Tag Archives: weeknight supper

A Monday Kind of Pasta Frittata

As Summer finally (maybe) comes to an end, leaving a checkerboard path of meatless meals in its wake, I am again moving into “Meatless Mondays.” I am also once again cleaning out the refrigerator, putting ingredients to use before they are useless. That being said this recipe would be wonderful even if it was planned in advance.

I have just returned from a wonderful visit with California friends. While I was living it up in a penthouse suite overlooking the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Papa D was left to his own devices as far as meals were concerned. One evening he cooked a pound of pasta to go with the container of Sunday Gravy that I had left in the refrigerator. Wisely, he decided to save some of the pasta  to scramble with eggs (his idea).

Liking the idea when I got home, I ran with it. There were a few other leftovers that needed rescuing. Peppers, tomatoes and some cheese all were nearing the end of the road so they gathered together to become a pasta frittata.This dish, and the use of pasta, is popular in many areas of Italy. It can be labeled Neapolitan or Sicilian and is probably claimed by many other regions, but it always seems to use leftover pasta as its base. Techniques can vary, but I like cooking the vegetables first.and adding the pasta second. Olive oil is a driving force in this process as is initial high heat. Once the eggs are added along with some cheese, things need to get low and slow. This is a dense dish that takes time to set. This also allows time to enjoy the fragrance that the garlic and other vegetables create.When the frittata is almost set, it gets crowned with a little more cheese (a hard grating cheese is best. Asiago, Romano or Parmesan are good choices) and heads for the broiler. Lightly golden and ever so slightly crusty it is ready for its close up. A sprinkling of basil or any other available herb gives it a little more color.This makes a lovely weeknight supper, but it is just as at home for a weekend brunch. The format is easy and lends itself to whatever embellishment you want to add. This served two lavishly and could easily serve more with a salad and some crusty bread added.  

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Pasta Frittata
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Thinly sliced Onions
  • 3/4 Cup Thinly sliced Sweet Peppers
  • 2 cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes Halved
  • 2 Cups Cooked Pasta
  • 4 Eggs Beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk
  • 1 Tsp. Italian Hebs
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Italian Cheese Divided
  • 1/4 Cup Thinly sliced Basil
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in an oven proof skillet. Add the onions and peppers and cook stirring occasionally until softened and beginning to brown. 5-7 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan and cook another 3 - 4 minutes. The garlic should be fragrant and the tomatoes should begin to soften.

  3. Add the pasta and toss to combine the ingredients. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally until the pasta begins to take on some color, another  5 minutes or so.

  4. Heat the oven to broil. Beat the eggs, milk and half of the cheese together until well blended. Stir in the Italian herbs. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan so that it is even.

  5. Lower the heat to medium and cook lifting the edges of the egg to allow the mixture to cook through. Once the eggs are almost set, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and transfer to the oven.

  6. Broil until the top is golden and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.

I don’t want to cut anyone’s weekend short, but Monday is just around the corner. If you make pasta over the weekend, make a little extra…a frittata might be just the way to begin the “Meatless Monday” tradition.

 

Signs of Spring and Springtime Ham Soup

When I think of soup from a ham bone, visions of thick and hearty Split Pea or Lentil Soup come to mind. There is nothing quite as comforting as losing oneself in the smokey richness that is found in a ham based legume soup.  It’s the perfect partner for a cold wintry night. Winter is gone now (fingers and toes crossed) and Spring is in the air.

Like many, I was left with a ham bone from Easter Dinner (Thanks Jordan & Kelly it was wonderful). I went to the pantry and reached for the lentils, then thought better of it. As tasty as the result would be, the sun coming in the window and the trees beginning to turn green led my inspiration in another direction. Why not make Ham Broth out of the bone and use it as the base to make a lighter, brighter soup. And that’s just what I did.

The mirepoix was leeks, garlic, and carrots. Olive oil made its appearance in the pan to get everything sweating in the best way possible. The broth was added along with more than a few thyme sprigs and everyone took a nice long simmer.IMG_1577

I know that sweet potatoes and corn don’t sound very spring-like, but they are the colors of spring (and often part of Easter Dinner). They were a colorful and tasty addition to this soup. I also added some haricot vert and snow peas. IMG_1581

IMG_1585It wouldn’t be ham soup with out ham so I added a generous cup of the ham bone trimmings. This meat is a little heartier and stands up to the long simmer that soup takes. Speaking of long simmering soup, the haricot vert and snow peas take only minutes to cook and can quickly turn dull, so I added them at the end. I actually blanched them and added them to the bowls before I ladled in the soup. The piping hot soup warmed them up and the crunch they gave to the soup was a bonus in flavor and texture. This soup was the perfect blend of  light yet filling and comforting. Adding a grilled cheese sandwich to the meal would make it a perfect Supper.IMG_1589

