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There’s more than one way to cook an egg…

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Eggs. They really are incredible aren’t they. They have so many uses in cooking, and they are of course a food itself. There is a lot of lore behind them, including that of the old fashioned chefs toque…which is said to have 100 pleats in it representing the 100 ways a chef knows how to cook eggs. Well, being a professional cook myself, I don’t know if this is true or not but there certainly are a lot of ways in which one can cook this incredible food. The repertoire of baking them alone is extensive. The most common being quiche, shirred, strata, tortilla espagnola, and of course the frittata (just to name a few). But frittata is the recipe I am focusing on for this post. I made this for my son and I this morning. It is so easy but also really delicious. As with many (most) of the recipes I post on this blog, this is just a suggestion–a guide, if you will–you can really use whatever ingredients you like (within reason) so long as you follow the basic formula.

Broccoli, Sweet Potato, and Two-Cheese Frittata

Serves 2


4 eggs

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 small onion, sliced

1/2 green pepper, sliced

1 small sweet potato, par-cooked, peeled, and diced

1 small head broccoli, par-cooked and cut into florets

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat an oven to 375F. Combine the eggs, Parmesan, milk, red pepper, basil, and salt in a small bowl; whisk together and set aside. Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Add the onion, green pepper, sweet potato, and broccoli; sauté the vegetables for a couple minutes, or until they just begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables then top it with the shredded cheddar. Place the skillet in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set.

Urban Simplicity.

Polpette di ceci (senza carne)

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So I’ve mentioned before on this blog that while I am not a vegetarian I do not eat a great deal of meat, and there are plenty of days when I simply do not want any. Today was one of those days. These chickpea balls are definitely not a replacement for meatballs because they taste and feel nothing like a meatball that is made with meat. But, on the other hand, these are really delicious and very satisfying. They are also exceedingly easy to make. After searing they can be baked in an oven and served as an appetizer with any number of dipping sauces, or–as I did tonight–they can be poached in tomato sauce and served with pasta. Either way they are simple and delicious. The recipe is below.

Chickpea Meatless Balls
polpette di ceci (senza carne)
Makes about 2 dozen small balls
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon whole fennel seed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil for pan-frying
Combine all of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until nearly smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and knead in the bread crumbs. Allow it to rest for a couple minutes, then knead it again for another minute. Shape the dough into small balls. Heat the a heavy skillet with a thin layer of oil and cook the chickpea balls until golden. Finish cooking the meatless balls on a tray in a preheated oven, or transfer them to a pot of tomato sauce and poach them for about 10 minutes.

Urban Simplicity.

It’s amazing what a little oil and garlic can do…

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Okay. So you’re likely wondering what’s with the picture. Right? It’s not much to look at, and what is it anyhow. Simple…spaghetti squash cooked with aglio e olio, or with garlic and oil (and a few other things. As simple as this photo looks the squash is bursting with flavor. It’s amazing what a little caramelized garlic, a few hot peppers, a pinch of salt, and some olive oil can do…it makes anything taste great. Well maybe not anything, but most things. Especially vegetables and pasta. To learn how to make this particular recipe (with photos and step-by-step instructions) click here. To learn how to cook nearly anything in this fashion, click here. Try any of these recipes, you won’t be sorry; they are as good as they are simple to make.

Urban Simplicity.

The Anatomy of a Healthy but Really Delicious Pizza…

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Okay. So this pizza was delicious. I say “was” and not “is” because I ate more than half of it for dinner and I’ll likely eat the rest before the night is out. Anyhow, this post is more about the crust than what is on it (because you can really put whatever you like on a pizza). In an ongoing effort to make healthier bread and pizza dough I not only used 100% whole wheat flour (which I usually do) but I also added beans to the dough. This last step isn’t that unusual for me either as Ezekiel bread and its many variations are one of my favorite doughs. But what is a bit unusual is the amount of beans-to-flour ratio…the dough is made up of about 50% beans. I added just enough water to the beans to allow them to puree smoothly. Pictured below.

And then added enough flour to the bean puree (with a few other basic ingredients) to make a dough. Delicious. I’m not sure this would make a good bread, or should I say light bread, because of the high ration of beans, but it did make a fine pizza dough. On the pizza–as pictured below–I also added a thin coating of pesto (click for a recipe), a thin layer of tomato sauce (click for a recipe), a layer of broccoli aglio e olio (click for multiple recipes), and of course cheese (Ok, so the cheese is not the healthiest ingredient, but it is good and I cannot eat pasta or pizza without it). Anyhow, the recipe for the dough is listed after the photos.

