Pre-Passover Fridge-Clean-Out Pasta

  

Skillet Pasta baked with cheeseTeam! It’s getting down to the wire! That’s right . . . Passover is right around the corner. My local kosher grocer has put up the outside tent and is changing all the labels on their shelves and covering up the non-kosher-for-Passover stuff like it’s some sort of eye sore. As the first night seder approaches, I’m already starting the process of cleaning out my cabinets of pasta and other delicious goodies that are a “no-no” during Passover.

I’m constantly in search of a quick, yet delicious dinner to serve on a busy weeknight PLUS I need to get rid of my pasta, so I decided to try my hand at a skillet pasta dish and I’m SO glad I did! The recipe below can be adapted to add anything you like—I used frozen veggies to help clean out the freezer and half boxes of pasta to help clean out my cupboard. What I love about this dish is that it offers a cheesy, delicious meal, plus it helps clean my house, so…win-win!

Fridge-Clean-Out Skillet Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked penne or corkscrew pasta
  • ​​​​​​1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jar favorite marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Maldon salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425° F. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, add entire box pasta plus the frozen broccoli and mushrooms. Cook together until pasta is just shy of al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package cooking time. Drain, then transfer pasta and veggies to a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 of the sauce to the pasta and veggies. Set aside.

2. Add olive oil to an ovenproof skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Once smoking, add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet. Stir to combine pasta and veggies with the onions and garlic. Using a spatula, flatten the pasta so it lays evenly. Add the rest of the sauce to the pasta and evenly top with the cheese. Place skillet in the upper third of the oven. Cook until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Fresh Start Rice Noodle Bowls

  

In the winter there is something so comforting about a classic Shabbat roasted chicken. Often though, the meal can feel heavy with chicken at the center of heavy starch and vegetable sides. This Rice Noodle Bowl takes either freshly roasted chicken breasts, or some of your leftover roasted chicken and creates a nice, light, customizable meal in a bowl. It’s comfort food with out the gooey heavy cheesiness of, say, mac ‘n’ cheese or chili.

The long noodles also make this a perfect dish to cook for couples and families celebrating Chinese New Year, which just happens to fall on Shabbat this year (January 28 to be exact). Just as we eat honey and apples for a sweet Jewish new year, Chinese tradition is to eat long noodles. It is one of the “lucky foods” meant to represent a long life.

Ingredients

Choose what you like to add into your rice bowl. You can make it with tofu to keep it vegetarian or salmon if you want fish. You can also add some fresh grated ginger or cilantro for extra flavors.

Rice Noodle Bowls with Vegetables and Chicken
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Rotisserie chicken or 2 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 pint of mushrooms of your choice (I used Beech Mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed oil is best)
    You will have leftover shallot oil that can be used in other recipes
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1 bouillon cube with water or chicken stock (for 1 cup of stock)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/2 package of rice noodles (two nests)
  • 1 carrot

 

Directions:

ingredients1.  If you are using a rotisserie chicken, you will just slice 4 slices of the chicken breast and set it aside on a plate. If you are roasting a chicken breast, use this method from Ina Garten; it is simple and tasty.

2.  Pour vegetable oil into a small saucepan and heat it over low. While the oil heats, slice the shallots as thinly as possible. Have a fork or slotted spoon on hand and put a layer of paper towels on a small plate.Turn the oil up to medium heat. Once the oil ripples, you should be able to toss in a piece of shallot and see if it sizzles instantly. Then it is hot enough. If it burns, take the oil off the heat to cool and remove the burnt shallot. Cook the shallots in the hot oil for 10-20 minutes until crispy. Remove the shallots with a fork or slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. Set the oil aside to cool.

3.  Wash and slice the scallions using both the white and green parts of the scallion about halfway up the greens. Peel the carrot and slice it into thin matchsticks.

4.  Prepare the rice noodles as directed by the package. Typically, the noodles soak in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water.

