Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spectacular Sides: Roasted New Potatoes with Spring Herb Pesto; Green Beans with Lemon, Walnuts and Parsley; and Watermelon Salad with Feta and Arugula

Is it just me, or is the best part of a meal often the side dishes? I enjoy a piece of meat as much as anyone, but I get really excited about the rest of the meal. I love when a meal rounds itself out with a number of dishes, some savory, some sweet and some just plain fun. It's especially welcoming when the sides make the most of the season. I recently cooked a dinner party and featured these three fantastic side dishes. The Rosted New Potatoes with Spring Herb Pesto is my favorite new potato preparation. The potatoes maintain their buttery texture but the outside gets crisp and flavorful. And the Spring Herb Pesto is super easy and fresh. And have you seen all of those green beans at the farmers' market lately? Try this prepration with bright lemon, crunchy walnuts and fresh parsley, with just the right amount of butter to add decadence. And last but not least, if you've never tried watermelon with feta, do it now! The sweet watermelon and salty feta compliment each other beautifully, and the arugula adds a spicy bite. It's divine! With these recipes you just may have the brilliant idea to forget the meat and just go for the sides!

Roasted New Potatoes with Spring Herb Pesto
Crisp and buttery potatoes come to life with a fresh and easy pesto.
Serves 6

3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
3 T. olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 pounds red-skinned new potatoes, halved lengthwise

Blend parsley, chives, rosemary, 1 T olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon peel and 1/2 tsp salt in food processor to coarse puree. (Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes and remaining 2 T oil in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes cut side down, on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 40 minutes. Using spatula, transfer potatoes to large bowl. Add pesto and toss to coat. Enjoy!

Green Beans with Walnuts, Lemon and Parsley
Fresh, buttery and bright flavors make a delicious side to any meal.
Serves 8

2 lbs. slender green beans, trimmed and halved
5 T butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 tsp grated lemon peel
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water and cool. Drain again and pat dry. (Beans can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.)

Melt butter in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts; saute until nuts are crisp and butter is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add beans and toss to heat through, about 5 minutes. Mix in lemon peel and toss 1 minute. Mix in parsley. Season beans to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Arugula
Sweet watermelon pairs perfectly with salty, crumbly feta cheese.
Serves 6

1/4 seedless watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 oz baby arugula
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Mix the olive oil, honey and lemon juice until combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine watermelon, feta and arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Potato and green bean recipes courtesy of Bon Appetit
Watermelon salad by Sarah Saubert

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grilled Corn Oaxaca Style

I can't take credit for this recipe, but WOW is it good! I spent the 4th of July in Arkansas with family, and my aunts prepared this amazing Mexican-style corn on the grill. It was the perfect side dish for the South of the Border feast, and I couldn't get enough! Corn on the grill is amazing in itself, but when it's spread with the creamy combo of mayo and sour cream (use low fat!), sprinkled with seasonings and drizzled with lime juice, it is irresistable! The smoky, creamy and bright flavors combine beautifully. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn Oaxaca Style
A creamy and flavorful coating for succulent grilled corn makes for the perfect side dish to any meal!
Serves 6

6 ears fresh corn with husks

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
2 limes, cut into wedges
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Prepare a hot fire by piling charcoal on one side of grill, leaving other side empty. (For gas grills, light only one side of grill.)
Remove heavy outer husks from corn; pull back inner husks. Remove and discard silks. Tie inner husks together with string.

Stir together mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl, and set aside. Place Parmesan cheese, chili powder, and lime wedges in small serving bowls, and set aside.

Coat each corn cob lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle corn evenly with salt and pepper. Position corn on food grate of grill so that tied husks lie on unlit side to prevent burning husks.

Grill corn, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350°to 400°) 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Place grilled corn cobs on a platter.

Spread corn evenly with mayonnaise mixture, and sprinkle evenly with cheese and chili powder. Squeeze lime wedges over corn.

Courtesy of My Recipes

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lasagna Noodle Bake with Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce

After running around like crazy getting the most out of summer and leaving town for the 4th of July, I'm finally home and able to cook dinner! So what do I make? A heart and soul warming pasta dish of course! On a cloudy, rainy evening I love a flavorful baked pasta. I chose to use penne pasta (since it's what I had on hand) and made a lasagna-style baked pasta dish with Italian sausage, red sauce, cream sauce and lots of cheese. Combining all of these different ingredients and baking the dish in the oven created a succulent dish that was just bursting with flavor! If you have lasagna noodles, or any short style pasta, you can use that instead. Have fun!!

Lasagna Noodle Bake with Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce
A feel-good, delicious baked pasta bursting with flavor and creaminess!
Serves 4-6

3/4 lb. penne pasta
1.5 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup ground Italian sausage
1/4 cup pancetta, diced (optional)
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup mozarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
Fresh basil (optional)
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta two minutes shy of the recommended package directions. (It will cook the rest of the way while baking.) Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the Italian sausage and pancetta until almost cooked through. Add rosemary, oregano and red wine and stir until wine is combined into the meat. Remove meat from skillet and drain/cool on a plate covered with a paper towel. Return skillet to the heat. Add a little olive oil, then saute onions, green peppers and garlic for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Combine veggies and meat in a large bowl and set aside.

To make the cream sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Stir until combined, then add the cream. Bring up to a boil then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the pasta put a little spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 9x9 dish. Add a layer of pasta. Top the pasta with some of the cream sauce. Then add the meat and veggie mixture and top with some more spaghetti sauce. Add a bunch of cheese. Repeat layers. End with the cheese on top and drizzle with any remaining cream.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Keep it covered with foil for the first 20 minutes, then remove the foil and allow it to cook until bubbly and beginning to brown on the edges. Serve with Parmesan cheese and shredded basil. That's AMORE!

The layering process creates tons of flavor! In the first step, spaghetti sauce is spread on the bottom, followed by pasta and topped with cream sauce.

Then comes the meat and veggie mixture topped with more spaghetti sauce. Add another set of layers and finish with cheese and extra cream!

Recipe by Sarah Saubert