Showing posts with label Italian sausage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian sausage. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Little Bit of Curry Goes a Long Way

Nothing is more satisfying than farmers' market fresh vegetables. Usually I'm completely happy relying on olive oil, sea salt, and pepper when I saute, grill, or roast the great bounty of summer vegetables.

Do carrots, broccoli, asparagus, fennel, peas, string beans, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes really need elaborate sauces to bring out their flavors?

The Italians get it right, in my opinion. Buy the best ingredients and get out of the way.

And yet, there are times when a little more spice or a variety of flavors is needed to reinvigorate the palate. A few drops of fresh citrus juice, a dusting of cayenne, a sprig of fresh rosemary, or a drizzle of nam pla can transform the familiar into the exciting.

Authentic Indian curries are complex combinations of a dozen spices and herbs. An easy-to-make version for every day use can be made with a packaged curry powder or pulled together with five basic elements: fresh garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and coconut milk.  

Keep the curry vegetarian if you want or add poultry, seafood, or meat.  The choice is yours.  Since my wife doesn't eat poultry or meat, but I do, I start with vegetables and spices to build the flavors, make her portion, then add meat for mine.  That way we're both happy.

The best part is that an affordable and delicious meal can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Basic Curry

Use whatever fresh vegetables you enjoy. For stock, homemade is best, as much for flavor as for avoiding excess salt.  It's easy enough to make chicken or vegetable stock and freeze it.

A side note: with the vegetable peelings, make a stock by putting them into a pot with 4 cups water, simmer 30 minutes, run through a food mill, and collect the liquid and solids to use for the curry or freeze to use when needed.

Find an organic coconut milk that doesn't use chemical preservatives.  Freeze what you don't use for later use.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped, leaves only
4 carrots, washed, peeled, cut into thick rounds
1 large Yukon gold potato, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
1 head of broccoli, washed, florets cut into bite sized pieces, stems peeled and chopped
2 cups mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, thin sliced
1 corn on the cob, husk and silk removed, washed, kernels removed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups liquid, water or stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the vegetables until lightly browned.  Remove.  Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and saute the garlic and spices until lightly browned.  Return the vegetables to the pan and toss well.

Pour in the liquid (water or stock) and coconut milk.  Stir well to deglaze the pan and combine the flavors.  Simmer on a medium-high heat for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with rice, pasta, or steamed spinach.

Curry with Sausage and Chicken

Including meat in the dish adds only 5 minutes to the preparation time.  Leftover meat can also be put to good use here.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

2 Italian sausages, cut into rounds or bite sized pieces
1 chicken breast, cooked, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, peeled, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped, leaves only
4 carrots, washed, peeled, cut into thick rounds
1 large Yukon gold potato, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
1 head of broccoli, washed, florets cut into bite sized pieces, stems peeled and chopped
2 cups mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, thin sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups liquid, water or stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the sausage and chicken until lightly browned.  Remove.  

In the same pan saute the vegetables until lightly browned.  Remove.  Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and saute the garlic and spices until lightly browned.  Return the meat and vegetables to the pan and toss well.

Pour in the liquid (water or stock) and coconut milk. Stir well to deglaze the pan and combine the flavors. Simmer on a medium-high heat for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with rice, pasta, or steamed spinach.

Variations

Add one large ripe tomato, washed, roughly chopped

Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne for heat

Add tofu cut into bite sized pieces

Add 1 package of spinach, washed, keep leaves whole but finely chop the stems after you add the liquid

Add 1 pound raw shrimp, washed, shelled, deveined in the last 5 minutes of cooking

Add 3 cups fresh clams or mussels, washed, with the stock and coconut milk

Add to the vegetable saute 2 cups roughly chopped green or red cabbage

Add to the vegetable saute 2 Japanese eggplants, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped

Add to the vegetable saute 1 cup raw cashews

Add to the vegetable saute 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled, finely minced

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grill, Baby, Grill: An Easy Summer Pasta with Grilled Corn and Black Kale

Now that corn has reappeared in the farmers' markets, it's time to grill, baby, grill.

Boiled corn slathered with sweet butter and seasoned with sea salt and pepper is delicious.  So too is grilled corn where olive oil replaces butter.  Lightly browned, the kernels caramelize, adding sweetness and the hint of smoke.

Make extra, so the kernels can be removed and used in green salads, salsas, and--my favorite--pastas.

Tuscan or black kale is widely available in the farmers' markets in large, inexpensive bunches.

Adding in mushrooms, onions, garlic, a pat of butter and you're ready to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner that needs little more than a simple romaine or arugula salad, a glass of wine or an ice cold beer, and you'll have a memorable meal with no more effort and time than it would take to order take out.

