pasta eggplant and greens with roasted peppers

pasta eggplant

I made a delicious pair of dishes both using roasted bell pepper.

Spinach dill linguini. Thin slices of eggplant broiled in the oven with olive oil and tons of garlic, some salt. I removed them from the oven and stacked fresh mozzarella cheese and roasted bell pepper on top and baked again till the cheese melted. Place those yummy nuggets on top of the pasta and drizzle some more olive oil. Pepper with oregano, basil and cracked pepper.

My salad

Butter lettuce – oh so mild and tender – cucumbers, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, raw pumpkin seeds, dash of cayenne, cracked rainbow pepper, sprinkle dried dill, whole flax seeds, lime juice, oil, salt, and a smear of goat cheese. peppery and refreshing.

I definitely relate to your pain with the winter, we had yet another snowstorm yesterday.xo

Winter in southeastern Ohio

Winter in southeastern Ohio

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Sesame Noodles with Shrimp

Arlo taking a nap while I get my ingredients in order

Arlo taking a nap while I get my ingredients in order

Heya Katt,

I received a text from Duane yesterday asking “any ideas for dinner?” It has been difficult to cook every night so I thought about something that I could make a lot of and might last a few days. Sesame noodles. I looked at many recipes, warm, cool, taste variations. From all of these I created the best of my own, which can be prepared as a warm or chilled dish. Keep in mind that the combination of these ingredients are to taste – you should decide how spicy, verses sweet, versed tangy you want your sauce. Also decide how saucy you want this dish to be. The sesame oil is pretty strong in flavor, as well as the soy, so you may want to start with smaller portions in the beginning.

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 package of linguini or noodle of choice
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of scallions/green onions (6ish)
  • 6 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2 bunches of broccoli
  • Fresh ginger (to taste) peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (or more!)
  • 1 tsp of chili sauce
  • 1/4 soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 canola oil
  • 1/4 sesame oil
  • 3 packed tablespoons of brown sugar

Start with some noodle – Linguini is a great choice for me, but you can use any noodles of your choice.

On the right: Bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds

On the right: Bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds

In a medium bowl chop up 1 bell pepper, cilantro to taste (bunch) 6 scallions, and pour in some toasted sesame seeds.

heated mixtures

heated mixtures

In a warm skillet combine sesame oil, canola oil, chili sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add chopped garlic and grated fresh ginger. Cook for a few minutes then add the well chopped broccoli. Cover and cook for 5-7 min. Don’t over cook the broccoli, it should be somewhat crunchy.

add cocktail shrimp

add cocktail shrimp

Pour the mixture over the pasta, and add cooked peeled shrimp. mix very well. I added more toasted sesame seeds and chopped cilantro at the end. Place in the fridge for one hour, or serve warm.

photo-39

Here it is all served up. Gotta go stoke the fire…

Manicotti stuffed with butternut squash

Caroline, you know how much I like to make a nice baked pasta dish once in a while? Stuffed shells, Manicotti, Lasagna…these are some of my favorite comfort foods. We discussed this butternut squash that I had brought back from the farmer’s market, and I was pondering of all the ways I could prepare it. Well, this is what I decided to do with it:

1. Cut the butternut squash in half, bake face down in chicken broth till soft (a fork sinks into the skin easily).

2. Pull it out and enjoy a cup of soup with the broth and some spooned out portions of sweet cooked butternut squash. Meanwhile boil some water and cook those manicotti shells. No – I did not make these from scratch. Far to busy!

butternut

3. Spoon out one half (or less, depending on how sweet you want your mixture) of the squash and integrate mixture into another mixture of ricotta cheese (15 oz) and 1 egg. I shred finely grated pecorino, parmesan, or romano into the mixture to ‘richen’ it up. Sometimes I use pecorino or romano cheeses because they don’t have that strange smell that parmesan has – for those of you who have made an alfredo sauce you know what I mean. The romano is sweeter and the pecorino is saltier and sharper. Sometimes they are made with ewe verses cows milk.

hard cheese

4. Once the manicotti shells are drained and cooled, at least so you can touch them, preheat the oven for 350. Stuff those tubes mostly full with you butternut squash and cheese mixture (make sure you added an egg!). Lay them into a rectangular dish with some of your favorite sauce on the bottom and then cover them well before adding more cheese (whew, that is a lot of cheese). I added some pepper flakes and cayenne to the sauce since I like spicy, sweet and acidic together.

stuffed

5. After adding some garden basil to the top I covered it in good ol’ mozzarella cheese and chopped garlic and baked it for 45 min. You might need additional time, just keep checking it till the cheese is brownish and the sauce bubbly. Ricotta and squash mixture should not be runny (fully cooked).

baked manicotti

Manga! Manga! A seasonal pasta favorite.

eating pasta

Fear NOT the beet

Now, there is a big difference in flavor between the red beet and yellow or golden beet. The yellows are brighter in flavor, and not quite as earthy. So, if you have written off beats because you think they taste like dirt, try a golden beet.

As an Italian girl, I know my way around a pasta. When I eat an Alfredo, I need something to break up the weight of all that cheese and pasta. The golden beet is the perfect candidate for this. Cut the beets in halves and boiled them till you can stick a fork in them. Wash cold water over them, or stick them in the freezer for a few minutes. This way the skins can just be pushed off with ease.

In a saucepan combine butter or oil with fresh garlic. When the garlic is cooked, add some cream or half and half. When that starts to simmer, add a hunk of Ricotta cheese (I posted some good grocery store stuff, nice and creamy). Add a half-cup of Parmesan (sharp) or Romano (sweet), some red pepper flake, a touch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper (white if you have it). Melt it all together and pour it over some pasta that you like. I used angel hair because it cooks fast. Check it out: I cooked the beets before the pasta so I could cook the pasta in the left over beet juice water.

Now finish it off with some chopped Italian parsley. My grandmother put this in everything. Bellissimo! Now say AHHHHHH…

Artwork and images by Lori Esposito