Friday, September 30, 2016

Umbrian Farro & Swiss Chard Soup

By: The Food Hunter

We recently spent some time on a culinary exploration of Umbria, Italy's most central region. Known as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is the only Italian region without a coastline.

Based in Spello, a charming walled town rich in history yet not inundated with tourist, we were able to experience Umbria more on a local level.

Our days consisted of visiting macellerias (butcher), pasticcerias (pastry bakery) and panettieres (bread bakery) in nearby villages to gather ingredients for the evening meal.

In Umbria you can expect meals that are simple and rely heavily on seasonal produce, regionally raised game meats and local wines. You can also expect to see a lot of farro, both on restaurant menus and on store shelves. Farro is an ancient grain with a slightly chewy texture that tends to absorb the flavor of whatever it cooks with. For this reason it works well in soups and stews.

Umbrian Farro & Swiss Chard Soup

1 medium clove garlic, lightly crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2 fresh sage leaves
1 celery rib, chopped
1 red onion, minced
1 1/2 cups farro
2-3 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
4 cups roughly chopped swiss chard
12 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

In soup pot, warm the garlic in the olive oil over low heat until fragrant. Add celery & onion, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add herbs and carrots cook about 5 minutes.

Add faro, swiss chard and stock, simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the farro is tender but still a little chewy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ready To Eat In Minutes: Blueberry Pecan Organic Steel-Cut Oatmeal

By: The Food Hunter

I love starting my day with steel-cut oats; but between my daily commute and my work schedule I don't often have the time. When I heard about Pacific Foods ready-to-eat Organic Steel-Cut Oatmeal I'll admit I was kind of curious and a little bit skeptical. But after one taste and I knew these oats would become part of my morning routine.

Though the Pacific brand oatmeal comes in five delicious flavors, I prefer the unsweetened variety, since it allows me to add my favorite mix-ins. Some days it may be bananas & pecans while other days it's blueberries & coconut sugar. Whichever variety you choose it is great to know that it is a less processed option to instant oatmeal.

Each individual serving box is packed with up to 7 grams of protein and 25-31 grams of heart healthy grains; two things that are very important to me. Not only are they a good choice for breakfast but they also are perfect to keep around as an easy & nutritious afternoon snack. Of course I'm thinking post workout...but they are ideal for any time you are looking for an energy boost.

Blueberry Pecan Steel-Cut Oatmeal
1 box of unsweetened Pacific steel-cut oatmeal
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
7 chopped pecans
Sugar if desired

Pour Pacific steel-cut oatmeal into a bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Top with blueberries and pecans and enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pasta With Meat & Celery Sauce

By: The Food Hunter

Since we returned from Italy we have been cooking more regional Italian cuisine at home. I saw this unique pasta dish in Patricia Wells' Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy cookbook and thought it would be perfect to try.

Popular in trattorias throughout Tuscany this hearty celery sauce was easy to make and enjoyed by the entire family. Though it might sound odd I suggest you give it a try.

Pasta With Meat & Celery Sauce
(slightly adapted from Patricia Wells)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup minced celery
1/4 cup ( minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
sea salt
4 ounces ground beef
4 ounces ground pork
One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

Several sprigs of fresh parsley, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine
1 pound pasta
Freshly grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

In an unheated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, onion, celery, parsley, and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture is soft and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the meat, and toss to blend. Reduce the heat to low and cook about 5 minutes more, making sure to break the meat up into small bits with a spatula. Add tomatoes and stir. Add the herb bundle and cook, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 20 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the herb bundle.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite. Drain thoroughly.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss to blend. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes, off the heat, to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce.
Transfer to a large bowl and serve immediately, passing freshly grated cheese.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Prosciutto, Green Bean & Provolone Appetizer

By: The Food Hunter

Let's talk about an easy to make appetizer that has an explosive flavor. Crunchy green beans and tangy sharp provolone wrapped in salty prosciutto topped with a spicy mustard sauce is just that. Slightly adapted from a Mario Batali recipe I saw online, this appetizer uses a few of my favorite things and offers a taste like nothing I've ever had.

Prosciutto, Green Bean & Provolone Appetizer
(adapted from Mario Batali)

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh, thin green beans, trimmed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
16 slices prosciutto
8 thin sliced pieces of sharp provolone cheese
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Drizzle the 2 tablespoons of oil on a rimmed baking sheet, then arrange the beans on the oil in a single layer. Season them generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes or until the beans begin to wrinkle and turn brown. Let them cool.

Lay the prosciutto slices side by side on a clean work surface, with the short ends facing you. Place 1 slice of provolone cheese and 1 green bean over each, then roll away from you to create bundles. Arrange them on a platter.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of oil, the maple syrup, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl, until smooth.
To serve, arrange bundles on a plate and top each one with some sauce.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pasta With Zucchini, Tomatoes & Fresh Basil

By: The Food Hunter
The tasty combination of zucchini & fresh tomatoes is perfect served over pasta for a quick week-night meal. Ready in under 30 minutes, you don't even need a recipe to make this flavorful dish.

Follow along with the video below to see how quick and easy it all comes together.

Pasta With Zucchini, Tomatoes & Fresh Basil
Serves 2

1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1/2 a large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half moons

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lb pasta
Parmesan cheese

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

Heat olive oil in a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan. Add the zucchini & cook stirring occasional, until soft. Season lightly with salt. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Remove from the heat.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the zucchini. Place the pan back on the heat. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and cook about 1-2 minutes.

Add pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Add basil and a splash of olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the pasta).

Spoon into serving bowls and serve with grated parmesan cheese.