And this, right here, was my final meal cooked at the old place. A combination of things fresh from my garden, frozen farmer’s market items, and just a good combination of flavors. Peas, proscuitto, parmesan, egg yolk, and mint all together over a lovely pasta just makes the perfect summer meal. Also, HyVee makes pot-sized pasta, which means that you can just stick in your box of pasta and not have to worry about breaking it all over. It’s pretty fantastic.

I might be on hiatus for a while as I make the transition down to Chicago here. Hopefully it won’t be long before I’m back, but these things can’t be helped. See you all on the other side!

Fresh Mint and Pea Pasta Alla Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 1.5 plus .5 to .75 c peas, shelled, frozen or fresh (I used the ones I had in my freezer, with 1.5 c frozen, and the other .75 c thawing out while everything cooked)
  • 5 slices prosciutto
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large handfuls of mint, leaves whole (I took a bunch of peppermint from the garden)
  • 1 lb thin pasta of choice (seriously, get HyVee pot sized pasta, it’s the best thing ever)
  • 2-3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • fresh grated Parmesan (used Sartori’s)

Get your pasta water boiling in a separate pot. While that gets going, take 2 T olive oil and 1 T butter and melt it in a large pan. Once it’s melted, take 1.5 c of your peas (mine were frozen when I tossed them in) and your minced garlic, and saute them over medium heat until they’re soft, about 8 minutes. I chose to salt and pepper (including red pepper flakes) the veggies rather than the yolks, and found it worked very well. Don’t be afraid to use a heavy hand on the sea salt here, as the pasta will not be salted. Remove from heat.

Right about the time your peas finish, the pasta water should be boiling. Add in your pasta, and cook according to package instructions until al dente (usually 8 minutes). While the pasta cooks, take your prosciutto slices, tear them up, and heat 1 T of olive oil in a small pan. Take the torn prosciutto and cook it in the pan over medium high heat, until crispy. 

Once the prosciutto is fried, your pasta should be ready to go. Take a half cup of pasta water and add it to the peas, before draining and straining your pasta noodles. Combine the noodles with the peas, and add more salt, pepper, and pepper flakes after a quick taste. 

To serve, put your pasta in whatever you will be serving/storing it in, add the fresh peas and prosciutto, and toss to combine. Then, add the egg yolks and parmesan, and mint leaves, and toss to combine, until the pasta is coated. And then, enjoy the amazingness!

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Here’s a nice summer trick for you. Go down to your local farmers market. Right about now, there will be at least one stall that is selling shelled peas. Buy several pounds worth, and take them back home. Snack on at least a good chunk of them. And then? Take the rest, put them in a freezer safe bag, and toss them in the freezer. Congratulations. You now have frozen peas, and if you stock this right, you shouldn’t need to buy any for… call it at least a good few years. (I’ve got three pounds in the freezer after this recipe, all from last year or the year before.)

And since I’m growing mint this year, this is a ridiculously cheap recipe. All of this was either in the freezer, in the garden, or in the pantry. And the lemon and mint do amazing things to the peas. Try this, you won’t regret it.

Minty Pea Salad
Lasts two meals as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb frozen peas (2 c)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • (original recipe recommends shallot, I skipped it)
  • juice of 1 lemon (about .25 c tops)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • dash sea salt and pepper (freshly cracked pepper if you can get it)
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh mint (I used peppermint from the garden)

Take your peas, rinse them with cool water to speed the thawing process, and let them rest in a dish to thaw. (This should take no more than a half hour. Drain off the extra moisture at the end. Pics 1 and 2 show the difference between beginning and end of thawing.)

While your peas thaw, whisk together your lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Zest a bit of the lemon into the dressing, but zest the rest into the peas towards the end of the thaw time. Take your mint, and tear it and put it into the peas. Toss together to combine. Then pour the vinaigrette over the minted zested peas and toss again to fully combine.

You can eat it right away or toss it in the fridge to let the flavors combine further; I chose the latter route. 

This salad is the perfect dose of summer. I’ve always had a thing for roasted tomatoes, and being able to do it with heirlooms is even better. And fried halloumi? Oh man, it’s like feta but even better.  …And really, thinking about this more, this could also be a great grilled cheese. 

