Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Italian Pepper & Egg Sandwiches

From:  Almost Italian; Recipes and Stories from the ‘Little Italy’ Communities Across America:
Italian-Americans have long enjoyed pepper and egg sandwiches on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In Chicago’s Italian-American community, pepper and egg sandwiches enliven meatless Fridays throughout the entire Lenten period. Not quite a fritatta, a pepper and egg sandwich is the combination of garlic, bell peppers, and onion, sautéed in olive oil until the peppers are wilted. Beaten eggs are added, and the whole mixture cooked until the eggs are done. The peppers and eggs are served inside French or Italian bread or rolls.

I am not a big fan of green peppers, but when they arrive in your CSA box you need to find a way to use them.  This is one of the staples that I make every season.  They are good to eat and simple to make.

1 or 2 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
1 Medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large green pepper, thinly sliced
4 eggs, beaten
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 Loaf Italian bread
Heat a pan over medium heat then add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers and cook until the peppers and onions have softened.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.

Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10-12 minutes.  The "resting time" permits the flavors to meld.  It also allows the hot eggs to soften the crusty bread.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Creamy Cucumber Soup

This is another recipe we borrowed from Blue Moon Community Farm.  It is a wonderful way to use a bunch of cucumbers.  A challenge many of us are dealing with at this time of the year (August). In this recipe the cucumbers are cooked which is rather unusual, but its yummy and easy.  Try it!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly slice cucumbers, divided
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Heat oil, add garlic and onion.  Cook until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute.  Add 3 3/4 cups of cucumber slices, broth, salt and pepper and cayenne.  Bring soup to a simmer.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the cucumbers are soft.

Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor.  Add the avocado and parsley.  Blend on low speed until smooth.  You could also use an immersion blender.  Stir in yogurt, but don't cook after doing so.  Top the soup with the remaining cucumber and serve with additional parsley if you wish.  It is good warm or cold. 

I think the avocado is essential to help give the soup a creamy texture and richness.

Fennel & Sausage Risotto

This is a delicious recipe for risotto which is one of our favorite dishes.  Plus it uses fennel which is a bit unusual to find in risotto.

1 pound bulk Italian sausage, if you can't buy it in bulk remove the casings
1 large fennel or 2-3 small ones, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 quart chicken broth
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Brown sausage.  I find a potato masher helps to break up the clumps of meat.  Add the fennel.  Cook until softened and slightly browned.  Add a little olive oil if needed.

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer and keep warm.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion, cooking until softened.  Add the rice and cook for about 1 minute to coat with the oil.  Add the wine to the rice and cook until the wine is absorbed.  Add 1 cup of broth to the rice and stir until broth is nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time.  It is not necessary to stir constantly but watch it closely and give it a stir now and then so you will know when to add more broth.  The rice is done when it is al dente and the sauce is thick and creamy, about 20-25 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the sausage and fennel along with the cheese, butter and parsley. 

Adapted from Blue Moon Community Farm

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pasta with Summer Squash & Ricotta

Mario Batali is promoting once a week meatless meals.  I liked the recipe but felt it needed a bit of tweaking.  Since I decided to add chicken sausages, I no longer had a meatless meal, but it was a tasty easy one and helped use a lot of our summer squash.

2 cups fresh ricotta
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2-1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana, plus extra for serving
2 to 3 tablespoons pasta water, more if needed
2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, or a combination, cut lengthwise in half and
sliced into 1⁄3-inch-thick half-moons
sea salt
1 pound penne or other pasta, whole wheat pasta works fine in this dish
6 tablespoons or more to taste coarsely chopped fresh mint
Coarsely ground black pepper
Optional, but a good addition:  1# fully cooked chicken sausages, any flavor you like, sliced.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta. Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil together in a small bowl. Add the Parmigiana, whisking until it is evenly incorporated. Whisk in 1/4-1/3 cup of the pasta water until it has a somewhat saucelike consistency.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until just tender and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced sausage if using and heat until warm.  Remove from the heat.
Add the pasta to the squash, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce the heat to low and allow to steam together for 2 minutes.  Add the ricotta mixture. Stir in the mint, season with pepper and salt, if necessary and transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Serve with additional grated Parmigiana on the side.