Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

Alas, this is the last of the butternut squash from my garden.  It is a cute little squash, pretty much half the size of my average butternuts.  It is always with a bit of sadness that I make the last dish for each of the season’s crops.


This pasta dish with butternut squash and mushrooms was a fitting tribute to the squash.  I wasn’t sure how I would like the combination of the butternut squash and cremini mushrooms, but they worked incredibly well together.


It was a filling dish, yet also light and bright. Definitely a “keeper”.


Pasta with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

Slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine’s Penne with Butternut Squash

Kosher salt

12 ounces whole wheat or multigrain tubular pasta (penne, rigatoni, etc)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups diced, peeled butternut squash (about 8 ounces) (from the garden)

12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

4 cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)

1/2 small red onion, minced

1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup grated parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet  over medium-high heat.  Add the squash , 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.


Add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, the mushrooms, 1/4 tsp salt and a few ginds of pepper to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 2 minutes.


Add the pasta, squash and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water.  Cook, stirring until heater through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan, then stir in enough of the remaining pasta water to loosen.  Stir in the oregano and season with salt and pepper.


Top with remaining 1/2 cup parmesan and serve.  Enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Butternut Squash, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 3 Comments

Cajun Shrimp Fried Rice

I will admit up front that it is a stretch for this to be a local dish.  My only real local ingredient is the garlic from my garden.  But,  I will use the Governor Minner hot sauce as a second local ingredient, even if it is in spirit only.  I got this when I worked in the Governor’s office, although I forget what the occasion was for us to have hot sauce as a commemorative item.


But it is perfect for this cajun shrimp fried rice.  If you do not have Governor Minner hot sauce, then Tabasco will do just fine.  It is actually based on a recipe from the McIlhenny Company.


This dish is so delicious, I just had to share it with you.

Cajun Shrimp Fried Rice

3 cups cold cooked rice (I use brown basmati, but any rice would work well in this dish)

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced (from the garden)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp hot pepper sauce

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbsp canola oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and 2 tsp hot pepper sauce.  Mix well.


Stir in the shrimp.


In another small bowl, beat the eggs with 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp hot pepper sauce.

Heat a wok or large skillet until hot.  Add 1 tbsp oil and cook the eggs until just set, about 1 minute.  Remove from pan and set aside.


Heat another Tbsp oil then add the shrimp and sauce.  Stir-fry for 3 minutes or until just cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.


Add the last Tbsp oil and then the onions.  Stir-fry for  2-3 minutes, til soft.


Add the rice, peas, shrimp, egg, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper.  Stir-fry for a couple of minutes til everything is mixed and heated through.


Serve and enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Main Dish, Recipe | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Creole Sweet Potato Fries

Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries?  How about Cajun food?  Marry the two by adding some creole spice to the sweet potato fries.


Sweet potatoes from the garden.


They are disappearing all too quickly.  We started with this many, but I do not think we will have any left come February.



EDIT: I decided to enter this into the Fabulous Fusion Food Challenge, run by Deena Kakaya at  On the challenge page, it says: Fusion may sound like a dirty word these days when it comes to food, but when it works…it really is a wonderful tidal wave of sensory pleasure! It is so exciting to have new flavours and tastes run around in our mouths and minds and using what we like from different parts of the world makes for an interesting plate of food. So whether its curried pasta, Mexican spiced stir fry or a pizza with samosa filling on top, they can all taste out of this world!

Creole Sweet Potato Fries

2 large or a few medium & small sweet potatoes (from the garden)

1 – 2 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 Tbsp creole seasoning


Heat the oven to 425F.

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/4″ fries.


Toss the sweet potato with the oil, salt and seasoning.


Spread on a baking sheet(s) in 1 layer.


Bake for 15 minutes.


Flip the fries with a spatula. Bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, be careful not to burn the fries, they should be nicely browned and crisp.




Serves 3 – 4.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Gnocchi with Squash and Kale

I stopped by Highland Orchards, my favorite all-natural farm, on my way home from Philadelphia.  I left with armfuls of great fruits and vegetables, including some really nice looking kale.  I should have taken a picture of it raw for you.  You will just have to trust me, it was nice kale.


Lauren is home, so I have a great excuse to cook vegetarian every night.  So for this dish, I got to combine a butternut squash from the garden  with the kale to make a really delicious gnocchi dish.


