Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

Yummmm….gnocchi! Sunday night after getting home from a fun weekend in the mountains, I was glad to have some gnocchi and tomatoes already in the house that I could whip up into a fast and yummy dinner.

I started off by finely dicing and caramelizing an onion (yes, all my dishes really do start with onions–maybe that’s why I can’t bake?). Once the onion was brown, I added some minced garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Next went in a lot of diced tomatoes and a little red wine.

While the sauce was simmering away, I started cooking all the gnocchi. After they floated to the top of the water, I spooned the gnocchi into the sauce to cook for a few minutes. It was super yummy, and made for a great lunch the next day too!

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Gnocchi with rustic tomato sauce

We had a great time with Jon’s parents visiting us this past weekend! Several of the dinners were dishes I have previously posted, but one of their requests was gnocchi.

Since we were adventuring around the city, I used packaged gnocchi rather than making it myself. I did however make use of ingredients from the farmers market for the sauce!

I started it off with an onion sautéed in olive oil, and then added lots of slivered garlic. Next, I added lots of fresh chopped tomatoes which were super ripe and juicy. After letting the tomatoes cook down a little bit, I added a small amount of white wine to finish the sauce. Each dish was topped with lots of fresh basil leaves, and for me and Jon, crushed red pepper to add a little spice. It was a nice dinner to share with family, especially when it was followed by some fun games. We were very glad they were able to visit!

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Orecchiette with pesto and peas

When I saw a bag of basil at the farmer’s market labeled “perfect for pesto”, I couldn’t resist!

I started off by caramelizing some onions. While the onions were working away, I prepared the pesto. I started off with garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. After letting my Cuisinart mince everything together, I added lots of fresh basil leaves, and then some yummy olive oil.

Next I added the peas to the caramelized onions, and then spooned in the cooked orecchiette. I put the pesto sauce in the pan, and mixed it all together. After adding a little of the pasta water to thin the sauce, the pasta was ready to serve. Yum!

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Zucchini panzanella

For a recent potluck at work, I decided to make panzanella. I bought tomatoes and everything, but since the potluck was on Friday, the tomatoes got used up in other meals earlier in the week. Late Thursday night after Jon and I got home, I realized that I needed to make something but didn’t have all the ingredients for what I had been planning. One of the only downsides of our new place is that grocery stores are not nearly as convenient–at our old house we had 2 within a 3 minute drive. Well, at 9pm I was not about to go to the store, so creativity had to take over!

I still had the bread and basil that I had originally planned to use, and of course I had onions and olive oil. I also had some zucchini left over, so I decided to try making my salad with zucchini instead of tomatoes.

I chopped everything up, making sure to chop the onions finely. Then, I mixed up a dressing with red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. I didn’t want the bread to get soggy overnight so I mixed everything together an hour before the potluck. It was unique and pretty tasty!

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Bruschetta

Mmm…bruschetta. This is one of our favorite summer meals and was inspired by the bruschetta in the movie Julie and Julia.

I decided to make homemade bread rather than using store bought, so my Kitchenaid mixer got a good workout!

Once the bread was done baking, I chopped up lots of fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil. After mixing in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, I let the tomato mixture sit to get all juicy and flavorful.

In the movie, it looks to me like Julie pan fries the bread; while I’ve done this (and it is delicious!), I decided to just brush the bread with a little olive oil and grill it. The bread was done quickly, so then it was up to Jon and me to each assemble our own slices of bruschetta at the table. The tomatoes were highlighted by the garlic and basil, and there was enough juice to soak into the bread making it a yummy crunchy gooey meal. Yum!

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Pasta with Asparagus and Pesto Sauce

Tulips from my garden

Tulips from my garden

Spring means two things – tulips cut fresh from my garden, and fresh asparagus. Several years ago, Jon, my dad, and I spent the better part of a day planting tulip bulbs in my side garden. (Full disclosure…my dad did the majority of the really hard work!) Every spring since then, I have this amazing cutting garden of fresh tulips for about 3 weeks. It doesn’t last long, but it is so much fun and helps bring spring inside our home.

Fresh Asparagus

Fresh Asparagus

I feel the same way about asparagus…it helps bring spring into the kitchen. So when I saw it at the store the other day, I decided to make orecchiette with asparagus in a homemade pesto sauce. Yum!

Red Onion Sauteing

Red Onion Sauteing

I started off with diced red onion, salt, and pepper. Once the onion had sauteed for a little bit, I added the roughly chopped asparagus to the pan to cook plus a little bit of allspice.

Asparagus and Onion Cooking

Asparagus and Onion Cooking

When the asparagus had cooked and everything was getting caramelized and yummy, I added a little bit of rice vinegar to the pan to deglaze it and help create a sauce. I have to say, I have never combined rice vinegar  with asparagus before, but the combination was amazing! Once the asparagus had absorbed some of the liquid, it got sweet and a little tartness from the vinegar. I could have eaten the asparagus/onion combination for dinner just like that. However, I knew Jon would be a little skeptical if I served him a plate of sauteed asparagus and onion so I continued with making the pesto sauce and cooking the pasta.

Basil Leaves Go Into the Cuisinart

Basil Leaves Go Into the Cuisinart

I decided to use walnuts instead of the traditional pinenuts in my pesto sauce, so put a handful of them to grind in the Cuisinart while I washed and separated the basil leaves from the stems.

Finished Pesto Sauce

Finished Pesto Sauce

I added the basil leaves along with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and finally adding olive oil to complete the pesto sauce.

By now the pasta was done cooking. It went into the pan with the asparagus and the pesto sauce, along with a little of the pasta cooking water. Once everything had been mixed together, it was ready to serve. It tasted like spring in a bowl!

Pasta with Asparagus and Pesto

Pasta with Asparagus and Pesto

Pizza with Homemade Vegan Cheese

Pizza with Homemade Vegan Cheese

Pizza with Homemade Vegan Cheese

I’ve tried making dairy-based cheeses in the past, usually with limited success…my mozzarella always seemed to turn into a ball of rubbery white goo that looked and tasted nothing like cheese! So, when I found this recipe for vegan mozzarella on Olives for Dinner, I was pretty skeptical and assumed my attempt would end up in a pizza that tasted like coconut. However, it turned out excellent! I followed the instructions to heat the coconut milk, and then mix in and whisk all the other ingredients. Once they were almost a pudding-like consistency the mixture went into the fridge to gel.

Pizza Dough Ready to be Topped!

Pizza Dough Ready to be Topped!

I started the pizza by spreading out the dough and then chopping up all my veggies, including red onions, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and some fresh basil.

Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, and Basil on the Pizza

Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, and Basil on the Pizza

After spreading out the veggies, I put a good amount of celtic sea salt, freshly ground pepper, aleppo pepper, and red pepper flakes over the veggies before adding the vegan cheese. After adding the cheese, I sprinkled a little olive oil over the pizza plus more freshly-ground pepper.

Pizza Topped with Vegan Cheese

Pizza Topped with Vegan Cheese

The pizza went into the oven for about 20 minutes, and when it came out I was shocked…the cheese was melty and bubbly looking just like real cheese! And tasting it was even better – it was warm and gooey and didn’t taste at all like coconut. I’ll definitely use this cheese recipe again; I bet it would work great in lasagna and other baked dishes!

Pizza Fresh Out of the Oven

Pizza Fresh Out of the Oven