Tuesday, March 26, 2013

spring greens with homemade vinaigrette

to celebrate spring, the folks at food network have transitioned from our weekly comfort food feast recipe roundup to a spring themed event called "sensational sides mixed with spring produce".  the objective is to write about spring produce but to give us a bit of flexibility to account for regional differences in the growing season. 

i have never been more aware of these differences then this year when i moved to taos, new mexico.  how spoiled i was living my entire life in california.  there, by now, many of my favorite spring vegetables are popping up in markets.  roadside stands are beginning to open..  i was in southern california last week and the seal beach strawberry patch is selling beautiful, sweet, delicious local berries.  in taos, the snow has just melted and everywhere you look it is brown...dirt, grass, trees...nothing is greening up yet.  so, shopping locally is much, much more of a challenge.

happily, there is a year round farmer's market called red willow farm which is a cooperative of growers from the pueblo.  they use a system of heating greenhouses to grow their produce throughout the winter.  this means i can get local, organic greens even when the temperatures are below zero.  it is a challenge to buy/eat locally in the winter...but, happily, not impossible.  read more about red willow growers here. 

i love greens and eat them all year.  i try to live by the mantra of "only in season...only local" produce. one of my pet peeves is when people buy truly great salad ingredients and then dress them with horrible dressings filled with inferior ingredients and preservatives. when was the last time you read the label of most commercial bottled dressings? making your own is so easy and only requires 4 steps:

1. put your favorite vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar
2. screw on lid and shake away
3. add to salad
4. eat and enjoy

meyer lemon vinaigrette
it really is that easy. buy a mason jar at the market...even better and "greener"...reuse a jam/jelly or any other screw top jar. plan to make small quantities, just enough to use that night. keep the best-quality-you-can find/afford extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mustard and seasonings in your pantry and experiment with your oil to vinegar ratios. there really is no "wrong" way. it is just a matter of personal preference. for example, most recipes call for 3-4 times oil to vinegar. i adore vinegar so my recipes are more 2-1. (for oil and balsamic vinegar vinaigrette i use 50-50!) but that is me. the simplest recipe and the one i use the most is equal parts extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar, with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.  i have a huge collection of vinegars so i sometime switch out the balsamic with red wine, champagne, sherry, rice or apple cider vinegar. (oh...and since this blog is about spicy foods...try adding minced jalapeno to the meyer lemon vinaigrette...wonderful! otherwise, these greens can help cool down the hottest foods)

balsamic & mustard vinaigrette
1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
place all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar. cover tightly and shake until well blended. store remaining vinaigrette in refrigerator. bring to room temperature before using to allow oil to mix with other ingredients.

meyer lemon vinaigrette
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar or sparkling wine vinegar
1 tsp meyer lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
try these on your favorite salads. use whatever greens you have on hand.  i like to mix salad greens with spinach, baby kale, chopped chard or other "dark" greens for added nutrients and flavor. dress lightly..toss..season..enjoy! and eat more salad.
do you already make your own salad dressings? if so, please share your recipes in the comments section of this post..

it is "things found in the pantry" week at food network's "sensational sides mixed with spring produce" . check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends:
Feed Me Phoebe: Tropical Trail Mix With Ginger and Coconut The Cultural Dish: Green Bean Salad
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Easy Roasted Tomatoes and Spring Asparagus
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pizza With Kale-Walnut Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pickled Garlic
Red or Green?: Spring Greens With Homemade Vinaigrette
The Sensitive Epicure: Pasta alla Ghetto Fabuloso (Gluten-Free and Milk-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Haute Apple Pie: Broccoli Cheesy Rice
Made By Michelle: Broccoli Quiche With Homemade Bisquick
FN Dish: Pantry-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Side Dish Recipes

my best,
red or green
napa farmhouse 1885

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i have started sharing my taos experiences on my newest blog "california girl in taos". please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

spicy italian sausage & peppers pasta

when i was growing up italian sausage and peppers were a favorite treat. frequently, when my sisters and i spent the weekend at my grandparent's home, my grandmother would take us to an italian deli called claros after church on sundays. we usually ordered hot italian sausage and peppers sandwiches for lunch...and i have an aunt (last name donatelli) who makes grilled sausage, onions and peppers as an appetizer for most family parties. i thought creating a pasta dish out of these ingredients would be a delicious idea.

when i learned it is "comforting pasta" week at food network's comfort food feast i decided this would be the perfect recipe to share as it serves up family memories along with the pasta.  what is more comforting than that?  gran...aunt linda...beloved family...this is for you.

