Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Spring has Sprung! May 16, 2011

Filed under: Eating local,Garden Fresh,Recipe,Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 5:50 pm
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There is nothing quite like finally have warm days after a long winter. The rise of spring and the desire to spend days outside always seems to be accompanied by certain cravings. I can’t eat salad when it is snowing, but as soon as April and May roll around all I can think about is spinach and lettuce and arugula. And don’t get me started on things like asparagus and rhubarb! I’m making myself hungry just writing about it…

According to Chinese Medicine, spring is the time for cleansing and for renewing. The liver, the organ responsible for the smooth flow of qi, loves spring and can be both nourished and frustrated during this time of year. Wind, another spring favorite especially here in Santa Fe, is another symbol of the liver. As a result, many of those spring cravings can be linked to the bodies desire to naturally detoxify and move all that rising energy!

Great spring foods can also be found in the oddest of places. Dandelions, those pesky weeds, are a great spring tonic. Pick the greens (making sure they haven’t been sprayed!!) and add them to your salad for a nice change. As previously mentioned asparagus can act as a diuretic, pulling toxins out of the body with the excess water. Rhubarb, another favorite of mine, also has cleansing actions and can be a great addition to spring treats – like a fabulous rhubarb pie, for example!

There are lots of great greens and other things that I have missed over the winter and I encourage everyone to get out to your local farmer’s market to get some. One of my favorite ways to get all the spring veggies together is to make a nice pasta primavera (remember, primavera means spring!). Here is my version of the classic dish.

Pasta Primavera

1 lb home made pasta, or dried pasta of your choice
1 C asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c onion, diced (approx 1/2 medium)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c summer squash or zucchini, julienned (approx 1 small)
1/2 c red or orange bell pepper, julienned (approx 1 medium)
1/4 c carrot, julienned (approx 1 medium)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
2 TBSP olive oil

Begin by placing the pasta water on to boil. While you wait, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until aromatic. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the asparagus and carrots and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the carrots soften and the asparagus starts to change color. Add the peppers and the summer squash and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are done. Add the heavy cream and the cheese and stir to mix and turn the heat to very low. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the past water has boiled add your pasta and cook until al dente. Fresh past should only take a minute or two, but dried pasta usually takes between 7 and 10 depending on the style. Strain the pasta and add the noodles to the pan of sauce. Toss several times to coat the noodles and serve!

Happy Eating!


First time using my pasta maker! January 6, 2010

Filed under: Kitchen Toys,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 2:45 pm
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My new toy!I love my new toy. It is by far the most fabulous piece of kitchen equipment I own. I have periodically made pasta from scratch for several years now, ever since a neighbor looked at me and said “Pasta is so easy…you could definitely do it”. And so I did.

My first batch was successful for the most part, but I struggled with rolling out the dough and getting the right texture. A problem I struggled with regularly up until yesterday. I could spend upwards of thirty minutes rolling out the elastic dough and still not achieve the texture and thinness I desired. But no more!

Using the same pasta recipe as always, I was able to create fabulous spaghetti using my new machine. Thin, light and with a beautiful texture, it was by far the best pasta I have had in a long time.

Home Made Pasta

2 c all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 TBSP olive oil
approximately 2 TBSP cold water*

Place the flour on a clean, flat counter top and create a mound. Dig a well in the middle and crack your three eggs into this well. Using a fork, whisk the olive oil into the eggs, and then continue to whisk, slowly adding the flour until it starts to thicken. At this point, use your well floured hands to combine the rest of the flour and the water, if necessary (see note below)

*Depending on your climate, you may not need to add any water to the mixture, however Santa Fe, NM has a relative humidity in the single digits and without a few tablespoons of H2O, my pasta dough dries out and becomes unusable.

Once the dough has come together, continue to kneed until you have a smooth, elastic quality. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel. Let rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

After the dough has rested, you are ready to roll it out. I had to season my pasta maker (by running a small quantity of dough through it to make sure everything was grime free) but once this was accomplished it was a simple matter of flouring the rolly parts and then getting to work.

Rolling the dough.

The end result was the beautiful pasta seen here…
The finished product...yuuuum.
…cover it in home made red sauce, sprinkle some fresh parm on it and voila! The best pasta ever!

This post has been my contribution to Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival. Check it out for more delicious posts!


Home made Gnocchi November 30, 2009

Filed under: Garden Fresh,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 4:37 pm
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Someone requested I post this recipe and I was more than happy to agree. Unfortunately I have no photos of the process – the next time I make this dish I will have to add some.

Gnocchi is probably my favorite pasta and it is surprisingly easy to make, although the process is time consuming so be prepared to spend a few hours doing it, especially if it is your first time!

I have found that the best potatoes to use are starchy, white fleshed baking potatoes. The ones we grew this year were perfect, even though they were small. Be prepared to start the process several hours before you plan on serving, as you have to bake the potatoes and use them hot. I have tried using old, room temperature baking potatoes for this and it was a horrible failure. Hot potatoes are a necessity for this recipe!

Note: I don’t usually make things that require specific kitchen implements, but for this recipe you absolutely must have either a potato ricer or a large mesh strainer. This is really the only way to get the potato “flour” that you need in order to make these successfully.

Potato gnocchi

2 lbs potatoes
1 – 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
salt to taste

Begin the process by baking the potatoes until they are completely soft. I typically bake them at 350 degrees for 75 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool just long enough so they can be handled without burning yourself.

Using the above mentioned mesh strainer or ricer, process all the potatoes through until you have a bowl of potato “snow”. You want to remove the peels before you do this, unless your ricer is designed to keep peels out of the resulting mash. I tend to scoop the warm potato out of the jacket with a spoon before pressing it through my strainer.

Once you have finished this step, add the flour and the salt. I like to use a sifter so as to avoid any lumps. Go ahead and add the first cup, kneading the dough with your hands. If it seems exceptionally sticky, go ahead and add flour until it reaches the right consistency.

Turn it out onto a clean, smooth surface knead into a ball. Splitting it into hand sized sections (I usually end up with four) roll the dough out into a long rope. You want it to be no more than an inch around. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch sections and flatten slightly with the tines of a fork. This leaves you with an oblong shaped piece of pasta.

Immediately place into salted boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi rise to the top, usually around 5 minutes, and serve with your favorite sauce. I personally like pesto on mine, however any sauce will work, including a simple brown butter.