Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

Spring Minestrone Soup

Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

Can this soup get any greener?  Spring is around the corner AND it’s been a year since I’ve started this blog.  Wow!  Time does go fast.  A lot has changed personally and professionally for me.  To say 2018 started off with a bang is an understatement.  It’s been quite a journey for me, but I’ve grown, and I am growing still.  What I’m most thankful for is my family and friends (old and new) that supported me through the journey.  I’m reminded of the song from Joe Cocker, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”  Great song.   My passion for this blog has deepened, although I needed a much-needed break to regroup and refocus. But, I’m back!!

Spring couldn’t be more apropos to talk about as it represents new life and new beginnings.  A renewal.  So, in honor of this wonderful season, I made this Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto.  It is an adaptation from Bon Appetit’s minestrone soup of the same name.  I knew I wanted to make something refreshing and green for my Spring blog post.  I don’t know about you, but I love green foods.  It signifies health and vitality.  Avocados, kale, matcha, spinach, broccoli and so on.  In this recipe, I use sugar snap peas, regular peas and Tuscan Kale.  Feel free to add your own green medley.  The star of the show in this soup is the Pistachio Pesto.  It takes an otherwise meh soup, to the next level.  Once you’ve added the pesto and topped it with shaved parmesan and crushed red pepper, you will not only have a healthy and filling soup but one with layered tangy flavors.

Oh and don't forget a good crusty bread.  Make sure you slather some pesto on the bread.  You'll want to put it on everything!



Spring Minestrone Soup
Spring Minestrone Soup

Spring Minestrone Verde w/ Pistachio Pesto

¼ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
Kosher salt

2 tablespoons raw pistachios
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup (packed) basil leaves
1 cup (packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
⅔ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, sliced in half crosswise
½ bunch small Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
1 14.5-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Thinly shaved Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
4 ¾-inch-thick slices country-style bread, toasted

Recipe Instructions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onions, leeks, and celery, stirring often, until soft but not browned, 6–8 minutes. Season with salt.

Do Ahead: Soffritto can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill or freeze up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; crush using a small saucepan (you want a mix of sizes).

Pulse garlic, basil, parsley, and ⅓ cup oil in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix with Parmesan, lemon zest, crushed nuts, and remaining ⅓ cup oil; season with salt and pepper.

Soup & Assembly
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Cook thyme, bay leaf, and ½ cup soffritto, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. (Reserve remaining soffritto for another use.) Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sugar snap peas; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add kale, beans, and peas and cook until kale is wilted, and peas are tender, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Serve soup, topped with some Parmesan and red pepper flakes, with toast and pesto.


Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata w/ Ricotta

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I made this magnificent Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata and Ricotta with my mother in mind.  She adores frittata’s and equally loves making them.  When I moved back in with her to complete school, I remember venturing downstairs to her kitchen and seeing this omelet-like dish cut in wedges on a serving plate.  I recall calling it an omelet at which point, she quizzically looked at me and said, “You’ve never had a frittata before?  Aren’t you the food person?” Yep, that’s my mama!  I remember it being cooked to perfection...custardy, eggy and cheesy.  Yum! So, I thought it was fitting to create this recipe and dedicate it to her.

My mom inspired within me a love, passion and curiosity for food.  I remember trips to New York (New Jersey native) as a pre-teen and experiencing all my “food firsts” with her.  My first time having sushi, eating at a French restaurant, and eating dim sum.  As I got older, we would continue these culinary field trips in the city, but this time I was the point person.  Our nights in New York would always end at Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Cafe on Bleecker St. indulging in a cannoli and espresso.  These days we swap recipes over the phone or when I’m visiting New Jersey, we “waste our time” in her kitchen cooking whatever.

Love you mom! Happy Mother’s Day.


Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata and Ricotta//serves 8

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup dandelion greens, coarsely chopped
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup ricotta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375’ degrees.  In a well-seasoned, oven proof pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the greens and sauté until wilted.  Add the eggs and drop the ricotta in balls in the egg mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook on top of the stove until the edges and bottom start to set, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to the oven and bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Remove frittata from the oven.  Slice into wedges and serve hot.


Asparagus & Gruyere Tart

Happy Easter everyone!  I made this Asparagus and Gruyere Tart to include as part of your Easter Brunch or dinner.  Or to be enjoyed at both your Easter Brunch and dinner because it’s just that good!  First, I’d like to say that I am cheese fanatic.  I especially love hard, intense flavored cheeses, such as the cheese used for this recipe, Gruyere.  It has a nutty, sweet flavor which pairs well with asparagus’ pungent flavor.

This recipe is quite simple to prepare with just three ingredients: fresh asparagus, Gruyere cheese and puff pastry.  Now, let me talk a little about puff pastry.  Puff pastry is light, airy and decadent.  It is best to purchase at a supermarket vs. attempting to make it from scratch as it requires a lot of folding.  My recommendation for puff pastry is Dufour, which is an all butter puff pastry.  If you have concerns about using an all butter puff pastry, Pepperidge Farm is another great brand as it uses vegetable shortening.  I’ve used both with great success.

I must say, growing up Easter dinners consisted of ham, roasted turkey, green beans with ham hocks and potatoes, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, homemade dinner rolls, coconut layered cake, banana pudding … it was quite a spread.  I haven’t kept a lot of these traditions because 1. I don’t eat beef or pork 2. I’m a habitual tradition breaker.  Going rogue is generally my modus operandi.  Don’t get me wrong, I cherish and respect tradition.  So many of these meals I had growing up are still prepared.  They are just deconstructed with healthier ingredients added, except for the macaroni and cheese. Not happening!

Gotta run.  Again, have a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Asparagus & Gruyere Tart//serves 4
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to make a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside of the markings (docking) to let steam escape while it's baking. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.