If you don’t love the fall, well, you may want to examine your sanity. I can think of few things that are better than a crisp fall day with sun shining, leaves turning and the faint scent of spiced cider in the air. I love fall jackets, apple picking and just about ANYTHING made with pumpkins.
Each year I add a new set of dishes to my fall flavors repertoire, which very often combines pumpkin, sweet potato or squash and some kind of cheese. In years past I have created Pumpkin Lasagna, Mac ‘n Sweet Potato Cheesy Sauce and even Pumpkin Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fried Shallots. The Nosher even has a recipe for Pumpkin Challah!
The first pumpkin dish of my Autumn might seem like a weird combination, but I assure you it is savory, satisfying and delicious – Pumpkin Corn Ricotta Enchiladas! This recipe was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite blogs called “Naturally Ella” which features seasonal, vegetarian food that always looks beautiful and delicious. Erin’s Roasted Corn Ricotta Enchiladas with Chipotle Tomato Sauce easily morphed into my version using pumpkin puree and a short-cut using canned tomato sauce.
This is a great dish to make on a Sunday to eat for dinner during the week, or even for a dairy lunch during Sukkot. After all – enchiladas are “stuffed’ making this (almost) traditional for the festival holiday.
2 ears fresh corn
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
Pinch fresh pepper
1 cup ricotta
½ cup pumpkin puree (fresh preferably, but canned is fine)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh lime zest
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
2 ½ cups canned tomato puree
2-3 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
4-6 whole wheat tortillas
½ cup grated cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove corn from the cob and place in a small bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread corn out onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until kernels are soft and starting to turn golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, pumpkin puree, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Add cooled corn to ricotta mixture.
In a small sauce pan mix together tomato puree and chipotle chilies in adobo and heat until warmed through. Depending on how much spice you like, you can add more or less of the chilies.
Spread the bottom of an 8x5 pyrex dish or baking pan with ½ cup of the tomato sauce. Spoon around ½ cup pumpkin ricotta mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Roll up gently (but tightly) and place fold side down in pan. Cover with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and bubbling.
Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with slices of avocado, black beans and Greek yogurt (or sour cream).
For anyone who has been following me on Instagram you know I’ve been a tad obsessed with cooking whatever is fresh at my local Jersey City farmer’s markets. Not too bad, right!?
It’s like my own Top Chef-Chopped challenge every week – what is at the farmer’s market today, what do I have in my fridge, and what can I whip up for dinner? Which mostly means, we have been eating a lot of salads, pasta, and more salads over the past few weeks, much to my meat-preferring husband’s chagrin. I am happy to report that he seems to be surviving.
I have made countless salad combinations with my fresh finds the past few weeks, but my Orecchiette with Kale Basil Walnut Pesto has been the real recipe winner to result from my farmers market shopping. Orecchiette is a great pasta when you want to really taste the sauce because the little “ears” really get coated, making a super flavorful pasta.
I like to leave pesto without cheese in it so that if I decide to marinate some chicken breasts or steak, I still have that option. And this batch of pesto makes enough for another pasta dinner, for some grilled veggies or for a quick chicken dinner.
1/2 pound orecchette pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 cups fresh kale
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
reserved pasta cooking water
parmesan cheese (optional)
In a saute pan on low-medium heat, slowly toast walnuts until just fragrant, around 4-5 minutes. Make sure they do not burn.
In a food processor fitted with a blade, add kale, basil, walnuts, garlic and a few Tbsp of the olive oil. Begin to pulse. Slowly add the remaining olive oil until smooth. You might want to add a touch more olive oil depending on your preference.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water.
Drain pasta and set aside. Return pot to low-medium heat on the stove, and add half the pesto to the pot. Add a few Tbsp of cooking water and stir.
Put drained pasta back into pot and mix until pasta is completely covered. Add more pasta water to loosen sauce if needed.
Serve with parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish.
