Shrimp Scampi with Homemade Fettuccine

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Sunday my friend and I had a great time making homemade pasta together.  Tonight I used some of the pasta and made shrimp scampi for dinner.  Lots of garlic, oil and butter.  Probably not high on the healthy, low calorie meal pyramid.  Definitely not a dish I grew up eating.  As I think about it, I don’t recall ever eating shrimp or other shellfish as a child.  We ate a lot of fresh water fish but no shellfish or ocean fish except an occasional cod filet at a Friday fish fry.  I remember one time when my parents went out to dinner for what must have been a special occasion.  One of them had ordered lobster for dinner and they brought home the lobster shell to show us.  I remember being fascinated and a little repulsed and wondered how someone could possibly eat that creature!

Scampi is an easy dish to prepare and it doesn’t take a lot of time.  Even if you didn’t make your own pasta I hope you’ll try this.

Ingredients:

1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup olive oil

5 T unsalted butter

4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

2 shallots finedly diced

juice and zest of one lemon

1/4 cup of minced parsley

1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)

red pepper flakes

salt to taste

pasta of your choosing

fresh grated asiago or parmesan cheese for serving

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This dish comes together pretty quickly so prepping all the ingredients before hand is important.  Press or mince the garlic and dice the shallots.

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Juice and zest the lemon.  Mince the parsley.

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Put a pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil for cooking your pasta.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer cook your shrimp.   Cook in batches to avoid crowding them in your pan.  Cook the shrimp until they start to turn pink, then turn them.  Once cooked, they only take a minute, set them aside on a plate.

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Add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flake to the oil.  Cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the white wine or broth.  Simmer for 2 minutes.

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Add the butter until it melts into the garlic and shallot oil.

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Once the butter has melted stir in the parsley, lemon juice and zest, and return the shrimp to the skillet.  Remove from the heat and set aside until the pasta has finished cooking.

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Cook the pasta until it is al dente.  Reserve some of the pasta water before draining in a colander.

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Return the pasta to the kettle or put it into a large serving bowl.  Add the shrimp scampi to the pasta and gently toss.  If additional liquid is necessary add in some of the reserved pasta water.  Serve immediately with some fresh grated cheese.

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Serve with a salad and a nice glass of wine.  If you’d prefer skip the pasta and serve the scampi with a baked potato and a vegetable.

NOTE:  I cooked the shrimp in a cast iron pan and there was a lot of oil splatter on my stove.  I’m not a big fan of cleaning greasy messes so next time I will do the scampi in my dutch oven.  A deeper dish will help to minimize the splatter.  It’s also important to pat the shrimp dry with paper towel before frying.

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Pasta Dough

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It was a Sunday of dueling pasta machines!  My dear friend Jane and I decided to make homemade pasta.  We both have pasta machines but are both seriously amateur pasta makers.  We made three different pasta dough recipes and decided on a favorite.  They all tasted great.  One was just a little easier to work with.  It’s a messy job for sure and you have to be patient.  We had flour everywhere and little bits of pasta all over the floor but toward the end of the day we were feeling a real sense of mastery!  We made ravioli and had them for dinner.  It was amazing if I say so myself.

I’ll share a couple of the recipes.  The one we used for our ravioli and the one that was our favorite.  The two main ingredients in every recipe are flour and eggs.

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Ravoili Pasta Ingredients:

2 cups AP flour

1 tsp salt

3 large eggs plus 1 egg for egg wash

2 T olive oil

We used a mixer with a dough hook for this recipe.  Mix the flour and the salt.  With the mixer running add the eggs, one at a time.  Slowly add 1 T of the olive oil and continue to combine until the dough forms a ball.  Knead the dough on a floured surface until it becomes smooth and elastic.  About ten minues.  Divide into two balls and brush the surface of each ball with the remaining 1 T of olive oil.  Wrap in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for at least thirty minutes.

Once the dough has rested start working your pasta machine.  The dough has to be run through nearly a dozen times.  Until it is nearly paper thin.

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Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup spinach wilted in a little olive oil over medium heat

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

lemon zest

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Allow the spinach to cool.  Blend the ingredients together in a food processor.  Put heaping teaspoons of filling about two inches apart on half a sheet of dough that has been brushed with an egg wash.  Fold the second half of the dough over like a blanket.  Using a pie crimper and a fork (it’s all we had) cut and seal each ravioli.  Put the completed ravioli on a baking sheet covered in parchment and lightly dusted with flour.  Set aside and allow them to dry slightly before cooking.

