Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti al Limone

Being a Manhattan-based millennial, I am often faced with a decision when developing a pasta-based recipe: Do I want to use a box of Barilla, or do I wanted to pull out my spiralizer and twirl a zucchini?

I will happily declare my love for spiralizing fruits and vegetables. I am a fan girl of Inspiralized; been following that blog since 2014! It’s a nice way to eat your vegetables in a different manner; I honestly do not enjoy cubed or sliced vegetables nearly as much anymore when I can twirl curly sweet potato “noodles” around my fork.

That being said, some things shouldn’t be messed with. Spaghetti al Limone is a sacred dish. When it comes to this recipe, I go FULL CARB. Flour. Wheat. GLUTEN. Sweet, delicious, allegedly inflammatory gluten! This ain’t no place for a zoodle, in my oh – so – humble opinion.

(And if / when I make a zoodle-based Spahgetti al Limone recipe months or years from now, feel free to call me out. Ha!)

Spaghetti al Limone

When I lived in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan for 4+ years, I was blessed because I lived one block away from one of the best Italian restaurants in the whole city: Saggio. Their Spaghetti al Limone is the best I’ve ever had! In fact, it’s theirs that caused me to discover this wonderful recipe in the first place! Theirs is cream-based and served with an entire half of lemon on the side. Amazing!

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Though I’ve attempted a cream-based version, I do enjoy my cream-less version. It takes less time, it’s still insanely flavorful, and it saves me from spending $4 on a bottle of heavy cream that I’ll only use half of, leaving the rest of slowly die in my fridge for 2 months. Haaaa.

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Spaghetti al Limone
(Makes 2 main-sized servings or 3 – 4 side servings)

Ingredients:

– 8 – 10 ounces spaghetti, uncooked
– 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, finely grated
– Juice of two lemons
– 2/3 cups olive oil
– Zest of one lemon
– 1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade-cut
– 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
– Salt, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– It is preferable to grate the cheese so it is fine (powdery) rather than shredded. Either manner of grating will work, but Parmesan that is shredded tends to clump up more when mixed with the pasta. Finely grated cheese will yield a smoother consistency.

– Eat this dish as soon as you make it. It does NOT make for good leftovers. Trust me. I tried. 😉

Directions:

1.) In a large saucepan, cook spaghetti until it is al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Before draining, remove 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir to combine; this lemon cheese mixture will become thick.

3.) Pour lemon cheese mixture onto pasta and toss; add the basil and continue to toss until all ingredients are combined and basil has wilted. If the mixture seems to dry, slowly add reserved pasta water until desired consistency is met. Add salt to taste.

4.) Serve immediately, topped with more basil, parmesan, and / or lemon slices, if desired.

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Kohlrabi Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce

My first introduction to kohlrabi was roughly three years ago in the kitchen of my oldest friend’s childhood home. Growing up on a well-known dairy farm in Northwestern Connecticut, I always knew I’d eat well when hanging out with the Freunds. This visit was no exception. While hanging out with my friend Amanda, her younger sister Rachel prepped vegetables and fruits to pass through their new juicer. On the other side of the juicer, other plant-based appitizers were prepped. Of course, with Freund’s Farm being a proud “Farm Family” associated with Cabot, you can guess what kind of cheese we had on the table. I saw Amanda and Rachel eating slices of cheddar with slices of kohlrabi, akin to cheese and crackers. I was certainly curious, so I gave it a shot. I fell in love! The juicy crunch and relatively bland flavor of the kolhrabi paired perfectly with the sharp cheddar.

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Yes, this following photo is from three years ago, when Seek Satiation was merely a Twitter feed (which still exists, of course). I used to post occasional food porn on there when I felt I was spamming my friends’ Facebook feeds with too much deliciousness. Please note the artsy use of a jar top and the lack of focus on the actual cheese and kohlrabi:

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Admittedly, I kind of forgot about kolhrabi until this summer, and I now can’t seem to escape it! One, it’s always at my local greenmarket in Inwood. Two, I am in love with the way that Ali from Insprialized has turned another vegetable into yet another type of pasta. Her recipe for Creamy Corn Kohlrabi Pasta, which is delicious by the way, was definitely the inspiration for how to cook these noodles; admittedly, her version is much healthier than what I’m about to offer. 😉

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I still remember how well the cheddar melded with the vegetable, so I thought that making a “mac and cheese”, of sorts, would really work well.