For centuries, Jews throughout the Mediterranean have made good use of artichokes. Most notably, in Rome, crisp and lightly fried varieties adorn many a holiday table. I’ve always loved the simplicity and approachable nature of Italian cuisine, so much so that my husband and I partook in a local Tuscan cooking class on our whirlwind honeymoon adventure through Italy. When I returned home, I was thrilled to observe that since the climate and terrain in California are so similar to that in Italy, I am spoiled by the riches in produce we get here that resemble true Italian fare.
Perhaps it is because I grew up in an image-conscious city, or because healthy eating and cooking is important to me, but I often like finding ways to lighten up a recipe while maintaining great flavor. Lucky for me, I prefer my artichokes grilled, rather than fried. I know that just about everything tastes better fried, but I love the smoky, crisp bite of a charred edge that only a grill can produce.
Often times, artichokes act as a vehicle for rich, creamy sauces, but with just the right amount of seasoning and the slight kiss of the grill, these babies need no doctoring, and are exceptional on their own. And don’t be too intimidated about preparing and cleaning fresh artichokes. Once you try your hand at the first one, you’ll get the hang of it. Served hot off the grill or at room temperature, grilled artichokes are the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal.
To read more about Jennifer Stempel’s culinary adventures, check out her blog at The Cuban Reuben.
2 large whole artichokes
2 lemons, cut in half
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
1 bay leaf
1 tbs Old Bay seasoning
Seasoning blend of your choice (I really like Regular and Salt-Free Greek Seasoning)
In a large stock pot with the steamer insert removed, add 2 halves of the lemon (1 whole lemon), garlic, bay leaf, and Old Bay seasoning. Fill the pot with water until it just meets the bottom of the steamer insert. Place over medium heat, and let sit.
Meanwhile, to prepare the artichokes for steaming, first cut about an inch off the top of the artichoke. Then, with your hand, peel off the tougher leaves (about 1 layer into the artichoke).
Using a pairing knife, cut off the base of the leaves you just peeled, and continue pairing down the stem until you have a single, uniform layer. Rub the exposed areas with lemon, squeezing the juice from the lemon a bit.
Cut the artichoke in half, and again, run the lemon over the cut sides to keep from browning too much.
Remove the fibrous choke at the center, as well as any colored (purple) leaves. Run the lemon over the exposed cuts. Slice the halves into quarters, and assemble on the steaming insert of the stock pot.
Cover and let the water simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the artichokes are fork tender.
(You can stop here, and eat them as is, but you'd miss out on the next step!)
Drizzle olive oil and seasoning blend over the steamed artichokes, then place them over high heat on a grill. Grill 1-2 minutes per side.
As the artichokes are already cooked, the goal here is just to get grill marks and the flavor of the char.
When people think of the nine days they tend to panic. After all it’s hard to be creative and come up with meal ideas when chicken and meat are off the menu. I like to look at the nine days as an excuse to bring exotic flavors in my kitchen and experiment a little bit. There are so many wonderful cuisines that lend themselves especially well to vegetarian and dairy options.
I happen to love Latin inspired food and flavors, and of course tacos. It’s a great go to meal when you have kids and any ground meat can work. But Tacos are great without the meat as well. I recently started making tacos with black beans and corn, along with ½ an envelope of taco seasoning and a can of tomato sauce and they are delish. Garnished with some creamy avocado and chives or green onions this a healthy and tasty dinner. Serve it with Gazpacho for an authentic mexican feast.
Corn and Black Bean Tacos
- 1 bag frozen corn
- 1 can black beans
- ½ an envelope taco seasoning (less if you’re sensitive to spice)
- 1 small can tomato sauce (12 ounces)
- 4-6 taco shells
- sliced avocado or guacamole, hot sauce, diced tomatoes, chives, and green onions for garnish.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes until crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
Another easy Mexican inspired recipe is my Rice and Bean Bake. A one pot meal that’s delicious and so easy to make. Everything get’s thrown together, put in the oven, and baked until the cheese on top is bubbling. Serve with a fresh corn, tomato and basil salad.
