Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs

Has it really been 2 weeks since my last post? Talk about time flying! Seriously though, I have been pretty busy. Two of our kids were here over last weekend with their families and there is always so much to do...especially with 2 little boys! My husband left for Myrtle Beach last Saturday on his annual golf pilgrimage with a bunch of friends. I set my sights on doing some much needed organizing and enjoyed holding the remote a couple of evenings while I watched some favorite shows. Today reality is back as he will be home in a few hours.
So that has gotten me thinking more about cooking.

I did a detoxification this week....very healthy stuff, lots of fruits and vegetables, no starch, no sugar and lost 7 pounds...YAY! So now that I have gotten a jumpstart, I have to continue as spring is around the corner and so is SUMMER!!! Now my husband loves his Italian food and pasta, in modification, is OK. So I found a recipe in BonApptit that I think he and I will both love, that will be healthy and tasty. I plan to use DeBoles Jerusalem Artichoke Flour Pasta which I consider to be the closest to semolina pasta in flavor once you add your ingredients. So this is going to be tomorrow's dinner...not quite mama's Sunday spaghetti and meatballs, but a bit healthier version of pasta.

Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs
1 3-oz pkg pancetta, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large red jalapeno chiles, seeded, finely chopped (About 1/4 cup)
2 large fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, cut into thin wedges with some core attached
1-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tsps. crushed fennel seeds
1 lb. spaghetti
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

Saute pancetta in large skillet over medium heat until pancetta is golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to drippings in skillet. Add garlic and chiles; saute ovr medium heat 1 minute.
Add fennel; cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Mix in broth, 2 Tbsp parsley, lemon juice, and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until fennel is very tender, 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta until tender; drain. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
Uncover skillet with fennel mixture and return to high heat. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes.
Add fennel to pasta. Stir in 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 cup cheese and pancetta.
Add cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry.
Toss pasta; transferr to serving bowl. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp parsley over and serve with grated cheese.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted Asparagus Salad

We still have snow on the ground here in upstate New York...probably will for several more weeks. Winter does not go away gently for us. Comfort food like mac and cheese, hearty soups and stews tend to make us feel better about being and warm....belly happy and full! BUT....all that comfort food can make your belly grow! I was flipping through the March issue of Southern Living .....yes I am dreaming about better weather, and not growing out of my summer clothes...and found this beautiful salad that I had to try. It is a carnival of color and goodness. (I added some roasted baby yellow squash to this.) I will be making this again and again. What I also loved about the dish is that you can prepare it ahead of time and put it together when you are ready to serve. Also, it looks gorgeous on a platter or would be beautiful served on individual plates for a small dinner party. Happy for your palate and healthy for you, this is a must try.

Roasted Asparagus Salad (Picture from Southern Living)

Serves 8
1-1/2 lb fresh asparagus
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1-1/2 TBSP chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
1 avocado, sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus; remove scales with a vegetable peeler, if desired. Stir together 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1-1/2 tsp chopped basil, 1/2 tsp lemon pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl.
Add asparagus to olive oil mixture and toss gently to coat. Place asparagus on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake asparagus at 425 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes or to desired degree of tenderness. Cool 10 minutes.
Whisk together balsamic vinegar, garlic and remaining 7 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp basil and 1/4 tsp salt. Toss together tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and 1Tbsp balsamic vinegar mixture.
Arrange lettuce on platter or individual serving plates. Top with tomato mixture and asparagus. Add avocado just before serving. Drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar mixture.

  • To make ahead, toss together tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion without dressing. Store these ready-to-use ingredients in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 hours. The dressing and asparagus can also be made up to eight hours before serving.