A few weeks ago I came upon this clever new idea for Coffee Rice Krispie Treats, an old family favorite. When I visit my dear mom, she still makes her famous peanut-butter rice crispie treats for me, my favorite comfort food, all these years later. The whole pan disappears before you can say snap, crackle, pop.
This recipe comes from the website Emotional Baking, with permission to share it with you. Each Emotional Baking recipe explores a specific emotion or mood and creates a recipe cure. As a result, it is a keen way to process feelings and address everyday mental health.
Why Make Coffee Rice Krispie Treats Now?
Ever since the horrific yet predictable incident that happened in Uvalde, Texas, comfort is definitely needed. Since gun violence is an adult issue requiring an adult response, this very adult rice krispie treat version is just right.
The Coffee-Infused Rice Krispie Treats recipe was designed to clear feelings of fogginess. Since this repeated mass tragedy in our children's schools creates a hazy, gas-lit feeling, yes. Foggy is indeed what I'm feeling.
In Canada, home base to Emotional Baking, package sizes for Rice Krispies and marshmallows are different than in the U.S. For those of us in the U. S. I made some revisions to utilize our product sizes. Also, I tinkered with their ratios by reducing the butter, and increased the amount of coffee powder for more pronounced flavor.
Making Coffee Rice Krispie Treats
This no-bake treat couldn't be easier. Equally important, the addition of coffee flavor is purely genius. Why not make them today? Visit Emotional Baking for other delicious recipes that will match your mood. Whether it be happy, lonely, optimistic, or even foggy, you'll find the just-right kitchen therapy.
If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too, and helps me pay the bills! If you make the recipe, please let me celebrate with you by tagging 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments are welcome and appreciated.
Spray the inside of a 9" x 13" or 7" x 11" baking dish with non-stick spray. Mix together the milk and coffee powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Melt together the miniature marshmallows and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, being careful to keep the bottom from scorching. Lower heat if necessary. When the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in the milk/coffee mixture. Remove from heat, and stir in the Rice Krispies until they are thoroughly coated. (the marshmallow mixture may start to become stiffer-- that's OK, just keep stirring.
Scrape the Rice Krispie/marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, and flatten, making sure that the mixture is evenly distributed to the edges and corners. With a piece of parchment between your hand and the mixture, or your hand inside a sandwich bag, press down to firmly compact the mixture.
Sprinkle the top with the chocolate sprinkles (optional) and set aside until thoroughly cool. Cut into bars. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.
This weeknight-friendly Gingery Broccoli Beef stir-fry recipe came to me at the just-right time. Since last November we’ve been abuzz with houseguests. I took a four-month business course, and I started to teach cooking classes. And we’ve made the most of being able to travel again to see family. I can’t get enough of this gingery broccoli beef for four reasons, and think you might, too:
It uses pantry and freezer staples I love and almost always have around, like broccoli, fresh ginger, ground beef and soy sauce or coconut aminos.
It’s a 30-minute complete meal made in one pan, rice notwithstanding, perfect for busy days, lazy days, or any time fast, delicious nutrition is the aim.
It’s a season less dish, as appropriate in May as it is in November.
Our little household loves it. That’s all the reason I need to include this in our regular rotation.
How Recipes Evolve
It's not often one sees the straight line in how recipes evolve, but this one is a perfect example. I learned this gingery broccoli and beef recipe from my friend Mandy. Mandy added oven-roasted broccoli to Michelle at Unbound Wellness's Mongolian Ground Beef. In a step toward speed and energy efficiency I stir-fry the broccoli in the same pan as the beef. I cut the broccoli stems into thin coins, and slice the florets to have have flat edges that allow a similar caramelization as roasting. Triple score: this way it takes less time, uses less electricity, and has one less pan to wash. Taking a page from traditional stir-fries, I add the sauce directly to the pan with the browned beef and broccoli. The stir-fry method seems a little more like the Chinese beef and broccoli dishes I have always loved, just using the weeknight classic ground beef.
Mandy and I have each made our adaptations from Michelle's original yet the spirit remains the same.
Don't count this recipe out for vegans. I suspect that plant-based meat crumbles or crumbled and browned tofu would be a swell swap for the ground beef in this recipe. If you give either option a try, please let the rest of us know how it goes.
If low-carb is your jam, swap the rice for cauliflower rice like Mandy does. It serves four, so my sweetheart and I each have dinner and a grab-and-go lunch with very little effort.
Don't be shy with the ginger! I uses pieces that are longer than my thumb and about twice as wide. The three-step recipe is really straightforward: Start your pot of rice first, and in about 20 minutes you'll have tasty, simple weeknight meal.
