Saturday, November 25, 2023

The ultimate vegan Thanksgiving main dish: fall manicotti

I actually dislike making the same dishes every year for Thanksgiving since I like to experiment in the kitchen and because a lot of vegetable-based thanksgiving dishes tend to be pretty boring. However, this dish, along with my stuffing tamales, have become perennial staples because they are both so goddamn good. But beware, this dish does take about a week to fully put together because of the cashew cheese fermentation process. However, the good news is that this also freezes and you can just toss the whole frozen pan(s) into the oven and cook like a lasagna. So you can also make this days or even weeks ahead of time. This recipe make 2 two full 9x13 pans or one 18x13, which will feed about 12 people as your main dish or closer to 20 people if you have other major dishes like turkey or another vegetarian main. 

Some adjustments to the three recipes below that are part of this dish: the soup recipe might be slightly thinner than you want for a manicotti sauce, so feel free to cook down a little until it thickens slightly. Also, it might not be something everybody loves, but the soup makes quite an impression as a sauce if you add a little yellow and maybe a touch of red food coloring to make it overall more orange. Alternatively, you can probably use turmeric. Make FRESH pasta; it is infinitely better than dried. You can use any good egg substitute to make this vegan (I use a combo of Just Egg, ground flax with water, and the baking egg replacement powder sold in the baking aisle). And you'll need a pasta roller--if you use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachment like me, you want to roll out on setting #5. Don't skip the pomegranate or sage. They are important both for flavor and--especially--for texture. I like to over ferment my cheese a tad, so I add some extra sauerkraut juice and let it sit on the counter once done an extra half day or so. Finally, when making the cheese, I like to make it ever so slightly thicker than the recipe calls for when I make it for the manicotti, as it makes it easier to handle. So you can add 10-20 percent less rice fermentation water than the recipe calls for, if you want. 

Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate (a handful or two)
A couple handfuls fresh sage leaves
Canola oil for frying

Start preparing the cashew a few days ahead of time (see recipe for details).

When you're ready to make the manicotti, first prepare the soup/sauce. Once it is done, make the pasta. Cut your pasta into manicotti-size sheets, roughly 8" square, but sizing can be just about anything you want, as long as they are large enough to roll up fully.

Preheat oven to 350.

Once you have your cheese, soup/sauce, and pasta all prepped, you can assemble the manicotti. Start by adding a couple ladlefuls of soup to your baking pan(s) and spread into a single thin coating--use only enough to fully coat the bottom (to prevent the manicotti from burning). Now roll each manicotti, stuffed with several heaping spoonfuls of cheese. It's a bet messy, but try your best not to slop cheese everywhere. Pack your manicotti fairly tightly in a single layer until the whole pan(s) are filled.  

Now top the manicotti with half of the remaining soup/sauce and cover pan(s) tightly with aluminum foil. (This is where you can freeze [or refrigerate] the dish if you aren't using it right away, just freeze the leftover soup/sauce in a separate container, as you'll still need it when you cook the dish.)

 Bake until the center manicottis are fully hot (I use a probe thermometer and make sure they are at least 175F in the center). The amount of baking time will vary depending on the size and number of pans and whether you start from frozen, refrigerated, or room temp. It can be anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour. Just peel the foil back and check every once in a while. 

As soon as you put the manicottis in the oven, deep fry your sage. Heat a cup or two of canola oil on medium heat. You want the oil to be at 250-265F, so use a candy thermometer and adjust as necessary. Working in 2-3 batches add the sage to the oil and fry, stirring very frequently, until the sage is basically done bubbling (but not burned). Remove from oil, transfer to a small stack of paper towels, sprinkle both sides generously with salt, and allow to cool completely and become crispy. Finish the other 1-2 rounds of sage in the same way. Don't throw the oil out! You can use the sage-infused oil in salad dressings, marinades, or cooking (especially other Thanksgiving dishes!). 

Once middle manicottis are hot, discard foil and add another layer of soup/sauce. It may not be necessary to add all of it if you don't want. You can always have the rest as a standalone soup! Cook uncovered ~10 more minutes, or until the freshly added soup is also hot and delicious looking but not drying out. 

Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes. Sprinkle crispy sage leaves and pomegranate seeds right before serving. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Caramelized kimchi fried rice over Korean corn cheese


So corn cheese is an artifact of the Korean war when American soldiers introduced canned corn, shredded cheese, and mayonnaise to the Korean peninsula. It's now often served there as a side dish or for kids, but in this dish, it makes a wonderful foundation for the spicy, tangy, boldly-flavored kimchi fried rice. Who knew global hegemony could taste so good?!

