I am not sure why I like to cook asparagus so much . . . because it’s beautiful? . . . because it pairs well with so many things? . . . because of its nutritive value? Regardless, it is one of my favorite vegetables to serve. This recipe for asparagus with gremolata yields a dish that is not only tasty, but makes a beautiful presentation as well. Gremolata is an Italian garnish that is usually made up of parsley, garlic and lemon zest — often served atop Ossobucco alla Milanese. Here the asparagus is steamed, dressed with a lemon vinaigrette and then topped or tossed with the gremolata. The lemon in the vinaigrette and the garnish adds a bright flavor that elevates this classic asparagus dish.
ASPARAGUS WITH GREMOLATA, LEMON AND OLIVE OIL (Serves 6)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Once you have finely chopped the garlic, parsley and lemon zest, chop them together on a cutting board until well combined. (This mixture is the gremolata.) Transfer to a bowl. Warm a serving platter.
- Steam or boil the asparagus in salted water until tender, four to five minutes. Remove from the heat, and toss with the gremolata. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil, and drizzle over the asparagus. Serve hot or warm
Cooking Tip: Advance preparation: You can prepare the gremolata an hour or two before you cook the asparagus.
My husband loves Portobello mushrooms. Absolutely loves them — in stir fries, casseroles, soups, omelets, salads, meatless burgers or, in this case, served alone. Garlic infused olive oil is used to add flavor to the sautéed mushrooms and, in addition, as a drizzle to finish the dish. Simply paired with onion, it is an easy and delicious way to prepare these plump, meaty, earthy delights.
EASY PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM SAUTE (Serves 2 )
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil
- 1/4 onion, cut into chunks
- 2 portobello mushroom caps, slicedsalt and black pepper to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan
- freshly grated Asiago cheese
- Warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and mushrooms; reduce heat to low, and cook until the mushrooms are soft and blackened and the onions are black around the edges. (Add additional olive oil as needed.) Turn the heat off, drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and Asiago cheeses.
The pork loin chop shown here was so tender, juicy and flavorful. The chops are basically braised – first seared and browned and then finished in the pan with the onion marmalade. This recipe requires such an interesting list of ingredients that when paired create a heavenly combination for the palate. I have to recommend that you double the ingredients for the onion marmalade — you will want more! Served here with Balsamic Roasted Baby Carrots.
BONELESS PORK LOIN CHOPS WITH ONION MARMALADE
- Trim excess fat from pork chops and sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. In a heavy 10-inch skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté pork chops until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork chops with tongs to a plate.
- In drippings remaining in skillet sauté onion until it begins to brown. Add water, vinegar, and jelly and bring to a boil, stirring until jelly melts. Simmer mixture, covered, over moderate heat until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Return pork to skillet and cook, uncovered, turning once, until cooked through and almost all liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes
We picked up some rainbow baby carrots and decided to give a little twist to the traditional roasting method. The natural sweet flavor of the carrots balances the acidity of the balsamic vinegar beautifully. Very simply prepared — toss with a vinaigrette, roast until tender and then toss with coarse salt, pepper and parsley — and you end up with a colorful plate full of bite-sized goodness.
BALSAMIC ROASTED BABY CARROTS (Serves 4)
- 1.5 pounds baby carrots, tops removed, peeled if desired
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Dash of coarse salt
- Dash of pepper, optional
- Dried or fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, if you don’t have any just spray it liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
- Rinse your carrots and pat dry.
- Place the carrots in a medium sized glass bowl.
- In a small glass bowl add the balsamic vinegar, then slowly add the olive oil while whisking with gusto. Do not use aluminum bowls, it doesn’t play well with acidic ingredients. Whisk with gusto until your arm falls off, or your ingredients combine perfectly.
- Now pour the balsamic mix over top off the carrots. Toss the carrots until well coated. Pour them onto the cookie sheet.
- Place in oven and roast them for about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how crisp or soft you like your carrots, and how thick they are. Flip halfway through, just to get that nice caramelized goodness on both sides.
