Friday, February 20, 2015

Spinach Pesto Pizza with Feta

Each summer, with my son's help, I make a bunch of basil pesto and stash it in the freezer in quantities packaged just right for pizza (1/2 cup) or a pound of pasta (1 cup). I welcome its blast of flavor every time I pull a package out of the freezer. Here it makes a nice base for fresh local hoophouse spinach and local feta cheese. You can optionally add chopped canned artichoke hearts here - not local, but delicious with these ingredients.

1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 cup basil pesto
4 ounces well chopped fresh spinach
1 cup artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped (about half a can) (optional)
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
1 ounces shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spread the pesto over the pizza crust. Spread the spinach over it, then strew the feta and artichoke hearts (if using) over the spinach. Top with mozzarella.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ginger Maple Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips take really well to dry heat cooking, which brings out their natural sweetness. They pair well with sweet spices and seasonings. If you want to get fancy with the presentation here, you could serve these topped with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Regardless, do add salt - it works well against the sweetness of the syrup, which gives the parsnips a nice candied texture around the edges.

2 lbs parsnips
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp walnut or canola oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the parsnips and cut out woody cores, then cut into cubes or spears. Toss them in a bowl with the maple syrup, oil, ginger, and a sprinkling of salt. When well coated, spread on a rimmed baking sheet (you may want to use parchment paper or foil to prevent a sticky cleanup job). Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until the parsnips are tender and nicely golden brown.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Winter Tomato Soup with Chicken

If you have a good supply of tomatoes canned or frozen from last summer, a nice pot of tomato soup is perfect for a cold winter evening. The chicken is optional, but it does turn the soup from a side to a hearty main dish. Adding a Parmesan rind while the soup simmers adds a nice depth of flavor.

Olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced thin
2 quarts canned/frozen tomatoes (thawed if frozen) with their liquid
1-2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
Parmesan rind (optional)
2-3 cups chopped cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for topping (optional)

Heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and tomatoes, stock, thyme, bay leaf, basil, and Parmesan rind (if using). Simmer until the carrots are completely tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and Parmesan rind from the soup, then puree it either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Stir in the chicken and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. If desired, top with a bit of grated Parmesan at the table.

Serves 4-5.

Chicken Spinach Pizza with Chili Peppers

Using some nice hoop house grown local spinach and pickled jalapenos from our garden. You can skip the chicken if you like, but it does play nicely with the greens and chilies.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
3 ounces spinach, washed and finely chopped
1 cup diced cooked chicken
2 Tbsp chopped pickled chili peppers (or to taste)
3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil.

Spread the spinach over the pizza crust, then distribute the chicken and the chili peppers over it. Be sure to spread the chilies evenly so you don't get an overly hot bite. Top with mozzarella.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.