Category Archives: main dish

Asparagus and Mushroom Lasagne

       I’ve always loved asparagus season in Central California. I like that it’s a finite season, and it’s an agro-culinary treat you can really look forward to. Resisting the urge to buy those nice looking spears that come from Mexico a month or so before the California season begins, I patiently wait for the local product to finally arrive. I’ve been enjoying this year’s crop in the usually ways: grilled, sauteed, broiled, in salads,  etc. , but wanted to create a recipe that included some of my other favorite flavors. While asparagus has a distinctive flavor, it lends itself well to a variety of cuisines and applications. This recipe for lasagne  has lots of steps, but isn’t difficult to make. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

 

8          ounces              Lasagne Sheets

3          Tblspns            ButterP1040299

½         small                Onion – small dice

3          Tblspns            Flour

1 ¾      cup                  Milk

½         tspn                 Salt

¼         tspn                 Pepper

1          Tblspn             Olive Oil

1          Tblspn             Butter

8          ounces            Crimini Mushrooms

½         tspn                 Salt

¼         tspn                 Pepper

2          tspns                Fresh Thyme (1 tspn if using dried)

1          Tblspn             Olive Oil

8          ounces            Spinach

8          ounces            Piquillo Peppers – diced

12        ounces           Asparagus

1          cup                  Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

4          ounces           Goat Cheese

1          tspn                 Lemon Zest

2          Tblspns          Basil—chopped

1          large                Egg

½         tspn                Salt

¼         tspn                Pepper

  • Cook lasagne according to package instructions. Cool and set aside.
  • Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and butter is just beginning to brown.
  • Reduce heat to low and add flour. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine and break up any lumps. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add milk while stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add salt and pepper and stir frequently until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Trim tough ends from asparagus. Add asparagus to water and cook just until crisp/tender—about 3 minutes.
  • Drain and immediately dunk in ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and set aside.
  • Cut mushrooms into wide, chunky slices—about 3 slices per mushrooms for medium-sized caps.
  • Add olive oil and butter to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and salt. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms have softened and released their juices. Add pepper and thyme and cook one more minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Wipe out pan and add 1 Tblspn olive oil to pan over medium-high heat. Add spinach and sauté until just wilted, but still bright green in color. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, goat cheese, egg, zest, basil, salt and pepper.
  • For lasagne assembly, spray a 9” square baking dish with cooking spray. Place a layer of noodles in the bottom of the pan. Top with about 2/3 of the béchamel sauce. Add mushrooms in an even layer.
  • Add another layer of noodles and top with sautéed spinach and about 2/3 of the piquillo peppers.
  • Add another layer of noodles and top with 2/3 of the ricotta mixture. Lay in the blanched asparagus spears in an even layer and top with remaining ricotta mixture.
  • Add another layer of noodles and top with remaining béchamel sauce and piquillo peppers.
  • Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 30-40 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

P1040305

P1040287

Advertisements

Black Bean and Corn Hand Pies

IMG_1748Hand Pies–the ultimate portable food! It seems almost every culture has a version of this on-the-go lunch or dinner. From Cornwall, it’s the pasty which has made its way to many parts of the world–most notably the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In Latin America and Spain it’s the empanada, also great as a tapa. In Italy it’s the calzone which is pretty much pizza fillings stuffed into an enclosed pizza crust.  You can use any pie crust recipe you like, but I like using a combination of vegetable shortening (or lard, if you have it) and butter for a nice combination of flavor and flakiness.  An egg in the dough adds a certain richness. The idea for this filling came from a visit to The Mmoon Empanadas in Los Gatos. These pies freeze well. Just place the uncooked pies on a sheet pan and freeze them completely, then put them in zip-top bags. They can be cooked straight out of the freezer, just add about 5 extra minutes to the cooking time.

BLACK BEAN & CORN HAND PIES

(makes 6 large pies)

Ingredients:

 Filling

1          Tblspn             Olive Oil

½         cup                  Poblano Pepper—small dice

½         cup                  Yellow Onion—small dice

¼         cup                  Red Pepper—small dice

1          clove               Garlic—minced

½         tspn                 Salt

½         tspn                 Ground Cumin

¼         tspn                 Ground Chipotle Chili (or other chili powder)

¼         tspn                 Black Pepper

½         cup                  Corn

½         cup                  Black Beans–cooked

½         cup                  Queso Fresco (or shredded Jack or Cheddar)

Dough

2 ¼      cups                Flour

1          tspn                 Salt

2          tspns                Sugar

½         tspn                 Ground Cumin

¼         cup                  Shortening

½         cup                  Butter (one stick)