spicy italian sausage & peppers pasta
1 lb hot italian sausage (use mild if you prefer)
1 yellow onion, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
1 green pepper and 1 red pepper, both cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
4 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb fusilli (or any short pasta you like)
kosher salt
grey salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp good balsamic pepper
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

cut sausage into 1 inch pieces and remove casing. saute in large skillet for 5 minutes. drain. add onion and saute an additional 5 minutes. pour off any drippings but do not scrape pan. add 2 tbsp olive oil and the peppers and cook uncovered for approximately ten minutes until sausage is cooked through. add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic softens..do not let garlic burn... scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan..(note, if you use hot italian sausage and the red pepper flakes, this dish will be very spicy..which i love...if you do not, either use mild sausage, or eliminate the pepper flakes...)
meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. generously salt water with the kosher salt (water should taste a bit like sea water) and add the pasta. cook fusilli until al dente (firm to the bite)...start checking after 10 minutes. when pasta is ready, remove from pot with strainer and add to sausage pan. add 1/2 cup pasta water, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. stir to combine. turn off heat, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, stir, taste and correct seasonings if needed. serve immediately with plenty of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese..
do you have a favorite pasta recipe you would like featured? feel free to post or link in the comments section of this post. and please check out my cheddar cheese and roasted garlic version over at my sister blog napa farmhouse 1885.

it is "comforting pasta" week at food network's "comfort food feast". check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends:
The Cultural Dish: Pasta Carbonara
The Sensitive Epicure: Individual Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese (Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free)
Feed Me Phoebe: Green Eggs and Ham: Pasta Carbonara With Zucchini and Crispy Prosciutto
Red or Green?: Spicy Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pasta With Apple-Sage Sausage, White Beans and Greens
Jeanette's Healthy Living: A Healthier Crock-Pot Meat Lovers Pasta Sauce
Dishin & Dishes: Skillet Gnocchi
The Heritage Cook: Macaroni and Cheese for Everyone
Devour: Low-Key Lasagna
Virtually Homemade: Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese With Crispy Bacon
Cooking With Elise: Scallops and Linguini
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Swiss Chard Lasagna
And Love It Too: Baked Spaghetti With Zucchini Noodles
FN Dish: The Most Satisfying Pasta Dishes

i have started sharing my taos experiences on my newest blog "california girl in taos". please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

grilled cheese sandwiches, red or green? style

i love the ooey, gooey dripping cheese!
i am often asked why this blog is called red or green?  a few people have emailed me and asked why they need to choose.  you don't...that is the whole point of the name.  i am currently living in taos, new mexico.  this means i frequently get to enjoy new mexican cuisine which is based on cooking with chiles.  there are two famous options...a red chile sauce and a green chile sauce. (see my recipe for red chile and another for stacked cheese enchiladas covered with the red sauce).  both chiles are delicious and when you order in a restaurant you are given the choice...red or green?  and then there is my favorite option..."christmas" which means you want both.

this is grilled cheese week at food network's comfort food feast and i decided to share my red or green? version.  i use sourdough bread (my homage to my beloved bay area of california), sharp cheddar cheese studded with new mexican green chile and a spread made with mayonnaise and smokey chipotle peppers.  warm, spicy, crunchy, melting bites of deliciousness.   comfort food at its best.

grilled cheese sandwiches are more of a technique than a recipe.  you should customize them to your liking.  use as much or as little cheese as you like.  whatever bread you want.  grilled or panini style?  i am sharing the way i make mine....share your favorites on facebook or in the comments section of this post and please check out my sharp cheddar and grilled onions version over at my sister blog napa farmhouse 1885.

red or green? grilled cheese sandwiches
for each sandwich:
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
softened butter
2 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup coarsely grated green chile cheddar cheese (or 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese and 2 tsp diced green  new mexican chiles)

heat skillet or grill pan(my preference) over medium high heatin a small bowl, combine mayo and chipotles.  set aside.  spread 1 side of both slices of bread with butter.  spread the mayo mixture on the other side of each slice.  place 1 slice of bread butter side down in the skillet.  mound the cheese on top of the mayo side.  top with the second slice mayo side down.  grill for 3.- 4 minutes, or until bread is nicely toasted with deep grill marks (if using grill pan) and cheese is melted.  flip sandwich and grill second side until golden brown.  remove from heat, slice and serve immediately.

*note...i love adding slices of heirloom tomatoes in season to this sandwich.  other add-ins....greens, grilled onions, bacon, ham, grilled eggplant or whatever you like.

it is grilled cheese sandwich week at food network's "comfort food feast". check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends:
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Grilled Cheese With Kale Artichoke Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Cooking With Elise: Inside-Out Grilled Cheese With Bacon
Red or Green?: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Red or Green-Style Napa Farmhouse 1885: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches Weelicious: Kentucky Hot Brown Panini
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Cheddar, Apple and Arugula Sandwich
The Sensitive Epicure: Individual Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese (Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free)
Devour: Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
Thursday Night Dinner: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
The Heritage Cook: Open Faced Grilled Halloumi Sandwiches
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Muhammara Grilled Cheese
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Jarlsberg and Black Forest Ham With a Surprise
FN Dish: Grilled Cheese Goes Beyond Cheese
Feed Me Phoebe: Mexi Grilled Cheese With Avocado, Pepper Jack and Refried Black Beans

i have started sharing my taos experiences on my newest blog "california girl in taos". please visit and let me know what you think.