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Lo and behold, it definitely did! (Well, if I can offer my own humble opinion, that is…)

Kohlrabi Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce
(Inspired by Inspiralized’s Recipe for Creamy Corn Kohlrabi Pasta)
(Makes 2 – 3 servings)

Ingredients:

– 2 medium kolhrabi or 1 large kohlrabi, peeled
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1/3 cup milk
– 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese or 3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese with 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
– Salt & pepper, to taste
– A few generous shakes of garlic powder (optional)
– A few sprigs of parsley, washed and minced (optional, for garnish)

Before We Get Started…

– A spiralizer is required for this recipe to create the kohlrabi pasta.

– Though so many meals make good leftovers, this is a dish best consumed immediately. It doesn’t save well once the cheese sauce is added. Conversely, if you have leftover kohlrabi noodles, those save well in a plastic bag for about 3 – 4 days.

– It is fine if you use a more mild cheddar for this recipe, but the sharp cheddar really makes the flavor pop against the more cruciferous taste of the kohlrabi.

Directions:

1.) Set your spiralizer up with Blade C, or the blade with the thinnest output (for your average sprializer, this blade has smallest triangular openings). Spiralize kolhrabi(s). Trim / cut noodles.

2.) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kohlrabi and cook for approximately 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until preferred doneness. Add salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

3.) Place saucepan over medium heat; add butter and slowly melt. Once melted, add flour. Whisk for approximately 2 – 3 minutes to create a roux; once flour and butter are combined, add milk and whisk. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Once bubbles begin to break the surface, add cheese and stir quickly to incorporate. Remove cheese sauce from heat. Add garlic powder, if desired.

4.) Pour cheese sauce over kohlrabi and toss until coated. Top with parsley, if desired. Divide and serve immediately.

Ravioli with Peas & Garlic

Is it odd that, because I cook so much for myself, that I feel an odd pang of guilt whenever I take a shortcut? I have bypassed store-bought gnocchi so many times; though homemade is supreme, the time it takes to create it is longer than what it takes one to cut open a package of Bertolli and plop into boiling water for three minutes. That being said…I’ve made my own gnocchi more time than I’ve bought it. It’s always a fun project, but not applicable to when you want a heartier and quick pasta dish at the end of a long work day.

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Okay, I’m learning to get over it. Haaa.

I used to hate tortellini and ravioli as a kid; it had more to do with the preparation of it than the pasta itself. I still shudder at the thought of overcooked tortellini swimming in a pond of watery Ragù topped with clumpy Kraft Parmesan cheese. I’ve always been turned off by odd textures, and that combination ranked high on my list of most hated. Well, I find that I enjoy ravioli best when dressed simply with a light coating of butter or oil, and the more vegetables (and cheese!), the better. Any vegetable you want will do. That being said: all hail frozen peas! They’ve bulked up many meals of mine, and here, the tradition continues. I love keeping them in my fridge when I just need a little extra something.

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If you’re vegan, substitute oil for butter, ditch the Parmesan, and use vegan-friendly ravioli. Amp up the garlic to keep that good flavor burst!

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Ravioli with Peas & Garlic
(Serves 3)

Ingredients:

– 12 ounce package ravioli, fresh or frozen
– 8 ounces frozen peas, dethawed
– 4 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted or 2 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer using butter in this recipe)
– Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) In a small pan, heat butter or olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute or until soft and fragrant; do not let garlic brown. Remove pan from heat and set aside; do not discard butter or oil! This will be used when tossing the pasta.

2.) In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add ravioli and boil for two minutes or according to package’s directions. Drain and return to large pot. Immediately toss with garlic butter mixture, peas, and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, topping with more Parmesan, if desired.

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ricotta stuffed squash blossoms

Herbed Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Trust me. It’s not strange to eat a flower. I mean, we eat plants. We eat leaves. We eat nasty fungus that grows out of the ground. (Well, some of us do. I’m no mushroom lover. I stand by my statement.) Why not eat a flower? I grew up eating grape leaves and vines that grew in my neighbor’s side yard. When I was little, my father played on a volleyball team at his friend’s house; all of us kids used to run through the woods and eat the wild honeysuckle flowers we found while are parents practiced, and here I am to tell the tale: I survived!

Goodness knows I eat my share of zucchini. Why not eat all parts of it?

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Admittedly, I did not know the glory of the squash blossom until two years ago. After completing my Master’s degree, one of my aunts took me out for a celebratory dinner at Felidia. Indeed, said blossoms were filled with a decadent ricotta mix and fried up, tempura style. It was such a simple appetizer, yet, it absolutely blew my mind that at time. Since that point, I’ve became that hip Millennial that feels the urge to look for squash blossoms at every farmers’ market I go to. (Along with kohlrabi and watermelon radishes, of course…) Nine out of ten times…I won’t find any. However, I’ll hit that right farmers’ market on the right day in the end of July or beginning of August, and I’ll hit the mother load.

