Butter and Pesto Roasted Salmon

As I sit in my living room to write this, my father-in-law and my uncle are in the backroom working on putting a header up in our addition. A task that was most definitely a pure and honest worry of my father-in-laws with the impending #Snowpocalypse that is slated to start today. We have roughly 15 inches of snow expected over the next 24-48 hours. My husbands parents are truly gems in all aspects of having in-laws. I’ve thankfully been given the pleasure of having some of the best family members from his side and that is worth more than winning any lottery in the world.

I deal with anxieties or depression from time to time. When I was young, I used to think that something was innately wrong with me for having episodes like this. More so, because I was trained to think that with family and media outlets. Fast forward to when social media started rearing its ugly face, when you compare your life to others happy cookie cutter lives… then a crappy president who re-unleashes ancient white supremacy views that no longer suit our people, then a pandemic that unseemingly wont go away…. Throughout it all, I’ve stayed diligent with my soul work.

Soul work is heavy sometimes. It takes a lot of discipline and a LOT of dedicated work. You often have to strip yourself of who you thought you once were, and in doing so, sometimes you have to strip people from your life that cant give you the grace you deserve. I want to be clear in my statement, we only have one life folks. You are not meant to be unhappy and you are the captain of your own story. If you remain the “reader” in your life, you’ll never get the chance to write it. So do things that make you happy and uncomfortable, because you never know when your time will come.

If you need a boost of happy, your foods will gratefully provide if you give them the chance. And adding foods rich in Omega-3’s to your diet is a great start. Salmon is on the menu this time around as it’s plentiful in it’s omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and also potassium. The omega-3 and -6 fatty acids combined with potassium greatly contribute to heart health, as they reduce artery inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, maintain blood pressure levels and they combat symptoms of depression and improve brain function.

I adapted this recipe from the New York Times. I didn’t have the fresh herbs, so I had to make do with what I had. Normally I would make a beautiful dark leafy salad for this recipe, but today I was short on time and decided to buy a “bagged” salad. One of favorites is Dole’s Premium Sweet Kale Salad, which you can find at most grocers.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter – unsalted
  • 4 Tablespoons pesto – I buy Classico Signature Recipes Traditional Basil Pesto (no nuts = happy allergic husband)
  • 1 large salmon filet – quartered – we always buy fresh ocean caught from Costco – no farm raised here.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place butter and pesto in a skillet and cook for 5 minutes OR until the butter melts and the pesto mixture is sizzling. I used my 10 inch cast iron and the filets came dangerously close to not fitting. You’ll have to flip these at some point, so if you don’t trust yourself with tight spaces, than I’d go up to a 12 inch pan. Oh, and PLEASE make sure the pan you use is oven safe. Also, PLEASE PLEASE make sure to remember the pan is hot when you re-enter it into the oven. An unlikely tragedy I encountered in my cooking journey that evening. In the case you do burn the holy hell out of your hand, please purchase this natural antiseptic healing cream by Nature’s Remedies. My burn was 99% gone the next morning. I bought this for my husband’s poison ivy one year because he gets a ridiculously awful rash EVERY year, and this stuff is truly magic.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven, give the buttery pesto a stir and add the salmon filets skin side up.
  3. Roast for 4-6 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and remove the skin. If the skin doesn’t come off, place in oven for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and flip the filet over, sprinkle with salt and pepper again.
  5. Roast for another 3-5 minutes. I like my salmon a little more on the red side, so I pulled mine out at 4 minutes. but of course, keep in mind, the cooking time will vary with the thickness of your salmon.
  6. When plating, spoon some of the buttery pesto on top of the salmon.

Notes:

This recipe serves 4-6 people. We only have the two of us at home so we like to use the leftovers for salmon patties. If your interested in that recipe, you cant find it here. Oh, and of course, if you crave more carbs in your life, you can always make rice, quinoa or any other kind of grain you like.

Salmon Patties

I’m going to put this link on the top, because I don’t think I could explain the health benefits any better. I love Holistic Highway’s website and I hope you can find some good ideas for yourself :-).

