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Ravioli Day Roundup

Ravioli Day Roundup

It’s National Ravioli Day!  I get so excited about ravioli, it’s kind of ridiculous.  There’s just something so lovely about filling wrapped in dough.  Ravioli is particularly special, as it works so well with some of the best sauces out there (I’m thinking Alfredo, marinara, tomato sauce with vodka…you get the idea).  Did you know that the first written mention of ravioli occurred in the 14th century in Venice in the personal letters of a merchant?  Ravioli wasn’t served with tomato sauce, though, until the 16th century (because tomatoes weren’t introduced to Italy until then).  Prior to the 16th century, ravioli were served in broth.  If this doesn’t get you hungry for ravioli, I don’t know what will.  Maybe these ravioli recipes will do the trick.

Let’s start with Ravioli with Creamy Roasted Pepper Sauce from Confident Cook, Hesitant Baker!  The star here is the sauce – and it is such a quick sauce to make.  I’m holding on to this one for farmer’s market season when peppers are available in abundance.

Pumpkin and other winter squash is such a natural paring with ravioli.  Up your ravioli game by making these Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts from What a Girl Eats

Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter, Sage, and Walnuts

Rabbit and Wolves prove that ravioli doesn’t have to be made using cheese for it to be good.  These Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli are a perfect spring ravioli option for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Vegan Broccoli Rabe Pesto Ravioli

This Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling from Caroline’s Cooking is another great spring ravioli option.

Carrot Ravioli with Broccoli-Ricotta Filling

This Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli from Krumpli combines the great flavors of balsamic vinegar, garlic and mushrooms and wraps it all up in a neat package of yummy!

Balsamic and Garlic Mushroom Ravioli

Next up is Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter from Use Your Noodles.  This looks like such a light and refreshing ravioli – just imagine how that bit of orange zest in the ravioli would complement the rosemary brown butter.

Orange and Pecorino Ravioli with Rosemary Brown Butter

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick) from Slow the Cook Down gets its kick from the addition of a finely chopped red chili.

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli (With a Kick)

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli takes the traditional ravioli and gives it a great twist with the addition of burrito flavors.

Kitchen Sanctuary’s Spicy Burrito Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake from the Girl on Bloor is a great quick meal if you have squash or pumpkin ravioli already on hand.  Ravioli pairs well with all the ingredients in this one dish meal.

Butternut Squash Ravioli Bake

Last, but not least, if you are still craving even more ravioli (which I always am), here’s a beautiful dessert ravioli: White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce from Pinch Me I’m Eating.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Ravioli with Raspberry Sauce

I’d love to be eating this right now – I’m starting to feel inspired to do a three-course ravioli dinner, with a ravioli appetizer, a ravioli entrée, and a ravioli dessert.  Maybe for next year’s National Ravioli Day!

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad is a #FoodBloggerLove recipe.  What is #FoodBloggerLove?  Each year, The Pintertest Kitchen hosts #FoodBloggerLove, a great chance for foodies and bloggers to share the love around Valentine’s Day with another blogger.  This is my first year participating, and it’s been so much fun!  I was paired with Meadoe from Meadoe Out on a Limb.  Meadoe is a food and lifestyle blogger, so there are lots of great recipes for healthy food, as well as great fitness plans and tips, and parenting tips on her blog.  In addition, she’s got great tips for doing a 21 Day Fix, including lots of really tasty recipes.

Here are a couple of my favorites from Meadoe’s site:

Meatball Veggie Pesto Soup
Apple Crisp Parfait
Supreme Pizza Soup
Chocolate Protein Pancakes

I love that the foods, while healthy, also sound so incredibly tasty – I don’t think I’d miss my carbs and cheese with any of these recipes.

Meadoe is also on social media – check out her social accounts here:

Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram
Twitter

So when I got Meadoe’s name for the exchange, it included some information she wanted me to know, including that she posts easy, healthy recipes, in addition to stories from her fitness journey and posts about adventures in parenthood.  Her favorite recipes are soups and salads, but she hates onions.