5.  Pour the shallot oil into a jar. The leftover oil is great for salad dressings and seasoning. You will not use the entire 1/4 cup.

sautee mushrooms6.  If you are just using a few mushrooms you can sauté them in the oil left behind in the pan. If you are using a lot of mushrooms, use a larger sauté pan and pour in a teaspoon of the shallot oil. You do not want to crowd the mushrooms or they will steam instead of sauté. Clean and slice the mushrooms if they are not pre-sliced. Smaller mushrooms can be left whole.

7.  In a small saucepan, cover the egg with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. While the egg is simmering prepare a bowl with ice water. After 3 minutes, dunk the egg in the ice water and let it cool. Once cool, carefully peel the egg.

8.  Empty the water out of the egg saucepan and add in your stock or water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then let simmer. Wash and slice the baby bok choy into halves or quarters depending on how big they are.

cook your bok choy9.  Now you can assemble your rice noodle bowls. On a plate or individual bowls you will put your slices of scallion, crispy shallots, carrots and sautéed mushrooms. Toss the rinsed rice noodles in the leftover oil from the pan that you used to sautée the mushrooms. Just before serving, cook the bok choy in the chicken stock for a few minutes and then heat up the slices of chicken in the chicken stock as well. This will only take a few minutes each.

9.  Divide the noodles into two bowls. Slice the egg and put half in each bowl. Allow people to add the toppings they like to the dish and then drizzle with a little additional shallot oil. Stir it all together and enjoy.

Chinese noodle bowl

 

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

  

thanksgivingbreadpud-12

Bread pudding—essentially made from stale bread and custard—originated in England as a poor family’s dessert. Every culture handles its leftovers differently; in Jewish cooking, the most common pudding recipes include kugel and matzo brei. This particular savory version uses eggs and chicken stock for the custard instead of milk, and the bread is seasoned with all the flavors of Thanksgiving. If you don’t have stale bread for this, save your bread ends instead, using a variety of different breads (other than sandwich bread).

thanksgivingbreadpud-5-2

Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1-lb. loaf French or Italian bread
  • 4 onions
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper

 

Optional topping:

  • 1 cup potato chips
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

 

thanksgivingbreadpud-1-2

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube bread into 1-inch pieces. Bake the bread cubes on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cubes in the oven as it cools.

2. Chop onions and sauté over medium heat with olive oil. Chop the celery into a small dice and toss it in with the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery softens slightly.

3. Add 1 Tbsp. sage into the onion mixture. Over the onion mixture, strip the leaves off of two sprigs of thyme by running your fingers, pinched, along the stem (try the opposite direction if that doesn’t work well). Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and stir until mixed. Take the onion mixture out of the pan and put 1/4 cup in a medium-sized bowl to cool. Put the rest aside in another bowl to cool.

4. Take the bread cubes out of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees again. Toss the bread cubes in with the larger portion of the onion mixture and set aside.

5. Once cool, add the ground turkey into the ÂĽ-cup onion mixture. Separate two eggs, keeping the whites. Add the two egg yolks to the ground turkey. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. sage. Add fresh cranberries and mix together until uniform.

thanksgivingbreadpud-2

6. In the same pan you used for the onions (no need to rinse it!) add vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil. Form small, burger-sized patties with the turkey mixture and fry them over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes a side. They should be browned on the outside and opaque in the middle. Put the patties aside on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to touch, break them into large pieces.

thanksgivingbreadpud-7

7. Toss the patty pieces with the bread cubes and onion mixture. Any juices on the plate can be added to the mixture as well.

8. Add four additional eggs to the two egg whites. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour eggs and chicken stock over the bread-pudding mix. Add the remaining thyme and sage, plus the dried cranberries. The best way to mix it all is with your hands. If the mixture is still fairly dry, add another 1/2 cup of stock.

9. Put 1 tsp. vegetable oil in a 9×13 glass baking dish and grease the dish with a paper towel. Gently lay the mixture into the dish. Pat down lightly. If you have extra mixture, you can bake it separately in a small dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes, uncovered. After 30 minutes, sprinkle the potato-chip mixture on top and continue baking. Serve with roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Serve with some roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese

  

bruschetta_mac_and_cheese_holding_650There’s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)—macaroni and cheese. To give you a clue as to just how much I love mac and cheese, for my 30th birthday my husband took me out to a well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI, where I was in graduate school at the time, and ordered a flight of four different kinds of made-to-order mac and cheese. Six years later, I still remember it as one of my most favorite meals.