Weeknight Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry
Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Total Time: 20minutes
Author: Pam Spettel
Using ground beef in a classic broccoli beef stir-fry makes a fast, easy weeknight meal with amped up ginger for extra deliciousness.
Slice thick broccoli stems into thin coins. Cut thin stems and florets into 1" - 2" pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer add the stems and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they are beginning to brown in places but are still bright green. Add the remaining broccoli pieces and stir-fry until they are bright green and just beginning to soften but remain crisp. Remove to a plate.
Crumble the ground beef into the skillet and break into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium high heat until no pink remains. Use a microplane or other grater and grate the ginger and garlic into the meat. Add ¾ of the slices green onions and stir. Cook, stirring often, until the beef is well browned, about 10 minutes total for this step. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked broccoli back into the skillet.
In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the soy mixture to the meat and broccoli, stirring until the sauce slightly thickens.
Serve over rice, and garnish with the remaining green onion slices.
Yesterday I shared with you The World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich, made with garlicky greens, caramelized onion, and brie. It's only fitting that you have The World's Best Tomato Soup recipe to go with it. The two are a match made in heaven.
A Word About Canned Tomatoes
I've driven Interstate Five through California's agricultural regions many times. Enough times to see truckloads of produce pulling off the highway into the many canneries there. May I tell you that not all canned tomatoes are of the same quality? I've observed truckload after truckload of hard pink balls in the truck-trailers. It's not hard to know how they will perform in flavor and texture next to their red, ripe cousins. My practical observation is that you truly get what you pay for in canned tomatoes. Unless you use a lot of canned tomatoes, the price differential is relatively small. It might not make that much difference in a stew with lots of other flavors, but here's my rule of thumb: If the word tomato is in the title of the food I'm making, like tomato sauce, for example or the world's best tomato soup, I spend the extra dollar.
Making the World's Best Tomato Soup
First, lets talk equipment. This is a time when an immersion blender is more than handy. Yes, you can blend the soup in batches in either a food processor or blender. However, a stick blender will get the job done and reduce the amount of cleanup you'll have. I've not met a cook yet who would argue with that!
Because it's still late winter I used dried herbs and a bay leaf, which also gets blended into the soup, but in the growing season, trade those herbs out for fresh basil, fresh thyme, or any of the tender, leafy herbs that suit you.
Two other touches make the soup extra special. I save parmesan rinds for times like this. Just throw one in during the short simmering period for an extra flavor boost. The rind will soften and become somewhat gooey looking, but holds together just fine and can easily be fished out prior to blending. If you don't have a parm rind on hand that's just fine. The soup is still lovely so don't let that stop you from making it. The second bit of magic comes with a hearty drizzle of balsamic vinegar as a finishing touch.
The olive oil in here gives it a creamy texture and appearance, but if you love a splash of milk or cream in your tomato soup, by all means use it.
If you like this recipe, please leave it a star rating by clicking on the green stars below the title in the recipe card below. If you like the 101-Mile Kitchen project, I'd be honored if you subscribed to the newsletter!
The World's Best Tomato Soup
Course: Appetizer, Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Soup + Stew
Season: All Season
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 15minutes
Cook Time: 30minutes
Total Time: 45minutes
A few special touches make this recipe the only one you need for The World's Best Tomato Soup!
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion has softened and is starting to become translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, basil and bay leaf and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and sauté, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, the water, optional parmesan rind, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the parmesan rind and blend the soup using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. If using a food processor or blender, blend in batches. Blend until the soup is fairly smooth, but still has a slight amount of tomato texture. Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Serve piping hot.
Adulting has been especially challenging this week, and comfort food has been as important as ever. Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese has that magical combination of being carb-y, cheesy-gooey, and packed full of good-for-you stuff that ensures that if this is all you eat for a week, you'll at least be getting your vegetables.
This recipe amps up the adult factor with the addition of Dijon mustard and a few anchovies to the cheesy base. These additions offer an exciting depth of flavor snuggled up with the same cozy familiarity you expect from good ol' macaroni and cheese.
How Can I Help?
When the going gets tough for friends and family we ask, "How can I help?" Often the response is something like, "Well, there's nothing anyone can really do except send your love/ good energy/ healing thoughts/ prayers." I'm a big fan of asking the universe to surround my beloveds in need, but when I hear that there's nothing I can physically do to help it is frustrating to not DO something.
This week the shoe is on the other foot. I have been on the other side of those words how can I help? and have learned their hidden power.
Even when there is nothing practical others can do to help, the willingness of a friend to accept a small chunk of my burden has a remarkable effect. Every person who asks this forms a network of support and love that lessens my emotional weight. Every one of the beautiful souls who steps forward to ask how can I help? becomes an invisible army around us-- my family and me.
