Here’s an interesting fact about me: I wake up early every morning to watch one hour of the Today Show. Some people find this weird and others don’t understand how I could ever sacrifice sleep for such an unnecessary task. While it initially started a year ago when I returned from Italy and jet lag had me waking up too early, the truth is that I really enjoy this time. I find that one hour of “me” time – sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and even making time for breakfast while watching a show I usually reserve for enjoying only on sick days – it really does make a difference in my attitude going into start my day. I am happier, more optimistic, and ready for the workday because I already did something for me by the time I start the daily grind.
Anyway, I digress. My point is – I saw an interesting recipe the other day when Jamie Oliver was a guest on the 8:00 hour. He made “comfort food” including Brussels sprouts and onion quesadillas. I LOVE Brussels sprouts – I think because I never had to eat them as a child – and so this caught my attention. But, I wanted to make it my own way, by adding in my other favorite vegetable, mushrooms. (Ok, I know mushrooms are a fungus but for the sake of icky names can we just call it a vegetable?) I also wanted to get on the sriracha bandwagon and paired it with sriracha sour cream – my new favorite condiment. The final product was a healthy, vegetarian, easy-to-throw-together weeknight meal. Oh, and it was delicious.
So from one Jamie to another, here’s my take on Brussels sprouts quesadillas.
10 oz. Brussels sprouts, stems and outer leaves removed
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 soft flour tortillas (or see recipe below)
1/4 c. grated pecorino cheese
3/4 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. sriracha (or more, to taste)
Finely slice onions and sprouts (or use a food processor). Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add onions, sprouts, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and add mushrooms. Fry for 10 minutes more, until mushrooms are soft.
Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the vegetables and add parmesan and mozzarella. Layer another tortilla on top. Cook several minutes on each side, until nice and toasted. Repeat for remaining quesadillas.
Let cool for 2 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream spiked with sriracha.
Fall means fig season, go fig-ure! (See what I did there?) This means some delicious fruit-filled snacks for those of us that are fig-natics. (Ok, I’ll stop.) I still have so many savory memories of just over a year ago, sitting on a rooftop in Positano eating local figs and looking out over the Mediterranean. I wish I could freeze that moment and live in it forever …
But back to reality here in NYC. During a bout of very nice weather, Tom and I decided to have a picnic. While intending to go to Central Park, we ended up at Pier A Park in Hoboken as a result of Saturday laziness coupled with the fact that there was a concert in Central Park that day. Tom had a clear menu in mind complete with prosciutto and melon and some apple and ricotta crostini with honey. I wanted FIGS, so I ended up with this container of fresh fig spread from my local market. For our picnic, I was satisfied with fig and goat cheese on crackers – mmm it was all so delicious.
Our picnic lunch: prosciutto and melon, apple and ricotta crostini with honey, and fig and goat cheese crackers
Having a container of fig spread leftover was no problem, because I ended up making this sweet sandwich for dinner (and lunches). It was a perfect summer-to-fall transitional sandwich and it was so simple to throw together. It was as easy as it looks – some fresh bread toasted, spread with fig and topped with turkey, sliced apple, and brie. Another easy dinner and lunch, assembled.
One of these days, I’m going to have my own fig tree. I see it in my future.
For more information on buying, storing and eating figs, check out this guide.
As an American, I never get sick of pizza. I worked at a trattoria for six years and never tired of it. But now that I’m older and wiser and have been exposed to “skinnier” alternatives, I’m loving the trendy recipes of pizza crust made from vegetables. Cauliflower pizza crust is pretty darn good, and while there’s no substitute for the real thing when you have a craving, I thought spaghetti squash pizza crust was worth a try for weeknight.
Spaghetti squash pizza crust is pretty easy to make. The most time-consuming part is baking the squash (cut in half, seeds removed, rubbed with olive oil, facedown on a cookie sheet). Once it’s done, just scrape out the inside “spaghetti” and squeeze out the moisture as best you can.
Then pack it onto a baking sheet (use parchment paper if you have it) and bake until it starts to crisp. The less moisture in the spaghetti squash, the crispier your crust will be.
You can use anything for toppings, but thanks to my CSA I went all “healthy” and added kale, garlic, and red onion. I used ricotta and mozzarella cheese for a “white” pizza, which I think helped offset the pizza crust as an impostor. (I’m not a fan of straight “substitutes” – I’d rather just try to make a new, unique dish than swap out one main, important ingredient.)
Back in the oven, this pizza came out looking like a pizza and tasting just as delicious.
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
4-6 oz. shredded mozzarella
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the spaghetti squash: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Rub inside of squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place face down on a baking pan lined with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
Once spaghetti squash is cooked, scrape out inside "spaghetti" onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Pat squash with a paper towel, absorbing any excess moisture, and flattening into a pizza crust.
Bake crust at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Cook onion and garlic on low heat in 1 tbsp of oil until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and add kale, salt, and pepper. Cook until kale begins to wilt, about 5 minutes more. (Cover pan to cook faster.)
Once spaghetti squash crust is cooked, top with the ricotta, spreading evenly. Add kale mixture on top. Finish with a thing layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.