Thursday, July 14, 2011

SummER Yumminess part 2

The same evening that I made the fig dish I also made this dish.

Spinach and Feta Pasta

In my bountiful basket I received a container of mushrooms, a large bunch of spinach, and 5 tomatoes on the vine. I knew I wanted to use all of these ingredients together because they complement each other so well so I found this recipe and tried it out. It was superb. A nice one pan dish that cooks up fast and gives you a healthy meal. So lets get on with the ingredients.

1 (8 ounce) package of pasta, I used rotini or you could do penne
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion (about 1/2 an onion)
3 C chopped tomatoes (make sure they are good and ripe)
3 cloves garlic minced(use your masher, Soooo much easier)
1 C sliced fresh mushrooms
2-3 C spinach leaves, packed(they cook down so if you have extra, throw it in)
Salt and pepper
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
8 ounces feta cheese crumbled
optional: italian seasoning(one that has a little bit of everything, I like Emeril's italian seasoning)

1. Get all your ingredients ready. Squeeze out your tomatoes because you don't want seeds in your meal. I minced my garlic and that is such a pain, just use a garlic masher. Make sure you rinse off your mushrooms and your spinach unless you buy that prepackaged spinach, which is a great time saver. The spinach really cooks down so you can add extra.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente; drain.

3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic and cook until golden brown (yum smells so good. ) Mix in tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Season with salt pepper and red pepper flakes. (you really need the red pepper flakes they add just the right amount of heat). I also added in a couple shakes of italian seasoning because it smelled like it needed some more seasoning. Cook 2 minutes until tomatoes are heated through and spinach is wilted.

4. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pasta and feta cheese, cook until heated through and then serve.

I made this with a caesar salad and the fig dish and it was an exceptional meal, if you want it to be a little more hearty you could add some grilled chicken to it.

Prep time: 25 min    Cook time: 15 min   Ready in: 40 min  Servings: 4-6 people

I wanted a beautiful picture of it all plated but we were hungry so we just got down to eating it. :)

SUMMER Yumminess

 Feels like it has taken me a month to really get into summer. I love summer because of all the wonderful produce that is available which really inspires my cooking. This past week I bought a bountiful basket and part of my basket were a container of figs. Now, I've never eaten figs before so I did a search on to check out some fun reviewed recipes. Figs are a savory fruit that are mildly sweet so they are better if you can caramelize them in some way. So I decided on a recipe of

Figs and Toasted Almonds Brie

I love to pair cheese and fruit together so I thought this would be wonderful. So here are your ingredients.

1/3 C Brown sugar
3 Tbs. water
6-7 fresh figs, stemmed and sliced into eighths
1/2 C toasted almonds chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) round 4 1/4-inch diameter round Brie Cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder, or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C) If you have raw almonds, place them on a cookie sheet inside the oven. Check them in about 10 minutes, they should have dark spots and a couple might be splitting a little and you can usually smell them.

2. Slice the tops off your figs, rinse them in water and then slice into eighths.

3. Heat brown sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add your sliced figs and cook for about 10 minutes until softened.

Optional ingredient: After making this dish I thought it needed a little something. I thought a little spice would be wonderful in it so you could add a dash of chili powder or a little red pepper. I think it would add a great depth of flavor to the dish.

4. Add the chopped almonds and vanilla.(you'll notice I used whole almonds for mine, it would be much better if they were chopped a little) Place the Brie wheel in a baking dish. (I cut off the outside crust  on my brie. I was also in a rush to find some Brie that wasn't super expensive so I bought a Brie log from trader joes and sliced off the outside crust. It needed more brie so next time I will buy an actual round.) Pour the fig mixture on top of the cheese and place in the oven.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened but not melted. Serve with crackers. (I used ritz crackers)

This was absolutely delicious, it got rave reviews. I had some left over for the next night so I just microwaved it. It would be enough for 8-12 people or if you brought it for a party it would be perfect.