So never be discouraged if there's "nothing you can do". Your presence, your calls, your prayers and good juju are so important. So impactful. So encouraging. Such a display of kindness. Love personified, even.
And, if you can, show up with a dish like this one so your loved one is sure to eat their vegetables all wrapped up in the comfort of good ol' macaroni and cheese.
What Wine Should I Pair with Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese?
Anchovies and Dijon mustard make this recipe incredibly wine-friendly, not that plain mac and cheese needs a lot of help with that! And this week there definitely has been wine! We found the 2020 Conde Valdemar Blanco Rioja from Valdemar Estates Winery in Walla Walla, Washington to be a better than perfect pairing. It is light, clean, and refreshing-- in other words, a wonderful foil to the rich cheese dish. This is truly a joyful wine.
Making Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese
I used to always make mac and cheese with this ratio: One pound pasta/ 4 tablespoons flour/ 4 tablespoons butter/ 4 cups milk/ 4 cups (one pound) shredded cheese. This ratio feeds a tribe.
Since most of us here are feeding one, two, three or four people on a daily basis I've revised my formula: One-half pound pasta/ 2 tablespoons butter/ 2 tablespoons flour/ 2 cups milk/ 2 cups (1/2 pound) shredded cheese. In our household, that makes enough for a very handy two meals apiece. If you are feeding a bigger household, guests, or a gathering, just double the recipe as it is written.
Yes, there are little anchovy fishies tucked into this dish. Umami, friend! Do give them a try. Adding the raw broccoli florets to the mixture right before baking keeps them a wee bit crunchy and not lost in the creamy pasta. The crispy topping adds a wonderful textural note, too. You may be tempted to forgo that part, but it is a low-effort-high-reward addition.
You'll also note that I used our local favorite Tillamook Creamery Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in this dish. If you don't have a local cheesemaker near you, these are worth seeking out.
Other Comfort Foods for When the Going Gets Rough. . .
. . . for you, or for those you love: Carrot Risotto with Green Garlic Sauce: Recipe Here. Easy Winter White Vegetable Soup and Infinite Variations: Recipe Here.
Green Goddess Macaroni + Cheese
Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Side Dish
Season: All Season
Prep Time: 20minutes
Cook Time: 30minutes
Total Time: 50minutes
Familiar comfort food, with a green goddess veggie twist.
8oz.macaroni other small pastaregular or gluten free
½onion, finely diced
2 clovesgarlic, minced
4oil-packed anchovies, drained and mined (optional)
1large stemsbroccoli, stem peeled and diced, florets broken apart
2Tbsp.all-purpose or rice flouruse rice four of GF 1- to- 1 flour for GF
1/2tsp.finely ground black pepper
8oz. grated cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese (2 cups)or a mix of any of these to equal 2 cups
Crispy Garlic Lemon Topping
½cuppankoregular or gluten free
zest of one lemon
1clovegarlic, grated into bowl
Make the Topping
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir thoroughly. Set aside.
Make the Mac and Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the macaroni. Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the diced onion, garlic, anchovies, and diced broccoli stems. (Reserve the broccoli florets for later.) Sauté over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes.
Stir in the flour and salt and pepper. Add the milk and Dijon mustard, and continue stirring as the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5-6 minutes.
Stir the spinach into the milk mixture until it is wilted. Use a blender (working in batches) or a immersion blender right in the pot to blend the vegetables into the milk mixture, turning it green. Stir in the cheese until it it completely melted. Stir in the broccoli florets. Pour the ingredients into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
Spread the crispy topping over the macaroni mixture. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the edges begin to brown. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.
Don't let the anchovies scare you. They add a depth of flavor (nothing fishy) and elevate this dish to a wonderful adult comfort food!
For every aspirational, time-consuming, detail-laden recipe in a cook's repertoire, she needs ten like this one in her bag of tricks. These 20-minute, one bowl Quickie Olive Oil Drop Biscuits have elevated so many meals in my lifetime. They are a perfect last-minute additional to all the soups and stews of the season. The biscuits also compliment any main-dish salad, and are a great way to stretch a meal when guests pop in (like back in the BC days.) Really, they are perfect wherever a dinner roll or biscuit would fit.
A fun trick is to make the biscuits small, dropped from a dinner spoon instead of a soup spoon, and serve them as an appetizer or snack with a glass of wine, an American version of gougères.
What is to love about these golden mounds of goodness?
Selling point number one-- quickie olive oil drop biscuits are made in lightening speed. As in, begin preheating your oven now, and your biscuits will be mixed and formed before the oven is up to heat. There are only four primary ingredients to gather and measure here. Using olive oil eliminates the step of cutting in butter. Without the need to roll out and cut the dough like a typical biscuit you save that time, and a lot of cleanup by keeping everything contained in one bowl and not spread all over the counter.