I like to caramelize the kimchi because it's intense, sharp flavor mellows and sweetens a bit. It's a fantastic combination of sour, tangy, acidic, spicy, and umami. Over the rich and slightly sweet corn, this dish is a balanced flavor powerhouse! 

Prep time 2 cocktails

For the corn:
2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
2 cups grated low-moisture mozzarella
1/4 cup mayo (store bought or homemade)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp gochugaru (you can also substitute hot paprika or Aleppo pepper)
1/4 tsp salt
Several grinds of black pepper

For the rice:
2 TBSP Gochutang paste
1 tsp soy sauce (you can also use a 50/50 soy/fish sauce combo)For the rice:
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, chilled
1-1.5 cups kimchi, coarsley chopped (try to keep as much of the juice as possible)
3 cloves garlic
6 scallions sliced diagonally
1 bunch spinach, coarsely chopped
Eggs (optional) - you can fry them over easy on the side and serve on top of this dish or add them scrambled to the pan before adding the rice and cook until they become ruffled around the edges of the pan and have set a little bit

Preheat over to 400F. Combine all the corn ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until everything is integrated. Transfer to an 8" cast iron pan or a ~6x8" baking dish. Place in oven and cook until the center is melted and a little bubbly. Then switch on the broiler and broil until the top is nicely browned, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit while you finish the rice.

Once your corn is in the oven, you can start the rice: Start by combining the Gochutang paste, soy (or soy/fish sauce combo), and sesame oil in a bowl and whisk until everything is integrated. 

Now heat a large frying pan or wok over medium heat. When the pan is warm, add the butter and melt, then add garlic and 2/3 of your scallions and saute 60 seconds or until aromatic but not turning golden yet. Add kimchi and saute, stirring frequently, until kimchi is a little caramelized, about 10 minutes. Once kimchi is a little caramelized, add the soy sauce mixture and stir well. Then add the rice (with the the eggs before the rice, if you're doing scrambled eggs), and stir well. Cook until the mixture gets sizzling (if the sauce sticks to the pan, you can deglaze with a splash of water). Add the spinach and cook, stirring, 2-3 more minutes until it has shrunken, softened, and turned a vibrant green. Adjust soy (or soy/fish) sauce and sesame oil, if needed.

By the time your rice is finished, your corn should be cooled enough to eat! Spoon the rice on top of the corn, which is still in the pan. Garnish with the  remaining 1/3 of your scallions (and sesame seeds or strips of seaweed, if you like). If you made any fried eggs, an egg can go on top each portion after you dish everything up. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Farro asparagus spring salad

 So I evidently made this two years ago and just found the recipe in my recipe journal (yes, I'm such a dork that I maintain a recipe journal). So why am I including this long-lost recipe that I don't even recall making? Well in my journal, I marked it with a huge asterisk in sloppy (drunken?) handwriting, "VERY GOOD! Put on website!" Since I'm a rule-follower above all else, I'm making good on my drunken request from a couple years ago by finally adding this recipe to this here blog!

Prep time: 2 cocktails (I guess?)

1 cup farro
1 bunch asparagus
1/2-1 cups frozen peas, boiled for a minute or two then drained and cooled
1/4-1/2 bunch of parsley leaves, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and then chopped coarsely

For the dressing:

1 TBSP fresh lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon rind, minced finely
2-3 TBSP high quality olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
2 TBSP fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP dijon
1/2 tsp agave
1 TBSP shallot, finely minced or grated with a microplane

For garnish:
1-2 handfulls pomegranate seeds (it's easy to get the seeds out of the fruit if you watch a quick youtube tutorial or you can use pre-seeded)
Several large pinches black sesame seeds
Crumbled feta cheese  to taste (splurge and get a good one - it makes a difference!)
Additional minced mint

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with an airtight lid and shake until well-mixed.

Cook farro according to directions (or online instructions) with a few pinches of salt. Let cool.

Cut or snap off woody bottoms to the asparagus and blanch is a large pot of boiling water 2-4 minutes, then strain and plunge immediately into a large ice bath. Once cool, rinse and cut the spears in half.