Whole Wheat and Bean Pizza Dough


Makes enough dough for a 12-inch pizza


1 (15oz. can) beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup water

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1/3 cup bean puree

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

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2/3 cup bean puree

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

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3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (if needed)


Combine the beans and water in a blender and puree until smooth. This should make about 1 cup of puree. Divide the puree into two bowls; 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in another. In the first bowl (the one with 1/3 puree) stir in 1 teaspoon yeast and 1/4 cup flour. It will be thick and sticky; almost dough-like. In the second bowl (the one with 2/3 puree) stir in 1 tablespoon wheat gluten and ½ cup flour. This will also be dough-like. Cover the bowls with plastic and allow them to rest and ferment for 1 hour. Then combine the contents of both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Also add to the bowl the olive oil, two teaspoons of instant yeast, the honey, and the salt. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too wet or sticky add the additional 2 tablespoons of flour. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for an hour or two. Use with any pizza recipe.


Pesto!

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Pesto is similar to sofrito in that it is both an ingredient and a stand-alone recipe. It can be eaten as is–as a dip or spread–or added to recipes as a flavor enhancer. The word loosely translates from the Italian as “pounded,” because this was originally made with a mortar and pestle. But with the aid of a blender this is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make. It is classically made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and cheese, but ingredients can be interchanged. Tonight, for example, I made it with basil and parsley (which were still growing in the garden), almonds that I had in my pantry, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, and a single hot pepper that was still growing in the garden. I tossed it with pasta for dinner and froze what I didn’t use. Here’s a basic recipe.

Pesto

Makes about 3/4 cup
.

1 cup fresh herbs
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nuts
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Urban Simplicity.

Scampi!

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This is a simple but classic dish. Make this at home in minutes and save lots of money from what you’d pay in a restaurant (but then you have to wash the pans and dishes). Anyhow, this is really simple and truly flavorful. If you’ve never made this recipe before I hope you give it a try.

Shrimp Scampi

Serves 2-4

12 large shrimp, shells and veins removed but tails remaining
a few ounces flour for dusting
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lemon, sliced
½ cup white wine
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ bunch parsley, washed and minced

Dredge the shrimp in the flour. Heat a skillet with the butter over medium high heat. When the butter is melted and begins to bubble add the shrimp. Cook it for a minute or so on one side, then turn it over and add the garlic. Stir and shake the pan gently. After another minute add the lemon, wine, and salt. Simmer the shrimp for a couple minutes, or until cooked and the sauce has thickened slightly, then stir in the minced parsley. Serve with rice pilaf or over pasta.

Urban Simplicity.

Pasta d’oro con fagioli

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This is an easy and delicious variation on the classic pasta dish, pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans), which is often meatless but when it does contain meat it is usually pork. In this particular recipe I used smoked turkey which offers some of the smokiness of bacon or other pork products. I also added a healthy pinch of saffron, which gives it its lovely golden hue (hence the d’oro title). As usual, this recipe is not carved in stone and is just a suggestion; use whichever flavor combinations you like. And while this recipe is scaled to serve a crowd it can be halved (or quartered) and freezes well also. But something tells me that after a taste there will be no need to freeze it…

 

Golden Pasta with Beans and Smoked Turkey

(pasta d’oro con fagioli)

Makes about 6 quarts


1 pound dried white beans

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound smoked turkey, diced

1 small onion, diced

4 ribs celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon basil leaves

1 teaspoon oregano leaves

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 generous pinch saffron

6 plum tomatoes, diced

4 quarts chicken broth

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound ditalini pasta

Parmesan cheese to serve


Rinse the beans, then place them in a pot or bowl with enough cool water to cover them by two inches. Soak the beans for a few hours, or overnight, then drain them and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot and add the turkey, browning it slightly. Remove the turkey and set aside. To the same hot pot, add the onion, celery, carrots, and bell pepper. Saute the vegetables for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and saute another minute. Stir in the basil, oregano, fennel, hot pepper, and saffron. Cook the herbs and spices for a minute or so to bring out their flavors. Add the soaked beans to the pot, along with the browned turkey, and the tomatoes, broth, and salt. Bring the broth to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until very soft, stirring as needed. If too much liquid evaporates, a water or broth. When the beans are soft add the pasta to the pot and simmer about ten minutes.

