Main Dishes

Another Jamie Oliver dish that was wonderful.  Next time I think I would cut out the first few steps of making the red sauce by just using some of what I’ve canned from the summer, but great recipe nonetheless.

2 knobs of butter
• olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a large handful of fresh marjoram or oregano, roughly chopped
• ¼ of a nutmeg, grated
• 8 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed
• a handful of fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped
• 2 14oz cans of good-quality plum tomatoes, chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a pinch of sugar
• 14oz crumbly ricotta cheese
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 16 cannelloni tubes
• 7oz mozzarella, broken up

for the white sauce
• 1 pint of crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Then find a metal baking pan or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it’s nice and snug. This way you’ll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal pan or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of marjoram or oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it’s all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don’t lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water.

After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes, then fill one of the empty tomato cans with cold water and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and a handful of the Parmesan, and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a plastic sandwich bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy.

Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, then loosen with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.


Sometimes you just need a little comfort food.  Before this last heat wave hit, I made this with the feeling that Fall was in the air…. sadly, it didn’t last.  Hopefully we’ll see cool weather from here on out so we can start enjoying all this upcoming season’s harvest.  Thank you, Jamie Oliver, for another easy meal and the reminder that warm, rich food is just a few weeks away.

For the recipe, click here.

Making life (or at least dinner) super easy…

1 Jar Pesto
1 Jar Sun Dried Tomatoes
1 Chicken Breast (cooked, e.g. on a skillet for say 20 min)
1/2 cup Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Fresh Mozzarella
1 recipe Pizza Dough (or just get some from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Roll out your pizza dough, spread with the pesto, sprinkle with the remaining ingredients and throw it in the oven (preferably on a pizza stone if you have one) until brown and bubbly (about 20 min).   Oh, and try to serve it with a salad to appease your conscience.

With a little one, I’ve been making a lot of easy and quick meals.  You know—–your same old staples with a twist.  Here’s one: take feta, fresh tomatoes from the garden, a tortilla or two and throw it on the skillet over med-high.  Magically delicious.

Last night Trevor was out for a fantasy football draft and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  With tomatoes overflowing on my bush outside, courtesy of the extremely hot weather we’ve had these past few days, I decided to put them to good use.  A quick bath in olive oil and balsamic gives the tomatoes and amazing flavor with minimal effort.

Enough tomatoes to fill the number of rolls you will be serving
Rolls, split in half
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Fresh Basil, chopped
Mozzarella (fresh)

Chop the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil, vinegar, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the basil.  Allow to marinate for a few minutes.  In a skillet over med-high heat coat the bottom with olive oil and throw in 1-2 cloves of minced garlic.  Toast the bread (cut side down) until crisp.  Add a slice or two of the cheese to the bread and the marinated tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

The walking cast is off!!!!!!!!  My foot is healing well and I am back in commission.  I can’t tell you how liberated I feel!  Needless to say, having the cast on seemed to slow down my ability to be in the kitchen as much as I’d like.  Now that I’m back, I hope to have many more recipes and tidbits to share with you.  Here’s one to start:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

For the Tomatoes: Chop the tomatoes, basil, and garlic and combine.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic until well coated.  Top the chicken with this mixture and serve immediately.  Deliiiiiiiiiiicous.

(Parmesan Chicken recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa)

Here is Part Two of the Red Pepper Sofrito saga.  It was just as tangy and refreshing as its salad counterpart, if not just a bit more filling.  If you find it just a hair too warm to turn your oven on this time of year, feel free to grill everything (including the shrimp) outside on the BBQ and keep your house nice and cool.

Shrimp (about 1/4 lb. per person)
Your Favorite Pasta
Roasted veggies from the Oven Roasted Vegetable Salad Recipe
Red Bell Pepper Sofrito
Red Pepper Flakes (about 1 tsp.)
1/2 Lemon
2 T. Olive Oil
Creole seasoning

Cook your veggies according to the Oven Roasted Vegetable Salad Recipe.  When you have about 25 minutes left in the oven, heat enough water to boil your pasta and cook according to the package instructions.  After the veggies and pasta are done cooking, drain the pasta and set aside.  Add the olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high.  Add the shrimp and red pepper flakes and cook about a minute on each side (until just pink).  Take the shrimp off of the heat immediately and squeeze the half a lemon over the top (careful, it will steam up).  Plate up pasta, veggies, and shrimp together, pouring the sofrito over the top.  Stir to combine and serve warm.

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