- Remove from oven. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and parsley.
Break out your cast iron skillet — this recipe goes from stovetop to oven to table in 30 short minutes! The shrimp,quinoa and cheese combine to create a protein packed, low-cal dish (only 410 calories per serving) that is full of fresh veggies. It is beautifully seasoned — no salt added — without overpowering the palate. This casserole serves up beautifully once it is layered into the pan, heated through and browned under the broiler. Something that is good for you, tastes good, and makes you feel good as well.
CAJUN SHRIMP AND QUINOA CASSEROLE (Serves 4 )
- ¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- ½ C chopped sweet onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2½ tsp cajun seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2½ C cooked quinoa
- 1 C shredded fontina cheese
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Toss the shrimp and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning together, set aside.
- Toss the tomatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe skillet.) Cook the shrimp until opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan along with the onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook until the onion and jalapeno are tender, stirring often. Mix in the quinoa, tomato paste, ½ tsp Cajun seasoning and tomato chunks. Top with the shrimp and then sprinkle with the fontina cheese. (If you don’t like quinoa, you can sub the quinoa with brown rice.)
- Place in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, turn on the broiler to high and broil until the cheese is slightly brown and bubbly.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Every once in a while I serve a vegetarian meal. It is usually called “GOOD GRIEF, MY HUSBAND IS GOING OUT OF TOWN — QUICK, USE UP ALL THE FRESH VEGGIES!!!” I had a good number of cremini mushrooms that were on deck so I thought this creamy mushroom recipe would do the trick. It contains two of my hubby’s favorite things — garlic and fresh parm. You will know that it is ready to serve when the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Believe it or not, he ate all of these mushrooms in addition to roasted broccoli spears and some Spinach au Gratin.
EASY CREAMY MUSHROOMS (Serves 4)
- Melt butter in a large skillet oven over medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream, thyme and oregano; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in Parmesan.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.
A good pot of soup is a great vehicle to use up some of the leftovers and extra ingredients after the holidays. Of course, I want to put the bone from our Honey Baked ham to good use — this year it is in a Country Style Bean Soup. Soak about 2 cups of your favorite bean mix for a few hours before adding it to your stock pot with fresh spring water, a ham bone or ham hock, freshly ground pepper and a bouquet garni. Over the course of the next couple of hours you will add chopped celery, onion, whole peeled tomatoes, garlic, corn, diced potatoes and a chicken breast. Once everything has had a chance to cook up the ham bone and chicken breast are removed, and the meat is diced and returned to the pot. I think my favorite thing about making this soup is the enticing aroma that fills the house. Of course, we think that this soup is even better the next day, and I always freeze a quart or so to enjoy on a cold, winter evening.
COLONIAL VIRGINIA COUNTRY STYLE BEAN SOUP (Serves 6)
- 2 cups of assorted beans and peas
- 2 qts. cold tap or spring water
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 meaty country ham hock (3/4 lb.)
- Bouquet Garni
- 2 tsp, salt (or to taste)
- 1-28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 c. chopped onions (2 medium onions)
- 2 c. chopped celery (include some leaves)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 c. diced potatoes
- 1 c. corn
- 8 oz. (1 medium) fresh chicken breast
- Tabasco sauce (optional)
- Sort through and thoroughly wash beans. Soak beans four hours or overnight in water to cover by 2 inches.
- Drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot (6-8 qt. capacity) combine the beans, 2 qts. cold water, black pepper, ham hock and bouquet garni. Cover and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook 1 hour.
- Add salt, tomatoes (chopped, including all the juice) onions, celery, and garlic. Cover and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. For the best flavor, prepare onions, celery and garlic just before adding them to soup.
- Add potatoes, corn and chicken breast. Cover and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for additional 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
- Remove ham hock, chicken breast, and bouquet garni. Carefully locate and discard bones and fat. Dice meats fine and return them to soup.
From Purely American