Try This— Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

This Fall inspired variation on the classic Cacio e Pepe is the ultimate comfort food.

Maybe I’m unlucky in life, but the entire time I was in Rome this summer, I didn’t have one single incredible food moment. The stars aligned and I was truly blessed enough to travel around Europe. We spent a full week in the Eternal City, and I could barely contain my excitement about sampling the food. In fairness, I had heard so much about how great the food in Rome was that I probably built it up in my head until my expectations could never be satisfied. After crawling around Rome from Monti to Trastevere looking for delicious food, I finally just gave up. Our last night in Rome, we stayed in and I made this Cacio e Pepe dish in the kitchen of our vacation rental.

Since being back, I’ve been so over Italian food. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my experience in Rome, but I just haven’t really had that Italian food craving that has been an ever present part of my life. Anyway, this weekend I suddenly had that old Italian food itch that I’ve been missing so much, and I decided to make this Fall inspired cacio e pepe I discovered on Food Network. The subtle sweetness of butternut squash paired with the tartness of goat cheese is a game changer. You must try this!!!

Penne With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Try This— 3 Ingredient Creamy Avocado Dip

This creamy avocado dip is just 3 ingredients!

You can add an avocado or two to pretty much anything and it’s delicious. I have tested this theory in dozens of recipes, both sweet and savory, and I have yet to be disappointed. Still my greatest avocado triumphs have come in the form of 3-ingredient-or-less recipes. So as I’m preparing my Memorial Day menu, I’ve been fooling around with some simple, yet highly satisfying avocado recipes.  My absolute favorite is this creamy avocado dip from the Kitchn perfect for entertaining. Use it to dip chips, veggies, crackers, or as a condiment on your homemade grilled veggie burgers. It’s a crowd pleaser, y’all, I promise. You must try this!

3 Ingredient Creamy Avocado Dip

Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 medium ripe avocados
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit.
  • Spoon the flesh of the avocados into the bowl of food processor or blender.
  • Add the goat cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy, 30 to 40 seconds.

Try This— Sweet Potato Hummus

this sweet potato hummus recipe is the perfect Paleo addition to your summer menu!

Since Winter basically refused to end this year and all the farmers’ markets and farm shares are either opening late or decidedly scant because of it, I thought I’d try my hand at hacking my favorite summertime dip. Hummus is a staple in my house. We smear raw veggies with this creamy delicacy all summer long as a healthy snack and sometimes it even winds up replacing a meal all together because we just can’t stop eating it. This recipe comes from the appetizer menu of Miss Ada, a cute little Mediterranean restaurant on Dekalb Ave. a few blocks from where I went to High School (Brooklyn Technical High School). Chef Tomer Blechman brilliantly uses sweet potatoes as a base instead of chickpeas in this recipe, so it’s perfect for anyone on a Paleo diet, or anyone that wants to use their chickpeas for something more productive like these beauty recipes. Best part is that by using sweet potatoes, your adding a healthy dose of complex carbs and fiber, oh and it makes your finished hummus totally Instagrammable. Drop everything… You must try this!!!

Chef Tomer Blechman in the outdoor eating area of Miss Ada 184 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

Sweet Potato Hummus

Ingredients

serves 6 people

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves,
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1 red onion, small diced
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • Baharat spice mix (1 Tbsp each of cinnamon, cardamom, and English pepper)
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium pot, boil sweet potatoes until tender.
  • Allow to cool. Add to a food processor and blend with garlic and tahini until smooth.
  • Make the paprika oil: In a medium saucepan over low heat, simmer paprika and canola oil for five minutes. Allow to stand for 20 minutes; strain into a squeeze bottle.
  • In a small bowl, combine creme fraiche and onion. Set aside.
  • On a baking sheet, spread almonds in an even layer. Toss with remaining canola oil and baharat spice mix. Bake for five minutes.
  • Scoop sweet potato mixture onto a plate. Create a nest and place creme fraiche in the middle. Add the almonds, paprika oil, and Aleppo pepper. Garnish with thinly sliced onion and parsley sprigs.
  • Serve with pita or sliced vegetables.

