I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. I had my family in town, meaning pure blissful chaos. It was the first time all four siblings and in-laws had been together in a while, so we ran around town, herded the kids, and ate entirely too much food. (I wish we had a better word for in-laws. I love, and like, my sister and brother in-law way more than that word implies. Can we coin a new term?)
After a week of entertaining and togetherness, I thought a few go-to recipes might be in order. Plus, I will tell you—Easter is the most sobering and contemplative of all the holidays for me. While the joy and hope of the resurrection are incomparable, the deep places I visit with the Lord, while getting to Easter morning, can at times be weighty. So a few recipes felt like a good way to go this week. (You may recognize some, one from each of my five bible studies).
1. Sundried Tomato Pasta
From No Other Gods One of my all-time favorites, simply put. I go back to this one with our without the chicken.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb. bowtie pasta
2 pkg. sun-dried tomatoes, softened according to package instructions and cut into strips
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of pitted black olives, chopped 16 oz.
feta cheese, crumbled
½ c. pine nuts, toasted
In sauce pan, sauté garlic for 1 min, then add sundried tomatoes and sauté another minute. Add chicken pieces to saucepan with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook until done. Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large bowl, mix crumbled feta, pine nuts, and chopped olives. After chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic have been sautéed, add them into the bowl of dry ingredients and toss thoroughly. When pasta is cooked, add it to the mixing bowl and toss again, adding more olive oil if needed. The pasta is ready to serve.
Serve with a fresh salad, a loaf of bread and dipping oil (extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar, cracking fresh pepper and salt over top. Finish with fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese).
2. Kale, Sausage, Cannellini Bean Soup
From What Love Is I can always be talked into soup. Quality sausage and fresh kale make this soup perfect anytime of year.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil,
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano 1
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Shaved Parmesan cheese for on top
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock (more if you want a brothier soup, and I also recommend making your own if you happen to have the time.)
1 lb of Italian sausage (I prefer 4 sausage links)
1 large bunch kale, large ribs removed, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic and oregano and sauté until translucent. Add vinegar and tomato paste, cooking another minute until the oil and paste has blended together. Add rinsed beans and stock and bring to a simmer. (At this point I let the soup simmer for about 30-45 minutes before adding the kale because I don’t like my kale overcooked – this is just a preference.) Season with salt and pepper, to taste. While the soup is simmering, in another pan I partially cook the sausage links (you can also use ground sausage). Once partially cooked, I allow them to cool and then I slice them into bite-sized pieces and toss them into the soup where they finish cooking. I like for the sausage to cook a bit in the soup because you get a fuller flavor in the broth. Add kale and simmer, partially covered, for another 15-30 minutes or so, making sure of course the sausage is thoroughly cooked. Garnish with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese
3. Ginger Snap Cookies
From Nehemiah A simple, happy, go-to that my mom used to make me. Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.
¾ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling
Cream butter with brown sugar until fluffy (with a hand mixer). Then beat in the egg. Add molasses. Put the next 6 dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Add to creamed mixture. Make into balls and roll them in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Note: Don’t over bake if you want them chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside. *use real molasses with no extras
4. Summer Tomato Pasta
From Ruth This is killer in the summer with fresh ingredients. Don’t try this in January.
1 (12 ounce) package dried linguine
4 large tomatoes, chopped (or cherry tomatoes sliced in half)
5 cloves garlic, minced (I like tons of garlic, you can back this off)
6 big leaves of fresh basil chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (2 1/4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
The above measurements are good starters but feel free to add more or less to taste. Cook pasta according to package directions. (If you’re really feeling inspired, make your own pasta. All you need is semolina flour, eggs and olive oil. You can find recipes online.)
While pasta water is boiling, combine tomatoes and next 5 ingredients. Salt the mixture and let the tomatoes soak up the salt for a few minutes, this will bring out the flavor of the tomatoes. (If heirloom tomatoes are in season, these will work great.) Drain pasta, and place in a large bowl. Top with tomato mixture, and sprinkle with olives and cheese.
5. Sausage and Butternut Squash Risotto
From All Things New A friend of mine who lives in Italy whipped this up one evening. Everyone who’s tried making it has loved it.
16 oz. of Arborio rice (or any firm short grain rice)
1 lb loose sausage (If cased, remove from casing)
1 large butternut squash, seeded cubed (Can also buy pre cut bags. You’ll want approx. 4 cups)
1 onion, diced
5 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup white wine
2 Tbs butter (or olive oil)
½ cup parmesan cheese
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cubed butternut squash with 1 Tbs of olive oil, salt, pepper in a bowl. Then place on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
While butternut squash is roasting, cook ground sausage in pan, stirring often to break up sausage. Drain most of the fat, reserve a little for flavor and set aside.
In large saucepan sauté onion with 2 Tbs butter in pan for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add rice and stir until well coated, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and cook for another minute to let the strong wine flavor burn off. Add one cup of broth and continually stir until broth is absorbed. Do this with each cup of broth, waiting until current broth is absorbed before adding the next. If you feel like you can still add more liquid after the 5 cups of broth, you can add a ½ cup of water (or broth) until it’s creamy and to your liking. After rice is cooked, add butternut squash, sausage and parmesan to the saucepan, stirring gently so you don’t smash the squash. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to serve this with a green vegetable like asparagus or brussels sprouts.