So when it comes to hosting a vegetarian friend for a Shabbat meal, I see it as an opportunity to embrace my mac and cheese side. I like to get creative and go bananas with mac and cheese. For Sukkot one year, I had some friends over for a mac and cheese bar that included every kind of vegetarian-friendly topping you can think of, and about four different kinds of hot sauces. It was awesome! But when I want to bring out a showstopper, the recipe below is the one I go for. The balsamic vinegar pairs perfectly with the cheeses that have been kissed with a hint of mustard. Plus you can never go wrong with a beautiful, colorful topping like tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. And if your kids don’t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the “untouched” pasta on the side. Everyone wins!

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

Mac and Cheese

  • 13 oz. rotini pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Bruschetta Topping

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Roughly 8 whole basil leaves, finely chopped (or chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Bruschetta Topping

1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil and salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat, and by the handful stir in the cheeses, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard and salt. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

4. Once complete, either spoon all of your mac and cheese into a serving dish and serve with artfully placed bruschetta topping (this is what I recommend for the wow factor!) or spoon into individual bowls and add toppings.

bruschetta 2_650

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime & Yogurt Chicken Wings

  

wings title horizontal

Gang, summer is coming to an end! We need to embrace all of its delights as much as we can, including swimming and eating as much ice cream as possible, because that’s what summer’s about, right? I think we should also embrace the later Shabbat start times, and one of my favorite ways to do this is by hosting a “Sha-barbecue”! The first time I enjoyed a Sha-barbecue was almost 10 years ago when I was living in Chicago. I was invited over to my friend Taron’s place for Shabbat dinner. When I asked him what I could bring, he casually said, “Well, it’s a Sha-barbecue, so maybe some guacamole and chips?” I loved how casually he said Sha-barbecue, like it was a thing everyone knew about the world over. But never in my whole Jewish life had I heard of or attended a Sha-barbecue! Ever since that fateful night, I have fully embraced the Sha-barbecue. With Shabbat not starting until almost 8 in the summer, I’ve found that as a religiously observant Jew it’s easy to have friends over and enjoy some adult beverages while barbecuing up the main course and then sitting down to a lovely Sha-barbecue meal. You know, like our forefathers and mothers used to do!

Sha-barbecue Cilantro, Lime and Yogurt Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole chicken wings, tips trimmed and discarded
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. pepper
  • ½ Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ Tbsp. cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powderwings 4

 

Marinade:

  • 1 cup coconut-milk yogurt (plain)
  • 4 key limes, juiced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. smoked paprika

 

For serving:

  • Maldon sea salt
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

 

Directions:

1. Wash and dry the chicken wings, making sure they are free of any feathers. Next, separate drumettes from wingettes by slicing a sharp knife through the joints.

2. Place the chicken wings in a medium bowl. Add the cumin, sweet paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper. Toss to coat the wings.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade. Stir to combine, tasting for adjustments in seasoning.

4. Once marinade is complete, place the prepared chicken wings into the marinade bowl,wings stirring to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours, making sure not to over-marinate, as the recipe includes lime juice, which can break down the meat (and not in a good way).

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Using tongs, gently place the wings on the prepared baking sheets, making sure to spread them evenly so they aren’t overlapping. Don’t toss out the remaining marinade, as you will be basting while it bakes.

7. Bake wings for roughly 20 minutes. After the initial 20 minutes, baste each wing with remaining marinade. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

8. Sprinkle cooked wings with Maldon sea salt and a squeeze of lime just before serving.

wings 3 horizontal

Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

  

Buffalo quinoa burgers

I was raised on a healthy diet of my mom’s homemade buffalo wings. I remember the first time I had a ‘hot’ wing. She had brought home some leftovers from what would become our favorite wing spot, The Three Dollar Cafe. I remember taking my first bite. I remember my lips seemingly on fire but tingly with joy all at once. What was this spicy wing of deliciousness and where can I get more!?