I have always had difficulty cooking gnocchi – typically over cooking it.  But this was so simple and straightforward, the gnocchi came out perfect.  Another plus, the small cuts of butternut squash – 1/2″ cubes.  They cook surprisingly quickly, the key to making this a really great dish to make for a weeknight dinner.


Gnocchi with Squash and Kale

from Food Network Magazine

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (from teh garden)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (from the garden)

1 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh sage

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped, about 8 cups (from Highland Orchards)

1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi

3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese


Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes.


Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.


Preheat the broiler.

Add the broth to the skillet.  When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes.


Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat.  Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes.  Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup parmesan and the remaining 1 Tbsp butter.


Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.


Serve and enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Butternut Squash, Kale, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 5 Comments

Andrea’s Mixed Winter Vegetable Goodness – Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, Peas and Spinach

Some days you feel more restless in the kitchen than others.  Nothing I had planned to cook in the next week looked interesting to me. So, I started rummaging around my pantry and fridge.  I came up with sweet potatoes and garlic from my garden, cauliflower, frozen peas, a half used bag of spinach, canned tomatoes, and some brown basmati rice.


Hmm – add in some cumin and ginger and what do you get…Mixed Winter Vegetable Goodness!


This would be equally good with pasta or even on its own, but we had it with the brown basmati rice.


I apologize for the lack of pictures; as I said I was restless and thus, easily distracted.

Andrea’s Mixed Winter Vegetable Goodness – Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, Peas and Spinach

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, sliced about 1 cm thick

1 large sweet potato, cut into rough 1 to 1.5 cm cubes (from the garden)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

14 oz can diced tomatoes (optional, or 2 Tbsp white wine)

4 to 5 oz. spinach


Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, cumin and ginger, cook 1 minute.  Add cauliflower and sweet potato.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Cover and cook 10 – 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until tender.  Uncover and cook until well browned, about another 5 minutes.

Add peas and canned tomatoes (if using) (if you do not use the tomatoes, add 2 Tbsp white wine to deglaze the pan).  Cook 2 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted.


Check seasoning and service with rice or pasta.  Enjoy!


Serves 4.





Categories: Cauliflower, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | 2 Comments

Spiced Walnuts for Tu B’Shevat

Tonight is Tu B’Shevat – the New Year for the Trees.  It is traditional to eat tree fruits (which include nuts) on Tu B’Shevat.   There is also a tradition of eating the seven species of food native to Israel, but that will have to wait for next year’s post.  For now, here are a few of the foods we used to celebrate:

We made  coffee macadamia nut biscotti to give as gifts…


An almond date smoothie for energy…


An edible fruit bowl for Cam (grapes/raisins are considered tree fruits for Tu B’Shevat)…


And spiced walnuts as a snack…


These walnuts are delicious, spiced with cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper but sweetened with honey and sugar.  I made a double recipe, because they don’t stay around for long.


This is not a local dish here, but all the ingredients are local in Iran, perhaps I will make it for my family there next time I visit.

Spiced Walnuts

from Whole Living magazine (

1 Tbsp honey

2 tsp olive oil

2 cups walnut halves

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper


In a large nonstick skillet, heat honey, oil and 1 Tbsp water over medium heat.  Add walnuts, toss to coat.


Sprinkle the sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne over the nuts.  Cook, tossing and stirring until the nuts are well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.


Transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely.




Makes 2 cups.

Categories: Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 6 Comments

Pasta with Collard Greens and Lemon

I grew collard greens last year.  They grew well, but I wasn’t thrilled with any of the preparations I made with them.  They were ok, they just didn’t grab me.  So, before I decide whether or not to try them again this year, I wanted to try a totally different preparation.


I am happy to report that I plan to grow collard greens again this year.  Not only was the pasta preparation a hit, the taste of the collards prepared this way beckons for other uses, such as in a frittata or simply as a side.


Why care about growing or eating collard greens?  They are good sources of vitamin C and soluble fiber, and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties.


Pasta with Collard Green and Lemon

slightly adaptedfrom, December 2012

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced (from the garden)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bunch collard greens (12 oz), ribs removed, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus more for garnish

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Coarse salt

12 oz pasta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano


Put a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook garlic and pepper flakes until tender, about 1 minute.


Add greens and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4-5 minutes.


Remove from heat and stir in the pine nuts, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt.


Drain the pasta and add to the skillet, tossing to coat.  Add pasta water if more moisture is needed.


Sprinkle with lemon zest and cheese before serving.  Enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

What?! A tomato recipe now?!

