Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fettuccine with Lemon-Basil Wine Sauce

If you love lemons, you will enjoy this light, lemony pasta dish. Basil, white wine, and toasted pine nuts round out the flavor profile.


2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 pound dried fettuccini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (plus additional, if needed)
2 teaspoons freshly shredded lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, shredded or coarsely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low to medium-low heat for few minutes until lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, but not too thoroughly. (Leaving some of the cooking water on the pasta will make the final dish moister, which we want.) Return the pasta to the pot.

Add the olive oil to the pot, and toss with the pasta over medium-low heat to blend.

Add the lemon juice and wine to the pot, along with half of the lemon zest and half of the basil. Continue tossing over medium to medium-low heat until heated through.

Add the Parmesan and pine nuts to the pot, along with the remaining lemon zest and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the pasta seems too dry, add more wine, a tablespoon at a time, until it is moist enough. Toss until heated through.

-- 3-4 servings

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

Every once in a while, I meet people who tell me they don't like asparagus. Often it turns out that their only experience with asparagus was out of a can. No wonder they don't think they like asparagus!

Fresh is always best, and roasting fresh asparagus until crisp-tender will deepen its flavor and mellow it at the same time.

This is my favorite way to prepare asparagus. It's easy and pretty much foolproof.


1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse the asparagus and break off the tough ends. (If you hold the asparagus spear at each end and bend it slightly, it will break at the right spot.) If using thicker spears, trim off the larger buds near the bottom of the stalk as desired.

Line up the asparagus spears in a single layer in a baking dish or pan.

Drizzle the asparagus lightly with the olive oil, turn to coat, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast for about 5-12 minutes, until the asparagus are tender when pierced with a fork, but still firm. The roasting time will depend on the thickness of the asparagus spears. For very thin asparagus, start checking them after about 4 minutes.

-- 4 servings

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scrambled Egg Breakfast Crepes with Mushrooms and Veggie Pepperoni

These breakfast crepes (which are also great for brunch, lunch, or a light supper) were inspired by a recipe by Mable Hoffman in her book Crepe Cookery. The original recipe, however, uses canned mushrooms and regular pork-based pepperoni.

I detest canned mushrooms, so this version features fresh white mushrooms sauteed in a little butter. And, of course, I use veggie pepperoni.

Veggie pepperoni is available in most major supermarkets these days, and it tastes very much like its pork-based cousin. It usually comes pre-sliced. I recommend Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni, Yves Meatless Pepperoni, or Pepperoni Tofurky Deli Slices.


4 Basic Skillet Crepe Shells
4 large eggs, or equivalent in egg substitute
2 tablespoons milk
Scant 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb mixture
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/4 cup vegetarian pepperoni-style sausage, cut into julienne slivers
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked.

Add the pepperoni and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until eggs are cooked through.

Place 2 crepes on each serving plate.

Fill the crepes evenly with the egg mixture. Fold over. Sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

-- 2 servings

Basic Skillet Crepe Shells

Crepes are as easy to make as they are elegant. You don't need a special crepe pan. I use a non-stick skillet.

This is a good basic recipe for crepes that will work with either savory or sweet fillings.

Classic crepes are quite thin, with recipes typically calling for 2-3 tablespoons of batter per crepe. I prefer my crepes not quite so thin, so they hold up well when I overstuff them. I use a 1/4-cup measure and fill it not quite full.


2 eggs
Dash of salt
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus additional, if not using a non-stick skillet

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and salt until the eggs are well beaten.

Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk until well blended.

Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour until well blended.

Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, followed by the remaining 1/2 cup of the flour. Blend well.

Refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour before cooking.

To cook:

Heat a 7- or 8-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat. If not using a non-stick skillet, lightly butter the skillet before heating.

Pour a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan (or 3 tablespoons for a thinner crepe). Gently swirl the pan to coat the entire bottom with the batter.

Cook until the bottom of the crepe is lightly golden.

Flip the crepe with a spatula and cook until the other side is lightly golden.

-- Approximately 10-12 crepes

Storage Tip: To make crepes ahead of time, stack them between layers of wax paper and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Before using, remove from refrigerator and microwave for a few seconds to warm them up so they will be flexible.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eggplant, Tomato, and Chickpea Stew

This dish was inspired by a recipe from the excellent book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. But I changed it around quite a bit to reflect my own personal style and preferences. My version is less spicy, more tomatoey, and still full-flavored.

Enjoy with some brown rice and/or some hearty bread for dipping in the sauce.


1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably petite-cut), undrained
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Peel the eggplant. Cut the eggplant into bite-size (approx. 3/4-inch) cubes. Place the eggplant cubes in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes, to allow the excess liquid to drain from the eggplant. After the 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant cubes well under cold running water, and then pat dry with paper towels.

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove the eggplant from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper, and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic and paprika, and saute for another minute or two. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Return the eggplant to the pan, and add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Raise heat to high, and bring almost to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.

Sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

-- 4 servings