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Bring a pot of salted water to a slow boil.  Cook the ravioli for a couple minutes after they float to the top.  If you have to cook in batches to prevent overcrowding keep the first batch warm.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with the sauce of your choice.

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We served ours with a red sauce with spinach and sweet Italian sausage.  It was amazing.

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The second pasta dough recipe called for cake flour.  Interesting.  We made fettuccine and spaghetti noodles with this dough.  It was the easiest dough to work with.  It had more elasticity and went through the pasta machine with less difficulty.  Or maybe we were just getting a little better at the whole process.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 tsp salt

5 eggs

1 T olive oil

We prepared this dough in the food processor.

Pulse the dry ingredients together to combine.  Whisk the eggs and olive oil together.  While the processor is running slowly add the eggs to the dry ingredients and continue running until the dough forms a ball.  Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Divide the dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rest at least 15 minutes before running it through the pasta maker.

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Run the dough through the pasta maker 10-12 times dusting the dough with flour and folding each time.  Adjust the thickness down every couple of passes.  We decided to make spaghetti and fettuccine so after allowing the sheets to rest for 30 minutes we ran them through the cutting attachment.  Hang the pasta on a drying rack or cook immediately.  We had already enjoyed a dinner of ravioli so we dried our pasta.  That drying rack in the laundry room now has a second function!

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Pasta making 101.  We learned a lot!  And we had an absolutely wonderful time doing it.  We are no longer amateurs.  We are now pasta mavens!

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Most people think of Fried Green Tomatoes as a southern dish.  When you google fried green tomatoes it says “people also searched for pimento cheese, grits, shrimp and grits, po’boy, tomatillo, hushpuppy, tomato pie.”  Most of those are pretty southern.  Years ago there was a movie called “Fried Green Tomatoes” starring Kathy Bates, Cicely Tyson, and Jessica Tandy.  Our neighbor said he never thought he’d like fried green tomatoes until he saw the movie.  He ate mine and loved them.  The guy at the farm stand told me that the green tomatoes sell as soon as he puts them out.  Apparently a lot of people like them.  We didn’t have a garden this year but a friend did and gave me some to fry up.

Ingredients:

Oil for deep frying (I used peanut oil)

Green tomatoes sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 cup flour

3-4 eggs beaten

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

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Slice the tomatoes and spread them out on a paper towel lined dish.  Salt them on both sides and allow them to sit for at least 10 minutes.

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Find 3 bowls suitable for dipping.  Put the flour, paprika and cayenne in one, beaten eggs in another and panko in the third.

Heat the oil in your deep fryer or dutch oven to 350 degrees.

Dredge the tomato slices first in the seasoned flour, then the egg, and lastly the panko shaking off any excess before putting it in the hot oil.  Cook two or three slices at a time taking care not to crowd them.  Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Hold in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve.

I made the same Chilpotle Lime Dip that I used for my homemade potato chips (see April 11, 2015 post) to serve with the tomatoes.  You could also serve them with a good ranch dressing or even catsup.

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 T chilpotle peppers in adobo chopped well

Juice and zest of one lime

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Probably not the healthiest way to eat your vegetables…well technically tomatoes are a fruit…but occasionally they taste awful good.  How can anything deep fried taste bad??

Maybe we should all watch the movie again.

 

 

Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes and Rice

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Andouilli is a smoked sausage made from pork and seasoned with garlic, peppers, onion, and seasonings.  A little spicy.   It’s very common in Louisiana Creole cuisine.  The organic meat market where I purchase all of my meat makes an especially good andouilli.

One pot dishes are always a treat after a long day when you don’t have a lot of time to put a homemade meal on the table.  This is a tasty dish that’s a little kicked up (you can kick it up a little more if you’d like).  Some of the kick comes from the andouilli sausage.  You can prep and cook this dish in less than an hour.  A little bit of New Orleans on your table and only one pan to wash.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion rough chopped

1 cup rough chopped pepper (I used an orange bell pepper and a poblano)

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

4 links adouille sausage (a little under one pound)

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp coarse ground black  pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 pint diced tomatoes

1 T tomato pastee

1 T Franks Hot Sauce

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Heat the olive oil in a heavy fry pan or Dutch oven.  Dice the onion and peppers, mince the garlic and slice the sausage links.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

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Measure out the spices and add to the sausage and vegetables along with the rice.

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Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and Franks.

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Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the pan to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir and serve.

