Archive for July, 2011


We’ve been going to the farmer’s market the past couple of weeks.  Now that it’s mid-summer, the market is full of all kinds of fresh, local, and often organic produce.  All for way less than you’d spend at the grocery store.  It’s fabulous!  Two weeks ago when we went, as we wandered past the cheese stand, we saw one last stand of vegetables, hiding just off the main drag.  Along with the usual assortment of beets, onions and lettuces that were populating most of the stands, this one had these delightful, curly green things with cone-shaped bulbs near the top.  The Asian man working at that stand told us that they were part of the garlic plant and that many people just used them to decorate their kitchens, but that in his culture people would chop them up and put them in stir fry.  Never ones to pass up new varieties of produce, we bought a bunch.

A little googling told us that these curly green stems were called garlic scapes and that they had a milder garlic flavor than the bulb so I decided that they would go really well in an omelette.  The stems seemed a little tough, so I figured they would need to cook for a little while before I poured the egg in (actually, they could have cooked even more than they did).  I dropped some butter in a skillet (nonstick because I can’t for the life of me make an omelette in stainless steel) on medium heat.  Once it melted, I dropped in the garlic scapes which I had chopped into half inch pieces, some finely chopped green chili pepper, and some onion.  Meanwhile I beat four eggs in a bowl and after a few minutes, added them to the pan.  After giving everything an initial stir, I covered it and let it cook, shaking it every so often to unstick it from the bottom.  When it was almost finished, I added some freshly ground pepper and pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese on half of it.  I folded it in half when dumping it onto the plate.  The cheese was plenty salty, so it didn’t need any additional salt, but if you’re making it without cheese or with a different kind, you might want to add some salt.  The garlic scapes did indeed have a wonderful, aromatic flavor which went really well with the eggs and cheese.  The bulbs were a bit strong, but if you cook the scapes a bit longer than I did, it would probably mellow out.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures, but it was gone before I thought to take any!  It was that good!

 

Garlic Scape Omelette
(serves 2)

  •  one bunch fresh garlic scapes
  • one shallot or small onion
  • one green chili pepper (optional)
  • butter
  • four large eggs
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • pepper (and salt)

Put a skillet on medium heat and add about 1.5tbsp of butter.  While it’s melting, chop your garlic scapes into half inch pieces, dice the onion, and finely chop the green chili pepper (if using).  Add all the vegetables to the skillet and cook until garlic scapes start to soften.  Meanwhile, crack four eggs into a bowl and beat them until they’re a uniform color.  Once the vegetables are starting to soften, add the eggs, give everything a good stir to evenly distribute the vegetables and cover.  Check on it periodically, giving it a good shake, and if it seems like the bottom is cooking much faster than the top, you can cut slits in it to let the uncooked egg on top run down to the bottom.  When the omelette is almost set, add the fresh mozzarella over one half, along with some freshly ground pepper.  Cover it again and cook a bit longer, til the cheese starts to go melty.  When transferring your omelette from the skillet to the serving plate, fold it in half so that the half without cheese covers the half with it. If desired, add more pepper over the top.  Enjoy!

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I’ve got such a backlog of posts for you, from some thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad (it’s delicious!) to a quite tasty red pepper pasta dish I made up the other night, so let’s dive right in!

Part I: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad

Let me start by saying that I don’t like Caesar salad.  But this was delicious!  The homemade croutons are easily the best part, but everything just works so well together, and the dressing is lemony and fresh as opposed to being heavy and gross like most salad dressings.  I did make a few changes (mostly out of necessity) when I made it though.  First, instead of using chicken legs or thighs, I had to use chicken breast because I couldn’t find any legs that weren’t attached to a whole chicken.  (And as the only carnivore in the house, I really have no use for a whole chicken).  But legs would definitely be better because they don’t dry out the way breasts are sometimes prone to.  I substituted prosciutto for the pancetta that the recipe calls for since I can’t for the life of me find a store that sells pancetta, but the prosciutto worked fine and added a nice salty flavor.  I also added asparagus (just tossed it in with the chicken and croutons when I added the prosciutto) and I think that you should all definitely add asparagus if you happen to be making this salad in the springtime!

Yum!

