Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

Bacon makes everything better…

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Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

 

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

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

3 slices smoked bacon, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices (3/4 cup)

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

5 large garlic cloves, peeled andminced (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

3 (5-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised with your fingers

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 dried bay leaves

2 (16-ounce) cans white kidney beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop roughly. You should have approximately 6 packed cups of kale.

Add the bacon and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small pot. Place over medium-low heat and cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered off, and the bacon is just beginning to get nice and crispy.

Add the onions, stir occasionally, and continue to cook until soft and translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Using a piece of butcher’s twine, tie together the rosemary, thyme sprigs and bay leaves; toss the herbs in the pot.

Stir in the beans, kale, and stock.

Cover and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans are soft and the kale is cooked through.

Remove the tied herbs and discard. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar.

Serve in bowls. Shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the soup with a vegetable peeler, then top with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper.

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Lima Bean Rosemary Puree

Dip into this delicious dip any day of the week!

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Lima Bean Rosemary Puree

 

1 lb (approximately 3 cups/1 bag) frozen lima beans

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (1 5-inch sprig)

¼ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon ground fennel

3 tablespoons water

 

Cook lima beans according to package instructions (stovetop or microwave).

Add lima beans and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve with crudité or in place of serving rice or mashed potatoes in a dish.

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.

 

Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pearl Barley and Mustard Vinaigrette

Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pearl Barley and Mustard Vinaigrette

tomato and avo barley

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

 

For Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, peeled and diced finely, approximately 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Whisk to combine the ingredients in a large bowl.

 

For Salad

2 cups cooked pearl barley

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

3 small Persian cucumbers, diced small

20 small cherry tomatoes, multi-colored if possible, halved

1 large avocado, pit removed and diced small

 

Add barley and parsley to the large bowl with vinaigrette. Mix.

Combine the rest of the salad ingredients and fold together gently. Divide into bowls and serve.

Tzatziki: Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Dip

There’s nothing like a cool dip on a hot summer day!

tzatziki

Tzatziki: Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

2 small cucumbers (English, Japanese, or Persian), peeled, seeded and diced small

1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated on a Microplane

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint

1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon red wine vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Garnish with dill.

Serve with grilled meat, pita crisps and/or freshly cut vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers and cucumbers.

Spaghetti with Spicy Sausage Marinara

Keep things hot and spicy this Winter!

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Spaghetti with Spicy Sausage Marinara

Yield: Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ pound spicy Italian pork sausage

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

12 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (¼ cup)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1 dried bay leaf

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

¾ pound spaghetti

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated

¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

 

For the pasta, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil.

Add the olive oil, sausage, and onions to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks.

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

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes more.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing the heat to low and stirring more often as the sauce thickens.

Once thick, remove the bay leaf and, season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the pasta, once the water has come to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir the penne into the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”). Drain (do not rinse), reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Toss pasta with spicy marinara sauce, adding some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

Divide onto plates and top with the freshly grated cheese and parsley.

Honey Vanilla Ricotta with Fresh Berries

It’s summer! Make use of your stash of berries with this simple and super quick dessert. Sure to be a crowd pleaser (for kids and adults)… Enjoy! Recipe is below (and in my cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, page 110) AND you can also watch me make this on my youtube page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quJvHnOrIlE

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Fresh Fruit with Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Fruit: (feel free to make your own berry combo!)

2 cups fresh sweet cherries, halved and pits removed

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 pint blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a combination

5 large fresh mint leaves, chopped finely (2 tablespoons) plus 4 large whole mint leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Vanilla Whipped Ricotta:

1 (16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

 

In a medium bowl, toss to combine the fruit salad ingredients.

Put the ricotta, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and honey in the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Process or whip until smooth. Refrigerate until it’s time for dessert.

To serve, divide the fruit into bowls, top with a generous spoonful of the Honey Whipped Vanilla Ricotta and garnish with a mint leaf.