Build the salad in layers on one large serving platter for maximum visual appeal, starting with the bottom, the layers should be:

  1. Farro
  2. Parsley
  3. Asparagus
  4. Peas
  5. Walnut
Now drizzle with the dressing (you don't have to use all of it if you don't want). On top of that add the feta, then the additional mint, then the pomegranate, then the black sesame. Serve immediately!

Pozole Verde: Eat Now, Eat Often


I created this recipe when I hosted a benefit dinner last year. It was late well the fall and so I made the entire dinner global variations of chili. I made a bunch of things from this blog, like Rajma, Cincinnati Chili, and a jerk-based chili with faux chicken. As great as all the other selections were, they tended to all be pretty hearty, heavy chilis. Even for an outdoor dinner on a crisp fall night, I wanted one option that was lighter and brighter to break things up a little bit. While not bean-based, pozole is a great warming satisfying soup. If it's not chili by definition, it's close enough for a chili cook off. And thank gawd I made it. People devoured it faster than squirrels at a nut convention. It was gone faster than coffee at an AA meeting. Folks raved about it more than beer dorks at a Dogfish Head tasting. People liked it, is what I'm trying to say.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

2 x 25-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed
3 jalapeños
1 pound tomatillos, dehusked
4-5 fresh poblano peppers
1 very large onion, peeled and chopped into 4-6 pieces
4 TBSP canola or vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 bunch cilantro, stems cut off
6-8 cloves garlic - keep intact and the skin on!
4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1-2 Quarts veggie stock, store-bought or homemade
For serving: lime wedges, sliced cabbage, sliced radish, avocado, crema or cotija cheese (both are optional), chopped scallion and/or jalapeño

Preheat oven to a broil and heat up your grill to a medium heat ~450F.

Toast cumin over medium-low heat in a small, dry frying pan for a few minutes until it has turned a couple shades darker and is aromatic. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind into a powder.

In the oven, broil tomatillos and garlic, stirring a few times in the process, in two separate baking sheets until garlic is soft and pretty evenly golden but not browned and tomatillos are pretty well charred. Garlic will only take a few minutes, tomatillos will take longer. 

While your tomatillos and garlic are broiling, place your onions, jalapeños, and poblanos directly on the grill grate and roast until pretty well-charred, turning occasionally so all sides are a bit blackened. This will take 10-20 minutes, depending on your grill. Remove and transfer the peppers to a paper or plastic bag and seal to let them steam for at least 10 minutes (the onions can just cool on your countertop). 

Wipe out the pan you toasted the cumin seeds with and put it back on the stovetop over medium-low to medium heat with 1 TBSP oil. When the pan is warm, add the pumpkin seeds and fry stirring almost constantly until the seeds are toasted and popping a bit. Remove from heat and transfer to a small dish to cool.

After poblanos have cooled enough to handle, remove seeds/guts, tops, and skins under cold running water. Also, peel your garlic once it has cooled and cut the tops off the jalapeños (but retain the skin and guts for flavor and heat!

Transfer poblanos, onions, garlic, tomatillos, jalapeños, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and ground cumin into blender, then add just enough veggie stock so it can all blend (if your blender isn't large enough, you will want to work in batches). Puree until you have a nice smooth consistency.

In a large pot, heat 3 TBSP oil over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the puree from blender and fry, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add 4 cups veggie stock and bring to boil. Add hominy and cook a few more minutes, adjusting salt if needed.

Serve with all the garnishes!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Vegan (or not) miso slaw

Now that summer is in full swing, we have an overwhelming amount of fresh veggies coming from the garden. That's one reason why this recipe is so great: while I use cabbage and carrots, you can opt for just about any crunchy vegetables that you have on hand or in the garden. Instead of (or in addition to) my veggies, you can also use broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, radish, cucumber, zucchini, Napa cabbage, or anything else you can think of. Just shred, julienne or grate what you decide to throw in there. This is adapted from the Bon Appetit creamy miso slaw recipe. 

