Katie: While up in “the Northwoods” last week, I was treated to a home-cooked Somali meal featuring sambusas, homemade mango juice, goat meat, safron vegetables, rice flavored with cinnamon and cilantro, and a salad with roasted beets and hard boiled eggs. It was a fun experience and very nice of the Somali women to invite us into their home and cook such delicious food!
After being away, I looked forward to cooking again. Ken and I found this recipe from Cooking Light for Shrimp Fettuccine. Since he is allergic to shrimp, we made it with baby scallops instead and also added mushrooms. The garlic, scallops, mushrooms, and spinach topping fettuccine was a flavorful combination. If I make this again, I might try adding some white wine, but overall it was a great dish!
Katie: This was another great meal! I found this recipe from Cooking Light. Fettuccine mixed with minced garlic is topped with roasted bell pepper and winter squash seasoned with rosemary, with baked goat cheese coated in bread crumbs. This was a nice meal, but not too complicated to prepare on a weeknight and could easily be adapted. I think next time I might add mushrooms, eggplant, or sun-dried tomatoes. The baked goat cheese turned out great and was a great addition to the other flavors!
Bill: I was inspired by Katie’s recent post to make a quick but tasty meal. Last fall I froze a couple of batches of pesto that I made with almonds. The pesto was frozen in ice cube trays which makes it easy to use later. I pulled out 4 cubes of pesto to use along with 2 servings of pasta. I added some raw shrimp into the boiling water the last two minutes that the pasta was cooking. Jill taught me this trick which is the perfect length of time to cook the shrimp. I also reserved a couple of ladles of pasta water which I added slowly to the pesto cubes to get a nice consistency before adding to the cooked pasta.
To go along with the meal I roasted some asparagus in the oven. Katie, there are some Asparagus Festivals in the Midwest, but I’m not aware of any Asparagus Princesses. You’ll have to take us to a German Asparagus celebration sometime.
Matthew: I had some extra lemons to use up, so I was searching on the NYTimes website for recipes. This recipe, for pistachio lemon bars, looked interesting because I had never seen pistachios and lemons combined before. I tried it and right away knew something was wrong when I pulled them out of the oven. I somehow forgot to add the cup of sugar to the filling, turning it into a leathery scrambled egg filling. The crust was great, but the filling disaster kind of ruined the dessert.
I wasn’t about to give up on the lemon-pistachio combination, so I next turned to pasta. I made up a simple dish with spaghetti, wild ramps, lemon juice, pistachios, and parmesan. Wild ramps have been in season for the past month or so and I’ve been using them quite a bit to add a more delicate garlic flavor to dishes. This pasta dish was incredibly easy to make–I sauteed the ramps while the pasta was cooking and then just combined everything in a bowl. It turned out great with all the simple flavors and was a very satisfying dinner. The lemon to pasta ratio seems key. I made this a few days later and the lemon overpowered the other flavors.
Katie: Asparagus is in season here in Germany, and Germans are crazy about asparagus. Just check out pictures of the “Asparagus Princess” and “Asparagus Parade” if you don’t believe me! While white asparagus remains the most popular choice, green asparagus seems to be becoming more readily available.
Rather than preparing asparagus as a side dish, I’ve tried a few recipes this spring that include asparagus in a main dish. So far, I’ve tried Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Quinoa Salad, which was a great combination and Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Farro Salad, in which I substituted buckwheat groats for farro.
This time, I decided to try a Cooking Light recipe, Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto. Since I wanted something a bit lighter than gnocchi, I decided to substitute whole wheat spiral noodles. This was a dish that was pretty simple to make. It turned out well and was a good choice for a simple, but interesting and flavorful meal. The only change I would make if I made this again would be to use less garlic powder, since it was a little strong. This would probably be good with other pesto recipes as well, maybe even Strawberry Basil Pesto, which I’m curious to try!
Matthew: It had been a while since the last time I tried making homemade pasta, so I thought I’d give it another go. I opted for a simple shape and cut the dough with a kitchen knife. The dough itself was just eggs, flour, salt, and water. I had a hard time rolling the dough out thin enough, so my pasta was almost dumpling-like, but it was tasty nonetheless. For the meal, I decided to make a sauce with mascarpone cheese, shallots, and peas. Once the peas had been cooking for a while, I mashed them a bit and then added some sun-dried tomatoes. The sauce was really creamy and delicious with the pasta. I’ll definitely keep mashy peas in mind for quick week-night meals (minus the homemade pasta, which made this a several hour week-night meal!).
Matthew: I’ve been eating a LOT of tomatoes lately and have tried to change things up so that I don’t get tired of them. So far I’ve roasted them, made caprese salad, eaten them with homemade pesto, and put them in salads. I was inspired to try tomato pesto by seeing this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I decided that I wanted the tomatoes to be cooked in my pesto, and to avoid them being too watery, I decided to sun dry them. I halved, seeded, sliced, and salted about 8 roma tomatoes and put them in the oven for ~2 hours at 200 degrees. They weren’t completely dehydrated by the time I pulled them out, but I thought it would be good enough. I then toasted some almonds and combined them in the blender with the tomatoes, a good amount of olive oil, and some parmesan cheese. The resulting pesto was a nice salmon color. Then, to complete my meal, I tossed some cooked pappardelle with the pesto and some roasted green beans, red bell pepper, and onion. The final product was outstanding. The sun dried tomatoes added an intense and complex flavor which paired well with the nuttiness of the almonds, the salty parmesan, and the smooth olive oil. Definitely a do-over!