Scallops with Lemon-Caper Pasta and Baby Spinach

 

 

We have all had many a piccata-esque dishes before, at banquet dinners and weddings. including the old stand-by, the dry chicken breast and super-salty capers with some subpar pasta. But this recipe proves different and you will be surprised by the delicious and succulent version of this dish with creamy sauce and delicate pasta. This caper sauce is all the latter, none of the former, and instead of boring,  dry chicken,  you will have succulent sweet scallops to sop up the good flavors, in this dish.

Adapted From
Sarah Thomsen
Home Chef
January 2021

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 large lemon
1/3 cup croutons
5 oz. Linguine pasta
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound scallops
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons Better than bullion  Organic Vegetable Soup Base™
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 oz. Baby spinach
1 tablespoons capers

Directions:
Halve lemon lengthwise. Cut one half into wedges and juice the other half. Coarsely crush croutons. Set aside until ready to use.

To start the pasta, bring 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons of  salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. Reserve pot; no need to wipe clean. While pasta cooks, cook scallops.

Using clean paper towels, pat scallops dry, and season both sides with a pinch of salt and pepper. Scallops will vary in amount as they are portioned by weight. Don’t worry, the sweet flavor and tender texture will be the same. Place a medium non-stick pan over medium-high and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add scallops to hot pan and cook until golden brown and scallops reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 ° F, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove scallops to a plate and set aside.

Return pot used to cook pasta to medium heat. Add pasta cooking water, mirepoix base, and a pinch of salt to hot pot. Stir to combine. Stir in cooked pasta, sour cream, and Parmesan until pasta is fully coated. Add spinach, capers, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir often until spinach begins to wilt, 1-2 minutes. Remove from burner.

To serve, add the pasta to the center of the plate, twirling with tongs to give height. Top the pasta with scallops and garnishing with crushed croutons. Squeeze lemon wedges over to taste.

Bon appétit!

 

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Mrs. Cubbison’s French Bread Croutons, Garlic & Butter, 5 oz

Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base 16 Oz, Reduced Sodium 

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Italian Minestrone Soup

 

This hearty minestrone is easy to make and totally worth the effort.
The recipe calls for seasonal vegetables and affordable pantry ingredients you can find in any local grocery store, making it budget friendly. Like an Italian minestrone soup, this recipe is loaded with vegetables, beans, spinach and ditalini pasta. The soup packs great for lunch, and tastes even better the next day. You can make this dish dairy free, gluten-free and vegan friendly. Just see the following  Cook’s Notes.  This recipe calls for about 24 servings, so just know that it also freezes and defrosts well too. It is extra nice to have on hand in the freezer on during those days when you feel like being a lazy cook in the kitchen, especially during the winter months.

Serves 24

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of small diced pancetta bacon
2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
4 finely minced cloves of garlic
2 thinly sliced leeks, optional
4 medium diced stalks of celery
4 peeled and sliced carrots
1 peeled and medium diced turnip
1 peeled and medium diced parsnip
½ small diced bulb of fennel core removed, optional
3 peeled and large diced russet potatoes
Three 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice
Three 15-ounce cans of drained cannellini beans
128 ounces of chicken stock
3 parmesan cheese rinds (See Cook’s Notes)
2 cups of frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach, chopped kale or chopped collard greens
juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds of cooked and cooled ditalini pasta (See Cook’s Notes)
Salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese and fresh oregano and rosemary sprigs, for garnish

 

Directions:
In a very large pot or stockpot over medium heat add in the pancetta and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside the pancetta lardons.

Add in the onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, turnip, parsnips and fennel to the pot and sauté for 10 to 12 minutes.

Add in the potatoes, tomatoes, beans, stock and cheese rinds and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the peas, spinach, lemon juice, cooked pancetta, salt, and pepper.

To serve, ladle into bowl and garnish with parmesan, oregano and rosemary, if desired.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Minestrone soup is subject to change based on what you have and what’s in season. This minestrone soup recipe may look completely different in the summer since things like zucchini, yellow squash and squash peak in are that season. For the Spring, you might want to use peas, green beans and leeks for the soup. As for autumn seasonal vegetables, potatoes turnips, butternut squash, also work for this recipe. Basically, whatever vegetables you have on hand will work in this recipe. Left over vegetables will also work in a pinch too.

Grains or Pasta: Italian minestrone soup can also use things like farro or cous cous as the grain or pasta in the soup, such as orecchiette, elbow or small shell pasta. To make this soup gluten free, you can also substitute your favorite sturdy gluten-free noodle, such as DeLallo’s Whole-Grain Rice Shells.

Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese rind is not a necessity, but it will add some delicious umami flavors to the soup. You can add grated Parmesan to the soup as a substitute, or shredded Parmesan can be added as a garnish.

However, if you want to make the soup dairy free and vegan friendly, do not use Parmesan cheese or the pancetta. Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian because they contain animal rennet. As a reliable substitute, Whole Foods 365 and Bel Gioioso brands do offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese, and both will work really well in this recipe.

How to Reheat: To reheat the minestrone soup simply add your desired portion to a small sauce pot and heat over low heat until hot. You can also simply add your desired portion to microwave safe bowl and heat for 2:30 stirring after 1:15.

How to Store: Minestrone soup will hold well in the refrigerator covered up for up to 5 days. It will also freeze well covered for up to 3 months. Simply pull it out as you need it and reheat following the directions above.

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Ditalini Pasta

 

 

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Skillet Lasagna

I am craving comfort foods from my youth, right about now.

I wanted lasagna the way Garfield scratches his belly for it……. I just didn’t feel like cooking it and putting together all the wonderful layers. Between Zoom Calls and family responsibilities and such I have hit a COVID19 wall lately when it comes to cooking…..but I still want lasagna.

One answer to my 99 problems, and my craving for lasagna is easily solved.

Skillet Lasagna!

With this simple recipe, you can enjoy this comfort food any night of the week. Everything cooks in just 30 minutes This easy skillet lasagna recipe uses traditional ingredients like ricotta, mozzarella and Italian sausage for that authentic lasagna flavor. If you don’t have a large skillet, no problem, just use a deep Dutch oven.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 pound uncooked lasagna noodles (1/2 of a 16-ounce box)
1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, divided
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt, to taste
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, divided
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with onions, undrained
One 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
3/4 cup Mozzarella-Parmesan cheese blend

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break the noodles in half and cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the noodles and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook the meat, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain the excess fat from the meat and return to skillet. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes, salt to taste and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds — do not burn the garlic.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, salt to taste, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the basil; set aside.

Remove the skillet from the stove. Add dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture by rounded tablespoons over the sausage. Top with the noodles, making 1 flat layer. Note that the noodles will overlap just a little bit.

Pour tomatoes and bell peppers over noodles, making sure that noodles are completely covered. Add water, and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon Italian season. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the perimeter of the skillet.

Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and uncover and sprinkle with cheese blend. Cover again and let is stand for 3 t0 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. You can let it stand for and additional 5 minutes if you like it less saucy. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped fresh basil just before serving, if desired. Cut into wedges, and serve with a slotted spatula.

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute the canned tomatoes and diced bell peppers with one 28-ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce.

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