We are close to the finish line of our retail marathon. Being well rested and eating well is key. A home cooked meal is even more of a treat during this busy time. We will spend next week out on the island so trying to clean out the fridge is also on the ‘to-do’ list. This is really all just stuff we had, which I cooked up and served alongside chicken and roasted potatoes, that all cooked in the oven at the same time. Really the simplest of things to make, but packed with flavor.
Oven to 400 to heat up while you cut up the cauliflower head. Add that to a baking sheet. Then cut up a whole onion. Add that. Then a handful of capers to the mix. Next smash a few garlic cloves and add that. The magic happens when you add the salt-preserved Meyer lemons. We always keep a jar going. Add extra virgin olive oil to the lot, along with a hearty bit of pepper and salt. Mix everything together. Roast in the hot oven checking every 10 minutes while moving everything around so all cooks evenly and does not burn. Done is when the cauliflower gets a bit of nice golden color on parts. Be ready to be happy. Enjoy!
With a nod to Summer officially beginning this evening, I thought I would share a super simple Summmaaa pasta dish with you. Easy to whip up with all the variety of great veg out now or coming our way in the next few months. Whatever vegetables you decide to put into this is up to you. Use what you like, and use what looks freshest at the moment.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, my magical number when cooking, so the oven is nice and hot for when you are finished cutting up the vegetables. Cut up an entire head of cauliflower, making sure the pieces are quite small. The idea is all the pieces of everything you add to this is close to bite sized. Put the cauliflower pieces onto a sheet pan, drizzle all with extra virgin olive oil, then salt & pepper liberally. Then cut up a large bunch of asparagus, spreading out on its own sheet pan and getting the same oil treatment. You want each veg on its own pan as things cook differently, so that way you can pull them out individually when done. Put both in the hot oven and cook until things get nice and golden. Stir along the way. Once done, add all to a large pasta bowl.
Now get the pasta water ready to boil. When boiling add a few ears of corn, take out when done. Cut the corn off the husks when cool enough to handle and add to the bowl. Salt the corn. Sorry, I forgot to add the corn to the above bowl before I snapped the picture. Bring the water back up to a boil and add the pasta and cook to desired doneness from the instructions on the box. I am a fan of Cavatappi pasta, but truly, use whatever shape pasta you like best. Salt the water liberally and add a few splashes of olive oil. While the pasta is cooking away in the hot water bath, shell sugar snap peas and add them to the pasta bowl with the other veg. I love using raw for this as the heat of the pasta will cook them ever so slightly when tossed in, but they will have the slightest crunch which I really quite like. Then grate a good amount of fresh Parmesan cheese and add to the bowl. Stand back and admire just how pretty that all is…
When the pasta is done, take a measuring cup and fill it with the corn/pasta water. Set aside and then drain the pasta well. Add the hot pasta to the beautiful awaiting bowl. Mix in as much of the pasta as you think works well with the amount of veg you have. FYI, you might not use all of the pasta, and that is ok. Then add a bit of the pasta water to the lot. Mix around again. Salt and pepper all. Have a taste. You might want to add more cheese. You might want to add a little more of the pasta water. You might want to add a little more salt and pepper. Or not. It might just be perfect. You decide. Now enjoy it just as it is. Or serve it alongside a piece of chicken or fish. Or crumble chicken, Italian sausage or salmon into the pasta for a truly one bowl meal. As said above, this can all be changed up by what vegetables look best this Summer. Roasting them in the oven caramelizes them a bit and really brings out the flavor which adds so much to this pasta dish. Enjoy!
And a happy start to Summmmmaaaaaa!!!
This is a recipe adapted from one I saw the other day by the English chef, Jamie Oliver. I follow him on Instagram–the fellow quite prolific in his recipes & concoctions. Herbs and spices play a large part of his cookery, and this whole roasted cauliflower surely does. I like to follow a recipe but change it up a bit if it calls for something we don’t have, or if it has an ingredient we don’t particularly care for, or if the recipe seems overly long. This is my take on his recipe. The same is true if you give this a try, change it up a bit if you see fit. I served it with an herbed chèvre stuffed chicken breast and basmati rice. The rice helping to sop up the tomato juices. OK, here we go.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I know, not 400, I surprised myself! Use a good sized, good looking whole cauliflower. Take off all the leaves. Cut the bottom of the cauliflower a bit so it lays flat in the pan and does not fall over. This will also help with even cooking. Set aside. Take 4 gloves of garlic and mince them as finely as you can. Once done, take the back of your knife and press down on the mound of garlic. Try to create a bit of a paste from it. Put all of that in a bowl. To that add a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Next take 5 or so stems of thyme and take off the leaves. Chop those up and add to the bowl. Add pinches of salt and pepper. Then drizzle in enough extra virgin olive oil to bind the mixture together, creating a lovely paste or rub. Set bowl aside. Take one can of plum whole tomatoes and put in a pot that can go into the oven that has a lid. These along with the juices in that can will create a bed for the cauliflower to sit. Put the waiting cauliflower in the pot, making sure it is sitting flat, so you might need to move a tomato or two. Then massage all that lovely rub you created over the cauliflower. Some with fall into the tomatoes, which is totally fine. Stand back and look how pretty that whole thing is. Then wash your hands. Almost there. Now cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice out of it over the cauliflower, being careful not to add any lemon seeds to the mixture. Now add a splash or two of dry vermouth or white wine over the cauliflower. The lemon and vermouth and tomato juices will marry and create a yummy steam bath for the cauliflower as well as create a sauce that is stellar with your rice. Put a lid on the whole lot and put into your hot oven for an hour. At the hour mark, take the lid off and cook for another 20 minutes. When done, you will have a beautiful whole head of cauliflower that is infused with glorious flavor. Slice up and nestle that next to whatever you are serving it with and spoon the tomatoes and sauce over rice. Your home will smell heavenly.
