Eggs and Veggies, The Perfect Pairing

egg with rapini

Eggs in combination with veggies have produced many a meal in my house for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the years and it’s still evolving. It’s still evolving because the variety of veggies are endless and because eggs can be prepared in so many different ways.

 

Take for example this crispy egg with leftover garlicky rapini, I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I always make extra rapini so I can make this combination. If you never had a crispy egg before just google “how to make a crispy egg” there’s a certain technique to it and the result will give you a souffled white with lacy, crispy edges and a nice runny yolk. I like to top mine with red pepper flakes, oregano, black pepper and salt.egg with asparagus

 

Here’s a winning combination fit for a fancy breakfast or brunch, a poached egg on a bed of roasted asparagus with crispy prosciutto and shaved parmesan, the creamy yolk when broken open oozes out and mingles with all the flavors, it’s heavenly!eggs with peppers

Peppers and eggs, I seriously grew up on this as a kid, the best sandwich ever with Italian bread, a great lunch or dinner with a salad on the side.eggs with artichokes

 

This is a favorite of mine, a recipe from Ina Garten, it’s her herb-baked eggs and it’s wonderful for a lazy Sunday morning. You can make this in individual gratin dishes like Ina, or as I did, all in one pan. My twist on it is to add in some artichoke hearts, a perfect addition I think to the creamy herbs and cheese, but make sure you have some toasted, crispy bread for dipping.

egg caprese

 

This caprese omelet can be a staple for you this summer made with fresh mozzarella, garden basil and summer tomatoes, nice for brunch and a light dinner..eggs with spring veggie

 

It’s spring here in Chicago and I love making my Spring Vegetable Frittata with Brie, with tender zucchini, asparagus and peas. I can go on and on about frittata’s they’re a staple. They’re not just for breakfast or lunch either, frittata’s make the best dinner with a side salad and crusty bread of course.

eggs with string beans

 

Pressed for time? You can always make this for dinner, Eggs in Purgatory, the way I make it has evolved over the years but here’s my basic recipe.

 

You can use chunky tomatoes or straight up marinara as I did above but I always add in some vegetables and herbs, here I added haricot verts with a few olives.eggs with broccolini

My clean out the fridge frittata with a little bit of this and a little bit of that like broccolini, mushrooms, red pepper and fresh mozzarella. It doesn’t’ take a lot of ingredients to put a meal on the table, a couple of mushrooms, a handful of broccolini and a red pepper sliced around some bruised spots creates a nice meal.

cauliflower steaks

 

The other day I sliced rainbow colored cauliflower into “steaks” and roasted them, basically I only get two or three nicely shaped slices from a head of cauliflower because I cut them an inch thick, the leftover florets can then be tossed into a frittata of course!eggs and cauliflower

 

Like this one, so delicious and colorful too..eggs with cauliflower

And lastly my version of “steak and eggs“. A crispy egg perched on top of a roasted cauliflower steak sitting in a pool of marinara, healthy, hearty and delicious and perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Endless meals can be made with veggies and eggs, these are just a few of my favorites. Go for what’s in season and just let your creative juices flow!

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Pan-Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus and Peas

pan-fried ricotta gnocchi

Pan-fried ricotta gnocchi is golden and crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside. Ricotta creates such a light and dreamy homemade gnocchi, which I much prefer over the potato version.

This recipe is great for spring, it’s light and doesn’t require a heavy sauce of any kind because it’s tossed together with fresh tender asparagus, peas, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and olive oil and it pairs perfectly with the soft and crispy bite of the pan-fried gnocchi. ricotta gnocchi

Some people think that making gnocchi is intimidating, but actually it’s easier than you think, and there’s absolutely no comparison to tasteless store bought, at least the ones I’ve tried.

Making them yourself is totally worth the effort and within no time you’ll get the hang of it, and they don’t have to be so picture perfect, that’s the special quality of making them homemade.

 

If you buy your ricotta from a good Italian deli like I do you’re usually going to have some liquid in the container when you bring it home, that needs to be drained really well to achieve a good gnocchi dough, in fact I think it is key.

