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Fettuccini with Asiago, Lemon & Parsley

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Fettuccini with Asiago, Lemon & Parsley

Fettuccini with Asiago, Lemon & Parsley

Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: As many as you’d like

Inspired by: I grew up with an Armenian grandmother who always made me pasta with butter and muenster cheese. It was soooooo yum! I love those memories of her feeding me the yummiest of foods. I’ve continued to make various versions of pasta with cheese and butter ever since. It’s really one of the few things I could make before I decided to learn to cook 10 years ago! Now I’ve begun using olive oil much more often than butter, and I love adding other fresh flavors, such as lemon and parsley, to many things. This has become one of my favorite pasta dishes now when I don’t have much time to cook or get to the store. Even though I keep very little food in the house, I almost always have these ingredients. I usually prefer fresh pasta, but like most days, today the fridge is virtually empty so I’m using some dried Fetuccini.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta of your choice – any shape or size – my preference is usually a wide noodle
  • Olive oil – a high quality fruity flavored extra virgin olive oil is best
  • Grated asiago cheese (or other hard salty cheese such as parmesan)
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (optional) – this is my favorite protein souce to add to this pasta that I always keep on hand as well

Preparation: Boil water with a bit of salt for flavor. Add the pasta and a bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick together. Cook according to instructions and drain in collander. While draining, heat garbanzo beans if you plan to include them. Toss pasta in a bowl with some olive oil, fresh lemon juice, grated cheese, chopped parsley and optional garbanzos.

Notes: I’m not really sure this should be classified as “moderately healthy”, but in the pasta world, this does use some very healthy ingredients. It’s of course best to keep your pasta serving light and to go easier on the cheese and heavier on the parsley! There are some pretty decent quinoa pastas these days and I use them often.

Wine Suggestions: If you use a lot of lemon, a high-acid wine with some lemony flavors such as a White Burgundy is a perfect pairing.


Seared Scallops

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Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops

Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

Inspired by: The first time I had scallops cooked perfectly, they became a favorite food! Unfortunately many restaurants don’t cook them hot enough and then overcook them so they don’t get that yummy glaze and can be rubbery. I’ve also found that they are phenomenal without very little seasoning – just a bit of salt and pepper. This is about as easy as it gets… The photo above shows them served with a spinach salad with mango vinaigrette.

  • 3/4 of a pound of wild scallops – ideally fresh but if they’ve been frozen they are almost just as good
  • 1 cup of spinach leaves or other greens (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan on high heat. Once it is very hot, add the scallops. If they are medium to large – cook them 1.5 – 2 minutes on each side. They should get nice and browned (that’s from the very hot pan) quickly. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and use tongs to serve on a bed of greens or with your favorite salad.

Wine Suggestions: I love scallops with a crisp, high-acid wine with a lot of minerality.The Albariño that we had them with tonight (photo below) was beautiful (2008 Bodega Fundada Rias Baixas). A Chablis or White Burgundy with no or light oak would be beautiful as well. Some love a creamy, buttery chardonnay to match the creaminess of the scallops. The photo above shows them served with a spinach salad with mango vinaigrette, and because of the texture of the scallops and sweetness of the salad dressing, the pairing with this viscous, minerally and fruity Condrieu was perfect!

Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops


Spicy Shrimp Salad

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Spicy Shrimp Salad

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2 – 4

Inspired by: I love salad. I love pan fried or grilled shrimp. I love spice! This just happened one night and is something we now make fairly often. It’s not a recipe that needs documenting, other than having it here it helps me think of something to make when my brain has turned off for the day! I don’t keep a lot of extra food in the house, but salad stuff and a bag of shrimp in the freezer are the most common to have around. This one is using my super fast and easy spicy pan fried shrimp recipe, but I love this with spicy grilled shrimp as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp (cleaned and with or without the shells – the shells actually have nutritional benefit and they are yummy to nibble on cooked this way!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons Spice it Up …by Karen™
  • Use any salad ingredients you’d like – these are just suggestions below:
  • 4-8 cups spinach or torn romaine leaves (you could add some parsley leaves as well)
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1/2 english cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced mango or papaya or tomato

Preparation:

  • Put your salad ingredients into a large bowl and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lime juice. Then add a bit of the spice (to your liking) and toss again.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet or sauté pan and add the shrimp. Sprinkle with the spice (any amount to your liking – a small amount goes a pretty long way) and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. If you are including red bell peppers or other vegetables that you like cooked or hot – you can add them to the skillet as well. You might even want to start cooking them about 8-10 minutes before the shrimp if you like them charred (my favorite).
  • Top the salad with your pan fried shrimp and vegetables and serve.

Wine Suggestions: I love not having vinegar in salads – it is always more wine-friendly. This salad is fabulous with anything from a light red to a spicy or medium-bodied red. Our favorites are California Pinot Noir (especially if we add the papaya or mango because California wines tend to have much riper fruit than a Red Burgundy from France and will pair better with the sweeter flavors), or a Grenache-based blend from Southern Rhone or Spain, or even Bordeaux blend with a good portion of Merlot so that it is soft and not too tannic. If you prefer white, try a slightly off-dry white such as a Condrieu or Riesling or Chenin Blanc.


