Gnocchi with Spinach and Brown Butter

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This is the perfect meal when you are too tired to cook – it takes less time to whip it up then order take out.

Ingredients:
1 lb vacuum packed gnocchi
4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz spinach
Salt and pepper
1/4 c Parmesan, shredded

Cook gnocchi according to package.

Melt butter in a 12 inch skillet and cook for 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add Spanish and gnocchi to the pan; cook 1 minute. Sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts.

Serves 4.

Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pine Nuts

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This recipe is adapted from Food & Wine magazine, I just made a few minor changes. The cinnamon is what makes if special.

Ingredients:
4 1 lb eggplants, halved
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 lb ground lamb
3 TBSP pine nuts
1/4 c golden raisins
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange eggplant in a baking dish, spray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes until browned.

In a small bowl combine cinnamon, paprika and cumin.

In a large skillet, heat the oil, add onions and 1/2 the spice mixture, cover and cook for 7 minutes until soft. Add lamb and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, raisins, pine nuts and half the parsley, remove from heat.

Spoon lamb mixture into the eggplant and cinnamon stick to the pan. Mix 1 cup of water with the lemon and remaining spice mixture, pour over eggplant. Bake for 40 minutes covered with foil. Top with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 4.

Pasta with Kale

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I love kale add it to pasta with some citrus and cream and I’m in heaven! This is a quick and tasty weeknight pasta.

Ingredients:
1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
Res pepper flakes
1/2 c chicken stock
1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed and chopped
1 c 1/2 and 1/2
8 oz pasta
1/3 c Parmesan, grated
1 lemon zested and juiced
3 TBSP parsley, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions.

In a 12 inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions, pepper flakes and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add stock and kale and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 and 1/2 reduce heat to simmer and stir. Add pasta and a little pasta water if needed. Stir in cheese, zest and juice. Top with parsley and serve.

Serves 4.

Eggplant casserole

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This was loosely inspired by a recipe in Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean Cookbook. I grilled the eggplants and pepper for the stuffing and put it in a baking dish added some cheese and put into a casserole.

6 small eggplants
1 red pepper
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground lamb
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/4 c grated cheese

Preheat BBQ to medium high. Grill eggplants and pepper turning every couple minutes until softened and nicely charred. Remove, cover with foil and let cool.

Scrape eggplant from skin and peal pepper. Add to a food processor and pulse until puréed.

Meanwhile cook onions in a little oil until softened, add garlic and lamb, cooking until meat is browned.

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine purée with meat and onions. Top with bread crumbs, pine nuts and cheese spray or drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4.

Zucchini Mint Pesto

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Nothing like being without a kitchen for 3 weeks to really inspire a cook! This my summer riff on the asparagus pesto I made in the early spring. This is the perfect pasta comfort food for a crazy Monday.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs baby zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c mint leaves
1/4 c parsley
4 cloves garlic
Zest of one lemon + 1 TBSP juice
3/4 c parmigiano
1/3 c olive oil
4 oz chopped pancetta, cooked crisp
1 lb pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Zucchini and cook 5 minutes. Remove from water and toss into food processor. Add pasta to water and cook until al dente.

Add all ingredients except pasta to Zucchini in processor, process until smooth, and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove pasta and place into a large bowl with 1/4 c pasta water, add pesto and toss. Let sit for 1 minute to allow pasta to absorb the sauce. Serve and top with pancetta.

Serves 4.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta

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Mondays always seem to be meatless and pasta heavy dinners. Is it the start of the work week? The late calls to APAC or ANZ? The need for comfort food as a reward after making it through Monday? To be honest, probably all of the above.

It’s spring – so I literally buy as much asparagus at the farmers market as we can possibly eat in a week – it’s a short season, what can I say?

Tonight’s meal was inspired by a recipe I found on Epicurious. I lightened up by reducing the oil and it still tasted wonderful!!

1 lb penne pasta
1 lb asparagus
1/4 c pine nuts
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 oz olive oil
Zest & juice of one lemon
2 ozs Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparation
In a 6- to 7-quart kettle bring about 5 quarts salted water to a boil for pasta.

Snap off woody ends from asparagus, add asparagus to boiling water and cook 4 minutes.

In a food processor pulse pine nuts and garlic, cheese, zest & lemon juice with salt until finely chopped. Add asparagus and oil and pulse until asparagus is coarsely chopped.

Transfer pesto to a large bowl. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to pesto, tossing to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

Preparation
In a 6- to 7-quart kettle bring about 5 quarts salted water to a boil for pasta.

4 servings.
9 WW PP per serving.

Gnocchi with Tomato Basil Sauce

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This is a great weeknight meal. I start the sauce while I’m packing lunches and get food into my boys bellies. It’s tasty and quick. I use store bought gnocchi because with work and kids I just don’t have to make my own.

Ingredients:
1 package of gnocchi
28 oz canned tomatoes
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 bunch of basil, chopped
Red pepper flakes
4 TBSP pine nuts
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a 3 qt pot heat oil over medium heat, add garlic and onion, cook for 3 – 4 minutes until garlic just starts to brown. Add tomatoes, chili flakes and basil. Cook for about 30 minutes on low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add gnocchi. When they start to float to the top, move them to sauce pan.

Top with pine nuts and cheese.

Serves 4.