Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stirring the Soul

Quick Salmon and Soba Noodle Stir Fry
The weather around here is trying desperately to resemble something like summer. You remember summer, don't you? Blue skies? Barbecues? Other fun outdoor activities? While consistent blue skies remain elusive at the moment, the air around here is hot, thick, and muggy. It's the air that makes it impossible to sleep and unpleasant to eat. Lighter, quick-cooking recipes are definitely in order and so I went to my favorite go-to fish for help. There's nothing like a belly full of salmon to make everything seem right in the world . . . grey skies or otherwise! It's just good for the brain and the soul! This recipe for two is a snap to whip up. Dinner was on the table in about twenty minutes. Perfectly paired with a glass of crisp white wine or a frosty bottle of your favorite lager.

- 2 6-7 oz. salmon fillets
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 small bunches of baby bok choy, rinsed and chopped
- 6 green onions, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2-3" pieces
- 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. grape seed or vegetable oil, divided
- juice from one lemon
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- large garlic clove, grated
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 c. edamame beans
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- 3 oz. soba noodles
- 2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together ginger,  lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and 2 Tbsp. of the oil. Set aside and save for the stir fry. This is also a great dressing for a cold salad!

Pat the salmon fillets dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon fillets and sear about 3 minutes per side until fish is slightly browned on the outside and cooked through. Remove from heat and place fillets on a plate tented with foil to rest while preparing the stir fry.


While cooking the salmon bring a heavy-bottomed pot of water to a boil and cook soba noodles according to package directions, usually about 3-4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Meanwhile, heat remaining Tbsp. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green onions and bok choy and cook in oil for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked soba noddles and soy ginger dressing to the skillet,  combining ingredients with a pair of tongs. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for another 3-5 minutes until noodles are heated through and vegetables are softened and bright green. Divide stir fried noodles among two plates, top noodles with salmon fillets and brush each fillet with about a Tbsp. of teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and edamame beans. Eat up! It's good for you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Great Catch!

Tuna and Tomato Sauce with Rigatoni
Before heading off for six months away from his studies at OSU, one of my students, Rowan cleaned out his cabinets and showed up at my house with a huge shopping bag full of Trader Joe's pantry items. Beans, potatoes, pasta, tuna, and the like . . . needless to say I couldn't turn down the offer. Tonight's dinner was made courtesy of Rowan, who is off adventuring in San Francisco (and later Italy). This was simple to make, filling without being too heavy, incredibly fast, and did not require a trip to the store. Gotta love that!
- 2 6-7 oz. cans albacore tuna, packed in olive oil  
- 28 oz. can marinara sauce
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce
- 1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. dried rigatoni
- 1/2 c. marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- juice from one lemon
- salt and pepper

Boil a large pot of salted water. Add rigatoni and cook according to package directions to al dente, about 9 minutes, reserve about 1/2 c. pasta cooking water. While water is boiling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent. Add marinara sauce, parsley, tuna, hot sauce, artichoke heats, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
After pasta is cooked, drain and add to tomato sauce with the butter. Stir to combine and melt the butter in the hot sauce and pasta. Stir until rigatoni is evenly coated with sauce. If it is dry add a little of the pasta cooking water until it is shiny. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat it up!
Meanwhile, you can read about Rowan's adventures in California and abroad at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Protein Packed

 Red Wine Steak and Roasted Tomato Cannellini Beans
I've been on a pantry-cleaning kick lately, trying to purge the cupboards of the remaining this and that in the hopes of some day having well-organized shelves. I've had a bag of dried cannellini beans left over from a winter chili recipe and a flank steak sitting vacuum-packed in the freezer for who-knows how long, and it was definitely their time to shine. I made this entire protein-packed Italian dinner with pantry items and little leftover bits in the fridge. The beans were definitely a hit and could easily be a great side dish for a number of meals. While the meal may seem a bit time consuming, the steps are very easy and can be done while doing other things (ie. roasting the tomatoes or marinating the meat). In terms of timing the meal out, soak the beans and prepare the tomatoes ahead of time. The steak can be marinated overnight so it's ready to broil while preparing the beans. It's worth the effort!