Next, you'll fall head-over-heels for them because they are highly customizable. Olive oil drop biscuits without any of the optional add-ins are deliciously simple, and they become even more remarkable with the addition of some cheese, fresh or dried herbs, or better yet, both cheese and herbs. Any cheese that can be crumbled with your fingers or grated works here, and I often use a combination of cheeses just to use up the left-over nubbins.
Lastly, I love this recipe for olive oil droppers because it makes a relatively small batch. Did you know that in 2020, 53% of American households has one or two members? Most of us can't use a dozen biscuits. This fact is something I'm taking note of more and more when developing recipes, and you should see a change in the recipe sizes on these pages.
Serve your quickie olive oil biscuits alongside these recipes:
These lightning fast, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside drop biscuits are the perfect "little something" to round out a meal. Delicious plain, or with the cheese and herb add-ins. You'll have them mixed up before your oven preheats!
6 tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil (equal to ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon)
⅓cupcrumbly or grated cheeseParmesan, cheddar, gruyere, blue, fontina, gouda, etc.
fresh or dried herbs of your choicethyme, chives, rosemary, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, cumin, etc.
Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment of a silicone baking mat. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. If you are using any cheese or herbs, stir them into the dry ingredients.
Pour the milk and olive oil over the dry ingredients at the same time, and quickly and gently stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated. This will leave a somewhat shaggy dough. Don't overmix.
Drop the biscuits by spoonful onto the parchment or mat. Sprinkle the tops with a little more cheese, if you'd like. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and the tops bounce back up when lightly pressed. Cool on a rack, and serve.
These speedy drop biscuits are best eaten right out of the oven. If you have any leftover, rewarm them for a few minutes on an oven or toaster for best texture. Leftovers are also good for breakfast, toasted with butter and jam.
I had forgotten how much I adored egg foo young. The recipe, "Eggs, Edamame, Bean Sprouts" in Nigel Slater's 2020 book, Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter opened my aroma memory floodgates. I was taken back to very special meals in Chinese restaurants as a child.
That sent me searching the phenomenal "Omnivore's Cookbook," with its hundreds of classic and modern Chinese dishes by Maggie Zhu. Her traditional egg foo young versions include the brown sauce I remember. Approachable recipes and interesting family history fill her beautiful blog.
This recipe is a mash-up of tradition and change. Omnivore's Kitchen for tradition. Greenfeast for the addition of edamame. My own addition of making the brown sauce mushroomy.
Making Egg Foo Young at Home
Maggie Zhu's trick for getting the omelette, as she calls it, thick and puffy is to use a fair amount of vegetable oil in the pan. Her recipes say to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy, less traditionally Chinese omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" skillet is perfect for that tall, puffy egg foo young that I remember having in Chinese restaurants. The extra oil helps the Chinese omelette become well-browned, with the slightest crusty crispness that is more traditional.
If mushrooms aren't your thing like they are mine, omit them. Instead of the water, substitute dark vegetable or chicken stock. Here's my recipe for a rich brown roasted vegetable stock.
The edamame is optional, or peas or finely chopped broccoli can be a substitute. Egg foo Young doesn't require animal protein, so leave that out if you'd like. Once you get the hang of it, you'll see that egg foo young is more of a method than a prescription. It can be filled with any number of things, just like a French-style omelette.
The resulting egg foo young is amazingly easy, restaurant take-out fast, and powerfully delicious. I hope you like it.
Egg Foo Young
Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 30minutes
Servings: 46" egg patties
A Chinese take-out favorite made in a flash at home. Fill your egg foo young with any number of fillings to suit your mood or what you have on hand.
⅓cupedamame, peas, or finely chopped broccoli, optional
3green onions, two finely chopped and one thinly sliced on the diagonal
1cupcooked shrimp, chicken, or ham, finely chopped, optional
salt and black or white pepper to taste
Cook the Sauce
In a small saucepan, use your fingers to break the dried mushrooms into small, irregular pieces and cover them with 1¼ cups hot water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Whisk all the remaining sauce ingredients into the saucepan with the mushrooms and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 5-6 minutes. Keep warm.
Cook the Egg Pancakes
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until well combined. Add the bell pepper, bean sprouts, chopped green onions, and shrimp, chicken or ham, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil* in a small skillet over medium to medium high heat. Scoop about ½ cup of the egg mixture into the skillet. Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture. This should make about four 6" patties.
Serve with steamed short-grained rice, spooning the mushroom sauce over the top. Garnish with sliced green onion.
