Entree

Orzo Pasta Salad

DSC_0056I spent the first 10 years of my life steadfastly avoiding beans because of that stupid rhyme from when we were all kids. I spent the next 15 avoiding beans because I genuinely couldn’t handle the texture. But I’ve learned that if I disguise it in enough other textures, I’m on board.

Dice 1/2 of a red onion and marinate in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. While that’s marinating, cook 1 cup of orzo according to package directions. Rinse. Add to red onion mixture. Drain and rinse two cans of pinto beans, then add to mixture. Add 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 peeled, seeded and diced English cucumber, 1/2 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes, the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, and 1/2 cup of kalamata olives (optional). Mix all this together. Finally, fold in one cup of crumbled feta.

Serve over spinach and/or arugula if you need more green in this dish. Serve with shredded chicken if you don’t partake in Meatless Mondays!

 

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Crabby Fries

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Slice up two clean potatoes and toss lightly in a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Begin to air fry at 400 until crisp. This will depend in part on your frier. Move the fries about in the basket every so often to keep the air circulating around the fries and crisping them. If you don’t have an air frier, lay the oiled potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Bake at 400 for approximately 35 minutes. Check on them often as cooking time will vary.

In a blender, combine 1 room temperature egg with 1 tablespoon minced garlic. With the motor running, stream in 1 1/2 cups fruit olive oil then 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Once thoroughly combined, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 ground pepper and pulse for about ten seconds. Listen, we never registered for a blender because we already have a food processor and it seemed silly to have a large counter top appliance that does what our food processor does. I use our immersion blender to make this aoili and it works just as well.

In a small bowl, combine a drained can of crab meat with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few pinches Old Bay seasoning.

When your fries are cooked, squeeze garlic aoili over them, then scoop crab mixture over them. Top with finely chopped green onions. Eat hot.

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Savory or Sweet Ricotta Pizza

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Pizza dough:

Combine 3 3/4 cup bread flour (you can use all-purpose if you don’t keep bread flour on hand), 1 teaspoon honey, 1 packet instant dry yeast, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in bowl of a stand mixer. With mixer going, stream in 1 1/2 cups warm but not steaming water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Your dough should combine into a solid ball. If it looks too dry, add an additional tablespoon of water. Dump out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently. Grease large bowl with olive oil, place dough inside. Cover with wrap, let sit in a warm place for 1 hour. If it’s never warm where you are, place it on a heating pad set to warm. Makes two 12-14″ crusts.

While the dough is proofing, thinly slice one fennel bulb and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Ricotta topping:

Combine one container of ricotta cheese (approximately 1.5 cups) with the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

When ready, roll your dough out into two crusts and top with the ricotta mixture. Add fresh arugula, dried tarragon, sauteed fennel, and sliced peppadew peppers. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and a bit of pepper and a light pass of Parmesan. Cook at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

If you don’t keep arugula or fennel on hand (or don’t like them), omit the red pepper flakes and Parmesan. Instead, top with shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and pomegranate seeds; serve with a squeeze of honey over your slice.

 

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Easy Chicken

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After cleaning a whole chicken, thoroughly dry with paper towels. Inside and out. I know, it’s icky. You can do it. On occasion, you’ll find a bit of a quill left in the skin. It’s easiest to grasp them using a paper towel so you have enough traction to pull it out.

A lot of recipes will call for lemons or butter. We’re going to avoid those so the chicken can get nice and crispy! And who doesn’t love a recipe that calls for just three ingredients?

I like to let the chicken come to temperature and dry one more time. Add salt and dried thyme into the cavity and place the chicken in a pan. You don’t want the pan to be so large that your chicken is floating out in space. I like to use our trusty Dutch oven. Then truss the chicken. This just means you’re going to use a bit of baker’s or butcher’s twine to tie the chicken legs together to cover a portion of the breast, and it helps the chicken stay juicy.

After trussing the chicken, tuck the wings as close to the body as you can manage. You don’t want them to get too dry, either. Lightly sprinkle dried thyme over the chicken. Now, for the magic. With a heavy hand, salt the chicken with kosher salt. Add a second pass. That salt is going to be where your flavor comes in.

Bake at 450 for an hour. Double check the internal temperature of the breast meat- it needs to be at least 165. Let cool for ten minutes, carve, and serve. Tastes great with a whole grain mustard or Dijon for dipping. Pairs really well with blistered carrots with labneh.

Be sure to save the bones and scraps for chicken stock!

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*the link to the Dutch oven is an affiliate link; it doesn’t increase your price, but a portion of the proceeds come back to me.

Spicy Sauce and Fish

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We were fortunate enough to catch Sprouts in an amazing sale where the wild caught salmon was a dollar per pound less than the farm raised and I snapped up two pounds because you can always make something delicious with salmon. I like this chimichurri with it because the lime juice brings the flavors to life and the jalapeno keeps things interesting. If you’re averse to spicy food, it’s worth noting that once you’ve removed those seeds most of the bite is taken out of the jalapeno. If you’re really averse to spicy food, I’d suggest starting with just one jalapeno with seeds and stem removed and give it a taste test to see if you can handle more. You can always blend the second jalapeno in piece by piece. I also like this sauce because, on days when Graham and I can’t agree on a protein, it tastes just as delicious on his steak as it does on my salmon.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1 bunch of parsley leaves, large stems removed, 2 jalapenos with stem and seeds removed, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 4 cloves garlic, 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 green onions, the juice of two limes and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until a nice sauce forms. Give it a taste before you remove it to a serving container. Sometimes it needs a bit more salt, though it does depend on how heavily you salt your fish or other protein. It tastes good on a lot of things.

In a cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place two fillets of salted and peppered salmon skin side down into the hot oil and cook approximately 5 minutes. Avoid the temptation to fiddle with the fish as it cooks. Flip and cook approximately 5 minutes more. Remove to plates and top with chimichurri sauce.

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(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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