Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Garlic Puttanesca

April 6, 2011
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Unfortunately, our last Week in a Day dinner was our least favorite of the bunch – so much for going out with a bang!  This recipe had all of the makings of a successful pasta dinner, but it just seemed to fall flat.  The tomatoes and garlic smelled amazing while they were roasting, but once they were blended into the sauce, they lost their depth.  I thought that serving this dish last would allow all of the flavors to stew and mesh and intensify, but I think the opposite happened – so, maybe if you eat the sauce right away it will live up to its promise!  If someone tries that, please let me know how it turns out.

As far as the experiment as a whole, I was really pleased with the results.  I was able to spend more time with my hubby and critters while still putting satisfying, home-cooked meals on the table.  We didn’t eat out for the whole week.  We even wound up with leftovers (bolognese and lentil soup) in the freezer for a proverbial rainy day.  I will definitely continue to watch the show, and I hope she throws more menus out there that will work for our tastes.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 12 to 14 large Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked and chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives, loosely packed
  • 6 flat filets anchovies
  • 3 tablespoons drained Capote capers or stemmed caperberries
  • 1 small Fresno chile or Italian red cherry pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound penne or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Arrange a cooling rack over a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet for easy clean up.  Cut the ends off the entire head garlic to expose all of the cloves. Season the garlic with a little salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then wrap in foil.  Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and place in a bowl. Lightly dress the tomatoes by drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and marjoram, and arrange on the baking sheet cut-side down. Bake the tomatoes 20 to 25 minutes, then flip the tomatoes, and roast 20 minutes more. Roast the garlic 45 to 50 minutes alongside the tomatoes.  Place about 2/3 of the tomatoes in a food processor. Coarsely chop the remainder of the tomatoes, and reserve. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, and add to the food processor pulsing until smooth. Add the mixture to a Dutch oven and add the olives, anchovies, capers, and chile. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Transfer to a small container for a make-ahead meal and refrigerate, or transfer to a serving bowl. Store the chopped tomatoes separately, or add to the serving bowl.  To serve, bring water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reheat the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce for 1 minute, to coat. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of parsley, and drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.


Recipe: Lamb and Rice Stuffed Peppers

April 4, 2011
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This may have been the favorite of the Week in a Day recipes.  I actually thought that my husband wouldn’t like it, since he’s usually not a huge fan of bell peppers, but he raved about the flavor and texture.  The peppers themselves were soft without being mushy, and firm enough to hold their shape and handle all of the filling.  They were also incredibly sweet, which I think comes from the fact that I splurged and bought really good organic ones from Whole Foods (they were the only ones that had the right shape for stuffing).  The filling was really hearty and satisfying, and the lamb was a welcome protein change in our house (it’s not my favorite, so we only eat it sparingly).  The whole dish together, including the sauce and goat cheese, was really well-balanced and delicious.

Since I knew I wasn’t going to serve this dish until day four, I got the peppers all the way to the stuffing point and then I put them in a baking dish, covered them with foil, and put them in the fridge.  I made the sauce ahead of time and also stored it in the fridge.  Then, when I was ready to serve, I pulled the peppers out of the fridge and brought them to closer to room temp, and then I roasted them in the oven for the prescribed time.  I just reheated the sauce in a pot on the stove over low heat.

I really look forward to making these again – if you can get peppers that stand up nice and straight, the presentation is really nice (my photo skills, however, are not – ha).

  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 ounces ground lamb
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked and chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cubanelle peppers or mild frying peppers, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove the tops from the peppers and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Carefully trim the bottoms if necessary to make peppers stand straight when upright. Place a steamer rack over a few inches of boiling water, or set a colander over a couple of inches boiling water in a large stock pot. Place the peppers in the steamer and cover. Steam 10 minutes, and remove to a baking dish or casserole. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the orzo and brown lightly, and then add 1/2 the garlic and stir. After 30 seconds stir in the water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Spread the orzo onto a baking sheet and cool.  Place the ground lamb in a bowl and add the cooled orzo. Season with 1/2 the marjoram, the rosemary, 2 tablespoons parsley, and season with salt, and pepper. Overstuff the peppers with the filling. Drizzle about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil over the peppers, pouring about 1 tablespoon over top of each. Arrange the peppers in a casserole or small baking dish and roast 50 minutes to 1 hour, until crispy at the edges and cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, cubanelle peppers, remaining garlic, remaining marjoram, and saute until soft. Add the tomato sauce, and season with salt, and pepper.  Cool the peppers and sauce for a make-ahead meal or serve immediately.  For reheating: Add 1/2 cup water to the baking dish, and place in a heated 375 degree F oven, covered until warmed throughout, about 30 minutes. Uncover and let the water evaporate, and crisp the top, 20 minutes more. Reheat the sauce over medium-low heat to heat through.  Serve the peppers hot with sauce over top, or in a puddle underneath the peppers. Top with crumbled feta.


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