The best thing I can recommend for this herb wise is to use whatever you have either in your garden, or whatever’s cheapest at the farmer’s market that week. I used oregano, basil, and mint from my garden.

Roasted Tomato and Halloumi Salad
Lasts 3 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • olive oil, sea salt, and pepper
  • 1 block halloumi cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano, basil, and mint)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place your tomato slices on the sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Roast for twenty minutes, until wrinkly (see pic 2). 

Place a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and heat over medium high heat. Slice your block of halloumi into about six even slices, and add to the pan, frying until golden brown on each side (about three to five minutes). 

Combine the roasted tomatoes and halloumi, toss with the herbs, and enjoy the mouthgasm.

venneh:

justaweekendchef:

So, I went to the farmers market this morning, not in the least because my garden has been abjectly failing because of the heat – only the garlic, basil, ginger, and mint are holding on, and just barely at that.  And lo, one of the stalls a) took cards, and b) had strawberries at a pretty reasonable price – $4.50/qt.

So, entirely reasonably, I got three quarts of strawberries.

So, you must be wondering what the hell I’m going to be doing with that much strawberries, and how the hell they’re going to stay good long enough for me to be able to do anything with them.

Well, you’re gonna be seeing a hell of a lot of strawberry recipes in the near future, that much is for sure.  Including further down in this post.

But how they’ll stay good enough for me to be able to do anything with them for about a week ago is a little trick I learned last year.

What you do is combine one part apple cider, or white, vinegar, to 4 parts or so water.  In my case, what I did was fill up most of a storage container with water, and then top it off with apple cider and white vinegar (see the first pic).  The wash keeps the berries in the fridge for at LEAST a week, if not more.  I ran it on my tomatoes (cherry and full sized) that I picked up today, too, cause I want to see if it’ll work on them, too.  Odds are high it will.

And today began my strawberry odyssey – with strawberry infused vodka.  Which, in my experience, can only end in the best of ways.

Here’s how you make it – take two cups of strawberries, hulled and halved.  Put them in a quart jar (or in two smaller jars, whatever works best, just so long as it seals).  Pour two and a half cups vodka over them.   Put in a dark place to infuse.

And then check on them in a week, and drink.  😉

So, now you have your strawberry vodka.  Surely you’re wondering what to do with it next.  Well, here’s your answer:

Strawberry vodka lemonade with mint.

Doubt me? Here’s a testimonial from a friend about the awesomeness of this drink.  She’s not kidding about how deadly this is, though; me and some friends went through my first jar of vodka with this recipe in a night and we all had killer hangovers the next morning.

How do you make it? Muddle the mint at the bottom of the glass, pour about a third to a half of whatever cup you’re putting this in with the strawberry vodka, then fill it up with your lemonade.

Hey, folks!  It’s been a while, I know, but I haven’t really been cooking that much in the last month or so, and when I have been, it’s been repeats of things I’ve made on here in the past. But, if there would be any interest in a weekly post with recipes of Stuff I’ve Made this Week, I’d be happy to do a weekly roundup. I’ll put a question mark at the end so that folks can chime in.

I actually got to make this twice in the past week, and with slight variations each time.  This is a great summer recipe, especially with minimum and low temperature oven usage.

Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
Makes enough to feed several people multiple days, or one person at minimum a week

Ingredients

  • 1 qt (1.5 lbs) cherry or grape tomatoes (if you have the ability, go for various hues, mine were from a combination of the farmer’s market and my own garden)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled (can be increased if smaller, of if you like garlic)
  • .25 c olive oil
  • .25 c warm water
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 t pepper
  • 2.75 c chicken stock (substitute Parmesan broth if you’re vegetarian)
  • 2.25 c Israeli/pearl couscous (you can also use Lebanese, which is bigger, but then add at least .5 c more of stock/broth to compensate)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • .5 c pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • .33 c fresh parsley, chopped (this can be left out)
  • .25 c fresh mint, torn
  • 1 t fresh thyme, chopped
  • (I also added a few chopped sprigs of oregano in one version)

Preheat your oven to 250, and while it does so, slice your cherry tomatoes in half, laying them out cut sides up on a baking sheet.  Add the unpeeled garlic, and roast in the oven for an hour, until they start to wrinkle at the edges.  Remove from the oven, and set to cool.