Urban Simplicity.

This is way more fun than cutting a lawn…

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It has been more than ten years since I tore up my teeny front lawn and planted a teeny vegetable garden which yields big results. And over the years it–the garden–has spread to other areas around the house; the side and rear, mainly. But this year–because of various reasons–I have only planted the front yard garden…sort of getting back to basics. It’s doing well and tonight was the first significant haul of the season…broccoli. It is so satisfying picking the broccoli and cooking it just feet from where it grew and remembering when you planted it (I could go on). At any rate, I’ve posted this recipe numerous times prior but it is one f my favorite. It is simple, nutritious, and really easy to make. If you haven’t made this yet I hope you give it a try.

 

Penne alla aglio e olio con broccoli in brodo

(Penne with Garlic, Oil, Broccoli, and Chicken Broth)

Yield: 4 servings
3/4 pound whole wheat penne
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta and drain it. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet with the garlic and hot pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to change color add the chicken broth and salt. Cook the broth for one minute, until it reduces by half, and then add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli for a few minutes. Add the cooked pasta, and stir it until thoroughly coated with the other ingredients. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Farfalline with Asparagus, Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Saffron, Garlic Confit, and Fontinella

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This is a continuation of a previous post regarding garlic confit…here’s an example of a recipe in which I used it. I made this for staff lunch at work yesterday. At first glance this may look complicated but it is really very simple…and really delicious. Other than the chicken broth this recipe is meatless but it would go really well with seafood or poultry. This is also a restaurant-quality recipe that can be made in your home kitchen for a fraction of the cost. If I were only allowed one word to describe this dish it would be: Flavor (and the accompanying sound would be: Mmmm…)

Farfallinewith Asparagus, Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Saffron, Garlic Confit, and Fontinella
Makes about 4 servings.
½ pound farfalline
1 cup chicken broth
1 pinch saffron
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic confit
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup shredded Fontinella cheese
Cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted boiling water, then drain it and set aside. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, add the saffron, remove it from the heat and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook it for a couple minutes, then add the garlic confit, mashing the garlic with the back of a spoon. Add the tomatoes and then the saffron- chicken broth. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Simmer the broth for a couple minutes, then add the asparagus and salt. Stir and cook the asparagus for a couple minutes, until just cooked, then stir in the pasta. Gently stir the pasta to coat and reheat it (if too much broth has evaporated add more). Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheese, gently folding and tossing it to coat evenly.

Pizza Primavera (yum!)…cooking like it’s springtime even if the weather won’t cooperate

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I made this for dinner tonight and it was another one of those meals where you look in the fridge and realize there’s not much there. In this case I usually either put it (whatever I happen to have) on a pizza, make a sandwich out of it, or toss it with pasta (which is pretty much 90% of my diet). Anyhow this is really easy (and really delicious) and this is how I made it.

I started with a whole wheat dough which I let rise while I went out to do a few errands (I used 1/3 of this recipe, which has step-by-step instructions with photos). I then layered it with tomato sauce that I had in my freezer (use jarred or make your own in twenty minutes). I then separately cooked asparagus and spinach aglio e olio (with garlic and oil…here’s a really easy recipe). Lastly, I topped it with four cheese.

This may seem complicated but it’s really not when you break down the steps. And this, of course, is simply a guide…use whatever ingredients you have at hand or those that you personally like.

Urban Simplicity

Two Mediterranean Inspired Recipes

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These two recipes are both easy to make and really delicious (but don’t I say that all the time). And, other than boiling the pasta for the stew and caramelizing onions for the rice, these are both made in a single pot (easy cleanup). The stew (ragu) that is pictured below (second recipe) was made exactly as the recipe is listed and pictured. The lentils-and-rice (mouhardara) had a few changes. Mainly, I added a pinch of cumin, cinnamon, and allspice to the rice as it cooked, and I topped it with caramelized onion and chopped parsley. I hope you try one or both recipes,you won’t be sorry…