This, and the health focus overall, inspired my macadamia lemon shrimp salad recipe.  I’ve been curious about the whole Whole 30 thing – by and large, minus the carbs, cheese and dairy, Clay and I eat a pretty healthy diet.  However, my lunches have been a little decadent here of late (I’m blaming the weather and the need for comfort food).  As spring is finally starting to peek around the corner, I think I’m ready for some healthier lunches.  So this week’s recipe is my inspired #FoodBlogerLove salad, which is Whole 30, quick, easy and definitely healthy.

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

macadamia lemon shrimp salad

Macadamia Lemon Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

  • 16 – 20 medium sized shrimp (I used frozen – you could definitely use fresh here and cook until they are done)
  • 1 package of mixed lettuces (spring mix or similar)
  • 1 chiogga beet
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Juice of 1 lemon + lemon wedges for an additional lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice the chiogga beet into thin slices. Slice the radishes. Toss the lettuce, beets, and radishes in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Either cook the shrimp or thaw the frozen shrimp by running it under cold water. Once the shrimp is ready, combine with the chopped garlic and the juice of the lemon and set aside.
  3. In a small pan, melt the coconut oil over low heat. Add the macadamia nuts and stir the nuts until they turn a golden brown. Drain and add to the salad.
  4. Plate the salad and add the shrimp to each plate. Squeeze a bit more lemon over the top and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serves 4
  6. Enjoy!
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If you would like to join up with #FoodBloggerLove next year, join the Facebook group here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/foodbloggerlove/

 

An InLinkz Link-up


This post is linked up to Kahakai Kitchen Souper Sunday.

Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Adobo Sweet Potato soup is my answer to the in-between time of winter and spring.  The end of January and the start of February are such awkward times of the year.  In the PNW in particular, it’s not quite winter, but it’s not quite spring, either – it’s still raining, but there are those occasional days of sunshine that suggest that maybe, just maybe, spring is around the corner.  In terms of seasonal foods, it’s a good time to do some pantry and fridge clearing, as well as explore what root veggies have been hanging out for too long underneath the onions.  It’s definitely the time of year when sweet potatoes and potatoes get some love.

I tend not to cook sweet potatoes around the traditional times of year, like Thanksgiving.  I wait, instead, until I’m back to work post-holiday, and looking for lunches that can be frozen easily.  I never know quite what each week is going to bring, so it’s good to have a guaranteed good lunch waiting for me in the freezer.  This adobo sweet potato soup definitely fits the bill.  It’s easy to make, so didn’t consume my entire Sunday to prep.  It freezes beautifully, and I’m already looking forward to eating it at lunch this week.

Canned adobo chilies lend the adobo sweet potato soup a super smokey flavor.  I also used some smoked paprika, which is arguably one of my all time favorite spices.  As part of the fridge/pantry clean up effort, I gathered up all the celery I could find, leaves and all, and tossed those in too.  The end result is a silky, smokey, soup with a bit of sweet and just the slightest kick from the peppers.

If you checked out my post from last week with the black lentil and poached egg bowls, you know that I’m a bit mirepoix obsessed here of late.  The adobo sweet potato soup has a modified mirepoix: adobo chili, celery, and onion.  It’s just so colorful in the pan:

Once the smoked paprika and salt go in, the mirepoix takes on a deep red shade

And then the sweet potatoes go in.

adobo sweet potato soup

All of this beauty becomes a gorgeous adobo sweet potato soup (after the addition of some veggie stock and some pureeing).

adobo sweet potato soup

I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat a bit.  Greek yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche would all be a lovely addition to this soup.

adobo sweet potato soup

Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 adobo chili, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, preferably with leaves, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Greek yogurt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the adobo chili, the celery, and the onion and saute until the celery and onion become soft. Add the sweet potatoes, smoked paprika, and salt and stir a few times. Add the veggie stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  2. Use an immersion blender or blender and puree to desired smoothness. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Enjoy!
  3. Serves 4
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This recipe is getting around.  It’s linked up this week to

Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen

and at Meatless Monday on Confessions of a Mother Runner (co-hosted by Sarah at A Whisk and Two Wands).

Confessions of a Mother Runner

 

 

 

 

and at Tinned Tomatoes Meat Free Mondays where it was featured for the week of February 6 (check out the great menu ideas for the week!).

