Lemon Roasted Asparagus

Spring is one of the most magical times of the year. I love the warmer temperatures, longer days, cherry blossoms and blooming flowers. I don’t love the dent in my wallet because of copious Allegra purchases, that being said. 😏

I also love spring produce! Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, and while I cringe at off-season prices – I’ve bought it for $5.99 / lb. before, sad but true – I revel at being able to buy it for only $1.69 / lb. now. YEAH! It’s so easy to sauté on the stove quickly to toss with some pasta or serve as a side dish – I love to have it with some 7-minute eggs and red cabbage sauerkraut for breakfasts – but I also love to roast a bunch at once for an easy meal prep option. A solid full bunch gives me about 2 – 3 days of a vegetable side for my lunches during the work week.

I’ve got a quick and easy way to roast up some asparagus, tried and true. No frills, just a good recipe. Very…Pinterest-friendly. Haaaa.

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch asparagus, cleaned and woody ends removed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or neutral-flavored oil of choice
  • 1 lemon
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 4 – 6 slices of lemon
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 425 °F .

2.) Arrange asparagus on lightly-greased rimmed cooking sheet.

3.) In a small bowl, combine olive oil and lemon zest. Drizzle evenly over asparagus; lightly roll and toss with hands to ensure even coating.

4.) Top asparagus with lemon slices, sprinkle with salt, and place in oven for 20 – 25 minutes; be sure to check after about 15 minutes of cooking, depending on how the temperature may distribute in your oven and the thickness of the asparagus. Remove when roasted to liking!

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Spicy Cilantro Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve always admired the beautiful specimen that is a Hasselback potato. It is both fancy and homey, both elegant and comforting, both something you may find at a top-notch restaurant or in your mother’s kitchen.

I admire it…for I don’t have the patience to make my own. Ha!

The gorgeous sliced effect of the Hasselbeck potato takes a bit of effort and patience, and though I try to stay calm, my mind always runs at about a mile a minute. Sometimes, it takes wicked amounts discipline for me to complete more ornate cooking and baking tasks. Pie crusts? I smush them down with my fingers, because I don’t care if it’s pretty! I just want it to taste good! However, when it comes to food styling, I flip on a dime and get more zen and careful. Go figure.

Well, I took the time to slice some taters, and the result was worth the care and time put into it. Pretty lil’ babies, aren’t they?

This recipe can certainly be adjusted if you want to add butter; since I’m still on my dairy-free diet, I’m going a strict oil route here. I’m not complaining, because I’m a gal that loves her olive oil! (Vengo dall’eredità italiana!) I recently discovered a new brand, The Blue Olive, and I got a bottle of their Baklouti Green Chili Fused Extra Virgin Olive Oil.It’s…got a kick, to say the least! My bland palate got an education. Ha! But when you mix it with some cilantro and bake it into the potatoes, the heat is slow and low, leaving a lovely little tingle in the back of your mouth. It’s an amazingly comforting winter dish, perfect for these brick winter days…or even for these milder winter days that are a complete 180° turn from last weekend! (Hello, 50°F! Goodbye 10°F!) Even better, The Blue Olive has their main store up in Pawling – perfect for those north of NYC! It’s literally across the street from that town’s MetroNorth station. Shop local, y’all!

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NOTE: Thank you to Bryce from The Blue Olive for providing me with this olive oil for testing purposes!

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Spicy Cilantro Hasselback Potatoes
(Makes two large potatoes; serves 2 – 4)

Ingredients:

– 2 large Ruseet potatoes, skins scrubbed
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1/8 cup Baklouti Green Chili Fused Extra Virgin Olive Oil (See Before We Get Started…)
– 1/4 cup cilantro, cleaned and minced
– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Before We Get Started…

– If you do not have this specific brand of olive oil – substitute a spicy olive oil of your choice or add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder to 1/2 cup regular olive oil and thoroughly blend.

– The method I use to slice the potatoes is listed in Step #2. For other ways to slice potatoes, please look here!

