Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

{Meatless Monday} Spaghetti Caprese

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Eating meatless seems simpler in the summer, when steamy hot August days often leave me in the mood for little more than a salad for supper. The traditional caprese salad, comprised of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, is perfectly sufficient for dinner along with a few slices of a nice, crusty baguette. I was in the mood for something with slightly more substance, though, so I added pasta. You’ll want to use very ripe cherry tomatoes and real, fresh mozzarella — the liquid from the tomatoes and cheese combine to make a silky sauce for the spaghetti. I used Blue Ridge Dairy’s boccini mozzarella (small ball-shaped) from the Falls Church Farmers Market.

The sungold yellow cherry tomatoes and the basil for this meal came from our own kitchen garden — the two stars of our garden, I might add. While the sungold tomatoes have not made a tomato lover out of my son, he did voluntarily taste one … and offer to try them again another time. Small steps… he does enjoy picking them and bringing them in for us to eat, though!

Recipe: Spaghetti Caprese

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about 4 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably small balls (halved) or else cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

Instructions: Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions; drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook until garlic softens and begins to appear translucent, being careful not to brown. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook several minutes, letting tomatoes give off their juices. Add basil, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Toss with the spaghetti noodles and let cool a couple minutes before adding the mozzarella. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Egg Noodles with Morels

Monday, April 5th, 2010

morelsMushrooms are the perfect centerpiece of Meatless Monday meals — particularly the meaty and flavorful fresh mushrooms now available at local farmers markets. And did you know that mushrooms are the only vegetable that provides Vitamin D? They also contain potassium, antioxidants and even protein. Morels, available locally for a very limited period in the spring, have an intense earthy flavor that is every bit as satisfying as a juicy steak — and that’s a good thing, as morels are about as pricey as a steak. Here in the DC area, they go for $20 a pint at the Mushroom Stand (Penn Quarter, Dupont Circle, Arlington farmers markets). I won’t depress my neighbors by mentioning how much I paid for them in Oregon. Regardless, they are worth the once- or twice-a-year splurge and make for an easy weeknight meal as they benefit from a very simple preparation with nothing more than butter, sea salt and a splash of wine. We enjoyed this with a salad of fresh herbs and Loudoun lettuce mix and a sourdough bread from the Penn Quarter farmers market.

To prep the morels, I swish them gently in a bowl of cold water before cutting them in half, length-wise, and rinsing gently under running water to remove any dirt or insects that may be hidden inside. Pat them dry and place on paper towels to air dry the rest of the way before cooking — cooking wet mushrooms can cause slimy or mushy results.

So far my son is about 50/50 on whether he’s in the mood to eat mushrooms, but an extra dose of grated cheese helps smooth the way. You can also make this with whatever kind of mushroom you have on hand when morels aren’t available — honey mushrooms are another favorite of ours.

Recipe: Egg Noodles with Morels

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint morels, cleaned and halved (see above)
  • 8 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions: Cook egg noodles according to package instructions. While the noodles cook, melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Cook the morels in a single layer until edges begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Turn them only once while cooking. When browned, sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt, add remaining three tablespoons of butter and the wine and let cook a minute more. Remove from heat. Drain egg noodles and toss with the parsley. Gently fold in the morels and sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired, and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.

The FoodieTots family participates in Meatless Mondays, cutting out meat one day a week for our health and for the environment. (When we do eat meat, we choose local and grassfed whenever possible.) Visit the Meatless Monday pledge page to learn more and sign up for weekly tips and recipes you can use to go meatless, too!

Love is Pasta. And Cream. And Garlic.

Monday, October 19th, 2009

So last week was our blogiversary here at Foodie Tots (2 years!), and my husband’s and my anniversary (7 years!) as well. Ironic, since this blog may just lead to the end of my marriage… Okay, I kid, but here’s a true quote from my husband just the other day: “Why do you have to keep trying new things? I don’t like new things. I like the same things.” Okay, so it’s safe to say he didn’t appreciate my chicken quinoa soup, but one of those same old recipes he does enjoy is penne alla vodka. It’s also the boy’s favorite at our neighborhood pasta place, but in typical three-year-old finickiness he declared mine was NOT the same. Oh well, more for his dad, who did appreciate this family anniversary meal.

Recipe: Penne Alla Vodka

  • 12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 box penne

Instructions: Cook penne according to package instructions, subtracting 1 minute from cooking time. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. Cook garlic until soft and translucent, being careful not to let it brown. Add vodka and cook 1 minute. Add cream and heat to medium, stirring frequently, until it just begins to boil. Boil 1 minute, until cream starts to thicken. Stir in tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for several minutes. When pasta finishes, drain and fold into the sauce., cooking 1 additional minute. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin:

  • garlic & string beans, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA (VA)
  • organic cream, Trickling Springs Creamery (PA)

this is our Meatless Monday recipe of the week. — another one of those “new ideas” the husband is skeptical about. follow along as I attempt to discover meatless meals that won’t make him groan. take the Meatless Monday pledge and you can get weekly e-mails with recipes and advice.

One Local Supper, BLT Fettuccine

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

one local summer 2009We were out of town again over the weekend, so our local foods eating was partly an effort to use up market and CSA produce before we left. This colorful pasta creation used a rainbow of locally-sourced ingredients, starting with a favorite staple at our house, fresh pasta by Nancy of Smith Meadows. Nancy uses their wildly popular free-range eggs and herbs and vegetables grown at neighboring farms to make these delicious pastas. The flavors range from oat and wheat to herbed fettuccine and mixed greens or blue cheese pecan ravioli. Nancy has also expanded her offerings to include sauces, for an even more effortless “fast food” meal you can feel good about, too.

