Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spaghetti with Goat Cheese & Roasted Pepper Sauce

(4 servings)

This delicious pasta sauce can be made with jarred roasted red peppers or if you have the time, homemade.

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz jar roasted red peppers or 4 large red bell peppers roasted, sliced
2 oz soft goat cheese
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 pinches cayenne
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

fresh sliced basil, for garnish
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti, prepared according to the directions on the package

Heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onion. Saute until the onions are caramelized; about 15-20 minutes. You might have to adjust the flame from time to time to prevent the onions from burning.

Stir in the garlic and cook another minute, then stir in the roasted bell peppers and goat cheese. Cook until the cheese has melted, then stir in the smoked paprika and cayenne.

Stir in the water and milk. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a bit more milk or water if the sauce seems too thick.

Garnish with the sliced basil. Serve with cooked pasta.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tangy Lemon Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis

(4-6 servings)

This lighter version of the classic Italian dessert can be prepared a day or two ahead, if desired. Just keep it covered and chilled.

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey, or to taste
1 envelope gelatin
1 2/3 cups Greek yogurt or labneh
zest from 1 medium lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream

1 lb fresh strawberries
1 tbsp honey

Combine the water and honey and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Set aside for at least 5 minutes.

Gently heat the honey and gelatin mixture, then stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Set aside.

Combine the Greek yogurt, zest and lemon juice in a bowl until the mixture is smooth.

Stir the cream into the gelatin mixture, then slowly mix that into the yogurt mixture. Taste and mix in more honey if you prefer your panna cotta sweeter.

Spoon into small individual ramekins or into a single larger bowl. Place into the refrigerator and chill, (preferable overnight) until set.

When you are ready to serve the panna cotta, wash and hull the strawberries. Place half of them into the bowl of a food processor along one tablespoon of honey. Pulse until you have a smooth sauce. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve if you'd like to remove the seeds (I don't bother).

Slice the remaining strawberries and add them to the coulis.

Run a sharp knife along the edge of the panna cotta. Dip the outside of the ramekins or bowl into hot water for 5-10 seconds to loosen. Invert the onto serving plate or plates. Serve with the chunky strawberry coulis.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Salad

(4-6 servings)

Freshly roasted bell pepper salads are wonderful! I've always had a fondness for red peppers, but if you prefer a colorful salad you could use two red, two yellow and two green bell peppers instead.

I've kept the seasoning for this salad simple, but if you are inclined, you could add a bit of fresh minced garlic, parsley or mint!

6 red bell peppers
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat *oven to 450°F.

Wash, then cut the bell peppers in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place them cut side down in a single layer on a lined (foil or parchment paper will work) baking sheet. You can use an unlined sheet in a pinch, however you might end up with a bit of a cleaning chore.

Place the peppers into the middle of the oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes. When the skins have begun to blacken and puff up somewhat, remove the peppers from the oven. Allow them to cool. *I roast these in a small counter top convection oven, you might have to adjust the heat and/or roasting time a bit if using a larger conventional oven.

Slip the skins off the peppers. Slice the peppers into bite sized strips and place them into a bowl.

Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to start. Toss the salad and taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. I will often add a touch more vinegar later because the peppers will release a bit of liquid if they have sat a while.