolutely delicious hearty basil minestrone soup with lentils.  We ate it a a friend’s house during the holiday season and it was such a belly warming meal that I have been craving it ever since.

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It is sort of a hodgepodge meal that can be made in a variety ways, but it is delicious and was super quick to throw together, which is always a must after a busy work day.

Olive Oil

1 onion chopped

2 cups of pasta (I used penne noodles because it is what we had but you could really use anything including big lasagna noodles which you could break up with a fork)

4 garlic cloves chopped

3 carrots chopped

1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped

2 celery sticks chopped

6 cups of vegetable broth

1 28oz can of diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons of basil.

1 cup of cooked lentils

In a small saucepan, prepare the lentils according to the package and set aside to incorporate into the soup.

In a large pot, add the olive oil and onions and saute on medium heat for about 7-10 minutes or until the onions are golden and fragrant. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and stir for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and broth.  Add a dash of salt, some pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add the pasta in order to cook. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, stir in the kale and let wilt. Finally stir in the cup of lentils and the 4 tablespoons of basil.  Serve by topping with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy (particularly if it is a cold night!).

shiraz braised beef over linguine

This is one of our favorite recipes. It is easy to pull together and always fills the house with a delicious, decadent aroma. David went out last night to play tennis with a co-worker and I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend my evening making this dish, drinking a glass of wine, listening to music, and reading. I recently discovered the wine company 19 Crimes and wanted to try cooking with it (while also partaking in my own glass). It was a relaxing way to end a Wednesday night after a full day of classes and grading.

Ingredients:

1 celery stick

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Kitchen twine

1 onion

6 garlic cloves

2lbs stewing beef

6oz pancetta

2 cups of shiraz (or another red wine if you prefer something different)

14oz can diced tomato

Fresh Basil

Pasta

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After washing the celery lay the thyme and bay leaves into the ridge of the stalk and wrap with twine.  Set the herb bundle aside.

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In a deep sided pot, add the diced onion and garlic and sauté in 1 tablespoon of oil olive until the onions and garlic have softened. Approx 2-3 minutes.

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Add the beef and pancetta.  Add pepper and salt and brown for approximately 3 minutes.

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Pour in the red wine and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

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Add in the diced tomatoes and the herb bundle. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 2 hours.

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Once done, lift the lid and add in a handful of chopped fresh basil.

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Serve over pasta and enjoy!

weeknight pasta & meat sauce

There is nothing better than homemade meat sauce from scratch. But cooking up a pot of that good stuff on a weeknight is impossible. On a typical night, David and I get home by 6PM and are ready to tear through the cupboards.  Not wanting to fill up on chips, cheese, and other random pantry finds, we started making what we call 30 minute meat sauce. Full of flavor and fast, it is a constant go to weeknight meal choice.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

Rotini pasta (cooked as directed on the box, al dente)

1 24oz jar of diced tomatoes

2 jars of Arrabiata Sauce (we like Rao’s)

2 onions

4 garlic gloves

1/4 white wine (or red, really anything you have open would do)

Spices: Red Pepper flakes, salt, pepper, basil

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Set a pot of water with a handful of salt on the stove and bring to boil to cook the pasta.  In a separate pot, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dice 2 onions and saute in the pot, tossing and coating them in the olive oil until translucent. Add in the garlic and saute for another 2  minutes.

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Once the onion and garlic are fragrant, add in spices. I like my meat sauce spicy so I am heavy handed on the red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Add 1/4 of wine and bring to a boil tossing the onions and garlic until 1/2 of the liquid boils off.  Add the ground Turkey and break up.  Cook the turkey through.

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Once the turkey is cooked through add the diced tomatoes and two jars of sauce. Simmer it all together until the pasta is cooked and ready to go.  Serve the 30 minute sauce over generous portions of pasta because let’s be serious it is hard not to eat a big bowl of pasta when winter has dragged on this long! Enjoy.Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 7.56.09 PM

modified pasta carbonara

When I lived in Parma, Italy, I ate a ton of pasta. At first, I did not notice how much of the delicious starch I was ingesting. The wheels of the 757 skidded to a stop at the Florence airport and the walk off the plane was the first of many long walks through the streets. Wearing fancy sandals, the soles hit the pavement from one corner of the Renaissance city to the other. As such, I was convinced that in the early days of Parma, I was shedding the pounds.  Clearly, walking between 5-10 miles a day meant that I had earned a pot of pasta for dinner, no?  The irony of this situation is that until my body adjusted and became comfortable with this walking, I was losing weight and eating pasta for every meal. Unfortunately, after about month of adjusting to this decadent lifestyle, those miles each day were just part of the normal routine and the pasta eating caught up with me. Yet, even as my pants got tighter from the pasta, desserts, and countless cappuccinos, I never regretted a one! You cannot live in Italy and not enjoy the food; it would have been sinful!!