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail

2/3 cup Just Mayo (I think it's the best brand of vegan mayo by a long shot) or non-vegan mayonnaise
2 TBSP red miso

2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP grated ginger
2 tsp sugar
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp lemon juice
1 small head cabbage or 1/2 large head finely shredded
2 carrots peeled and grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
Garnish: black and/or tan sesame seeds and/or a bit of chopped cilantro

In a mixing bowl, whisk first 8 ingredients really well, adjust soy sauce, lemon juice, or sugar as desired (I usually add just a touch more sugar and lemon juice). Toss dressing with cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Let chill in the refrigerator until completely cold. Toss again and garnish right before serving. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Colorado Craft Cashew Cheese

Vegan cheese. It’s a thing. And nowadays vegan cheeses are infinitely better than the weird old fake cheeses that looked unsettlingly like melted Saran Wrap once cooked (and probably tasted like it too). Plant-based cheeses are enjoying a renaissance because folks who are making faux cheeses are increasingly adopting traditional approaches to cheese making, rather than the “Better Living Through Chemistry” approach that used to be the norm whereby the soy or almond cheeses were made with a bunch of weird processed elements that were shipped from a factory somewhere off the Jersey Turnpike. But now, a much better crop un-cheeses are available that follow traditional cheese making approaches like fermenting and aging the cheeses, smoking them, integrating herbs, or washing the rind. This is one such recipe, where you’ll undertake a brief fermentation period to give your cashew cheese just a slight hint of sourness that a really delightful Buratta might have with the consistency of ricotta. It is perfect for stuffed shells, manicotti, or use in a lasagna.

You’ll also need to sprout some grains to get things started. This is a super simple process but does require two specialty items: a mason jar and a sprouting lid. You can get both for a couple dollars at a local kitchen store or online. The sprouting lid will also come with instructions (or you can find them online), so I’ll omit them here.

Prep time: a few days

½ cup brown rice – you cannot use white, as it doesn’t sprout
4 cups raw, unsated, and unseasoned cashews
2 tsp salt
Juice from 2 lemons
Something to kickstart fermentation – this can be a tablespoon of sauerkraut juice (if the kraut is sold refrigerated and not processed and sold at room temp), a couple tablespoons of unflavored yogurt (vegan is fine), or the contents of one acidophilus capsule

Sprout the rice. This takes a few days. You don’t want it to develop into fully-formed sprouts. Instead, you want to sprout them to the point where all the grains have basically just started to grow “tails.”

Once sprouted, pour 2 ½ cups of water over the rice, so it is submerged an let it stand for 24 hours at room temperature. The rice water will be undergoing a fermentation and will actually smell slightly cheesy by the end and be a tad bubbly.

When your rice water is 8-16 hours away from completing its 24-hour fermentation soak, put the cashews in a very large mixing bowl with a few quarts of water to soak. The cashews will expand quite a bit, so use a bigger bowl and more water than you think you might need.

After the cashews have soaked for their 8-16 hours and the rice has fermented for 24 hours, you’ll want to keep the 2 1/2 cups of rice WATER, but not the rice. You can discard the rice. Also, drain the cashews but discard their water. Transfer rice water and cashews to a food processor or blender (you might have to work in batches). Blend, using as much additional water as needed to get the right consistency – you want something halfway between pancake batter and creamy peanut butter. Keep that food processor running a long time--the smoother the texture, the better. I let my processor run for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer your cashew blend to a large mixing bowl and add your sauerkraut juice, yogurt, or probiotic capsule. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 24 more hours at room temperature.

Now, add salt and squeeze in lemon juice. Stir well.

Viola! You now have incredible, home-fermented vegan cheese for anything from cannelloni to cannoli (for cannoli, you’ll obviously still need to sweeten your cheese).

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ash Reshteh – Persian for “OMFG, this is good!”

This is my take on a classic Persian soup that in a fantastic way to use up a ton of greens and herbs that may be coming out of your garden or CSA bag. I honestly had some low expectations the first time I made this. It sounded like a pretty boring soup: healthfood masquerading as something fun. But rather than being uninspired glop, this turned out to be a hugely satisfying and incredibly delicious recipe—in part because of the use of a variety of wonderful garnishes. Being wrong has never been as deliciously pleasant.

Serve with a crap ton of garnishes and flatbread, if available.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1-2 bunches cilantro, stems removed
1 cup fresh dill, stems removed
1 cup fresh basil, stems removed
Olive oil
1 ½ yellow onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
½ tsp turmeric
1 TBSP zaatar
Ground black pepper
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
¼-1/2 cup French green lentils
3 quarts vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
1 pound frozen spinach or chard, chopped
6-8 ounces whole wheat linguini
1-2 pinches saffron
Lemon wedges

Garnishes should include at least a few of the following:
Fresh mint
Plain yogurt or sour cream
Fried scallions (you can make them yourself or buy a bag at an Asian grocer)
The greens of a bunch of scallions, chopped

Combine herbs in a food processor and pulse until you get to the point of having them coarsely chopped – maybe 6-8 pulses. You want the average piece to be a little smaller than your pinky fingernail. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add onions and sauté, stirring well, until they turn a little golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one more minute, stirring a few times. Add turmeric, zaatar, and a lot of fresh ground black pepper and stir until everything is well-integrated and fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

Add garbanzo beans and lentils. Stir well for 30 seconds and add your veggie stock, frozen spinach or chard, and the herb mixture from the food processor. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 60 minutes. Adding water if needed.

