Frisee and Traviso Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Salad Blood Orange Evoo

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

 

1 large shallot, peeled and diced small

2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 small heads of frisee, cored and leaves cut in half, lengthwise

1 head traviso, cut into 1/3 inch slices on a bias

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 medjool dates, pitted and quartered

3-ounces chevre, torn into small pieces

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup marcona almonds

 

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the shallot, sherry vinegar and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the frisee, traviso and vinaigrette. Mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the salad equally among plates. Equally divide the dates, chevre, pomegranate seeds and marcona almonds among the plates.

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Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto never goes out of style and it’s application is wide and varied. Add it to pasta or roasted vegetables. Slather it on chicken or use it as a pizza sauce. And the best part? You can make large batches, while the basil is overflowing in the summer, and freeze it for later use. Hooray for pesto!

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Classic Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup

 

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

Note: Care for a nuttier flavor in your pesto? Try using toasted pine nuts.

 

Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

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Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Apple and Fennel Salad

Stay healthy in 2017 with this crisp and bright salad!

apple-fennel-salad

Apple and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmigiano and Black Currants

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 large apple, unpeeled (preferably Braeburn, Fuji, or Honeycrisp)

1 large fennel bulb

¼ cup black currants

⅓ cup toasted, salted walnut pieces

¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Slice the apple and fennel bulb into French-fry strips on a mandolin (or cut into matchsticks), for approximately two cups apple and two cups fennel.

Toss together the apple, fennel, currants, walnuts and parsley in a medium bowl. Add vinaigrette and gently fold to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the salad among 4 large plates and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over each salad. Lastly, using a vegetable peeler, top each serving with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Ricotta, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts

Your new favorite Autumn/Winter pasta dish is here! Serves 4 to 6, but you may want to just serve a couple people and have plenty for leftovers…

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Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Ricotta, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 bunches cavolo nero (also known as black, dinosaur, Lacinato, or Tuscan kale)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs, bruised with your fingers

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

½ pound fresh spicy Italian sausage (pork or turkey), removed from casing, approximately 2 to 3 links

½ cup golden raisins

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted, if possible

1¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 ounces gemelli or penne pasta

2 cups ricotta salata, drained and crumbled, or grated Pecorino Romano, not pre-grated

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

⅓ cup toasted pine nuts, for serving

  1. Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop finely.
  1. Combine 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the onions in a small pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
  1. Add the garlic, rosemary, and ground fennel, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  1. Add the sausage to the pot. Cook for approximately 7 to 8 minutes until the sausage has browned, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  1. Add the chopped kale, golden raisins, drained diced tomatoes, and stock to the sausage mixture and stir to combine.
  1. Turn the heat to high to bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to continue simmering and cover with a lid. Continue simmering until the kale is soft, and less than a third of the liquid remains, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  1. Remove the rosemary sprigs, stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
  1. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt.
  1. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”).
  1. Drain the pasta without rinsing, then immediately return it to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pasta and stir to coat.
  1. Add the pasta to the warm sausage-kale mixture, gently stir together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. Serve in shallow pasta bowls, topped with the ricotta salata or Pecorino Romano. If using ricotta salata, shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over each serving with a vegetable peeler. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and the toasted pine nuts.