Garganelli with Grape Tomatoes

We went to Farmer's Market yesterday.  You can find us there almost every Saturday morning.  I love the fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and other foods we can get there.  I also love that everything at the St. Paul Farmer's market is local!

The grape tomatoes were too pretty to pass up so I bought two trays of them.  When I got home I realized that was a lot of tomatoes!  My usual uses for them are on my favorite breakfast (an English muffin slathered with spicy Wholly Guacamole, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and a poached egg) or a caprese salad.


They had fresh garlic too!  Isn't it beautiful?  And it is so fragrant when I'm in the kitchen it makes me hungry!


Yesterday was unusually cold for Minnesota.  I'm not sure it even got out of the 60's and it's almost August!  I wanted something hot and hearty for dinner so I decided on pasta with tomatoes and garlic.

I had some garganelli from the Olive Grove, one of my favorite pastas!



This was a snap to put together.  I got my pasta cooking and while that was going I heated some olive oil in a pan and added some sliced fresh garlic.  


I sauteed that for just a couple of minutes then filled the pan with those beautiful tomatoes.  After tossing them to coat them with the oil, I put the lid on and let it sit.  After just a few minutes the tomatoes started to split.



After a few more minutes it was starting to look like a sauce and my pasta was al dente.


I added the pasta to the tomatoes and a little bit of the pasta water.  I let that simmer so the pasta could finish cooking while I browned up some of that spicy Applegate Andouille sausage we've become addicted to.



The final ingredients were some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil from my herb garden.

I put all this in the beautiful pasta bowl my sister-in-law gave me.  I'm sure it will work out just fine if you don't have one of these bowls!



Not only is this a pretty dish (the pasta not the bowl!) it is super easy to throw together.  It took about 20 minutes start-to-finish!  I love the fresh tomato flavor.  You just don't get that out of a can.  The fresh garlic is sweeter than that we get later in the season.  Next time I may add even more garlic.  Mix those flavors with fresh sweet basil and salty Parmesan and you have one delicious bite!

I served it with a loaf of dutch oven bread from Rhulman's 20.  THAT was good.  Just before baking he has you rub the bread with olive oil then sprinkle it with salt.  Dave and I loved the salty bread!  It wasn't overly salty, just perfectly salty with a good slathering of butter!


Dinner didn't end there.  It's also blueberry season here and I picked up a bunch of beautiful blueberries at Farmer's Market too!  For dessert we had blueberry crisp!

I found a recipe that makes just two servings.  It was simple and perfect!  This recipe is going in the file!  The blueberries are so sweet right now!


Blueberry Crisp for Two





 

Preserving Herbs with Olive Oil

My herb garden is going gangbusters this year.  We can't consume the herbs fast enough!  I had heard that you can freeze the herbs in olive oil using an ice cube tray and then pull them out and use them later.  I decided to test this theory!



I had to buy an ice cube tray since we're lucky enough to have an ice maker in our refrigerator.  Love the dollar store!

I harvested my herbs, basil, sage, tarragon and rosemary and filled my ice cube tray as best I could.  I then added olive oil.  Each compartment took about 2 tablespoons of oil.







Into the freezer they went.  After several hours they were frozen.  It was pretty cool.  I put each herb in its own Ziploc bag and labeled it, then put all the little bags in one big freezer bag.





The test would be how did it work when cooking and how did things taste.  Would the herbs still taste as good?
 

It took me a few weeks to get back to using my preserved herbs (it's still summer, I am still harvesting from my garden!).  I had some ricotta gnocchi that I thought would be delicious with some fried sage.

I pulled out my bag of preserved sage and dropped a cube in a pan on medium heat.




I added my boiled gnocchi along with some steamed broccoli and fresh peas I picked up at Farmer's Market and some Applegate Spicy Andouille Sausage.

 

I could tell from the smell things were going to be good and it was.  The olive oil was now infused with the sage flavor.  It was simple and delicious and I can now have fresh herbs all winter!

I've heard you can dry herbs in the microwave.  I may try that next so if I'm in need of an herb without oil I have some!

Wholly Guacamole – Wait! I forgot a side dish!


I’ve made breakfast, lunch, dinner and (with only some success) dessert with my Wholly Guacamole loot.  What about a side dish?  It is summer.  Summer calls for potato salad.  What if I swapped some of the mayo out for some Wholly Guac?  I thought it would be fantastic!  I wasn’t wrong.
I don’t have a recipe for potato salad.  I picked up some tricks from potato salads others have made and find I like but I think I make it differently every time.

I start with grilled potatoes!  I learned this delicious trick from Madd Joe at Madd Joe’s BBQ.  He makes one awesome potato salad!  It’s addicting.  You can’t stop eating it!  I have the recipe for that somewhere I think….but on to my potato salad!
 
 
 
I like onions, celery and potatoes in my potato salad.  Ok, I like hard boiled eggs too but my hubby doesn’t so I usually leave those out.
I started with a little mayo mixed with some fruit fresh.  That’s a trick I learned from Dave Anderson of Famous Dave’s BBQ fame.  I thought it might keep the avocado from browning in the salad.  To that I added my onion, celery and a good dose of salt and pepper.  Then I added in my potatoes and the key ingredient, the Wholly Guacamole.
 
Not only does this look delicious, it tastes delicious!  You get the nice smoky grilled flavor of the potatoes, great crunch from the onions and celery and the creamy, spicy, avocado flavor from the Guacamole!  I think this is going to be a standard ingredient in my potato salad from now on!  I asked my husband to try it, not telling him what was in it.  I wish I could have captured the look on his face!  I’m not sure what he was expecting but he really liked it.  He looked at me and said “that’s good!” in a tone that implied he didn’t think it would be!  No more mayo-only potato salad for us!