Peel the roasted garlic, and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and .5 c of roasted tomatoes until smooth.

Bring your stock to a boil in a large pot, stir in the couscous, and reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered for the length of time specified in the couscous’ instructions (usually 6 minutes, go a bit longer if you do the larger Lebanese couscous).  Remove from heat, cover the pot, and let sit ten minutes. Then, take the baking sheet you used before and spread the couscous out in a single layer, and let it cool. 

(Both the dressing, tomatoes, and couscous can be made ahead of times.)

Take your remaining tomatoes, and your chopped olives, parsley, mint, and thyme, and add to the bowl, stirring in the couscous so that everything mixes together.  Then, add the dressing and give it a few more stirs, until you have something similar to the final picture. 

All of these amounts can be increased or decreased based on personal tastes/diet preferences. I prefer this either chilled, or just at room temperature.

This is the start of the garden for this year – I finally decided to use the front wired off space, as no one seemed to be using it, and with the exception of a few smaller herbs from one of my neighbors, it is just me.

So far, except for the strawberries, which haven’t shown up at the market yet in the form I want to plant them, this is likely gonna be my final garden. I might add another oregano and peppermint, or marjoram, and maybe another cherry tomato plant, but for the most part, I’m happy with what I’ve got going.

The back wall is herbs, either in planters or in the cinder blocks. In order, l to r, there are: peppermint, African blue basil, Genovese basil, chocolate mint (in the orange pot) and Greek oregano. In between the Genovese basil and the chocolate mint, there’s what I’m pretty sure is a lavender plant, and overthrowing most of the garden, what I’m 99% sure is coriander. Can anyone confirm?

The front row are my veggies: l to r, there are cherry tomatoes, two bell peppers (red and orange), and a large tomato plant (husky reds).

All of these are two to three weeks in my care now, and doing spectacularly; the herbs are growing and flowering, and all the veggies are flowering (in the case of the cherry tomato, already putting out small fruits).

If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Basically, the moment this recipe went up on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try these ASAP.  Made these right before tonight’s episode of Hannibal, and snacked a bit on them throughout; fast tracking these was definitely an excellent decision.  

I got to use the herbs at the least fresh from the garden (which’ll get its own post on here eventually), so the amounts used were changed slightly there.  I also didn’t have the patience to zest a lemon, so lemon juice was used instead. Otherwise, this recipe was followed pretty closely to the original.

Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Olives, and Lemon
Lasts 5 to 6 meals, depending on # of meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1.25 c panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T water
  • .5 c crumbled feta cheese
  • .75 t salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • appx 4 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 glugs red wine (I used part of the large bottle of Yellowtail Sweet Red Roo I had in the fridge)
  • 28 oz crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T fresh oregano, torn
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 c kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • 1 T fresh peppermint, torn
  • lemon juice
  • feta cheese crumbles (I used what I had leftover in the cup after using the rest)

Take all of your meatball ingredients and combine them using a fork in a large bowl, until you have one big coherent ball of meat.  Once the Allmeat is combined, break off small chunks and roll until you have the size of meatballs you want (I went with about medium sized). While you start to make the balls, heat up your olive oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the balls once rolled ot the pan, and roll them around with a chopstick in the hot oil to brown completely.  This may take more than one batch of browning.  Once the balls are browned (lol), remove them to a small dish.

Take the remaining fat and add your garlic and onion from the sauce ingredients, cooking until soft (about five minutes). Then, add your red wine, scrape up anything that might’ve stuck to the pan, and cook it down until it’s almost gone.  Then, add your remaining sauce ingredients (except for the feta and lemon juice) to the pan, and bring to a low simmer.  Once simmering, add the meatballs back in, and simmer for another twenty minutes.

Sprinkle the lemon juice and feta over the meatballs, and then nom!