Ingredients for Salmon Patties:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk – finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – finely chopped – (or dried or frozen parsley)
  • 3 cups left over salmon filet
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 1½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon curry spice
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Lime Jalapeño Dip
  • 2 tablespoon garlic sauce – I used Steve’s Mediterranean Garlic Sauce from Kroger, but you could also use left over sauce from your last Mediterranean take out order, or also any other branded garlic sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream – (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • Mix all of the above until well incorporated and set in fridge until ready to plate.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring, until softened; remove from the heat. *You aren’t looking for caramelization here, just softened veggies. Pull from heat when the onions turn close to translucent.
  3. Place salmon in a medium bowl. Flake apart with hands making sure to remove any bones or skin fragments.
  4. Add egg , mustard and parsley and mix well – again with your hands.
  5. Add onion mixture, breadcrumbs, pepper and curry and mix well.
  6. Shape the mixture into 8 patties, about 2½ inches wide.
  7. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  8. Add 4 patties at a time and cook until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Remove from pan and turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. *The cooked side will be facing up.
  10. Repeat with the remaining patties.
  11. Bake the salmon patties for 15 minutes.

NOTES:

Dollop the sauce over the salmon patties. There will be absolutely no judgment on what serving size you choose to go with for your sauce topping. Add steamed broccoli or mixed greens as your side.

Ham Bone & Navy Bean Soup

Do me a favor and save the bone! The ham bone that is. When I was a child, I remember my mother saving the ham bone from Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter, and freezing it for months on end. Which is, kind of gross when you think about it! Just imagine for a moment, the disgust on the face of a blossoming and bratty child when they open the freezer for a popsicle and instead finding the meat and bone of an almost completely devoured pig leg in our freezer. I know, that was graphic, but sometimes life is graphic and I’m not about to write a politically corrected version of my memories in order to satisfy the overly sensitive types out there.. But, I digress. Lets look at this beautiful Thyme.

This meal in my opinion, is pure and unadulterated love in a bowl. It’s truly a labor of love, as I like to slow boil the ham bone and vegetables for 4-5 hours before adding the beans in order to develop the flavors and disintegrate the marrow in the bone. The total preferred time it takes for the full flavor of this soup to come out will take roughly hours. But in all honesty, you could shave off a few hours if you add the beans earlier and don’t care too much about the melding of flavors in a magical unicorn sort of way. It’s your own creation and you have the power to do with it as you will.

The original recipe found here, calls for soaking dried beans for 24 hours, BUT.. for the life me, I NEVER pre-think this part, so I end up getting canned beans instead, which is why I throw them in last.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (14.5 oz.) cans of Navy Beans – no salt
  • 1 Ham Bone
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Large Onion – diced
  • 6-10 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 3 carrots – peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks – chopped
  • 10 sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 10 cups of water – add more to the pot as it boils down. It will disintegrate throughout the cooking time.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base – optional

Directions:

  1. Using a 6.5 quart pot, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add salt and an ungodly amount of black pepper.
  2. Add the hambone to the pot, cover the entire bone and meat with water and bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Once the water comes to a rapid boil, add Thyme, rosemary and cumin and turn down the heat to medium.
  4. Slow boil for 4-5 hours, adding water as you go to make sure the bone stays under the liquid at all times.
  5. At the 5 hour mark, you can pull the bone from the pot and start pulling off the meat from the bone. Add the meat only back to the pot. There is no need to chop the meat as it should be pretty easy to break apart at this point. But again – this is your ballgame, and you may do what you think is best. Discard the bone.
  6. Meanwhile rinse the canned beans. *Make sure to rinse them until all of the bubbles disappear (cooking tricks 101).
  7. Taste your stock and add seasoning as needed. Mine needed some more saltiness, so I added a teaspoon of the bouillon.
  8. Add beans to the pot for two more hours, making sure the bone stays submerged under the liquid. Add water as needed.
  9. Before serving, puree 1/4 of the soup right there in the pot to give it a rich thickness.
  10. Serve with crusty bread, buns, or salad.

Mahi Mahi Tacos

I have not written in a while. I haven’t been feeling very inspired lately, and to be honest, I’ve been very busy visiting family and friends, shopping for Christmas and birthdays. On top of the above excuses, we’re in the middle of adding an addition to our house and that has taken up most of my energy and focus. I’ve been recording some of the dishes that I’ve made throughout the year so I dont forget them. So, hopefully I can publish a few more recipes soon!

