Easy pasta and greens recipe

Another pasta dish, simple and tasty. Maybe I should start a series on this pasta dishes great for quick lunches or fast dinners that are ready in 20 minutes. What I love about this pastas is that the sauce is so fast that they are ready in the time needed to cook the pasta and they taste so much better than something out of a can, frozen or microwaved. And seriously it takes about the same time.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb pasta per person
  • a bunch of your favorite greens
  • 1-2 spring rosemary
  • EVOO
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • grated parmesan or pecorino (optional)

Directions

  1. First start the water and clean the greens. I used a leafy kind of choi I don’t remember the exact name, but it looks similar to broccoli rabe, anyway any kind of green works for this pasta: spinach, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, turnip greens… I would suggest to pick a variety with tender leaves but other than that feel free to pick your favorite.
  2. When the water starts boiling salt it and add the greens and the pasta. I suggest a short kind of pasta like penne or rigatoni. Let everything cook until pasta is ready (check instructions on packet, but it should take about 10-12 minutes). While pasta cooks, warm up some oil with rosemary, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves. If you like it add also a bit of chili flakes. When pasta is ready drain the pasta and greens and toss them in the pan with flavored oil. Serve immediately and season to taste with pepper.
  3. You can also add a bit of grated cheese to your pasta. Parmesan or pecorino would be my suggestion.

Japanese inspired soup

My mom was around last week so we were immersed in a tour de force of hamburgers, corn dogs, onion rings, chips, restaurants and all things very American. Result every time I cooked I cooked some really simple pasta dish and as soon as she left we decided to eat light and health things for at least a couple of days. We also decided to start out the light and healthy session with a warm simple soup. For some reason, lately I like Japanese style soups a lot. I found them comforting, very filling (I probably drink about a gallon of the broth every time) and the flavors are great: sweet and salty. So now I have been working on figuring out the broth and toppings.

Of course I am Italian and am not very familiar with Asian ingredients, so I never have anything more exotic than soy sauce at home. I am always worried I won’t know what to do with those and they will end up rotting in the fridge or on the shelf. Lately, however, I decided to try and get some dashi packet to experiment with Japanese soup and using Nami’s posts on noodles and the web to figure out substitutes, I set out to prepare my own version of a Japanese soup.
In reading the recipe, please consider I make no claim of authenticity and I am working with whatever I have in the house. As you probably have noticed I am a master of the open the fridge and cook whatever you find game…

Japanese inspired soup

Ingredients

  • 1 dashi packet + 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 dash tabasco
  • 3 tbspmiso paste
  • 1/4 cup marsala
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder or freshly grated ginger (I never have the fresh ginger around…)
  • Japanese noodles
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 turnip
  • 2 sheets roasted seaweed
  • 1 cup cooked greens

Directions

  1. I started out by preaparing the broth. To make the broth I simply warmed up 4 cups of water and added in a packet of dashi when it started boiling. After about 10 minutes of simmering, I removed the dashi packet and added a dash of soy sauce, a dash of Tabasco (no bean curd in my pantry), 1/4 cup of Marsala (to substitue Mirin), 1 spoon of sugar, 3 spoons of miso paste and a bit of ginger. I mixed everything and kept the broth on low heat to keep it warm but not boiling.
  2. For the toppings, I thinly sliced and quickly blanched (about 1 minute in boiling water) a sweet potato, I cut into tiny sticks a turnip and into strips 2 sheets of roasted seaweeds and I warmed up some greens I had cooked a couple of days before and that were resting in my fridge.
  3. I cooked some Japanese noodle in boiling water until they were tender and drained them well and then assembled the dish by placing the noodle in the dish, cover with broth and arranging toppings on top.
  4. The final result was not perfect but it was still pretty good. The topping were a bit weak, I will have to try my luck with other ingredients, but the broth is starting to taste close to what you get in Japanese restaurant…. I will keep trying and reporting!