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I served it with some steamed asparagus and a wedge of buttermilk cornbread.  I’ve always been a little wimpy about spice but my palate is adjusting.  I loved this dish.

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If you’d like, you can add some shrimp to this dish.  After the first 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the shrimp, cover, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

NOTE:  I have mentioned this before but recipes always call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.  I open both ends of a small can of tomato paste and put the can in the freezer for an hour or so.  Once the paste has firmed up push it out of the can, slice it and freeze individual slices in snack bags.  You always have just the right amount of tomato paste at the ready.

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Southern Style Green Beans

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Might not be the healthiest green beans but they are really yummy.  Good things happen when you add bacon to things.  My daughter always says, evereything is better with butter and bacon.  I think I agree.  I got this recipe from an old friend who no longer speaks to me.  Glad she shared the recipe before she stopped talking to  me.  There are loads of fresh green beans available right now and this makes a perfect side to almost any main dish.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green beans cut into 2-3 inch pieces

4 slices of bacon diced

1 medium sweet onion diced

1 T reserved bacon drippings

2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 cup water

1 T brown sugar

1 T cider vinegar

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Steam green beans just until tender.  If you have someone in your family who likes their green beans overcooked, keep steaming until you consider them done.  Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Drain and reserve about 1 T of bacon drippings.

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Cook diced onion in the reserved drippings until tender but not browned.

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Whisk together cornstarch, salt, mustard and water.  Stir into the onions and simmer until thickened.  Happens quickly.

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Stir in brown sugar and vinegar.

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Add the steamed green beans and heat thoroughly.

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Top with bacon bits and serve immediately.

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I served the green beans with lightly breaded and baked lake trout but these would be excellent with pork chops, meat loaf, fried chicken.

NOTE:  My mother always saved bacon drippings in a metal container that said
“GREASE” on it.  She kept it in the cupboard, unrefrigerated.  It had a kind of basting brush in the container and she would brush the top of fresh baked bread with it, grease baking casseroles, etc.  All of the savory dishes we use PAM for she used her container of bacon grease.  And we all lived to tell about it.  I still save bacon drippings and use them frequently to saute onions and other veggies.  However, I keep my bacon drippings in the refrigerator.

 

Salsa

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I’ve been doing a lot of canning this last month.  I did a bushel of beets (now pickled) and a bushel of cucumbers (now bread and butter and dill pickles).  image

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I put up 2 1/2 bushels of tomatoes.  Some just plain diced tomatoes, some stewed tomatoes, and, this year, salsa.  Nothing is better than a winter of making chili or tomatoe sauce or soup with tomatoes that you canned yourself.  And we enjoy a lot of tomato dishes.  Salsa was a new experiment this year and, if I say so myself, it turned out quite well.

Ingredients:

15 cups diced tomatoes

1 each red, yellow and orange pepper small diced

1/2 each of a red, white, and sweet yellow onion small diced

3 jalapeno peppers seeded and small diced (use the seeds if you like a spicier salsa)

2 serrano peppers seeded and small diced

2 anaheim peppers seeded and small diced

1 1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 T salt

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Core the tomatoes, put them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to split and loosen the skin and transfer them to an ice water bath.

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Peel and dice the tomatoes.

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Wash, core and dice the peppers and peel and dice the onions.

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Combine the tomatoes and onion and pepper mix in a heavy, non-aluminum kettle.  Add the salt and vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occastionlly.

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Put the salsa in sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth.  Put the a lid on each jar and process in a hot water bath canner for 25 minutes.

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Remove jars from the water bath, place on a heavy towel and allow to cool.  Wait 24 hours and test each jar to be sure it has sealed by pressing down on the lid.

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The “heat” level may increase over time.  I like medium salsa.  If you like yours hotter don’t seed the peppers and/or add additional hot peppers.  We ate some of the salsa while it was still warm on tortilla chips and later on tacos.  It was great!  I haven’t tried this yet but I’m thinking a jar of this salsa would be a perfect addition to a pot of chili.

Pork Tenderloin

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Pork tenderloin is one of our favorite pork dishes.  It’s relatively easy to prepare and, when done properly, is extremely tender.  The  small loins I get from my favorite organic market are perfect for the two of us with a little left over.  It tastes awesome cold and thin sliced the next day.  I’m always happy when no one requests additional seasoning or sauce.  None was necessary for this dish.

