Tomato Bread with Smoked Olive Oil-Lemon Ricotta and Sardines

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

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My son, Adam, and I created this recipe together. It is so easy to make yet it delivers a complex layers of flavors. The smoked olive oil gives the creamy ricotta an earthy flavor and pairs perfectly with the sardines. The lemon brightens the entire dish and is a delightful compliment to the overall umami profile. This tomato bread bursts with flavor. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making it over and over again.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
* 2 Tbsps smoked olive oil plus more to taste
* 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
* 2- plump garlic cloves, peeled
* 1-2 large, fresh ripe tomatoes, halved
* 1- large loaf crusty bread, such as a French boule or baguette
* 1-tin, 3.735 oz skinless, boneless sardines, packed in olive oil
* 2 Tbsps room temperature butter or olive oil to brush onto the bread
* One small bunch chives, chopped for garnish, optional
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices. Spread each side with butter or olive oil and grill or toast in the oven until golden brown, set aside.

2. Add the ricotta, lemon zest and juice to a food processor or high powered blender. Turn the machine on low to medium and slowly drizzle in 2 Tbsp smoked olive oil and blend until the mixture has a silky texture. Add more smoked olive oil as needed.

3. Pour mixture into a small bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. Rub the fresh garlic on to each side of the toasted bread.

5. Generously rub each side of the toasted bread with the tomato. Be sure to get the tomato into every nook and cranny.

6. Top tomato toast with the heaping Tbsp of the creamy ricotta-Lemon mixture.

7. Top each slice with 2 to 3 sardines, sprinkle with additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives, optional.

NOTES

Use any leftover ricotta mixture to mix into mashed potatoes or stir into rice for a savory side dish. Top grilled chicken or fish with it and garnish with chives or another favorite herb.

Cream, Tumeric & Cheese Pasta

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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I had a version of this dish at a fantastic restaurant , Bacari, in Los Angeles this summer, and it inspired me to try it at home. Although there are several recipes available for turmeric spaghetti, I like the simplicity of this version. I decided to use pecorino instead of Parmesan. While I like both flavors, I really like the sharpness of the sheep’s milk cheese in this dish. It plays beautifully with the earthy turmeric. I also like using a cylindrical pasta instead of spaghetti. The turmeric, cheese and cream seep into every nook and cranny. This recipe can also do double duty. See Notes below. Definitely a keeper!

INGREDIENTS

* 1 pound rigatoni or spaghetti
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
* 1 large shallot, sliced thin
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
*  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
* 1 cup half-and-half
* 11/2 cups freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan plus more for serving
* 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. and cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
2. While you wait for the water to boil, melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the pasta over medium-low heat.
3. Add the olive oil, shallot and garlic and stir until lightly golden and bubbly. Add the turmeric and stir to incorporate about 16-20 seconds.
4. Whisk in the half-and-half bring to a simmer.
5. Whisk in the pecorino or Parmesan.
6. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water gently mix until the pasta has a silky consistency. Add more pasta water as necessary.
7. Garnish with parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Double Duty Recipe:
Make extra sauce to use again during the week to mix into veggies or dollop over fish or chicken

Roast Tomatoes to Freeze for later

STORY

Got a bumper crop of tomatoes? Consider roasting them to freeze for later! I love the taste and versatility of roasted tomatoes and I like to preserve their wonderful flavor for later by freezing them to use in soups and sauces. It is best to use cherry tomatoes or smaller Roma tomatoes when roasting to freeze. I toss these frozen tomatoes into a hot pan with olive oil, garlic and stir until a bubbly sauce appears. Toss in your favorite cooked pasta, a little pasta water, some Pecorino and you have a fast and great tasting pasta sauce and meal.

Ingredients:
* 12-14 cherry tomatoes or 6-8 Roma tomatoes (depending on size) cut in half
* Olive oil for drizzling
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground pepper

Directions:
* Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
* Rinse, dry and half the tomatoes
* Line a large sheet pan with parchment
* Rinse, dry and cut the tomatoes in half and lay on sheet pan cut side up.
* Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and a few good cranks of freshly ground pepper.
* Roast for 40-60 minutes or until roasted to your preference.
* Let cool and then pop the sheet tray into the freezer for a couple of hours. When frozen, place the tomatoes into a resealable bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.

