Archive for ‘Creams and Sauces’

August 17, 2012

Sausage, Tomato, and Kale Recipe

I had grand plans to share recipes with you in the past couple weeks.  And then the plans fizzled.

First I planned a peach cheesecake – I’ve been on a peach kick all summer, so when a neighbor stopped by with fresh, hand-picked peaches from a local orchard I kicked into gear.  I’d just gotten a German cheesecake cookbook from my mother for my birthday, and I decided the stars had aligned for me to make a peach cheesecake.

But it flopped. Quite literally.  While it tasted delicious, the juiciness of the peaches (the original recipe was for a berry cheesecake) was too much for the poor cake to handle and the bottom third just oozed peaches and the remains of the crust.  David’s mom called it “Peach Delight” and we all gobbled up the flavors of summertime. But the sad dessert was not photogenic, and certainly not something I’d recommend to others before tweaking it a bit more so it holds its shape.

Then yesterday morning around 8am, I beat the heat and did some gardening. I had some pruning to do in the tomato plant section and ended up with a bunch of small green cherry tomatoes as collateral. Almost immediately (it was early after all and I hadn’t had my coffee yet), a light bulb went off in my head: fried green cherry tomatoes!

We had them for dinner, crisped with flour, an egg/yogurt mixture, and panko. They flopped too. At first I thought the first batch was bitter because the oil was too hot. I turned the oil down and cooked the rest of the pint of tomatoes, heaped them up on a serving plate, and dug into them for dinner. The whole batch was so bitter we couldn’t eat them. And everything else tasted bitter, including the rib-eye steak we served with it.

I’m so glad we didn’t have guests over. Those fried green cherry tomatoes look way too innocent.

So, with photos that look deceptively delicious but don’t have good recipes to go along with them, I had a conundrum on my hands for a blog recipe.  Which brought me to this tried and true favorite.  Unlike the peach cheesecake, it’s supposed to be a bit a bit soggy, and the kale cooks long enough that the bitterness dissipates and the whole dish just tastes amazing. We used to blanch the kale separately, but we recently started just throwing it in with the liquid washed and chopped up. There’s enough liquid to “blanch” the kale, but you still keep all the nutrients in the liquid that turns into the base of your sauce (and you spare yourself making a third pot dirty).

So here you go: this week’s recipe.  I worked hard on this post, so you better go out and try it. Besides, these vegetables are all in season right now, so you don’t have any excuse not to. And did I mention it was easy? It’s really easy.

Sausage, Tomato, and Kale Linguine

1 lb pork sausage (pick your favorite flavor, you can also substitute for chicken or turkey for a healthier option. I usually buy bulk sausage, but you could also use link sausages chopped up or removed from the casings)
1 lb linguine pasta
1 cup leeks, washed thoroughly and minced
1 cup onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bunch kale (somewhere between 6 and 10 stems), washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cheese, finely grated (I like using a mix of Jarlsberg and Parmesan, though also use Gruyere when I’m feeling like splurging. Other Swiss cheeses such as Emmenthaler would be good too)
red pepper flakes to taste (optional) for less spice but still peppery flavor, consider using aleppo peppers
parsley and/or chives, chopped (optional)

1. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan, brown the sausage and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the grease.

2. Meanwhile, set a pot of water on high on the stove to boil for the linguine. Season it liberally with salt.

3. Drain any left-over grease out of the now-empty saute pan. Add a dash of olive oil (if needed) and the leeks and onions. You want the vegetables to pick up the sausage bits and flavor on the bottom of the pan, so do not clean the pan between cooking the pork and the alliums (=members of the onion family, aka leeks and onions – maybe you learned a new word today!).

4. Add the kale and the liquid and cook covered for about six minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the kale gets “blanched.”

5. By this point your pasta water will likely be boiling, so add your linguine and stir, cooking to package directions.

6. When the kale is cooked down, check the level of the liquid.  There should be a bit left coming about a quarter inch up the pan. If not, add a bit more liquid. Then add the cherry tomatoes, sausage, cheese, and pepper flakes.  The cheese will thicken the leftover liquid enough to coat the vegetables and linguine.  Bring the vegetables and sauce to a light boil, then turn off the heat almost immediately. Taste and correct seasonings (notice you haven’t added salt or pepper until now, because the sausage is flavored enough and the cheese also provides salt – I rarely add pepper unless I’m not using pepper flakes).

7. Drain the noodles and gently pour them into your saute pan and carefully mix them into the vegetables.  If your pan is too small for this maneuver then mix everything together in a large serving bowl and top with the parsley/chives.  Voila! Your meal is done.  Guten Appetit!


July 2, 2010

Gremolata: Or how to make the world’s best condiment

When I first learned about this herb seasoning in culinary school three years ago, two questions immediately came to mind: 1) Why have I not heard of this amazing combination before? and 2) Why does something that good, with only three ingredients, have such a bizarre name?