 
BUT WAIT!  If potato salad tastes this good, what would egg salad taste like?!  I had to try it.  No more mustard for me in my egg salad!  Wholly Guacamole Spicy Guacamole is my new favorite ingredient in egg salad too!  What a great kick!  I cooled it off with a nice piece of butter lettuce.


 
Oh what can I make next?!

Wholly Guacamole - Dessert?

Dessert?  With Guacamole?  Yes, I set out to make a dessert with at least one of my gifts from Wholly Guacamole.  I found lots of recipes out there on the interweb.  I settled on Avocado Cupcakes with Key Lime Buttercream.

I bake.  I bake a lot.  What’s more than a lot?  That’s how much I bake.  I bake to raise money for my Breast Cancer 3-Day walk each year.  I bake to relieve stress.  I bake for each of my coworker’s birthdays.  I bake sweet things like cookies and cakes.  I bake breads and even English muffins.  I bake.  I’ve never baked with avocado, until now.
The recipe seemed simple enough, at first.  That was until I tried to figure out how much of the nicely packaged avocado Wholly Guacamole sent me was the equivalent of “one large avocado.”  I consulted The Google and there seems to be some discrepancy out there.  One site said “1/4 of a large avocado is ½ cup of pulp.”  How large is a large avocado?  In my mind I couldn’t picture a quarter of an avocado after the pit and skin were removed, resulting in half a cup of pulp.  Another site said that two medium avocados provided one and a half cups of pulp.  And yet another site said that one large avocado yielded one cup of pulp.  Ok, I’ll just guess!

The recipe was from the California Avocado website.  They had to know what they were talking about, right?
The batter was pretty simple, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, buttermilk and one ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and pureed until smooth.  Lucky for me, I had a nice package of pre-pureed (for the most part) avocado I could add.


The batter was a sort of a pretty green.

 
The cupcakes baked up a kind of a nice green, if there is such a thing.

While the cupcakes were cooling I made the “buttercream” frosting.  I put it in quotes because it is nothing like my buttercream.  My buttercream uses a pound of butter!  This called for just two ounces of butter!  The frosting also called for cream cheese, lime zest, key lime juice, milk, vanilla, powdered sugar and half of an avocado.  It didn’t really come together all that nicely for me.  It was very runny even before I added the milk and vanilla so I added more sugar to get it to a consistency I thought I could pipe.  I didn’t want to leave out the vanilla so I added that but no milk.  It was very limey!  Make your mouth pucker limey in fact.  Not my favorite but let’s try it on the cupcake.


First I tried just the cake part of the cupcake.  It was good.  Not great.  I guess if I closed my eyes and thought really hard about the flavor I might have said “yes, there’s avocado in there!”  But they were really just kind of sweet.  Then with the frosting, well, too much for me!  Dave thought they were ok, but we both think avocado is better used in savory dishes!

Wholly Guacamole Dinner!

I received a fabulous box of goodies from Wholly Guacamole last week.  I decided I was going to use those goodies to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert to show the range of these amazing products.  And no, they aren’t paying me!  My hubby and I are huge fans of Wholly Guacamole.   We live in Minnesota.  Getting good, fresh avocados year round is impossible.  Getting good, fresh Wholly Guacamole is easy!

I’ve already told you about breakfast and lunch.  If you haven’t read that, click HERE.
A week or so ago we tried an enchilada recipe by Ree Drummond.  We really liked it but Dave and I agreed, we thought we’d prefer a green sauce to the red.  Lucky for us, one of the items sent to me was a package of Avocado Verde Salsa!  We also thought we’d prefer a protein other than hamburger in the enchiladas.  Lucky for us again, that morning at Farmer’s Market we were able to snag a beautiful pork tenderloin from our friends at Otis Family Farm.



I used Ree’s trick of thickening the sauce with a little roux of flour and oil.  I added the green salsa and a little chicken broth and let that simmer while I prepped the rest of the ingredients.  I threw the pork tenderloin on the grill for a few minutes to get some nice caramelization I didn’t think I’d get in a sauté pan.  While it was on the grill, I started sweating some onions, chopping some green onions and shredding some sharp cheddar cheese.




I diced up the pork (it was not cooked all the way through, just enough to get some nice char on the outside) and threw it in with the onions, then added green chilies.


Once that was all heated through I was ready for assembly.

I dipped each corn tortilla in the sauce, topped it with the pork, onions and cheese, rolled them up and put them in a baking dish.  When the dish was full I poured the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and the, of course, added just a bit more cheese.




After about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven we had dinner!  I topped them with a little sour cream and just a dollop of some Wholly Guacamole Spicy Guacamole.   We had some of those great Famous Dave’s cornbread muffins left.  They went perfectly with this dish.




WOW!  These were delicious if I do say so myself.  Pork was the perfect meat.   It gave the enchiladas a bit more texture than the ground beef and not much beats the meaty flavor of grass fed, free range happy pork that has been seared on the grill!  The salsa had that sweet flavor of green chili and just enough heat.  All this goodness wrapped up in a Wholly Guacamole Green "Enchilada" sauce soaked corn tortilla... well... we loved them!

They were so good my husband asked me to add an egg to a couple of left over enchiladas for breakfast!  And lucky for me there were just two more left for me to take in my lunch the next day.  We cannot get enough of these enchiladas!

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