Category Archives: Vegetables

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage and Veggies


I truly love discovering quality foods to cook with…recently I came across Applegate Farms Breakfast Sausage at my local Whole Foods Market.  The sausages are really, really, really good. Really. So, I thought, why limit myself to just breakfast?  Inspired by my dad’s recipe for a 1960s favorite—Egg Noodles and Sausage Toss—I devised this recipe. It’s a hit, except with my son who dislikes green things in his food. Oh well, like so many good-for-you foods, in Sam’s case, the spinach is optional.

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage & Veggies

(serves 6)

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (or try bowties, penne, etc., any shape will do!)
  • 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Applegate Farms Classic Pork Breakfast Sausage
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes (any colors and varieties), halved
  • about 6 ounces  baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small basil leaves, optional

Cook the Cavatappi according to package directions. Before draining it, reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the reserved cooking liquid, and toss. Cover the pasta to keep it warm.

While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, and saute the sausage  over medium low heat. Remove the sausage to a cutting board.  Slice the sausage diagonally into 1 inch pieces.

Keeping the heat on medium low, add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute them for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the tomatoes and cook them for 2 minutes, then add the sliced sausages. Next, add the spinach and cook it until it just begins to wilt. Be careful not to overcook it, since it will become mushy and lose its brilliant green color.

Pour the sausage mixture over the pasta, and gently toss it. Sprinkle it with the Parmesan cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste, and  toss it again.

If you like, add some small basil leaves and a sprinkling of extra Parmesan cheese to each serving.

This recipe lends itself to all kinds of good veggie variations, so have fun experimenting!

Heather

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Filed under Entertaining, Pasta, Pork, Sausage, Vegetables

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables

Why didn’t anyone serve vegetables like this when I was a kid?? They not only look beautiful with their glossy jewel tones and crispy caramelized edges, but they have amazing flavor. Mmmm…crunchy, slightly salty, accented with the sweetness of fresh thyme. Best of all, the roasting process could not be easier! Try these as a side dish to a holiday ham or turkey, or just them shine alone as a vegetarian course. Make sure you save the leftovers—just warm them up and arrange them atop fresh greens for a healthy and delicious salad.

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables
Makes about 8 servings

6 cups assorted fresh vegetables (such as brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and onion)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

• Preheat oven to 450°F.
• Rinse and lightly scrub vegetables. Dry thoroughly. Pare vegetables if necessary. Cut all vegetables into uniform pieces, about 1 inch each.
• In large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
• Grease the bottom of a shallow roasting pan (not glass) or jelly-roll pan. Spread the vegetables in the pan in a single layer. Do not crowd the vegetables.
• Roast vegetables, stirring every ten minutes, about 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

Heather

7 Comments

Filed under Entertaining, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Summertime Salsa Scoops

It’s August, and summertime entertaining is in full swing. Are you looking for an easy appetizer to bring to a party or barbecue? Perhaps one that does not require heating up the kitchen? Here’s a recipe that could not be easier—and it’s a crowd pleaser! Start with Tostito’s White Corn Scoops and fill them with our zesty black bean and corn salsa. Sure takes the risk out of any of your guests “double dipping!”

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Scoops
(makes about 2 cups salsa)

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (7 oz.) corn, drained
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
salt and pepper to taste
Tostitos Scoops

– In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except Scoops; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

– Just before serving, and using a small spoon, fill Scoops with salsa or let guests scoop as they go!

Tips

-Other fillings include mango salsa, fresh tomato salsa or your most favorite salsa—as long as it is not too watery.

-Fill just before serving time; otherwise the “Scoops” will get soggy.

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Filed under Appetizer, Corn, Entertaining, Rice and Beans

Hot Artichoke Dip

(For all my PAWS friends)

Last week, PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) had its annual wine tasting fundraiser.  I have been preparing the appetizers for the event for years, and  a mainstay dish that I serve is Hot Artichoke Dip.  It is a raving hit each time.  There are no surprises with the recipe—it is basically 4 ingredients, but for some reason the crowd goes wild for it.  For parties or events, I triple the basic recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish.

PAWS is a nonprofit no-kill animal shelter located in Norwalk, CT, that I have been volunteering with for the past 7 years.  PAWS uses a network of volunteers and paid staff who provide shelter, medical care and affection while finding loving homes for homeless or abused dogs and cats. I have to say it is the best thing I have done—both for me and the animals. Their website is www.pawsct.org. Feel free to send a donation if you are so inclined.  The animals will greatly appreciate it.

Now, for all my PAWS Artichoke Dip fans, here is the recipe!!

Hot Artichoke Dip
Makes 2 and 1/2 cups

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
paprika
assorted crackers, bread cubes, cut up vegetables

– Preheat oven to 375°.  In medium bowl, stir together artichoke hearts, cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
– Bake about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread cubes or vegetables.

