Month: December 2014

meatless monday: butternut squash risotto with spinach and root veggies, sage oil


Meatless Monday, we meet again. Sorry for such the long hiatus, folks, but things have been busy. The holidays are when things tend to quiet down at work, and subsequently they allow time for Monday night eats. This one goes out to the dirt farmer again and the farms they pull from. A remaining turnip from the box serves as the heart of this dish and with the right seasoning and temperature can almost make you believe you’re eating fish. It is also an ode to a dinner we had at Natalia’s over the weekend where a friend of ours could not stop talking about risotto. It made me realize that I haven’t made risotto since the first time I wrote forĀ The Telegraph,but that I still had a fair amount of Arborio in the pantry. So, here is to the last week of fall, to local farmers and colorful plates (raises bourbon) and to you guys who love to read about eating. Happy Holidays!

Butternut squash risotto
1 butternut squash, halfed
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
32 oz vegetable broth
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by roasting the squash at 425. Top the halves with a little salt before putting in the oven.

Risotto has been written about here several times and follows a pretty normal process, Heat the oil to medium, add the onions and garlic and sweat for 8-10 min. Add the rice and toast about 4 mins. Heat the broth in a separate pan. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Slowly add the broth a couple of ladles at a time and stir until absorbed. Continue until all broth is in and the rice is tender. Once the broth is in, it is time to add the “flavor”. Remove the squash from the oven and spoon one half into a food processor and puree. Add the cheese to the rice and then the puree and stir.

While working on the the risotto, make the veggies.

10 sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 turnip, diced
4 carrots, sliced with a peeler
1/2 bulb garlic, roasted
remaining half of squash, diced.
1 bunch spinach

Heat the oil over medium high and fry the sage leaves about 4 minutes. Simmer 10 minutes and pour out and puree in the food processor. Pour 1/4 of the mix back into the pan and heat to medium. Add the roasted garlic, then the turnips and carrots. Cover and heat 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach to wilt and add the squash.

Plate the dish by placing risotto into bowls and layering the veggies. Finish with the reserved oil and sea salt. Enjoy!

lunchbox life: baked spaghetti (squash) with turkey sausage and roasted broccoli

image1(4)Here it is–the last lunchbox life of 2014! I am so glad to begin the last school week of the year, and I’m proud to present this tasty treat to you.

Like baked spaghetti? Take out the pasta, sub in roasted spaghetti squash, hello deliciousness.

Here’s the deal: baked spaghetti and baked ziti are great because of the cheese and sausage (no? just me? ok.). In the recipe, I’ve used spicy turkey sausage, full fat mozzarella cheese (because it’s the best), a light tomato sauce, and roasted broccoli. By roasting the broccoli first, you remove some of the water content and create texture on the vegetable.

This is such an easy dish to prepare. Roast the spaghetti squash, squeeze out the excess water, then mix in some cheese, turkey sausage, roasted broccoli, pasta sauce, pour into a baking dish, top with more cheese, and bake until it’s bubbling and brown. The best part? You can feel free to eat a larger portion if you like because spaghetti squash is very low in calories unlike pasta. It’s a win-win.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage and Roasted Broccoli

Serves 6-10

2 spaghetti squash

2 broccoli crowns, torn into bite-size pieces

1 lb. hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

1 jar (approx. 2 cups) of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Organic Bien Good)

1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch slices and cut into quarters, separated in half

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Heat the oven the 400 F. Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise, then remove the seeds and place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Drizzle each half with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes.

Next, toss the cut up broccoli with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and spread in a single layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place it in the same oven and roast for about 15 minutes, taking it out while the spaghetti squash continues to roast.

Cook the turkey sausage in a pan over medium high heat by breaking up the sausage after the casings have been remove. Do not overcook; the sausage will continue to cook while baking in the casserole.

When the spaghetti squash is done, take it out of the oven to let it cool. Turn the oven temperature down to 375 F. Using a fork, scrape out the squash strands into a colander. When all of the squash has been removed, cover with a clean dish towel and apply pressure to the top to remove excess water. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl along with the broccoli, sausage, half of the cheese, sauce, red pepper flakes, and the remaining salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, then evenly distribute the mixture in the dish, smoothing over the top with a spoon. Evenly distribute the remaining cheese over the top, then top the whole dish with the parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the dish begins to bubble and slightly brown on the top. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then cut into squares like you’d serve lasagna.


meatless monday: warm brussels sprouts salad with persimmon, pomegranate, blue cheese, celery, and almonds

image1(3)Are you ready for the next great salad in your life? What about one with so many of my favorite things that I just had to name them all in the title?

This. salad. though.

The best part? I didn’t even have to go to the grocery store today. The brussels, persimmon, pomegranate, and orange were in my Dirt Farmers CSA box, and I already had the rosemary, celery, blue cheese, and almonds on hand. This is an excellent cold weather salad because of its use of hearty brussels sprouts, plus they’re lightly sauteed to give you a warm bite on a chilly night.

Can we talk about persimmons for a second? Where have they been all my life? They taste like firmer plums that have been marinating in mulling spices. They’re my new favorite.

Let’s also chat about pomegranates. These juicy morsels of fuchsia are a beauty of nature, and their tartness and sweetness serve as a great contrast to the smoky almonds and pungent blue cheese. The celery is added for freshness and crunch.

This needs to go on your “Want to Try” short list for Meatless Monday, or any night, for that matter. Dig in!

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Persimmon, Pomegranate, Blue Cheese, Celery, and Almonds

Serves 2 as a dinner salad or 4-6 as a starter

1 lb. brussels sprouts

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (about three sprigs)

2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

2 persimmons, tops removed and cut into dice-sized cubes

3 celery stalks, split down the middle and thinly sliced

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Orange-Dijon dressing: Juice and zest of one navel orange, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Shake in a jar.

For each sprout, cut off the bottom stem and slice each one lengthwise about three or four times. Discard the stems. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and rosemary over medium heat in a large pan, then add the brussels and toss to coat in the oil. Turn the heat up to medium high and saute for about 3 minutes, tossing throughout the cooking process. After the three minutes are up, Place the warm brussels in a mixing bowl. Add the persimmon, pomegranate seeds, chopped almonds, blue cheese crumbles, and celery. Toss to combine, then drizzle with about half of the dressing. Toss to combine, then serve.

lunchbox life: pesto chicken and mushrooms

image1(2)Another Sunday rolls around, and that means it’s time for another edition of lunchbox life. This photo isn’t amazing, but the smells coming out of our oven were! This recipe is full of flavor and protein, and it’s a particularly helpful lunch to keep your workweek nutrition in check amongst all of the holiday parties and overindulgence.

The recipe is so simple that it’s not even a recipe: for five lunches, cut three chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.) into bite-size pieces. Combine chicken, 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, and 1/3 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought) in a baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 F.

After the chicken and mushrooms are done, divide the dish into fifths and pack each portion of chicken and mushrooms with about 1 cup of baby spinach.