Spring Frittata

For years now I’ve been making this frittata, or at least a version of it. I’m not much of a brunch person myself, but in those instances in which I need to whip up something delicious for a group, as I just did for Mother’s Day, this is one of my go-to recipes.

What I love most about making a frittata is, that unlike most other breakfast dishes, you’re not making it to order. It’s cooked in one big skillet (I love my cast iron skillet for this) mostly on the stove, then finished in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes. I serve it straight from the skillet – it’s so easy and practically makes enough to feed an army. There’s no need to be off to the side flipping pancakes or making individual omelettes when you could make this frittata instead.

And even better, it works perfectly with whatever great vegetables are in season. It’s still in the 40′s here in Chicago, so needless to say, our growing season hasn’t really kicked off yet. But I did find asparagus, shitake mushrooms, spinach and Spring onions at the farmers’ market, which made for a delicious combination in this frittata.

Here’s the recipe, which was adapted from Bon Appetit, but I find it best to use as a guide – substitute or swap out any of the ingredients for whatever you have on hand.

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Turning Over a New (Fall) Leaf: Quinoa with Squash & Chard

I have a horrible secret. Something almost too awful admit. Something I’m truly ashamed of.

Are you ready to hear this?

(Deep breath) Here goes: I’ve been letting good food go bad. And what’s worse, I’ve been doing it all summer long.

You see, as the weekends roll around and I relax, I have visions of beautiful fresh produce from the farmers’ market and all the mouthwatering dishes I’m going to make. So, with perfectly pure intentions, I grab my canvas tote bag and head over to the local farmers’ market.

While there I oooh and ahhh over the bountiful produce, savor perfectly sweet fruit samples, chat with farmers, drool over the baked goods I don’t dare to buy, purchase produce I can’t resist, and finally end at a catering tent where I convince the chef to make me the freshest and most delicious egg, veggie and ground lamb focaccia sandwich without cheese.

And then I go home, eat my sandwich, and put the fruits, vegetables and herbs away. I usually spend the rest of the weekend running errands, relaxing, and going to dinner with friends and family. Maybe I cook one dish, but it’s okay I think, I’m going to use the produce during the week.

I’m guessing you know what happens next. I make one dish Monday night when I’m still pretty energized, then Tuesday I have a meeting, and Wednesday I meet a friend for dinner, Thursday I eat Monday’s leftovers, and by Friday I’m so exhausted I order Thai food (a rough schedule, but you get the point). Next thing you know, it’s Saturday, I’m back at the market and I’ve let a whole week’s worth of produce go bad. It’s a vicious cycle, and one I’m ashamed of.

Last week was even worse because I was in San Francisco for BlogHer Food (which was SO great, more on that to come soon). When I got home I immediately noticed the week-old vegetables in the fridge starting to look a little sad, although definitely still edible.

This week, I promised myself, things were going to change. And they did.

I rescued the portobello mushrooms, Delicata squash (such a hearty vegetable it wasn’t any worse for the wear), leek and a bunch of on-the-verge rainbow chard, and used them to make a delicious and very nutritious quinoa dish. (And you know how I feel about quinoa, right? Love it!)

This quinoa dish was wonderful and it tasted like fall, really. Plus, it made so much I was able to eat it throughout the week. And the best part? No wasted-food guilt.

Friends, I think this is the start of a new era!

Here’s the recipe for This Feels Like Fall Quinoa:

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Mushroom Sherry Soup

Despite the recent heat wave, I’ve been craving nothing but mushroom soup. I can’t really explain why – maybe it’s a throwback to my French culinary training that I’ve somewhat abandoned in recent months, or it could just something I need to make every other summer, or it could even be a weird umami craving? Stranger things have happened – just sayin’!

I used a variety of mushrooms from River Valley Ranch for this delicious soup including oyster, shitake and crimini and – get this – a half stick of butter! For those of you still working in professional kitchens, please don’t laugh at me! I NEVER use that much fat in anything other than pastries these days. Although I do fondly remember dumping pounds of butter and quarts of cream in soups in the past. Those are happy memories…

Either way, the butter splurge was worth it in this soup, although I did restrain myself and not use any cream. The other highlight was the dry sherry added at the end for a little extra flavor along with a bit of fresh lemon juice. The soup was so delicious that the other half stick of butter and pint of cream weren’t missed at all!

Here’s the recipe:

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Porcini Wild Rice

Wild Rice

Porcini Wild Rice

One of my favorite things are grain-type salads that can be eaten hot or cold. While I’m absolutely a hot-food person (have you ever seen a sandwich on this blog? uh, no), once in a while it’s nice to have something filling and healthy in the fridge that I can easily munch on. This porcini and wild rice dish fits the bill: it’s fantastic heated and served with beef, chicken or fish, and just as good chilled with a few greens.

The key to this recipe is that it’s all about texture. The silky smooth umami-esque reconstituted porcini mushrooms, the rough wild rice, chewy dried cranberries, and crunchy pecans all make for an incredible mouthful. Plus, it has that whole sweet-savory thing going on that I love so much.

I first ate the porcini wild rice salad for dinner with steelhead trout that had been marinated in a garlic and balsamic vinegar reduction, then had leftovers for lunch the next day with a piece of leftover steak. Both times it was fabulous and incredibly nutritious with a small side salad or wilted baby spinach.

Porcini Wild Rice

Porcini Wild Rice

Here’s the recipe:

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Almost-Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

Almost Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

Almost-Cream Sauce Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, Mushrooms & Spinach

It’s a very strange day when I crave something creamy. Maybe it’s because I can feel winter barreling at me like a runaway train, or maybe it’s because of all those delicious looking cream-based soups in the sandwich shop I always walk past but can’t eat because, well, because they’re cream. Either way, tonight I wanted to be a part of the lucky dairy-eating-and-don’t-have-to-think-twice-about-it club.

Almost cream sauce pasta02 Almost cream sauce pasta03 Almost cream sauce pasta04

So, as sort of a compromise between my drooling tastebuds and sense of self-preservation I made a lightened cream-like pasta sauce in which I mixed a slew of other healthy ingredients, making for an extremely well-balanced meal: extra-lean ground turkey, mushrooms, spinach, leeks, garlic and whole wheat spaghetti.

This isn’t an thick and oozy cream sauce, but rather one that just coats the noodles and ground turkey, creating delicious savory flavors and a clean mouthfeel.

Almost cream sauce pasta05

And for the heck of it, I took out some of the filling just before adding the soy creamer which I used to stuff a buttercup squash and bake. That experiment is dinner tomorrow… I’ll let you know how it is.

Here’s the recipe:

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