I didn’t have the energy to grocery shop or cook today so I dug through the fridge and pulled out some flour tortillas, cheese, spinach and bacon and set to make something with minimal effort and maximum flavor. Success!
Bacon Spinach Quesadilla
Makes one quesadilla
1 large flour tortilla
2 slices of bacon
pinch of granulated garlic
Mexican-style grated cheese
Handful of baby spinach
Fry bacon in a medium pan. Meanwhile, spread a thin coat of cream cheese all over the tortilla. Season with garlic powder and pepper.
Set bacon aside to drain on a paper towel and add spinach to the pan. Cook until spinach is wilted.
Chop the bacon into bits. Sprinkle the grated cheese on one half of the tortilla. Add the bacon and spinach. Fold tortilla in half and place back in pan. Brown on both sides until cheese is melted. Cut in half and devour.
Every once in a while I have the wherewithal to make lasagna with homemade noodles. This evening I decided to try something different. Instead of traditional red sauce and ricotta I made a creamy béchamel sauce and layered the spinach noodles with shredded chicken and marinated artichoke hearts. The marinade from the artichokes added a tangy flavor to the dish and the creamy sauce was pure deliciousness. You can of course use store-bought noodles, but there’s something fancy about fresh pasta.
It’s been a helluva good mushroom season so far. This week I found three primo porcini in my yard. I wanted to try something different from my typical porcini and pasta recipes. Quiche sounded about right.
I’m not familiar with making quiches. I know it’s a crust, some egg, cream, cheese and filling, but beyond that I have to follow a recipe. When I asked my coworker, Allison, today if she has ever made quiche she gave me a resounding “yes.” She had a few quiche tricks up her sleeve and was happy to share them.
Instead of following a recipe, I winged it using Allison’s advice. What came out of the oven was smoky, mushroomy, fluffy and not overly eggy.
My husband travels for work so I’m frequently “solo parenting.” Working full time, picking up our son and getting dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30 can be a struggle. Tonight was really tricky since we got home late, but thanks to my rare meal planning this week I was able to put together a wholesome pasta dish in under 30 minutes.
By marinating the frozen chicken in the fridge overnight I didn’t have to make a mad dash to thaw it out and flavor it right before preparing the dish. I felt like a winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce
For the chicken marinade:
5 frozen chicken tenders
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
salt and pepper
For the pasta:
3/4 pounds pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 oz. baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
The night before, place the frozen chicken in a large Ziploc bag with all the marinade ingredients. Let sit overnight in the fridge. It’ll be delicious by tomorrow.
Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the noodles according to packaging.
Meanwhile, heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil over high heat. When the pan is hot, cook the chicken tenders till browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Set aside. When cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.
Clean out the pan with a paper towel and add the rest of the oil and the butter. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook spinach till it’s wilted. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. When pasta is drained, add it to the pan with the chicken, Parmesan and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Chef Rob Kinneen taught a cooking workshop, which I eagerly signed up for. Turns out he was going to demonstrate homemade pasta-making. I’m familiar with making my own pasta, such as comb pastas,basil fettuccine and Russian pelmeni, but I was interested in learning techniques from a professional chef.
He led a hands-on lesson on tortelloni and ravioli nudi. The tortelloni, which were essentially large tortellini, were familiar to me, but the ravioli nudi were entirely new. The nudi are like ravioli without the noodle, literally naked ravioli. Instead you incorporate cheeses, flour, herbs and egg into a sticky, soft dough and create small dumplings, which are then boiled. They are sort of like gnocchi, but with cheese instead of potato.
My only attempt at making gnocchi in the past was a complete slimy failure and Rob’s technique for making nudi could be easily translated to gnocchi. I had to try the recipe myself when I got home.
And I did.
Ravioli Nudi with Spinach, Ricotta, and Parsley
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbs. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus about 1/2 cup for coating dough
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water and set beside the pot. Meanwhile beat together the eggs, yolks, garlic, chili flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Incorporate the ricotta till smooth. Add the parmesan, parsley and spinach. Slowly add the 1/4 cup flour till a super sticky dough forms. It should be the consistency of thick, lumpy pancake batter. Heavily flour a large cutting board. Gently turn the dough onto the board and work in enough extra flour for it to be very soft and sticky inside, but coated on all sides in flour. Form the dough into a 1.5-inch tall rectangle.
Cut the dough into 1.5-inch strips and gently roll each strip around, dusting with flour, till coated evenly on all sides. Cut each strip on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces so you have small, oblong dumplings. Gently roll each dumpling around in your floured hand till they are each coated and no sticky dough is exposed.
When the water is at a rolling boil, gently add the ravioli in batches so the water doesn’t cool down too much. Boil for just a few minutes, until the ravioli float to the surface. With a slotted spoon, strain out the ravioli and add to the ice water bath. Repeat with remaining ravioli.
Now that you have made your ravioli nudi, there are lots of ways to serve them. Use them in any ravioli recipe, or fry them up with butter till lightly browned and crusty.
Thanks again, Chef Rob, for your excellent instruction. I’m happy to add this technique to my repertoire.
I am trying to pare down our cabinets and fridge contents. This takes a little creativity. Last night I made a list of all the cookable staples such as rice, beans, rotisserie chicken, can of tomatoes, lasagna noodles, cheese and so on.
I recall my friend Kelly telling me last week that she was making enchilada stuffed shells. Any time a recipe calls for stuffed shells I automatically switch to lasagna roll-ups. You don’t have to be as ginger with them and they are really easy to serve. Why not make enchilada roll-ups with lasagna noodles, leftover chicken, spinach, cheese and homemade enchilada sauce? Sounds good to me. It was!
Since I only had a can of tomatoes, I decided to make my own enchilada sauce using this fabulous recipe from DamnDelicious.net. I will never buy enchilada sauce again if I can help it. It was thick and bursting with flavor.
As for the roll-ups, I modeled my recipe from this one at Bevcooks.com. I tweaked it here and there, but I think this experiment may become a staple in our household. I was licking the plate!
Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups
1 large can of red enchilada sauce (or the equivalent of homemade)
1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1 leftover rotisserie chicken, edible bits removed and chopped
1 can diced green chiles
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeds removed and chopped fine
1 egg (I figure if I’m modeling it after lasagna, I might as well add an egg)
1 cup grated cheese blend (I used mozzarella and cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
12 undercooked lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with a generous amount of enchilada sauce. While the lasagna noodles cook, combine the spinach, chicken bits, chiles, egg, salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix it well. Spread a couple of tablespoons of the mix into each lasagna noodle. Roll up the noodle and place it seam down in the casserole. Repeat with rest of the noodles and filling. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle liberally with grated cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, if desired. Let sit 5 minutes before serving with chopped scallions, sour cream and avocado.