Tips

– Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

– Do not use marinated artichokes.

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Artichokes, Dips, Entertaining

Curry in a Hurry

I was driving home to Connecticut after a long workday in Manhattan, and I got a craving for curry.  Don’t ask me why, it has been a long time since I’ve had it.  Anyway, I had taken a few chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost for dinner, so I knew I had that to start with when I got home.  I really didn’t want to stop at the store on the way home, because as it is, I feel like I live in the supermarket for work!!  So when I got home, I searched my cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could make that would satisfy my curry craving.  I had red peppers, potatoes, and coconut milk (the real stuff, not the pina colada kind!) and all the spices I needed.  I also found duck sauce which I knew would add a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of tartness.  I am all about quick meals during the week, so here goes—Cathy’s Curry in a Hurry!  Serve it over brown or white rice.

Curry in a Hurry

Makes 2 servings (recipe can be doubled)

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
4 baby Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound boneless, skinless, chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon duck sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk

– In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.  Add potatoes, red pepper and onion; cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute.

– To vegetables in skillet, add curry powder, coriander, cumin and salt; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Remove mixture from skillet.

– Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; heat until hot.  Add chicken; cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Stir in duck sauce.

– Return vegetable mixture to skillet.  Stir in coconut milk; cook and stir until heated through.

Tips

– The next time you get a craving for something,  rustle through your kitchen and see what you can find. It’s creative and fun to put ingredients together—and even more fun to know you came up with your own creation!

– Real coconut milk can be found in Asian section of your supermarket.

– If you have frozen peas, throw a handful into the skillet with the coconut milk.

Cathy

5 Comments

Filed under Chicken, Main Dishes, Potatoes, Skillet Dinner

On a Roll with the Crock-Pot

I tell you, without a kitchen, my new found friend is the Crock-Pot. I made Pork Chops with Sauerkraut, a blast from the past from my childhood! My Mom used to make this in the oven. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t touch it, but today — I love it. And in the Crock-Pot, the pork is so tender, it slips right off the bone. Caraway seeds and bacon– my secret ingredients!!!  OK, I know that bacon is not the best thing for you, but boy, does it add great flavor. You’ve got to live sometimes!!!

Tips:

– I added some baby potatoes, halved to the sauerkraut mixture.  You can also add sliced carrots.
– If you are not a caraway seed fan, just eliminate them.
– Use turkey bacon if you don’t want the extra fat and cholesterol.
– Recipe can be doubled to make 4 servings.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes 2 servings

3 slices bacon
1 bag (16 ounces) sauerkraut
1 small onion, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 center cut loin bone in pork chops (about 3/4 inch thick)

    – Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, reserve bacon drippings.

    – In 5 to 6 quart Crock-Pot, place sauerkraut, onion, brown sugar, caraway seeds and black pepper.  Crumble bacon over sauerkraut mixture and add reserved bacon drippings; stir well.

    – Place pork chops over mixture.  Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours.

    C

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    Filed under Crock-Pot, Main Dishes, Pork, Potatoes

    You Say Potato, I Say Po-tah-to

    So many varieties of potatoes to choose from.  Do they all taste the same?  Can they be used interchangeably? Does the color dictate the flavor?  I am going to talk about the three little “spuds” in our photo below…  Red, Yellow, Purple.  All three are popular, red and yellow variety leading the pack.  The red, also known as a “new potato”, because it is harvested before it reaches maturity – white flesh, available all year-round.  The yellow, commonly known as “Yukon Gold.”  – yellow flesh, also available all year-round.  The purple, also known as blue – purply blue flesh, mostly available in the fall.  All three varieties produce a moist, creamy texture.  All are pretty versatile and can be used for boiling, steaming, roasting, baking, mashing.

    I am going to share a fantastic potato recipe that I styled for a wonderful magazine, that unfortunately has folded…  Kitchen Garden Magazine, published by Taunton Press.  I remember distinctly shooting the story in an antique farmhouse in Washington, CT. The house was beautiful.  The kitchen full of “old-time” charm.  The recipe: Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Sage. The sage leaves are placed on the bottom of a heavy skillet (cast iron is best). The halved  potatoes go on top of the sage leaves, then roasted in the oven.  The sage gets so crispy, and the flavor — incredible!  You can certainly try it with any of the potato varieties discussed above.  Whatever color suits your fancy for the day!!!

    Here’s the recipe —

    Makes 4 servings

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    30-40 fresh sage leaves
    1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    2 pounds small potatoes, halved

    – Preheat oven to 425F. Pour oil into heavy oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron), tipping skillet so oil covers bottom of pan. Lay sage leaves flat over oil, completely covering bottom of pan.

    -Sprinkle salt over sage. Arrange potatoes, cut side down on sage.  Bake, uncovered until potatoes are tender and the cut sides are crusty brown, about 35 minutes.

    C

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    Filed under Potatoes