Hijacked By Twins
Hijacked By Twins

 

 

 

 

 

 

and at #CookBlogShare hosted by Hijacked by Twins as well as at #SimplySeasonal hosted by Hijacked by Twins. 

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

The first week back to work after a long break feels like the perfect time for a blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad.  I think about food a lot (no surprise from a food blogger).  I thought about food a lot before I started blogging.  One of the things that I’m always curious about is the first time a human being thought to eat something.  This always comes to mind for me, for example, when I eat an artichoke or some other food that seems otherwise inedible until it is transformed into something we eat.  I also think a lot about food trends and how some foods aren’t regularly eaten anymore.

One of those foods features prominently in my blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad.  The bitter greens category includes arugula, chard, and endive, but also includes dandelion greens.  When I was growing up, dandelions were a weed.  My grandparents, my mother, neighbors all spent a lot of gardening time trying to eradicate dandelions from the lawn and the garden.  I did the same with my first house, digging them up and tossing them into the trash.  At some point along the way, however, I learned that dandelions are edible.  I would occasionally cultivate a few plants in my garden, harvesting the greens and sautéing them to toss over pasta.  As it turns out, all the parts of a dandelion are edible, but that’s a story for another blog post.

Knowing that dandelions are edible and were, in fact, first brought to the US as a food and that dandelions evolved 30 million years ago (Wikipedia), makes me sad to think that we have relegated them to the status of a noxious weed in our gardens.  Dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salads. The taste is a bit bitter, but also has a hint of taste that reminds me of the smell of a dandelion flower in the sun.  The greens evoke some pretty serious nostalgia for me of lying in the grass as a kid in the summer.  That memory makes this a perfect salad for a frigidly cold January day here in the PNW.  It raises my hope level that spring really is right around the corner.

For now, dandelion greens feature prominently in this blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. I found my dandelion greens at Whole Foods.  Many natural grocers carry these greens in the winter.  You can also substitute other bitter greens for this salad – finely chopped chard would be lovely, as would arugula.  I also threw in a few strips of preserved lemon to brighten the salad and to add a bit of salt to cut the bitterness.

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

I prepared my salads for the week ahead of time.  Instead of drizzling the dressing over the whole salad, I put a couple of tablespoons at the bottom of each jar and then added the salad on top.  All I have to do is pour the salad out into a bowl once I’m at work.

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 peeled and segmented blood oranges
  • 1 bunch bitter greens (dandelion greens, kale, or arugula or some combination of some or all)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 10 thin slices of preserved lemon
  • Blood Orange Dressing
  • Juice of one blood orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and close tightly. Shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy!
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This post is linked up to No Croutons Required.  Check out the hosts’ pages at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa’s Kitchen.

And is also linked to Kahakai Kitchen: Souper Sunday.  Check out all the great soups, sandwiches and salads!

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

I had a lovely and very foodie indulgent vacation, so it’s definitely time to go back to healthy little lunches, including Kale Spinach Saag Paneer.  Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes.  I love using a blend of both spinach and kale.  I found a beautiful bunch of Redbor kale, which is a spectacular shade of purple and threw that in with a large handful of spinach.  The result is a spicy, fragrant mixture of greens.  I’m also feeling ahead of the game on the 2017 food trend for purple vegetables, since I cooked this on New Year’s Day.

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer is a fairly quick dish to put together.  The kale and spinach can be cooked while the rice is cooking.

Making Paneer

You can definitely substitute store bought paneer for the home made paneer in this recipe.  Fresh paneer takes just two ingredients, but is best made the day before and refrigerated overnight, so takes a little bit of planning.  That said, how impressive is it to be able to tell your workmates that you made your own cheese?

Homemade Paneer

I love how the paneer takes on the waffled texture of the cheesecloth.  I also am a big fan of the transformation of milk into whey and curds when an acid is added.  In this case, I use white vinegar to make my paneer.  I’ve tried lemon juice, but haven’t had the same success.  I also don’t salt it when I’m making this recipe, as the kale and spinach saag paneer is well salted from the kale and spinach.  I do, however, take the extra time to lightly brown the paneer.