Pasta with Grilled Corn and Black Kale

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 ears of corn, husk and silks removed, washed
2 links, Italian sausage, washed (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, washed, skin removed, root end and top cut off and discarded, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/2 pound shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, dried, sliced
1 bunch Tuscan or black kale, washed, center stem removed, leaves roughly chopped1/2 box DeCecco pasta, gnocchi, penne, spaghetti, or bowties
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 cup pasta water
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method

If a grill is not available, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the olive oil on a flat plate. Season with sea salt and pepper.  Roll the corn through the seasoned oil to coat.  Put on the grill or into the oven, turning every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Do the same with the Italian sausage.  Roll in the seasoned olive oil and grill or roast.  For vegetarians, don't bother with the sausage.

While the corn and sausage are cooking, put a large pot of water on a high flame, seasoned with 2 tablespoons of kosher or sea salt.  Don't use ordinary table salt which has a metallic flavor.

While the pasta water is heating, saute the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and kale until softened.  If you want the kale more pliable, add 1/4 cup of water and braise for 5 minutes on a medium-high flame.

Put the pasta into the boiling water and stir every couple of minutes to prevent sticking.  Use the whole box if you want more pasta.

Cut the kernels off the corn and discard the cobs.  Finely chop or cut into rounds the Italian sausage. Add to the kale, together with the sweet butter.  Toss well.

Taste the pasta.  Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Put the pasta back in the still warm pot, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Set aside.

Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the vegetables and sausage.  Stir well and taste.  Adjust seasoning as desired.  If more sauce is desired, add a little more of the pasta water.

Pour the cooked pasta into the saute, toss well, adding another 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Serve in a large bowl, accompanied with freshly grated cheese.

Variations

Grill or roast a red pepper, discard the seeds and skin, finely chop, add 1/4 cup to the saute.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped, pitted green olives to the saute.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Italian Sausages and Roasted Tomatoes

With summer still months away, the tomatoes at the Farmers' Market leave something to be desired. Still juicy and fragrant, they lack the exquisite flavor of tomatoes ripened by the full heat of the sun.

And yet....

Roasted, with a little olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, spring tomatoes add depth to a braise or stew. Traditional Italian recipes pair sausages with peppers and onions. Substituting roasted tomatoes for the peppers softens and sweetens the flavors. Adding pasta makes a main dish that is filling, economical, and easy-to-make.

Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 1 quart

Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

3 pounds tomatoes, washed, stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a Silpat or aluminum foil covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Place in the oven
and roast for 60 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to save the clear liquid, tomato essence that has accumulated on the baking sheet. Place the cooked tomatoes and the liquid into an airtight container. The tomatoes can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for months.

Italian Sausages and Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 Italian sausages, washed, pat dry
1 quart roasted tomatoes, skins removed, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, washed, skins, tops, and stems removed
1/2 pound mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, thin sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 box pasta
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

The sausages and pasta can be made ahead and reheated with the sauce or prepared simultaneously while you are sauteing the vegetables.

Brown the sausages either by grilling or roasting in a 400 degree oven. Remove and let cool so you can cut them into 1/2" thick rounds. Set aside.

Boil 4 quarts water with kosher salt. Add the pasta. Stir well to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the cooking pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the unsalted butter. Stir well. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Lightly cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Set aside.

Saute the garlic, parsley, onions, and mushrooms with olive oil until lightly browned. Add the sausages, roasted tomatoes, and tomato liquid. Simmer 15 minutes, reducing the sauce by half.

Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Stir well to coat. Simmer for a few minutes.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Variations

To the sauteed vegetables, add 2 cups spinach leaves, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped

For heat, use hot Italian sausages

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Feast Fit for a Son -- Pasta with Clams, Corn, and Smoked Sausage

Recently our older son, Frank, stopped by for lunch. Now that he has moved across town and works long hours, we don't see him often enough. It was great to share a meal and catch up.

The day was sunny and warm so we had lunch on the deck. Everything was quick and easy-to-make: a big bowl of cracked green olives, romaine lettuce with avocado and homemade croutons, grilled fillet mignon, and dessert of ice cold Valencia orange slices. The main course was something special: pasta, fresh clams, corn, and smoked sausage in a butter sauce.

Pasta with Clams, Corn, and Smoked Sausage

Finding fresh clams isn't all that easy. Luckily for us Carlsbad Aquafarm sells their shellfish at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Wednesdays and Saturdays. The corn came from a local farmer at the Palisades Farmer's Market. The smoked sausage was a treat picked up at a Russian market in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach.

Yield 4 servings
Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

4 pounds live clams, washed
1 pound smoked sausage, finely chopped
2 ears corn, husks, silks, and kernels removed
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onions, leeks, or shallots
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, mostly leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pasta
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Put the clams in a pot with 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook on high heat 5 minutes. Remove and set aside all the clams that have opened. Return the pot to the heat and boil another 5 minutes. Continue until all the clams have opened. After a total of 15 minutes, discard any clams that haven't opened.

Reserve all the clam liquid, between 1-2 cups.

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta. Save 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the cooked pasta to the pot, drizzle with olive oil, toss and set aside.