This recipe is adapted from Maggie Zhu at Omnivore's Kitchen. I thank her for her delicious blog and the step-by-step guidance in learning to cook Chinese dishes. *Maggie's recipe for egg foo young says to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy traditional omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" kitchen is perfect for that tall, puffy egg that I remember having in Chinese restaurants.
The holiday season is a wrap and the dust of 2021 has settled. Perhaps you are back to a work grind, or find yourself buried in winter snow. Or maybe you're sad that your family has left, or maybe elated that your family has left. As great as it was, maybe you are relieved to be past it all. Just because holiday treats are in the rear-view mirror doesn't mean you don't deserve a special little zero-effort dessert. Maybe you need a quiet post-holiday celebration. Maybe you need a nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae.
If this Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae were an actor in a musical, it would make its quiet sultry entrance stage right, while the whole noisy chorus of holiday desserts shuffle-flapped off, stage left. The Sundae (let us call her Sundae) would glide across the stage to a stool waiting under a soft bath of light. Sundae, dressed in a slim black turtleneck and tailored trousers, would lightly park on the stool, one long leg outstretched. Slowly she would look up and raise the mic.
While the holiday dessert chorus is in the back peeling off sparkly garish costumes and wiping off melted greasepaint, Sundae begins her ballad. One part Louis Armstrong, one part Norah Jones, equal parts gravel and smoke, Sundae's song lifts the corner of your mouth and quiets your spirit.
The intimate moment with Sundae passes, but you are never the same. You'll think of this Sundae at the oddest times for years to come. So it is with this little winter dessert recipe.
½Tbsp.toasted nuts, crushed with the flat of a chef's knifealmonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts, or a mix of what yu like
2scoopsvanilla ice cream
1Tbsp.port, good sherry, or bourbon
2-3 dropsAngostura or black walnut bitters (optional)
1 piececrystallized orange (optional) or a wedge of fresh orange
pinchMaldon or other finishing salt
Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water.* Stir frequently until the chocolate is about 85% melted, about 3-4 minutes, and remove from the heat. Stir every minute or two to allow the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid overheating the chocolate and causing it to seize.
If they aren't already toasted, put the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat and stir frequently until they are aromatic and ever so slightly browned, stirring very frequently, about 3-4 minutes. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid burning the nuts. Cool slightly and crush the nuts with the flat side of a chef's knife, or roughly chop.
Scoop the ice cream into a small bowl or cocktails glass. Spoon the warm chocolate over the top, followed by the liquor. Top with the crushed nuts and crystallized orange. Sprinkle with a few drops of bitters and a pinch of crunchy Maldon salt. Serve immediately. Sit back and swoon.
*Alternatively on a convection cooktop, melt the chocolate directly in a small saucepan on a very low setting. On my convection cooktop, chocolate melts beautifully on 1.5.Many kinds of nuts would be perfect here: Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. The very best might even be those from a can of fancy mixed nuts.I'm famous for burning nuts! Don't let that happen to you! Experiment with the liquor and or bitters you chose. There are so many kinds available these days. This is a happy way to end a dinner party, especially if you've knocked yourself out before the dessert comes. It's the easiest show-stopping winter dessert I can imagine.
Feasts, cookie platters, cocktail parties, and office holiday goodies, oh my! As fun as it is, it doesn't take long to feel the overwhelm of holiday system overload, just when the mood of the day calls for merry and bright. As a remedy to seasonal splurges, include a salad of roasted mushrooms, warm grains, and baby spinach into your menu this week.
Making the Roasted Mushroom, Grain and Spinach Salad
This quick little main-course salad starts with four easy-to-come by ingredients and a light but flavorful lemon vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is made even better by using Meyer lemons, just coming into peak season.
Here I go on about celery again. Celery adds an essential textural crunch to this dish, and a bit of delicious freshness that you will welcome to your winter plate. I view this as this as a subtle necessity.
In the extraordinary Pacific Northwest food playground we have easy access to an array of cultivated and wild mushrooms. One trial of this recipe I used a shiitake-only approach. Another trial used a melange of chestnut, oyster, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms. I loved it both ways. If you can only access white buttons or brown criminis, please use them! Your dish will be as delicious as ever.
What Wine Should I Serve with Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad?
I started off suggesting a mushroom, warm grain, and spinach salad as a detoxifying healthy choice, so maybe through the holidays consider a tonic of pomegranate juice and sparkling water? Or not! I highly suggest the Artisanal Wine Cellars 2015 Dukes Family Vineyard Pinot Noir. Tom and Patty Feller, and their daughter, Mia, are a family operation dedicated to handcrafted expressive wines. The grapes in this bottle were grown by Pat and Jackie Dukes of Dukes Family Vineyard. We view the Artisanal's Pinot Noirs to be beautiful wines at incredible values.
