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Posts Tagged ‘pine nuts’


Caponata is an Italian eggplant dip that I love for parties. It’s more healthy than most of my party appetizers and it’s vegetarian, so everyone likes it. This version has some Sicilian flavors (where the cuisine is highly influenced by its proximity to Africa), including some cinnamon, pine nuts, and currants. Red pepper flakes give it a little kick, as well. I recently made it when we had people over after a concert, and it was a big hit.

Eggplant Caponata

1 onion, chopped into 1″ dice

1 eggplant, chopped into 1″ dice

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons currants

1 tablespoon chili flakes

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons thyme

1/4 cup tomato sauce (your own or your favorite bottled)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Saute the onion in a couple tablespoons olive oil until they soften. Add the pine nuts and currants. Continue to cook for a minute. Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and thyme. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the eggplant is softened. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, until all the flavors combine and cook down.

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Sometimes I realize the fridge is empty but the store is so far away….those are the times I look to the pantry to figure out what I can piece together. I usually have a can of Italian tuna, which is a great way to get some protein into what would normally just be starch-based. Add some Sicilian staples like pine nuts and currants along with some onion and garlic from fridge scraps, and a meal takes shape. This off-the-cuff meal ended up being a favorite for the week!

Sicilian Pantry Pasta

1/2 box linguine or other long pasta

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 anchovies

1/4 cup currants soaked in a couple tablespoons of sherry or wine

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino

1 can Italian tuna, drained

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water a minute short of package instructions.

Meanwhile,  saute the onion, red pepper flakes, and anchovies in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, until the onion softens. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the tuna, pine nuts, and currants. Add the pasta and a little of the pasta cooking water.

In another pan, toast the breadcrumbs in a tablespoon of olive oil until they start to turn a little brown. Add most of the grated cheese and toss to combine. Pour the toasted breadcrumbs over the pasta and combine. Serve immediately with the rest of the grated cheese and parsley sprinkled on top. Optional, drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top to finish it.

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I have a lot of meatballs on here by now: classic spaghetti and meatballs, tuna meatballs, and chicken meatballs, and I thought it was time for vegetarian meatballs. These were inspired by a couple different recipes I saw across the blogosphere and they disappeared so quickly that I will have to make them again. They’re perfect for a party where meat-eaters and veggies alike will love them.

Lentil Meatballs

2 cups cooked lentils

1 cup drained and rinsed chickpeas

2 eggs

1/2 cup ricotta or goat cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon aleppo pepper

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it creates a paste. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until they start to brown on top.  Squeeze a whole lemon over them before serving.

Lemon Pesto

3 cups basil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined. Spoon over the meatballs or use as a dip on the side.

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I won a box of avocados from Serious Eats a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been working on some recipes with them. This avocado pesto worked well with this whole wheat fresh pasta, and also as a topping for some deliciously sweet scallops from the farmers market. The avocado gives it a creaminess and richness that you don’t expect, and the lime juice gives it a little tart bite. I still love pesto genovese, but this was a nice change.

Avocado Pesto

1 avocado

2 limes zested and juiced

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 cup arugula

1 cup basil

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove

Combine all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend. I like to put the cheese and nuts in first to make sure they get ground up before you introduce the other ingredients, otherwise you might get pieces of cheese or nuts that stay whole in the final sauce. Spoon onto scallops, toss with pasta, or use in any way you might use regular pesto!

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These were so good, that they might be the favorite meatballs around the apartment. In the New Year, we’re trying to be a little more healthy, and so….no red meat for a while…or at least as long as we can hold out. The cinnamon gives them a little unusual flavor that’s hard to place but so wonderful in the marinara sauce. I used some homemade sauce that I had leftover in the fridge, but you could use your favorite bottled sauce if you don’t have any.

Tuna Meatballs

1 can Italian tuna in olive oil, oil drained out

1/4 cup dried currants

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange juice

Marinara sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll into meatballs and add to hot pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. They are very delicate, so don’t turn them more than necessary. Once they are browned on all sides, add marinara sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes.

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Seared scallops are one of my favorite things, and I make them a lot. My recent favorite was the scallop crudo I made a couple weeks ago, it was amazingly delicious and will definitely show up on a dinner party menu soon. Today I picked up some at the farmers market, and made a quick lunch. I already had the piquillo pepper sauce left from a previous dinner and some baby spinach that I needed to use.

Seared Scallops over Spinach with Pine Nuts

1/2 pound scallops, dried and seasoned

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 bag baby spinach

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 handful toasted pine nuts

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with half the olive oil. Once they start to brown (about 4 minutes), flip to finish on the other side for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic and spinach in the remaining olive oil in another pan. Add the sherry vinegar and some salt to season. Cook for a minute and add the pine nuts. Remove to a plate and arrange the scallops over the top.

Piquillo Pepper Sauce

1 cup piquillo peppers (a spanish sweet red pepper roasted and canned or bottled)

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend. Taste to make sure the seasoning is correct, depending on the amount of salt in your peppers, you may need to add more or less.

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I had the swiss chard stems at a restaurant in Brooklyn called Al Di La, where they use the greens in their gnudi and created a way to use the stems. The key is to cook them down a bit until they become tender. I loved the agrodolce they sauced it with, so I created my own version and I’ve started using it on all sorts of greens and vegetables. You can also sprinkle some toasted pine nuts over the top to give it some crunch and added complexity.

Swiss Chard in Agrodolce

1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup chicken stock or water

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (Optional)

Saute the swiss chard stems in the olive oil for a few minutes until they start to break down (with a little salt). Add the stock and wine and let them cook down for a few more minutes, then add the swiss chard leaves. Once they have wilted, add the vinegar and honey. Let it cook down until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the swiss chard is soft. You can add some toasted pine nuts over the top, if you want some added crunch.

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