Guiseppe was my italian “boyfriend.” I met him one night while having drinks with some friends on Strada Farini. Being fairly poor college kids, we would cruise the bars for the “aperitivo” hour.  Bars between 6-7PM would put out delicious finger foods for anyone who purchased a cocktail.  Paying for the glass of wine, we would stay for the “free tapas” as we called it. That was were I met Guiseppe. He practiced his English with me and I butchered Italian with him. We hung out most evenings after our initial encounter and he would cook dinner while I sat back and sipped red wine from his region of Italy. It was romantic and silly. He was a tremendous cook and laughed at my American grilled cheese sandwiches calling them an abomination. I gobbled them down anyway when I was nostalgic for home.

My favorite recipe of his was a take on the classic pasta carbonara. I say his “take on it” because he usually tossed in anything that he had in his pantry and it was always delicious.  Who knows where Guiseppe is these days….but at least his pasta can still warm my belly on a cold night in Boston, haha!

To buy:

linguine

parsley

4 eggs

shitake mushrooms

parmaggiano-reggano cheese

shallot

garlic

pancetta

To do:

Boil and strain the pasta. In a pan deep enough to hold the pasta when combined at the end, saute pancetta in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add pepper and salt. Toss in 3-5 cloves of garlic diced and one shallot diced.  Saute until pancetta is slightly browned and garlic and shallots become fragrant. Toss in the Shitake mushrooms sliced and saute until they reduce in size about half. Reduce heat of the pan to low, add the cooked pasta and mix well so that the mixture is evenly tossed.  Beat four eggs in a side bowl and fold into the pasta mixture.  Mix all of the ingredients well, making sure the eggs do not scramble. Turn off heat, toss in a heaping handful of cheese and a 1/4 cup, or so, of parsley. Serve immediately.

weeknight pasta with pancetta and peas

One of my favorite meals to cook on a weeknight comes from The Newlywed Cookbook which we received as a wedding gift from our registry with Crate&Barrel.  When we added this book to our registry, we had never in fact seen it nor browsed its recipes.  Rather we fell in love with the cuteness of such a book title (yes, we judged a book by its cover). Luckily, it turned out to be a major hit!  This recipe in particular has been in the family rotation quite often. With simple ingredients it is hard to avoid whipping this up every week! Pancetta, linguine, white wine, sage, bread crumbs, garlic, and olive oil combine in this dish and unleash a delightful and delicate flavor profile.

Simple Fresh Pasta w/ Wine & Roasted Tomatoes

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For the first time since we bought our new home, our friends Rodney and Jocelyn were able to come and visit. While they do not live very far, sometimes suburgatory can seem like it is miles away from those more accustomed to living near the city.  Yet, today they ventured the thirty minutes to us and we were delighted to have them over.  As always, I felt a lot of pressure to cook something spectacular. Each summer  the promise of learning to cook rears its ugly head once August settles in.  Yet this August, I am more prepared to rise to the occasion. Usually unable to decide on the menu for fear of being underwhelming, I chose to make a simple pasta and salad for lunch.

While perusing the colorful and intentionally laid out aisles of Whole Foods, the teal cartons of organic tomatoes caught my eye.  Fixated by the lushness of the hues, the firmness of the  skin, and the subtle scent, I purchased three bundles of tomatoes as my recipe starting point. Obviously, half of a carton could be used to top a salad and the other two and half portions would be used in a rustic tomato sauce. Once the main ingredient and idea was determined, the shopping was a breeze.  Home within 20 minutes, I went straight to work.

2 and half cartons of tomatoes, (cherry or grape)

1 cup of white wine

1/3 cup of pine nuts

sprinkling of red pepper flakes

sprinkling of black pepper

pinch of salt

sliced pancetta

5 cloves of garlic chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

8 oz of fresh capellini pasta

small bunch of basil chopped

Parmiggiano Cheese

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.  In a dutch oven or oven safe covered pot, toss the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, wine, and pancetta.  Cover your colorful and fragrant mixture and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Prepare pasta al dente accordingly. Once the mixture has baked, toss in the pasta, basil, and parmiggiano cheese.  Enjoy a light and delightfully satisfying meal.

This was our lunch recipe today but I could easily have thrown in some shrimp or chicken and prepared it for dinner.  It was a fresh, fast, and flavorful meal. Thankfully there are enough left-overs to have for lunch tomorrow as well.

After lunch, our foursome had a blast laughing about our summer misadventures and reconnecting over half drunk glasses of wine and lemonade. Rodney and Jocelyn are so easy to get along with and are always willing to share of themselves deeply.  It is a friendship that I cherish and am happy to watch grow over the years. We couldn’t help ourselves at times from talking about future plans for babies.  We questioned our preparedness, laughed about our notions of childbirth, and enjoyed our naivete and worries.  When did we ever become “adults”?

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