These few weeks of summer are my favorite time of year here in Minnesota. Sunny, warm, time on the lake and fresh vegs! We are members in a CSA farm share and I love the weekly offerings, it has taught me a lot about what is truly “local” and the challenges of modern, sustainable farming.
When I saw the unique shape of the cabbage, I knew I needed to make something to showcase it. You’d never find something this “odd” on a grocery store shelf!
- 1lb fettucini
- 1lb protein (sliced sirloin is my boys’ preference, but shrimp and tofu work great)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 3 carrots shredded, or use matchsticks precut about 1/2c
- 1 green cabbage, shredded (or sub in coleslaw mix for cabbage/carrots)
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1/3c soy sauce
- 4 tbsp veg oil, divided
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
While noodles cook, saute protein in 2 tbsp oil. Remove to bowl. Heat remaining oil and add onion, celery and carrots, cook 3-5 min until just browning. Add garlic and cabbage, cook another 3-5 min. (If you use the coleslaw mix, just give the onions and celery a headstart before adding it). Add noodles and protein to veg mixture, toss in soy sauce and top with green onions.
I was reading about the importance of rituals in our lives. The comfort that comes from familiar, from routines. Our family has many, but the one that brings me the most joy is Spaghetti & Meatballs.
It’s not the result of Italian heritage (we’re a mix of stuff, mostly Scandinavian), but is the result of a twofold ritual–carb loading pre-swim meets and birthdays.
Last week was a birthday for Alec, who’s now 17! I didn’t even need to ask him what he wanted for dinner. As I made it, I took more care than usual to pay attention to measurements so I could post the recipe with some accuracy. Normally I just wing it because it’s like being on autopilot. Happy, comforting. The eating part is great, but the prep ritual is soul restoration for me! Enjoy!
- 1lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 slices white bread, crumbled
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/4c parsley chopped
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 sp Ground pepper
- 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
Soak bread in milk–it should be moist but not drenched. Saute onion and garlic over low heat in butter until just starting to caramelize, about 10 min. Add herbs and seasonings to onion mixture and remove from heat. This helps the tasty stuff distribute evenly when you mix it into the meat. Squeeze excess milk from bread. Add it to beef and pork, mix along with onion mixture and cheese until just blended, mix in egg to bind. Roll into generous balls. Place on broiler pan lined with tinfoil, bake at 500 degrees for 5 min. Keep meatballs in oven, but lower temp to 350 and cook another 20 min.
- 2 28oz cans whole Italian plum tomatoes
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 lbs spaghetti
Boil water for pasta. Heat olive oil, add garlic, saute 30 sec, add crushed red pepper and salt, then tomatoes. Add basil. Simmer 10 min while pasta cooks. Blend to desired smoothness either with hand blender or in food processor (the boys tolerate “chunks” now that they’re older). You can also simmer meatballs in sauce for extra richness. This tomato sauce is more tart than sweet like most jarred sauces and along with thyme in the meatballs makes it distinctively ours. Of course these portions mean leftovers, which seem to disappear without anyone fessing up to secret eating.
The month of April is a crossover month–hockey and baseball going on, plus of course swimming. I hate that we don’t sit down together every night as a family, but that’s reality.
This recipe is great to make on a Sunday and eat as a snack or side throughout the week. It’s easy to adjust the accessories for preferences (of course the boys would add meat if I asked them!)
Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- 1 box orzo pasta
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3c olive oil
- 1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
- 1/3c red onion, diced
- 1c yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tomato, diced
- 3tbsp sundried tomatoes, julienned
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
- Handful of spinach, chopped
- 4 oz feta
Juice the lemon, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisk to mix dressing. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Add remaining ingredients and toss together.
Pasta pasta pasta.
Make ahead, heat and eat quickly.
This isn’t gourmet living, but it works as an easy weeknight meal or on those days when we’re all eating at different times.
Just remember to tell the 16-year-old after swim practice that the container serves 4 (is not his alone!)
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage (we prefer hot)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 28 oz can tomato sauce
- 28 oz water
- 2 c chicken broth
- 1/2 lb pasta shells
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
Saute meat until cooked through, drain fat. Add onion and cook 2-3 min, add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, sauce, water and broth, bring to simmer, add pasta and herbs. Cook 15-20 min on low until noodles are tender. Top with mozzarella or parmesan.
My darling 16-year-old graciously offered to make spaghetti one night last week when I was late getting home. His version of portion sizes for 3 adults: 2 lbs of noodles. Needless to say, I had to figure out a couple ways to use up the leftovers!
This recipe is great for that because it’s got a different flavor profile (Asian), and it’s very flexible–you can add whatever veggies you have on hand, and it can be served warm or chilled.
Peanut butter noodles
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 3/4c creamy peanut butter
- 1/3c low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp hot chili oil or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1/2c chopped cilantro
- Veggies of your choice: I threw in sauteed napa cabbage, cucumber, shredded carrots. Pea pods, peppers and broccoli are also good!
Chop garlic in food processor. Add remaining dressing ingredients (through sesame oil) and puree until smooth. Cook noodles. Toss noodles in sauce, thinning sauce with pasta water as needed. Add veggies, top with green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with more sesame oil if desired. We serve with chili-garlic sauce for the half of our family that likes spice.
With the holidays behind us, this is the toughest part of the year living in Minnesota. Short days, cold temps and snow. Ugh.
I do what I can to cheer myself up with comfort foods like this pasta. The boys love it too.
- Freeze the bacon for about an hour, it’s easier to chop.
- Using pasta water to temper the eggs makes for a silky smooth sauce
- Adjust the dairy to your liking–skip it and use only pasta water or lower the fat with whatever you’ve got in the fridge, half & half, milk.
Bacon & Egg Pasta
- 1/2 lb bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lb pasta (spaghetti or other long noodle)
- 1/3 c cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 c pasta water
- 1 c parmesan
Cook pasta. Chop garlic. Beat egg yolks in large bowl, add cream. In saute pan, cook chopped bacon. Remove from pan. Drain all but 2 tbsp fat. Sautee garlic in bacon fat for 30 sec. Remove from heat. Use reserved pasta water to temper egg/cream mixture, using approximately 1/2-3/4c. Add pasta to sauce, toss with garlic/fat until noodles are coated with sauce. Top with cooked bacon and parmesan.
For easy weeknight meals, I’m a huge fan of recipes that involve opening cans, yet are healthy and tasty. This one is a nice change from heavy lasagna recipes that quite frankly are a ton of work. There’s a time and place for those, but generally not on Tuesday in our house. This one is also easy to adjust to your palate–make it spicier (green or chipotle salsa), use different mixes of beans (black, pinto) and cheeses (Mexican blend, cheddar, colbyjack).
- 1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles (4 layers of 3 noodles each)
- 2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)
- 1 16oz jar salsa
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 cans beans
- 1 can corn
- 12 oz cheese
- Cilantro, green onions
Preheat oven to 350. Coat 13×9 pan (or lasagna pan) with cooking spray. Mix together tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salsa and cumin. Put 1 cup sauce in bottom of pan. Place first layer of 3 noodles on top of sauce, followed by 1/3 of corn, bean and cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, followed by one final layer of noodles. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven, top with cilantro and green onions.