Autumn Crunch Pasta Salad

5 ounces fresh spinach half a 10 ounce bag1 and 1/2 cups dry small pasta
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 can (15 ounces) can mandarin oranges
1 large Granny Smith Apple
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped*
Optional: Feta cheese

Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: paprika & onion powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppyseeds
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a food processor or blender (I used my small Twister jar on the Blendtec) combine the apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, (adjust — more or less to personal preference, we like a less sweet dressing and use about 2 tablespoons) paprika, and onion powder. Pulse or blend for about 10 seconds. Slowly add in the oil and pulse until just combined. Stir in the poppyseeds. IF you don’t have a blender or food processor you can combine the ingredients in a bowl or mason jar and whisk (or shake jar) vigorously.

  3. Drain the pasta once it’s cooked through and immediately toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the pasta. This helps the pasta soak in the dressing and the flavor.
  4. Chill the dressed pasta in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the (washed and de-stemmed) spinach with the chopped celery in a large bowl. Add in the cranberries and a can of drained mandarine oranges.
  6. If desired peel the apple (We like to leave on the peel!) and then slice into thin slices. Toss with lemon juice and then add to the salad.
  7. Pour dressing over the salad and toss. Add in the completely cooled pasta and toss with the rest of the salad.
  8. If you want to toast the pecans, place them in a single layer in a dry saucepan (don’t add anything) over medium heat. Stir constantly until the nuts are barely fragrant — just a couple of minutes. Watch carefully as the nuts are VERY easily scorched/burned.
  9. Alternatively, you can candy the pecans if desired. Check the link in the last paragraph of the blog text for how to candy pecans. *UPDATE: we’ve found we like this salad even more with the pecans coarsely chopped- you’ll get more in each bite! 🙂

  10. Top the salad with the pecans and (if desired) feta cheese.

  11. Enjoy immediately.

 

Beet and Avocado Salad with Feta Cheese and Basil from motherrimmy.com

  • 4 small roasted beets, sliced
  • ½ medium avocado, sliced
  • 5 leaves basil, thinly sliced (Chiffonade)
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons low fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sqeeze lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place whole and unpeeled beets in a foil packet in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 1 – 1 /12 hours until just tender. You don’t want mushy beets. When beets are cooled, peel off skin with your hands and slice.
  2. Layer beets, onion, basil and avocado on a plate. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Mushroom Rice from recipetineats.com

2 – 3 tbsp olive oil , separated
2 tbsp butter
1.5 lb mushrooms , sliced 3 – 5 mm / 1/8 – 1/5″ thick (Note 1)
2 garlic cloves , minced
1 small onion , finely diced
1 1/2 cups long grain rice (Note 2)
2 1/4 cups / 565 ml vegetable stock (Note 3)
1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced green onion / scallions
Optional: More butter to stir through

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pot over high heat. Add half the mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes until golden. Season with salt and pepper then remove and set aside.
If the pot is dry, another 1/2 – 1 tbsp oil, and add butter. When melted, add onions and garlic.
Cook for 30 seconds, then add remaining mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned (they won’t caramelise as well as the first batch) and the base of the pot is brown.

Add rice and a splash of broth. Mix so the brown stuff on the bottom of the pot mixes into the liquid.
Once the base of the pot is clean, add remaining liquid. Place lid on, bring to a simmer then turn down to medium low.
Cook for 15 minutes or until there is no residual liquid (tilt pot to check).

Remove from stove, remove lid, QUICKLY toss in reserved mushrooms and scallions, put lid back on. Leave for 10 minutes (do not skip this step!).
Fluff rice using a fork or wooden spoon. OPTIONAL: Stir through more butter. 🙂 Serve!
Recipe Notes

1. Use any mushrooms you want, I used normal button mushrooms, it’s even more mushroomy if you use Swiss Brown / Cremini mushrooms. Don’t slice them too thin otherwise they literally disintegrate!

Mushrooms do “suck up” oil but don’t be tempted to add more oil until the end if needed. When raw, mushrooms suck up the oil, but then as they cook, release water and the oil, so this helps them brown towards the end. But if you do find they are looking dry, add just 1 tsp towards the end of browning.

2. Basmati and jasmine would also be great here, comes out nice and fluffy like long grain rice. I find that medium and short grain rice is a bit sticky for my taste when cooked pilaf style. Risotto rice, sushi rice and paella rice are not suitable. Please use uncooked rice.

BROWN RICE: Follow recipe but use 2 1/2 cups liquid for tender, fluffy rice (or 2 3/4 cups for soft rice) and it will take around 45 minutes to cook on the stove (check at 35 minutes, then every 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed).

QUIONA: This will also work with quinoa but adjust the recipe as follows: rinse quinoa, use 3 cups of liquid (I would prob do 2 cups broth, 1 cup water), follow recipe but cook for 20 minutes.

3. The amount of liquid to rice ratio I use yields a tender just cooked rice that is fluffy. If you like your rice on the soft side, use 1/2 cup extra liquid but note that the rice will be stickier rather than fluffy like what you see in the video and photos.

4. SERVES: Makes around 7 cups of rice (packed) which will serve 8 as a side or 4 as a main. YES it’s a lot but it will keep well in the fridge for a few days and it freezes well too!

5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.