Tacos seem to be my jam when I’m in a time crunch at the end of the night. I’m seriously considering creating a taco segment on my page (if I can figure out how to do that!).

Today, we’re talking fish tacos. I prefer using meaty, mildly sweet fish like halibut or mahi mahi. The firmness is a perfect alternative to the ground beef, turkey or chicken and it picks up flavors really nicely. I chose grain free taco shells to compliment my need to eat clean(ish) after my holiday binge(s) with alcohol, sweets and rich foods. This recipe is super easy and after adding shredded cheese, it is now 5 year old approved.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Limes
  • 2-3lbs of Ocean Caught Mahi Mahi Filets – Ours was from Plum Market.
  • 3 cups Premade Coleslaw Mix
  • 1 mango – chopped
  • Coconut cooking spray (Or coconut oil)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse and dry your fish, pat dry with paper towel. Salt and Pepper each side and sprinkle with Old Bay. Marinating is not necessary, however, for a more incorporated flavor you can marinade with salt, pepper, Old Bay, juice of 1 lime and olive oil for 10-15 minutes before cooking
  3. Spray a flat cooking pan with coconut oil cooking spray. If you don’t have the spray, you can use any kind of cooking spray. I like the flavor of the coconut with the tacos. Lay filets on pan and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the fish turns opaque and you can flake off a piece with a fork easily. Cooking time will vary with thickness of your fish. I had thicker fish and the cooking time was about 18-19 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees for your shells. Let the fish lay to rest for 3 minutes – which is the perfect amount of time to let your shells cook – you’re welcome.
  5. Assemble the tacos by cutting the fish into small rectangles, small enough to fit in a shell, or you can mash it-it’s your world!
  6. Add coleslaw, mango, a squeeze from a fresh lime and mow down.
  7. Optional: Add cheese or hot sauce.

Cilantro Lime Jalapeño Dip

My husband and I are experts at growing jalapeño and poblano pepper plants. Every other plant tends to put up a nice little “I.O.U., catch you next summer” sign. So I combed the old interweb and found this creamy jalapeño dip recipe by Modern Honey. I’ve made this recipe three times so far and each time I make it, I replace the pickled jalapeño with fresh jalapeño, add dill and some juice from a dill pickle jar. I have yet to try it with the tomatillos, but you better believe its on my to do list!

This dip is good for dipping chips, making coleslaws or just drizzling on top of your meal for a fresh and spicy addition to any meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise (if you prefer less mayonnaise, you may use 1 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup mayonnaise)
  • 1 packet Dry Ranch Dip
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (tightly packed, may add more for fresh flavor)
  • 2 tbls dill pickle juice
  • 4 large jalapeño peppers
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk (if you want it to be thinner, add more buttermilk)
  • Juice from 1 lime – fresh squeezed
  • 1-2 tbls fresh dill (this depends on how “dilly” of a person you are)
  • salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 Tomatillos optional

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor to puree.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve – remember to shake before serving.

NOTES: Add four cups of premade or homemade coleslaw mix to 1/2 -1 cup of this for a creamy coleslaw for tacos or your next BBQ.

Spring Buddha Bowl

Buddha bowls are the best way to get a ton of veggies in one simple dish. Think of them as salad 2.0.

You can create spring, summer, fall and winter bowls. They’re so interchangeable, beautiful and fun! Bonus – you don’t feel sluggish after eating a bowl of veg. With Buddha bowls in general, I would recommend prepping the ingredients ahead of time if you’re short on time, like most of us. But in the case you can’t prep, don’t shy away just yet. An extra 15 minutes never hurt any one and I promise you’ll feel better eating this rather than something quick and choke full of guilt.

As ya’ll should know by now, I try to get the “taste of the season” in each of my meals; meaning produce that’s in season AND in all colors of the rainbow. More colors = More health benefits. When you’re eating with the seasons, you’re giving your body every bit of nourishment it needs, not to mention it’s been incorporated for thousands of years in Ayurvedic practices.

