Veal Meatballs with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Black Olives
It’s nice to see different kinds of ground meats at the markets today. I just made a wonderful free form ground lamb puff pasty tart and now that I spied ground veal at Atkinsons’ I thought that I would do something with that. This is an easy recipe with some variations for you to choose that will make the end result zing in different ways and is pretty enough to serve for company.
- 3/4 to 1 Lb. ground veal
- 5 large whole white or brown mushrooms—one finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves –diced
- 1 egg-well beaten with some salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tblsp. grated Parmesan
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- 1 Tsp. minced fresh sage leaves or a pinch of dried crumbled sage leaves or instead with a pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 C. (or more) plain bread crumbs
- 5 rinsed plum tomatoes-cut long ways in quarters
- 3 Tblsp. olive oil or butter or a combination of both
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 C. white vermouth or white wine and possibly some chicken broth
- 1 Tsp. minced fresh rosemary or fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 Tsp. of dried of whatever you choose)
- 1/2 Tsp. Turmeric
- 1 C. pitted black olives (optional if you don’t care for olives)
- For the meatballs, combine the ground veal with 1 finely chopped mushroom, 1 diced garlic clove, 1 Tblsp. grated Parmesan, 1 Tblsp. diced onion, 1 Tblsp. chopped parsley, the sage (or pinch of nutmeg) and the well beaten egg. Mix well with your hands and then add 1/2 C. (or more if you feel necessary) breadcrumbs. Form the ground veal into 1” diameter meatballs.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil/butter and then gently place in the meatballs. Turn them gently with a fork or tongs till they are nicely browned (about 5 minutes). Remove them to a plate.
- In the same pot you should have enough oil and juice to brown the remaining onion. Stir the onion till softened (5 to 10 minutes) and then add the remaining garlic and cook one minute more. Add the S&P and the wine; if you would care for more liquid you can add 1/2 C. or more chicken broth. Let come to a slow simmer and add the tomatoes, 2 Tblsp. chopped parsley, bay leaf, turmeric and rosemary or thyme. Stir gently and then add the meatballs.
- Turn the heat to very low, cover and cook, stirring very gently every now and then for about 45 minutes. Add the whole mushrooms and black olives at the very end; continue simmering with a cover on till the mushrooms are tender and done (about 5-10 minutes).
- I like this stew served on top of fluffy white rice and a green salad for a side. Crusty French bread is always a nice addition.
Zucchini Pasta Topped with Roasted Tomatoes, Basil Pesto and Walnuts
Here’s a very delicious and economical healthy dish that is perfect for the vegetarian, the person who wants no carbs and for the person who wants to loose some weight. It’s also a pretty one to serve. It’s a dish that does entail a bit of effort and time but the end result is well worth it and you can cut out some steps if you so desire. As well, if you wish to serve it for guests as a more “complete” meal, you can serve it topped with lightly sautéed shrimp–and I like them sprinkled with some crushed red pepper flakes- and a side of crusty French bread. Bon Appetite!!
Ingredients for the Roasted Tomato Topping:
- 1 ¼ lb. Roma Tomatoes, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 Tblsp. olive oil
- S & P
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Line a cookie sheet or other baking sheet with aluminum foil
- In a medium size bowl lightly mix the tomatoes with the garlic cloves, olive oil and S&P until they are evenly coated.
- Place the seasoned tomato slices in one layer on your pan and bake on middle rack in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes—till the tomatoes are shriveled and softened.
- Also bake the zucchini inner cut parts for the last 15 minutes (see step #2 below in the instructions for the Zucchini Pasta).
- Remove the tomatoes from oven and wrap the aluminum foil around them and place back in oven to keep warm. Same for the zucchini. Hint: Before serving the tomatoes, remove the herb sprigs.
Ingredients for the Zucchini Pasta:
- 2 ½ lbs. of zucchini, julienned into long strips with your vegetable peeler
- 1/2 C. Pesto –(see recipe below—or you can use a purchased product)
Instructions for the Zucchini Pasta:
- With a vegetable peeler, peel the unskinned zucchini into long strips down to the soft and seedy inner part. Save these parts and cut them into halves. You will be roasting these for a side garnish to your dish. (see instruction step # 5 above). Place the zucchini “pasta” peels in a large pot along with the pesto. Mix well to coat all of the peels and cook and stir lightly over medium heat for 5 minutes. Do this step right before serving.