Moudardara or Mujaddara
(Lebanese Lentil and Rice)
Makes 8-10 servings
½ pound lentils
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
¼ pound vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups long-grain rice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups hot chicken broth or water
Boil the lentils in plenty of lightly salted water until just cooked. Then drain them and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions—while stirring—for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the vermicelli to the onions and continue to cook until the pasta begins to change color as well. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute or so, then stir in the rice, salt, and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Stir the rice once, then cover the pot. Simmer the rice for about 15 minutes then add the cooked and drained lentils to the post without stirring. Re-cover the pot and cook the rice for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, gently stir in the lentils and fluff the rice. This dish is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Lamb, Bean, and Macaroni Ragù

Serves 4-6


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound diced lamb

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons basil leaves

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 ½ cups diced tomato

1 ½ cups cooked and drained white beans

2 cups chicken broth

1 ½ cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)

Parmesan cheese


Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook it for a few minutes. When the lamb just begins to brown add the onion, and then the garlic. Cook for another minute or two. Stir in the basil, fennel, salt, and hot pepper. Stir the herbs and spices, then add the tomato, beans and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the ragù for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently. If it becomes too thick add additional broth a a small amount of water. While the ragù is simmering boil the pasta. Cook it al dent, strain it, and add it to the stew. Allow it to simmer and slowly finish cooking for just a couple minutes. Just before serving stir in Parmesan cheese.

Urban Simplicity.

Tuna and Chickpea Meat(less) Balls

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Is it just me or are foods that are ground, seasoned, and then shaped into balls or patties really delicious. Versatile, too. These are a play on the classic fish meatballs found in Mediterranean countries; in this recipe I substituted half the amount of fish with chickpeas. And I have to say the outcome was/is delicious. These are so easy to make–put all the ingredients in a food processor–and you don’t necessarily have to cook them in tomato sauce (as I did); I was eating them straight from the skillet. They would also be delicious as an appetizer with a yogurt, lemon sauce, or spicy rouille. Anyhow for variations on this recipe (fish or poultry) click here. For a Lebanese variation (kibbeh), click here. And for a vegan version, click here.

Tuna and Chickpea Meat(less) Balls
Makes about 18-24 small balls
8 ounces fresh tuna, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (or canned and rinsed)
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, diced
2 large eggs
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until a somewhat smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, then shape into balls. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet with a few tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Sautéthe fish balls on all sides until lightly browned and cooked through, or finish cooking them in sauce.

Urban Simplicity

Two Loaves and a Pie…

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This evening I made a couple loaves of honey-whole wheat bread, and as is sometimes the case–like tonight–I pinched off a piece of the dough to make a pizza for dinner (some believe that this was actually the origin of pizza…the bakers made themselves a little something to eat while the rest of the bread rose). Anyhow, I looked in my fridge and saw that I had a small bag of fresh spinach, so I cooked it with oil and garlic (no surprise, right?); to see how to do this click here. I also layered the pizza with tomato sauce and three cheeses. And lastly I topped it with a layer of thinly sliced raw onion, which caramelized nicely as the pie baked (yum). Anyhow, the recipe for the bread is below. If you want to see it being made–with step-by-step instructions–click here. The recipe listed is with maple instead of honey, just substitute with honey (the maple would have too strong of a flavor for pizza). It makes two or three loaves…or two loaves and a pie. This is just a suggested recipe, use your imagination and put on it what you happen to have in your fridge…or at least what you really like. You may be surprised how good it is.
 
Whole Wheat Maple-Oatmeal Bread

Makes 2 or 3 loaves

6 cups whole wheat flour, divided

2 cups oatmeal, plus additional for coating

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

3 ½ cups water, divided

2 tablespoons instant yeast, divided

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons kosher salt


Separate the ingredients into two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, two cups of oatmeal, the wheat gluten, and 2 ½ cups of water; stir until just combined. In the second bowl combine the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of yeast, and 1 cup of water; stir until just combined. Cover the bowls and allow the ingredients to rest and begin fermenting for at least an hour, but up to 12. Then combine the contents of bowl bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining tablespoon of yeast, along with the olive oil, maple syrup, and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover and allow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two or pieces, gently shape it into loaves. Dust the counter with extra oatmeal and roll the loaves in it, gently pressing oatmeal into the surface of the raw dough. Place the loaves into oiled loaf pans, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Urban Simplicity