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As with most things in the culinary world, stuffing something with cheese then frying it in copious amounts of oil makes it better.

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Flowers, clearly, do not escape this proclamation.

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Herbed Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
(Based on the Bon Appetit recipe for Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms)
(Makes 8 blossoms)

Ingredients:

– 8 oz. ricotta
– 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
– 2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice, finely minced (for this recipe’s photos, I used 1 tablespoon fresh dill and 1 tablespoon fresh basil)
– 8 squash blossoms, stamens removed (See Before We Get Started…)
– 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
– 2 large eggs
– 1/4 cup olive oil, for frying
– Salt & Pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– The stamens must be removed from the blossoms prior to cooking. If we can mentally go back to our respective 4th grade sciences classes, the stamen, in laymen’s terms, is the part that sticks out in the center of the flower. To remove the stamens from your blossoms, take great care to spread the blossoms’ pedals apart, reach in with your thumb and forefinger, and gently pinch them out. Gently rinse them with cold water for a moment, making sure to remove excess dirt or pollen. (Though, certainly, a little of each likely won’t kill ya.) Place them on a paper towel to rest until it’s time to stuff them.

– If you don’t have a piping bag, use a plain ol’ resealable plastic bag. After filling the bag with the ricotta mixture, craft a piping tip by cutting off a small corner of the bag. To fill blossoms, gently apply pressure to the bag while slowing squeezing mixture out.

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmesan, and herbs; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.) Transfer the ricotta cheese mixture to a piping bag or resealable plastic bag. (See Before We Get Started...) Pipe mixture into cleaned squash blossoms.

3.) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While oil is heating, place breadcrumbs in a baking dish or bowl. Lightly beat eggs in another bowl. Dip blossoms in egg, then breadcrumbs.

4.) Gently place blossoms into oil and fry for two minutes, gently flip blossoms, then cook on the other side for an additional two minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels; season with salt.

Lentil Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

Welcome to another addition of “Let’s Clean Out The Fridge And Make Meals Before The Produce Goes Bad!”

(i.e.: Every few days in my kitchen when my social life escapes me and my time eating out eclipses the groceries I bought for that same time period.)

Growing up, I was never too keen on peppers. I had one elementary school friend that would eat raw red bell pepper slices with her lunch; my sliced apples and carrot sticks seemed tame and safe. The fresh crunch of a pepper and its taste, simply, grossed me out as a youngster. Cooked bell peppers appealed to me even less. I would always pick the pieces out of my mother’s goulash (or American Chop Suey, depending on where you hail from). But what’s the common theme of the blog? I used to hate many things, and then I grew to love them once I was able to handle them myself and improve upon them. Around high school, I started to enjoy peppers stuffed with meat, rice, tomatoes, and cheese. However, I attempt to be healthier now.

 

Sometimes.

 

Lentil Vegetable Stuffed Peppers
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 2 large bell peppers, sliced into halves with seeds and membranes removed
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/4 cup lentils, rinsed
– 1 & 1/4 cup water; divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
– 1/4 cup cous cous (regular or cauliflower; see “Before We Get Started…)
– 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
– 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
– 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
– 2 gloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup cilantro, rinsed and minced
– 1/4 cup feta cheese or fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed small
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– For those of you going grainless, a cauliflower cous cous is a good substitution. Please see my recipe for Tabbouleh with Cauliflower Cous Cous for instructions on how to create this.

– Broth or stock may be substituted for any water in this recipe.

– Feta cheese will give the dish a saltier tangier flavor, with the mozzarella giving it a mellower flavor. Omit cheese for vegan version of this recipe.

– Just note: This recipe takes a lot of pots and pans! My apologies, in advance!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.) Add rinsed lentils and one cup of water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce for a simmer and cook for 25 – 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain any excess water and set aside.

3.) Lightly grease a baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons of olive oil on outsides and insides of halved bell peppers. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Once peppers are soft and slightly charred on the bottom, remove from oven. Set aside.

4.) While peppers are roasting, add one tablespoon olive oil to large sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 7 – 10 minutes or until soft and turning slightly brown. Add tomatoes, carrots, and garlic and cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5.) Bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cous cous, remove from heat, and cover for 5 minutes or until water has absorbed. Add cous cous to vegetable mixture and stir to combine. NOTE: If using cauliflower cous cous, follow directions from the linked recipe in lieu of these directions. Gently combine lentils and cheese (if using) with cous cous – vegetable mixture.

6.) Spoon mixture into roasted pepper halves. Top with cilantro. Serve while still warm.