Roasted Tomato Sauce with Sausage and Rapini

  • 1 1/2 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if they’re large, quartered if large than 1 1/2″
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 links Italian sausage, sliced into coins
  • 1 large onion, finely diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped olives, kalamata or green
  • 1 anchovy, mashed or 1/2 t anchovy paste
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 1 pound pasta (I like either linguine or rotini with this)
  • 1 large bunch rapini or other bitter green, rinsed and roughly chopped, tough stems removed
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley (you probably won’t use all of this)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2-4 oz finely grated hard Italian cheese like Pecorino

Brown the sausage coins on medium heat with a little oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Remove sausage and set aside. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme sprigs and add to the pan. Be careful to not over-salt at this stage as you’ll be adding in rather salty ingredients next. Stir gently to deglaze and then roast in the oven at 375°F for 20-30 minutes, stirring once. Meanwhile prepare the onions, garlic, capers, olives, anchovy, red pepper flakes and mix all together with the wine. Add to the tomato mixture and return to the oven, roasting for a further 20-30 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring half-way through. Remove thyme stems before adding to pasta. Add in a ladle or two of the starchy pasta water if needed to thin it out.

While roasting the sauce for the final time, boil your pasta water and prep your greens. I like to get the younger rapini bunches if possible so you can use more of the tender stems which means both less waste and less prep. Slice the greens into approx. 1″ ribbons and chop the flower heads and tender stems into 2″ long pieces, discarding any stems any thicker than about 1/4″, or any stems you can’t easily eat raw.  Boil the pasta in salted water for just under the recommended al dente time (since the pasta will finish cooking with the sauce), adding in the greens 1 1/2 minutes before the pasta will be ready. Immediately drain and add back to the pasta pot along with the hot sauce and reserved sausage pieces. Dress with chopped Italian parsley, olive oil, grated cheese and lemon zest to taste, reserving some of the parsley, oil and cheese to use as a final garnish at the table.

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage and anchovy.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Goat Cheese

1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 large heads of cauliflower
1 – 1 1/2 C dry white wine
8 C chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 C whole yoghurt
6 oz goat cheese
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cauliflower into florets, wash, and place in a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast on 400F or under the broiler until browned, fragrant, and quite soft.

Meanwhile sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil and a little butter, seasoning with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pick the thyme leaves from their stems and chop finely. Add to the onion and garlic, cook for about a minute and then add in the wine. Cook the wine down until reduced by 1/2 – 2/3, and then add in the stock. Once the cauliflower is quite soft, and well browned, add it to the soup and cook for a few minutes longer – make sure to check the level of salt. Depending on what sort of stock you use, the amount of salt you will need to add will vary greatly. I use unsalted chicken/vegetable stock.

Next ladle the soup into your blender and blend until very smooth, adding in the yoghurt and goat cheese to one of the batches. Once you’ve blended all the soup, return in to the soup pot to heat back up. Check one final time for seasoning, and then serve. You could garnish this with some finely chopped thyme and a slight drizzle of your best tasting extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Squash Purée

1 medium-large squash or 2 small (butternut, acorn, etc)

2 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
1 t fresh rosemary needles
3 garlic cloves
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp, and place in a small roasting pan. Finely chop the thyme and rosemary, mince the garlic, and place into a small bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Add in enough olive oil to make a thick paste. Spread over the squash, and roast at 400℉ for 45 minutes until the squash is very soft.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

With a large metal spoon, remove the squash flesh from the rind and mash in a bowl with a potato/vegetable masher.

This is a very versatile basic recipe which can be made into or incorporated into a variety of other dishes.

  • Eaten on its own as a side dish, garnished perhaps with a little pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano cheese and fresh herbs
  • Used as a filling for ravioli
  • As the base for a pasta sauce, if added to a large pan, heated up, diluted with either vegetable/chicken stock or milk/cream and a little starchy pasta water, and then adding in long pasta like linguine or fettuccine
  • Used to make into a soup if you add in some stock and perhaps a little cream and use a wand blender to blend until smooth.