Ingredients:

Pork loin (mine was a little over one pound)

1 red bell pepper sliced thin

1 sweet yellow onion sliced thin

1 cup baby portabellas rough chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic sliced thin

1 T rosemary

1 T thyme

1 T course ground pepper

1 T course sea salt or kosher salt

2 T olive oil

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Preheat oven to 325.

Slice onion and pepper and rough chop mushrooms.  Heat 1 T oil in a cast iron pan or dutch oven.  Cook vegetables over medium heat until tender.   About 5 minutes.

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Slice garlic cloves.  Combine rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt and mix together.

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Add garlic to the other vegetables and cook until fragrant.  Another minute or so.  Remove vegetables to a plate.  Rub the pork loin with the other tablespoon of oil and coat both sides of the loin with the spice mix.  Heat the skillet over high heat and sear the loin on both sides.

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Remove the loin from the pan and return the vegetables to the skillet.  Place the loin atop the vegetables and put the pan in the oven.  Heat to 160 degrees.

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Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice and serve on top of a generous spoonful of the vegetables.

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I served the pork loin with potatoes mashed with goat cheese and fresh spinach wilted with garlic and red pepper flakes.  The pork is also excellent served with smashed sweet potatoes.  Enjoy!  We did.

Chicken Cacciatore

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I recently picked up a Step by Step Italian Recipes magazine by America’s Test Kitchen and came upon a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore. Prepared the proper Italian way. I’ve made Chicken Cacciatore for years and years but a bit differently than the Test Kitchens. So I thought I’d try their recipe to see which we liked better. I’m always about changing things up.

Ingredients:

6-8 bone in chicken thighs (I used 2 thighs, 2 legs)

salt and pepper

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

3 portobello mushroom caps cubed (I used baby Bellas)

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 T AP flour

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes drained

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 Parmesan cheese rind

2 tsp minced fresh thyme and 2 tsp minced fresh sage (I used basil)

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Heat oil in a Dutch oven to shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until browned. About 4 minutes per side.

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Remove the chicken to a plate and drain off all but about a tablespoon of the drippings. Add the vegetables and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender. (I also added a sweet orange bell pepper.). Season with salt.

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Add minced garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute stirring constantly.

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Add the wine scraping up browned bits. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper.

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Remove the skin from the chicken and submerge the chicken into the gravy as well as the Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45-60 minutes.

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Discard the rind before serving. Taste the gravy and season to taste. Serve over the pasta of your choosing.

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I served it over spaghetti with grated asiago. It was good. But the consensus at our house was the not-authentic cacciatore is better. Sorry Test Kitchen.

Cook the chicken the same as referenced above. The way I’ve always made the gravy for cacciatore begins with dicing 5-6 slices of bacon. I cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered but the bacon isn’t crisp. Drain off most of the fat and cook the vegetables (mushrooms, onion, and peppers) until tender.  Add the garlic and basil.  Cook until fragrant. Stir in 1 T of tomato paste. Stir in 1/2 cup of dry red wine scraping up any browned bits.  Stir in 1 quart of tomatoes. Add the bacon, Parmesan rind, and submerge the chicken into the gravy. Cook 45-60 minutes.   Serve over the pasta of your choosing.

You see the difference. A lot more tomato, a lot less wine. And bacon. My daughter says everything is better with bacon. And in this recipe I agree.

Try it both ways. Try it somewhere in between. Cooking is all about experimenting with recipes until you find something that tastes great to you.

Let me know what you think.

Succotash Reinvented

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Succotash consists primarily of sweet corn and Lima beans.  Mostly Lima beans.  Frequently when we would visit my mother-in-law  she would say, “I made your favorite!  Lima beans.”  But Lima beans really are not a favorite at our house. We’ve been out of town for several days and I was looking in the fridge for something to make for a side dish.   I had a few ears of fresh corn from a cookout we had before we left, a poblano pepper, and some asparagus so I decided to reinvent succotash to suit our palates.

Ingredients:

4 ears of fresh corn cut off the cob

1 bunch of asparagus spears chopped

1 poblano pepper seeded and rough chopped

1/2 cup of red onion rough chopped

good drizzle of olive oil

salt and coarse black pepper to taste

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Preheat your broiler.

Toss all of the ingredients together and spread out on a baking sheet covered in foil. Drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of cracked pepper and salt to taste.

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Broil for 15-20 minutes stirring a couple times. Cook until you have a little char on the vegetables.

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Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Tonight we had smoked pork chops, smashed cauliflower and the succotash.

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The succotash would be good with red or orange bell peppers, fresh green beans, or, if you like, Lima beans. Enjoy.