Now break your dried linguini in half and break each half again so that you end p with quarter-length noodles. Stir into the soup and stir frequently. Boil uncovered until the noodles are done and the lentils are soft – about 20-30 more minutes, adding more water if necessary.

When noodles are just about done, boil a very small amount of water. Crush up the saffron threads between your fingers and place in a small bowl. Pour a couple tablespoons of the boiling water over the threads and allow to steep for 2 minutes. Then add the saffron/water to the soup and stir well. Cook everything a couple more minutes and adjust taste, as necessary.

Serve with lemon wedges and garnishes.

Confused identity cauliflower kuku


I don’t really know what this is, besides great. I made this as an attempt to make kuku, a Persian dish that is basically a pan of cooked fresh herbs held together with a bit of egg. But with less herbs than most traditional kukus, it’s a little more like an herb-rich frittata. Except it doesn’t have any eggs. Oh, and I threw in a head of roasted cauliflower just for shits and giggles too. So while it’s not exactly any one dish, it is damn delicious. It’s really perfect when you have a ton of herbs in the garden.

This recipe uses the vegan egg replacement called Just Eggs, a pretty remarkable substitute that tastes and cooks identical to real eggs. That said, you can substitute 6-7 scrambled eggs if you can’t find Just Eggs—which are available at natural grocers and many traditional supermarkets.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

1 medium head cauliflower
Olive or canola oil
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1-2 bunches cilantro, stems removed
1 cup fresh dill, stems removed
1 cup fresh basil, stems removed
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fenugreek seeds, ground up a bit in mortar and pestle
1 tsp turmeric
A couple pinches red chili flakes, optional
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 12-ounce bottle Just Eggs
Paprika and a few pinches of minced fresh herbs for garnish, optional
Crumbled feta, vegan or non-vegan, for serving

Preheat oven to 375. Break the cauliflower down into small, bite-sized (or a little smaller) florets. In a large bowl toss the florets with 1-2 TBSP oil and a couple big pinches of salt until they are well-coated. Spread cauliflower out on a large baking sheet, so pieces aren’t touching. Once the oven is fully warm, put cauliflower in for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are just a touch browned and the pieces have become a bit tender but aren’t fully soft. Remove and allow to cool in the pan on the countertop.

Reduce oven heat to 350.

In a food processor, combine parsley, cilantro, basil, and dill. Pulse about 6 times until you get herbs that are coarsely chopped—average size pieces should be a little smaller than your pinky fingernail; you’ll also likely have to scrape down the inside after the first couple pulses. Set this herb mixture aside.

In a large pan, heat 2-3 TBSP oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent, about 6-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, chili flakes (if using), salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until everything is well integrated and becomes nice and fragrant, about 30-60 more seconds. Now transfer the herb mixture to the pan and cook, stirring a few times a minute for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at least 10 minutes.

While your herbs are cooling put 1-2 TBBSP oil in a 9x9 square baking dish. Swirl oil around so the sides get a thin coating. Place the oiled pan in the oven to heat it up.

Once herb/onion mixture and cauliflower have cooled to the point where you could comfortable touch them, combine them in a large mixing bowl along with the Just Eggs (or your real eggs). Stir well until everything is evenly distributed.

Take your hot oiled baking dish out of the oven (if needs at least 4 minutes in the oven to get warm enough) and place it on a trivet or towel and, moving quickly, transfer the mixture from your large mixing bowl into the pan. You’ll need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed.

Return the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake another 20-30 minutes or until the center is cooked and the edges are nicely browned.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle paprika and herbs on top and serve—either warm or at room temperature—with feta on top.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Charred broccoli rabe, lemon, and faux sausage tossed with pasta

Broccoli rabe (also known as broccolini or rapini) is an absolute treat out of the early summer garden. I came up with this recipe a few months ago when we were harvesting it like crazy. It is an attempt to make something of a vegetarian Carbonara that incorporates our bounty of broccoli rabe, as well as a couple vegan sausages we had to use up. 