Roasted Mushroom Cream Soup

1 1/2 lbs cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms
various other mushrooms of your choice, if desired
1 1/2 – 2 large yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
15 stems thyme, leaves stripped off (about 2.5 T)
2 cups dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
3-4 C vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 – 2 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Rub the dirt off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut the shiitakes in half or quarters, depending the size. Toss all the mushrooms with a little olive oil and kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and roast in the oven on about 425 F for 10-15 minutes or so. You really want them to caramelise and cook down a bit to release their juices.

Meanwhile, dice an onion and mince the garlic. Sauté in olive oil and butter adding a little kosher salt so that they sweat and release their juices (and don’t burn). Also add in the fresh ground pepper. Add in the mushrooms and minced thyme leaves and cook down for about 10 minutes longer.

Add in the wine and reduce by at least 3/4. Then add in the vegetable (or chicken stock) and simmer for until reduced by half again. I try to find a vegetable broth that doesn’t have a lot of tomato or carrot in it because they tend to overwhelm and conflict with the dish. I like one that is mostly onion and celery flavoured. I also like to de-glaze my mushroom roasting pan with a little wine or stock and add in this delicious liquid to my soup.

Blend this entire mixture until smooth in a blender or with an immersion blender – by now it will be pretty thick. Return to the pot and add in the cream. Turn to low and leave for a couple minutes then serve.

This can be garnished with toasted walnuts, chopped thyme and/or chopped parsley.

One could easily omit the cream and not cook the stock down too much to make this a vegan recipe.

Roasted Curry Chicken

1 fresh 3-4 lb chicken

Paste:

2″ piece of fresh ginger
5 scallions
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk celery
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 tsp sriracha thai hot sauce
3 T lime juice
1/4-1/2 C oil
2-3 T brown sugar
salt to taste

Spices:

2 parts of:
cinnamon
cumin
coriander
turmeric
fenugreek

1 part of:
dried thyme
fennel seed
celery seed
sesame seeds
black pepper

3 cloves

Rinse the outside and cavity of the chicken well with cold water. Pat completely dry with paper towels.

In a food processor, place the sauce ingredients, chopping the celery, onions, and ginger into large chunks. Add 1/4 C of the oil, reserving the rest.

In a small, totally dry sauté pan, toast your spices over medium-low heat until fragrant and warm. Mix frequently to avoid burning any part of the spices. I didn’t put measurements for each spice, because depending on whether you’ve each spice ground or whole depends on how much you add. I put a little more cumin and coriander and less of the celery seeds, but you may adjust the amounts of each spice to your own taste.

Add the spice mixture to the paste and blend slowly, drizzling in more of the oil as needed until a thick paste forms.

As this paste is probably enough for two chickens, put about half of it in a small bowl so you don’t contaminate the rest with raw chicken.

Gently massage the entire chicken with generous amounts of the paste, on the top, bottom, as well as inside the cavity. With your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the breast from the meat (don’t tear it) and fill with some of the paste.

After you’ve thoroughly seasoned the bird, truss it with butcher’s twice so it cooks evenly.

In the bottom of the pan put about 1/2-3/4 C of chicken broth and 3/4-1 C dry white wine. While the chicken roasts, its juices will combine with this to create a marvellous sauce.

Roast in a covered roasting pan in a 325 degree oven for 30 min per pound, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, the juices run clear and the joints are loose. The lower heat and longer time than normal will allow the connective tissues to break down further which results with a moister, better-tasting bird. Towards the last half hour or so of cooking, remove the lid and raise the temperature to 400 degrees to crisp up the skin and allow some of the moisture to evaporate. Keep in mind that these times and even temperatures are approximate, so do whatever works for you.

Serve with rice and naan or potatoes and yoghurt for dipping.