Spaghetti with Spicy Sausage Marinara

Keep things hot and spicy this Winter!

spaghetti-with-spicy-sausage-marinara

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.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

It’s cozy, flavorful and healthy… a perfect combination for a happy new year!

vegetarian-bulgur-chili

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

4 cups vegetable stock, divided

1 cup bulgur

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

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

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste

½ teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ancho chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

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

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste

2 (15-ounce) can beans (combination of red kidney beans, black beans, and/or pinto beans) rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

 

Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and 1 cup bulgur to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 12 to 15 minutes until bulgur has absorbed the water and is al dente. (You may need to drain water out to prevent overcooking or add a little water to prevent undercooking.) Set aside when finished cooking.

Add 3 tablespoons oil, the onions and thyme to a small pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, ancho powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, chipotle, 1 teaspoon salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomatoes, Worcestershire, vinegar, remaining stock, and beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits.

Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, while the chili simmers slowly.

Stir in 1 cup of the cooked bulgur and remove from heat. Remove the thyme bundle and season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional dash of apple cider vinegar.

Divide into bowls, top with a dollop of crème fraiche and serve.

Other topping suggestions: fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, avocado…

Hot Mulled Cider

Ring in your New Year with a steaming mug of cider! Adult and kid friendly versions available!

hot-mulled-cider

Hot Mulled Cider

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

½ gallon freshly pressed apple cider

3 sticks cinnamon, plus more sticks for garnish

1 medium orange, unpeeled, sliced thinly

2 whole cloves

½ vanilla bean, seeds and pod: slice down the length of the pod, spread open, and scrape out the flesh by pressing with a butter knife

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

⅓ cup brandy, optional

 

In a large saucepan or small pot over low heat, add all of the ingredients, and mix together. Stir occasionally until very warm. Serve in mugs with slices of orange.

Notes:

  • If the mulled cider will be sitting for an exceptionally long time, remove the cloves when the flavor is to your liking.
  • If you are a big fan of spice, combine 3 star anise and 1 inch of peeled, roughly chopped fresh ginger and put them into a tea strainer or mesh bag to steep along with the other ingredients. Much like steeping tea, remove the tea strainer or mesh bag of ginger and star anise when the desired flavor is achieved.

Ginger Pickled Watermelon Rind

Don’t leave behind that watermelon rind!

Watermelons are a low water footprint fruit, using around 50 gallons of water to grow per pound. But a lot of that weight is in the watermelon rind. So, here’s a drought friendly, delicious recipe that will use the rind and extend your summer by months!

watermelon2

Pre-Pickling!

watermelon3

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Yield: 10 cups

 

1 8-pound watermelon

1½ cups distilled white vinegar

4½ cups water

¾ cup granulated sugar

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds (1/2 cup)

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

½ Serrano pepper

3 whole cloves

5 green cardamom pods, crushed

½ vanilla bean, sliced open and seeds scraped with back of a knife

1 tablespoon kosher salt

10 whole black peppercorns

 

Cut watermelon in half and scoop out watermelon (yum!) leaving approximately ¼ to ½-inch of flesh on the rind.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the green outer layer of the watermelon.

Cut watermelon rind into 1-inch pieces. You should have approximately 10 cups.

Place all ingredients (except diced watermelon rind) in a large pot and heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted.

Add watermelon rind, stir and remove from heat.

Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Once cooled to room temperature, transfer to a bowl and place a plate or an inverted saucepan lid over watermelon to submerge the pieces in the liquid.

For maximum flavor, refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

It’s summer which means tomatoes and strawberries are starting to overflow farmers market stands (among other delicious fruits). Summer also means plenty of potlucks, parties and, of course, delicious July 4th celebrations.

Super Sous and I have come up with the perfect dish for your summer events (whether that means dinner for 2 or 20!). It’s not only easy to make, refreshing and cooling, it’s another in our series of Drought Friendly Recipes, which makes it a win-win!

It’s also quite a stunner and… no oven needed.

Strawberry Gazpacho - Strawberries

Hulled Strawberries

Strawberry Gazpacho - Tomatoes

Ripe Red and Yellow Tomatoes

Strawberry Gazpacho - Overhead

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

Yield: 6 cups

 

2 pounds strawberries, hulled

1 pound ripe red tomatoes, quartered

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced large

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided

½ teaspoon red wine vinegar

6 drops chipotle Tabasco sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

2 small shallots, peeled and diced small

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 pound yellow tomatoes, diced small

30 small fresh basil leaves, plus more to taste

18 basil flowers, optional

 

Add the strawberries, tomatoes, red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, chipotle Tabasco, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to a blender.

Beginning with the slowest speed, blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. Strain through a fine mesh colander into a bowl, pressing the liquid against the mesh with the back of a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Stir to combine the diced shallot and the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let rest, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in the 2 remaining teaspoons grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the diced yellow tomato.

When ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of the shallot/yellow tomato vinaigrette and garnish with basil leaves and flowers.

Vegetarian Red Beans and Dirty Brown Rice

A twist on this classic Cajun Louisiana dish – made for all my vegetarian and vegan friends. Here’s to a happy, healthy and delicious New Year!

Dirty Veggie Red Beans and Rice

Vegetarian Red Beans and Dirty Brown Rice

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

3 medium celery stalks, diced small (1 cup)

1 large green bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

8-ounces cremini mushrooms, diced medium (2 ½ cups)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

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

1½ teaspoons ground Hungarian paprika

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon dried Greek oregano

¼ teaspoon celery salt

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup vegetable stock

2 ½ cups cooked long grain brown rice

 

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and let oil heat until hot and shimmering.

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables have given off their liquid and are beginning to caramelize.

Add the garlic, paprika, black pepper, cumin, oregano, celery salt and chipotle powder. Stir and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the beans and vegetable stock and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, loosening up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, approximately 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and fold in the cooked brown rice until thoroughly mixed.

Season to taste with additional salt. Serve in 2 large bowls (big servings!) or 4 smaller bowls.

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Here’s another Thanksgiving dish idea using sweet potatoes and carrots. A delicious sweet and spicy (from ginger and cayenne) soup topped with my candied spiced pecans. Great vegetarian recipe that is easy to make and easy when it comes to cleaning up as it is all prepared in one pot. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (3½ cups)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly (3 cups)

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped roughly (2 cups)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Candied Spiced Pecans (recipe below), for serving

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped roughly, for serving

Combine the carrots, sweet potatoes, apple, and stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until both the sweet potatoes fall apart and the carrots are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.

Blend the mixture to a smooth texture carefully with an immersion blender.

Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice and olive oil to the saucepan and continue to blend. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper; add more cayenne pepper for heat and more cinnamon for sweetness.

Serve in soup bowls topped with candied spiced pecans and chopped parsley.

Candied Spiced Pecans
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pecan halves

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

Mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few good grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until hot.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and the nuts, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds to cook evenly.

Working quickly, add the spice mix to the sauté pan and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring once every five seconds.

Add the maple syrup very carefully, as it will bubble up, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the nuts, and if they begin to smoke, turn down the heat a little and stir more often.

Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Working quickly, using two forks, separate the individual nuts, then allow to cool completely. Seriously. They’re going to be hot.