Think I’m talking nonsense? Check out the stats from Mindbodygreen.com where they site some pretty interesting facts from the National Library of Medicine regarding the use of ripening agents, and the nutritional values during peak seasons vs. off season.

Obviously we cant always eat in season, but it’s always a good idea to be more conscious with what you’re consuming. Check here from time to time for a national view on seasonal produce. If you’re in Michigan like yours truly, Michigan State University provides a couple pretty nifty downloadable charts here. They have a printable chart, a mobile version, and even a cut out pamphlet you can keep in your wallet.

Ingredients:

This serves 4 adults

  • 2 sweet potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch asparagus – cut in half (crowns ad stalks)
  • 2 cups green beans – trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small head of purple cabbage – thinly sliced
  • 4 multi-colored carrots – peeled (I used orange, purple and yellow)
  • 2 avocados – peeled and sliced in to half moons
  • 3 scallions – thinly sliced (I use the whole scallion – green and white baby!)
  • 2 cups spring micro-greens
  • 1/2 lemon – juice from a fresh lemon
  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • Simple Truth Tahini
  • Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Mrs. Dash Salt Free Garlic and Herb seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Toss sweet potato in olive oil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and set in a bowl with lid to keep warm. I just used tin foil.
  3. Toss beans and asparagus with olive oil. I like to separate the veggies on the tray; asparagus on one side, beans on the other. This way I can gage who cooks faster, (It’s the asparagus). Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash, rosemary, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, cook quinoa to packaged instructions, put lid on and set aside until you’re ready to plate. This should take roughly 15 minutes.
  5. Also while the veggies are roasting, sauté cabbage on medium-high heat with olive oil until soft and the color is more vibrant. This will take roughly 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and cook down for another 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Peel carrots “until you can peel no mo”. Meaning peel (in wide strips) until there is no carrot left. Soak carrot peels in half of lemon juice in the fridge until the meal is finished. This will last a few days in the fridge.
  7. Prep the turmeric sauce. Add turmeric, honey, ginger, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and remaining lemon juice and whisk. I personally like my tahini to be a little on the thin side, so I ended up adding 2 tablespoons of water.
  8. Plate all cooked ingredients, top with scallions, avocado, and microgreens. Drizzle with tahini sauce.

Zucchini & Ravioli Primavera

Michigan’s weather has been cold and hot lately (per usual), and the winter chill doesn’t seem like it wants to go away.

My body wanted something warming yet fresh. Like most of you, I’ve been trying to lose my COVID 20 (lbs), exercise and generally be more consistent with making healthy choices. This dinner should satisfy all of the above and BONUS – it’s super quick to make. The creaminess from the ravioli mixed with crisp lemony-buttery-garlicy-peppery yumminess will awaken your taste buds and feed the urge for comfort food. This was so satisfying that I forget to take a picture of the full plate (whoops).

So lets dive into the health benefits of the major players in this meal (with the exception of the ravioli which was my dirty pleasure – apologies and you’re welcome).

Zucchini is rich with a plethora of nutrients but it has four main benefits; skin protector, healthy heart functionary, bone strengthener and it advocates for healthy body weight.

Much like the yellow summer squash, the majority of those benefits stems directly from the carotenoids. Carotenoid rich produce in general shields skin from UV rays and pollution, has been known to slow the skins aging process by keeping skin hydrated and elastic, could slow or lower your risk of cardio vascular disease, may curb negative health effects of eating a high fat diet. On top of all that, Carotenoids have loads of potassium and fiber, which has also been linked to stabilizing blood pressure, healthy digestion and just general heart health. If you want to dig into some of the scientific studies, you can find the links though this website.

Yellow Squash is chocked full of vitamin A, B, C, Fiber, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron and Folate. Just to give you an idea of the additional nutrients one lonely cup of summer squash has, see below.

Tell me you cant get your daily intake of vitamins and minerals from real food and I’ll fight you.

