Category: Dinner

Asparagus, Cannellini Bean & Sourdough Salad

Asparagus Cannellini Bean Sourdough Salad1
Last Friday I had trouble sleeping. It wasn’t because my mind was racing with anxiety or nerves. Nope. It was actually just pure excitement. Saturday morning was the official start of outdoor farmers market season in Chicago. It was a day I had been waiting for since the last market of 2016. Yes, stands appear indoors in the slog from November to April, but it isn’t the same feeling.

I joined the early crowd—before 8am. The almost glove-worthy weather was windy and cool, but I didn’t mind. The selection was dominated by greens with a few pops of color here and there. I bought a couple bunches of slender asparagus. They were so fresh they didn’t require much fuss. When I got home I made an asparagus, cannellini bean & sourdough salad with Parmesan & scallions.
Asparagus Cannellini Bean Sourdough SaladAsparagus, Cannellini Bean & Sourdough Salad

Serves 2-4

6 ounces sourdough bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for serving
1 teaspoon black pepper pus more for serving
1/2 lb. asparagus, bottom ends trimmed
3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans (I used canned beans.)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the bread on a sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake the bread until it toasted and deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.

For the asparagus, preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Lightly grill the asparagus, until it is warm, but is still a bit crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces

In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread, asparagus, cannellini beans, scallions, chives and Parmesan. Stir in the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt & pepper before serving.

Broccoli Flatbread

Broccoli Flatbread
My son loves to ask me what is my favorite color. Since he was a young toddler before he could speak in full sentences, he would say purple, and that still is his answer now. When I tell him my color of choice is gray, he kind of gives me a funny look, and it’s not because he doesn’t know what gray looks like. I think it’s because gray is pretty much a bore compared to purple.

When my little guy saw me putting the finishing touches on this broccoli flatbread, he got very excited about all the green, but that didn’t mean he tried it. I made a version of my broccoli pesto and spread it on a grilled flatbread and topped it with watercress, microgreens and chives. It was green on green on green only interrupted by the grill-marked crust and Parmesan.
Broccoli Flatbread
Broccoli Flatbread

Makes 1-12-inch pizza

2/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for bowl
1 cup bread flour plus more for work surface
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound broccoli florets
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan plus shaved Parmesan for serving
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 handful watercress leaves or baby spinach
1/4 cup microgreens

In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the both flours and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the yeast mixture and process until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, cook the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender. Transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let sit for a few minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and patting dry with a towel. Reserve a handful of broccoli florets to top the flatbread.

Mince the garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add the broccoli, pine nuts, grated Parmesan, remaining salt, pepper & lemon juice and puree. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill on high heat. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch diameter circle or a rectangle.

Place the dough directly on the grates and grill for 3-4 minutes with the lid closed until the crust has grill marks and has puffed up. Turn over the crust and grill for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove the crust from the grill and flip it over so the first side that was grilled is facing down. Spread the crust with broccoli puree. Top with the reserved broccoli florets, watercress, microgreens and shaved Parmesan.

Pasta with Baby Greens, Beans and Walnuts

Pasta with Baby Greens, Beans and Walnuts
For my usual weeknight pasta I keep things simple with spaghetti, even though it can be a bit boring. When I stick to my routine, I don’t add to my random noodle collection. I have a shelf of partial boxes of pasta—the result of buying specific shapes for single recipes. I always end up with an odd amount that’s too small to feed my family—two adults and a three-year-old who is convinced pasta is its own food group.

To spring clean my kitchen, I made this mixed pasta with baby greens, beans and walnuts. Even though it breaks every pasta rule, all you have to do when cooking multiple shapes in a single pot is to first start with the noodle that has the longest cook-time and work your way to the one that’s the quickest. After that I tossed the warm pasta with garlic-infused olive oil, arugula, spinach, cannellini beans, walnuts, Parmesan and lemon zest.
Pasta with Baby Greens, Beans and Walnuts
Pasta with Baby Greens, Beans and Walnuts
Adapted from Everyday Food April 2008

12 ounces short pasta (farfalle, rotelle, fusilli, orecchiette, penne)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
1 ounce grated Parmesan plus shaved Parmesan for serving
Zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. If you are using multiple shapes, cook them in one pot of salted boiling water starting with the pasta that takes the longest and adding shapes per their recommended cook-time, with the quickest being added last. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and golden brown.

Stir the garlic-infused olive oil, beans, walnuts, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the pasta. Top with shaved Parmesan before serving.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza


Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been on cruise control for weeknight dinners. After busy days for all of us, including our three-year-old, the most I can muster for our family meal is pasta. Don’t get me wrong—we absolutely love noodles, but even they get a bit old when you have them more than two times a week.

Pizza is another one of our routine favorites. I usually stick to just plain cheese to keep things simple, but last week I decided to revamp my recipe for barbecue chicken pizza. This time I balanced off the sweetness of the barbecue sauce with tomato sauce, and I mixed mozzarella cheese with smoked Gouda.
Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Makes 1-12-inch pizza

For dough
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for bowl and brushing pizza
1-1/2 cups bread flour plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For chicken
1-8 ounce boneless skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

For pizza
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly slices into rings
2 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 ounce shredded Gouda
Cornmeal for pizza stone

In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and process until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a pizza stone inside the oven. Place the chicken on a foil-lined sheet pan and drizzle both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes before smearing with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce. Continue baking the chicken for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Once the chicken is finished, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Wait 10 minutes and then thinly slice the chicken breast.

In a small bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce and tomato sauce.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch diameter circle. Sprinkle the preheated pizza stone with cornmeal and place the dough on it. Spread the sauce mixture leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top the pizza with chicken, scallions, red onions and cheese.

Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling.

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