Zucchini Noodles & Shrimp in Sweet Potato-Red Pepper Sauce

Zucchini Noodles with Sweet Potato Red Pepper Sauce

I am SO in love with the new spiralizer I got for Christmas! (It’s this fancy-pants Paderno 4-blade variety… kind of complicated to put together at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great.) I’m about to spiralize everything up in this kitchen. Well, within reason.

Obviously, one of the best things to do with a spiralizer is to make faux-noodles. I’ve been trolling Pinterest for some spiralizer inspiration and I happened upon this recipe from Shape. Instead of heavy dairy, it uses puréed sweet potatoes to make a creamy, thick sauce. (Thankfully I also received a shiny new Cuisinart food processor at Christmas this year!)

The original recipe also uses spiralized sweet potatoes to make the “noodles” and while I love me a sweet potato, this was a little too… overly sweet potatoey for my liking, so I subbed zucchini for that component. So technically you can call them “zoodles” but I haven’t fully given into that terminology yet. I also added some shrimp for protein, it went really well with the rest of the flavors and textures. If you’re trying to keep things vegetarian/vegan, you could omit the shrimp and add some firm tofu.

This meal was SO filling and satisfying while also managing to be extremely healthy and low calorie. Rob and I split this entire recipe, and I was wondering if it’s unhealthy/weird for adults to eat 1.5 zucchinis each in a single sitting, but I guess that’s just #spiralizerlife.

Sautéed Zucchini Noodles & Shrimp in Sweet Potato-Red Pepper Sauce

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Endless Ice Cream: Asparagus

While at the farmers market recently, I came across a big booth of super fresh local asparagus. I knew it was destined for ice cream.

Most of the ice creams I make are a custard (egg) base, but I thought it would be too heavy for such a light, crisp flavor. I figured this would be the right time to try out Jeni Britton Bauer’s method of ice cream making. You may already be familiar with Jeni: on top of running 8 ice cream shops in Ohio, she also published an amazing compendium of her ice creams, and, oh, also was a James Beard Award recipient this year. Her method involves 3 bowls: a slurry in one, the salt and cream cheese in another, an ice bath in the third. You then boil the milk, cream, sugar and syrup for 4 minutes. The slurry is whisked in and returned to a boil. The hot milk gets whisked into the cream cheese, then everything goes into a big Ziplock bag and gets plunged into an ice bath. Then comes churning, freezing, and eating. Sound like a science experiment to you? That’s kinda how it felt.

By time I had finished with this my kitchen looked like a tornado had ripped through it. The clean-up was pretty intense. And as for the taste? Well, it depends on whether or not you like asparagus. I had 16 people taste this ice cream and asked their opinions. Without fail, every person who liked asparagus loved this ice cream. The two people that did not like the ice cream didn’t like asparagus anyway. So if you are not a lover of asparagus, this is not the recipe to change your mind. If you do love asparagus, get ready for one of the creamiest, freshest, sweet and pleasantly crisp ice creams you will ever taste.

Asparagus Ice Cream

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

This tender spring veggie is celebrated in festivals across the country this time of year, but even if you can’t attend one of the many super exciting events honoring these green stalks, you can buy some really fresh right now at most farmers markets and have your own party. Asparagus is made up of vitamins E, A, and C, folate for a healthy heart and cell regeneration, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, fresh and locally grown asparagus just tastes way better than store-bought, although with the price of sand. Smart Tip: Genius neo-chef and farmer Dan Barber warns that you should blanch your farmers market asparagus before using to get it fully clean.

Just so happened my mom was having a vegan dinner party this weekend, so I offered up this dish — my tribute to the asparagus gods — and it was a hit.

Savory Citrus Roasted Asparagus with Tofu

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Friday Fuck Up: Ricotta, Don’t Fail Me Now!

Yes, I realize this is a gorgeous plate of pasta. Whole wheat noodles, swirling high, bombarded with thick rods of asparagus and topped with green garlic and grated parm. But what are those darn clumps of white? Fucking ricotta.

I bought a tub of ricotta from the far mar (although you can apparently make ricotta yourself) for my strawberry ricotta sticks, and wanted to use the rest of it up quick. I thought a creamy ricotta based sauce would be fantastic for my spring pasta medley. Well, ricotta doesn’t really melt. Or smooth out. Or blend in. It just kinda forms into these lumps of cheese. I tried to let it absorb in the pasta cooking water. I added more butter than I care to admit. And still nothing. Blobs of ricotta.

The meal in its entirety still tasted good, but not what I had envisioned. Is it even possible to turn ricotta into a sauce? Please help me not fuck up again!

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Avoid Your Mother (Sauces)

Don’t worry about not mastering the French or Chinese Mother Sauces, you can easily create a creamy and tangy dressing from a few items in your fridge. In an I-need-to-make-dinner-in-30 minutes attempt last night, I buzzed around mustard, tahini, horseradish, hot sauce, manchego, oil, the slightly-cooled pasta cooking water, salt and pepper for a quick sauce on top of Israeli couscous with asparagus, almonds, avocado and green garlic.

The sauce turned out really well and I sourced it all from some hidden gems just in my fridge. Here are some more ideas on how to get the most from all those jars taking up shelf space.

5 Fridge Finds for Better Sauces

1. Mustard

Mustard makes everything better. It adds a creamy texture and a zingy flavor. And just like the New Kids On the Block, there’s a member of the mustard family out there for everyone. We usually keep a  dirty (aka spicy or brown) mustard, a grainy (with mustard seeds) dijon mustard and have recently purchased the British nose-stinger Coleman’s. Each has a unique flavor that can match lots of cuisines. And I’m currently in the market for a super hot Chinese mustard (suggestions welcome), maybe as a coating for eggplant?

2. Tahini

My dad is the only person I know that makes (veggie-filled) hummus on a weekly basis. Most people let their sesame paste sit until the next infrequent hummus affair. Tahini brings depth and thickness, and almost has a raw nut butter flavor. It plays well with plenty of other items, easily blending into a sauce with lemon and cumin, miso and cilantro, or feta and scallions.

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Welcome Spring’s Simplicity

The cooking is easy this time of year. Spring offers much less variety than summer, which almost eliminates tough decision making at the farmers’ market. For me, I had to decide between buying three or four bundles of asparagus. In the summer it’ll be the a much more difficult choice of Japanese eggplants or pattypan squashes. I opted for three bundles and by Sunday night, two have been used.

I’ll know better next week.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Open Omelet

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