Fresh Mozzarella Plate

The Oscars are on this weekend and more than anything, I can’t wait to see all the pretty dresses and I’m predicting the men will have some major beardage going on, a trend that I am ready to see on it’s way out, lol. (There is such a thing-as too much of a good thing.) And a good cheese platter is always nice to have nearby to munch on during commercial breaks. This is so easy to get together and comes together quickly. Serve with nice crusty bread on the side or Pane Guttiau (Sardinian Parchment Crackers) from Trader Joe’s…(ohh…so good.) Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • raw walnut halves
  • anchovies in olive oil
  • sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • capers
  • celery leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling

Arrange everything and drizzle the mozzarella with a little olive oil. Allow to rest at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

DSC05531I really love this plate, lol. Three posts in a row…

Linguine & Smashed Tarragon Peas with Pistachio-Panko Crumbs

Happy Earth Day! What a great day to renew some vows to take care of the earth, whether it be to recycle more, shop at the local farmer’s market, start a composting bin or to make more veggie meals. Here’s a great veggie meal that is tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time. The smashed peas adds the creaminess of this dish, so you won’t even miss the cream and what I love about making pistachio-Panko crumbs is they are a great substitute for grated cheese. And the best part, you have a great meal on the table in no time, which is great on a day like today, so you can spend some time outdoors. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. linguine, cooked al dente
  • 1 heaping cup petite peas, cooked and roughly smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain Panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon raw pistachios, minced to the texture of Panko
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
  • sea salt

First, start off by making your pistachio-Panko crumbs. They can easily burn, so they require a little extra attention. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat, when the oil is not quite sizzling toss in the Panko crumbs, give it a good stir and add in the pistachio crumbs and a nice amount of sea salt. Keep stirring the crumbs allowing them to lightly brown. Once they are golden, allow them to dry and drain on a paper towel. While you cook the linguine, in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes until the oil is sizzling, add in the smashed peas until heated through. Toss in the tarragon and season with sea salt and keep warm, until the linguine is cooked. Once the linguine is done, drain, reserving a tablespoon or more of the pasta water. Toss the linguine and water with the peas. Divide among plates, or share from one and top with the crumbs. Serves 2, double or triple, as needed.

Cauliflower, Broccoli Rabe & Cannellini Bean Pot

A hearty veggie and bean dish hits the spot on a chilly autumn night. It’s the season where balancing the household and the upcoming holidays can become a little challenging. And that’s when you need a satisfying meal that nourishes the soul and leaves the belly nice and full. As the temperatures cool down significantly, it’s important to take care of yourself and gets those antioxidants in. This dish is full of veggies and it’s really delicious. It was hard to keep on the stove, my hubby and I almost ate it right out of the pot, it was just so good!  This is great on its’ own or you can add rice, quinoa, or farro on the side. Great for leftovers also! It’s delicious when served with a Slow Roasted Pork Loin with a Pear & Rosemary Sauce. Enjoy!

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
  • 1 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 4 cups roughly chopped broccoli rabe
  • 1/4 cup quartered sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • sea salt

Bring a heavy bottomed pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower and season with sea salt. Let the water continue boiling on high heat, leaving the pot uncovered. After 7 minutes, add the broccoli rabe, let it cook for 3 minutes. If using sun dried tomatoes, add into the water and after a minute and drain the pot.(You can use oil packed sun dried tomatoes, if you do, add them in with the beans later on.) Keep your veggies warm and into the same pot, add in the olive oil and garlic. Let this cook on low heat. You don’t want the garlic to burn, you want it to get nice and soft. Sometimes, instead of adding the butter to the olive oil right away, I add it once the garlic gets nice and hot, so it slows down the cooking process. So add in your butter and continue cooking until the garlic is soft. Take the garlic out and set aside, leaving the oil and butter in the pot, add in the cauliflower and broccoli rabe. Let this saute for a minute or two and give the pot a nice stir. Add in the drained can of beans and heat through, until the beans are hot, about 10  minutes, (less if you want the vegetables on the crisp side.) stirring occasionally. Add in the cooked garlic and rosemary and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Makes 4-6 servings.

Cedar Planked Salmon with Artichokes, Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Roasted Red Peppers

Time is flying by and it’s hard to believe that Labor Day is this Monday, it’s the last unofficial weekend of summer. I know there will still be hot days (I hope) left and I have yet to go down the shore! I love it after the season, when the boardwalk is almost empty and the feeling of fall is in the air. Labor Day is always a little bittersweet but this meal will help the transition. ;) Enjoy this meal by candlelight, while relaxing outdoors as a late summer breeze passes by, as you savor the last bits of summertime. This is enough for 2 to 3 people to share. Have a great weekend and Labor Day! :)

  • 1 pound salmon, skin left on, in one piece
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke halves, *rinsed if needed
  • about 6 sun dried tomato halves, ripped into pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pitted oil cured olives
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and roughly minced
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fire roasted red pepper plus about about 1 pepper, cut into halves, about 3-4 pieces
  • a few leaves rosemary leaves, minced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • (1) 11×7 cedar plank, (one that will fit the salmon, usually they have them by the seafood dept)