Gremolata is a condiment of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic that is traditionally used in Italian Ossobuco and other dishes.  It is one of the most simple ways to add zest to almost any dish.  Really, your imagination here is the limit.

I’ve been experimenting a bit with my semi-new camera, and last night I finally set up my desk lamp with a filter to light up my depressingly dim work space in the kitchen.  I think I have to get a brighter lamp though, because things still look a little orange/yellow. Stay tuned for more!


1/2 cup parsley
2 large cloves garlic
1 lemon

Finely chop parsley and garlic.  Zest the lemon, being careful only to avoid the bitter white pith just beneath the skin.  Mix the ingredients together – and you’re done!

My favorite use is on top of briefly steamed (or blanched) green beans – cook them just until they have a little bit of a snap left, then toss them with the gremolata.

You can also use it top salmon, chicken, or pork for added flavor.  Add olive oil and stick in a jar in your fridge and it will last about a week – this makes a great healthy alternative to the herbed butter steak topping (I’m thinking grilling options here).  I mixed some of it into a cream sauce last night with excellent results.

Guten Appetit!

November 18, 2008

Gluten-Free Spätzle


Picture courtesy of No Gluten Required

Last night a good friend of mine and I decided to make spätzle.  I love spätzle, as you all know, and when I heard that she can’t eat them because of her gluten allergy, I thought “There must be a way.”  I cannot imagine a world without spätzle.

I did some research on the forums of and found a promising recipe.  We got together last night for an impromptu dinner, both incredibly skeptical of the project.  However, it turned out fabulously.  We prepared it in my favorite way with lentils and saidenwurst (real gluten-free German hot dogs from Golden, Colorado!).  My friend also prepared delicious green beans with lemon that we nibbled on as we sipped our white wine for hours as we chatted about life into the wee hours of the night.

It was a delicious and fun time, and my friend has posted all about it – with picture documentation! – on her blog, No Gluten Required

April 21, 2008

Salsa Season

It’s finally springtime here in Boston! I no longer fear that we will get another bout of snow, though I know that it’s possible even into May. After a week of sun I officially broke out the capri pants, and I’ve been outside numerous times without a coat. We even have spring flowers blooming, which made me (even though I was running late) stop and photograph them last week.

Along with spring comes my desire to cook lots of fresh, light foods. I love vegetables, and hate winter months here when my options are down to leafy greens and tubers. However, last fall in my culinary class, Leo Romero (chef owner of Casa Romero in Boston) taught us the basic techniques in making homemade salsa. I discovered that salsa is a year-round dish, that can be equally enjoyed fresh when there is three feet of snow outside your window or when it’s 90 degrees outside with 80% humidity. In addition, the ingredients can easily change with the seasons, so you won’t get sick of it.

June 20, 2007

Linguine with Date Pesto, Lamb Filet, and Radicchio

I know I have already declared my love of dates on this blog, but they’re so good I want to revisit this declaration. I love dates of all kinds: first dates, dates with longtime friends, romantic dates to dinner and a movie, and not to forget first dates with a future good friend at Ikea (you know who you are). It may seem depressing, but I get more exposure to, and I especially like, sweet edible dates that come from desert regions. Do not despair though, my number of dates I will go on will jump up dramatically as David is coming tomorrow!

But, back to the sweet dates at hand. When Nathan and Sarah visited this past week, having dates in the house was an obvious choice. We decided we would cook dinner together, and looking through my cookbooks found a recipe one of my teachers at school had given me. It seems sort of “Neue Deutsche Küche,” Germany’s fusion cooking of sorts. It combined lamb with radicchio and a date pesto made of parsley, pine nuts, and various seasonings. While the pesto took a bit to prepare (we doubled the recipe and had no cuisinart) it was worth it: the sweetness of the dates played with the bitter radicchio leaves, and the flavor of lamb went along perfectly. We tossed it all together with linguine and since we made so much of it, I have frozen a good portion for the next time I’m invited to bring something to a potluck with my friends.

Linguine with Date Pesto, Lamb Filet, and Radicchio

500g linguine
1 clove garlic
60g pine nuts
125ml vegetable broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped oregano
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
6 dates
½ tsp cumin
dash of sweet paprika powder
1 small radicchio*
500g lamb filet
salt and pepper

Cook linguine in saltwater until al dente. Peel garlic and chop together with pine nuts (cuisinart is ideal, but chopping by hand is also an option). Add broth, olive oil, parmesan, oregano, and parsley. Remove pits from the dates and chop coarsely. Stir into pesto and add cumin and paprika to taste.

Wash the radicchio, removing it from the stalk. Cut the leaves into strips. Wash the lamb in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil about six minutes each side. Slice the lamb into strips. Toss the noodles with radicchio and pesto and lamb.

Serves: 4 people

Time: ca. 25 min (with cuisinart)

*Note: This may seem like a lot of radicchio, but the bitterness is needed, and disappears a bit, to offset the sweetness of the dates.