 

I like to drain my ricotta in a strainer over a bowl that I keep in my fridge overnight, when your ricotta is nice and cold the dough comes together beautifully, if the ricotta is warm or room temperature it tends to be more sticky and you’ll keep adding more flour which in turn makes your gnocchi heavier, and we don’t want heavy gnocchi do we? We want it nice and fluffy.ricotta gnocchi

 

Whenever I make gnocchi I never serve them on the same day, I actually prefer to freeze them ahead of time and for some reason I think they cook up better from the frozen state, but one very important thing that I do before I freeze them is to boil up a couple just to make sure they don’t come apart, if they do, I’ll add a little more flour to the dough, just a little at a time. Then retest a couple more until they’re perfect, intact little dumplings holding together nicely in a gentle boil.

Gnocchi take only a few minutes to cook, toss them into a rolling gentle boil with salted water, give them one good stir, let them rise to the top and boil for an additional 1-2 minutes, scoop them out with a wide hand strainer. Never pour them directly into a strainer for fear they might break, you must be gentle and handle with care.

For the pan-fried version you scoop them out of the water and immediately toss them into a skillet with a mix of butter and olive oil letting them get slightly crispy golden on each side.

If you’re going through the trouble of making homemade gnocchi you might as well make a double batch like I do, you’ll be glad you did and besides it’s nice to have a stash set aside in your freezer, some for pan-frying and some for boiling and tossing into your favorite sauce.pan-fried ricotta gnocchi

I’m in love with this dish, it’s perfect for springtime, easy enough to make mid week and elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.pan-fried ricotta gnocchi

Pan-fried ricotta gnocchi gives you a little different take on the traditional boiled gnocchi, and the texture of the gnocchi holds up really well to the spring veggies you’re highlighting, but either way you choose to prepare it you can’t go wrong.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Pan-Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus and Peas
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE RICOTTA GNOCCHI
  • 1½ cup of drained ricotta, nice and cold
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 cup or so of unbleached all purpose flour
  • VEGETABLE TOSS
  • 1 bunch of tender asparagus, chopped small like pea size but leaving the pretty tips on
  • 1 cup of frozen, defrosted peas
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • olive oil for drizzle
  • a knob of butter
  • more Parmigiano for garnish
Instructions
  1. PREPPING THE VEGGIES
  2. In a separate skillet, drizzled with olive oil, toss in your chopped asparagus, garlic and defrosted peas, sauteing until nicely al-dente, then set aside.
  3. FOR THE GNOCCHI
  4. Place ricotta, grated cheese, salt and pepper into a bowl, whisk egg then add in.
  5. If ricotta is lumpy, which it usually is, take a hand mixer on low to break up the lumps and just to incorporate all the ingredients.
  6. Then fold in flour, little by little, you might need less or you might need more, but dough should come together quickly and it will feel slightly sticky.
  7. Lightly flour your finger tips and a board.
  8. Cut off a chunk then roll it into a round snake, then cut off bite size pieces.
  9. Leave as is or make indention's with a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork.
  10. At this point you can freeze them single layer, then once frozen place them into zip lock bags, they stay good for a month.
  11. WHEN READY TO COOK THE FROZEN GNOCCHI
  12. Toss them into salted boiling water, let them float to the top and cook maybe another minute or so, then scoop them out carefully with a hand strainer, like a spider.
  13. For pan-fried, drain them first then crisp them up in an additional skillet with a good drizzle of olive oil and a small knob of butter, turning them until they crisp up golden on each side.
  14. Then incorporate the precooked veggies you had set aside together with the golden crisp gnocchi.
  15. Place them onto a platter adding more grated cheese of course, more olive oil and scatter the lemon zest all around.
  16. Happy Spring!

 

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Springtime Risotto

springtime risotto I know spring is here when I see tender asparagus, early peas and my beloved baby artichokes popping up in the produce aisles. Baby artichokes are so easy to prepare and with a little trimming  you’re able to eat the whole thing, there’s no comparison to the taste and texture of fresh verses frozen, jarred or canned, none at all!

spring time risotto One way I love to showcase them is with risotto, the creamy rice along with the tender veggies are just the perfect combination!

spring risotto ingredients With minimal prep work you can get this on your table in no time and what a treat it is, a one pan wonder in deed. Don’t be intimidated when making risotto it just needs a little nurturing  and constant stirring but you can’t beat the end result!

