Friday, March 21, 2014

Meatless Friday....Mushroom and Spinach Quesadillas with Green Chili Olive Oil

For those of you observing Lent, this is a quick, tasty and filling dish.  For those of you who simply prefer not eating meat, this works well, too.

I never thought my family would easily adjust to going meatless several times a week, but since the pasta dishes, soups, and veggie meals I have been preparing don't leave them hungry, it has been a relatively easy transition.  Plates once filled with large portions of meat and starches  have been replaced with lighter meals that have fewer calories, fewer fats and fewer carbs.  And that's a good thing.

Mushroom and Spinach Quesadillas with Green Chili Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Joe and Son’s Green Chili Olive Oil*
1 pound sliced mushrooms, cleaned and wiped
½ cup finely diced sweet bell pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 bunch fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
4 ounces of shredded Monterey cheese, divided into 2 ounce portions
4 slices fresh avocado
4 flour tortillas

salt and pepper
Heat the Chili Olive Oil in a large skillet. Raise heat to medium-high. Saute the mushrooms, bell pepper and garlic until tender and liquids have evaporated. Add the thawed corn and heat until the corn is hot.
Add the spinach, stir and toss until the spinach is slightly wilted. Remove from heat.
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Place the tortillas flat on a baking sheet.
Divide 2 ounces of the Monterey Jack cheese among the tortillas and sprinkle on ONLY half of each tortilla.
On each tortilla, top the same half with 1/4 of the vegetable mixture, add a slice of avocado and sprinkle the remaining Monterey cheese over the vegetable topping. Fold over to cover the filling.
Broil (about 2 minutes each side) until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese has melted.
Serve hot.

*I fixed this using the Green Chili Olive Oil; if you feel this would be too hot for your taste feel free to use Joe and Son's Chipotle Olive Oil instead for " strong warmth" rather than "heat".

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pasta with Asparagus and Zucchini

I love, love, love fresh asparagus. Right now it is very easy to find at our local markets so I find myself using it as often as I can in our meals. In our household, we're trying to establish a healthier lifestyle and we're eating more vegetables, more whole grains and less meat.  In fact, we've started "Meatless Mondays" as part of our routine.

Surprisingly enough, the meat eaters in the family have been very cooperative and, in fact, quite enthusiastic about these meals.

Give this one a try; I'm sure your families will enjoy it as well.
Pasta with Asparagus, Zucchini and Ricotta Cheese
1 lb. pasta ( I usually use Penne or Farfalle)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. Joe and Son’s robust intensity Ultra Premium Olive Oil (Picual) 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. ricotta cheese, warmed........ optional
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated black pepper or red pepper flakes

About 1/12 cups of Veloute Sauce prepared with chicken or vegetable stock.*


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender to the bite and drain.
Meanwhile, trim off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut the spears on a sharp diagonal into bite-size pieces.
Finely chop the garlic.
In a large frying pan, add the olive oil; warm to a medium heat. Add the cut asparagus and zucchini slices, sprinkle with the salt, and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until asparagus is just hot through and starting to turn tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about another minute. Add more salt, if you like, but remember, you'll be adding salty Parmesan cheese in just a moment.

Toss the pasta with the asparagus mixture, divide among pasta plates, and top evenly with the ricotta cheese, if you wish, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese

Pour about 1/3 cup of the Veloute Sauce over the pasta and garnish with black pepper or red pepper flakes.

* Veloute Sauce
2 Tablespoons Joe and Son’s Ultra Premium Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon flour
2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Cooking Stock, (I used Swanson’s)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Pour the Olive Oil into a medium sized sauce pan. Warm to a medium heat and add the flour to the oil. Lower the temperature and stir until the mixture is smooth. Gradually add 1 ½ cup of the stock and whisk while adding. Cook over low heat until the liquid becomes a sauce thick enough to coat a spoon. If it is too thick, add the remainder of the cooking stock. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.