Friday, January 20, 2012

Broccoli Rabe & Blue Cheese Lasagna

Broccoli rabe (rapini) is in season and I've been eating quite of bit of it during the past few months. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is sautéed with a bit of olive oil, garlic and chili, and served as a side dish. But this time, I decided I wanted to try something a little different

I started with my usual preparation, added a few leeks, and used it as a filling for a lasagna. For a bit of a twist I added blue cheese. This was so delicious I’m adding it to my recipe rotation and can’t wait to make it again!

2 bunches broccoli rabe
2 leeks (thoroughly cleaned)
28oz jar crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
12 lasagna noodles
½ cup blue cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until they are cooked through, but not mushy and falling apart. Drain the noodles and set aside.

While you are waiting for the water to boil and the noodles to cook, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add 1 clove chopped garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant but not browned, add the crushed tomatoes. If the tomatoes are too chunky, run them through a food mill first (you don’t want big chunks). If you don't have a food mill, you can always smash the larger chunks with a fork or the back of a spoon once the tomatoes have heated up and started to fall apart on their own. Add the oregano. Add salt to taste if needed. Let the sauce simmer on low while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Trim the hard green ends and roots from the leeks. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut in half lengthwise again and then slice into ¼ inch pieces.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until they are soft. Remove the leeks from the pan and set aside.

Trim the stems off of the broccoli rabe at about an inch below the leaves and discard. Roughly chop the leaves and florets into about 1 inch pieces. Rinse the broccoli rabe then gently pat dry. You don't have to completely dry all of the leaves, the moisture will help them steam while they are in the pan.

Add a bit more olive oil to the pan; add the chopped broccoli rabe, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Once the greens begin to soften add the garlic. Sautee until they are soft- but not mushy.

Once the broccoli rabe is done turn off the heat and add the leeks to the pan and gently mix together.

Add a bit of the sauce to the bottom of a 9"x9" baking dish.

Lay three noodles across the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of sauce on top of the noodles. Next add a layer of the broccoli rabe and leek mixture, then sprinkle a bit of the blue cheese over the greens. Top with another layer of noodles. Repeat the layers two more times, saving enough of the sauce to cover the top and a bit of the cheese.

Top the final layer with the last 3 noodles and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake. After about 20 minutes cover with foil for the rest of the baking time so the sauce does not dry up

Once out of the oven, drizzle with a bit of oil and let the lasagna sit for about 5 minutes then serve. Drizzle each plate with a bit more olive oil and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mini Veggie Corn Dogs

This recipe was inspired by one that I found on the Food Network site several years ago and it quickly became a party favorite. It’s easy to swap out the hot dogs for a meat free version to turn this in to a weekday vegetarian friendly appetizer that’s fun for both kids and adults.

I make these with organic flour, corn meal, milk and eggs and since they are baked, not deep fried, I feel slightly less guilty about this guilty pleasure.

If you decide to make these with real meat, look for nitrate free, pasture raised beef or pork dogs such as Fork in the Road.

1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
9 vegetarian hot dogs (I used Smart Dogs
1 egg
Poppy seeds
Flake or kosher salt

Heat the milk in a saucepan to 100 degrees. Pour the warm milk into a medium bowl. Add the yeast and let sit for two minutes.

Add the olive oil, brown sugar and corn meal.

Gently stir until the ingredients are combined.

Add the flour, baking soda, cayenne pepper and salt.

Mix until the ingredients are combined. The dough will be slightly sticky.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and set in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Slice the hot dogs in half and place a skewer in the cut end of one. If they are extra long, you can cut them into three pieces.

Gently turn the dough out onto a flour surface, using a knife, cut the dough into 19 pieces.

Using your hands roll each piece of dough out to ten inches. Wrap each piece of dough around the hot dog, gently pinch the edges to seal.

Set each wrapped dog onto a well oiled baking sheet.

Brush the tops with egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds and flake or kosher salt. Place the baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Serve on a platter with small bowls of catsup and mustard.