Kale Pesto Grilled Cheese

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These ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches use four (count ’em, four) types of cheese: shredded mozzarella, shredded provolone, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan. They’re sandwiched between toasted brioche with a vibrant basil-kale pesto. Embrace your inner kid and dunk the sandwiches in the warm marinara sauce (that’s exactly what we did).

Adapted from Plated.com
2019

Serves 2

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 ounces curly kale
1/4 ounce basil
1 lemon
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
One 8-ounce jar marinara sauce
4 slices brioche
1 ounce shredded mozzarella
1 ounce shredded provolone cheese blend

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Rinse all produce. Roughly chop or tear kale leaves, discarding long stems. Pick basil leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Thinly slice mozzarella. Mince garlic.

To make kale pesto, add to a blender or food processor, combine pine nuts, kale, basil, half of garlic, 1 tablespoon water, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; pulse until smooth. Stir in half of Parmesan, 1 squeeze lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Set kale pesto aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium high-sided pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add oregano and remaining garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium high and add marinara sauce. Simmer, stirring, until warmed through and flavors have melded, 6-8 minutes more. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Remove pan from heat; cover and set aside until ready to use.

While marinara simmers, drizzle olive oil over 1 side of bread slices. Arrange oil-side up on a baking sheet and bake until beginning to crisp, 2 minutes, then flip. Spread kale pesto over plain sides of bread slices and top with shredded mozzarella and provolone, then remaining Parmesan, then mozzarella slices. Return to oven and bake until cheeses are melted and bread is golden, 3-4 minutes more.

Close sandwiches, pressing to adhere. Return to oven and bake until tops of sandwiches are golden, 1-2 minutes.

To serve, cut kale pesto grilled cheese in half on a diagonal. Divide marinara sauce between small bowls and serve with sandwiches for dipping.

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Pork and Fennel Ragout

pork and fennel

Photo Credit: Antonis Achilleos, 2017.

 

The sweetness of fennel and caramelized shallots pairs perfectly with shredded pork. This comforting dish is perfect for a cold night.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Three 1-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops (1 pound total), trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch-wide strips

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups red or white wine

Directions:
Grind the fennel seeds with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a spice grinder or chop with a knife. Transfer to a medium bowl; mix with the lemon juice and pork. Add the flour and toss to coat. In another bowl, mix the lemon zest with 2 tablespoons parsley.

Heat a deep skillet or pot over high heat and add the olive oil. Brown the pork in batches, 1 minute per side; transfer to a plate. Add the shallots, fennel bulb, the remaining 3 tablespoons parsley, and salt to taste to the skillet. Reduce the heat and cook until the vegetables are wilted, 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, wine and 1/2 cup water; scrape up any browned bits. Cover and simmer over low heat until the fennel is tender, 12 minutes. Add the pork and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and top with the lemon zest-parsley mixture.

 


Champagne Jellies

champagne jellies

Photo Credit: Giant Foods, 2018.

 

For a festive touch, try these champagne jellies, and serve these gummy-like champagne treats during your New Year’s Eve party. Your guests can eat them on their own or try dropping them into a glass of wine for a fun treat.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups pink champagne or sparkling apple cider
½ cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon edible gold glitter

Directions:
Sprinkle the gelatin into ½ cup water and let stand 5 minutes. In a medium pot, combine the champagne and sugar and heat to a simmer on medium-high. Add the gelatin mixture and whisk until fully dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour the champagne mixture into the dish and refrigerate 30 minutes or  until chilled but not set. Sprinkle glitter over the mixture. Return to the refrigerator and chill another 30 minutes, until fully set.

Using a sharp knife, cut the jelly into mini squares. Place on a platter and serve with decorative toothpicks.

Cook’s Notes:
Each gelatin packet equals 1 tablespoon.

For a more polished look, use star-shaped cookie cutter to cut the jelly with crisp clean edges.