The lightly browned paneer goes right into the kale and spinach.  This recipe freezes really well, so it’s a great candidate for lunch.  Kale spinach saag paneer is also a light meal and pairs well with a salad or some naan bread.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  Hope everyone is having a great start to 2017!

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

 

Kale Saag Paneer

 

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • Paneer cheese, chopped into squares
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • For the Paneer
  • 1/2 gallon milk - whole milk works best, but you can also make this with 1% or 2%
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar

Instructions

  1. If you are making paneer, start with this first. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir constantly so that the milk doesn't burn. When the milk reaches a full boil, take it off the heat and pour in the vinegar. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes so that the whey and curds have time to separate.
  2. When the curds and whey have separated, strain out the curds into a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can keep the whey and use it in place of water for other recipes. Let the curds drain for at least an hour, pressing them by putting a bowl over them with a heavy can in the bowl. Refrigerate the paneer overnight.
  3. Making the Kale Spinach Saag Paneer
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick saute pan or a cast iron skillet. Add the onions, and cook until they are soft and fragrant. Add in the kale and cook for 7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another 7 - 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are wilted. Add the spices from the turmeric to the salt and stir well. Add the half and half and simmer for 7 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in another non-stick skillet. Add the paneer and cook for a few minute on each side until it is browned.
  6. Serve the kale spinach saag paneer over the rice, with the paneer evenly divided between each serving.
  7. Serves 3 - 4
  8. Enjoy!
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This post has been linked to Tinned Tomatoes: Meat Free Mondays.  Check out each week’s list of great recipes!

Green Salad with Asian Pears and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Green Salad with Asian Pears and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a good green salad, especially when you add ingredients like Asian pears and preserved lemons.  Asian pears are one of my favorite winter fruits: they are about the size of a very small apple, but have a brown-yellow skin and a pale white flesh.  They are quite tasty while still a bit firm and can be eaten skin and all.  They lend a lovely crunch to a salad and pair really well with nuts.  If I could figure out where I put the hazelnuts from last year, as well as find the nutcracker, I would definitely have used hazelnuts on this salad.  As it was, I do know where the walnuts are, so that’s what I went with.

I’ve been waiting weeks to start eating my preserved lemons.  Preserved lemons are amazingly easy to make – all it takes is salt and lemons, though you can add in various spices, like peppercorns or bay leaves.  This year, I made my preserved lemons with both peppercorns and bay leaves, but also added in the few juniper berries I had left over from pickling last summer.  The lemons are perfectly salty and tart and ideal for adding to vinaigrette.  I’m sure I’ll be posting more recipes with preserved lemons soon.  If you are looking for a recipe, check out the preserved lemon recipe I posted last year.   You can use regular lemons or Meyer lemons – both are fantastic.   They do take a little bit of time, as the lemons have to cure in the refrigerator for at least a month.  Use only the rind – the pulp is discarded. You can also find preserved lemons in various specialty food stores, though I have to say that these are super easy and quick to make and well worth the time to make a batch of your own.

As we move into the calorie laden holidays, I definitely will be eating salads with my lunches.  This green salad with Asian pears and preserved lemon vinaigrette is a bright spot this time of year.  Enjoy!

Green Salad with Asian Pears and Preserved Lemon Vinaigerette

Ingredients

  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 2 Asian pears, sliced and cored
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Preserved lemon vinaigrette (below)
  • Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine the salad greens, Asian pears, and walnuts in a salad bowl.
  2. In a small jar with a lid, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, preserved lemon and pepper. Shake to combine.
  3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and enjoy!
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Greek Spaghetti Squash

Greek Spaghetti Squash

Greek Spaghetti Squash is the next recipe I made as I was working on eating the rest of the winter squash I bought back in October.  I lost one squash to rot, which made me quite sad (and surprised me – our garage is quite cold, so I’m not sure what happened).  I love spaghetti squash as an alternative to pasta.  It’s easy to cook and great with all the traditional sauces that go well with spaghetti.  I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately about a restaurant we used to go to quite a bit when we lived in Southern Oregon called Alexander’s.  Alexander’s is a Greek restaurant that serves the most yummy hummus and falafel but they also have a pasta dish on their menu called Athenian Pasta, which is a mix of spaghetti, a creamy Alfredo style sauce, feta cheese, and garlic.  I’m salivating a little just writing about it.  I absolutely loved having this pasta for dinner the various times we’d go there, particularly in the winter.  It was totally a comfort food.