spring time risotto This meal will make you, your family and your guests very happy!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Springtime Risotto
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 fresh BABY artichokes, trimmed and kept whole
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1 lb. of fresh asparagus, tender and thin, trimmed and cut into thirds or fourths
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 1½ cups of arborio rice
  • 1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock, warmed and simmering on the stove
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • handful of parsley
  • 1 tablespoon, butter
  • 2 or so tablespoons of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Prep veggies ahead of time, for the Baby Artichokes: Snap off the outer leaves until you reach the tender pale yellow green layers, then with a serrated knife trim the tip and stems. You can steam or boil, they take about 15 minutes, I usually boil placing them whole into the water with some lemon slices and a drizzle of olive oil. When finished, let them cool then place them tip side down and cut in half, you now will have 8 artichoke halves.
  2. For the Asparagus, roast on sheet pan at 400, don't let them get brown, it only takes a couple of minutes.
  3. For the Zucchini Rounds, saute in olive oil, medium high heat on top of stove until golden, just a couple of minutes it takes.
  4. Cook Peas accordingly.
  5. FOR THE RISOTTO:
  6. Have broth simmering on low heat in separate pan.
  7. In a heavy bottom pan heat olive oil and butter on medium heat, when melted add in the leeks, cooking until soft.
  8. Add in rice, stirring for a few minutes until well coated and hot.
  9. Deglaze with wine, let it cook down for a few seconds.
  10. Add in a ladle full of broth, stirring until it all absorbs.
  11. Continue adding in broth, same way, stirring it and letting it all absorb.
  12. You'll know when it's done because rice mixture will become creamy and tender with just a little bite, you don't want your rice to taste mushy.
  13. Pull off the heat, add in the cheese and stir until incorporated, add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and gently fold in all the veggies.
  14. Garnish with parsley.

 

 

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Spaghetti Squash “Cacio e Pepe” with Asparagus Ribbons

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

This recipe is a little twist on the classic Roman dish, “Cacio e Pepe”, which in Italian means, cheese and pepper. It’s traditionally made with three main ingredients, pasta, Pecorino Romano and crushed black pepper, there’s a little debate on using butter or olive oil, I use a combination, and never are there any added vegetables to the dish.

It’s simple and easy and most definitely comfort food at it’s finest!

cacio e peppe with spaghetti squash and asparagus

Like I said this is a twist on the classic, so in my version I decided to replace the pasta with wonderful spaghetti squash and for color and added depth of flavor I tossed in slightly cooked and wilted asparagus ribbons.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

The same bold and creamy flavor of the Pecorino Romano comes out and balances the spiciness of the coarsely crushed fresh peppercorns just like in the traditional version.

I repeat, crushed fresh peppercorns!

Please don’t use that stuff that’s been sitting on a shelf for ages and looks consistently the same when you sprinkle it on, it will ruin the dish.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

The asparagus is simply shaved with a vegetable peeler and then slightly wilted in a saute pan then scattered about all over the top.

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

Remember, the cheese and pepper are the key ingredients in this recipe, so don’t be shy!

spaghetti squash cacio e pepe style with asparagus

I promise you won’t even miss the pasta!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spaghetti Squash "Cacio e Pepe" with Asparagus Ribbons
 
A twist on the classic Cacio e Pepe replacing the pasta for spaghetti squash and adding some asparagus ribbons.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb asparagus, on the thicker size, not thin,shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra drizzle for sauteing asparagus
  • ¾ cup of coarsely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Coarsely crushed fresh peppercorns, to taste. Don't be shy!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375, line baking sheet with parchment, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Drizzle inside of each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on parchment and cook until a knife goes through easily, be careful not to overcook.
  3. Let squash cool completely then shred with a fork to get long strands.
  4. Place squash strands on a paper towel to get the dampness out for a few minutes.
  5. Drizzle a saute pan with olive oil and place asparagus ribbons in tossing them until wilted and bright green. Remove so they can stop cooking.
  6. In the same saute pan add the 2 tablespoons of butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, toss in the spaghetti squash strands and the ¾ cup of coarsely grated Pecorino, tossing gently until heated through and cheese starts to melt, also add in some cracked pepper while tossing. If it seems to thick add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it out.
  7. Place on a platter, arrange asparagus ribbons all around and add the finely grated pecorino all over and more pepper.
  8. Finish off with a quick drizzle of olive oil.

 

 

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Shrimp Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Pepper Rings

shrimp risotto with asparagus, peas and peppers

Risotto really isn’t a difficult dish to make it just takes commitment, there’s stirring involved and you have to pay close attention, it’s a labor of love but the end result is so worth it and it ends up all in one pan!

You can make a simplified version any day of the week or you can jazz it up for a special occasion with impressive results.

