Tag Archives: bacon

CSA Week 3: Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

Got my third farm box and it was a doozy! The head of lettuce was almost 2 feet in diameter and when washed and stowed, took up two large storage containers. I don’t know what they feed this stuff, but I will be eating lots of salad this week.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

CSA Box #3. Enormous leaf lettuce, kale, parsley, kohlrabi, sweet onions, zucchini, a weird squash, blueberries, fava beans, and a purple basil plant.

Since I had so much lettuce for salads, I decided to get more creative with the kale (I still have some kale left from last week too, yikes!). For this recipe I took some inspiration from creamed spinach. I’ve always loved the rich creamy flavor and how the cream and garlic and onions mellowed the flavor of the greens, but I’ve never liked the mushy texture. But hey, grind that stuff up like a pesto and toss with some springy pasta and now you’re talking! My daughter actually hates creamed spinach and she’s not such a big kale fan either, but she really liked this. Of course, you toss bacon into just about anything and she’ll eat it.

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli

Creamy Kale Fusilli (with Bacon!)

5-6 strips of bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped (I used the flat leaf “dinosaur” kale)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper, just a pinch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package fusilli or rotini

Chop bacon and cook it in a pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and wipe pan clean.

Cook pasta until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the onion. Cook for a minute or two and then add the kale, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until veggies are soft. Add cream and heat through. Put mixture into a food processor or blender and process until it’s creamy, sort of similar to a pesto consistency (if you like your pasta a little more chunky and rustic you can skip this step).

Drain pasta (reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water). Combine pasta, bacon, parmesan and kale mixture and toss to combine. If needed, add some pasta water a little at a time until it’s the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

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BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

In one of my many flashes of brilliance, I decided to turn one of my favorite sandwiches into a pasta salad.  And I just have to say, it was incredible!

The greens make for a lighter than usual pasta dish and the bottled dressing make it quick to throw together (and your waistline will thank you for skipping the mayo!).  I used a Champagne Vinaigrette I found at Trader Joe’s that is one of my current favorites, but feel free to use a different brand or even a different vinaigrette if there’s one you love.

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

BLT Pasta Salad with Feta and Olives

4-5 strips of bacon
12 ounces rotini pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 big handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/2 cup black olives, halved
1/2 cup feta
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup Champagne Vinaigrette dressing
Salt & pepper

Heat water to boiling.  Boil pasta until it is tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.  Drain well.

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove from skillet and let drain and cool on paper towels while you assemble the salad.

In a large serving bowl combine tomatoes, greens, olives, green onions and feta.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Bright fresh veggies and cheese.

Add pasta and bacon and toss to combine.  Add salad dressing, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more as needed to lightly dress the pasta.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can't find this one.

I am in love with this dressing, but feel free to substitute one you like if you can’t find this one.

Taste and add salt & pepper or more dressing if needed.  Toss and serve immediately.

 

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Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Even though I love veggies, I still occasionally come across one I haven’t tried before.  This week at farmer’s market, a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard caught my eye.  I had to buy it.

Rainbow Chard.  Isn't it pretty?

Rainbow Chard. Isn’t it pretty?

I asked the vendor how he normally cooks it and he sheepishly admitted that he’d never actually tried it himself.  What?  So…left to my own devices I went home and dug up some recipes online and hit on one that we all really liked.

I’m usually not a big fan of greens.  I didn’t grow up eating them, so I’ve slowly introduced myself to them.  I like almost all of them raw, and just recently have started cooking them now and then.  While I would not consider chard (or any leafy greens really) to be an entry level vegetable, I really enjoyed this.  While raw, it was quite bitter, but a quick saute mellowed the bite substantially.  The sweetness of the shallot and vinegar and smokiness of the bacon complemented the slight bitterness of the greens, adding up to a tasty dish indeed.   Add a creamy, cheesy polenta for contrast and it was absolutely delicious.  If you’re wondering if the kids will eat it, I can only say that mine both cleaned their plates with a smile on their faces.

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta
(from Sunset)

1 cup polenta
1/2 tsp. salt
4 slices thick cut bacon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bunches rainbow chard, ribs cut into 1/2 inch sections and leaves roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Cook polenta with salt as package directs.  Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

Discard bacon fat and heat olive oil in the same pan. Cook shallots, garlic and chard ribs until softened, about 4 minutes.  Stir in chard leaves, chile flakes and 1/3 cup water.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Stir butter and cheese into polenta and spoon into bowls.  Toss chard with vinegar and spoon over polenta.  Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top.  Serves 4.

Note:  This meal can easily be made vegetarian by simply eliminating the bacon.

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Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I always have a more productive day (with a lot less snacking) if I start off with a little protein in the morning.  These little egg cups are quick to throw together and they bake while you’re getting dressed and brushing your teeth.  Perfect for weekday mornings.  Or any mornings.  Or an afternoon snack.