Tomato rice Arroz de tomate

2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 medium-sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
200g carolino, risotto or long-grain rice
500ml hot vegetable stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped coriander or oregano leaves, to serve
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based lidded pan over a medium–low heat. Add the onion and sauté gently for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices. Next, add the rice and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Finally, add the hot stock and a generous doseof salt and pepper. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer. Leave to cook for 15 minutes, without removing the lid.
  2. After the cooking time has elapsed, lift the lid and taste to check the seasoning and that the rice is cooked. Fluff up the grains, and return the lid. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes longer, then serve with a little chopped coriander or oregano.

 

Baked Greek Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta from NY Times

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, diced, about 1 cup
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper

  • 2 pounds large ripe tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 ounces Greek feta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

 

  1. Put 4 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower heat as necessary to keep mixture from browning. Remove from heat while preparing tomatoes.
  2. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add whole tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes, until skins loosen. Immediately plunge tomatoes in a bowl of cold water to cool, then drain. With a paring knife, core tomatoes and slip off skins. Cut tomatoes into thick wedges.
  3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat. Add tomato wedges and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until mixture is juicy and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a shallow earthenware baking dish.
  4. Put shrimp in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, season shrimp with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Arrange shrimp over tomato mixture in one layer. Crumble cheese over surface and sprinkle with oregano.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until tomatoes are bubbling and cheese has browned slightly. Remove from oven and let dish rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and serve.

Provoleta (Grilled Provolone Cheese) from NY Times

FOR THE Chimichurri:

  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
    • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Large pinch of crushed red pepper
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons cold water

     

    For the cheese

  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, sliced at least 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 baguette, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds, toasted, if desired
  1. Make the chimichurri: In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, vinegar and water. Thin with a little more water, if necessary, to make a pourable sauce. Set aside to let flavors meld. Sauce may be prepared up to 1 hour in advance.
  2. Set a small cast-iron pan over medium-high heat (or over hot coals). When pan is hot, put in the cheese. Sprinkle with half the oregano and crushed red pepper.
  3. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom begins to brown. Carefully flip the cheese with a spatula and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the second side is browned and the cheese is beginning to ooze. Transfer cheese to a plate and sprinkle with remaining oregano and crushed red pepper. Serve immediately, accompanied with bread and chimichurri. (Alternatively, finish the cheese by putting it under the broiler or in a hot oven.)

 

Fish With Toasted Almonds from Nigella Lawson

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce cod fillets (or any other meaty white fish), with skin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  1. Place a large dry nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add almonds. Stir constantly until they are tinged with color. Take from heat, and transfer to a bowl to cool.
  2. Season both sides of the fish well with salt and pepper. Place the same pan over medium heat, and add butter and olive oil. When both begin to bubble, add cod fillets skin side up. Brown fish until opaque all the way through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer fish to a warm serving plate, skin side down.
  3. Reduce heat under pan to low, and add lemon juice. Stir to blend with butter and oil, then pour this sauce over fillets. Scatter parsley over cod, and scatter with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Mashed Potato Salad With Scallions and Herbs from Melissa Clark

  • 2 pound red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus more lemon juice for serving
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt, more pen
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • Dash or two of hot sauce
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise, sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp Dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil or dill
  1. Cook the potatoes in a pot of well-salted water until they are very tender but not mushy, 15 to 22 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, rosemary, salt, pepper and hot sauce. When the salt is dissolved, whisk in the olive oil, mayonnaise and mustard.
  3. Add potatoes to the bowl and mix them very well, until well coated with dressing. Then use the spoon to mash about a quarter of them. You want 1-inch (or so) chunks of potatoes coated in some mashed potatoes. Add scallions and parsley and toss well. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, hot sauce and olive oil, if needed. Scatter chopped basil or dill over dressed potatoes. Serve warm or at room temperature, but not cold.

Chunky Eggplant Sauce from washingtonpost.com


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 12-ounce eggplant (unpeeled), cut into ¼ -inch by ¼ -inch by 3-inch strips
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon salt, or more as needed
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced (see NOTE)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano, or more as needed
12 basil leaves, torn
1 pound dried bucatini (or substitute penne rigate, rigatoni or orecchiette)

½ cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a wide, deep-sided saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, 30 seconds, then add the eggplant, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Partially cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring often, or until soft, allowing the liquid from the lid to drip into the eggplant if it seems dry.

Use a fork to crush the eggplant in the pan to a chunky consistency, then add the tomatoes and the teaspoon of fresh oregano. Increase the heat to medium; cook uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick (the cooking time will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are). Stir in the basil and keep the sauce warm.

Meanwhile, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bucatini and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook according to the package directions (al dente), about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pan, and add just enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to create a sauce that coats the bucatini. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper and oregano, as needed.

Serve hot, dusted with the cheese.

4 to 6 servings (makes about 1⅔ cups sauce, enough for 1 pound of pasta)

NOTE: To peel the tomatoes, use a sharp knife to score a large X on the bottom of each one. Drop into a bowl of just-boiled water and let sit for a few minutes, until you see the peel curling back from the edges of the X. Drain and let cool, then peel and discard the loosened skin.

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Creamy Corn Pasta With Basil from NY Times

  • Fine sea salt
  • 12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
  • 2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
  • cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, as needed
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and purée mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.
  3. Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s O.K. if the butter browns; that deepens the flavor.) Add the corn purée and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.