Springtime Ham Soup
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Springtime Ham Soup
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the leeks carrots, and garlic tossing to coat them with the oil. Add a pinch of salt and cover the pot. Allow the vegetables to sweat for 5 - 7 minutes.
  2. Add the Ham Broth and the thyme leaves to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. At this point you can remove the thyme sprigs as the leaves have probably fallen off and the sprigs have done their flavor magic. Add the sweet potatoes and corn and simmer 20 minutes more or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. While the soup is simmering, blanch the snow peas and haricot vert. Put them in boiling water briefly, then remove them to a bowl of ice water. When they are cold drain them well. This will leave them tender crisp and bright green. Set them aside.
  5. When the soup is done, taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. Place a few haricot vert and snow peas into each soup bowl. Ladle the soup into the bowls and serve.
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Soup is wonderful any time of year. With the new season’s vegetables coming in, take advantage of them and create your own soup pot of love.

Moving Beyond Meatless Monday and a Mediterranean Farro Bowl

Let me start by saying, I am proud to be a carnivore. As this site attests, meat, in all of its forms is my friend, however, there is more than enough room in that  circle of friends for non-meat members. This site can attest to that as well. I’ve often shared recipes that don’t feature beef, pork or poultry in a starring role. Beans, grains, eggs, and dairy are well represented in the Recipe Archive.  Lately I find myself drawn to more recipes that do not feature meat at all. I have completely embraced “Meatless Monday” and I’m working towards Meatless Wednesday or Thursday on occasion.

Speaking of Meatless Monday…how did we come to call it that? We have to look back to both World Wars when rationing food was the law of the land and Meatless Mondays happened in every home. Entering into the new millennium, the concept was revised to improve people’s eating habits. The story goes that Monday being the first weekday was a time to get back on track after a weekend of indulgence. Think of all those diets we’ve started on Monday morning…it kind of makes sense.

Personally, I’m probably in that camp. I tend to eat more on the weekend and often look upon Monday as a clean slate, but that’s not the only reason. Meatless meals tend to be less expensive and some are downright cheap. Especially when there are beans involved. Mama D does have a “thing ” for beans. Soups and chilies of course, but she’s dipped her toe into the pond that is the veggie burger, just look at the Black Bean and Cannellini Burgers from some time back. Besides being low in fat, high in fiber and full of protein, beans are versatile and dare I say (again) cheap.

So, today’s entry into the Meatless Monday category is a Farro Bowl that has a distinctly Mediterranean flair. Farro of course, comes from Italy and many of the other ingredients originate from not too far away in Greece. It has the bright vegetable colors that are featured in both cuisines and then there are those Chick Peas,  Garbanzos, or Ceci, whatever you choose to call them.IMG_1195

It’s quite an easy dish to prepare. While the farro is cooking, the topping comes together in a skillet. The onions and the squash went in first, followed shortly thereafter by  a little garlic (yes, a little… I know) and the beans. I think that garbanzos taste wonderful when they are cooked to a light golden brown. It gives them a nutty, creamy taste that doesn’t happen with most other beans.IMG_1200As the picture indicates, a good many ingredients came out of jars…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Coarsely chopped, they waited on the sidelines until the time was right.IMG_1202Once the garbanzos and squash were what I considered the perfect color, the rest of the veggies went into the pan.IMG_1205All that was needed now was a little lemon juice, a bit more olive oil, some Italian herb blend and fresh rosemary. The farro created a rich brown bed of grainy goodness (absolutely love this stuff) that cradled the vegetables nobly. Some crumbled feta  sat on top in blinding white splendor. This was truly a meal for the gods…Greek or otherwise.IMG_1213The beauty of this recipe is that is the entry-level to so many other creations. Try it with your favorite veggies and grains; go for a different ethnic flavor; or just give my recipe your own personal spin.

Mediterranean Farro Bowl
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Mediterranean Farro Bowl
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Rinse farro and drain. In a medium pan, combine the farro with 1-1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is as tender as you like. This will take 20 - 30 minutes. While the farro cooks, prepare the vegetables.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the squashes and the garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes until everything begins to soften and become fragrant.
  3. Add the garbanzos and continue to cook until the beans are beginning to brown. This should take around 5-7 minutes. Make sure you stir often so that they brown evenly.
  4. Add a little of the reserved stock to keep things moving. Add the olives, peppers, and artichokes to the skillet, tossing to combine. Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.
  5. Add the lemon juice, herb blend, and rosemary to the skillet and toss one more time and heat another coupe of minutes.
  6. Divide the farro between 2 bowls creating a little well in the middle. Top each bowl with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle 1 ounce of the feta on each bowl and serve.
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The best part of this is you don’t have to wait for Monday to make it. You can go Meatless any day of the week…Can you say Meatless Sunday Supper?

