Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lemon Pasta with Mushrooms and Artichokes

I wasn't up to cooking much last night (nothing elaborate) and was poking through the fridge to see if there was anything quick and easy I could come up with. I had gone to Sam's Club earlier in the day and bought some beautiful Meyer Lemons, artichokes and cherry tomatoes. We are low in the meat department too. We have successfully used up the majority of meat that had been in our freezer...for a while...and I thought to my self, "Self, what to do? What to do?" Lemon pasta! Quick, easy and so very flavorful. I found a can of olives, preferably, you would use kalamata olives being that this tends to be on the Greek/Mediterranean side in flavor, but since I had been challenging myself on using up pantry items, I used normal black olives. with a game plan in mind, I set about making dinner. Quick and easy to put together, and the flavors are simple and excellent! Hope you enjoy!

8 ounces spaghetti
1 pkg crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken stock
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano or parsley
1 8 ounce jar black olives, chopped (preferably use kalamata olives)
12 ounces artichoke hearts in oil, drained
1/2 cup pasta water (reserve from cooking the pasta before draining)
1 cup block feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

In a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, sauté the shallots until translucent. Add in the butter, mushrooms and garlic and continue sautéing for about 7 – 10 minutes. Add the wine and chicken stock and turn on simmer letting the alcohol cook out. While mushroom mixture is sautéing begin cooking your pasta to al dente. In the mushroom mixture, add the lemon zest, and lemon juice and continue simmering. Drain the pasta, reserving a ½ cup of the pasta water.  In the mushroom mixture, stir on the olives, artichokes, feta cheese and the fresh herbs. Stir until well combined. Add the drained pasta to the mixture along with the reserved pasta water and continue stirring gently 2 - 3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of chopped cherry tomatoes.

And as a side note, one of my to do's this year...take a photography class. My pictures leave little to be desired...but you get the idea ;)!!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Now I know this isn't exactly a recipe of sorts...but it is a recipe for organizing. I am in the process of trying to organize my life. I am tired of the disarray. It is becoming way to much for me. Step by step, piece by piece, I am taking one small section of my house and trying to put it in some sort of order. I started with my spices. I used to have one of those carousels for know the ones I am talking about? I found these small spice jars on Amazon and fell in love! I purchased some stickers and chalk ink was almost giddy with excitement when I started filling these jars with my spices. I just love how they turned out! Don't you?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lamb, Mint and Feta Ravioli

Well, friends, it was that time of year again. The Valente/Young Christmas Eve tradition. Our good friend came over for wine and yummy ravioli's! This year, I came up with something a bit Greek inspired. I absolutely adore the Greek "lasagna" pastitsio and D and J love lamb. I decided to combine the two. I used the pastitisio sauce and created a lamb filling. The ravs turned out heavenly. I hope one day soon, you all will attempt to make homemade ravioli. It is definitely a labor of love, but oh soooo worth it. Last year, D and I actually hosted a ravioli swap with neighbors and friends and this year, I plan on hosting two. It is akin to hosting a cookie swap. I provided the dough and the sauce, and everyone brought their own filling. We then split the raviolis and was able to bring home the different types (sausage, meatball and three cheese). So much fun I tell ya!! Well here is my lamb ravioli! Enjoy!

3 lb leg of lamb, preferably boneless

Marinade for the lamb:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leave parsley
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Filling for the raviolis:

2 onions, sliced
2 pks frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
3 pks feta cheese (3 oz)
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Leg of lamb above, minced in the food processor
For the marinade, stir together the lemon juice, garlic, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil in a bowl. Whisk in the oil. Use right away. Make sure the lamb is completely covered. If not, add more lemon juice and olive oil. Marinade for up to 24 hours. Pour the marinade into a slow cooker. Bring a large pan up to medium high heat and sear the lamb on all sides. Place the lamb into the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with a dry white wine and pour the scrapings into the slow cooker. Cook on medium for 7 hours. Separate out the lamb from the marinade.

Heat up about 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add all of your sliced onions. Let sauté for about 45 minutes on medium heat, until they become a nice golden brown. This is known as caramelizing.  In the food processor, add the lamb and pulse until, the consistency pretty much looks like ground meat. Move to a large mixing bowl. Put the carmelized onions, spinach mint and feta cheese, pulse until well blended and minced together. Add mixture to the lamb. Combine very well and add salt and pepper to taste.