Pappardelle with Swiss Chard, Onions, and Goat Cheese

If yesterday's post was a stealth recipe, today's is the opposite: a complete no-brainer. With a stealth recipe, the ingredient list looks fairly humdrum, but the completed dish surprises you with awesomeness. With a no-brainer recipe, you can tell just by looking at the dish's components that it is going to knock your socks off. I mean, come on. Pappardelle, one of my favorite forms of pasta? Sweet red onions? Creamy goat cheese? Alzheimer's-fighting Swiss chard? I knew I'd love it, and I did. Simple as that.

Pappardelle with Swiss Chard, Onions, and Goat Cheese
From Real Simple
  • 12 oz pappardelle
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, washed thoroughly in a bowl of cold water, stems discarded, and leaves cut into 1-inch strips
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot. 
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chard and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Add the chard mixture, 3 ounces of the goat cheese, 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pasta and toss until the goat cheese melts and coats the pasta (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Serve sprinkled with the remaining ounce of goat cheese.

Lentil & Farro Soup

This soup is what I like to call a stealth recipe. You read it over, take a look at the ingredient list, and you're like, okay, that sounds pretty good. Just pretty good, not amazing. But then you make it... and you are utterly SHOCKED at how delicious and flavorful it is. This recipe is kinda like that. Stealthy. It seems humble at first glance, but the combination of chewy farro, aromatic curry, lemony yogurt, and those occasional sweet bursts of sweet potato combine into something awesome that's soon to be one of your new favorite soups.

Lentil & Farro Soup
From Super Natural Every Day
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 cup peeled and diced sweet potato or winter squash
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Indian curry powder
  • 2/3 cup whole or semi-pearled farro
  • 1 1/4 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 to 7 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or Greek-style yogurt, or creme fraiche
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and sweet potato. Add a big pinch of salt and saute until the onions soften a bit, a couple of minutes. Add the curry powder and stir until the onions and sweet potatoes are coated and the curry is fragrant, a minute or so. Add the farro, lentils, and 6 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes, or until the farro and lentils are cooked through. (If you're using semi-pearled farro, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.) Taste and season with more salt if needed; how much you'll need depends on the saltiness of your broth. Don't under-salt; the soup will taste flat.

While the soup is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Serve each bowl of soup topped with a dollop of lemon yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Carrot Cake Jam

In my book, there's no better way to brighten up a dark late-autumn day than by making a batch of sweet, brightly colored jam. This "carrot cake" jam is a bit unusual but oh-so-good. It makes anything taste like dessert -- even breakfast. Particularly great served on toast with a generous schmear of cream cheese.

(Note that this recipe makes 7 half-pints, so you may want to halve it, as I did.)

One Year Ago: Rice with Sage-Infused White Bean Sauce

Carrot Cake Jam
From Better Homes and Gardens' Canning
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium)
  • 1 cup finely chopped, peeled pear
  • 15-ounce can crushed pineapple (packed in juice), undrained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1.75-ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut or raisins (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large heavy pot, combine carrots, pear, pineapple with the juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Sprinkle mixture with pectin; stir until pectin dissolves.
Bring carrot mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar. Return to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon if there is any. Stir in coconut or raisins (if desired) and vanilla.

Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.

Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.

Makes 7 half-pints.

Harissa Ravioli

Have you guys discovered harissa yet? It's a North African hot chili sauce, and it's definitely having a culinary moment. I made my own batch a couple weeks ago and have really been enjoying it, but you can find it in gourmet shops or even in high-end grocery stores (like Whole Foods). Be warned, the spiciness does vary from brand to brand.

Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day -- the cookbook on which I currently have the biggest crush -- contains a couple different recipes featuring harissa, and this is one of them. It's a winning recipe: it's extremely quick, and it's bursting with flavor. Definitely one that I'll be making whenever harissa finds its way into my kitchen.

Harissa Ravioli
From Super Natural Every Day
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cheese-stuffed ravioli or tortellini
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets or broccolini, trimmed into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup pepitas, sliced almonds, or pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup kalamata or black oil-cured olives, pitted and torn into pieces
Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, make the harissa oil. Sprinkle the smashed garlic clove with the salt and chop into a paste. Transfer it to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
When the water boils, salt it generously, add the ravioli, and boil until they float and are cooked through, usually just 1 or 2 minutes (but check cooking instructions on the package). About 30 seconds before the ravioli have finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot, boil for the remaining time, then drain.

Put the ravioli and broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Toss with a couple spoonfuls of the harissa oil and most of the pepitas. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Turn out onto a serving platter and top with more harissa oil, the remaining pepitas, the feta, and olives.

Variations: Substitute cauliflower or pan-fried Brussels sprouts for the broccoli.

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil

So, I subscribe to at least half a dozen cooking magazines. There's Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Everyday Food, Cooking Light, Eating Well, and Vegetarian Times. Plus the magazines that aren't entirely food related but that always have a recipe section: Southern Living, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple... what I'm trying to say is, a lot of magazine recipes pass through my hands each month. Many of them get torn out and placed in a "to-make" folder that I turn to for inspiration as I'm planning my menu for the week.

This recipe is one I must have torn out last winter and then never gotten to. It's been languishing in the folder for months, all summer long, when butternut was the last thing from my mind. But I knew as soon as squash was back in season, this risotto was gettin' made. Today was finally the day, and it was totally worth the wait. Hopefully I won't wait until next year before making it again.

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil
From Bon Appetit
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from a 2 to 2 1/2 pound squash)
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch slices leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 7-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash and saute until beginning to soften and brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer squash to medium bowl.
Reduce heat to medium; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, leeks, and thyme to same pot and stir until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining broth by 1/2 cupfuls, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Return squash to pot. Continue to cook until rice is just tender but still very creamy, stirring gently and often, about 10 minutes (about 25 minutes total cooking time). Remove from heat. Stir in basil and freshly grated Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.