Summer Margarita Pasta

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is summer and luscious ripe tomatoes are piled up everywhere I turn.  Something about the ripe red tomatoes reminds me of a trip to Italy my husband and I took back when we were still dating and studying abroad.  On our gallop (literally) through Europe, we found ourselves in Naples.  Our time there was short and we were merely passing through, but we found ourselves starving and in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere in particular in the foreign city.

Let me rephrase: we were STARVING!!!! We had just taken a train in and had not seen food in at least 4 hours — I know, the horror!

If this were an ordinary day, I would insist on us walking around and finding a few restaurant options before descending on a chosen eatery.  However, in this hungry moment, we did not care where we were: the first place that would serve us would be the lucky winner of our patronage.

This was the best mistake of my life because the very first place we saw was a tiny hole-in-the-wall half restaurant / half residence with one table and two chairs in the front yard (for lack of a better word).  We ran to those two chairs like our lives depended on it.  There ended up being a legitimate waiter who gave us real menus.

The first thing we saw was “Margarita Pizza” which obviously needs no translation from the Italian.  We pointed at it and within what seemed to be the longest 20 minutes later, we were served the most AMAZING thing I have eaten to date.  I don’t care what five star restaurant you want to compare this to, but we were in heaven.

This dish always reminds me of that trip and that miraculous Napolitan Pizza Margarita.  It is my personal 15 minute homage to that experience.

You will need:

– pasta (I typically use whole wheat, but regular is great too)

– 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

– 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped

– small fresh mozzarella balls

– garlic

– olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

Begin to prepare the pasta.  While it is boiling, combine the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a heated and oiled skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste and saute until the tomatoes get happy (I leave it to you to exactly determine what this means, but for me it usually happens when the skins start to gently separate from the rest of the tomatoes).

When the pasta is done, plate it and pour the tomato mixture over it.  While the tomatoes are still hot, throw on a few fresh mozarella balls – they will start to get a little soft and melty, which is divine.  Garnish with basil.

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Red Chard Tuesday

February 9, 2010 § 7 Comments

I love the winter for several reasons, and one is found in the farmer’s markets…greens, greens, greens.  Greens are one of the super foods that are nutritional powerhouse containing a plethora of vitamins and minerals.  All greens are an excellent source of calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene.  They are also heart healthy (just in time for Valentine’s Day).

This year, my favorite green is red chard.  Red chard is characterized by bright red stalks, red veins, and enormous deep green leaves.  Chard is great because it is sturdier than spinach and holds its shape, as well as a bit of crispness, when cooking.  I was lucky enough to pick up a bunch of red chard at my local farmer’s market in Venice, Ca.  I am so excited to share a vegetarian recipe for red chard with you.

Red Chard Over Brown Rice

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of red chard, rinsed and torn into bit sized pieces(it shrinks when you cook it)
  • 1/2 of a Mayan sweet onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 12 oz. package of Yves Meatless Ground
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. chili infused sesame oil (you could substitute with olive oil)
  • 2 Tsp. crushed red peppers (less or more for your desired heat level)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste)

Cooking directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 450* and place the tomatoes and sprig or rosemary in an oven safe dish.  Toss with salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp. chili sesame oil.

2.  Place the tomatoes in the oven until they have softened and given off most of their juices (15-25 minutes depending on the size of your tomatoes).  Stir every 10 minutes, so your tomatoes keep their red color and do not burn.

3.  Take the tomatoes out of the oven to cool and start your brown rice (I use a rice cooker) by adding 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups water to a     pot (cook according to package directions).

4.  Once the rice is cooking, pour the oil from the tomatoes into a pan.  Add the left over 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil to the pan as well.  Heat the oil to a medium temperature and add the onion.  Sauté.

5.  Once the onion has started to sauté, add the garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and Yves Meatless Ground to the pan.

6. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add roasted tomatoes and the torn red chard to the pan.  Cover with a lid and cook until the red chard has shrunken down and is soft (this should take 10-15 minutes).

Put a layer of brown rice on your plate and then top it with the red chard.  Enjoy.

Serving suggestions:  Top with a Tbsp. of parmesan cheese for added flavor.

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