Indian Summer Spinach and Pasta Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

I have been declared the winner of Dreamfield Pasta’s PastaPalooza Recipe contest! My prize is a case of my favorite pasta! The basic recipe (without pasta added) appeared a long time ago, so I thought an update was in order. Besides, I need to practice to get ready to use all that pasta! I honestly do love cooking with Dreamfield’s products. 65% lower glycemic index, only 5 net digestible carbs, and the pastas are delicious.

Assembling these ingredients, I thought this would make a good basket for the TV cooking show Chopped!  What could you make that would impress the judges if you opened the basket and found pasta, spinach, sweet curry, Granny Smith apples, mango chutney, and peanuts?  How about …

INDIAN SUMMER PENNE & SPINACH WITH CURRY VINAiGRETTE

1 box Dreamfields Penne Rigate (Rotini works great, too.)

3 -4  cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

2/3 cup olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons mango chutney

2 to 3 teaspoons sweet curry powder, or to taste (I use Penzey’s)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
Cook pasta, then drain and rinse with cold water until completely cooled. Prepare dressing by putting all ingredients in jar with lid. Cover and shake to mix. Place cooled pasta in large bowl. Toss with spinach. Top with cranberries, peanuts, onions, apple and sesame seeds; drizzle with dressing. Toss gently and serve. Leftover salad is good the next day if covered and refrigerated.

Okra Two Ways

It took me a long time to find out how much I enjoyed okra!  Both growing and cooking it.  When I was growing up, Grandma and Daddy had the plants in their gardens, but I didn’t like picking it because it made my arms sting.  The only way it was ever cooked was boiled with onions and tomatoes (slimy!) or sliced, dredged in cornmeal, and crisp fried with onions.  I liked fried okra, and cooked it after I had my own family, also adding it when I made gumbo.  A truth for life applies here:  sometimes it is the thing you feel most resistance to that you learn from.  Once I started planting okra and finding the new varieties both beautiful and with leaves that didn’t sting,  I loved it for its rewarding hearty and hardy growth, its lovely blooms, and delicious harvest. the top photo is a platter of yummy okra patties, or cakes that I made this week.  this dish takes cornbread to a new level!

Okra Cakes

1 pound fresh okra, chopped fine

1 cup onion chopped fine

3 jalapenos, minced (optional)

3 Tablespoons minced garlic

3 teaspoon Tony Cachere seasoning

3 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup water

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

Heat about an inch of cooking oil in skillet.  Mix okra, onion, garlic, peppers seasonings, water, and eggs in large bowl.  In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, combine and stir.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil, cook until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

If you want a simpler, quicker way to use those beautiful pods, simply rinse whole pods, pat them dry, trim the stem off,  toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet with a sprinkle of sea salt.  Then I roast them at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until they reach the level of crispness I want. Better than potato chips!  Promise!

xx

Breakfast Bananas Foster

Four speckled bananas on the counter on a Saturday morning would ordinarily set me to pulling out bread pans to make banana bread.  I have been trying to keep meals healthy yet tempting and a slice of banana bread certainly makes the list.  But I like variety, and I kept thinking about the banana flambe dishes we have occasionally enjoyed in restaurants that add the flair of tableside flaming to their menu.  So I did a little internet search, and sure enough, I am not the first one that added this to his/her breakfast choices!  This recipe is adapted from several I liked (Mario Batali’s Bananas Foster, www.victoriouseating.wordpress.com, and others.)  As usual, my choice of ingredients was based on the content of my pantry. I never run to the store for a missing ingredient. In this case, I think it worked well. Joe took one bite and declared he is the luckiest man alive.  He does like bananas.  This would be delicious served over a bowl of Greek yogurt or traditional pancakes, but Dutch Baby pancakes are so easy and I could make the banana sauce while it was baking. I have posted that recipe here before, but will include it again.

 

Dutch Baby           Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  4 – 6 servings

1/3 cup butter (6 Tablespoons)

1 cup milk

4 eggs

1 cup flour

pinch salt

 Put butter into  8-10 inch iron skillet, place in oven to melt. Put rest of ingredients into blender and mix.  Remove skillet, pour batter into butter, return to oven for 20 minutes or until puffed. While this is baking, make the Bananas Foster!

 

Breakfast Bananas Foster  (served over Dutch Baby)

4 Ripe bananas, sliced into rounds and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice

 1/3 cup butter

 2 cinnamon sticks

 1/3 cup light brown sugar

 2 teaspoons vanilla

 pinch of salt

 ¼ cup Triple Sec

 ½ cup brandy

 Melt butter with brown sugar over low hat and stir with cinnamon sticks and lemon zest until sugar dissolves and begins to caramelize. Remove from heat.  Add vanilla, pinch of salt, and triple sec, return to heat while stirring.  Stir in bananas and heat about 2 minutes.  Remove from stove.  Drizzle brandy over the mixture and carefully light with long-handled igniter.  Serve over freshly baked wedges of Dutch Baby Pancake. You can use leftover bananas to make banana bread!

 

 

 

Tea Marbled Eggs

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  ~ Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright

I would add to the above “…and cooking!”  I find that pulling out a good recipe and getting busy in the kitchen is not only one of the nicest things about life, it is good medicine for me when I am feeling things are not so nice. I call it “kitchen therapy.”  Sometimes, I just want to get a pot of a family favorite soup started to bubble on the stove, a comfort food.  At other times, I look for something new and different to have fun cooking.  Last week after I brought Joe home from the hospital and got a little sleep, one of the first things I needed to do was get breakfast ready. While I was reading an email newsletter, I saw a link for these amazing tea stained and flavored eggs which have an ancient Chinese origin.

Joe loves boiled eggs.  I had all the ingredients and I had plenty of time for them to cook, so I put a large pan of eggs on the stove, covered them water, brought all to a boil, turned off the heat and covered the pan for 12 minutes (perfect way to hardboil eggs!) and gathered the few things needed to make the marbling “stuff.”  The results speak for themselves.  It was a fancy breakfast, helped us laugh alot while we were peeling them, and I have a new Keepers recipe. Serve them when you make a Chinese dinner, or use them for making deviled eggs.  They are pretty enough to grace a party table, and so much fun that my 9 year old granddaughter took the recipe home to make them herself.

Tea Infused Marbled Eggs
12 eggs

4 teaspoons black tea leaves ( I used Earl Grey)
8 teaspoons green tea leaves
2 whole star anise (I omitted because I didn’t have these)
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 cups of water

Hard boil the eggs and set them aside (do not peel them).

Combine all the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a full boil.

Gently tap each egg with the back of a metal spoon until they are cracked all over. The more cracks, the more marbled the eggs will be, but be careful to leave the cracked shell on. Put the cracked eggs into the pan with the tea mix and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Some recipes say cook them longer, but we like them just fine after 30 minutes. Drain and peel. You may serve them hot or cold.

You can eat them with a small dipping bowl of soy sauce, or make a flavored mayonnaise by adding to 1/2 cup mayonnaise a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of the liquid you used to infuse the eggs.

I adapted my recipe from those on www.rosemaryhouse.blogspot.com and www.epicurious.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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xxx