I usually keep a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge for little things like this.  I prefer the kind that are packed in olive oil, but you can use any kind you like.  They give a huge punch of flavor to just about anything.  I had leftover asparagus from dinner the night before.  If you don’t I would recommend a quick toss in a pan or microwave just to soften it a bit, although if you like it on the crunchy side, it’s not absolutely necessary.  Feel free to adjust the ingredients in this dish to your tastes, adding or removing elements as you like.

Baked eggs with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Baked eggs with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

For each ramekin:

2-3 stalks asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced or chopped (I usually buy the ones already in julienne strips)
1 strip bacon
1-2 eggs
1-2 tbsp. crumbled or shredded cheese (I used queso fresco)
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Spray each ramekin lightly with cooking spray or rub with olive oil.  Cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Crumble or chop.

Layer your ingredients in the ramekins.  I started with the asparagus.

aspsundriedeggs

Then the sun-dried tomatoes. No worries if there are some bits of cold oil stuck to them, it permeates the dish nicely as it cooks.

aspsundriedeggs2

Top with bacon and some of the cheese.

aspsundriedeggs3

Break two eggs carefully on top.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and remaining cheese.

aspsundriedeggs4

Carefully put into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until eggs are set.  This paired perfectly with some homemade hash browns.  Want to know how to get them just right?  Click here for my hash brown recipe.

 

Baked eggs with hash browns on the side.  Mmmm!

Baked eggs with hash browns on the side. Mmmm!

 

 

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Grilled PBBJ (did she just say bacon?). Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Sometimes amid the open-fridge staring, when your mind is blank and you can’t figure out what to make, inspiration strikes.

An old favorite, a farmer’s market find, and a cupboard staple meet in what could possibly be the best sandwich ever created.  I don’t say this lightly, because there are a lot of good sandwiches out there.  But this…it was perfection.  Make it.  Make it today.  Don’t worry if it sounds weird.  It’s not.  It’s meant to be.  It’s your destiny.

I'll bet you never found this in your lunch sack when you were a kid.

I’ll bet you never found this in your lunch sack when you were a kid.

Grilled PBBJ (Peanut Butter, BACON! & Jam) Sandwich

2 slices of decent bread
1-2 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (I like the natural kind)
2-3 slices bacon
1 tbsp. jam (I used raspberry pepper jam)
1 tsp. butter

For the best results, use great ingredients.  Natural peanut butter, homemade (by someone) jam, good bread.  Real butter.  I scored some truly amazing jam at farmers market, raspberry pepper jam!  Use your favorite.

Good ingredients = good sandwich.  These are my faves.

Good ingredients = good sandwich. These are my faves.

Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels.  If you’re using the same skillet (and why wouldn’t you), wipe out all the bacon grease before proceeding.

Heat skillet over medium heat.  Lightly spread a bit of butter on one side of the bread slices.  On the other side of one slice spread a liberal coating of peanut butter.  If there is a way to do this without getting butter on yourself, I haven’t found it.  Resign yourself to getting dirty.  Place butter side down in the pan.  Top with bacon.

That's what I'm talking about.

That’s what I’m talking about.

On the other side of the other piece of bread, spread jam.

My new favorite jam.  I love farmer's market.

My new favorite jam. I love farmer’s market.

Place jam side down, butter side up on top of the bacon.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.  Cut in triangles and eat!

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A Studly Spud

Normally I keep potatoes firmly in side dish territory.  They are one of my favorite foods but rarely do the get the whole spotlight at any meal.  However, last night I found myself with several large leftover baked potatoes and a tired, lazy attitude.  I peeked in my fridge and they looked just like dinner to me.  Turns out if you pile some good stuff on top, you really don’t need anything else!

A studly spud.  All dressed up and ready to eat!

A studly spud. All dressed up and ready to eat!

Studly Spuds
For each potato:

Large russet potato
2 strips bacon
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 tsp. butter
Salt & pepper
Greek yogurt for topping

Poke each potato several times with a knife or fork and bake at 375˚ for an hour or so until tender.  Turn off oven and leave them sitting in there so they stay hot while you cook the topping.  In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Discard grease.  Add onion to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and butter and cook and stir 1-2 minutes more.  Crumble bacon back into the mixture. Add a pinch of salt & pepper and stir to combine.

Slice the top of the baked potato down the center.  Fluff insides with a fork.  Pour bacon/tomato mixture over the top.  Add a dollop of plain greek yogurt or sour cream to the top if desired.

Baked potatoes to die for.  A little greek yogurt on top finished it off perfectly!

Baked potatoes to die for. A little greek yogurt on top finished it off perfectly!

