Quick and Easy Sesame Garlic Noodles

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 5 MINS

COOK TIME | 10 MINS

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I have been making a version of this dish for years. I love its chameleon-like versatility. Missing an ingredient-improvise! This dish can take it. Add seasonal veggies for an ultimate fresh and healthy version.
The bonus is I haven’t met a kid who hasn’t gobbled it down! Double Duty Recipe: Make extra sauce to use later in the week to pour over rice or marinate fish, beef or chicken and broil or grill.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 8 oz. package favorite spaghetti, I like thick spaghetti
* 2 tsp chili oil or vegetable oil
* 8-10 oz cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 1 carrot, julienned
* 2 Serrano peppers or to taste, thinly sliced1
* 3-4 scallions , cut into 2” pieces and then slices lengthwise, set aside a few pieces for garnish
* 3 Tbsps soy sauce
* 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp maple syrup
* 2 tsps fish sauce
* 3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
* 2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds 
* 4-5 large basil leaves cut into ribbons, optional for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Start a large pot of water. over high heat and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.


2. While the pasta cooks, in a small bowl, whisk the garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, sesame seed oil. set aside.


3. In a pan large enough to toss all the ingredients including the pasta, heat the chili or vegetable oil over medium heat.

4. Add the Serrano, bell pepper and carrot. Cook, for about 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally or until tender.

7. Add the chopped mushrooms, stir and cover. Cook for 5-7 more minutes. Stir once or twice.

9. Uncover and remove from the heat. The liquid will evaporate.


10. Add the cooked pasta and and toss and then add the sauce and mix well.

11. Serve hot or at room temperature. Garnish with basil, if using, scallions and sesame seeds.


NOTES

Add in any vegetables you would like. Add add extra carrot or beansprouts and broccoli.
Substitute rice vinegar for the fish sauce to go vegan and vegetarian.

Grilled Clams with Poblano Pepper and Roasted Corn Relish

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 4-8 MINS

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This dish is as gorgeous to look at as delicious to eat and it makes an impressive and beautiful presentation. Farm raised clams are available year-round and you can find wild clams from October through June.
I have tried a few different versions of this recipe. I removed several steps and simplified the ingredients to make my version super simple.

INGREDIENTS

* 3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
* ½ cup onion, any type, chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds removed

* 2 medium poblano peppers, chopped, seeds removed 

* 1-14 ounce can premium sweet corn, drained
* 1/4 cup cider vinegar or more to taste

* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1-2 Tbsps olive oil
* 1 lime, 1/2 for juice and half cut into wedges for serving
3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the grill to high.

1. While the grill heats up, heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high.

2. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until translucent about 6–7 minutes.

3. Add in the cider vinegar and mix well.

4. Add in the red and poblano peppers and sauté for another 10 minutes.

5. Add the corn and mix well.

6. Turn the stove off and add the honey. Squirt on the juice from half the lime and mix to incorporate. Set aside

7. The grill should be hot by now. Put the clams directly on the grill grates or a grill pan. Grill undisturbed for 4-8 minutes or until they open. Carefully place them onto a serving platter. Be careful not to spill the clam liquer. Discard any clams that do not open.

8. Spoon the corn and pepper relish all over the clouds. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper to taste and erve with lime wedges.

NOTES

You can use fresh corn but I substitute a 1-14oz can of good quality sweet corn for 2 cups fresh corn when I am running short on time which is almost always.

Oil Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

YIELDS | 4 cup SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10-15 MINS

COOK TIME | 2-21/2 HOURS

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I make a big batch of these oil roasted cherry tomatoes and freeze them. I use them throughout the winter months and spoon them along with the oil into pastas, on top of flatbread’s and pizzas and toss into stews for a burst of fresh tomato flavor.

INGREDIENTS

* 2 pints cherry tomatoes
* 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
* 6 fresh thyme sprigs
* 2 sprigs rosemary
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed, optional
* 6 Serrano peppers, optional
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 225F.