- 2 c. dried cannellini beans (Italian white beans)
- 6 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise into 1/4" pieces
- 2 c. chicken broth
- dried oregano and basil
- olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 Italian parsley, minced
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- 1/2 c. red wine (such as a Chianti)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- juice from 1 lemon
-  1 2 lb. flank steak, scored diagonally on both sides in a diamond pattern
- salt and pepper

Put beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak over night. Drain before preparing.

To roast the tomatoes, preheat oven to 425˚F and cover a large baking sheet with foil and then spritz lightly with cooking spray to prevent the tomatoes from sticking. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on foil. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper and about 1 Tbsp. each of dried basil and oregano. Drizzle tomatoes with about 3 Tbsp. or so of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Place in oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes until tomatoes are softened and begin to brown around the edges. Don't dry out too much. Allow tomatoes to cool slightly, then remove from baking sheet and place them and any juices left over on the sheet in a bowl, set aside until ready to use.

Place soaked beans in a medium sauce pan and add chicken broth and about a tsp. of salt and fresh ground pepper. Add roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Remove beans from heat and stir in chopped Italian parsley. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve!

To make the marinade whisk together red wine, minced garlic, lemon juice, about 1 Tbsp. each of dried oregano and basil, and about 1/4 c. olive oil. Set aside. Score steak diagonally on both sides into a diamond pattern- this keeps the steak from curling up while broiling. Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper  and lay out flat in an oven proof baking dish. Pour marinade evenly over steak. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Before broiling remove steak from refrigerator and bring to room temperature for about and hour. 

Place steak under hot broiler for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from oven and place on a plate. Pour juices from pan onto steak, tent with foil, and allow meat to rest for ten minutes before slicing. Slice into pieces across the grain and serve with beans and a nice glass of wine to wash it down. Heck yeah!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Farmer's Market Fun

 Spring Time Pepper Bacon Carbonara
The return of spring brings the Saturday farmer's market back to the riverfront and with it a bounty of fruits, veggies, and sustainably farmed meats. I thought this summer it would be fun to do a series of farmer's market recipes, seeing what I could devise from the seasonal selection. On my first trip to this year's Saturday market, I happened upon the most amazing thick-cut pepper bacon and a beautiful selection of sweet onions. With a refrigerator full of Angie's free-range fresh eggs and penne pasta in the pantry, a simple carbonara recipe seemed perfect. Enjoy!

- 6 slices thick cut pepper bacon, diced
- 2 medium sweet onions with green stems, white and light green parts diced
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large handful Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling 
- 1 lb. dried penne pasta
- salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Chop and prepare other ingredients while waiting for the water to boil. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk together with grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add penne and cook to al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain cooked pasta, reserving about a cup of pasta cooking water.

Place chopped bacon into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until bacon begins to brown, 6-8 minutes. Before bacon become too crisp, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving fat reserved in the skillet. Return skillet to heat and add chopped onions. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Using about 1/4 c. of reserved pasta water de-glaze the pan, scrapping browned bits from pan. Set aside. 

Slowly add about 1/2 c. of warmed pasta water to the beaten eggs, whisking together to incorporate and bring the temperature of the eggs up so that they won't curdle. Add cooked pasta to pan of onions and pour egg mixture over pasta. Return skillet to medium-low heat, stirring and cooking until egg mixture begins to cook. Add cooked bacon and chopped parsley to mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.


 Balsamic Oven Roasted Veggies
I make a lot of pasta. Homemade noodles is my go-to for impressing guests. But what to serve on the side when pasta is the main course? Oven roasted veggies are the perfect companion to many a main course. They are easy to prepare ahead of time and serve at room temperature. Whether the star of your dinner party is a fabulous roast or a bowl of tortellini, roasted seasonal veggies in a simple balsamic dressing creating a well-rounded and colorful meal. In the winter, root vegetables are perfect, but as the weather grows warmer a blend of peppers, eggplant, and zucchini fit the bill.

- 1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1" thick spears
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1" thick
- 2 large leeks, trimmed, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
- 1 large zucchini, trimmed, sliced in half crosswise and then quartered into spears
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. each dried thyme, basil, and oregano

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with a light coating of non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine vegetables and toss with oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. After about 15 minutes, check and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to roast for 20-30 more minutes unit vegetables brown and soften. Remove from oven and place in a large serving bowl. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve veggies at room temperature. Yum!