Luckily for me, my mom was just as in love with hot wings as I was and luckily for us, my mom had gotten a buffalo wing recipe from a random man in a shoe store and so, a family recipe was born. My mom’s wings are hot and tangy and sweet and spicy. They pair perfectly with blue cheese. However, now that I keep kosher, there is no pairing of blue cheese and hot wings. Therefore, I’ve had to come up with alternatives to bring my favorite pairings to life. This vegetarian version is great for bringing to a picnic, serving your family on Shabbat or simply disguising a healthy weekday meal with a punch of flavor.

You’ll see that this recipe does not include blue cheese but I do recommend it. Heck, me being me, I recommend ANY AND ALL CHEESE. I also recommend having fun with your toppings. I enjoy some bread and butter pickles and some classic mayonnaise and maybe some grilled onions. But truly, the best thing about these burgers are that they can be built to your taste buds. Enjoy!

Quinoa burgers with toppingsBuffalo Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup Cannelloni beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 Tbsp. Canola oil

 

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, mashed Cannelloni beans, bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 balled patties (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).

3. In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Wait until oil is hot and then add 2 quinoa burger balls in at a time. Using a flat spatula, press down the ball until a thick patty forms.

4. Cook until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the an optional layer of cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil into the skillet after the first batch of burgers is cooked.

buffalo quinoa burgers and fixings

Sweet Summer Kugel Bites

  

Sweet summer kugel

For summer, we are taking inspiration from the layers of an Italian lasagna as well as the sweetness of kugel. Lasagna is of course a classic Italian dish. Its creamy, rich filling is a perfect comfort food for the chilly days of fall and winter. In Jewish kitchens, noodle kugel (Lokshen Kugel) makes an appearance several times a year. It is a great dairy option for a Yom Kippur break fast and a favorite for Shavuot when we eat dairy.

These mini sweet summer lasagna-kugels let you take the in-season fruits of summer and layer them between a delicious ricotta filling and pasta. They are great served warm with some grilled fruit for a sweet and light meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can be enjoyed straight from the fridge for a little after-camp snack or picnic treat. This can be made as a single dish in a large pan or as individual minis in a muffin tin.

Sweet Summer Mini Kugels

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 lasagna noodles or 6 oz. of wide egg noodles
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta
  • 2 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit preserves or a bowl of cherries, a bowl of raspberries and a bowl of apricots (about 2 cups of stewed fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

 

summer kugel prep

Directions:

1. Begin by cooking and straining the pasta so it has time to cool.  Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar and the vanilla into the pasta water and bring it to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente (as noted on the box). If you are using muffin tins for individual kugels, I recommend using the egg noodles because they fit more easily into the cups. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

2.  You can use preserves if time is an issue, but this is a perfect way to use up fruit that is becoming a bit overripe or isn’t so pretty anymore and you want to cook with it. In a small saucepan, add the fruit (peel and all is OK) and a tablespoon of water. Cover the pot and cook on medium-low until the fruit softens. Then take the lid off and cook on low until the fruit breaks down into the consistency of a compote or apple sauce.

ricotta egg mixtureFruits with skins like apricots will separate from the skins and you can just pull out the skins from the pot. If you like your kugel to be a bit sweeter, then add some sugar to the mixture a teaspoon at a time to taste.

3. Set the preserves aside in a bowl to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp. of sugar. If you are using the egg noodles, once the pasta has cooled, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.

kugel filling

5. Now you layer your kugel (like a traditional lasagna). If you are using lasagna noodles, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. Then add a layer of noodles, a layer of the ricotta mixture, a layer of fruit, a layer of lasagna noodles and a thin layer of the ricotta on top.

If you are using egg noodles and a muffin tin, put cupcake liners in each spot. Take the noodles that have been tossed with a little of the ricotta mixture and put a thin layer of them on the bottom. Add a layer of ricotta and a layer of fruit. The advantage of muffin tins is that you can do a variety of flavors. I did cherry, raspberry and apricot. Top the fruit with a layer of the egg noodles.

mini kugels ready to bake

6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes for the individual kugels until the top is lightly golden brown. For the larger kugel, cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time depends on how juicy your fruit is. The top will be golden brown and the fruit will bubble up a little when done.