Be creative, there are hundreds of variations to try, but make it your own using the flavor combinations that you like, you can never go wrong, the rice is your blank canvas.

ingredients for shrimp and vegetable risotto

Some of the basic rules for making a perfect risotto, besides stirring is to use a short grain rice like arborio or carnaroli, it’s going to give you that creamy texture and bite you’re looking for. Another essential is a good, heavy bottomed pan, never use nonstick!

Next, your going to need some hot broth simmering on the stove, then a little butter, olive oil, onion, cheese and wine, things you usually have stocked in your home and whatever veggies, herbs and proteins you want to add in.shrimp risotto with asparagus, peas and peppers

I used shrimp, asparagus, peas and mini peppers that I cut into rings. All veggies and shrimp were pre-cooked ahead of time and tossed in after the basic risotto base was made.

shrimp risotto with asparagus, peas and peppers

I could be happy with just the the veggies and creamy rice all by itself but the roasted shrimp takes it over the top!

They say your not suppose to mix cheese with seafood, well too bad, I broke the rules, because a little Parmigiano Reggiano never hurt anyone and besides it truly heightens the flavor of the whole dish, so go on and be a rebel!

Shrimp Risotto with Asparagus, Peas and Pepper Rings
 
A one pan meal that is simple, elegant, creamy and sophisticated
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 quart boxed chicken broth, or homemade or vegetable if you wish
  • 1 cup of arborio rice, or other short grained rice
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, fresh or frozen but patted dry
  • 1 lb. asparagus, fresh cut on the diagonal
  • 1 heaping cup of peas, frozen and defrosted
  • 1 small bag of mini peppers, red yellow and orange cut into rings
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ to ¾ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Foil line a rimmed sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast shrimp at 4oo degrees until plump and pink, remove and set aside.
  2. Roast asparagus as well in seperate pan, drizzled with olive oil at 400 degrees, set aside.
  3. Defrost peas, set aside.
  4. In a small saute pan, stove top cook pepper rings until soft and slightly golden colored, set aside.
  5. In a heavy bottomed pan add 1 table spoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil then toss in the onion and cook until soft.
  6. Pour stock into a separate pot and start to heat up, when completely heated keep it on a simmer.
  7. On medium heat, toss in the rice and toast it up a bit, stirring and coating it in the butter and olive oil.
  8. Deglaze with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved.
  9. Start adding 1 cup at a time of the hot stock with pan still on medium heat stirring until liquid is absorbed, when pan starts to look dry add more broth 1 cup at a time.
  10. Stir, stir, stir while adding the hot broth, you might have a cup of broth leftover, or you might use it all depending on creamy result of rice.
  11. The end result should be a little soupy, creamy and the rice should have a little bite to it, al dente but not rock hard or mushy, you have to be the judge.
  12. Remove from heat, stir in remaining butter, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  13. Toss in the roasted cooked shrimp and all juices on the pan and lastly add in the cooked vegetables.

 

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Spring Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, lemon and Hazelnuts

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

I’ve been taking full advantage of asparagus season, my fridge is constantly stocked with those tender thin stalks. Besides just roasting them, which is a given, I’ve been putting them into frittatas, risottos, pasta dishes, tarts and a ton of salads.

In this salad today the asparagus is really the star. You give them a really quick roast to get them out of the raw state, slice them in half lengthwise, then gently toss into a hunk of honey infused goat cheese which has been loosened up a bit with a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing. Honestly, you could stop right there it’s that good!

But continue on please because we’re making a salad today.

spring salad ingredients

For the other ingredients you’ll want to build your salad around what’s in season, and being that its spring here I used a mixture of red leaf lettuce and a little arugula for spiciness, crispy radishes, fresh peas and fava beans, I added in some raw zucchini ribbons because I love the look and taste it gives to a salad, plus crunchy toasted hazelnuts.

