Archive for ‘Vegetables & Sides’

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!


November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Roundup, Schedule, & Shopping List

And here we are – it’s Thanksgiving Week!  Here is the roundup of recipes we’ve gone over this month in preparation:

Thanksgiving Menu

Apple Martinis

Butternut Squash Soup
Roast Chicken & Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Dinner Rolls (goes to King Arthur site with step-by-step picture instructions)

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pielets

For those who still need or want to make turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce, my sister shared with me this fantastic video by Mary Risley, a woman after my own heart.  Here’s everything you’ll need to know on these dishes:


Schedule & Shopping

Now, grab a glass of wine/beer/apple martini and relax.  Here’s a shopping list and schedule for you. The shopping list is based on one times each of the recipes, which will make a dinner for 4-6. You can edit both to fit your needs.

Thanksgiving Shopping List
Thanksgiving Timeline

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of happiness, laughter, cooking, and fun.  May the conversation at your table never be awkward, may your kitchen mishaps create funny stories, and may your family and friends enjoy health, love, and joy this year!

November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

This basic recipe for butternut squash soup does not take too much to release the wonderful flavors of the squash.  However, it does allow for a lot of variations.  If you want to, you can add pretty much any root vegetable you want to spruce up the flavors (carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, anything).  You could also take out the meat to make it vegetarian (in fact, the picture below is of a vegetarian version of this recipe that I made in culinary school).  You can make this soup days in advance (even weeks, though we don’t have those anymore) and freeze it, so you just defrost it on Thanksgiving and eat.  There are just so many options.  But, here is the basic recipe.  Have fun being creative!



One serving suggestion is to have this soup ready when people start to get hungry, or when guests arrive.  Just set out bowls (or even more informal, mugs) and spoons next to the pot in the kitchen (or living room if your kitchen is like mine and too small) and let people help themselves.  That way, your guests have something to munch while you’re pulling out the food from the oven and getting things on the table, but they don’t feel awkward eating the appetizer while you’re running in and out of the kitchen.

Butternut Squash Soup

olive oil for sauteing
1 cup cubed smoked ham
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery root, peeled and chopped (or, if you can’t find celery root, you can use regular celery, though the flavors are different)
1 stem leek, chopped
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium-sized butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable, if making vegetarian)
1 large bay leaf
chopped parsley for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, brown the smoked ham in the olive oil.  Remove from the pan and set aside. If making in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

2. Add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onions, celery root, and leeks in olive oil until the onions are clear but not browned.  Add the white wine and cook a minute until it reduces.  Then add the garlic and cook for another thirty seconds to release the aromas.

3. Add the butternut squash, broth, and bay leaf to the vegetables, and cook until the squash is tender (about thirty minutes).

4. Remove the bay leaf and carefully, using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until smooth.

5. Serve in bowls and garnish each dish with a few cubes of the browned ham and sprinkle with parsley.  Other optional toppings are sour cream, cinnamon, or homemade croutons (taking your favorite cookie cutter, cut out shapes in bread and brown in butter on the stove).

November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Mashed Potatoes

Friends, I meant for this post to be a bit longer, with more flourish, but unfortunately I’ve succumbed to a nasty fall cold leaving me stranded in bed with a fever and a foggy head.  Perhaps you’ll be happy, since my last post on not making a turkey was so long. Either way, this one’s a short one.

Mashed potatoes are a crowd pleaser and are super easy to make!  You can dress them up Julia Child style if you like and make them with garlic simmered in cream, or you can just throw in some butter and cream and call it good.  Here is a recipe that will make about 4 side servings, but is easily scalable for more!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes a la Julia Child

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 8 pieces
1 head of garlic, peeled (you can easily do this in ten seconds by using this technique)
1 cup of cream (light is fine though heavy will taste richer obviously)
2 Tbsp of butter

1. In a large sauce pot, cove the potatoes with cold water and set on high heat on the stove.  Cover and bring to a boil and cook until soft (this will take about half an hour, depending on the strength of your stove).

2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot simmer all the cloves in the cream for about fifteen minutes, or until they fall apart.  This will produce very sweet, delicious creamed garlic (that is not too strong, trust me).

3. When the potatoes are cooked through, strain in a colander and return to the large saucepan.  Pour in the creamed garlic and add the butter.  Mash either with a potato ricer by hand, or an electric mixer until your desired texture is achieved (I like mine with a few lumps so people know they’re “real!”)

Bon Appetit!

November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Green Bean Casserole

Growing up, my family would have 30+ guests over for Thanksgiving dinner every year.  My parents would organize a potluck dinner, meaning my dad would make a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie, and my mom would make gravy and corn casserole.  Everything else was brought to the table by our friends.  They would bring everything from fresh dinner rolls to homemade cranberry sauce  (though sometimes my mom would also add a sauce of her own – there would always be about three or four cranberry dishes on the table, to my chagrin).



My piano teacher, whose husband worked with my dad and whose daughter went to my school, would always bring green bean casserole with sliced almonds.  I loved it.  It was absolutely my favorite dish on the table (aside from the stuffing and gravy).