Beet carpaccio with spinach and quinoa #foodporn (Taken with Instagram)
Curried chicken and fried kale (Taken with Instagram at The Edge North Tower)
Mushroom medley over three cheese ravioli with Parmesan. (Taken with instagram)
Last night, I Instagrammed a quick shot of my dinner table where I had laid out dinner for my guests. I thought I’d write up this super simple recipe, because it was definitely the table favorite, and is delicious and healthy. It’s also a great thing to stick in your lunch box or picnic basket because it can be eaten hot or cold.
What you need:
1/2 a bag Mini Carrots (or about 4 peeled large Carrots, cut into smaller pieces)
1 lb. Green Beans, ends cut off
1 large Lemon
1 tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 clove Garlic, diced (optional)
In a medium non-metallic bowl, squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon over rinsed and dried green beans. Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes over the green beans, and mix. Let sit for at least 5 minutes (this can be prepped before preparing the rest of the meal, and left “marinating” until you are ready to cook).
In a deep pan, pour some olive oil, 1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes and garlic if desired. Heat to Med-Hi, moving the garlic around until golden brown (or until oil is hot). Put carrots in pan, allowing to soften slightly (a large lid can expedite this process). When some carrots have begun to brown or caramelize, insert green beans with lemon red pepper dressing. Continue to cook at Med-Hi until carrots are soft (to taste) and green beans have some elasticity.
Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon just before serving.
I spent the last week doing an intensive cooking course in Figline Valdarno, Tuscany, Italy and learned a whole lot about food and cooking. Especially because growing up my family didn’t make or eat a lot of Italian food, it was wonderful to see how easy it all is.
1. You don’t ever need to put a lid on your pots. In fact, you don’t even need to buy a lid, because in a pinch (say, if you’re cooking octopus) another pot will work just fine.
2. Any pasta sauce you think has butter, milk, or cream in it probably doesn’t. We made an alfredo sauce that I’ve never ordered at a restaurant because I don’t like creamy sauces, only to discover that it is just olive oil. The trick is that you cook the pasta for the last minute or two in the sauce itself and stir in one direction the whole time, and the starch from the pasta is what makes it creamy.
3. Ingredients you never expected are everywhere in Italian cooking. Like potatoes. Bet you didn’t know that the right way to make pesto is with potatoes, so that there isn’t that gross oily residue in the bottom of your plate, and so that it has a thicker, creamier texture.
4. What you consider a pinch of salt is what the Italians would consider a “fly pinch.” I never cooked with salt really, but in Italy, I was taught to use it A LOT.
5. Olive oil is olive oil is olive oil. Unless you’re dressing a salad or something after it’s been cooked, regular olive oil is definitely good enough, no need to splurge on the Extra Virgin stuff.
6. Cook veggies in cold oil… meaning, start with a cold pan, put cold oil in it, and throw in your veggies. It saturates the flavor into the oil, rather than sealing it in. This goes for herbs, spices, garlic and onions as well.
7. Making soufflé is not that hard. Believe me, I made three. Also, in a pinch, Italians make sformato which is like soufflé but doesn’t fall after you take it out of the oven.
8. Back to the cold oil thing… Start your dish with a clove or two of garlic, pealed but whole, in cold oil to get the best garlicky flavor. When the garlic is golden, take it out of the pan and throw it away so you have all the flavor without the bitterness.
9. You can never have enough water in the pot. Worst comes to worst, you boil it off.
10. Tomato purée should be used instead of fresh tomatoes in the winter and spring when tomatoes are out of season. Also, you’d never guess it, but tomato purée is actually low on water, so you have to add it in.