In a large frying or chef's pan, saute the sausage, corn, garlic, onions, and parsley in olive oil, seasoned with black pepper until lightly browned. Use 1/2 cup of the pasta water to deglaze the pan. Add the sweet butter and clam broth, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked clams and pasta. Toss with the sauce and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir frequently to coat the clams and pasta with the sauce.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper. If more liquid is needed, use the remaining pasta water.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Crispy Baby Artichokes & Spaghetti

In today's Bitten, I talk about making crispy baby artichokes with capers and shallots. I find steamed artichokes very satisfying. The creamy sweetness of the heart combined with butter is comforting. Crispy artichokes are a very different experience. Salty, crunchy with a caramelized sweetness they are delicious in a completely different way. Sold at upscale markets they can be pricey but at Trader Joe's they're very affordable.

The artichokes can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or a main course. They take a bit of work--trimming the outer leaves, cutting out the fuzzy-choke-- so this is something to enjoy making on the weekend when you can have some company while you're cooking.

The recipe on Bitten is vegetarian, although you could add bacon or sausage if you were so inclined.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pork and Beans: A Childhood Favorite Gets an Upgrade

When I was a kid one of my favorite things to eat was hot dogs and beans. I was really happy when I saw my mother opening a can of Campbell's Pork and Beans, cutting up an Oscar Meyer hot dog and cooking them together until they were pipping hot. Yum.

When I was hungry and no one was home, I'd make a hot dog and beans sandwich with buttered bread. Hot or cold didn't matter, the beans were delicious either way.

But like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I hadn't eaten hot dogs and beans since I was a kid. Last week I happened to be in the supermarket shopping for a Memorial Day dinner. I saw that Bush's Baked Beans were on sale.

If you haven't had Bush's, you're in for a treat. These are the best canned baked beans ever. Since I was making spareribs, the idea of baked beans seemed a good fit. But while I had fond memories about pork and beans, I wasn't going to use hot dogs. My adult taste buds needed ingredients with a lot more flavor.

Bush's Baked Beans with Italian Sausages

Yield 4 servings
Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 28 ounce can Bush's Baked Beans
2 Italian sausages (mild or hot)
1 small onion (peeled, finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (peeled, finely chopped)
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed, finely chopped
Olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Method

Grill the sausages until brown on all sides. Let cool, then slice into 1/4" rounds. Sauté the onions, garlic, and parsley with olive oil in a small pot until lightly browned. Season with pepper. Add the sausage rounds and baked beans. Stir frequently and simmer for 15 minutes.

Variations

Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top.

Add red peppers.

Add spinach to the sauté.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

See Pasta Run

It's been a long day. All you want to do is get home but traffic is terrible. Finally you're home, ready for dinner. You thought about stopping for take out or picking up something from the prepared food section at Whole Foods but you didn't want to be around people. What you needed was to take off your clothes, slip into your PJs, sit in front of the TV, and watch the Daily Show and then Colbert. Now all you have to do is deal with the fact that you're starving.

You open the refrigerator and stare at a chaos of jars, bottles, and plastic bags. The only thing that looks immediately edible is a week old bagel. You could slather on some butter and call it a night but that would be depressing. The magnetic sticker on the refrigerator has Domino's phone number. A large pizza with pepperoni is a phone call away. And then you have an epiphany--untold generations of Italians are sending psychic waves through the ether--Eat Pasta.

Pasta cooks in 10 minutes, the sauce, in another 10, make a salad and in 30 minutes you can be eating a meal that's reviving, healthy, and inexpensive. A basic sauce has only a few ingredients: olive oil, garlic, onions, sea salt, pepper, and cheese. Add chicken and broccoli. Or, shrimp and spinach. Black kale, bacon, and leeks. Roasted tomatoes and meatballs. Pasta is infinitely variable.

For dinner tonight we had fusilli with Italian sausages, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and red peppers. Very basic, very delicious.

Fusilli with Sausages and Red Peppers

The vegetarian version leaves out the sausages and chicken stock. Grilling or sautéing the sausages puts a crust on the outside. The red pepper can be raw or grilled. For the sauce, chicken stock works well but pasta water is good too.

Yield: serves 4
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 box De Cecco fusilli
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sweet butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, dried, thin sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper, raw or grilled
2 Italian sausages, washed, grilled or sautéed, cut into 1/4" rounds
1 cup pasta water or chicken stock
Sea salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated cheese, Romano or Parmesan

Method

Make the pasta first. Boil a gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, add the fusilli, stir frequently, and cook until al dente. Turn off the flame. Strain the pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot, add the butter and stir.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the garlic, onions, mushrooms, and red peppers, stir and cook until lightly browned. Add the sausages and deglaze the pan with the pasta water or stock. Stir frequently over a medium flame to thicken the sauce. After 5 minutes, add the cooked pasta and continue reducing the sauce, stirring to coat the pasta.

Serve with the grated cheese.

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