– If desired, substitute regular olive oil with 1/4 cup melted butter; I am currently eating dairy-free as of the time of this recipe’s development, so please indulge, as I can not. Ha!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.) To slice potatoes, place potato on a firm surface and place two chopsticks on either side. Use a large sharp knife to slowly and carefully slice down into the potato until the knife’s blade reaches the chopstick. This insures that the potato is sliced but the bottom remains in tact, allowing for the “fan” effect of the hasselback potato. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or roasting pan and set aside.

3.) Whisk together both types of olive oil, cilantro, garlic powder, and salt until thoroughly combined. Using a food brush, carefully dab between each potato slice with the oil mixture. If necessary, add more oil and / or cilantro if you start to run low. Drizzle any remaining oil mixture on top of potatoes.

4.) Bake for 60 minutes; at the 30 minute mark, check on potatoes and baste / brush with any extra oil in the bottom of the pan.

5.) Remove from oven, top with additional cilantro, if desired, and serve immediately! If there are leftovers, refrigerate; to reheat, drizzle with a glug of olive oil and place in a 350°F degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes until warmed through and slightly crispy on top.

sauteed broccoli rabe

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Pepper

Eat your flowers!

Okay, that’s not something I’ve heard too often in my life, nor something I’ve really participated in doing. Decorative edible flowers on dessert is a concept I’m ambivalent about, and I really am not a fan of rosewater. Floral is not my taste of choice. My brain starts firing off, “Why are you drinking this bottle of perfume, Allison?!?!”

However, the taste of broccoli rabe’s little yellow flowers do not fill my mouth with the scent of a strong bouquet of flowers, but rather a slight nutty flavor that’s quite enjoyable!

sauteed broccoli rabe

At my local farmers’ market, one vendor has been selling rabe of all sorts – broccoli, kale, and mustard – with yellow and red flowers speckling all of the bunches. They’re so beautiful! I bought the flowery broccoli rabe on a whim, researching whether the flowers were edible. I learned that flowering broccoli rabe should be eaten sooner than later, but a nice blanch followed by a sauté should get rid of any bitter flavor some people may experience with broccoli rabe.

sauteed broccoli rabe

Luckily, I bought a lot of broccoli rabe for $3, which allowed me to experiment with a little less guilt if I screwed up the first few times.

I experienced trial but little error. Lucky me!

sauteed broccoli rabe

The blanching helps bring out the vibrant green, and the leaving the flowers on simply gave it a pop of color. I’m not sure if it added any discernible taste notes, since the garlic – of course – was the predominant flavor, but hey, I see no reason to take ’em off. Leaving them on is up to you!

So go ahead. Eat your greens…and eat your flowers!

sauteed broccoli rabe

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Pepper
(Serves 2 – 3 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

– 1 large bunch broccoli rabe (roughly 1 lb.)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
– Salt, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If you purchase broccoli rabe with flowers, of course, it is up to you whether you want to remove them!

Directions:

1.) Trim the woodier / harder ends of your broccoli rabe and discard / save for composting.

2.) Fill a large bowl with cold water – add ice cubes, if preferred – and place in refrigerator to chill while water is brought to a boil and broccoli rabe blanches. (see #3).

3.) Bring a large pot of water to a slow boil. Add broccoli rabe and boil for 3 – 5 minutes or until are tender. Remove chilled bowl of water from fridge; use tongs to gently remove from boiling water to the chilled water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, drain water, and lay broccoli rabe on clean cloth or paper towels. Pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible.

4.) In a large sauté pan (a 12″ pan works well here!), add olive oil and turn heat to medium. Once oil shimmers, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds; do not allow garlic to brown! Add broccoli rabe and sauté for five minutes. Add pepper and, toss in pan, and cook for one additional minute. Salt to taste, and remove from heat. Serve immediately!

rhubarb chia jam

Rhubarb Chia Jam

While I feel I have touched upon quite a few recipes that formally intimidated me yet no longer do – scones, for example – I still have not mastered the art of making and canning jam, no matter how “easy” some of my friends claim it is. Perhaps, on my part, it’s laziness and a matter of money. Do I really want to buy a dozen glass jars and spend time sterilizing them? No. Am I likely overthinking this like I do for every aspect of my life?

Most likely.

