Who needs a recipe! Sort-of braised garlic pasta

20181021_175941.jpg

By Corinne

This is one of my go-to pasta recipes. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never measured anything and I really do use whatever I happen to have handy in terms of herbs. In the summer I use a generous amount of fresh herbs and sometimes omit the dried ones entirely.

This recipe is a great chance to experiment with flavoured oils or vinegars as well as with herbs. If substituting a flavoured oil, I recommend only substituting 1-2 tbsp rather than the whole 1/4 cup. I also like using a full 1/4 cup of balsamic, but it really does depend on the balsamic you are using- start with the smaller amount and increase according to taste.

What is Braising? 

Braising is a combination cooking method where both dry and moist cooking techniques are used. Usually it involves browning meat in a pan with a bit of oil (dry cooking) and then cooking in a broth, or wine for a long time over a low temperature (moist cooking). You CAN actually braise garlic- you saute it first and then usually finish it by cooking in cream until garlic is tender. Garlic prepared this way is usually used for soups, creamy sauces or mashed potatoes. Technically, the garlic in this recipe isn’t braised, because there’s no ‘moist cooking’ component, but it borrows from the ‘low and slow’ technique used in braising. 

Time: about 20 minutes start to finish – everything should be done by the time your pasta water has boiled and your pasta has cooked (unless you have a crazy induction cooktop and your water boils in 2 minutes)

Serves: 2 people who like pasta 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 cups (uncooked) of your favourite smallish pasta that will hold onto the minimal ingredients for this recipe. I love conchiglie (small shells) or cappelletti (little hats)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, or a mix of olive and canola, or a mix of a flavoured olive oil and regular
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme – or any mix of herbs you like
  • About 1 ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  •  2 -4 tbsp, depending on the flavour of the balsamic being used
  • Additional generous handful of fresh herbs to finish-flat leaf parsley, basil, whatever you have from the garden!

Over low heat, braise the garlic in the oil. DO NOT brown the garlic. You want this cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Garlic should be soft, mild flavoured and fragrant.

Grate cheese and set aside.

While garlic is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions(remember to season your water!)

About 1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the dried herbs to the garlic and oil.

**This part you need to work fast! The heat from the pasta is what melts the cheese.

Drain the pasta, add the garlic, oil and herbs, fresh herbs to the pasta and give a quick stir. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, stirring as you do so you don’t end up with a big ‘clump’.

When cheese has melted, add the vinegar.

Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.

 

 

Advertisements

Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

By Corinne

I actually bought the chorizo with the intent of making something totally different with it. But then the weather turned from crisp and sunny and fall to drizzle and wet snow and I needed soup immediately.

This soup gets a lot of the flavour from the chorizo, so make sure you find a good one that you like.

Time: about 10 minutes prep 45-55 minutes simmer total

Makes: 4 servings

20171029_194500.jpg

You will need:

  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, small dice
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (28fl oz/796ml)
  • 1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 1 chorizo sausage, sliced into thin half moons
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add onion, celery, and sliced chorizo to a heavy bottomed pot. Add 1-2 tsp of oil or butter if necessary. Cook on medium heat until vegetables and sausage are slightly browed- about 7 minutes.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the can of tomatoes. Add a can and a half of water to the pot. Add the 1 tsp paprika. and the 1 cup of chickpeas.

Let simmer for 35 minutes (or longer if you have time!  You may need to add more water if you let it simmer longer)

Add three cups of shredded cabbage. Allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes until cabbage is translucent and softened. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Layered Zucchini Bake

20170816_184629

By Corinne

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I only eat in the summer when it’s in season. It’s called summer squash for a reason!

I like to use yellow and green zucchini for this as I just think it looks prettier 🙂 You can of course use whatever colour you happen to have on hand, it makes little difference in taste.

I usually do this in the amount listed below, however, in the photos I had halved the recipe since I only had 2 zucchini.

Serves: 4-6 as a side

Time: 15 min prep, about 35-45 minutes cook

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 10 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 3/4 cup chardonay
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan or asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until softened- about 5 minutes. Add the chardonnay and reduce by half. Add the minced garlic and rosemary.  Add half of this to a 9 inch baking dish.

Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick.

If using both green and yellow zucchini, place a slice of each, and then half a slice of prosciutto. Continue in this manner until all zucchini and prosciutto are used and your pan is full. Put the rest of the onion/wine/herb mixture on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove from oven, testing doneness with a fork. I like my zucchini to stay fairly firm, but you may wish to bake for an additional 10 minutes before adding the cheese. Add the cheese for the last 10 minutes of cooking, if needed you can put the oven on broil for the last minute or two to brown them up.

20170816_210021

Italian Chicken Soup with Quinoa and Spinach

img_5036

By Corinne

Doesn’t this sound like some sort of hipster healthy living type soup? Well. Sure it does. But just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean it can’t also be filling and delicious! If you don’t love quinoa, then feel free to use a small pasta instead.

This recipe calls for a parmesan rind. If you haven’t started using fresh parm (or asiago) I highly recommend it. While it’s more expensive than the stuff that comes in a can, it also has a great deal more flavour, since you know, it’s not mixed with sawdust. One of the best things about using fresh cheese is saving the rind for soups. When you get down to the rind, just throw it in a bag and put it in the freezer until you need it. It adds an incredible amount of flavour to soups and stews. It generally doesn’t dissolve fully in the soup, but does get softer. If your soup is at a full roiling boil it may somewhat dissolve, and I’ve accidentally forgotten to take it out before pureeing soups. Oops.

Serves: 3-4

Time: about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how long you let the soup simmer

You will need:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 pound (250 grams) boneless, skinless chicken thighs – about 3
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, thyme, basil
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 cup white navy beans -I used dried, which I rehydrate and freeze. 1 cup is more than half of a standard can – you can probably just use a whole can if you’re using canned beans, unless of course you have a use for your leftover beans!
  • 1 can (28oz, 794g) tomatoes -I used whole and smushed them up, but diced would work great as well
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock – I used my favourite Homemade Veggie Bouillon
  • 1/2 cup dry wine – red or white, if you happen to have some open, it’s awesome to deglaze the pot with after cooking the onion/celery/chicken, but it’s ok to omit
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • grated parm or asiago for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup dry) – to be added to individual bowls
  • handful of chopped fresh spinach- to be added to each bowl

Dice onion and celery, add to a heavy bottomed pot with a few tbsp of butter or oil. Chop chicken into small pieces and add to pot with onion and celery. Allow to cook until the vegetables have some colour and the chicken is cooked. Add the minced garlic and stir around until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic burn.

If you are using wine to deglaze – pour a little in the pot and scrape up all the delicious browned bits.

Add the tomatoes, stock, carrots, beans, thyme, basil, oregano, pepper and parmesan rind. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you have time.

While soup is simmering, rinse quinoa well in a small mesh sieve to remove bitter saponins. Cook quinoa in a 1:2 ratio of water – if you are using half a cup of quinoa, use 1 cup of water. If you are using 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water etc. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low for about 20 minutes. When liquid is absorbed and quinoa has ‘popped’ it is ready.

Chop a handful of fresh spinach for each bowl, ladle in hot soup, and then add a few tbsp of cooked quinoa to each bowl. Garnish with grated parmesan or asiago cheese if desired.