Ingredients:

  • Giovanni Rana Italian Sausage Ravioli – 18oz Family Size. You can pick up from Aldi, Walmart, Meijer or Plum Market
  • 1 yellow summer squash cubed
  • 1 zucchini cubed
  • 1 TBLS unsalted butter
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • grated parmesan to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil water. Add pasta to water per package instructions. This pasta only takes 4 minutes to cook. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, melt butter in a wide skillet on medium-high heat.
  3. Add garlic and shallot for one minute, then add zucchini, squash, salt and LOTS of pepper. I prefer my zucchini and summer squash to have a little crunch to it. If you overcook them, it takes away from the nutritional benefit, (as with most vegetables). Keep an eye on both. You’ll notice the inner white portion turning more translucent.
  4. When zucchini and squash are “half way” translucent, add the reserved 1/2 cup pasta water and lemon juice to skillet to finish cooking.
  5. Drain pasta and garnish with shredded parmesan.

**When plating this dish, I had about 6 ravioli on each plate with a big serving of the skillet veggies.

St. Patty’s Salmon & Colcannon

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and I wanted to do something to honor my 2% Irish & Scottish DNA. I know, I know.. this was a shock to me as well. I mean… I like root vegetables, I’m very interested in Paganism and their rituals, I love music and Pubs, corned beef, and my name is ERIN! How much more Celtic can a gal get? (The answer is…. roughly 98% more).

Well shocker, a few days before my two percent’s greatest holiday known to mankind, the hubs confesses to me that he’s never really liked corned beef, (insert squinty mad eyes…the ones that look like daggers). Albeit my heart falling out of my chest and my utter confusion as to why I even fell in love with this man, I decided to make Salmon and Colcannon. 1) because I do actually love him and I very much appreciate his honesty 2) I wanted to make this man happy and 3) we had a big beautiful Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon filet begging to be experimented on.

The taste of the sauce is nothing short of gourmet.

Ingredients:

Salmon

  • 2 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 2 LB Salmon Filet (skin on)
  • 1/4 cup diced garlic
  • 1 clove black garlic diced
  • 1/2 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 cup Ripple Half & Half
  • 1 loaf plain Focaccia Bread
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Colcannon:

  • 3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 2-4 TBLS unsated butter
  • 4 cups roughly chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Almond Milk ( my favorite is Califia unsweetened)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Colcannon:

  1. Put potatoes in a large pot to boil, a teaspoon of salt and enough cold water to cover them. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and set them aside in a bowl or you can leave them in the colander —> reserve a quarter cup of the potato water
  3. In the same pot, melt the butter, add the kale, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This should take about 4-5 minutes to wilt. Add green onions for 1 more minute.
  4. Add potatoes and milk to the kale mixture and start mashing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Salmon:

  1. In a large nonstick pan, heat butter on medium high. 
  2. When butter is melted and foamy, add salmon face down to pan. Add garlic. 
  3. Cook salmon for 3 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy and when garlic is fragrant. 
  4. Carefully flip salmon to skin-side down. 
  5. Pour in whiskey and reserved potato water and FLAMBE! Carefully light with a long match or barbeque lighter. The flames will reach about 3 feet high so I do not recommend if you have a small area to work with. 
  6. When whiskey flame has died off turn heat off, push salmon and garlic to one side of the pan and add half & half. Whisk vigorously to incorporate with whiskey. 
  7. Turn heat back to medium high and continue cooking salmon for 3-5 minutes or until opaque, ladling sauce over salmon throughout cooking.
  8. Plate the colcannon and salmon
  9. Remove sauce from heat and let set for about a minute – it will thicken slightly when not over heat. 
  10. Pour sauce over salmon and colcannon and serve immediately with warmed Focaccia bread. (I put slices in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes.)

French Onion Gnocchi

My husband and I have been craving French Onion Soup. It’s one of our go-to side orders at a restaurant. There’s just something about perfectly caramelized onions bathed in a salty, savory and thyme-y broth and then topped with an extra crispy crouton and gooey cheese than brings our hearts happiness. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is an obvious YES. I am that person scraping the outside of that super hot cauldron trying to get every last bit of the crispy brown cheese that overflowed whilst under the broiler. I mean, you can’t waste it!

Since we haven’t been out to eat in some time, I wanted to bring back that good ol’ feeling. French Onion soup is super easy to make, but if you don’t have a favorite recipe, you can follow this one from Gimmie Some Oven.

