Archive for category Bacon

Summer Veggie Pasta Sauce

raw-zucchiniI spent my childhood eating traditional tomato-based pasta sauce. When I finally moved out of my family home and started to enjoy cooking, I decided I wanted to explore a bigger variety of sauces for my pasta. This sauce is especially nice in the summer, using zucchini, pancetta, and peas. Combine these delicious vegetables with butter, dry white wine and parmesan cheese, and it’s a real feast.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked pasta

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 oz. pancetta

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for serving (I like to use the grated in the sauce and the shaved for serving)

Directions

The first order of business is to bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, cook until al denté (most of the time this runs from 7-10 minutes after the rolling boil has started). Then drain and set aside. While this process is going on, you can work on your sauce.

Add the chopped pancetta to a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the chopped zucchini, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until it begins to soften. Add the thawed peas at the very end of this process and sauté for about 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until it turns golden and becomes fragrant. Then add the white wine, lemon juice, butter, thyme and basil. Cook for another two minutes or until the butter is completely melted.

Return the vegetables to the pan with the sauce and sauté for an additional minute or two. Then, add the pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese to heat through.

This is a good time to give it a taste test for saltiness (the pancetta is salted and the cheese will also add a bit of saltiness to the dish). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You are ready to enjoy!

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Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

brussel-sproutsLet’s talk about Brussel Sprouts. I know. Don’t turn up your nose. If you cook them right, they really aren’t bitter. We don’t want to eat them raw. We don’t want to boil them. But I’ve got to tell you, I’ve made true Brussel Sprout haters into Brussel Sprout lovers with this recipe. And there are a whole lot of good reason to eat Brussel Sprouts. I’m not going to go into detail in this blog, but you can click here for a rundown. Depending upon where you buy these, they come two ways. Either they are sold individually (sometimes prepackaged) or what I like to call “on the vine.” Doesn’t matter which way you buy them.

Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite things. Generally speaking, I like them quite brown when they come out of the oven. Sometimes when I take these out of the oven, they are crunchy (which I like). But really, you get to decide when to take them out. All that really matters is that they are soft (you can tell by checking with a fork) and browned to the degree you want them to be browned. This is where you apply that “think outside the recipe” thing.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs Brussel Sprouts

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp rainbow pepper

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp Tuscan Seasoning (I use McCormick’s; great stuff)

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle (you can make a reduction by yourself, or you can buy it ready to go)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim off the bottom of the sprout, remove the outer layers and cut in half. Be aware that sometimes a few leaves fall off. Don’t toss them if you’re a lover of crunch. I throw them in the pan.

Toss the sprouts with the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, salt, rainbow pepper and Tuscan seasoning. Place them in a roasting pan.

Roast at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on serving dish, and drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle.*

Add-Ins: These are delicious just as is, but I’ve got to tell you about bacon. Every once in a while, I like to  cook about five slabs of apple cider cured bacon (Carando makes a good one) nice and crispy, then break them up. (A nice alternative is chopped Pancetta, which is Italian bacon). Before serving, toss the sprouts with the bacon, then apply the drizzle. Wow! Another great add-in just before serving is a half cup of parmesan. Can’t go wrong. Hell, use both the bacon and the parmesan.

*You can make your own drizzle by dumping a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar in a heavy bottom pot. The only other thing you need is a stirring implement and plenty of time. You don’t want to simmer the vinegar. It has to be a slow process that can take up to two hours. Be sure to vent your kitchen, especially if you have kids. They can get pissed off with the smell.

Alternatively, Vervacious in Maine makes some delicious Balsamic Drizzle. I’ve used the Espresso Balsamic and the Chocolate Balsamic in the past. There is a link to Vervacious on the blog. Other specialty stores also carry this.

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Ass Kickin’ Greens

Kale, Collard GreensYeah, we’re continuing on the vegetable train here, although this does have bacon in it. (Who doesn’t absolutely love bacon?) I became a “greens” fan after I started going to New Orleans on business during the 70’s and 80’s. I love the stuff. This recipe calls for collard greens and kale, but there are any number of “greens” that work here…like escarole, swiss chard, mustard greens, beet greens and dandelion. So, I will continue with my mantra: Have at it. Don’t let my recipes limit your imagination. Remember, as you cook greens they shrink. It may sound like I’m calling for a lot of greens, but trust me on this one.

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil

6 slices maple or apple cider (absolutely yummy) bacon (cooked)

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

2 tbsp malt or apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes

1 bunch of fresh collard greens (no stems), torn or cut into 2″ pieces

1 bunch of fresh kale (no stems), torn or cut into 2″ pieces

1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

Cook the bacon until crispy, put between paper towels, cool, and break into pieces. Set aside.

For this recipe, I like to use a wok because it can accommodate the “greens,” which start out looking like a huge pile. So, put the olive oil, garlic, onions and a pinch of salt in the wok and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the oil is infused and the onions are translucent.

Then, toss in the malt or apple cider vinegar along with the kale and collard greens.  Again, this will look like a huge pile. Carefully toss this together, and add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. From here, I’m not going to tell you how long you have to cook the greens. It’s the kind of thing you have to watch. You want to cook until it is wilted, not watery. You may need another 1/4 cup of stock (or maybe even more depending on your taste), but I like mine less watery and more crispy.

At the end, toss in the red pepper flakes and the bacon. Toss it with the greens and serve. This is an especially good side dish when served with Jambalaya or any other kind of Cajun food. Trust me. Those recipes are coming soon.

Here’s a tip: They’re awesome heated over the next day, especially if you toss them with some Tabasco Sauce.

 

 

 

 

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