Fresh Pasta with Sautéed Mushrooms

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Fresh Pasta with Sauteed Mushrooms

Fresh Pasta with Sauteed Mushrooms

Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: As many as you’d like

Inspired by: Eating at Madison & Fifth with my good friend Jeanette. We LOVE the pasta/mushroom dish there – it’s much more decadent than what I make because it has truffle oil and butter – but that dish really just reminds me that I love fresh pasta with any kind of sautéed or grilled mushrooms on top! This is about the easiest dish to prepare – no recipe required really – but I’m posting this as a reminder to myself to make this now and then.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pasta – I prefer Pappardelle or any thin, wide fresh pasta noodle
  • Approximately 3/4 of a cup chopped mushrooms per serving – I think all mushrooms rock – these are cremini in the photo but I’ve used all kinds and often many kinds all together (grilled Portabellas are another favorite)
  • Butter or olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh minced garlic (optional)
  • Fresh parsley chopped (optional)

Preparation: Wash, slice and sauté mushrooms in butter or olive oil  – add salt and pepper to taste. I think salt is the key to bringing out the flavors of the mushrooms. Mushrooms are also best when not overcooked – keep them firm and juicy – probably about 5-8 minutes on a medium heat for cremini’s – this varies quite a bit per type of mushroom. If you love garlic, add some minced garlic a few minutes before the mushrooms are finished cooking. When the mushrooms are just about finished, take them off the heat. Cook the pasta according to instructions, usually about 2 minutes. Drain pasta and immediately toss in olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. Add some chopped parsley if you like. Pour the mushrooms and their cooking juices over the top and toss lightly.

Notes: I recently made my favorite grilled vegetable lasagna and had a couple of packages of fresh lasagna sheets left over so I cut them into 3/4″ strips and they were awesome as pasta noodles. The fresher the pasta, the more easily the noodles stick to each other so add some olive oil to your cooking water, stir pasta immediately after dropping into the water, and add some salt for flavor. Continue stiring a bit to keep the noodles separated while cooking. After draining, toss immediately with olive oil to keep noodles separated.

Wine Suggestions: I love an earthy Red Burgundy with anything mushroom! My next choice would be a high-acid white to cut through the butter such as a Chablis or White Burgundy. Because this is buttery, many people would also love a rich, buttery and creamy California Chardonnay.


White Bean Pesto Dip

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Pesto Oil & White Bean Pesto Dip

Pesto & White Bean Pesto Dip

Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 8-12 as an appetizer

Inspired by: One of women in my book club, Nancy Beth Garrett, made something very similar to this recently with a pesto sauce from Trader Joes. I couldn’t stop eating it and stuffed myself before dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2, 14 oz cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
  • Juice from about ½ a lemon
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2-4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

Pesto – Wash and dry basil leaves; put into food processor and chop a bit first. Add olive oil, crushed garlic, grated fresh Parmesan and salt. Chop/blend well. Pour the pesto into a bowl or jar to store (you will only use some of it).

Dip – Without cleaning the food processor, add the beans and 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice and pulse chop to your desired consistency OR instead, you can just hand mash this in a bowl. Unlike when I make hummus, for this dip I like the beans to keep some texture and lumps, but you can also make this very smooth and creamy. If you want it to be smooth and creamy, continue the rest of this with the processor. Otherwise, put the mixture so far in a bowl, add 2-3 tablespoons of pesto and mix by hand. Add a little at a time and taste to get it to desired intensity. Add additional pesto oil, salt or lemon juice as desired. Garnish with drops of basil oil, basil leaves or flowers.

Notes: Serve with crackers, pita bread or raw veggies such as celery and carrots.  You can skip a step and purchase your favorite pesto sauce instead of making your own pesto oil.

Wine Suggestions: Yummy with light, crisp whites and aromatic whites such as Grüner Veltliner, Sancerre, Albarino, Verdejo, Chablis or other lightly oaked White Burgundy. Although I’ve heard that Cabernet Sauvignon is a good pairing with Pesto, and I can see how that could be the case, I think the whites are much better matches flavor and weight-wise for this fairly light dip.


Greek Salad

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Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 8

Inspired by: I’ve always loved the ingredients in a Greek salad – in any way, shape or form as long as there is not raw onion (which is fairly common). I especially love it with a lot of crunch (romaine, cucumber, bell peppers),  large chunks of tomato, feta. I also often simplify the dressing to just olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce chopped into easier to eat strips (6-8 large handfuls)
  • 1/2 bunch Italian flat leafed parsley – de-stemmed – just keep the leaves
  • Additional greens (optional – I prefer to add more green)
  • Organic on the vine or cherry tomatoes – chopped into chunks and lightly salted and peppered
  • 1/2 English cucumber, or Persian cucumber, sliced lengthwise and then sliced and lightly salted
  • A few slices of petite bell peppers (optional)
  • 4 oz of feta cheese in 1/2 inch chunks

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon tarragon (optional)

Preparation:

  • Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a shaker.
  • Toss the romaine and parsley in a large salad bowl with about half of the dressing – enough to coat the leaves well.
  • Add the rest of the salad ingredients and toss lightly/carefully – adding additional dressing if needed.

Notes: I love this with curry chicken kabobs or with grilled or blackened salmonblackened chicken, or spicy grilled shrimp.

Wine Suggestions: the vinegar in the dressing often makes wine pairing difficult for salads. Champagne is a great way to go as a first course with a salad, or go with another high-acid white wine such as a White Burgundy. If you serve this as a side dish with spicy chicken or fish, check out those recipes for additional pairing suggestions.


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