Sunday, March 21, 2021

Giada's Pasta with Peas and Carrots {A Perfect Springtime Mac and Cheese}!

I had an absolute abundance of veggies on hand so I decided on a dish I've made a handful of times before, Giada's Pasta with Peas and Carrots. This is such a delicious dish and I think of it every spring because it is THE PERFECT springtime macaroni and cheese! If you are a macaroni and cheese fan and you love peas and carrots this is one recipe you simply MUST MAKE!

You need a pasta that is good for cupping peas and carrots, like orecchiette, shells, or farfalle. Any of those shapes will work, maybe even rigatoni. Then you need a bag an onion, a bag of frozen or fresh peas and lots of chopped up carrots. The cheeses of choice: cream cheese and Italian Mascarpone. You're well on your way to one delicious springtime meal.

I mean does it get anymore springtime than peas and carrots? This would also make a wonderful accompaniment to an Easter ham. Just saying.

If you love peas and carrots and are looking for another way to get them into your diet, try this recipe. highly recommend it! I've made it at least a handful of times and it's a hit each and every time! If you chose to use a veggie stock, you can make it vegetarian.

Pasta with Peas and Carrots

Recipe Adapted from Food Network

by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 4-6

1 pound pasta (small shapes like farfallini or orecchiette)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temp

salt and black pepper

chopped fresh basil leaves, to garnish*

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are warmed through and the carrots are tender. Stir in the cooked pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses. Stir until the mixture is incorporated and forms a sauce. Season with salt, to taste. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped basil.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Mark Bittman's Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Parmesan


 When I think of spring I think of three veggies: peas, carrots, and asparagus. Asparagus was my mom's favorite and it always reminds me of her. She used to say that it just made her feel so good to eat it. When I came across a beautiful bunch of fresh asparagus, I couldn't refuse it. 

While searching online for recipes, I found Mark Bittman's article titled, Asparagus, 12 ways. While they all sounded delicious, particularly Grilled Asparagus with Red Pepper Glaze, I opted for Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Parmesan because, let's face it, bacon and parmesan. I'm trying to be good, but springing forward isn't my favorite, ya know? Why does the time change affect us all week?

This dish was so unbelievably good! The asparagus was still fresh with a bit of a snap to it and the roasting really brings out the flavor. The little bit of bacon and parmesan really go a long way in building flavor and I found that this veggie dish was somewhat addictive. I wanted to go back for more!

This is perfectly delicious by itself, but I'm thinking I would really enjoy it for breakfast with a crispy fried egg on top! Yum! I will be making this easy and delicious veggie many more times in the future! 

Recipe per Mark Bittman's, article linked above. Recipe is for one pound of aspargus, serves 4.

Heat the oven to 450F. Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 slices bacon, chopped (I wanted my bacon to be crispy and I knew the thin asparagus would only take 5-6 minutes so I cooked some chopped bacon until it was almost done in a skillet then added it to the asparagus) in a roasting pan. Roast, turning the asparagus once or twice, until done. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

My asparagus was thin so it only took between 5-6 minutes, but thick asparagus would take longer. Best to check on it while it's roasting.

Spring Forward @ IHCC

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Ottolenghi's Balilah {The Perfect Healthy Snack}

Ottolenghi writes, "In Jerusalem, Balilah is a popular Palestinian street food consisting of fresh chickpeas seasoned with cumin and lemon juice and it makes the most gratifying snack." He also states, "On the corner of the souk in the Old City stood the very popular balilah man. He had large piles of freshly cooked chickpeas on his stall, steaming and beautifully decorated with parsley and lemon. Like a magician, he used to whip the balilah into a newspaper cone in a flash and serve it to the eager customer."

I don't know about you, but I am a bean lover and that sounds heavenly. I have wanted to make this recipe forever and I am so glad I have finally got around to it! It is the perfect snack!

This balilah is so quick and easy to whip together, especially with canned chickpeas. Simply drain the beans, add chopped parsley, sliced green onions, chopped lemon, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Give it all a mix and you are good to go. Of course, I feel this is better even the next day when the flavors have had a chance to meld together. You can even add chopped tomato or cucumber, or even feta cheese. You can eat this as a snack on its own, or served in pita or with pita chips. You can eat it warm, room temp, or cold straight from the fridge. It is also great served over chicken or fish or thrown into a salad. It is so versatile and delicious and it certainly won't last long!



Adapted from Jerusalem

by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

Serves 4, or more

1 cup dried or 2 (15oz.) cans  chickpeas

1 teaspoon baking soda, if using dried beans

1 cup chopped parsley

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

2-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and freshly ground black pepper

If Using Dried Beans: The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Add the baking soda and leave at room temp to soak overnight. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, skim the surface of the water, then decrease the heat and simmer for1 to 1-1/2 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft but still retain their shape. 

If Using Canned Beans: Use two 15.5 oz. cans! Drain the chickpeas and place in a large bowl.

To Make The Balilah: Put the parsley and green onions in a large mixing bowl. Peel the lemon by topping and tailing it, placing on a board, and running a small sharp knife along its curves to remove the skin and white pith. Discard the skin, pith, and seeds and coarsely chop the flesh. Add the flesh and all of the juies to the bowl.

Once the chickpeas are ready, drain and add them to the bowl while they are still hot (If you are using canned beans you can heat them up if you like). Add the olive oil, cumin, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix well. Allow to cool down until just warm, taste for seasoning, and serve.