1. Place the tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish and drizzle them with the oil.
2. Add thyme, garlic and salt. Bake until the tomatoes are swollen and the skins are wrinkled. About 2.5-3 hours.
3. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Freeze in 1 cup containers along with equal amounts of oil or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

NOTES

I typically make two batches; one with time and kosher salt iand 1 batch with garlic and Serrano pepper for a spicy version.

Chicken Cacciatore

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 60-90 simmer time

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Cacciatore means “hunter style” in Italian, and this savory, slow cooked dish features chicken with loads of peppers, tomatoes, wine, garlic and fresh herbs. The bacon adds a smoky flavor and mixes beautifully with the vegetables to create this simply delicious simmered stew. I serve this over thick spaghetti but any pasta will do.
Double Duty Recipe: make a double batch of the cacciatore and spread on top of toasted Italian bread topped with mozzarella, broil for one minute and cut into bite-size pieces and serve warm as an appetizer with your weekend cocktails.

INGREDIENTS

* ½ pound bacon, chopped
* 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
* 6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
* 1 4 ounce can tomato paste
* ½ cup dry red wine or chicken broth
* ½ large red onion, cut length wise and then thinly sliced
* 1 each small red, yellow and orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
* 1-14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons capers, drained
* 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
* 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
* 2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* A few sprigs fresh basil, chiffonnade for garnish
* 1 lb thick spaghetti, cooked for serving
* 1/2-3/4 cups Parmesan, grated, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Fry the bacon in a large oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the fat. Add the onions and stir until slightly browned.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
5. Add the mushrooms to the fat in the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high, stirring a few times, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant.
7. Pour in the wine or broth into the mushroom mixture and let it come to a simmer. Scrape the browned bits up from the bottom of the pot.
9. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, capers, oregano, red-pepper flakes and stir to combine.
11. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of fresh pepper and stir.
12. Put the pot in the oven on the middle rack. Cook on low until the chicken is very tender and the flavors are blended, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
13. Remove the chicken from the pot and on a large cutting board, using two forks, break the chicken up into large chunks. Add the chicken back into the pot and stir in the parsley, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with basil and Parmesan.

NOTES

Spaghetti with Creamy Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

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This is a take on a popular Italian recipe called Cacio e Pepe, aka, cheese and black pepper. It is made with pasta, its cooking water; Pecorino Romano and loads of freshly ground black pepper. The pleasing piquant flavor from the pepper pairs perfectly with the savory cheese and wraps around each noodle like a warm and cozy blanket. I combined a few recipes to come up with this easier version.
Serve with a simple green salad and good white wine.

Duty Recipe Recipe: consider making a double batch of this creamy pepper sauce to stir into mashed potatoes or add a couple of dollops to warm rice for an easy side dish during the week.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 lb spaghetti or other long pasta
* 8 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated and about 2 cups, plus more for serving
* 1 ¼ teaspoons coarsely grated black pepper, plus more for serving
* 1/2 cup filtered water or more as needed
* 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, optional
* Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a generous amount kosher salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until el dente. Save 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta back into the pot and cover to keep warm.

2. While the pasta cooks, add the cheese and pepper to a high speed blender or food processor and half the water and blend until a thick paste forms. Add more water as necessary until the paste becomes smooth and glossy but still thick like the consistency of hummus.

3. Add 3/4 cup of the paste 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, and mix well pulling the pasta up from the pot as you go to incorporate. Add more pasta water and paste as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency.

4. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with toasted walnuts, optional, additional grated cheese and a few cranks of black pepper.

NOTES

German Potato Salad

YIELDS | 12 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 25 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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The is a savory, tangy and salty German potato salad to eat alongside a good bratwurst and sauerkraut. Bonus it is a Double Duty Recipe because the leftovers make a delicious potato pancakes. Recipe at Verysmartideas.com search “pancakes”.

INGREDIENTS

* 3 cups diced peeled potatoes
* 4 slices bacon
* 
1 small onion, diced
* 
¼ cup white vinegar
* 
2 tablespoons water
* 
3 tablespoons white sugar
* 
1 teaspoon salt
* 
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
* 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add onion to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil, add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon and stir.
3. Heat through and transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and serve warm.

NOTES