Rice and Bean Bake
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 jar salsa
- shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can roasted chili peppers (optional)
Rinse Kidney beans then combine with rice and salsa, spoon into a greased casserole and sprinkle with shredded cheddar and jalapenos if you like spice. Bake for ½ hour till cheese is bubbly, place under broiler for 5 minutes if you like the top browned.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad
- 1 can corn kernels or 3 ears fresh corn shucked of kernels.
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 10-15 basil leaves, chiffonade
- juice of one lemon
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper
If using fresh corn microwave for about 5 minutes with 1-2 Tbsp of water to soften the corn. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve immediately or keep chilled covered until ready to serve.
Moving beyond the Americas, lets travel to the flavors of Thailand, where coconut and curry feature prominently. Mild flavored flounder soaked in a coconut milk infused with curry and then dredged in panko breadcrumbs accompanied by a sweet and sour rice is a delicious meal that even your kids will like. You can opt to leave out the curry for less heat.
- 4 fresh Flounder Fillets
- 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp curry powder
- panko bread crumbs
- neutral oil such as canola for frying or cooking spray.
If oven frying preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine coconut milk and curry. immerse fish in milk mixture then dredge in panko then back in coconut milk and dredge again in panko crumbs, repeat with all remaining fillets.
If pan frying let oil get really hot and cook 2-3 minutes on each side till golden brown and cooked through. For the oven fry method. Place fish on a tin foiled cookie sheet and spray both sides liberally with cooking spray. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden turning over halfway through.
See recipe below for Sweet and Sour Pineapple Rice to accompany the Coconut Flounder.
Finally we finish in Italy with a whole wheat pasta tossed in a fresh parsley pesto served with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette. The parsley pesto has a gorgeous bright green hue and a lighter, fresher flavor than a traditional basil pesto. If you want it cheese free you sub 1-2 anchovy fillets for the parmesan cheese.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Parsley Pesto
- 1 box wheat pasta of your choice
- 1 bunch parsley stems chopped off
- 1 bunch chives
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- juice of one lemon
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tsp sea salt
Cook pasta in salted water according to directions. Combine fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and parmesan cheese in a blender and pulse until smooth. Toss with pasta and a little pasta water to help it really coat every strand.
These recipes are easy, healthy and delicious and you’ll find yourself using them even when it’s not the nine days!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes till crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
1-2 cups cooked rice (preferably jasmine or basmati brown)
1 small can crushed pineapple
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cube frozen chopped garlic or 2 tsp fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water to form a slurry.
1 tsp canola oil
Strain the pineapple from the juice set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium heat. Saute garlic until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the strained pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and sesame oil and bring to a gentle boil to reduce slightly.
Add the corn starch slurry and stir until mixture thickens. Add in crushed pineapple and pour over rice, tossing to combine thoroughly.
I have been on a bit of a vegetarian streak lately and while I have not cut meat out of my diet, I am happily eating a mostly meat-free diet during the week. Which also means I am now on the lookout for tasty, satisfying, vegetarian-friendly main dishes.
It’s also spring and therefore time to include peas, asparagus and other seasonal veggies in our cooking!
These were the thoughts swirling around in my head this weekend when I created this hearty, springtime veggie soup, chock full of white beans, peas, asparagus and bite-sized pasta.
Going gluten free? Leave out the pasta!
Like even more stuff in your soup? Add double the amount of peas, add 1/2 cup of corn or add a large handful of baby kale or spinach.
Don’t like cannelini beans? Swap them out for some chick peas or black eyed peas instead!
In short, you can put your own stamp on this soup so add and subtract away!
3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into small pieces
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini, orzo or small shells
Bring chicken or vegetable stock to simmer in a large pot. Add peas and beans.
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a separate medium sized pot. Add pasta and cook 8 minutes or until al dente. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add asparagus. Drain pasta and asparagus.
Add pasta and asparagus to soup.Allow to simmer 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.