Part II: Red Pepper Pasta

This meal came out of one of those “I’m starving but I don’t want to go to the store and surely we have enough food around here to throw together a pasta dish” type of days.  And sure enough, we did have enough ingredients and this actually turned out to be one of my best experiments.

Ingredients

The inspiration was the jar of red and yellow peppers I found in my cupboard.  I don’t remember why I bought them in the first place–probably I had seen some recipe that I had wanted to try but subsequently forgot about–but they really turned out to be the star of the dish.  I also had a few stray mushrooms left over from the pea shoot recipe, half a red onion left over from something or another, two lonely cloves of garlic, and a bit of fresh rosemary left over from the chicken Caesar salad.

So of course, these ingredients say to me: stir fry!

Stir fry!

I put the mushrooms, onions, and rosemary in first, along with a dried chili pepper, since they take a little longer to cook.  Then I added the red peppers and garlic, salt and pepper, and finally stirred in the pasta:

Red Pepper Pasta

The roasted red peppers from the jar add a really nice sweetness to this dish, while the dried red chili adds just a hint of a kick.  Top it off with a little Parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy meal!

Red Pepper Pasta
(serves 2) 

  • 1-2 roasted red peppers (from a jar, or you can roast them yourself), sliced into matchsticks
  • 3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • leaves from 2 stalks of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 110g pasta of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Start a pot of water boiling on the stove for the pasta.  Meanwhile, chop all of your ingredients except the red chili pepper.  Put a good splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms, onion, chili pepper, and rosemary.  Stir or toss occasionally until the mushrooms start to brown.  Then add in the red peppers and garlic, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.  Once the pasta is done, drain it and it to the skillet.  Once everything is mixed, taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

My fiance was having a guys’ night out the other night so I was left to fend for myself for dinner.  There was no food in the fridge, so I had to run to the grocery store to find something to make.  I wasn’t really in the mood to flip through cookbooks, so I decided to just let inspiration strike when I got there.  Looking around, the produce looked good, but there wasn’t really anything I wanted to eat until I saw the pea shoots.

I discovered pea shoots earlier this spring.  I was at a dinner at an Italian restaurant and my entree came with pea shoots garnishing it.  It was love at first taste.  They’re delicious!  So when I saw them at the store today, I knew I had to buy them.  From there it was just a matter of figuring out what to put with them.  I grabbed a few crimini mushrooms, a bag of frozen peas, and then I realized that since I was only cooking for myself, I could have meat!  (My fiance is vegetarian, and normally I’m perfectly content to eat vegetarian food, but lately I’ve been wanting to use some meat in my cooking.)  I looked around, and found organic spinach and feta chicken sausage.  It looked delicious and only had 120 calories!  Obviously I bought it.

This dish was really easy to put together.  Since the sausage was pre-cooked, all I had to do was heat it up.  I put the mushrooms and sausage into a dry, non-stick pan on “medium” heat (though who can say what that really means on an electric stove!) and tossed everything around until the sausage was sizzling nicely and the mushrooms were browned.

Meanwhile, I had water boiling on another burner and cooked a serving of brown rice pasta.  I used shells, but you can use whatever you have handy.  When the pasta was almost ready, I tossed in the frozen peas (which had been sitting on the counter and were thus not entirely frozen anymore) and then drained the whole mix.

I put the pasta and peas on a plate, cut the sausage and added it and the mushrooms, added salt, pepper, and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and then topped it all off with a good handful of the pea shoots.  The flavor of the sausage kept this dish from needing too much other seasoning, but if you’re making a vegetarian version, play around with different spices, and also add a bit more cheese.

Pea Shoot Pasta
(one serving) 

  • 55g pasta of your choice
  • 1 chicken sausage
  • frozen peas
  • 3-4 crimini mushrooms
  • a handful of pea shoots
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions (the brown rice pasta I used takes longer to cook than other varieties).  Put frozen peas in a bowl on the counter to thaw.  Use as many or as few as you like.  Chop up the mushrooms, and then put them and the sausage in a dry non-stick pan on medium heat.  Rotate the sausage periodically to ensure even cooking, and stir the mushrooms frequently to avoid burning.
When the pasta is almost done, dump in the peas.  When the pasta is al dente, drain and put on a plate.  Cut up the sausage, and add it and the mushrooms to the plate.  Add salt and pepper, and toss everything together.  Top with a little grated Parmesan and the pea shoots.  Enjoy!