Roasted mushrooms, warm chewy grain, and fresh spinach dressed in the best ever lemon vinaigrette. This fantastic fast and easy layered salad is hearty enough for satisfying cool weather meals, light enough to counterbalance seasonal feasts and spurges.
1½lb.mushrooms of your choice, singularly or in combinationcrimini, shiitake, chestnut, chanterelle, hedgehog, button, etc.
5stalkscelery, and leaves if your head has them
1cupwhole grain of your choice, prepared according to package directions and kept warm*barley; emmer, spelt, or einkorn farro; wheat berries; oat or buckwheat groats; brown, black, purple, red, or wild rice, etc.
8-10oz.fresh baby spinach
lemon vinaigrette, recipe below
zest of 2 lemons, in strips
Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette
½cuplemon juice, Meyer lemon preferred, zested firstabout 2 large lemons
2clovesgarlic, pressed or very finely minced
1shallot, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400° convection. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with oil or non-stick spray.
Begin cooking your chosen grain according to package directions. (For example, quick-cooking par cooked farro from Trader Joes takes 10 minutes to cook; unhulled barley takes up to 40 minutes.) Once it is cooked, keep it warm while the other steps come together.
Prepare the Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe below.
Wipe mushrooms clean and trim them if necessary. If you are using shiitakes, remove the stems. Leave the small ones whole, cut the medium-sized ones in half, and the largest ones into quarters for similarly sized pieces that will roast at the same rate. Place them in a heap on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon about ¼ of the lemon vinaigrette over the mushrooms. Use your hands to toss the mushrooms in the vinaigrette, coating each piece lightly and evenly. Spread the mushroom pieces out on the pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. Spread them out again and roast them for another 10 minutes or so until they are deeply colored and their juices have almost evaporated. Don't leave them much longer than this or they will lose their tenderness.
While the mushrooms are roasting, thinly slice the celery and set aside. When the grains are cooked and drained, stir in ¼ of the vinaigrette and continue to keep gently warm. Place the spinach on the platter or individual plates.
When the mushrooms are done roasting, add the sliced celery and give it a good toss. Spoon the dressed grains in the center of the plate, and top with the mushroom/celery mixture. Drizzle a little more of the vinaigrette over the layered salad.** Garnish with strips of lemon zest, which are not only eye-catching, but add a delicious flavor note. Serve while warm.
Make the Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette
Combine all ingredients on a pint-sized jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until the salt and maple syrup are dissolved. Shake before each use.
*I've made this recipe using organic locally-grown barley, with buckwheat groats, and with a package of "10-Minute Farro" sometimes found at Trader Joes. Follow the package directions for any grain you use for both serving size and cooking times. **You will have a little of the vinaigrette left over. Don't be sad about this-- use it on your next kale or lettuce salad, on top of baked or broiled fish, or to dress a pan of roasted vegetables. When Meyer lemons are in season, be sure to use them. The typical Eureka or Lisbon lemons are wonderful, too, but Meyers offer a step up in flavor.I recently found that the water that remains when cooking whole-grain barley is delicious as a sipper. Cook the barley "pasta-style" floating freely in a pot of water, and reserve the water. It's as tasty as any stock, and can be used as a soup base or warming cup. This recipe is easily halved and easily doubled. If you double it, use two sheet pans to roast the larger amount of mushrooms.
Are you ready for a true confession?
I rarely cook from a recipe. The first time I made this Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta there was no script. I tell you this so you understand my process of getting a recipe from my brain to your screen-- one that I know will work for you at home and that you can trust. A recipe that will hopefully make it onto your table.
How an Idea Becomes a Recipe
A new recipe concept starts with thinking and dreaming about the flavors, colors, scents, and textures of ingredients. This work happens when I'm asleep and when I'm awake-- all the time! All that I have learned in over 50 years of cooking and eating informs how a new recipe idea comes together.
Intuition led the way when I first made this marigold Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta, like with most things I cook. I found it warm and comforting. It was delicious enough to share, and didn't take a fortnight to make, and so on to trial number two.
The second run is where I pay keen attention to quantities, timing, and cooking nuances you might want to know that will ensure success. Paper and pen are right next to me noting details as I work it through. At this stage I ask myself some hard questions: Is this really the kind of recipe you might want. Does this recipe create a solution for you? Will it delight you and your family and guests? Is it a thing you might really make at home? How can I instill confidence and cheerlead you through the steps?
When I agreed with my initial idea that you might really like this recipe, I moved on to a third Pumpkin + Chicken Sausage Pasta trial. Once again I prepare the recipe again from my notes, writing down any new thoughts or learnings that come. This is the step where I photograph the process using natural light and no filters-- no spin or tricks. Then off I go to write up the recipe in standard format for you.
