Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions and Radicchio

November 10, 2009

As much as I like to cook impressive, complicated, time-consuming dishes, I also work a full-time job and sometimes just don’t have it in me after a long day at the office.  So, I’m always searching for recipes that are at least mildly creative and interesting (at least, more so than boxed pasta and Ragu) but that don’t require a ton of prep and cooking time.

This dish, which I saw in a recent Cooking Light magazine, seemed to fit the bill for a quick and tasty weeknight meal.  Other than some slicing and chopping of veggies and herbs, there really wasn’t much prep work involved at all.  You could definitely stick to the recipe as-is and have a delightful vegetarian meal; however, I had some big, beautiful shrimp on hand that I grilled (seasoned with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper) and served on top.  My one caution: don’t be stingy with the seasoning on this one!  Since there’s no real sauce, and since the onions and radicchio mellow out once they are cooked, don’t be afraid of the salt and red pepper flakes–you don’t want to wind up with a big pot of bland pasta.  This is a great dish to make in bulk and then eat leftover, as the flavors mingle together in the fridge and taste even better the second time around.  Enjoy!

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 6  cups  thinly sliced yellow onion (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 6  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1  pound  uncooked spaghetti
  • 3 1/2  cups  thinly sliced radicchio (about 1 head)
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 15 minutes or until almost tender, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until deep golden (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and garlic. Cook 3 minutes; stir occasionally. Add wine; cook 4 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Add reserved cooking liquid, pasta, radicchio, parsley, and oregano to onion mixture. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper; toss to combine. Top with cheese.

Spaghetti with caramelized onions


Recipe: Shrimp Quesadillas

September 2, 2008

When my mom came over last weekend to meet Jack, she insisted that I actually cook for her.  After all, I talk a big game about my skills in the kitchen, but the last handful of times she’s visited we’ve either eaten out, thrown some spaghetti and canned sauce on the stove, or picked at a store-bought rotisserie chicken.  Not exactly demonstrative of my love of all things culinary.

So, I decided to make shrimp quesadillas, as I was craving Tex-Mex (perhaps in anticipation of my ill-fated trip to Texas) and I knew mom would be a fan.  They turned out REALLY well, with bright fresh flavors and just enough cheese.  My one suggestion would be to use high heat when putting the quesadillas together, so that the tortillas get a good browning and crunch to them (otherwise, they’ll be a little soggy).  If you want more heat, either use a stronger pepper (like a habanero, perhaps) or top the finished product with some spicy salsa.  Hope you enjoy!

  • 1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2/3 cup chopped tomato
    1 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
    1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    8 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
    1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I also threw some cheddar in there, since I had it leftover from the shrimp and grits)

Heat margarine in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, corn, and garlic, and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomato and jalapeño; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in shrimp, lemon juice, cilantro, and salt; sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are no longer translucent. Remove corn mixture from skillet; keep warm. Place 1 tortilla in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat; top with 1/4 cup cheese. Spoon 1/2 cup corn mixture over cheese; top with a tortilla. Cook 3 minutes pressing down with a spatula until cheese melts. Turn carefully; cook until thoroughly heated (about 1 minute). Repeat procedure with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and corn mixture. Cut each quesadilla into quarters (a pizza slicer is very handy in this regard).

Note: This photo is just of the filling. Sadly, we were so hungry, and the quesadillas were so good, that I forgot to snap a shot of the totally finished product.

Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

September 1, 2008

Well, I promised that I’d be back soon, with “stories from the road” in tow.  Unfortunately, while on the road, I was struck with a mystery virus and had to take an emergency Friday morning flight back to Atlanta in order to spend that afternoon and evening in the hospital.  So, I never saw downtown Austin, and I never even made it to San Antonio (where I was supposed to have a romantic weekend away with my honey).  Boo!

In any case, apologies for my lack of Texas-related tales.  Instead, here’s a delicious recipe I made before I departed.  It’s adapted from Cooking Light magazine, and it really turned out well.  Careful not to overcook the grits; for those of you not raised in the South, pull them off the heat while they still look a little runny (the five minutes of suggested cooking time should be plenty), and they’ll firm up as you add the cheese.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup chopped Canadian bacon
    1 cup red bell pepper strips
    1 cup green bell pepper strips
  • Kernels from 4 small ears of corn
    1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
    1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1/2 cup chopped green onions
    1 2/3 cups fat-free milk
    1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
    1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes (or until no longer translucent). Stir in green onions; remove from heat and keep warm.

Combine milk and broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir in grits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook for 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Serve shrimp mixture over grits.

Recipe: Fusilli with Shrimp and Arugula

January 31, 2008
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Continuing the shrimp pasta theme, this is a much lighter (in both flavor and caloric content) recipe courtesy of the lovely Giada. You could eat this one cold or hot–and if the bitterness of the arugula is overpowering (as it was for my boyfriend), add a little grated parmesan! Cheese is never a bad idea…

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 cup dry white wine
    1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
    12 ounces fusilli pasta
    3 cups (packed) fresh arugula

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook just until they are pink, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the fusilli. Add the fusilli and arugula to the skillet. Toss to combine. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and serve.


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Recipe: Shrimp and Pasta in Tomato-Chile Cream Sauce

January 30, 2008

Dinner on Saturday night was a new and delicious recipe–from the playbook of Mr. Bam! himself. I’ve never attempted an Emeril Lagasse recipe, and it turned out incredibly well. The Essence seasoning gave the shrimp a great flavor, and the jalapenos added wonderful heat.

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Set a large 1-gallon stock pot of water to a boil and add the kosher salt. Place the linguine in the pot and stir the pot until the water returns to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted, season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Essence and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the shrimp until well browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and jalapenos to the pan and saute until the onions are softened and lightly caramelized, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream, remaining 1 tablespoon of Essence, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt and the pepper to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce until the cream is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan, and add the tomatoes, linguine and the reserved cooking water to the pan and cook, tossing to incorporate for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the Pepper Jack, Parmesan, parsley and basil and toss to blend. Serve immediately.

Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. It will make about 2/3 cup, so you can use the remainder as a rub on pretty much any meat.