1          Tblspn             Cider Vinegar

6          Tblspns            Ice Water

1          large                Egg

1          Tblspn             Water

Filling

  • Char the skin of the poblano pepper by either roasting under a broiler or placing directly on the burner of a gas stove turned to medium heat. Turn pepper a quarter turn as the exposed side of the pepper becomes evenly blackened. When pepper is completely blackened, place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with a plate or some plastic wrap—this helps create steam to loosen the skin.
  • When cool enough to handle, slip off the blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds. It’s best not to rinse the pepper under water so as to preserve all of the roasted flavor.
  • In a sauté pan over medium-high, heat oil until it just begins to shimmer. Add onion and red pepper and sauté until softened, but not browned—about 5 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant—about a minute.
  • Add corn (fresh or frozen), black beans (rinsed and drained) and poblano. Cook and combine until heated through. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Place in a medium bowl to cool. Add crumbled cheese and stir to combine.

IMG_1659IMG_1697IMG_1717

Dough

  • Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add shortening and cut into the flour mixture with two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mix resemble a course meal. Cut butter into ½” pieces and toss to coat with the flour. Pinch the butter pieces flat with your fingers. Working quickly, pinch and mix the butter pieces in until you have a mix with mostly pea-sized pieces.
  • Add cider and ice water and mix together with a fork until a rough ball forms.
  • Pull dough out onto a lightly floured pastry board or clean counter and turn and push mixture together a few times to form a cohesive ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

Assemble

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Whisk together egg and water in a small bowl
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and cut into 6 equal pieces.
  • On a lightly floured board, roll each piece out into a circle about ⅛” thick and about 7” in diameter.
  • Place about ¼ cup of the filling in the center of each dough circle. Brush the edges of the dough with egg mixture. Fold edges together and pinch with thumb and index finger. Crimp edges with a fork. If fork sticks to dough, dip it in a little flour.
  • Place pies on a parchment lined sheet pan, brush with egg wash,  and bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

IMG_1734IMG_1738IMG_1745

Pork Fried Farro

A little leftover pork and some leftover rice in the fridge,P1050238along with a few veggies, is always a good excuse to make pork fried rice. In fact, I often cook extra rice just for that purpose. Last night, I found myself with the pork and the vegetables, but the leftover grain was farro. Farro is an old Italian grain that’s similar to wheat. However, farro cooks much more quickly than wheat berries. Just put them in a sauce pan with enough water to cover by about and inch and a half and simmer for about 15 minutes. Farro is a nice alternative to rice as a side dish and is great in soups and salads. I’ve even been known to eat cold leftover farro for breakfast with a little yogurt and some fresh berries. I think the word “toothsome” is a little overused as a food descriptor, but the term hits the mark with farro. It’s tender to the bite, but definitely holds its shape. It has a light nutty flavor with a hint of barley (but without that sliminess that comes with barley). It’s texture and flavor make it a natural for a fried rice style preparation.

4          tspns                Canola Oil

1          large                Egg

1          Tblspn             Garlic—mincedP1050208

1          Tblspn             Ginger–minced

½         medium           Red Pepper—small dice

1          medium           Carrot—small dice

2          cups                Farro—cooked

1          cup                  Edamame Beans (frozen, shelled)

1          cup                  Pork—cooked and diced

4          each                Green Onions—thinly sliced

1          Tblspn             Sambal (optional)

3          Tblspns            Soy Sauce

P1050222

  • Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat.
  • Scramble egg with about a teaspoon of water. When oil shimmers, add egg to pan and swirl around the pan (crepe style) until bottom is covered.
  • As soon as the “crepe” is set (about 15-20 seconds), loosen with a silicone spatula and flip over to cook other side for another 15-20 seconds. Roll out onto a cutting board and chop into small pieces.
  • Wipe out pan with a paper towel.
  • Meanwhile, bring a quart of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add a generous amount of salt and the frozen edamame beans. Return a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain, run under cold water and set aside.
  •  Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over high heat in the pan or wok until simmering. Add ginger and garlic and swirl around pan until fragrant—about 30 seconds. Add pepper and carrot and cook for a minute or two, until just beginning to soften.P1050233
  • Lower heat to medium and add farro. Stir around until farro is heated through—about 3 minutes. Add edamame, pork and soy sauce. If you’d like a little heat, add the sambal or an appropriate amount of your favorite hot condiment. Stir to combine.
  • Add egg and green onions. Taste and add more soy or sambal if needed.