February 17, 2015

Roasted Asparagus & Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Shallots & Goat Cheese

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Aluminum foil is a brilliant product, but I recently noticed I was covering everything with foil. Not the furniture or anything nuts like that, but pretty much anything that was going in the oven was getting a sheet of aluminum foil. I could do a commercial about how easy clean-up is if you use aluminum foil. Then it occurred to me that all I was doing was expanding my carbon foot print and that it takes minimal elbow grease to clean the pan in the first place. So now I am going through a serious aluminum foil detox. I’m trying to embrace the naked sheet pan. Food actually roasts much nicer and as long as you use a smidge of olive oil (or other fat), it won’t stick.

The same holds true for your cookware, by the way. With the exception of a couple of fry pans for your eggs, you don’t really need non-stick cookware. Stainless cleans up great and if you have a bit of stubborn stuck on food, invest in a can of Bar Keeper’s Friend. It’s amazing! Gets any pan clean.

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One night I was trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of vegetables in the refrigerator and this salad is what I came up with. Of course, I grabbed a sheet pan and the aluminum foil to roast the veggies. You can see I took these pictures before my aluminum foil intervention. I made the salad again the other night, no foil and everything turned out fine… I was fine, the pan was fine… I’m going to be fine.

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I’m completely obsessed with this salad. Maybe it’s the combination of the crispy bits of pancetta with the creamy goat cheese? Maybe it’s the shallots with the sweetness of the fig balsamic? Who knows! All I can tell you is that it’s just good! And like all my other recipes, I don’t know how to make normal portions of anything, so feel free to cut it in half.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4oz. pancetta, diced very small
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 4oz goat cheese, sliced*
  • About 8oz green beans (a bunch)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6oz baby arugula
  • 3 tbsp fig balsamic*
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper

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  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the asparagus and green beans and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan (no foil needed). Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables and roast in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes until they are crisp tender, you still want a little crunch. Give the pan a shake about halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Preheat a small skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the diced pancetta. You don’t need any oil in the pan. Once the pancetta becomes nice and crispy, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Set the pancetta aside.
  4. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the pancetta fat from the skillet and sauté the shallots until they become lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. To make the dressing, combine the 2 balsamic vinegars with the rosemary, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Set aside.
  6. Put it all together… lay the arugula on a large platter. Layer the green beans and asparagus on the arugula. Nestle the slices of goat cheese and sprinkle the crispy pancetta bits and the shallots over the platter and drizzle the dressing over everything.

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That’s it! So delicious and it looks so beautiful.

Enjoy!

* You can buy goat cheese in a 4oz log at most grocery stores. I use unflavored dental floss to slice it. It works perfectly. Just make sure the cheese is very cold. If you try to slice it with a knife it will stick and fall apart. 

* If you can’t find fig balsamic, you can use all regular balsamic vinegar. I’ve found fig balsamic at Wegmans and other specialty grocery stores. It does make a big difference to the flavor of the salad. You could also whisk a little honey in with regular balsamic if you can’t find fig.

 

 

January 12, 2015

Black & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

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I had to take a minute and share this beautiful dish. This salad was the “recipe of the day” on Epicurious a while back. It looked so beautiful and included all the ingredients we love, it was a must try. Since the recipe called for microgreens it gave me a reason to buy some Blue Moon Acres local microgreens. I used their micro-arugula for this dish. It’s pretty pricey stuff, but it sure takes a beautiful picture and tastes fantastic.

I’ve used their microgreens on a smoked salmon platter in the past and it made for a special holiday starter. Microgreens have a delicate flavor that dress up any salad. In the summer when our farms are overflowing with fresh picked veggies I love to dice up an assortment very small, toss them with microgreens and a little crumbled feta or blue cheese and voilà! Delish! It’s a quick chopped salad using salad greens that don’t need any chopping. For now, in this freezing weather, butternut squash and rice of all kinds are easy to find. You can, of course, use regular baby arugula for this as well.

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Adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups black rice
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • ½ medium butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2oz microgreens or baby arugula
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

2. Cook the rice together in a 4 qt saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt until tender – about 35 minutes. Pour the rice through a sieve and allow it to drain completely. Pour the drained rice onto a large platter and allow to cool.

3. Meanwhile, cover a sheet pan with foil and toss the butternut squash with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes until softened and beginning to brown.

4. To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar and honey together and then add the ¼ cup of olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a large bowl, fold the rice, squash, scallions and microgreens together. Toss with the dressing. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top.

Enjoy!

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