Wednesday, July 22

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage & Cherry Tomatoes

A quick weeknight pasta with crumbled sausage and fresh tomatoes

Pasta with Sausage and Tomatoes

One of my favorite simple meals to make in the summer is pasta tossed with fresh cherry or grape tomatoes. It's so easy, but when the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and the tomatoes are sweet and juicy, it tastes just like you're sitting down for dinner in Italy. I've been subjecting my husband to a lot of vegetarian meals lately, so I added in some crumbled Italian sausage to this recipe to give him some meat. Combined with lightly-cooked tomatoes and garlic, this forms the entire "sauce" for the pasta. One important tip is that for a pasta with so few ingredients, make sure that you are really salting your boiling water before cooking pasta. If in doubt, taste a spoonful of water before adding the orecchiette - it should taste salty. Most people don't add enough salt and then the pasta doesn't have any flavor to it.

Related Recipes:
- Sausage & Cherry Tomato Bake
- Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes, Burrata, & Breadcrumbs
- Spaghetti with Chunky Cherry Tomato Sauce

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage & Cherry Tomatoes:
- 1 lb. orecchiette or similar shaped pasta
- 3/4 lb. fresh Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- handful of fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
- pinch of red chile flakes
- kosher salt
- black pepper

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Let the sausage brown and cook through, breaking up the sausage with the back of a spoon as it cooks.
  • Once the water is boiling, add a few large pinches of salt and the pasta. Cook according to package directions for al dente.
  • Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the tomatoes, chile flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and lightly pressing on the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to break them up a bit. The tomatoes should be soft but should still hold most of their shape.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 c. pasta cooking water.
  • Add the sausage back to the pot with the tomatoes, along with the pasta, pasta water, and parmesan.
  • Stir everything together until well mixed and check for seasoning. Just before serving, sprinkle with basil.

Serves four-six

Tuesday, July 14

Grilled Scallops with Bacon-Scallion Relish

Sweet, meaty grilled scallops with smokey bacon relish

Bobby Flay's Grilled Sea Scallops with Green Onion Relish and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Like shrimp, scallops are a relatively easy and quick-cooking seafood to make on the grill. This recipe from Bobby Flay calls for simply grilling scallops with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and then topping them with a tasty sauce and relish made from bacon and scallions. The combination of sweet, succulent scallops and salty, fatty bacon are a perfect pairing. The addition of vinegar and raw scallions cuts through the richness and keep it from feeling too heavy. This is one of those dishes that only takes about twenty minutes but is fancy enough for a special occasion.

Related Recipes:
- Sticky Asian Scallops
JalapeƱo Corn Soup with Seared Scallops
- Lobster, Corn, & Bacon Chowder

Grilled Scallops with Bacon-Scallion Relish:
- 1/2 lb. large sea scallops, preferably dry-packed, side muscle removed
- 1/4 lb. bacon, diced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- canola oil, for brushing scallops
- kosher salt
- black pepper

  • Heat a grill to high.
  • Add the bacon to a skillet over medium heat and cook for 6-10 minutes, or until crisp and brown.
  • Remove the bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the scallion to the bacon and stir to combine.
  • Brush the scallops with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the scallops for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once, then transfer to a plate or platter.
  • Add the shallots to the pan with bacon fat and cook for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Add the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the mustard, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the scallops and sprinkle with the bacon and scallions.

Serves two

Thursday, July 9

Peach & Almond Clafoutis

A fluffy, custardy baked pancake with fresh peaches and slivered almonds

Peach Almond Clafoutis

Clafoutis (pronounced claw-foo-tee) is a French dessert that's a cross between a baked custard and a pancake. Typically made with cherries, this peach version from Mimi Thorisson is the perfect recipe to make right now when the fruit is at its peak. As the clafoutis bake, the peaches soften and their juices mix with the custard to form a rich and sweet batter. The crunch of buttery toasted almonds add great texture to the top of the dish. I love to serve this as a rustic dessert by putting it in the middle of the table and letting everyone serve themselves with a big spoon. Any leftovers are fair game for breakfast.

More Peach Recipes:
- White Peach Upside-Down Pancakes
- Peach Tart with Olive Oil Crust
- Grilled Peach & Honey Mascarpone Tarts

Peach & Almond Clafoutis:
- 4 peaches, peeled, pitted, and quartered
- 4 eggs
- 1 c. whole milk
- 2/3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted or stirred to remove lumps
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. slivered almonds
- 3 tbsp. butter, melted, plus more for greasing dish
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

  • Grease a 9" round cake pan, baking dish, or skillet and arrange the peaches in a single layer in the dish.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for a couple minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the flour, salt, nutmeg, milk, and melted butter and stir until smooth and lump-free. Don't overmix.
  • Pour the batter over the peaches and sprinkle with the almonds.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
  • Let cool slightly before serving. This is great with powdered sugar, whipped cream, or ice cream.

Serves four-six

Tuesday, July 7

Grilled Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Fresh summer vegetables layered with noodles and lots of cheese

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

We've been grilling a ton of vegetables this summer to use in tacos, grain bowls, and as simple side dishes. I love the variety of fresh produce available at our market this time of year when everything is in season and at its peak. This lasagna showcases some of my favorite summer vegetables - eggplant, squash, greens, and carrots - and layers them between tender noodles and lots of cheese. The recipe, which I adapted from Food52, calls for a few steps: grilling the vegetables, making a homemade tomato sauce, creating the ricotta filling, and soaking the noodles before assembly, which makes it a project to dedicate a couple of hours to on a weekend. That said, the results are worth the effort and the lasagna will feed a boatload of hungry people. My husband and I ate this for almost a week straight before it was finished and the leftovers taste even better than the original!

Related Recipes:
- Grilled Eggplant & Ricotta Roll-Ups
- Mushroom & Lamb Bolognese Lasagna
- Homemade Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli

Grilled Summer Vegetable Lasagna:
- 3/4 lb. no-boil lasagna noodles
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 28 oz. crushed canned tomatoes
- 14 oz. canned tomato puree
- 1 egg
- 3 large or 4 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 1-2 large Japanese eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
- 4 c. baby spinach or arugula or other similar green
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 bunch medium carrots, cut into coins
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. white wine
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- kosher salt
- black pepper

Tomato Sauce
  • In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and add in the onion and carrots. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until starting to soften and brown.
  • Add in the white wine and let it reduce by half, then add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, 1/2 tbsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, then let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Ricotta Filling
  • Add the greens and a splash of water to a microwaveable container and microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until wilted. Wrap in a kitchen towel to squeeze out as much water as you can and roughly chop.
  • Combine the greens with the ricotta, parmesan, egg, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
Grill Vegetables
  • Heat a grill or grill pan to high.
  • Brush the squash and eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dice.
Assemble Lasagna
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Fill a large bowl with hot water and add in some of the lasagna noodles (don't add too many at a time or they will stick together).
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish.
  • Add a layer of noodles that have soaked for a minute in the hot water, overlapping them slightly in the pan and adding more noodles to soak in the water as you go.
  • Add 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, then half of the grilled zucchini. 
  • Add another layer of sauce, noodles, and ricotta and then all of the eggplant.
  • Repeat with another layer of sauce, noodles, ricotta, and zucchini.
  • For your final layer, add more sauce, noodles, sauce, and then cover the entire top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan.
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serves ten-fourteen