This week, I used bacon, cherry tomatoes and chard for a “BLT” (subbing chard for the lettuce) pasta dish, a flavorful and quick weeknight dinner, with a side of green and yellow string beans for good measure.

BLT fettucine

Recipe: “BLT” Fettuccine

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh sun dried tomato fettuccine
  • 4 slices nitrate-free bacon
  • 1 bunch chard, rinsed and cut into thick slices
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
  • several basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Bring large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and cook bacon until crisp and brown, 6-7 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towel lined plated. Drain excess grease, leaving a light coating in the bottom of the pan. Add chard and season with a pinch of salt and pepper; reduce heat to medium low and cook until chard just begins to wilt. Remove from pan. Add cherry tomatoes to pan, increase heat back to medium high and cook until tomatoes begin to blister, 6-8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, blanch string beans in salted boiling water just 1-2 minutes, then use slotted spoon or pasta skimmer to remove beans and rinse with cold water in a colander. Set aside and boil pasta for 2 minutes (or according to package instructions if using boxed pasta). Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water.

In a large pasta serving bowl, gently stir together cooked pasta, tomatoes, chard, bacon, and basil. Press gently on tomatoes to release their juices. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and reserved pasta water until moist. (Optional: grate parmesan cheese over top.) Arrange string beans around the side of the pasta, and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Farms of Origin: Cibola Farms (bacon), Potomac Vegetable Farms (chard, basil), Three Way Farm (beans, tomatoes), Smith Meadow Farm (pasta) — all in Virginia.

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

The Copper Pot and more at the Oakton Farmers Market

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

FoodieTots @ the Farmers Market Week continues with a field trip to the Vienna/Oakton Farmers Market to sample The Copper Pot by Chef Stefano Frigerio.

copper pot food co jamIt’s opening week at the Fairfax County Farmers Markets, and perhaps the most publicized new vendor in local market history was the Copper Pot Food Company by Chef Stefano Frigerio. An Italian-born chef-turned-stay-at-home-dad, Chef Frigerio turned to home preserving to stay connected to the kitchen and the local farmers he developed relationships with during his days cooking at DC’s Maestro and Mio restaurants. We really enjoyed Chef Frigerio’s cooking at Mio, so I was eager to check out the new product line of jams, pastas and sauces. One of the nice things about markets further out in the ‘burbs is the more leisurely pace and ability to actually converse with the farmers and vendors. Chef Frigerio explained that he started making jams out of concern for his kids’ love of sweets. “I can’t feed my kids high fructose corn syrup every day,” he said, describing his son’s ability to slurp down an entire jar of jam at once (if allowed). Jam flavors include orchard fresh apple, white fig & balsamic, peach & prosecco “bellini,” and strawberry & vanilla bean. Now despite my foray into jam making last summer, I actually don’t eat a lot of it as I find so many jams are too sticky sweet for my taste. The strawberry & vanilla, in contrast, tasted just like strawberries at peak ripeness and was not at all cloying.

copper pot food co ravioli

Chef Frigerio also offers fresh, handmade pastas and tomato sauces. When asked how the reception was at his first market this weekend (14th & U in the District), he expressed surprise at how quickly he sold out of his braised rabbit ravioli – something he claimed people rarely ordered at the restaurant. I picked up some of the rabbit ravioli and a jar of the roasted shallot Barolo tomato sauce for a quick dinner. Sure, at $10 for 8 ravioli it was a little pricey, but having an Italian chef in your pantry is a nice treat for a busy weeknight! The tomato sauce was richly flavored and will definitely make a repeat appearance on our table.

Other vendors at the market included Long Meadow Ecological Farm (“no spray” asparagus, radishes, watercress and other greens from VA’s Shenandoah Valley), Kuhn Orchards (IPM fruits, rhubarb and asparagus from near Gettysburg, PA), Garner’s Produce (more VA strawberries, asparagus and plants), Lois’s Produce (Northern Neck VA, strawberries, asparagus, spring onions, flowers – and their website promises artichokes in late summer!), Cenan’s Bakery (Vienna, bread and pastries), Bees ‘n Blossoms (VA honey and soaps), Emine’s sweet and savory baklavas (also available at Old Town Alexandria), Fields of Grace farmstead cheese (and curds, from Remington, VA), and Valentine’s Country Meats with hormone-free, grass-fed/free-range Angus beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, incredible pastel eggs (pictured below), pies and sweets.

vienna oakton va famers market

As if the first rhubarb sighting of the season wasn’t exciting enough, Kuhn was giving away free sample of asparagus with every purchase. As with most Fairfax County-managed markets, local gardeners were on hand to offer free gardening advice.

This is a great market and I appreciated the detailed signage at most vendors explaining their growing practices; when markets get busy, it gets difficult to ask farmers about their methods so signage is a great way to provide more transparency for market shoppers. (Of course, you should always feel free to ask for more information!) And Fairfax County requires that all vendors be within a 125-mile radius of the county, so you can be assured that the products are truly local.

The Vienna/Oakton Farmers Market is located at the Oak Marr RECenter, 3200 Jermantown Road, and open Wednesdays from 8am-noon, May through November 18. Find Chef Frigerio and the Copper Pot Food Co. at Fairfax (Tues.), Vienna/Oakton (Weds.) and Herndon (Thurs.) markets in Virginia and Georgetown (Weds.), 14th and U (Sat.) and Bloomingdale (Sun.) markets in the District.