- Place the cut seedy zucchini parts on a separate baking dish lined with aluminum foil. Brush each slice with some of your pesto and bake in the oven for the last 15 minutes of your tomato slice baking. When somewhat browned and softened, you can wrap this in the aluminum foil to keep warm in the oven. (see instruction step #5 above)
Ingredients for the Basil Pesto (This makes 1/2 C. of pesto):
- 1 C. of washed torn off basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tblsp. lightly toasted chopped walnuts or whole pine nuts
- 1/4 C. olive oil
Instructions for the Pesto:
- Place ingredients basil leaves, clove, nuts and half of the olive oil in a processor. Process and then add the rest of the olive oil. Finish processing.
- If you want extra pesto, double (or more) this recipe. It’ll store in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and will also freeze well (particularly if you top it with additional olive oil) for several months.
Ingredients for the topping of the served dish:
- 1 Tblsp. lightly toasted chopped walnuts or whole pine nuts. So when you toast the nuts for your pesto toast an extra Tblsp. for your topping.
- Shaved Parmesan
Serving the dish:
- Place the zucchini pasta in the middle of your dish. Top with the tomatoes and garlic and the toasted nuts and Parmesan. Place the roasted inner zucchini halves around the “pasta” (pictured above) or if you wish you can serve the “pasta” surrounded by shrimp. (pictured below)
Ground Lamb, Greens and Cheese Puff Pastry Torte
Serves 6 to 8
It was the time of the Trailing of the Sheep Fest here in Ketchum, ID and just the sound of the baaaa’s made me hungry for a little lamb. So, I found some nice ground lamb at Atkinsons’s and inspired by a recipe from my “Puff” cookbook by Martha Holmberg, I made this yummy dish. Ground lamb is usually not that cheap but honestly, when you consider that I had so many servings of it for myself and even for a guest one evening, I bet that I didn’t spend more than $2.00 a night for my healthy and lovely meals. I had a little salad on the side and a bit of my homemade coffee ice cream accompanied by our tasty fall pears; the whole repast was perfect. And by the by, I did have this dish several nights in a row and did NOT get tired of having it—because it was so light and flavorful.
This is a 3 part recipe—one for the lamb filling, one for the greens and one for the puff pastry assembly:
Ingredients for the lamb filling:
- 3/4 lb. to 1 Lb. ground lamb
- 2 Tblsp. for the lamb browning and another 2 Tblsp. olive oil for the sauce
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 C. white wine or vermouth
- 1 C. chicken broth
- 1-14 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained HOWEVER RESERVE 1/4 C. of juice for later use
- 1-5 inch. sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 Tblsp. dried
- 1/4 Tsp. nutmeg
- 1 Tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 6 drops Tabasco or more according to your taste
- 3/4 C. plain breadcrumbs
- 1/3 C. finely grated fresh Parmesan
- 2 Tblsp. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Directions for the lamb filling:
- Heat 2 Tblsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lamb, breaking it up so that there are no large pieces. Season with S&P and cook till it’s no longer pink. Remove the lamb and set aside. Pour off the remaining grease.
- Add the remaining 2 Tblsp. oil to the skillet and place on medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook stirring until very soft and fragrant—but don’t let brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine and boil till the mixture is glazed (about 1 minute). Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and the 1/4 C. reserved tomato juice, rosemary sprig and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Adjust heat to a lively simmer and cook until it has a nice thick consistency—like a marinara sauce (10-15 minutes).
- Remove from the heat, stir in the lamb, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and optional sun-dried tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, vinegar or hot sauce. Set aside and if you wish this can be refrigerated and saved till the next day.
Ingredients for the greens:
- 1 Lb. (roughly) fresh Swiss chard, kale or spinach
- 1 Tblsp. olive oil
- 1 Tblsp. sweet butter
- 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C. half and half
- 1/4 Tsp. nutmeg
- 1 egg, well beaten
Directions for the greens:
- Clean well and rough chop the greens.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the greens and toss with tongs until wilted; cook them until tender. Hint: if you are using kale, it will take longer than the chard or spinach, the latter which will take the least amount of time. Squeeze out the juice from the greens by pressing against the side of the pan and pouring off the juices.
- Over medium heat add the butter to the greens in the skillet/wok and toss to blend ; then add the flour and toss to blend; add the half-and-half stirring frequently until the greens are coated by a nice creamy sauce (2-3 minutes). Season with S&P to taste and nutmeg. Taste, adjust the seasoning and stir in the well beaten egg.
