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Peas, Grappa & Thyme

In Sides, Vegetables On May 11, 2015 0 Comments

Peas with Grappa? You better believe it!

During the early summer months when I lived in Italy, bushels of pea pods would be delivered to our kitchen. We then went to the garden for onions and whatever ingredients might add color and flavor to our pea recipe. In this case, we used red bell peppers and thyme. But the best was yet to come – the peas were spiked with Grappa.

As a side note, here’s my favorite Grappa – Poli Grappa®. It’s from Bassano del Grappa in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Poli Grappa® is smooth and goes down like a sweet fire. However, for cooking purposes, you may want to save some bucks and buy inexpensive Grappa found at Trader Joe’s® Stores.

PoliGrappa.Vinopedia

I hope you enjoy this exquisite side dish of Peas, Grappa & Thyme. Don’t forget to end the meal with a shot of Poli Grappa®.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2 to 3 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One package Trader Joe’s® fresh, shelled peas (found in refrigerated vegetable section of store)
2 tablespoons finely chopped brown or white onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup Grappa
1/4 cup chicken, vegetable broth or water
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions:
1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil.

2. When oil is hot, stir fry the peas on medium-high heat for 30 seconds – do not let them turn golden.

3. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper.

4. Stir fry the mixture on medium-high heat for 1 more minute or until onion is translucent.

5. Add the Grappa to the pea mixture and stir fry 1 more minute.

6. If mixture dries out, add 1/4 cup of broth or water and stir fry for 1 more minute.

7. Stir in salt and black pepper, to taste, followed by the thyme leaves.

8. Serve peas as a side dish to fish, poultry or meat. Alternatively, add this dish to a vegetarian feast.

*Grappa is an Italian alcoholic beverage made from the distillation of skins, pulp, seeds and stems (the “pomace”) leftover after pressing grapes in the winemaking process. Grappa is therefore a fragrant pomace brandy. The flavor depends on the quality of the Grappa.

Text and Peas, Grappa & Thyme Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real
Poli® Grappa Photograph by Vinopedia

Leek Fritters for Thanksgiving

In Sides, Vegetables On November 1, 2013 16 Comments

Vegetarian fritters have been made in Mediterranean countries for centuries. Made with simple ingredients such as leeks, breadcrumbs, eggs and parsley, these fritters will stand out when you serve them as a side for your Thanksgiving turkey!

Prep time: 50 to 60 minutes
Makes: 12 to 14 fritters

Ingredients:

4 large leeks, sliced into ½-inch thick rounds (dark green stems discarded)
2 teaspoons salt (to add to boiling water to cook leeks)
3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
1 teaspoon salt
Dash each ground nutmeg and black pepper
1/3 cup fresh, Italian, flat-leaf parsley, slivered
1 to 1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs (dry or made from week-old bread)
Vegetable or light olive oil, for frying

1. Bring a 2 to 3-quart pot of water to a boil. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt.

2. Add the leeks to the salted, boiling water.

3. Cook leeks for 3 to 5 minutes or until just tender.

4. Drain leeks in a colander and transfer them to a bowl.

5. Using shears, cut the leeks to make 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces; set aside.

6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beaten egg with the salt, nutmeg, black pepper and parsley.

7. Stir in the leeks and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs.

8. The mixture should amalgamate. If it is too wet, gently stir in the remaining breadcrumbs.

Fry the Fritters:

1. Heat enough oil in a 12-inch skillet so that the oil is 1/4-inch high.

2. As the oil heats up, with your hands, form 2-inch patties, slightly flattened.

3. Gently put each patty into the hot oil, standing back to avoid splatters.

4. Fry the fritters on medium-high until the undersides look light golden brown – about 2 minutes.

5. Using a black spatula and fork to assist the turning, turn the fritters over.

6. Cook the second side of the fritters for 2 minutes or until they are light golden brown.

7. Transfer the fritters to a plate lined with paper towels.

8. When all fritters are done, transfer them to an oven-proof baking dish (do not line it with paper towels). Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

9. Right before serving time, warm up the leek fritters, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

10. Garnish with parsley or basil sprigs and serve.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Chard & Tomatoes

In Sides, Vegetables On September 20, 2013 0 Comments

I still have lots of chard sprouting like weeds in my vegetable garden.