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

Layer everything together rustic style onto a nice big platter and spoon more of the lemon and olive oil dressing all over.

spring salad with asparagus and goat cheese

For a special finish to this salad add generous shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s a must!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Spring Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, lemon and Hazelnuts
 
A beautiful fresh salad that celebrates Spring!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of asparagus,on the thin side but thick enough to cut in half lengthwise.
  • 1 cup fresh peas, or frozen and defrosted
  • ½ cup of cooked and prepped fava beans, you could use frozen defrosted lima beans
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium raw zucchini made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, (no seeds)
  • ½ bunch of red leaf lettuce chopped bite size and a generous handful of arugula mixed together or combination of salad greens of your choice
  • 4 oz. of chevre goat cheese, I used the one with honey
  • the zest of one lemon, you can cut up a few slices for garnish after
  • ½ cup of toasted hazelnuts, slightly cracked open
  • shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for top of salad
  • extra lemons for dressing
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Roast your asparagus on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil for maybe 5 or 10 minutes on 375 just until the raw taste is gone, you don't want limp asparagus they should still have a good bite to them, so keep checking. Cool them off and them slice them lengthwise.
  2. Make a lemon and olive oil dressing using 2 parts fresh lemon juice to 4 parts olive oil.
  3. In a bowl mash up your goat cheese and loosen it up with 2 tablespoons of the lemon dressing.
  4. Gently toss and coat sliced asparagus into the mixture, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  5. On a large platter assemble the greens, peas, fava beans, radishes, zucchini ribbons all over ending with the goat cheese coated asparagus on top.
  6. Sprinkle the toasted nuts all around.
  7. Spoon lemon dressing all around, as much as you think you need.
  8. Add shavings of Parmiggiano Reggiano on top.
  9. Garnish with a few lemon slices.

 

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The Mighty Asparagus!

Even though the weather here hasn’t been so great I know it’s really spring because asparagus is everywhere, I can’t get enough of the stuff and I’m always looking for new ways to make it, so today I’m giving you two recipes that I’ve recently been addicted to. The one above is the perfect appetizer or side dish, I actually brought this to our Easter brunch. Think prosciutto smeared with goat cheese then place a basil leaf, asparagus, roasted red pepper, shredded carrots and a quick drizzle of balsamic glaze, now roll it up! Oh my, the flavors are amazing, it’s sort of like an Italian Style Sushi!
Inspired by Food Jimoto

You can roast or grill your asparagus, I roasted mine, tossed it in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400F until al dente.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need, some of which can be used for the next recipe as well. Prosciutto, goat cheese, shredded carrots, fresh basil, roasted red pepper strips,(not seen here, they were roasting in the oven when I took the photo) and balsamic glaze, the glaze is a key ingredient, it’s thick and so flavorful and it stays inside the roll very nicely. You can make your own glaze by reducing down some balsamic vinegar or you can buy some, I got mine at Whole Foods, you can drink the stuff it’s so good! (not really, but I love it!) I always keep a bottle in my fridge, I use it all the time, just a little goes a very long way.

I tried cutting the prosciutto lengthwise at first but I didn’t like the way it held the asparagus in, it wasn’t tight enough within the roll so I cut it in half as you see above and that worked out perfect. If you don’t like goat cheese, maybe some mascarpone? or even cream cheese. You can use 1 or 2 asparagus depending on their size and your preference.
I used one large red pepper cut into small strips and roasted them, That one pepper was enough for a huge pan that I made.

A quick drizzle of olive oil on the tips and they were all ready to go, place them on a beautiful platter and people will be drawn to them, I promise.

Put your balsamic glaze in a squeezy bottle and you can get all fancy with it, swirrels, drops, zig zags, you’ll look like a professional!

Now on to recipe number two, this is so good you’ll want to make this salad over and over again! Take some of that prosciutto you have and crisp it up in your oven, these are going to be prosciutto chips that will garnish and be added to the salad for crunchy and oh so flavorful goodness! Place 4 – 6 slices on a piece of parchment keeping them flat by weighing them down with another baking sheet on top, Cook until crisp at 400F for around 10 -15 minutes, keep checking it.

This Asparagus Salad was inspired by a chef at a farmers market, the components are:

** 1 Pound of grilled or roasted asparagus halved lengthwise

** A spicy green like arugula or frisee ( I couldn’t find either that day, so I used a mix that had both)

** 2 radish that are thinly sliced

** 4 oz. of Chevre goats cheese

** 3 Tablespoons of toasted and chopped hazelnuts

** Salt and pepper


Lemon Vinaigrette:

** 2 Tbl fresh lemon juice

** 6 Tbl good olive oil

** Salt and pepper

** Prosciutto chips
In a bowl add your Chevre cheese, 1 Tbl of the vinaigrette and toss gently all your asparagus until well coated. Add your greens and hazelnuts, radishes and more vinaigrette to taste, toss it all gently until coated. Garnish with the prosciutto chips on top. This should serve 4 or 2 very happy people!

Enjoy and Buon Appetito!

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