We had quite a bit left so I ended up making French Onion Gnocchi, which was equally soul soothing and very easy to make. All I did was add the gnocchi to the the onion soup, added some left over mashed potatoes for a more hearty meal, added some spices and viola!

Yummy – In – My – Tummy

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Private Selection Gnocchi
  • 1/2 Cup Mashed Potatoes (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Thyme or 2 springs of fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cayenne Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil (500 degrees)
  2. Bring soup to a low boil. I had around 4 cups of onion soup left and it fit perfectly in a ten inch skillet pan. If you have less soup, just add some water to get to that ratio.
  3. Mix in basil, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne and gnocchi. The gnocchi will need to cook for 3 minutes per packaging instructions.
  4. Mix in potatoes (optional)
  5. Mix the panko and parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of gnocchi.
  6. Pop that pan in the broiler until nice and golden brown
  7. Enjoy!

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Cannelloni

My husband and I started gardening a few years ago. It’s fun playing in the dirt and truth be told, it makes me happy to feed others with the produce we grow.

Last year, my husbands parents gave us some big beautiful Swiss chard leaves that they grew out of their garden. Sometimes I get annoyed because their produce yield is just… way more AMAZING than ours. But we are still learning how to be good gardeners and I’ll always take fresh grown produce free of pesticides.

I couldn’t see the Swiss chard go to waste so I did a quick blanch, and froze them in 6-8 oz. ziplock bags. Think of frozen spinach.

My father-in-law’s 60th birthday was coming up. Pre-covid pandemic, we would have chosen to go all out, find the newest and coolest restaurant, spend way too much money on food and drinks and then maybe have some cocktails at home with a bunch of people or even meet with them at the bars.

But alas, covid. We opted to stay home and have a small gathering instead.

Any way, his parents are new found vegetarians after watching a few food documentaries on Netflix and seeing the the plethora of terrible things meat does to a body. So for dinner, his parents suggested cheese pizza… for his a 60th birthday….

Pizza?! Certainly they had to be kidding. (Humor me and imagine Queen Elizabeth saying the following) “One can not eat pizza on ones 60th birthday”.

Obviously that shit wasn’t happening on my watch. I like to cook and make people happy. So I made a pretty fantastic vegetarian spread. I’ll share the rest of the dishes at a later date.

One of the requests was for pasta. So do you know what I did? I took that big beautiful Swiss chard that his parents grew and graciously gave to us, I stuffed it in some shells and I served it right back at them! It was a crowd pleaser folks. The lemon in the sauce gives it a refreshing twist on a heavy pasta dish. And guess what? No meat. 😎

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. frozen swiss chard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • (2) 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can full of water
  • 2 tsp dried oregano; divided
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon; divided
  • 1 large free-range egg 
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan  
  • (1) 15 oz. jar of ricotta 
  • (1) 8oz box of cannelloni pasta tubes or manicotti pasta tubes
  • 8oz. shredded firm cooking mozzarella

You’ll also need…

  • Large piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large zip lock bag and cut off the tip.
  • 9×15″ baking dish.

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 365°F
  2. Prepare cannelloni filling per directions below.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized deep pot. Add garlic and onion until fragrant.
  4. Add tomatoes, half of the oregano and half of the lemon zest to the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. I don’t care for big chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I used a hand held food processor to blend it a little bit.
  5. Add the lemon juice. Season to taste.
  6. Put a 2-3 scoops of sauce on the bottom of baking dish.

Cannelloni Filling:

  1. Rough chop the swiss chard and add all of the following ingredients into a large food processor. I used my brand new Ninja, and let me tell you, I’m a little annoyed with myself that I didn’t have one of these earlier in life.
  2. Add egg, parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, half of oregano and ricotta. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper
  3. Transfer the mixture to the piping bag and use to fill the cannelloni tubes. Lay the filled tubes in the baking dish.
  4. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the cannelloni.
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella over the tomato sauce, cover with tin foil and bake for 35-40 minutes until sauce is bubbling.
  6. Remove tin foil and broil until you see little brown spots appear on the cheese.
  7. Take out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.