veggies are the starting point
To make the pesto, spinach, parsley, pistachios and garlic are placed in a food processor and pulsed into a chunky paste is made. While the machine is running, olive oil is added to create a smooth sauce. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper. The asparagus is cooked along with the pasta during the last 4 minutes. Save a cup of the pasta water to add in case the pasta is dry. I prefer to add my drained pasta back to the hot pot then dress.
This dish was delectable! The spinach made for a lighter tasting pasta, the pistachios offered texture and a delicate flavor. The asparagus was crisp tender. Asparagus is now in season, so it’s the perfect time to try this recipe.
Does anyone else have difficulty in trying to purchase certain produce items that aren’t pre-bagged? Maybe this is just a recent thing since the pandemic, but as I’m cooking for two, there’s no need for me to purchase small bags of potatoes or onions when a handful will do. I don’t need my onions growing green shoots before I’m ready to use them.
This leads me to a recent dilemma. I went to my local food store with the ingredients in hand for a quick sheet pan chicken recipe. I wanted to purchase two, Bell & Evans split bone-in chicken breasts and a large sweet potato. Unfortunately, the butcher case had none and I couldn’t find a loose sweet potato…ugh!
Earlier in the day I caught a few minutes of the Food Network show, “The Kitchen,” and Katie Lee Biegel was preparing Sausage Stuffed Onion, now I had a backup plan. One of the show regulars is chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Mr. Zakarian suggested other fillings such as ground beef or turkey, I chose ground beef.
For the recipe you’ll need medium red onions, extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, unsalted butter, white wine, Italian sausage (hot or sweet), panko breadcrumbs, thyme leaves, fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and chicken stock.
The onions are cut in half along the equator and with a spoon or melon baller, the center is scooped out to leave ¼-inch shell or one layer of onion. This didn’t work as easy for me as when Katie Lee was demonstrating on TV. I’m going to assume my onion had been in storage and lost some of its moisture. The scooped-out onion is sautéed and is part of the filling. The onion shells are parbaked and are cooled slightly before filling.
While my husband and I liked the concept of the dish, Italian sausage would have been more flavorful. The onion shells were tender, the filling moist, but the beef needed more seasoning. I would try this again, but with sausage.
CAVATAPPI WITH ASPARAGUS AND SPINACH PESTO
Cavatappi con Pesto d'Asparagi e Spinaci
By Lidia Bastianich
Active time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted
1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch medium thickness asparagus, tough stems trimmed, bottoms peeled, stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup freshly grated pecorino
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Put the spinach, parsley, pistachios, and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Process to make a chunky paste. Add the olive oil with the machine running to make a smooth pesto. Transfer to a serving bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper.
Add the cavatappi to the boiling water and cook until al dente; add the asparagus in the last 4 minutes. Remove pasta and asparagus with a spider to the serving bowl. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water if it seems dry, and serve.
Sausage Stuffed Onion
Recipe from Katie Lee Biegel
“The Kitchen,” Food Network
Episode – “The Right Stuff”
Active Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (includes cooling time)
Yield: 6 servings
3 medium to large red onions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup white wine
1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.