That being said, I have been eyeing the chia jam trend for the past year, eager to try. I could have just used some grocery store-bought fruits to make this concoction, but, deep into the month of May, how could I not to utilize the best that my local farmers’ market has to offer?

Hellllllooooo, rhubarb!

rhubarb chia jam

I am a fan of sour fruits – my mother can attest that I used to drink lemon juice as a child, another undoubtedly odd quirk of mine – so rhubarb is right up my alley. It’s not overwhelmingly sour, does does make my mouth pucker ever so slightly when I have it on its own. While rhubarb and strawberries are a quintessential match, don’t discount rhubarb on its own. It’s quite delightful!

rhubarb chia jam

It thickens as it cools, creating a surprisingly lush and filling jam. It also makes a piece of Ezekiel bread look super sexy.

All hail chia seeds and their awesome gelling power!

rhubarb chia jam

Rhubarb Chia Jam
(Makes 2 & 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

– 3 & 1/2 cups rhubarb, rinsed, dried, and cut into small pieces
– 1/2 cup water
– 3 tablespoons honey (or sweetener of choice)
– 3 tablespoons chia seeds
– Juice of 1/2 lemon

Before We Get Started…

– Four large stalks of rhubarb should equate to in or around 3 & 1/2 cups of rhubarb.

– The amount of water may not seem like enough when mixed with the rhubarb, but the rhubarb will release liquid as it cooks down. Do not exceed 1/2 cup of water.

– Substitute another sweetener of choice for honey to keep recipe vegan-friendly.

Directions:

1.) Add rhubarb and water to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally. The rhubarb will start to break down quickly as the cooking continues.

2.) Add honey and chia seeds; stir to evenly incorporate. Cook mixture for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and stir. Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken.

3.) Add to clean glass container and store in refrigerator. Jam will last in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

baba ganoush eggplant dip

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

I have never made Baba Ganoush in my life prior to the day I made it for this recipe. It’s a dip, admittedly, I don’t have to often – I am a roasted garlic hummus lover, through and through – but a sale on Italian eggplants at my local CTown sparked a desire within me to give it a try. Plus, I got a new bottle of tahini that I was itching to break into.

baba ganoush eggplant dip

I do have to laugh: On the day I made it, I commented to someone I know that I was diving in deep for my first attempt at making it, my enthusiasm cautiously shining. They give me a response, complete with a bit of an eye roll, that threw me off: “Baba Ganoush? That…that is so hard to make right. It always turns out wrong. Good luck with that…” Dumbfounded, with a crestfallen face, I peeled the skin from the meat of my freshly roasted eggplant slices, put it into my food processor with a fresh squeeze of lemon, some tahini, and a lot of raw garlic, and pulsed away. For a moment, I may have lost my confidence.

Boy oh boy, I found that confidence again once I took a bite of it! It was some of the best baba ganoush I’ve had, and I’m not just trying to toot my own horn here. The eggplant was perfectly roasted – not too much and not too little, with just the slightest hint of a char – which I believe resulted in that perfect flavor.

baba ganoush eggplant dip

Still not quite sure why that person decided to be less than encouraging, but maybe I should text her and tell her to have some faith. It’s so easy to make, and it’s easy to make correctly while bursting with flavor. 😉

Baba Ganoush
(Adapted from the Epicurious recipe for Eggplant Dip [Baba Ganoush])
(Makes roughly 2 cups)

– 2 medium eggplants, sliced to roughly 1/8″ slices (you can purple or Italian)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/3 cup tahini (I used Brad’s Organic Sesame Tahini)
– 2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled
– Juice of one lemon
– Salt and pepper, to taste.

Directions:

1.) Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2.) Place eggplant slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then toss to coat slices evenly. Lay slices flat on sheet; some may slightly overlap, and that is okay. Roast the eggplant for 15 to 20 minutes; the skins should be crisp and interiors should be tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

3.) Peel and seed the cooled eggplant, roughly chop the flesh, and then transfer it to the bowl of a food processor.

4.) Into the processor bowl add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, some salt and pepper to taste, and a few teaspoons of cold water. Process the mixture to a coarse paste, adding a bit more water as needed to allow the mixture to blend.

5.) Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and serve.