In addition to those amazing dinner plate dahlias, I also found some stellar looking cauliflower at the Market on Saturday. A small little variety perfect for grilling whole. If you are not a griller, roasting in the oven would be swell too. The idea here is to leave the veg intact, so the presentation when it is served, you still are seeing the whole head of cauliflower, not bits & pieces. Whether grilled or roasted, just slather them with extra virgin olive oil and salt to help them get nice and caramelized. Think of it like sun tan lotion for the cauliflower. Turn often so the heads cook evenly. Either take the leaves off before cooking or leave them on for an earthy presentation. Nestle them up next to a piece of meat or pasta. Or both. TPS grilled marinated flank steak and also made a pesto pasta from all the fab basil available right now. The cauliflower getting a bit charred from the grill making a heavenly trio. Whatever you end up serving it with, I think you will love them. Cheers to late August produce!
One plate/bowl meals on a lazy Sunday evening can be easy and super satisfying. Such was the case last night. We had guests to dinner on Friday eve, busy work days for us both on Saturday, and no island guests this week-end, so we came out to WestWard Sunday morning–hence the desire for a casual dinner. A super chill day ended with supper out on the deck sitting in the Adirondack chairs with a glass of wine watching the boats sail by. Spending a ton of time cooking was just not in the cards. That is where scallops come in. They cook nice and quickly. They have a ‘specialness’ quality to even a simple meal. But they can also get dressed up for company. Here is the tasty one plate meal I whipped up in no time.
Oven set to 400. Of course. Take out scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel and salt and pepper them quite liberally. I found small scallops at the grocer, but any size will do. Set them aside while you get things ready and this will take the chill off of them. Next cut up a head of cauliflower. Break up the florets (I know they are called florets for broccoli, assuming the same for cauliflower?) to quite small pieces onto a baking sheet. The smaller the better. I especially like all the little bits that break off. Use them all. The smaller pieces get even more caramelized. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Mix around. Put into now hot oven. While these cook away, make a pot of rice. Any rice you like. We love jasmine rice, so that is what I made. But basmati, wild or brown would be excellent too. Things are now humming along. Shake the pan of cauliflower. Now finely chop up 2 cloves of garlic and a good amount of parsley. Check the cauliflower again. You want the pieces nice and caramelized. If done, take out and take off of baking sheet to help stop the cooking process. Set on a plate but do not cover. This will steam the cauliflower and you don’t want that as it will get them soggy. I know, I have made this mistake before. The cauliflower does not need to be hot when you serve it, so it is fine just sitting at the ready.
Have a sip of wine. Check the rice. Now you are ready to cook the scallops. Put a knob of butter in a sauté pan and let melt on medium high heat. Add that finely minced garlic you so carefully chopped up. Cook for about 30 seconds and then add the scallops. They will cook quite quickly. 3 to 4 minutes max. Move them around as they cook. If they are larger, they will take a bit longer. Once done take off the heat, add some of the chopped parsley and squeeze a lemon over all. The lemon juice will mix with the butter and garlic and parsley and help make a nice little sauce.
On the plate, add a big spoonful of rice. Next a smattering of the cauliflower and then top all that with the scallops. Lastly, a dusting of more parsley. So easy, one plate, and you are off to eat.
Spiff up plain rice by adding roasted cauliflower. Cut up cauliflower quite small, toss with EVOO, salt & pepper. Put on baking sheet and place under a broiler keeping a serious eye on and moving around often until the bits get golden and cooked through. Then add to a bowl of just cooked rice. Toss all together combining the two.
This time of year, during the busy Holiday season, with many rich meals consumed, I am always looking for healthy meals to counterbalance them. I am also looking for quick, easy & healthy options that can be made after a long day at the shops. This is one we had the other evening and it hits the mark with all the above criteria. It is what I call my monochromatic meal. All creamy colors set atop a white plate or bowl. Soothing visually as well as tasty.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish put 2 pieces of halibut in, then pour over those pieces a bit of white wine, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. Then sprinkle the fish with salt & pepper. The liquids will help poach and steam the fish while it is in the oven, while also reducing and becoming a bit of a sauce you spoon over at the end. Put this dish into the oven. Then cut up a cauliflower and put the pieces onto a baking sheet and douse with EVOO and salt and pepper. Add that to the oven so both things are cooking at the same time. Both should take close to a half hour. Check several times, shaking the cauliflower around on the baking sheet. Also carefully ladle those yummy juices over the fish a few times too. This will keep the fish moist, brown the top a bit, and add more overall flavor. While things are cooking away in the oven, cook quinoa according to package instructions. It takes around 15 minutes, so it will be done shortly before fish and cauliflower are ready. Add a splash of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, or use chicken stock in place of water to add extra flavor to the quinoa. Or not. Is not necessary, but it will add more flavor so keep that in mind other times you are preparing quinoa. It is a super healthy whole grain I just adore. Works great in place of rice. Is super filling too. I could go on and on about quinoa. When the fish is cooked through and the cauliflower is nice and caramelized, plate it all up. Snuggled the cauliflower next to a heaping portion of quinoa and place the fish atop the grains. Spoon over some of the reduced remaining liquid from the fish dish over the halibut and quinoa. Dinner is served.