Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is the quintessential Roman supper dish: cheese and pepper pasta. Done. So simple, so classic, so easy to make, and so delicious. Leave it to the citizens of Pax Romana to invent something this brilliant. Imagine walking through the ancient streets, past outdoor cafe after cafe, filled with locals eating pasta and drinking vino. Yup, life is not tough. Cook this dish to  a Puccini soundtrack, close your eyes... and pretend you're here:

3/4- 1 cup Cacio cheese (you can find it with the parmeggiano, pecorino, etc)
3/4- 1 cup Parmeggiano Reggiano and/or Pecorino Romano
2 tsp fresh crushed black pepper, extra to taste
Olive oil
Fettucine or spaghetti


1. Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente; drain and reserve the pasta water.

2. In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add in the fresh cracked black pepper and allow to cook a few minutes, stirring, until fragrant.

3. Ladle about 3/4 cups of pasta water into the pan, and use tongs to transfer the pasta evenly into the pan. 

4. Sprinkle the cheese on top and toss frequently with the tongs until the cheese turns creamy and the water reduces. As the sauce thickens, it will start to cling to the pasta, almost like a thin layer.

5. If cheese clumps up, add a little additional cooking water. 

6. Transfer to plates and garnish with additional cheese and fresh pepper as desired. Serve with a bold red like a sangiovese to compliment the dish!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ryan's Homemade BBQ Sauce

Don't be so surprised- just because I don't eat meat, doesn't mean I can't enjoy some awesome BBQ sauce! Ryan has gotten into smoking meats with his cousin Brendan  (So far they've smoked a Thanksgiving Turkey, a rack of ribs, and two whole chickens)- and it was only natural Ryan tried to make his own sauce, too. I get to benefit of course by putting it on tofu (I LOVE it in the TLT recipe!!) and on fake chicken fingers. It's also pretty fun to hang out in a backyard for 8 hours, smelling the apple and cherry wood chips and enjoying the 90 degree heat... with a side of... heat.


4 tbsp Molasses
4 tbsp worcester sauce
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup Ketchup
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup water
1/4 tsp hot sauce (we use Franks)- to taste
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp extra dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp pepper

1-2 tsp cayenne
dash of paprika

dash of cumin


Combine all wet and dry ingredients together in a small sauce pan.
Bring to boil over medium heat
Turn to low, stirring frequently and allowing to simmer for about 20 min.
Remove from heat and allow to rest until cool. Refrigerate overnight.

Serve over your favorite grilled or smoked meats, or tofu, if that's your thing :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pasta Fresca

I loved that this pasta came out tasting super fresh and light. We didn't add the asparagus tips this time, and Ry is not a fan of artichoke hearts, but we both agree that the recipe would benefit from a green  the next time we make it! Definitely nice to mix it up from red sauce and still avoid cream-based sauces (it's waaaay too hot here for that!).

Penne pasta
1 box of cherry tomatoes (Maybe roast these for a few, too.... or grill... for a little extra flavor)
asparagus tips or artichoke hearts
6 cloves garlic
olive oil
sea salt
red pepper flakes
Tomato Paste
white wine
Shaves of pecorino cheese


1. You can leave the peels on the garlic for this first step (cool, right?). Place the garlic cloves in a small pot and cover with water. Poach for about 15-20 minutes, at a slow boil.

2. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the garlic, and reserve the water. The peels will slip right off the cloves, and place them in a small bowl with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt. Mash into a paste.

3.Meanwhile, bring the pasta to a boil. Heat a large sauté pan, pour in a little olive oil, add the tomato paste and the garlic paste, and a splash of white wine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

4. Raise heat and add in the cherry tomatoes. Cook quickly allowing to blister.

5. Turn down heat to medium and add in basil and asparagus tips. Pour in some of the water used to poach the garlic and cook off for a few minutes.

6. Once asparagus is bright green, after 2-3 minutes, add in the pasta. Season with the salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add in more pasta water if it starts to stick or doesn't seem saucy enough.

7. Since we had a little leftover pesto hanging in the fridge, we added a little dollop of that. But otherwise, garnish with fresh shaved pecorino and slivers of fresh basil.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Flexitarian Menus

The never-ending, million dollar question I often get is... "But what do you eat?"

For a friend who, like me, recently went veg and has a meat-eating husband, I compiled these examples, and figured I'd share them here, too! Flexitarian eating is way easier then it first sounds- just check out these delish meals from the past month or so!

Week 1:

Black Bean Soup, Garden Salad, and Pillsbury Rolls
Baked tofu in Peanut Sauce/Grilled Steak (for Ry) with baked sweet potato and Brussels sprouts
Penne pasta with sauteed garlic, cherry tomato and basil, with a pesto garnish and side salad
Tortilla soup with a Southwestern Citrus Salad (topped with chicken for Ry)

Totals: 2 veg, 2 flex meals

Week 2:
Pasta with homemade tomato sauce (meatballs for Ry) and salad, garlic toast
Burger/Grilled Portobello Mushroom burger with wilted spinach and corn on the cob
BLT/TLT (Tofu/lettuce/tomato)  and Kale Caesar Salad
Curry noodle with cilantro butter Tofu/Chicken

Totals: 4 flex

Week 3:
Fajita/Beef Tacos with rice and black bean salad
Braised Ginger Tofu/Grilled Pork with pearled couscous with braised leeks and green beans
Black Sesame noodles with tofu/steak
Stuffed Shells

Totals: 3 flex, 1 veg

Week 4:
Taco Salads (Fake Chik'n/chicken for Ry)
French Onion soup and apple, arugula and cheddar salad
Chicken/Eggplant Parm with salad and garlic bread
Tilapia Parmesan with broccoli and new potatoes

Totals: 2 flex, 1 veg, 1 pesc

Saturday, June 1, 2013

chikpea "chicken" salad sandwich

Chicken Salad was one of my favorites back in my meat eating days- but this version is just as tasty, and the chickpea texture, though it might sound strange at first, is a very satisfying substitute!!!!

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed & Drained
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, chopped very small
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4-1/2 tbsp dijon mustard to taste
Salt and Pepper

1. Use a fork to gently mash the chickpeas- don't overwork, it's ok if some are more whole than others, until most are at least split in half.

2. Add in the celery and onion and stir together.

3. Mix in the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.

4. Adjust seasonings to taste.

5. Serve on a bun with lettuce and tomato if desired!