Chicken with Smashed Cherry Tomato Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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This mouthwatering dish bursts with sweet cherry tomato sauce and juicy chicken. The sweet basil brightens the cherry tomato sauce. The mushrooms and spinach add an additional layer of flavor. This recipe comes together in a pinch and is perfect for weeknight meals. Serve with pasta and a crisp, green salad for a complete meal.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 Tbsp olive oiln• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts n• 2 cloves garlic, mincedn• 1⁄2 Tsp saltn• 1⁄4 Tsp ground black peppern• 2 cups or 8oz fresh mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and slicedn• 1⁄2 cup onion, choppedn• 3 cups red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved. See Kitchen Tips on how to easily and quickly slice several cherry tomatoes at once.n• 4 cups or 5 oz fresh baby spinachn• 1⁄4 cup basil. cut into ribbonsn• 2 Tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

1. in a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan.n2. Add mushrooms and onion to skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms and onion are tender and lightly browned, add garlic and cook for 1 minute more and until garlic is fragrant.n3. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to pop and wrinkle, 5-7 minutes. n4. Reduce heat to medium, add spinach and mix. Simmer until the spinach is wilted.n5. Add chicken back into the pan and cook until chicken is warm about 3-5 minutes. n6. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. n

NOTES

Happy Eating!nMushroom are optional, if not using, add 1 additional cup pf tomatoes

Pasta Caponata

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS plus wait time 30 MINS

COOK TIME | 30 MINS

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I love the flexibility of this dish. It can be used as an appetizer-spread over crusty bread, as a dip for crackers and crudités. To make a quick dinner, simply mix with your favorite pasta and a few dollops of burrata. It’s warm, earthy, tangy and satisfying.

INGREDIENTS

* 5 tablespoons olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
* 1 medium eggplant, 1-11/2 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 4 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced
* 1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
* 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and more for garnish
* 1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts, optional
* 1 lb Cavatappi or thick spaghetti
* 8 oz Burrata cheese, 1 large ball ripped into 4 pieces or 4-6 smaller balls.
* Kosher salt for leaching moisture from the eggplant and to salt the pasta water
* Freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat. If roasting nuts, add them to the hot pan now. Swirl and stir for 2-4 minutes or until the nuts are golden and toasted. This step can be done in advance and the nuts stored in a container in the refrigerator.
2. Add the oil to the hot pan and heat for a few seconds, add the eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves. sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
3. While the eggplant mixture cooks, fill a large pot with water and 2-3 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil, cook pasta according to the package directions, save 1 cup pasta water, drain and rinse the pasta and then put it back into the pot and cover to stay warm.
4. Add diced tomatoes and juice, red wine vinegar and drained capers to the pot with the eggplant mixture, stir well and cover. Simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes.
5. Add the Caponata and ½ cup of the pasta water to the pot with the pasta and toss, adding more pasta water as necessary to reach a silky consistency.
6. Transfer caponata and pasta to a serving bowl and mix in the chopped basil, saving some for garnish.
7. Season with fresh pepper. Additional salt is not usually necessary as there should be enough salt in the dish from the tomatoes and rinsed eggplant.
8. Sprinkle with toasted pine or walnuts, if using, and nestle in the Burrata cheese.
9. Drizzle with olive oil, additional fresh basil, and a few good cranks of black pepper and serve
 

NOTES

NOTES
Double Dusty Recipe: Double the recipe and serve it as an appetizer with drinks on a Friday or Saturday night and then over pasta with a crisp green salad for a weeknight meal.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. It tastes wonderful dolloped over fish and chicken too. Caponata can be made a few days ahead, cover and chill.

Lemony Ramp Pesto

YIELDS | 16 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 3 MINS

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Ramps, aka wild leaks, grow all-over Illinois and throughout the Midwest for a very short period of time in early spring. My son sustainably forages these beautiful, slender plants and blesses me with a bouquet of these garlicky gems. I have pickled them for the past couple of years and decided to try making pesto with this year’s bounty. The result produced a recipe for a fresh, garlicky and bright condiment that will complement almost every spring-time meal and of course is perfect on pasta too.⁠ Spread on bread and broil, or marinate fish or chicken to give it a nice zing.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 bunch Ramps leaves, rinsed and dried
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts or hulled sunflower seeds, optional
• Juice from 1/2 lemon or more to taste
• 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
• 1⁄3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or Romano pecorino

Note: Garlic is not necessary in this recipe. The Ramps provide the garlic flavor.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Remove the leaves from the bulbs by cutting the leaves above where the bulb begins. Wash and dry the leaves.
2. Combine the Ramp leaves, nuts or sunflower seeds, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor or high speed blender and pulse to process for about 1 minute or until a paste forms.
3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is creamy. You may need to add more olive oil to get the mixture to the consistency you like.
4. Keep the machine running, add the cheese and process for about 5-10 seconds or until the cheese is mixed through.
5. Toss with your favorite pasta. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

NOTES

Be sure to trim, wash and save the bulbs to pickle or sauté to use in another dish. See Pickled Ramps on this website