Try This— Classic Homemade Cacio e Pepe

I’m heading out on another European adventure this Summer. First stop: Rome. This will be my first time visiting the Eternal City  and while I imagine the Sistine Chapel is really impressive, I’m mostly looking forward to dining out on really real Italian food. Everybody I know is telling me that I have to try cacio e pepe while I’m there. Cacio e pepe, literally translating to ‘cheese and pepper’, is standard Roman fare, and if the name is any indication, it sounds like it’s as close to perfection as food can get because, well, cheese and pepper.

Anyway, I scoured the internet for a recipe that I could prepare at home so that I when I try it in Rome, I can slowly lean back at the table, loosen my jeans button, and arrogantly say, “the cacio e pepe I make at home is waaaayyyyy better.” #petty. So, I found this amazing recipe from the fine folks at Food52, and I’m pretty confident that this dish will hold up against any cacio e pepe I order in Rome. For real, this recipe is real life weeknight dinner goals. You must try this!

Classic Homemade Cacio e Pepe

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns crushed in a mortar and pestle or 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 (16 oz) package spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • About 3/4 to 1 cup of cooking water

Directions

  • In a pot over low heat, heat the crushed peppercorn with the olive oil.
  • In a pot large enough to cook the spaghetti, bring water to a boil.
  • Turn the heat off under the olive oil and add about 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water from the pot into the pan, then set aside.
  • When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add the salt, stir, then add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until 2 minutes under the lowest time recommended on the package. Using tongs (you don’t want to get the rid of the water), add the pasta to the pot with the pepper. Turn the heat onto very low and turn the pasta continuously until most of the water is absorbed. At this point, remove from the heat and transfer to a warm bowl.
  • Still tossing, begin adding the two grated cheeses, a couple handfuls at a time. If it starts to get dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Keep turning and turning, adding cheese and pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and you have a lovely creamy sauce coating each strand of pasta. Eat immediately.

 

Try This— The Easiest Homemade Vegetarian Ramen Recipe

I pretty much lived on ramen when I was in college. Back then my four basic food groups were salt, junk, cheap, and easy. Such is the gut fortitude of a nineteen year old. Times have certainly changed, and though my taste and my junk food cravings haven’t, at least now I’m old enough to try and make healthier choices. I want to keep my ramen classy, y’all. No more undergrad ramen for me! I mix up my own seasoning and keep it on the shelf, ready for those nights when I’m feeling just as sleepy as I did when I was in college. You can’t get much easier than a basic ramen bowl, and with some simple add-ins, you’ll be well on your way to total ramen sophistication. You must try this!!!

Homemade Ramen Seasoning

ingredients

  • 2 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 vegetable bullion cubes
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

directions

  • crush bullion cubes into a powder
  • mix all ingredients, including bullion, together
  • store in an airtight container

Basic Ramen bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vermicelli rice noodles (If you use this kind that’s about one quarter of the box)
  • 1 c of boiling water
  • 1 tbsp homemade ramen seasoning (you might want to start with less and add more to taste)

Directions

  • place rice noodles in a small bowl
  • sprinkle with homemade ramen seasoning
  • add boiling water and allow the rice noodles to sit for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally to separate the noodles
  • Enjoy!

optional add-ins

  • chili oil or (homemade) sriracha, to taste
  • a splash of lemon or lime juice
  • a boiled egg or two
  • lightly fried tofu
  • kimchi
  • quick cooking vegetables: spinach, thinly slice cabbage, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, bean sprouts, or green onions are all good choices
  • frozen vegetables: corn and peas are my favorite! Just be sure to thaw them a bit in warm water before adding them to your ramen bowl

This recipe makes the perfect mason jar lunch. just like these healthy mason jar snack ideas, mason jar ramen is ready in minutes. The dry ingredients have a long shelf life, so you can assemble a few dry noodles/seasoning mason jars well ahead of time. When you’re ready to eat them, just lift one from the pantry and add boiling water. Lunch in 3-5 minutes with no effort! Think of it as a savory alternative to your favorite mason jar oatmeal recipe.

Recipe adapted from: Connoisseurusveg and Minimalist Baker