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Stuffed Baked Potato Frittata

I have had a theory for quite some time that almost any leftovers can be mixed with scrambled eggs to make a perfect breakfast.  A frittata is one of the best ways to put this to the test.  On this occasion, I had leftover baked potatoes and broccoli from the night before.  Combined with a few other ingredients, it reminded me exactly of a stuffed baked potato.  But for breakfast.  Mmm. I love breakfast.  But I would eat this for any meal of the day.

Stuffed Baked Potato Frittata

Stuffed Baked Potato Frittata

2 baked yukon gold potatoes (or microwave for 5 minutes or so until tender), sliced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup steamed broccoli
4 strips bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs
Salt & pepper
Sour cream (optional)

Get all your ingredients ready before you start cooking.  Beat eggs with a little salt & pepper in a bowl and set aside.  Shred cheese, chop veggies.

If you don’t have leftover potatoes and veggies, just nuke them in the microwave for a few minutes until tender.

Cook bacon in a medium skillet until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Drain off bacon grease, just leaving enough to coat the bottom of the pan (1-2 tsp.).  Add potatoes and onion to pan.  Sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is tender.  Beat eggs with a little salt & pepper in a bowl and set aside.  Crumble bacon and add that and the broccoli to the potatoes.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Pour eggs over the top and swirl around to coat all the ingredients.

Swirl around evenly in the pan. Don’t worry if the veggies are sticking out of the egg mixture.

Cover and turn heat down to medium low.  Cook for 10 minutes or so until eggs on top are cooked (will look a little poofy).

All set up and ready to eat!

Cut into wedges, top with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

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Brussels Sprouts, Breadcrumbs and Bacon

My desk is somewhat of an archeological dig.  There are layers and layers of things that I have every intention of addressing at some point.  Last night a pile was dislodged and a page ripped from a magazine floated down to my feet.  As I picked it up, I realized I held the solution for dinner in my hands.  And there was the added bonus that I was sufficiently distracted by my discovery that I completely forgot whatever I was digging for in the first place.  Who says a messy desk is a bad thing?

At first I thought these ingredients sounded like a strange combination, but the flavors work together perfectly and it’s incredibly flavorful.  My daughter is still talking about how good it was!  For a vegetarian option, just eliminate the bacon.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Breadcrumbs and Bacon

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Breadcrumbs & Bacon
(adapted from Cooking Light)

8 ounces rigatoni pasta (or whatever shape you like)
4-5 strips bacon (optional, leave out for a vegetarian meal)
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup panko
12 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices each
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 – 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 ounces fresh parmesan cheese, coarsely grated or shaved
2 tsp. pine nuts, toasted

Cook pasta until tender.  Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add panko to pan.  Cook  3 minutes until browned, stirring frequently.  Set aside.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Discard bacon grease.  (I usually keep about a tablespoon in there to cook with but if you want to be a little healthier, or if you aren’t using the bacon, wipe out grease and use olive oil instead).

Add Brussels sprouts to pan.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yum! I love Brussels Sprouts.

Add onion and garlic and continue to cook 3 more minutes or until onion is tender. and the Brussels sprouts are lightly browned.  Add broth, lemon rind, lemon juice, thyme leaves, salt & pepper.  Cover and cook 2 minutes or until sprouts are crisp-tender.  Add mixture. to pasta and toss well.  Sprinkle with cheese, pine nuts, breadcrumbs and crumbled bacon.  Serve immediately.

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Hearty Spinach Salad

I grew up thinking spinach was disgusting.  And it was.  Because the spinach of my youth looked a lot like this:

Canned Spinach. Blech!

Nothing can make that look or taste appetizing to me.  And don’t even get me started on the nasty smell.  All of the Popeye cartoons in the world would still not make me want to eat it. Canned spinach is the reason kids hate vegetables.

Luckily, as often happens, in my food journey somewhere along the line I discovered that spinach actually comes from a plant, not a can.  And the fresh stuff is pretty darn good!  In fact, it’s one of my favorite ingredients, and not just for salad.  You can chop up fresh spinach and put it in just about anything, from casseroles and omelets to meatloaf.

I haven’t eaten bacon since before we started Project Veggie.  You could make this without it (just saute the onions in a little butter or olive oil instead).  But I didn’t do that.  I miss bacon sometimes.  And combined with the spinach and apple juice and all the other good stuff in here, it was REALLY good. The potatoes, bacon and eggs also give this salad some nice substance, making it perfect for a main dish.

Hearty Spinach Salad. Much better!

Hearty Spinach Salad

1 – 10 oz. package fresh baby spinach
4-6 small red potatoes, cooked and diced
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2-4 bacon strips
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine spinach, potatoes, eggs, and mushrooms in large salad bowl.  Cook bacon and remove to drain on paper towels.  Cook onion in bacon drippings until tender.  Combine cornstarch, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and pepper.  Stir into skillet with onions.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Pour over spinach mixture.  Crumble bacon on top and toss to combine.

Served with french bread on the side. Make sure you dig down and get all the good stuff from the bottom of the bowl!

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