Dinner vs. Supper and Fancy Farfalle with Sausage and Broccoli

What do you call your evening meal? Is it dinner or is it supper? Mama D isn’t quite sure what she calls it because she has called this meal by both names over the years. A little online searching revealed that Dinner generally refers to the largest meal of the day.  Supper is defined as “a light meal served in the early evening, if Dinner was served at midday…or it is the meal served late in the evening when Dinner was served in the early evening.” I’m still trying to wrap my head around that sentence, but it does seem, in this instance, size matters.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this lately because now that I am back to working a split shift, meal preparation is beginning to change. Here we eat the biggest meal of the day in the early evening, which by definition makes it Dinner which we are eating at Supper Time. Should I call it Sinner? Probably not. What if I call it Dupper? That just sounds silly. I think that I will leave the semantics to the linguists and come up with my own working definition.

The evening meals from Mama D’s Kitchen will be labeled by what is served. Dinner will be a more formal affair. It will consist of a protein served with various side dishes that require a good amount of time and several pots, pans and other appliances to prepare.

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THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN DURING THE WEEK!  Weekends will be the time for Dinner when the time for preparing and enjoying meals are more flexible.

The meal that graces the evening table Monday through Friday, while made with just as much love, but far fewer pans and in much less time shall now be called Supper. Supper shouldn’t take too much more time than it takes to enjoy a glass of wine. It should be healthy and satisfying, but not too heavy and with just enough creativity to keep things from getting boring. That’s what this post is about and the recipe I’m sharing pretty much fits my definition. 2015-08-19 19.44.45This one dish supper required a pot (to boil the pasta) and a fry pan (to put everything together). It did also require a grill ( for the broccoli and sausage) which I left in the capable hands of Papa D.

2015-08-29 16.08.56The farfalle pasta I used was lemon flavored and sported bright yellow stripes. The lemon was noticable to the nose but subtle on the tongue. Lemon became one of the inspiration flavors for the dish. I found this pasta at Aldi along with a spinach and tomato basil variety. Not the type of thing one expects to find there, but it’s been my experience of late that Aldi is full of surprises. Don’t run out to your local Aldi, these went on closeout recently and very few stores have them. This is sadly the case with many of Aldi’s unique items…here today, gone tomorrow. I have, however, seen colored/flavored pastas in gourmet stores, so check them out if you want that extra festive look, but there is nothing wrong with going with the traditional variety.2015-08-19 19.37.52

I used pre-cooked Chicken Italian Sausage. This has appeared in so many of my recipes that I could become a spokesperson for the product. It’s convenient, quick, and is available in  flavors to match almost any cuisine. It seems that every store carries them and many of the larger stores have their own brand. I’m fickle as to what brand I like best, I honestly often choose by price and what I plan on making.

I cut some broccoli crowns into small florets, tossed them with a little olive oil and threw them in my grill basket. They joined the sausage on the grill. It is still summer after all and you know how Mama D feels about grilling….they turned out lightly charred and perfectly tender crisp.2015-08-19 19.29.42

Now for what held these three ingredients together. Onion and garlic were sautéed in some olive oil…could there be any other beginning? Some Chicken Stock, Lemon Thyme, and Cracked Black Pepper provided some flavor. The zest of a lemon went in along with the juice of said lemon. A little (fat-free) Half and Half added a bit of creaminess. Some freshly grated Romano Cheese added some bite. Everything got well acquainted in the skillet becoming a feast for the eyes, nose and tongue.2015-08-19 19.40.08

Farfalle with Grilled Broccoli and Chicken Sausage
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Farfalle with Grilled Broccoli and Chicken Sausage
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until it is just shy of "al dente". Drain and set aside. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
  2. Toss the broccoli with one teaspoon of the olive oil. and place in a grill basket. Cook 8 - 10 minutes until it is just tender crisp and lightly charred.
  3. Cook the sausages on the grill whole until they are nicely browned. This takes about 10 minutes. Bring them in and allow them to cool slightly. Slice into 1/2 inch thick coins. Set aside.
  4. While the sausage and broccoli cook, heat a large fry pan over medium high heat. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the onions and cook until they begin to wilt and become translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute or two.
  5. Add the chicken broth and the thyme leaves to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice and allow to cook 2 more minutes.
  6. Add the sausage and broccoli to the pan along with the half & half. Simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Add the Romano Cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the cheese melts into the sauce. Serve in pasta bowls with a sprinkling of the finely grated cheese.
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My plan is to share more “Suppers” in the coming weeks and I hope that you will use these musings as a jumping off place to create your own perfect evening meal….whatever you choose to call it.