Friday, November 30, 2012

Pasta and Bean Soup

Vegetarian, yet hearty and satisfying, this Italian-inspired soup comes together quickly on a weeknight. Let everyone stir the pesto into their individual bowl and watch it melt and flavor the soup as if by magic.

Serves 6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 1 small onion, chopped = 1 petit oignon, émincé
  • Salt and pepper = sel et poivre
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped = 1 gousse d'ail, finement émincée
  • 5 to 6 cups vegetable broth = 1.2 à 1.4 l de bouillon de légumes
  • Pinch of dried herbs (thyme & oregano) = une pincée d'herbes séchées (thym & origan)
  • 1 cup mini-wheels pasta (or other small pasta) = 75 g de petites pâtes
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed = 1 boite ou 1 bocal de 440 g de cannellini (haricots blancs italiens), égouttés et rinsés
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes = 1 boite de 410 g de tomates concassées
  • 6 teaspoons pesto = 6 cuillères à café de pesto

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, herbs and pasta and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the beans and the tomatoes and their juice, and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into serving bowls and top each with a teaspoon of pesto. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Caramelized Oranges & Cranberries With Vanilla Custard

I know Thanksgiving dessert is all about pies: apple, pumpkin, pecan. But frankly, after all the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, pumpkin rolls and a few other succulent side dishes, I am stuffed (pun intended!). This bright and simple dessert is a nice way to end a rich and filling dinner. The tartness of the cranberries is offset by the sweetness of the custard, while the oranges deliver an energizing punch.

I usually make the vanilla custard from scratch the night before but if you wish to make it even easier, just top the broiled fruit with vanilla ice-cream instead. It's just as delish!

Serves 4

Vanilla Custard: click here for recipe from Gourmet magazine
I half the recipe and use a vanilla bean, cut in half, that I drop in the milk while heating. No need for a thermometer, you'll just know it's ready when the sauce starts thickening. Strain through a sieve and transfer to a serving dish to chill overnight in the fridge.

Broiled Fruit:
  • 4 navel oranges, peel and pith removed, sliced  = 4 oranges, épluchées et coupées en tranches
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries = 50 g de cranberries fraiches
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar = 4 cuillères à café de cassonade
Heat broiler. Divide fruit among four shallow ramekins. Sprinkle with sugar. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Cool for a couple minutes. Pour a little vanilla custard on top and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy
 and yummy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spinach, Pancetta, Mushroom & Fontina Pasta Bake

I love pasta casseroles. They are the perfect make-ahead comfort food. This particular one is packed with flavors and rather healthy: no bechamel sauce, not even an ounce of heavy cream. The creaminess comes from the fontina cheese, which melts beautifully. Its mild flavor lets the mushroom and spinach really shine, and the pancetta provides a bit of saltiness and smokiness.

It reminds me of the spinach-gruyère cheese pasta gratin my mom used to make when we were little, but in a grown-up, more sophisticated way. Perfect to warm my body and soul on a cold autumn night!

Serves 4-6
  • ½ lb penne pasta = 225 g de penne
  • 4 oz. diced pancetta = 115 g de pancetta, coupée en petits dés
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced = 2 gousses d'ail, émincées
  • 1 small onion, chopped = 1 petit oignon, coupé en petits morceaux
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped = 450 g de cremini (petits champignons bruns), coupés en morceaux
  • Salt and pepper = sel et poivre
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes = ¼ cuillère à café de flocons de piment rouge séché
  • ¼ cup white wine = 60 ml de vin blanc
  • 6 oz. baby spinach = 170 g de jeunes pousses d'épinards
  • 6 oz. fontina cheese, grated = 170 g de fontina, râpée
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan = 45 g de parmesan en poudre

Cook pasta in a large pot of unsalted water, according to package directions. Drain but reserve a few tablespoons of cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brown pancetta for a few minutes. Set aside and drain fat from skillet. In same skillet, heat olive oil, add garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking and stirring, until mushrooms are nice and brown. Add white wine and scrape bottom of skillet for 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Steam spinach in microwave for 1 minutes. Add to bowl. Stir and add grated fontina and cooked pasta. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Stir everything thoroughly. If the mixture seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish and top with grated parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Note: you can make this casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it, unbaked for 24 hours. The chilled dish will take about 1 hour to fully bake.