Tag Archives: roasted garlic

Penne, Peas, and Ricotta

A dish for two, unless one of those two has lactose intolerance, in which case I get to eat it twice.

To make a sauce, half the ricotta and peas are pulsed in a food processor until green and creamy. The rest are left in their natural state for texture.

Penne, Peas, and Ricotta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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I roasted some peppers early in the day to use in several recipes; otherwise you may use roasted peppers in a jar, which I rely on all the time.


  • 4 oz whole wheat penne or your favorite pasta
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta, divided
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed and divided
  • 1 generous tablespoon roasted garlic (I freeze mine in mini muffin pans to keep handy in the freezer)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-1 1/2 roasted red pepper, cut in large dice
  • 1/4 cup grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (I like the texture of the shaved cheese)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions and your taste. Whole wheat pasta takes a little longer to cook, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent, season with salt and pepper, then stir in peppers and 1/2 cup of the thawed peas. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of the food processor, add 1/2 cup ricotta, garlic, and 1/2 cup thawed peas. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process until mixture is smooth and creamy and bright green. Set aside.
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water; drain off the rest.
  5. Add to the drained pasta the sauce, the vegetables, the remaining 1/2 cup ricotta, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Stir to combine, adding a little cooking water if you need to thin the sauce. I added about 2 tablespoons water.
  6. Serve with more Parmesan.


White Bean Chicken Chili—Slow Cooker

I’m reluctant to call this dish chili, even though I know lots of people do just because it’s a combination of beans and meat. I think it’s a stretch, though, and like so many other dishes, I wish some inventive person had come up with another name. Still, I can see how chili is a good shorthand for it.

I think most recipes use boneless, skinless chicken, but I felt using bone-in chicken would add to the flavor during the long simmer in the slow cooker and also keep the meat from being drained of all its juices, as can happen in slow cooking. I opted for a whole split chicken breast, but I could see using a whole cut-up chicken. Yes, it means you have to add the step of pulling off the meat at the end, but that’s not a big deal.

What’s left then are the other flavors that make the dish a chili and not just a white bean stew or soup. In my chili, the main flavoring is from reconstituted dried ancho peppers—that’s what makes chili red (not tomatoes, please) and gives it its spice. If you’re keeping track of what peppers are called in their fresh and dried versions, you know that anchos start out as poblanos, and I have a ton of those in the garden that we’re hoping will turn red. But I have already roasted, peeled, and seeded a few trays of the green variety for the freezer, so I pulled a few out and chopped them up for this milder chili. I also have some jalapeños in the freezer, but I’d prefer to use those in a salsa or something with tomatoes. I think the poblanos will go well with the other traditional flavors of cumin, oregano, onion, and garlic (I used one of my frozen garlic cubes). I threw in a bay leaf, too, just because I can’t bring myself to cook chicken without one. Here it is ready for the long cook:

I would eat it as it turned out, but I didn’t want my husband to think it was soup—the horror!—so I thickened it with a flour and butter beurre manié. He couldn’t guess the ingredients in the chili—or even that there was such a thing as white chili—but he liked it a lot. I think it’s the poblanos that really made it so tasty.


White Bean Chicken Chili—Slow Cooker

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb dried great northern beans, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • about 1 tablespoon mashed, roasted garlic or equivalent
  • 2-3 poblano peppers, fresh or roasted, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • about 2 lbs chicken, bone-in or boneless ( I would leave boneless pieces whole and cut up at end), browned if with skin
  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker, adding chicken pieces last. Make sure to brown the pieces if they still have the skin on for a richer final flavor.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Remove meat from bones, if necessary, and stir back into the beans.
  4. You can mash some of the beans to thicken the chili or stir in a beurre manié of flour and butter during the last hour of cooking. I always thicken my red chili with a mixture of masa flour and water, and I suppose you could do that here, as well.

*Chicken stock is usually salted, so take that into consideration when salting.


Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

In this recipe, I’m referencing two posts  from about one year ago that covered the making of pizza dough and the final pizza. The dough really is terrific and I recommend it:

Pizza: Day One

Pizza: Day Two—White Pizza

I always make this pizza with a Parmesan white sauce, but now my husband thinks he has gone lactose intolerant, so I’m trying to cut down on too much milk or cheese in any one meal. We’re still going to have some cheese on the pizza, but I needed to figure out a tomato sauce that wasn’t too acidic—we’re not crazy about those rich tomato sauces that border on sour. Problems, problems, problems.

I started with a large can of whole plum tomatoes, strained out the liquid, to be used to flavor another dish, and pulsed them in the food processor with about 6-8 cloves of roasted garlic, olive oil, salt , and a little dried oregano. I’m hoping that by not precooking the sauce, it will be lighter instead of concentrated. It seems pretty thick, already, for a raw sauce, and still retains some of the texture of the tomatoes. I’ll miss the white sauce, but I hope this is a good alternative.

In my opinion, the crust is the star of pizza, anyway.

Other than the sauce, I’m using the same toppings that we like—country sausage and roasted bell peppers. Since I put oregano in the sauce, I’m leaving out the arugula that I like on a white sauce. I’m going light on the Parmesan and mozzarella, but can’t leave them out completely. The lactase tablets will have to get him through that.

Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

  • Servings: covers at least 3 12-inch pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy
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I large 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, strained (San Marzano tomatoes, if you can find them)

6-8 cloves roasted garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano

  1. Strain the canned tomatoes, cutting into them to release any hidden liquid. Reserve liquid for another dish, like Spanish rice.
  2. Place strained tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil, salt, and oregano in bowl of food processor.
  3. Pulse to a fairly smooth consistency.
  4. Spread on pizza dough, then cover with other toppings and bake according to your directions.

This is a light sauce that doesn’t overpower your other toppings—it was just what we were looking for (even though I still prefer white pizza sauce).

Colorful Potato Corn Chowder

We had our first flakes of snow today, and I spent the whole morning sitting in the woods waiting for deer, with no luck, just wet clothes and boots, so it seemed like a good day for a hearty soup (which we are calling chowder to fool my husband). This is a pretty quick soup, as soups go, but you could make it more homemade by shucking your own corn and making your own chicken or vegetable stock. You could even make it in a slow cooker, and if I were more energetic, I might even make it on the grill.

I’m adding bacon and carrots to this chowder, and though you don’t need a reason to add bacon to anything, I do think it will add the depth of flavor I’m looking for. If you’re looking for a lighter version, skip the bacon and the cream, peel the potatoes, and pulse them in the stock before adding the other ingredients. It won’t be the same as using cream and a roux, but it will be a little thickened, and really, you don’t want a chowder to be thick like gravy, you want it to be more of a thin cream soup.

Colorful Potato Corn Chowder

  • Servings: makes 2 quarts
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 lb thick sliced bacon, diced

1/4 cup bacon fat

3 large carrots, cut in small dice

1 medium onion, diced

2 quarts organic chicken broth

1 bag frozen corn—mine was yellow and white combined

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon roasted garlic (I roast a lot of it and keep it in logs in the freezer)

3 lbs baby red potatoes, quartered

1 cup heavy cream

roux of 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup flour

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cook diced bacon over medium heat until browned in large stock pot. Remove and reserve bacon. Pour off all but 1/4 cup bacon fat.
  2. Sauté diced onion and carrot in bacon fat until the onion is translucent.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock. Stir in the frozen corn, parsley, and garlic. Bring to a low boil.
  4. Stir in the quartered potatoes and boil for about 15 minutes or until done.
  5. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer, then stir in roux, continuing to stir until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. This is a small amount of roux for the large quantity of soup, but you just want to bring the cream and stock together. I think some people make the mistake of making the roux at the beginning of the cooking, then try to cook the potatoes in the thickened stock, and that would result in a lot of sticking in the bottom of the pot. It’s better to stir it in at the end.