This does call for a specialty gadget: a rasp grater or Microplane. Don't be a loser and buy pre-grated parmesan cheese or cut a corner and try to grate this with something else. Take the $16 hit and buy one of these if you don't already have one. It makes an incredible tool for citrus zests, hard cheeses, chocolate, and frozen garlic for a variety of applications. I'm seriously watching you. DO NOT disappoint me the way you have already done with your parents!

Prep time: 2 cocktails

12 ounces bow tie (frfalle) or penne pasta
2 high-quality spicy Italian vegetarian sausages (like Beyond brand)
1-2 TBSP high-temperature cooking oil, like canola or avacado
2 grocery store bunches-worth of broccoli rabe, each piece cut into 2-3 more edible sizes
10 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 eggs -- 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks only whisked in a small bowl
1 cup of fresh grated Parmesan with a microplane (I'm still watching you), plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper
Minced parsley and red chili flakes for garnish

Prepare pasta and rinse and set aside. Cook sausage in stovetop over medium heat until nicely browned. Remove and cut into 1/2" thick wheels.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat. Once your pan gets very hot, add the broccoli rabe. The point here is to basically blacken parts of it, so make sure your pan is hot before adding. Fry it a few minutes until your desired amount of char is achieved, then turn off heat and stir in garlic. Saute another minute or until the garlic turns a bit golden but not browned or burned, then squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli rabe and stir one last time. Transfer broccoli rabe and garlic to a plate. 

In a medium or large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the cooked and drained pasta over medium heat until it is nice and ward. Toss in a tiny dash of olive oil if it is sticking badly. Once pasta is nice and hot, add the egg and Parmesan, plus a lot of salt and pepper to taste. The goal is to have the egg cook just enough to have a creamy sauce-like consistency that sticks to the pasta but has a nice velvety texture and isn't fully cooked. This usually only takes a minute--maybe less. Once you're about at this point stir in broccoli rabe and remove from heat. Serve right away with additional parmesan, parsley, and chili flakes on top. 

Hot giardiniera - summer perfection in a jar

For those of you who are lucky enough to live near a Snarf's Sandwiches, you know and love their giardiniera. I don't mean you might like their giardiniera or you have tried and probably enjoyed it.  To be human is to love Snarf's giardiniera. That's all there is to it. Hungover? A Veggie with everything and extra giardiniera will cure you. Heartbroken? That definetly calls for a meatball or eggplant parm sandwich loaded with giardiniera. Fussy kids? They'll shut the hell up and eat the shit outta a grilled cheese with a smattering of giardiniera and likely remember that sandwich well into their old age. Guarnteed.

So with this recipe, I've attempted to replicate Snarf's famous giardiniera. I made this recipe with the intention of being good on pizza or sandwiches, but we had it the other night on top of grilled homemade sourdough that was brushed with olive oil and topped with a few thin shavings of Pecorino Picante. It was a transcendent experience and only took a few minutes to make.

Prep time: 1 cocktail

1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-1 1/2 cup white vinegar (depending on the level of tang you want)
1 quart water

Vegetable mix:
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
15-20 (or so) jalapenos, serranos, fresno chilies or a mix thereof, sliced into wheels
1/4 cup diced onion
1 crown cauliflower, chopped up small
1/2 cup cheap jarred Spanish green olives (even the kind with pimentos is fine), minced 

Whole coriander seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, oregano, and mustard seeds
Bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Canola oil
Vinegar (white, apple cider, or white balsamic are all great) 

Bring all brine ingredients to a boil and make sure salt is dissolved. Let cool until it's warm or room temperature then place veggie mixture into a Tupperware or mixing bowl and pour brine over all the veggies EXCEPT THE OLIVES (save these for later) and make sure they are fully submerged (if not, brew up a little more brine). Place in the refrigerator 12-18 hours.

Drain veggie mixture and rinse. Stir in the minced olives.

Now grab some 1 quart mason jars. For each jar, you want to toss into the bottom: a large pinch each of coriander, peppercorns, fennel, oregano, and mustard, as well as 1-2 bay leaves and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Now fill each jar totally up with your veggie mixture.

On top of the veggies, pour oil and vinegar until you completely submerge the veggies and the jar is filled to the brim. Use about 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar, but you don't have to be super exact about it.  

Transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 2 days before eating, though this is best after a week. Stays good in the refrigerator 2-4 weeks.