7. For the topping which can be drizzled on top, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Drizzle over slices at the table.

summer kugel with pineapple

Serve with a fruit salad or some grilled fruit for a full, fruity, sweet meal.

Indian Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Mint Sauce

  

Indian chicken chutney

Chicken is a mainstay in most Jewish homes. We love our chicken stock (homemade or store-bought and doctored will do) for matzah ball soup. You’ll find chopped chicken livers at the holiday table because every family has those who love it among the haters. For Shabbat, a nice roasted chicken kicks off the weekend and the Sabbath. But when you always cook with the same ingredient it is easy to get in a rut. The good news is that it isn’t that hard to get out of it! Just add a little spice. This summer, go Indian with this Indian spiced grilled chicken served with a cilantro mint sauce. For interfaith families with Indian backgrounds, this is a great way to fuse your cultures!

chicken_chutney_ 700

Indian chicken, uncookedIngredients:

  • fresh ginger, 1 inch knob
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp. of fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

Mint

Cilantro Mint Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of mint
  • 2 cups of cilantro
  • 1 large shallot
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. of white sugar
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced

Directions:

1.  Into a large bowl, grate the ginger. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime, salt, Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix that can be found at most grocery stores) and fennel seeds (I like to buy whole seeds and toast them on a pan on the stove and then crush them with a mortar and pestle). Pour in vegetable oil and mix together.

Toss the chicken into the marinade and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. 

2.  Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Wash and dry the cilantro and mint. You can use a salad spinner or dry the herbs on a towel. They do not have to be bone dry. In a blender, add the mint, cilantro, shallot cut into quarters, the juice of 1 lime, water, sugar and salt. Puree the mixture.  

3.  Carefully slice a jalapeño in half, remove the inner seeds and mince the pepper. Stir the tiny pieces of pepper into the sauce.

4.  Take the chicken out of the fridge so it can lose some of the chill. Then, pre-heat your grill. Cook the chicken on a medium heat grill until done. Timing varies based on size of the chicken pieces, so just refer to your meat thermometer for doneness. Or, cut into the chicken to see that the meat is opaque and the juices run clear.

Serve with delicious summer vegetables.

Spring Onion and Asparagus Crostata

  

Spring crostata

Spring is here and we can finally enjoy delicious—and healthy—fresh vegetable delicacies, like this Italian-inspired Spring Onion and Asparagus Crostata. What makes it really stand out is its crust—made from a rich cream cheese dough traditionally used in rugelach, the famous Jewish curled-up cookie. You’ll love this savory twist… with spring herbs and caramelized onions.

Spring Onion and Asparagus Crostata
Makes 2 tarts (crostatas), serves 12 as a main course or 20 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, divided
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    (If you do not have whole wheat flour, just use 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. of all purpose flour.)
  • 1/2 cup minced chives, or other spring herbs you like
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

 

Directions:

1.  Begin by caramelizing the onions. Slice your 2 yellow onions thinly. In a pan over medium heat, cook the sliced onions until they become translucent. Then, put the onions on low and cook for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. While the onions cook, prepare your crust.

Cut your chives2.  In a mixer, blend cream cheese and butter. Add in the sugar, 1/2 tsp. of salt and 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan. While this is blending, use scissors to snip the chives until you have 1/2 cup of minced chives. Add the all purpose flour and whole wheat flour to the mixer and stir on low so the flour stays in the mixing bowl. When the dough begins to come together, add in the chives. Once the dough forms a ball, take it out of the mixer and wrap it in plastic wrap to make 1 large disc of dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also make the dough a day in advance if you prefer.

3. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove your caramelized onions from the pan and let them cool. With a mandolin, a sharp knife or the slicer on your box grater, thinly slice 2 spring onions. Set the onion aside.

4.  In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, 1/2 tsp. of salt and pepper. Take the dough out of the fridge. If you have chilled the dough overnight, it may need about 30 minutes on the counter before it is workable.