Rhubarb and banana jam

Eons ago when I was hosted by a very nice German family and for breakfast I used to eat this awesome rhubarb and banana jam that I loved. I don’t remember the taste anymore because, as I said, it was eons ago ca. 1998, I only remember I loved it.
Rhubarb is not a very popular ingredient in Italy and my mom hates it anyway, so no more rhubarb jam for me  after I got back from Germany. But in the US rhubarb is much more common. And just yesterday I saw 2 or 3 recipes using rhubarb. So I decided to go on line and look for a recipe.

After a bit of scouting I discovered that the recipe is actually really easy and that I had to make a decision on the quantity of sugar I wanted in my jam and whether I wanted to precook the rhubarb or not. I drew on my general jam knowledge and decided not to precook the rhubarb and to use a ratio of 1:2 sugar to rhubarb.

Rhubarb and banana jam

Ingredients

  • 1lb rhubarb cleaned
  • 1/2lb sugar
  • 1 banana

Directions

    1. First I cleaned and cut the rhubarb in slices. Then I weighted the rhubarb and put it in a bowl. I added half the weight of the rhubarb in sugar (in my case it was 1lb rhubarb and 1/2 lb sugar) to the bowl and mixed it to the rhubarb. I let the rhubarb macerate with the sugar for about 4-5 hours (you can also do it overnight) and then I transfered everything to a pot.
    2. I cooked the rhubarb and the sugar for about 20 minutes and when the rhubarb started falling apart, I added 1 sliced banana. I let cook for another couple of minutes and then transfered to my vases. My 1lb rhubarb, filled about 3 8oz.

  1. I did not sterilize the vases afterwards, as I believe I will be eating the jam relatively soon and there should be enough sugar in to preserve the jam for a reasonably long time.
  2. I tried the jam and it is great! Not sure it is like the one I ate in Germany, because as I said I don’t remember how it tasted like, but it is good! I think it will be actually eaten fast!

Simple grape tarte recipe

Today I made a very simple tarte starring grape as its main ingredient. The cake is just fruit in a shell, but works beautifully and tastefully. I would think is a great way of getting picky eaters to eat fruit. I am not a picky eater, but like it a lot! And BF already had 2 slices…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb flour
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  • 2-3 cups grape
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1-2 spoons sugar

Directions

  1. First I prepared the dough for the cake. I simply mixed the flour with the water, the olive oil and a pinch of salt, just because a pinch of salt makes everything better. I mixed until smooth and then I rolled out the dough in a thin round. I placed the dough in an oven dish lined with parchment paper.
  2. I then washed the grape and placed it on the dough. I sprinkled the sugar on top and placed the cake in a 385F oven for about 1 hour. The grape will release a bit of liquid, so wait until the cake cools down so that the liquid can solidify a bit making cake eating much easier.
  3. Perfect cake for breakfast, dessert or afternoon break. Fruity, light and simple.You can serve it with Chantilly or ice cream to make it a bit more decadent.
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Mediterranean pull apart bread recipe

Yesterday I prepared my first pull apart bread and it turned out pretty well!
The most complicated part was figuring out how to make the bread part of the bread. Some recipe call for buisquits dough, some for frozen rolls, some for soda bread… I wasn’t sure what to do, but in the end I decided to make some regular bread using dry yeast and then make it a pull apart bread by adding some sort of filling.

Mediterranean pull apart bread

Ingredients

  • For the bread
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt
  • For the filling
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. First I prepared the bread. I started by dissolving the yeast in 1 cup warm water. I added the sugar to help the yeast activate and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile I put the flour with the salt in a bowl and I prepared the Mediterranean filling for the bread. I blended all the ingredient except for the cheese and then cooked the mixture briefly in a pan.
  2. I went back to my bread and mixed the yeast to the flour adding as much flour and water as needed to get a smooth and non sticky dough. I then rolled the dough in a narrow but long strip, making it only an 1/2 inch or so thick.
  3. I distributed the filling all over the dough and then I grated the cheese over the tomato mixture. I then cut it in several rectangles which I stacked in a little pile. I finally cut all of the rectangles in half length wise and again stacked the two little piles and then put everything in a loaf pan. I covered the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rest and raise for about 3 hours.
  4. Finally I cooked the loaf in a 400F oven for about 45 minutes. As usual I decided it was ready when the wonderful smell of bread started filling the room.