Entree

(I Promise You Can’t Tell It’s Eggplant) Lasagna

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Sometimes I trick people into eating eggplant. This is how I do it.

First, you need to sharpen your knife. No, really. Eggplant skin is shockingly tough. Then wash your knife, to be safe.

With your clean and sharp knife, cut two small eggplants into slices no thicker than 1/4″. Brush both sides of each slice with extra virgin olive oil and place in one layer on parchment lined baking sheets (or silicone sheets if you’ve got them). Sprinkle with salt. Cook at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft.

In a high walled skillet, brown 1 lb. ground turkey or beef and one minced onion. Add one can drained diced tomatoes. Stir in 1/2 of 24 ounces marinara sauce of your choosing. Season with 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Combine 15 ounces of ricotta with 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella.

Pour a thin layer of your reserved marinara sauce into a 9×9 pan. Layer: eggplant, meat sauce, all of the ricotta mixture, marinara sauce, eggplant, meat sauce. Top with a handful of shredded mozarella and a light dusting of bread crumbs if you’re adventurous.

Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour. Turn on the broiler just before you take it out of the oven so the cheese gets nice and golden. Let sit 15 minutes before serving so you don’t scald yourself with a soupy mess.

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Creamy Chicken, Gnocchi and Spinach Soup

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Joe, you finally get a copy. Earlier that it comes in the mail, too! You won’t see it until October, but I’ve done what I could.

Brown 1 pound Italian sausage in a Dutch oven, do not drain. If you are skipping the sausage, instead drizzle two glugs of your favorite olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 2 large shredded carrots.Stir to coat. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add 6 cups chicken stock, 2 cups diced chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 3/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. If you want to add a bit of heat, add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes here. Bring to a boil. Add 2 packages of gnocchi, boil 4-6 minutes until gnocchi rises to the top and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Add 1 cup chopped fresh spinach and cook an additional 2 minutes to wilt the spinach.

Slowly stir in 2 cups of half and half (one cup of half and half if you’re trying to cut extraneous calories). Keep the mixture from boiling, as the cream will separate if it gets too hot.

Serve immediately.

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Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

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Preheat the oven to 475. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add three Russet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces. The smaller you cut the potatoes, the crispier they’ll be. Boil the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes. Drain. Put the potatoes back in the pot, hold the lid on and give the potatoes two good shakes. The fluffy bits become the crispy bits.

Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a roasting pan and place in the oven for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange potatoes in a single layer in the roasting pan. Top with 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Reduce the oven temperature to 425. Cook 45 minutes to an hour. Serve hot.

These are also the basis for Papas Borrachas.

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Baked Ziti

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To 1 3/4 cups plain tomato sauce, add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together and set to the side.

Heavily salt a pan of water and bring to a boil. Add 3 cups ziti and cook according to al dente instructions. Drain well. Mix the noodles and around 2/3 of the sauce together in a large bowl.

In either three small spring pans or one large spring pan, stand your saucy noodles on end. This is best accomplished by holding or propping the spring pan nearly vertical and using a small flat silicone spatula to transfer the noodles from the bowl to the spring pan. Once full, return pan to a flat position and spoon sauce over, using the back of a spoon to encourage the sauce into the noodles. Top with shredded mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a dash of bread crumbs.

Cook in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until mozzarella is melted. Broil the tops to get them golden brown. Remove from the oven and the spring pan and top with fresh topped basil. You can serve it atop meat sauce if you’d like it that way.

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Shakshuka: Eggs poached in tomato sauce

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This is a great one-pan meal that’s good for breakfast or dinner. For Graham, we threw a little chicken on top for good measure.

Preheat your oven broiler. In a cast iron or oven-proof skillet (we use this one from Cuisinart), heat 3 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 medium diced yellow or white onion, one diced bell pepper, and 1/4 cup of diced eggplant. You can also add 1/4 drained garbanzo beans if you’re feeling adventurous. Mix together to coat everything in olive oil. Cook uncovered for about 8 minutes until softened. Add three cloves minced garlic and cook about two minutes extra. Add 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, 28 ounces drained diced tomatoes, and 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. While sauce is cooking, chop two cups fresh spinach. When sauce is slightly thickened, add the spinach and 1/4 cup table cream to the sauce. Remove pan from heat. Make five wells for your eggs using a spoon. Crack an egg into each well, spooning a bit of sauce over the whites. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt over the eggs and add lots of crumbled feta goodness to the red sauce you can see (about 3 Tbs.). Return pan to low heat and cover with a lid. Cook about 6 minutes. Transfer pan to preheated oven and broil for about 90 seconds.

Remove from oven and enjoy with crusty bread to mop up all the flavor.

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Spicy Garlic Mussels

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Scrub and de-beard 2 lbs live black mussels. Discard any that do not close within a minute when tapped against another mussel.

In a high walled skillet or Dutch oven, heat 3 cups white wine or vegetable broth over medium high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, and 6 oz tomato paste. Whisk together until everything is combined. Bring to a boil. Add mussels in. Cover and cook 5-6 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Finish by stirring in 3 Tbs butter chopped into pieces. Discard mussels that did not open.

Spoon into a shallow bowl and top with extra sauce. Crusty bread is delicious dipped into the sauce. We make French bread at home, but as Ina Garten would say, “store bought is fine!”

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Chicken Dumpling Soup

Chicken Dumpling Soup

For the soup:

Heat 4 tablespoons of EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups cubed butternut squash, 3 medium carrots thinly sliced into rounds, 2 ribs chopped celery, and 2 leeks (halved and the whites cut into thin slices). Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Nestle in 3 bay leaves and a bundle of parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary among the vegetables. Partially cover and cook about ten minutes, stirring once about half way through. Deglaze your pan with 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock. Reduce until almost dry, remove bay leaves and herb bundle. Add 3 cups chicken broth, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

In a sauce pan, melt 3 Tbs salted butter over medium heat. Whisk in 3 Tbs flour until combined. Whisk in 3 cups of milk (unflavored almond or otherwise), 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Cook until thick enough to coat a spoon then add to simmering broth mixture. Add 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken. Zest 1 lemon into mixture. Keep simmering for approximately 40 minutes.

For the dumplings:

Combine 2 1/4 cup Bisquick and 2/3 cup milk. Drop dough by spoonfuls into simmering soup. Cook 10 minutes uncovered then 10 minutes covered. If there isn’t enough space in the Dutch oven, you can cook the dumplings in another pot with 5 cups of chicken broth.

Serves 4-6.

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