Ingredients for the final assembly:
- One sheet puff pastry, unthawed—per package directions
- 1 C. crumbled feta or 1 C. grated parmesan plus 1/4 to 1/2 C. chopped ricotta—your choice
- 1 plum or juicy tasty tomato, thinly sliced
- 1-10” Pyrex pie dish or something similar which is oven proof (you don’t need to pre-oil)
Very Final Directions:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- On a lightly floured board, roll one sheet of pastry into a 14-inch square and transfer to your pie dish with the pastry edges sticking over the pie dish.
- Spread the bottom of the pastry with 1/2 of the cooled lamb filling ; spread half of the cheese of your choice next; top with the greens then repeat these layers once again ending with the greens and very lastly finishing with the sliced tomatoes.
- Crimp the edges from the pastry over the filling.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes till filling is hot and edges are browned; let it rest about 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
- If you have left over’s, you can reheat the remainders in the dish at the same oven temp for about 20 minutes.
- You can also pre-make the sauce and the greens without the final addition of the egg the day before and then add the egg to the greens and assemble it all the next day.
- If you wish to make it into a real pie, you can unthaw and roll out the second sheet of puff pastry and use that as your topping. I frankly like the open face look and feel that the extra crust is unnecessary both for pretty presentation and calories. However, if you choose to place a top crust, make sure to make slits in it for the steam to escape before baking and cut the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.
Eggs in Mini Pumpkins with Squash or Sweet Potato Hash
Left picture with squash; right one with sweet potato
This is probably not a dish that you will make more than once or twice a year, but for around Halloween or Thanksgiving, it’s a colorful and yummy dish with which to surprise your family and overnight guests for a breakfast or brunch. It’s a pretty and unique dish to serve and I think just plain memorably fun.
- 4 mini orange pumpkins (4 inches in diameter) which you’ve cut about 1/3rd of the way down, seeded and spoon-scraped clean the insides so that an egg will fit in nicely. The pumpkin inner flesh is delicious to eat with the egg. SAVE THE TOPS FOR DÉCOR and if they have a stem, all the better.
- 1-2 Tblsp. olive oil for the frying pan
- 1 small package cut up fresh squash and cut up even smaller by you into 1/2 inch diced pieces or 1 sweet potato peeled and coarsely shredded or grated.
- 1/2 C. onion or shallot, minced
- 1 red pepper cut longwise into slender strips
- 1/2 C. uncooked bacon, diced or Black Forest ham diced
- 1/2 C. olive oil
- 1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 Tsp. red chili flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tblsp. fresh sage or rosemary, minced
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 the day of serving.
- In a small bowl whip together the olive oil, vinegar, chili flakes, garlic cloves and sage or rosemary. Reserve about 2 Tblsp. to either brush on the bottom of the pumpkins before placing in an egg or to drizzle on top of your egg when the egg is cooked.
- In a medium sized frying pan, heat up the 1-2 Tblsp. olive oil and sauté the onion or shallot along with the red pepper strips until both are softened (about 5 minutes).
- Add the vinaigrette to the onion/red peppers and quickly add the sweet potato or squash; gently stir everything so well mixed. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, uncovered until softened and tasting pretty good (about 10 minutes). At this point you can put a lid over the skillet to keep warm until you serve your egg/pumpkin or you can refrigerate it and reheat it with the pumpkins and eggs when you cook them. If you refrigerate the hash, let it come to room temp before putting in the oven with the pumpkins. Baking the hash in the oven will crispen the hash and you may prefer it like that.
- The day of serving, for the pumpkins, line a baking sheet with foil and place them on the foil lined baking sheet, cut side down.
- Bake the pumpkins on the sheet for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Turn the pumpkins right side up on your baking sheet and if you wish, brush the inside of the pumpkins with a little of the leftover vinaigrette and season with S&P or save the vinaigrette for top of the egg drizzle when the egg is cooked. Crack one egg into the center of each pumpkin and if you wish to have a crisper hash or need to reheat your room temp hash, single layer that around your pumpkins.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue baking until the eggs are almost set—around 15 minutes. Start keeping a close eye on them about 10 minutes on and remember that when the pumpkin is out of the oven, the eggs will cook a bit more inside the hot pumpkins.
- To serve: Spoon the hash onto plates and nestle the pumpkins in the center. Lean one pumpkin top on the side of each pumpkin. Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette on top of the egg if you desire.