I have to admit, this is sneaky.  I am missing my garden tomatoes. And all that is available are tasteless tomatoes from the grocery store.  I found this recipe (from Cooking Light, November 2012) that takes those “plastic” tomatoes and turns them into a flavor-filled transporter that takes you back to summer and the richness of garden tomatoes.


I tried the tomatoes before I cooked them, they were truly the bland, flavorless tomato-wannabe that you would expect.  After they were cooked, I could have eaten the entire 4 pounds worth!


These tomatoes can be eaten “as is” as a side dish or used to make a sauce for pasta.  To make the sauce, add some olive oil and puree.  If you want the sauce thinner, add chicken stock or water, and perhaps a splash of red wine, and simmer to desired consistency.


Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

from Cooking Light, November 2012

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried basil (from the garden)

1/2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 200F.

Combine sugar, olive oil, salt, basil, oregano, pepper and tomatoes in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat tomatoes.


Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.


Roast at 200F for 7 1/2 hours.




Serves 8.

Categories: Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Celeriac, Jamie Oliver Style

Sometimes, a vegetable is so ugly you think, this will either taste really good or really bad.  My ugly vegetable to try was celeriac, or celery root.  Both my Roots cookbook by Diane Morgan and the recipe write-up from Jamie Oliver made it sound like a something worth giving a try, who knows, perhaps it would be something I would want to grow?  So, off I went in search of celeriac.


FIrst, off to my local market, they carry many root vegetables, but, alas, no celeriac.  Then to Willey’s – one of my sources for locally grown items.  No celeriac, but they had celery root.  It looked like the pictures, but was it the same?  I asked the woman working there, she wasn’t sure.  So, out came the handy dandy iPhone and Google.  Search “celery root definition”….result ” celery root, also known as celeriac…”  And I had my vegetable.

Jamie Oliver had a very simple  preparation – cube it, steam it and pan fry it.  No sweat.


The result – very tasty.  It looked like potatoes, but didn’t taste anything like potatoes.  Except for my 4 year old, it was given an all-around thumbs up.  Add to that that is it also really good for you, we will definitely be having it again.

Jamie Oliver’s Simple as that Celeriac

Write up slightly adapted.

1 celeriac, roughly 2 lbs

Olive oil

Few sprigs lemon thyme (I only had regular thyme) (from the garden)

Sea salt


Shave off the celeriac ends, then peel away the outside skin, cutting away cracks and crannies.


Chop into 1 cm slices, then into rough 1 cm cubes.


Put a casserole-type pan on medium-high heat and add about 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the lemon thyme then the celeriac and a generous pinch of salt.


Turn the heat down to medium, put the lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until tender, stirring periodically.  Remove the lid and fry for another 4 minutes or so, browning around the outside.


Taste, adjust the seasoning, serve and enjoy!  It went very well with our black bean burgers and edamame.


Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Pasta with Roasted Winter Vegetables

Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, kale – who says the winter is boring?  I  still have sweet potatoes and butternut squash from the garden (and garlic, of course).  I am always surprised by how long they keep, two years ago, I had so many butternut squash, we were still eating them the following May!


Roasting is a wonderful, healthy way to bring out the flavors of these winter vegetables.  And, surprisingly, roasted vegetables pair very will with pasta.


This was filling and healthy and just, oh so full of flavor and textures.  Pass some parmesan with it and add  home-made garlic bread and you have a great family dinner.


Pasta with Roasted Winter Vegetables

1 large sweet potato, cut into large dice, about 1” x 1/2” (from the garden)

1 small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 lb, cut into large dice, about 1” x 1/2” (from the garden)

12-20 Brussels sprouts, halved

3 – 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (from the garden)

2 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

About 6 cups kale leaves, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces

1 lb pasta

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for passing at the table.


Heat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and garlic with the olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet (if you cannot spread it in 1 layer, use 2 baking sheets).


Place the kale in the oiled bowl fro the other vegetables, there will most likely be enough oil left to coat the kale, if not, add a drop more oil and toss to coat. Set aside.


Place the baking sheet of vegetables in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.  Stir in the kale leaves.


Cook for another 15 minutes and stir again.


Cook another 5 – 10 minutes until the vegetables are all tender but be careful not to burn the kale. Remove from the oven.


Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

Toss the pasta with the vegetables.  Add the pasta water if more liquid is needed.


Serve, passing the parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!


Serves 6.

Categories: Butternut Squash, Kale, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment

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