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Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

These last few weeks we have been spoiled with very good weather, I almost want to say that its “nearly summer” but not quite. Anyway the taste of summer has us all in great moods and well just wanting to be outside. Which translates to needing very easy to go to meals that don’t require much preparation.
We are still partaking in the fresh peas that are gracing the markets, we buy at least 1kilo every week and we finish ALL of it. This week I decided to put a spin on cheese pasta dishes, as I wanted something light but with that hint of creaminess. The answer ….Ricotta ! This Italian cheese is made out of sheep milk or cow milk whey cheese. Its a fresh cheese (not ripened or aged), somewhat grainy, creamy white in appearance and has a slightly sweet taste.

For this dish we obviously played on the salty side, but ricotta is marvelous in desserts especially in cheese cakes or as the filling for cannelloni.

Penne Pasta with Fresh Peas and Ricotta

The list of ingredients, I have to admit that I did not really measure but just went with my feel so you may need to adjust the lemon and garlic to your liking.

Ricotta ‘Dressing’ for 4 servings

  • Ricotta Cheese ( I used about 8 tablespoons (C.S) )
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp (cc) of lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (CS) of chopped parsley
  • S&P
  • 2 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend the above ingredients and set aside, taste and rectify seasoning if needed.

I used whole wheat penne pasta however you can substitute with what your family likes. Right before the pasta finished cooking I threw in the peas for about 2 mins (we like it al dente)

Add pasta and peas to the ricotta mixture toss so everything is well incorporated, taste for S&P and add if needed.

Bon Appétit

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Shrimp and Asparagus Tarts 2

This receipe was the last menu that was done this week, I had a really hard time finding a dish for Saturday night, normally our Saturday night dinners are more ‘fun’ and typically always very easy as we are usually out running errands or at the park on Saturdays.

My son LOVES shrimp, he can’t get enough of it and right now I’m LOVING asparagus so tried to make a dish that combined the two, that and I had puff pastry squares sitting in my refrigerator. To be honest I made up the dish as I went along so the result was just as much of a surprise to me as it was for hubby. My son ate the sauteéd shrimp with Parmesan polenta.

Shrimp and Asparagus Tarts
For 2 individual servings
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30mins

  • approx 2lbs shrimp
  • 1 box of green asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic- minced finely
  • 1 shallot minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons plive oil
  • 1/4tsp bird pepper (chopped finely)( I used bird peppers but you can use whatever you have around, it needs to have some spice to it)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Cilantro
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • Puff pastry (mine was already in individual portion sized squares, if not you can make one big tart or by using a cookie cutter to make appetizer sized portions)
  • salt & pepper
  • fleur de sel (if not regular salt will do) 

Preheat oven to 210 (c) or 410 (F)

Prepare shrimp by removing shells and tiny black veins that run on the top and bottom of shrimp (not only are you removing the intestines of the shrimp, by doing this the shrimp will  also curl up once cooked). Set aside 9 shrimp per tart (if doing individual tarts) for the topping.

Prepare asparagus by trimming the ends and the stems to get rid of the fibrous exterior. Steam for about 5 mins (depending on how crisp you like yours, we like ours quite crisp). Set aside.

Mince finely the garlic ,shallots and pepper. Chop remaining shrimp finely this will make the base of the tart.

In a non stick skillet, over high heat pour 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and heat until pan is hot, add shallots,garlic and pepper stir for a minute. Add chopped shrimp and saute until shrimp is cooked through, add the heavy cream  and a pinch of salt. Stir through until heated and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes – rectify seasonings if needed.

On a baking tray line with parchment paper and place puff pastry squares evenly apart. Cover tarts evenly with the shrimp mixture and bake for 20 mins ( until pastry is golden brown and slightly raised).

While tarts are baking, in a non skillet pan add remaining oil and over high heat sauté the remaining shrimp and asparagus, season with salt and pepper once shrimp turn pink add lime juice and cilantro toss together and remove from heat.

 Once tarts are finished, slide carefully onto plates and top with asparagus and shrimp mixture.

Serve immediately !

We served this with a green salad , perfect for a light dinner or lunch.
Portobello mushrooms would be great in place of asparagus or shrimp

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