Category Archives: Vegetarian

Grilled Broccoli Rabe with Lemon and Parmigiano Recipe

Broccoli rabe is one of those vegetables that you either absolutely love, or you just can’t stand, no matter how many times someone makes it for you (Dad: I am referring to you) ….you just can’t do it. There’s no real middle ground when it comes to broccoli rabe. It’s pretty much a yes or a no. Broccoli rabe has rather a sharp bite, which tends to be on the bitter side.

I happen to absolutely love  these qualities when it comes to broccoli rabe, but know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. So, when I am fixing broccoli rabe for the less than enthusiastic  crowd (a.k.a. my family), I soften the flavor a bit by sauteing it in olive oil with  a million cloves of garlic,  white wine, chicken broth, then toss with fresh pasta and home made ricotta cheese. Oh- and a squeeze of lemon to finish. This is the way I usually prepare broccoli rabe … that is until I found my new favorite way to eat broccoli rabe–grilled!

I recently picked up a copy of Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton, (former editor of Fine Cooking Magazine) which is filled with all kinds of delicious recipes featuring fresh vegetables that take you through braising, sauteing, grilling, and even a section on gratins.  It’s a great book for summer, which I highly recommend.

I spotted her recipe for grilled Broccoli Rabe with Lemon and Parmigiano, and knew I had to make it, and soon. I grill all kinds of vegetables, all of the time during the summer, but broccoli rabe? That was one I hadn’t even thought of trying. So before I knew it, my grill basket  was heating up and there I was, cooking broccoli rabe on the grill.

Following Susie’s recipe, I  tossed the broccoli rabe in a mixture of water,  olive oil, and salt prior to  adding to the heated grill pan.

The olive oil allows the broccoli rabe to char and caramelize a bit, creating fantastic flavor.  The water allows  the broccoli rabe  to steam as it cooks, ensuring tenderness.

So for all of you  broccoli rabe lovers out there who truly appreciate the character it holds, this is one you must try this summer. I know I will be making this one again and again, but probably not for you dad…this is not one for you….not even with extra cheese and lemon.

Grilled Brocoli Rabe with Lemon and Parmigiano

8 ounces broccoli rabe, bottom 2-inches trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher Salt

1/4 lemon

Small wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put a vegetable grilling basket directly on the grate of a gas grill and preheat to medium. When the grill and basket are hot, toss the broccoli rabe in a mixing bowl with the olive oil, 3 tablespoons water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and transfer it to the grill basket. Toss well, close the lid, and cook, tossing frequently with tongs (and replacing the lid each time), until the rabe is wilted and all of the pieces have some browning on them, 7 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the rabe to a serving platter. Taste and add a little salt if necessary. Season with a light squeeze of the lemon, and using a y-shaped vegetable peeler, shave as many Parmigiano shavings as you like (8 to 10 would be good) over the rabe. Serve warm or at room temperature

Serves 3 to 4

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Ramps: A Little History and a Pesto Recipe with Goat Cheese

West Virginia has been in the news a lot lately.

Jamie Oliver brought  his Food Revolution campaign to Huntington and shows documenting his journey to fight obesity in America, began airing on ABC at the end of March.

Last week we heard about the horrible coal mine tragedy that claimed 29 lives.

But there’s something else going on in  in West Virginia right now that also warrants some attention…

It’s the  beginning of ramps season in the Appalachia mountains of my neighboring state.

Ramps are a type of wild leak related to the onion family,  native to the eastern North American mountains. They can be found growing in patches in rich, moist, deciduous forests and bottoms from as far north as Canada, west to Missouri and Minnesota, and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. In early spring, ramps send up smooth, broad, lily-of-the-valley-like leaves, with white bulbs at their base. They kind of look like plump scallions to me. Their flavor is very similar to a mild onion, and their aroma is that of  really potent garlic (x 10).

A few years ago, ramps were not very well known until they started showing up on menus in upscale restaurants where chef’s offered these prized foraged greens sauteed  with fresh morel mushrooms (also a spring treat) or pickled and served as part of a salad.  Huge buzz was created in the  foodie world, and with it came the search for the coveted ramps, so hard to come by and so incredibly unique.

For the mountain folks living in the Appalachia region, ramps have been and still are a celebration of community and the welcoming of spring.  During the  harvest season (which begins now, and lasts just a few weeks), festivals and celebrations sprout up around the mountain region.  For a more humble look at how ramps are celebrated in Richwood, West Virginia, watch the clip from last year’s festival.





Today ramps are becoming a bit easier to find, as their popularity grows.  I found them while on vacation at a farmer’s market far away from any of the areas they are grown, which means they were shipped in, and yes, I paid dearly for them. But the friends we were staying with had never had them, and I wanted to share the garlic breath joy with them.

Check your farmer’s market, or ask the produce manager of your favorite store if they will get some for you; but act soon before they disappear!

One of the things I like to do with ramps is whirl them into a fresh pesto and pour it over some soft goat cheese. The pesto is also delicious atop grilled fish, or tossed into pasta with shrimp. It’s simple, and lets you really appreciate the flavor of the ramps.

Ramp Pesto with Goat Cheese

1 bunch ramps (about 12 in bunch), trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces soft goat cheese

1 baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place ramps and next 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor, processing until smooth. With motor running, slowly add olive oil to mixture.

Allow  goat cheese to sit out of the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to soften. Form the goat cheese into a  circular shape, then press the center in a bit to create a well. Place goat cheese round on serving platter. Pool the pesto into the center of the goat cheese, allowing it to spill onto the platter. Serve with *toasted baguette slices.

8-10 servings

*To toast baguette slices, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes to toast slightly. Remove baking sheet from oven and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Return to oven and bake 7-9 additional minutes (or until golden brown), flipping slices halfway through bake time. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Asparagus, Shiitake Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomato Tart Recipe

What is the first vegetable that pops into your mind when you think about spring? Is it

Artichokes?

Peas?

Arugula?

For me it’s asparagus, which is kind of funny, because today  asparagus is shipped in and available in grocery stores year round. It’s not like asparagus is only out for a brief time (like garlic scapes), only to be briefly cherished before disappearing until the next season. Asparagus is always around. But it is the springtime asparagus that is so full of flavor and bright color. Captured at its peak and in season, asparagus is my springtime vegetable.

So when I was asked to do a cooking segment with spring flavors, I knew I would make something with asparagus.

Here’s a tart that is super easy to make, using frozen puff pastry. Ricotta cheese and feta are combined with lemon and fresh herbs, then topped with shiitake mushrooms, sun dried  tomatoes, and  asparagus.

This tart would be a nice addition to brunch, enjoyed  as an appetizer, or even  for dinner with a salad.

Want to see just how easy it is to make? Watch me make it here:

Asparagus, Shiitake Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomato Tart with Fresh Herbs

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup feta (crumbled)

1 lemon (juice and zest)

1/4 cup herbs (such as dill, mint, parsley, chopped)

1 egg (lightly beaten)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (oil-packed variety)

1 sheet puff pastry (thawed according to the packages directions)

10-12 thin  asparagus spears, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the ricotta, feta, lemon, herbs, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and saute 2 minutes until softened a bit.

Unfold the puff pastry onto a 10×16-inch baking sheet.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the top of the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.

Spread mushrooms in an evenly layer over the ricotta mixure, followed by the sun dried tomatoes.

Arrange the  asparagus spears in a single layer on top of the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms.

Brush the outside inch of the pastry with the oil.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the asparagus is tender and the pastry is golden brown, about 15-25 minutes.

4 servings

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