So – I had a spaghetti squash in the garage and some feta cheese in the fridge, so thought, why not try to replicate Alexander’s Athenian Pasta?  As it turns out, this version of Greek Spaghetti Squash is as yummy as the traditional pasta version, minus the carbs of the pasta.  I tossed in a little bit of rosemary just because.  I really liked the slight pine taste the rosemary imparts – it’s a great counterpart to the salty feta cheese.

This is another squash dish that survives a few weeks in the freezer without any problems.  The cream sauce can get a little grainy – but give it a few stirs and it tastes just fine.  This dish pairs well with a nice crisp green salad.  If you aren’t too worried about the carbs, it would be great with a little fresh bread as well.  And if you are eating this and not at work, it would be lovely to serve with a Greek Retsina.

greek spaghetti squash

greek spaghetti squash

Greek Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or half and half
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (optional)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese plus 3 tablespoons

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stem from the spaghetti squash. Make a few small slits in the squash with a knife. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until the squash is soft. Cut in half and let cool.
  2. When the squash is cool, remove the seeds. Gently scrape out the flesh of the squash - it will come out in small strands that resemble pasta.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan or frying pan. Saute the garlic for about a minute and then add the spaghetti squash, cooking for two minutes. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour, a bit at a time and whisk with each addition. When all the flour is incorporated, add in the milk or half and half, the rosemary, and the ground pepper. Bring to a low boil and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of feta cheese.
  5. Add the spaghetti squash and garlic to the sauce and combine. Distribute to three or four bowls and sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over each dish. Enjoy!
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Spinach Pear Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Spinach Pear Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Spinach pear salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette is a festive and easy salad to chase away the rainy day blues.  I’ll admit that even though I really love rain, there are some days when I miss the sun just a little bit.  Meyer lemons always cheer me up – there is something about their sunny color and floral smell that promises that summer is just around the corner.

I love salads.  I try to eat them with my lunch every day when I can, especially in the winter time when I just find myself craving greens, whether its lettuce or spinach or kale.  I think some of my near obsessiveness with vegetables comes from the two years I lived in Majuro in the Marshall Islands when I was in my late twenties.  I was there to teach at the College of the Marshall Islands, and while I loved the experience, sometimes finding local fresh food could be incredibly challenging.  The Marshalls are coral reef islands, and as such, there is limited top soil, which makes it tough to grow things like lettuce.  Most of the food to Majuro is shipped in in great big container ships that would only dock every other week.  To get things like salad greens or onions, you had to be at the store at just the right time, or otherwise crews from the purse seiners (large fishing boats) would buy out the entire stock of vegetables and fruits.  In my second year there, there was an increased focus on local foods – local tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, and so on, but even then, quantities were limited.  As you can imagine, I ate a lot of fish while I lived there and while it was abundant and tasty, I often longed for just a large green salad.  I remember, particularly, one time that a friend of a friend brought raspberries with her from another island (the island had a significant American military presence and she was able to get the raspberries from a source there).  Those raspberries were the most precious dessert I’ve ever eaten.

So, salads with all sorts of various ingredients, locally sourced, make me tremendously happy.  Since I’ve moved to the PNW, I’ve gotten much more adventurous about pairing salad greens with fruits.  This particular salad is a simple combination of spinach, pears, and walnuts, topped off with a tangy Meyer lemon vinaigrette.  Since this is Meyer lemon season, now’s the time to add Meyer lemons to everything that you can.

Spinach Pear Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Salad in a jar

Spinach Pear Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Ingredients

    For the vinaigrette
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
  • Juice from 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fennel fronds or parsley
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • For the salad
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 ripe pear
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the Meyer lemon vinaigrette in a small jar. Tighten the lid and shake vigorously.
  2. Combine the spinach, pears and walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!
  3. Serves 4
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Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto

Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto

winter-squash-stuffed-shells

I am a huge fan of all things winter squash (as you’ve probably figured out), making this recipe, a winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto, one of my absolute favorite December lunches.  This has everything I most love about the fall and winter: the slightly sweet squash, salty cheese, pasta, and pesto made with kale, spinach and walnuts.  Since there is a small chance that there might be a little bit of snow in this part of the PNW tomorrow, this comfort food just seems perfect.