Lastly and most importantly, I invite your feedback. If a recipe step is unclear, if there is something that you loved or that didn't go right, or if you have an idea that you tried that made it even better, I'm all ears! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I warmly welcome your comments on the post, too. Every time you leave a star rating on the recipe you help others find it through the Google maze. I value that, as well. In short, you are at the center of my work.
Making the Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta
Please don't let the idea of making sausage intimidate you. It is as fast and easy as adding a few herbs and spices to some purchased ground meat. Try it with ground pork or turkey if you prefer. I just happen to like the lightness of the chicken with this ample portion of pasta. Casings or fancy techniques are not called upon. This particular spice blend was borrowed from a recipe I wrote about years ago.
The sausage recipe is versatile. Roll it into meatballs. Brown it and use it on pizza, salad or in other pastas. Form it into patties to snuggle into a bun or next to your breakfast eggs.
Pumpkin puree is easy to do at home. Click here for link to a Facebook Live video of me explaining the easy process of making pumpkin puree from scratch. Laugh along with me at my very first and awkward Facebook Live tutorial! However, feel free to use canned pumpkin puree if that works best for you. The recipe uses two cans of solid-pack pumpkin puree (just one if you want to cut the recipe in half.) Recipes that aren't scaled to use an entire can of something that will otherwise go to waste are simply annoying.
Wine Pairing with Pumpkin + Chicken Sausage Pasta
When you are looking for a wine-friendly autumn dish, Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage is it. A light Italian or Rhone red would be lovely, or any number of dry white wines. Award-winning Abacela Albarino 2020 from Oregon's Umpqua Valley is just lovely with the dish. You'll find this light and dry Albarino with no residual sugar and just 13% alcohol, to be a beautifully complimentary weight for this lighter pasta. Fresh fruit and floral aromas and a nice acidity bring the experience into graceful balance.
1lb.orecchiette or other small pastause gluten free pasta if you choose
3cupspumpkin puree (two 15 oz. cans)
½cupdry white wine
1bunchcurly or lacinato kale, large ribs removed, chopped into 1" pieces
salt + pepper to taste
Make the Sausage
Crumble the ground chicken into a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix remaining herbs and spices. Sprinkly the herbs and spices over the ground chicken and drizzle with the olive oil. Rinse your hands in cold water and gently knead the spices into the ground chicken until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Make the Pasta and Sauce
Put a large pot of generously salted water on to boil for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, in a wide pan brown the sausage mixture in olive oil-- enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized bits. This should take 6-8 minutes. Remove cooked sausage and juices to a plate and set aside.
In the same wide pan heat another swirl of olive oil. Saute the minced shallot in the olive oil until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin, white wine, and salt to taste. Stir together and heat until gently bubbling.
When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. This may happen before or after the pumpkin mixture has come together.
When the pasta is cooked al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce, so don't overcook it!) reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. (Don't forget this step, as it helps make a beautiful silky sauce!) Drain the pasta and return it to its cooking pot.
Add the chopped kale and cooked sausage and its juices back into the pan with the pumpkin mixture and stir in one cup of the pasta water. Scrape the sausage/pumpkin mixture into the cooked pasta and stir. Add enough more of the reserved pasta water to create a smooth, silky sauce that evenly coats the pasta. The pasta will continue to absorb the liquid, so be generous. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve in a large serving dish or in individual pasta bowls.
It is conceivable to garnish this dish with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, however my cheese-loving husband says this is the "cheesiest pasta with no cheese" he's ever eaten! Omitting it makes the dish dairy-free. If you'd prefer, you can use store-bought hot Italian chicken sausage, but this is such an easy and delicious sausage recipe I do hope you'll give it a try.
Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta is one of the tastiest recipes you can have in your weeknight toolbox. Pop these juicy meatballs into the oven and they'll be done in twenty minutes-- as long as it takes to get the rest of the dinner together. This fun and exciting weeknight meal is ready in under an hour, but is definitely company-worthy.
Lemon slices roast alongside the meatballs, then are chopped and added to the sauce with briny chopped olives to give this simple dish huge flavor for the amount of effort it takes.
Our household is not yet ready to make the shift to an entirely plant-based diet, but we make incremental steps in that direction. This turkey meatball and roasted lemon pasta is chock full of zucchini. The turkey meatballs hold a lot of zucchini which lightens the meatballs. Reduce and replace the volume of turkey with even more zucchini if that's where your dietary choices are taking you. In the future I'll be experimenting with replacing the turkey with mashed beans for a completely meatless "meatball."