To start, soak your cedar plank for over an hour. In the meantime, melt the butter and olive oil on low heat and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is soft, add in the artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the red pepper and a few rosemary leaves minced, season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until heated through and set aside, keeping them warm.  Heat up your grill to about 550 degrees, place your plank on the grill for about 3 minutes, pull it off and flip the plank. Drizzle a little olive oil on the grilled side and place your red pepper halves on it. On top of the red pepper place your salmon, skin side down and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on the grill and grill for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as mine began to burn, so definitely keep a spray bottle nearby!    Please wear gloves to protect your hands and handle with a sturdy pair of tongs. The cooking time really depends on the thickness of the fish, so test with a fork to check for doneness. After the 8 minutes, top with half of the veggies and grill for another 7 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Once it’s done, add the rest of the veggies on top.

I served the salmon with corn grits but buttered garlicky orzo or polenta would be great with this also. To make the corn grits you need:

  • 1/2 cup stone ground white corn grits
  • 1 cup chicken stock, *water works fine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter  
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • minced fresh rosemary leaves

Bring the chicken stock, water, butter and sea salt to a boil on high heat. Slowly add in the grits and lower the heat stirring often, for about 8 minutes. The recommended cooking time is 15-20 minutes but found they cooked quickly, so test them. Once they are to your liking, add in the heavy cream, ground pepper and a few minced leaves of rosemary. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Enjoy!


Planked Goat Cheese

August is National Goat Cheese month! Yay! And we are celebrating it by putting it on the grill! I saw these cool “maple grilling planks” by the cheese section and I was really intrigued and had to try them out with the goat cheese! This was really fun and I look forward to grilling more cheeses in the future! The end result is a delicious, slightly smoky, warm and easily spreadable cheese. It was just so good, if you are a goat cheese lover, you will really enjoy this recipe!

  • 4 oz. goat cheese, sliced into 4 pieces
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced
  • a few basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped raw walnuts
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • about 8 slices of an olive batard or any good bread you love
  • 1 6×6 grilling plank, submerged in water for at least an hour.

Preheat your grill to about 350 degrees. I got my grill too hot which I think contributed to the plank curling at the edges a bit. So try to keep your grill at the lower temperature. The two recipes on the package for planked brie and planked cheddar all grilled at 350 degrees. I was just so excited to get the cheese on the grill, (and off) lol. Put your soaked plank on the grill  for about 3 minutes. Flip and using your tongs, take it off the grill so you can top your plank with the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Using your tongs place it back on the grill. Grill for about ten minutes until the cheese is nice and soft and you see the sun dried tomatoes beginning to brown a little. On the side of the plank, grill your slices of bread and enjoy together.  Happy goat cheese enjoying weekend everyone! ;)

Farro & Chickpea Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

I have fallen in love with farro! It’s deliciously chewy and nutty and I was eating it right out of the pot, it’s just so good! And it’s super healthy too! It’s jam packed with fiber, protein and iron. I have to admit, I overcooked mine a bit, you want your farro more on the al dente side, giving it more chew factor. So keep an eye on it. Farro is a versatile grain that you can toss into soup, salads. Use farro as a side dish tossed with olive oil, garlic and some herbs. I’ve had it for breakfast instead of oatmeal, topped with some walnuts, raspberries and a little soy milk and it was delicious! This salad is so satisfying, it can be a complete meal on its’ own!

  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup good ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped baby lettuces or spring mix
  • a few mint leaves *optional
  • 3 radishes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 sun dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of the olive oil that the sun dried tomatoes are packed in
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Cook your farro according to the package instructions. Once al dente, drain and rinse with cold water. Have all of your veggies, chopped to about the size of the chickpeas. Combine the farro, chickpeas and tomatoes. Make your dressing combining the oils, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the lettuce, avocado and radishes when you are ready to serve your salad. If you want to add a little more sweetness to the salad, just add in more tomatoes. This serves about 4 people. Enjoy!

Ziti with Creamed Cucumbers, Mushrooms & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sauteed cucumbers tossed in a creamy sauce with sun dried tomatoes and earthy mushrooms combined with ziti hits the spot quickly on a busy night! It’s a special little dish that will put a smile on your face. :)

  • 1/4 pound ziti rigati, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and quartered to about the length of the ziti
  • 5 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cut julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 3 oz. heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a colander salt the cucumbers and let them sit for about 20 minutes to draw the liquid out of them. Take a paper towel and pat them dry. In a dutch oven, melt the butter until it sizzles on medium heat, add in the cucumber until they brown lightly. Stir in the mushrooms until they brown and cooked. Next stir in the sun dried tomatoes with a little of the olive oil and saute for a few minutes. Add in the heavy cream and bring to a boil until it thickens. Season as needed with salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta and combine well. This serves 2, top with fresh Parmesan cheese and enjoy!