5. Trim the asparagus by snapping off the thick bottoms. They should snap naturally at the beginning of the tender part of the stalk. Cut the asparagus in half horizontally and then in half again vertically.

Crostata dough5. Cut the dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough into a circle. It does not have to be a perfect circle since a crostata is a rustic dish. The dough should be between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Spread 1/2 of the caramelized onions around the edge of the dough. Curl the dough over and tuck it into the base of the crostata crust. With scissors, snip little vents along the curled crust. Repeat with the second half of the dough and caramelized onions.

Cutting the crostata dough6. Top the crust with 1/2 of the ricotta filling. Layer 1/2 of the spring onion slices on top of the ricotta filling. Carefully arrange the asparagus over the onions. Repeat with the second crust and the other 1/2 of the ricotta filling, spring onion slices and asparagus.

7. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 45-55 minutes. The crust will become golden brown along the edges.

8. Serve with a spring salad.  If you have leftover asparagus, you can shave the raw asparagus with a vegetable peeler and top with a homemade salad dressing or whatever dressing you have in your fridge. Look for pea shoots at the grocery store or farmer’s market; they make great spring salads as well.

Spring crostada served

Baked Lemon Dill Gnocchi al Forno

  

Baked gnocchi

Comfort food comes in many different shapes and forms. Each culture, each tradition, each household, each individual has a dish that is comforting to them. Comfort foods tend to be soft, warm and not overly seasoned. This Italian gnocchi al forno takes the flavors of a Jewish comfort food: matzoh ball soup, and puts them into a warm, oven-baked, cheesy, saucy dish.

This is made with pre-made gnocchi so it is a quick and easy recipe for any day of the week. The lemon adds brightness to the rich sauce. Italians understand the glory of this fruit and as Italian poet Eugenio Montale wrote: “… now it’s our turn, us poor ones, to have a share of riches/ and it’s the scent of the lemon.”

Prep for making gnocchiGnocchi

Lemon Dill Gnocchi al Forno with Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of carrots, smaller carrots are best but not baby carrots
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 package of gnocchi (1 lb)
  • 1 bunch of Lacinto kale
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups of whole milk
  • 4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
  • 5 Tbsp. of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of grated mozzarella
  • 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 3 tsp. of dried dill or 1 Tbsp. fresh dill
  • 2 tsp. of kosher salt, divided
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375℉. While the oven is heating up, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Peel the carrots and leave them whole. Line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with parchment. Put the carrots on the parchment and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of salt.

2.  Roast the carrots in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

3.  Once the water comes to a boil, put the gnocchi into the boiling water. The gnocchi take 3-5 minutes to cook. Once the gnocchi float to the top of the water, they are cooked. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate or baking dish.

4.  Grate the mozzarella. Chop the kale into thin slices. Set both aside. Once the carrots come out of the oven, raise the temperature to 400℉.

Butter

5.  In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the dill to the butter and let the butter cook a little until it is nice and foamy.

Add in the flour and mix it together until you have a paste. Cook the paste in the pan for a few minutes.

Once the paste begins to bubble a little at the edges, add in 1/2 cup of wine, stir and cook down for 3-4 minutes. Add in the zest of 1/4-1/2 a lemon. Then 1 cup at a time, add in the whole milk.

Stir together until the sauce thickens and the flour paste is incorporated. Add in the cheese and stir until the cheese melts completely.

Add flourMake a paste cheese and sauce

6.  In a large baking dish, or several small dishes, put a layer of kale into the bottom of the dish. Top with a layer of gnocchi and then pour a generous amount of the cheese sauce over top. Top the cheese with some freshly ground pepper.

gnocchi al forno-31-2

gnocchi al forno-38-2 gnocchi al forno-40-2

gnocchi al forno-42-2

7.  Cook the lemon and dill gnocchi al forno uncovered for 30-40 minutes. The sauce will bubble and caramelize slightly. Serve the gnocchi with a side of roasted carrots, and a glass of chilled white wine.

Buon Appetito!

gnocchi is served