Chard.MediumFormat

Here’s a simple, but fine-tasting recipe with limited ingredients. This means that if you’ve got to buy chard to make this dish, your cost won’t break the bank. I know this is a good thing, since many of us are aiming for bargains at those end-of-summer sales.

Enjoy Chard and Tomatoes as a healthy and delicious side to grilled meats, poultry or seafood dishes.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
2 bunches (about 8 cups) coarsely chopped fresh chard
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or more, depending on your taste)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 yellow or red tomatoes, deseeded & cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1. Rinse, drain and spin dry the chopped chard in cold water about 3 to 4 times (this will remove dirt particles). Set chard aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a 5 to 6-quart sauce pot filled with water to a boil.

3. When water is boiling, add the chard.

4. Cook chard about 2 to 4 minutes or until it is wilted and tender, but not overcooked.

5. When chard is cooked, drain it in a colander and let it cool slightly, for about 5 minutes.

6. Drain the chard very well and transfer it to a serving bowl.

7. Stir the oil, salt and pepper into the chard. Add tomato pieces and stir once more.

8. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fennel, Potato & Zucchini Mash

In Sides, Vegetables On August 2, 2013 0 Comments

Feel frustrated when you open the refrigerator and see one of every vegetable? Any thoughts of mounting one vegetable on a pedestal and letting it shine solo are immediately gone.

Recently, I found myself holding one fennel, one potato and one zucchini in my hands. As I grabbed these three veggies, I was about to toss them in the trash. I ultimately decided not to do that because they were still fresh.

So I became creative and found myself cutting up the trio into one-inch chunks. I then threw the melange into a medium pot covered with cold water and …. Well, just look at the photo! This fennel, potato & zucchini mash is exquisite, healthy and vegan.

Prep time: 15 minutes (10 minutes for the boil and 5 minutes for the mash)

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

One fresh fennel, green stalks cut and discarded and white parts cut into 1-inch chunks
One medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
One medium zucchini, peeled and tips cut and discarded; flesh cut into 1-inch chunks
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Rinse the peeled and cut vegetables in cold water and drain.

2. Transfer to a medium pot and cover with cold water.

3. Bring to a boil and cool approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until all vegetables are fork-tender.

4. Drain the cooked vegetables completely.

5. Using a hand masher or a handheld electric mixer, beat the vegetables until a puree is formed. Stir in the olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately as a side dish to chicken, seafood or meat. Alternatively, serve as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Potato-Yam Chipotle Mash

In Sides, Vegetables On November 18, 2012 0 Comments

With our turkey holiday right around the corner, I started thinking about smaller feasts. What do you do when you’re not cooking for 15 to 20 people? You downsize a recipe, right? And, you can also tweak a traditional recipe like mashed potatoes.

Here’s a  Potato-Yam Chipotle Mash for four that’ll blow you away. Made with potatoes, one yam and spiced with chipotle chiles in adobo sauce – it’s deliciously sweet and HOT!  Of course, you can control the amount of heat you want. 

Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Two medium Russet potatoes, about 5 inches in length (preferably organic)
1 medium yam (weighing about 1/2 pound)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons milk (2% milkfat, 1% milkfat or whole milk*)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce**
Salt, to taste

1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch chunks; transfer the potato chunks to a bowl of cold water and set aside.

2. Peel the yam and cut it into 2-inch chunks; transfer the yam chunks to the bowl of potatoes and cold water.

3. Drain the potato and yam chunks and transfer them to a 4 to 6-quart saucepot. Cover with cold water. Set saucepot, covered, on a burner on high heat and bring to a boil. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt.

4. Uncover saucepot and cook the potato and yam chunks for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are fork-tender.

5. When the potato and yam chunks are cooked, drain them in a colander and transfer them to a medium glass or porcelain mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add the butter or olive oil to the poato-yam mixture.

6. If using a mixing bowl, beat the potatoes with a hand mixer. Alternatively, use medium mixing speed on a stand mixer.

7. When the potatoes are beaten, stir in the milk and 1/2 teaspoon of the mashed chipotles. Beat once more until well-blended. Taste and add more mashed chipotle, if desired. Adjust salt level, if needed.

Serve Potato-Yam Chipotle Mash with turkey on Thanksgiving Day. This recipe makes for a great side with any meat, poultry or fish filet such as salmon, halibut, sea bass, etc.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real