Verdure aglio e olio (due ricette)

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Okay. By now–if you’ve been to this blog before–you know that I like things cooked with olive oil and garlic. A lot. I could eat it in variation nearly every day…and I almost do. I posted a similar recipe about a month ago but this combo was too good not to share…whole wheat penne with broccoli aglio e olio, layered with spaghetti squash cooked in the same fashion. I also used extra garlic and hot pepper in the recipe and a liberal dousing of Parmesan to finish it. Yum. I just ate but I salivate at it’s remembrance. Anyhow, the recipe for the penne and broccoli is below (substitute penne for the spaghetti, and vegetable broth for the chicken broth if you want to keep it vegetarian). To see how to cook, shred, and saute a butternut squash in this fashion (with pics and step-by-step instructions), see this post. For multiple recipes on cooking nearly anything aglio e olio, click here.

 

Spaghetti alla Aglio e Olio con Broccoli in Brodo

(Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, Broccoli, and Chicken Broth)

                                        Yield: 4 servings

3/4 pounds spaghetti

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups chopped broccoli florets 

2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Cook the spaghetti and drain it. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet with the garlic and hot pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to change color add the chicken broth and salt. Cook the broth for one minute, until it reduces by half, and then add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli for a few minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti, and stir it until thoroughly coated with the other ingredients. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Turkey Meatballs with Red Pepper, Green Onion, Jalapeño, and Feta

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These tasty little nuggets are a variation on a theme…I used turkey for this recipe but they can be made with nearly any protein you like (meat, fish, or fowl). They are really delicious but the best part is how easy they are to make…mix everything together and cook them. Simple as that.

Turkey Meatballs with Red Pepper, Green Onion, Jalapeño, and Feta
Makes about 3 dozen small meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onion, sliced thinly
2 jalapeños, minced
2 large eggs
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces feta cheese
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then mix thoroughly again. Shape into meatballs. Cook the meatballs in a skillet, in an oven, or poach them in sauce. 

Baked Lamb Ragù with Macaroni and Three Cheeses

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So I have to start this post off with a word that comes to mind…Yum! Geeze o’ man is this delicious; I made this tonight for dinner for my son and myself. This is the type of recipe that can be tailored to your own tastes. It would work equally well, for example, with beef or chicken (though I am partial to the lamb) and it doesn’t need to be baked after everything is mixed together; it is ready to eat at that point (but you’d miss out on the crispy goodness of the caramelized cheese). And if you want basil instead of oregano, no problem; more or less hot pepper or garlic, also not an issue. You get the picture. Anyhow, the easy-to-make recipe is below, and leftovers taste even better after it has “rested” for a day. I look forward to tomorrow…

Baked Lamb Ragù with Macaroni and Three Cheeses
Makes 4-6 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound leg of lamb, ½ inch diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups tomato puree
½ pound elbow macaroni
½ cup shredded asiago cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet and add the diced lamb, browning it on all sides. Remove the lamb to a plate, set it aside, and drain any excess fat from the pan that may have rendered from the lamb. Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, carrot, and bell pepper; sauté until just starting to brown, then add the garlic—cooking it for a minute or two—then the salt, oregano, and crushed hot pepper. After cooking for another minute, stir in the wine, broth, and tomato. Bring the sauce to a boil then lower it to a slow simmer. Stir the sauce frequently, and if it becomes too thick add additional broth or water. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling water, then drain it thoroughly. Remove the sauce from the heat and gently stir in the macaroni. Stir in half the cheeses (asiago, mozzarella, and Parmesan) into the pasta, and the remainder sprinkle over the top. Bake the ragù at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.


Urban Simplicity.

Two Recipes Made for Each Other…

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I made these tonight for my son and myself…Penne and Halibut Fra Diavolo and Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio. How was it, you may be wondering? Let’s just say there is not much left 🙂 Delicious. Both recipes are really easy to make and bursting with flavor. If you want more pic and the history behind fra diavolo (brother devil), click here. The see how to prepare a spaghetti squash and make it taste really delicious (as pictured), click here.