I used a combination of red kuri (my favorite) and the rest of the pumpkin puree I’d frozen earlier in the fall.  Fortunately, I still have one more pie pumpkin in the garage – I figure we still have a few more months of cold weather and might need to make some more pumpkin bread.  I also used a bit of the sage that is still growing out in the herb bed.

The pesto consists of both kale and spinach – really, you could use just about any combination of greens.  I also used walnuts, because it’s what I had on hand.  Pesto can be made out of any combination of herb or green, nuts, garlic, and Parmesan or other hard cheese.  I love to try out different combinations.  I also have started hand chopping my pesto – I think it helps the herbs or greens retain their integrity and not get mushy like they might in a food processor.  The taste is a lot closer to pesto I had in Rome many years ago, so I enjoy it for the nostalgic value, as well.

All together, the winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto takes about forty minutes to make, and most of that time is hands off while it bakes.  It’s well worth the time.  It also makes a great freezer meal – making it very appealing for lunch.  Since it’s vegetarian, it would also make a great main dish for the holiday festivities for vegetarian friends and family.

winter squash stuffed shells with greens pesto

Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Greens Pesto

Ingredients

    For the shells:
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree or similar winter squash puree
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 + 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 box of large pasta shells
  • For the pesto
  • 1 cup tightly packed greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water in a medium saucepan to a boil. Add the shells and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  3. In the meantime, combine the squash puree, the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the parmesan cheese, the sage, and the pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Drain the shells in a colander and rinse under cold water. When the shells are cool enough to handle, stuff each with about 2 tablespoons of the squash and cheese mixture. Place the shells in a single layer in a 9 X 13 baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese gets lightly browned on top.
  5. While the shells are baking, prepare the pesto. Put the greens, the walnuts, the garlic, and the parmesan in the middle of a cutting board and gently chop until the ingredients are finely diced and combined. Put the pesto in a small bowl and add the olive oil, gently combining.
  6. Serve the stuffed shells with the pesto and enjoy!
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This post has been linked to Tinned Tomatoes: Meatless Monday.  Check out her great posts!

Kale Persimmon Salad with Black Garlic Dressing

Kale Persimmon Salad with Black Garlic Dressing

Kale Persimmon Salad with Black Garlic Dressing

After days of indulging in holiday foods for Thanksgiving, it’s time for me to get back to salads for lunch, like this Kale Persimmon Salad with Black Garlic Dressing.  One of the many great things about living in this part of the PNW is that the climate is mild enough a winter garden is possible.  This year, we have a small pot of winter lettuce, some spinach, a few cauliflower, and some lacinato kale growing.  I have to say though, I much prefer lacinato kale’s alternative name: dinosaur kale.  I can completely see this leafy green with its bumpy foliage being munched on by dinosaurs in prehistoric times.

Here’s what mine is looking like right now:

lacinato-kale

I’ll admit that the winter garden veggies don’t grow as fast as their summer counterparts, but there’s still something lovely about going out this close to December and harvesting greens for a salad, which is exactly what I did to make this kale persimmon salad with black garlic dressing.

I’m also still mildly obsessed with black garlic, so couldn’t resist seeing how it would pair with some balsamic vinegar in a dressing.  The combination is absolutely yummy, especially with the sweet counterpart of the persimmon and the crunch of the chopped almonds.

kale-persimmon-salad-with-stacked-persimmons

Kale Persimmon Salad with Black Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

    For the Salad
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • 2 fuyu persimmons
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • For the Dressing
  • 1 large black garlic clove (or 3 small ones)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Smash the black garlic into a paste. Add the black garlic paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper into a jar and close with a lid. Shake until combined.
  2. Tear or cut the kale into ribbons. Dress with two to three tablespoons of the dressing and work the dressing into the kale with your hands. This softens up the kale considerably. Chop the persimmon into a small dice and add to the kale/dressing mixture. Top with the almonds and enjoy!
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