Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuna and White Bean Pasta with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

We have had crappy weather all this week and worse is yet to come. It's been raining (yes, raining in San Diego), it's cold and we've had very high winds. And since I have a little baby I was a bit scared to go out driving in this rainy weather to go food shopping. Instead, I found this recipe (and yes, it's from Rachael Ray) and believe it or not, I had most of the ingredients in my pantry. A few modifications are: I halved the recipe and used 1 can of tuna; instead of breadcrumbs I used Panko breadcrumbs; I omitted the rosemary but used a little oregano instead; I didn't have any chicken broth so I used the starchy water of the pasta and lastly I used canned tomato sauce because I didn't have any fresh tomatoes. All in all, it was quite hearty, very filling and I finally found a reason to use my can of anchovies!!!!

INGREDIENTS (serves 6)

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 flat filet anchovies, optional
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, toast and grind stale bread or store bought
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 pound penne or ziti rigate
  • 4 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine, white vermouth or chicken broth
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped or 1 can 15 ounces can diced tomatoes, drained, optional

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in small pan over medium-low heat with anchovies, if using. Melt anchovies into oil until they dissolve then add garlic and stir 2 minutes then add breadcrumbs and stir and cook until deeply golden in color. Stir in zest of 2 lemons and parsley and crushed red pepper flakes. Turn off heat and transfer to a bowl.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add celery, onions and 2 cloves garlic to the pan and cook until just tender, 5 minutes. Add white beans and rosemary and heat through 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine, vermouth or broth, flakes tuna and tomato, if using. Stir 2 minutes then turn off heat.

Just before draining the pasta, add a ladle of starchy cooking water to pan along with the drained pasta, toss to combine. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of breadcrumbs and a drizzle of oil on top.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Swiss Chard en Crema

After my fridge finally got fixed and started working again, thanks to my pops, I went shopping and I found a lovely bunch of Swiss chard at the farmer's market. I wanted to make a healthy meal because all I had been eating while my fridge was out-of-order were canned foods and it wasn't very good or healthy. So this recipe is basically the same as the "chiles en crema" but I used Swiss chard instead. My father-in-law showed me this recipe and here is my version. I used a splash of Marsala wine but you can use vegetable stock or chicken stock instead.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2 as main course, 4 as side dish)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard
  • 1 large fresh Poblano pepper, charred and peeled and seeded
  • 1 white onion, cut into half moons
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • a splash of Marsala wine
  • 2/3 cup crema (you can find crema Mexicana in most grocery stores in the refrigerated section)
  • 2/3 cup grated Romano-Parmesan cheese blend + more for sprinkling
  • salt and pepper

Char the pepper over your stove top or under your broiler or on your grill. Once it is nicely charred, place it in a plastic bag and seal it. Wait 10 minutes, and then peel off charred skin. Remove stem and seeds and dice the pepper. Set aside. Meanwhile, cut off the tough, woody stems from Swiss chard. Chop the chard into 1" pieces and set aside.

In a skillet heat the tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and sweat for about 5 minutes. Raise temperature to medium-high and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the chopped Swiss chard, ground nutmeg and sauté about 10 minutes, or until chard has wilted down and the onions will take on a reddish color. Add the chopped poblano pepper and gently combine and saute another minute or so. Add a splash (about 2 tablespoons) of Marsala wine or vegetable stock. Cook down another minute.

Lower heat to medium again and add the crema and cheese. With a spatula, fold in all the ingredients until it all gets nicely mixed. Let it come to a light simmer (but don't boil) and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste, if needed. You can serve immediately, or sprinkle a little more Romano-Parmesan grated cheese on top and place the skillet (it has to be oven proof) under the broiler and let it broil for 5 to 8 minutes or until top gets bubbly and toasty. Serve over white Jasmine rice.

Will Work for Fridge

Dear readers:

This past week I have been living out of a Coleman cooler. You see, my fridge was on the fritz. Last Sunday I woke up to a non-working fridge and all the food in the freezer was warm and mushy. Sadly, I had to throw everything away because I didn't know how long the freezer had been kaputz. And then the refrigerator also stopped working, and hence, I have not been cooking at all this past week. Instead, I've been eating all the stuff from our pantry from canned tuna fish to canned garbanzo beans, mandarins, and dare I say, Chunky soup (ewww!). Perhaps I could have gone to the drive-thru, but since it's the new year my resolution was to not eat from fast food joints and to limit my "going-out" to restaurants. Believe me, it was hard because I was tempted almost every day to order out pizza.

Long story short, my dad fixed the fridge and saved us like $800 because we didn't have to buy a new one. The capacitor (flux capacitor? LOL) broke and he just had to replace it. Anyway, this morning I woke up to a nice and chilly fridge, but completely empty (except for a pint of half-and-half, I need that for my coffee). So Stella and I will be doing some major shopping at Albertson's today, and we'll be hitting the farmer's market, too. I'm not sure what I'll be making tonight, but let me tell you there will be no tuna, garbanzo beans or any type of canned soup involved!