 
Penne Fra Diavolo with Halibut

Yield: 4 portions

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovy fillets

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2/3 cup red wine

2 cups tomato purée

1 pound diced halibut

1/2 pound penne rigate


Combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, anchovies, red pepper, basil, parsley, and salt in a skillet over medium heat. Stir and mash the ingredients with the back of a wooden spoon until the onion and garlic is translucent but not browned. Stir in the wine and simmer it for a minute or two, then add the tomato puree. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook it for 5 or 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick thin it with a little water. While the sauce is simmering boil the pasta until al dente. Stir the fish into the sauce, bring it back to a simmer and poach it for about 5 minutes. When the fish is cooked gently fold in the pasta. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors of the sauce and fish permeate the pasta.



Urban Simplicity.

Two Plus Pi…

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I bake bread about once a week, sometimes more frequently. And most often it is made with whole wheat flour. Sometimes the bread making coincides with dinner time, as it did tonight. So after the first rise I will sometimes pinch a piece of the dough off and make a small pizza for dinner as well…hence the two (loaves) plus pi (pizza pie). And often I will quite literally put whatever I happen to have in the fridge on the pizza. If you really think about it, what is pizza? It’s nothing more than flat-bread with stuff on it. Tonight, for example, I found small container of cooked spinach, and a half head of both broccoli and cauliflower. So I cooked everything aglio e olio (seasoned with plenty of aglio and hot peppers), topped topped it with cheese and baked it. I ate it with a small salad while I baked the two loaves of bread. It was one of the most flavorful pizzas I’ve had in quite a while. Sometimes it’s the simplest concoctions that turn out the best. To make this pizza crust use any of the whole wheat bread recipes found here. And to see how to cook virtually anything aglio e olio, see these links. And in the meantime…make some dough and put some stuff on it…

Urban Simplicity.

Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Meatballs with Basil and Asiago

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Okay, so I’ll say this as I say about many of the recipes on this page (but I really mean it)…these are as easy to make as they are delicious (and they are really, really delicious). You simply put everything in a bowl and mix it together then shape it into balls; the most difficult part (and it’s not difficult) is dicing some of the ingredients. And while these are made with turkey, they would taste just as good if made with another poultry, meat, or even fish. They can be sauteed, baked, fried, or poached. I first sauteed them (to brown them) and then poached them in a tomato sauce to serve with pasta. But they could just as easily be eaten as is…as an appetizer with a spicy or sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. Shaped into patty-form it could be cooked and eaten on a sandwich. You get the picture…they’re easy and delicious (and sort of pretty to look at, too). Did I mention how easy these are to make and how delicious they are…?

Turkey Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Asiago 

Makes about 3 dozen small meatballs
1 ¼ pounds ground turkey
½ cup diced sun dried tomatoes
2 large eggs
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed and diced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
½ cup shredded asiago cheese
1 small onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then mix thoroughly again. Shape into meatballs. Cook the meatballs in a skillet, in an oven, or poach them in sauce. 

Urban Simplicity.

Pasta Fra Diavolo

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Pasta with seafood…yum! It is one of my favorites. And Fra Diavolo is likely my all-time version of seafood pasta. It’s name–Fra Diavolo–translates from Italian to “Brother Devil,” and the dish has a somewhat interesting history (to read about it go to this post). This recipe can be made with nearly any seafood and any shape pasta, so long as the other ingredients are involved…tomato sauce (I still had a pint of sauce in my freezer from last summer’s tomatoes), hot peppers, anchovies (yes anchovies!), and red wine. The recipe listed below includes penne and halibut, but the one pictured–the one I ate for dinner tonight–was made with tilapia and ziti. This is delicious, healthy, and really easy to make. Anyhow, if you’d like to see additional pictures of (variations) of this being made, click here or here.

Penne Fra Diavolo with Halibut

Yield: 4 portions

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovy fillets

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2/3 cup red wine

2 cups tomato purée

1 pound diced halibut

1/2 pound penne rigate


Combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, anchovies, red pepper, basil, parsley, and salt in a skillet over medium heat. Stir and mash the ingredients with the back of a wooden spoon until the onion and garlic is translucent but not browned. Stir in the wine and simmer it for a minute or two, then add the tomato puree. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook it for 5 or 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick thin it with a little water. While the sauce is simmering boil the pasta until al dente. Stir the fish into the sauce, bring it back to a simmer and poach it for about 5 minutes. When the fish is cooked gently fold in the pasta. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors of the sauce and fish permeate the pasta.


Urban Simplicity.

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