Monday, April 25, 2011

Arrabbiata Sauce, "Angry" Sauce, or what you make for dinner when you don't feel like cooking

I discovered Arrabbiata sauce during my first trip to Italy. I immediately fell in love with the spiciness of the sauce and ordered it at almost every restaurant. (probably also because there wasn't much of the menu that I could understand)

I've been wanting to make it for awhile and actually had planned to make this for dinner a few days ago. I had decided on my way home from work the other night that this was what I was going to make. However, when I got home, I just didn't feel like cooking. I was hungry but didn't feel like putting forth any effort for my dinner. I did some things around the house and contemplated ordering something in, but I finally decided just to go ahead and make the sauce.

And boy, am I glad I did. Not only did it exceed my expectations, but the whole meal took about 30 minutes from start to finish. The sauce is quick, easy, and flavorful, yet without the fuss. And although I've added squash, mushrooms, fresh spinach, and onions, you could easily add or subtract whatever vegetables you'd like.

So the "Angry Pasta" will be making its appearance many times again I'm sure, especially on those days I don't feel like cooking.

Arrabiata Sauce

Arrabbiata Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup yellow squash, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how angry you want it)
Freshly cracked pepper
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute onion for a minute or two, then add squash, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften. Add tomatoes, wine, and remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer sauce for another 10 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with freshly minced parsley, and serve over your favorite pasta.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

I love rice salads. Not only are they a nice change from the normal green leaf salads, but they are perfect for packing into your brown bag for lunch. And even better, you can serve them warm or cold, depending on your mood. This makes rice salads, like this Orange Chipotle rice salad, perfect for almost every season!

I recently found this recipe on Ginger Beat for a lentil salad with a mustard dressing and thought it looked simply delicious. The funny thing about mustard is that it was only within the past few years that I really started to love the flavor of it and appreciate all that it had to offer. So as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making something similar.

As I started monkeying around in the kitchen, ideas of what to add to the recipe were flying around and soon enough, this recipe was born. Whoa - the flavors are absolutely delicious. It has a nice little kick from the coarse mustard, which is just perfect with the fresh parsley. Best of all, this recipe can be thrown together in as long as it takes you to make the rice.

So go ahead and give this a try - your brown bag lunches will thank you!

And stay up-to-date with all of the 28 Cooks' happenings on the 28 Cooks' Facebook page!

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Wild Rice and Cannellini Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/3 c chopped scallions
1/3 c chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

In a small food processor, combine vinegar, mustard, oil, garlic, and pepper. Process until dressing creamy. Set aside. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over contents of bowl and stir well. Serve warm or cold.
3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Seriously, if you haven’t served a stuffed mushroom as an appetizer, then you need to get on that train – STAT! Not only are they tasty and delicious, but they are the perfect size for fingers and unmessy eating. And not only that, but they are super easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, which means you only have to throw them in the oven right before serving. Even better? They freeze extremely well, so you can always have a delicious ready-to-wow-your-guests appetizer on hand for all those last minute events.

Or check out these Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms for another great variation.

And stay up-to-date with all of the 28 Cooks' happenings on the 28 Cooks' Facebook page!

3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

1 (12 oz) package Baby Bella mushrooms, destemmed and degilled
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
A few tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare mushrooms by removing stems and gills and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cheeses, garlic, spinach, and seasonings. Mix well. Stuff each mushroom with a few teaspoons of cheese mixture. Lightly dust each mushroom with breadcrumbs and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place on oiled baking sheet and place into preheated oven. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and breadcrumbs are toasted.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushroom

Doesn't that title just sound fancy and delicious? But first, let me give a disclaimer - this is by no means a diet dish. Let's just be clear about that. However, it is a delicious, decadent, and extremely tasty treat meal.

The Boy had been given a few Italian delicacies from his parents, who recently returned from a trip to Italy. One was a jar of white truffles, and we've been talking about using them in a special dish for quite some time.

As soon as I found this recipe, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. (This recipe is a variation of one found on Epicurious) And let me tell you - I was not disappointed. The flavors are so rich and decadent and this would definitely be a wonderful dish to serve to guests.

And for those with risotto fears? Get rid of them! Although making risotto does require some careful attention, it was much easier than I thought!

Oh, and if you're curious, risotto is extremely hard to photograph!

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms

Truffled Risotto with Leeks and Mushroom

Serves 4-6

3 large leeks, halved, thinly sliced, and rinsed very well
1 cup whipping cream

4 oz shiitake mushrooms
4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp truffle oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves


4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 cups good quality vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tsp chopped white truffles

In a small saucepan, combine leeks and cream. Add freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until leeks are soft and cream has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425.Toss all mushroom ingredients in a large bowl and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until vegetables are softened and browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add rice and stir well. Add white wine and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in mushroom mixture, leeks, cheese, and truffles. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Arugula Salad with Fontina Vinaigrette

There's something about the warm weather of Spring that makes me crave salads. And not just any salads, but salads with fresh greens and vinaigrettes that really allow the freshness of the salad to stand out.

I needed a salad to go with a heavier main dish (which will be posted later this week) and at the last minute, grabbed a bag of fresh arugula from the grocery store. I really had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I've always been a huge fan of its peppery bite.

I was using some fontina in the main dish and thought it might make a perfect addition to the vinaigrette. A few other ingredients plus the fontina tossed into the food processor and 5 minutes later, I had the most wonderful vinaigrette. I rounded out the salad with some fresh apple slices and toasted pine nuts.

What a perfect combination of flavors. I can guarantee this salad will show its face many many times over the warm weather season.

Fontina Vinaigrette

Fontina Vinaigrette
1/3 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
Freshly cracked pepper

4 cups fresh arugula leaves
1/3 cup raw pine nuts
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced

In food processor, add all vinaigrette ingredients. Process for a minute or two, until dressing is well mixed and creamy. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast pine nuts over medium high heat, shaking frequently, until golden brown and toasted. In a large bowl, toss arugula leaves with vinaigrette. Top with apple slices and toasted pine nuts.