Making the Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta
Meatballs and sliced lemon roast together; Roasted lemon will go into the sauce; Prepping the vegetables for the sauce; Quickly saute the sauce while the meatballs roast and the pasta cooks; Toss the cooked pasta into the sauce with some of its cooking water.
First, form the meatballs and lay them out on a sheet pan with the sliced lemon which will go into the sauce after it roasts. The meatballs and lemon roast together while a pot of water boils for the pasta and a simple robust mediterranean sauce sautes. Then toss together the pasta and sauce with some of the pasta cooking water. Then top it off with the meatballs, and viola-- dinner is served.
What Wine Shall I Serve?
The mediterranean flavors in the sauce-- garlic, condensed roasted lemon, and Kalamata olives-- were perfect with the Willamette Valley wine producer Anne Amie2019 Pinot Gris. 15% of the Pinot Gris barrels in this vintage were fermented in neutral barrels and aged on the lees, giving it a soft, round mouthfeel not often found in a Pinot Gris. This very enjoyable wine is found within our 101-mile sourcing radius!
In general, a dry white wine with some citrus and minerality will be a perfect match. Experiment and have fun finding those that you most enjoy.
Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Total Time: 55minutes
Tucking a little zucchini into the meatballs lightens this hearty, comforting pasta dish that is loaded with delicious bright flavor. Less than an hour from start to finish makes it easy enough for a weeknight, but it's fancy enough for company.
1 cuppanko or purchased bread crumbsboth are available in gluten-free options
¾cupmilk, dairy or plant
1 ½cupsgrated zucchinisqueezed of moisture in a clean kitchen towel
1poundground turkey94% lean will be juicier than 99% lean
1 ¼cupfinely grated parmesan cheesereserve ¼ cup for serving. For dairy-free, replace this with 1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast.
1teaspoononion powder, optional
1largeor two smaller lemons, sliced 1/2›" thin
For the Pasta and Roasted Lemon Sauce
¾poundspaghetti or bucatinior gluten free pasta
extra virgin olive oil
3-4cupszucchini, diced in about 1/4" pieces
1shallot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
½teaspoonred pepper flake
1/2cupKalamata olives or other black olives, roughly chopped
roasted lemon slices, above, chopped into small piecesthe lemon slices will roast at the same time at the meatballs, so they are included in the above ingredient list
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil for garnish
Make the Meatballs
Line a sheet pan with foil and spray it with oil spray. Preheat the oven to 375°.
In a large mixing bowl stir together the panko and milk and let rest for 5 minutes while the crumbs absorb the milk. Add the squeezed grated zucchini, turkey, 1 cup parmesan, garlic salt, and onion powder, if using. Mix everything together with you hands until thoroughly combined.
Use an ice cream or cookie scoop to form the meatballs, rinsing your hands in cold water to smooth the balls and place them on the sheet pan. (This makes 12-14 meatballs, depending on the size of your scoop.) Place lemon slices around the meatballs on the foil-lined sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and the lemon slices have softened. Some of them may have browned edges.
When the lemon slices are cool enough to handle, stack them up on a cutting board and cut them into quarters. Set aside for the sauce.
Make the Pasta and Roasted Lemon Zucchini Sauce
While the meatballs are in the oven, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.
While the water is boiling, place enough olive oil to amply cover the bottom of your largest skillet over medium-high heat. It may seem like a lot, but the oil will become your pasta sauce so be generous. When the oil is hot add the zucchini, shaking the pan to settle the zucchini in to the pan. Leave it to brown without stirring for 2 - 3 minutes. Stir the zucchini around and shake the pan again, and add the shallot, garlic, salt, and red pepper flake on top. Adjust the temperature if needed to allow the browning to continue without burning, stirring every 2 minutes or so until all the vegetables are lightly caramelized and cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
With the heat still on the skillet, add the Kalamata olives and reserved roasted lemon to the zucchini mixture. Use tongs to lift the al dente pasta into the skillet with the sauce. Add ½ cup of the pasta water and use tongs to mix the sauce and pasta together. As the water absorbs you may want to add the rest of the water, tossing the pasta and sauce together as it becomes silky and coats the pasta.
Serve the pasta and sauce on plates or bowls, and nestle in the meatballs on top. Garnish with the remaining parmesan and parsley or basil. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.
For a dairy-free version, omit the parmesan from the meatball mixture and add 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast. You may also sprinkle some nutritional yeast as a garnish to the finished dish. For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free bread crumbs or panko, and GF pasta.For a vegan option, omit meatballs and just roast the sliced lemon alone.Double the meatball portion of the recipe-- The meatballs freeze well and can be added to any pasta and sauce, or make great meatball sandwiches.
Other Cool-Weather Pasta Recipes and Zucchini Recipes
You’re in the right place! I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.
Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.
Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.
Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.