Saffron Chicken Veggie Soup

Can we talk about seasoning?

I am a firm believer that quality ingredients make or break a meal. If your recipe only has 3 or 4 ingredients they better be the very best you can afford/find. However many a dish made with wonderful ingredients will fall flat because it isn’t seasoned well. By seasoning I am talking about just salt and pepper. And really I am mostly talking about salt.

Supposedly restaurant food tastes so much better than food prepared at home because the chef is well versed in this art of seasoning. I think this is also why people think I am a good cook- I use A LOT of salt. Have you ever watched Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell? She uses fistfulls of salt. Particularly in her bolognese sauce. Look it up.

You can’t know if food is seasoned well with out tasting it. This is something that restaurant chefs do all the time- taste, taste, and taste again. It is also a habit I have developed. In making this soup I tasted the broth over 10 times (well I lost track at 10). Each time I tasted it I adjusted the seasonings a bit. Since this recipe has potatoes it needs quite a bit of salt. Use it liberally and taste often. You should never need to add salt to food on the table. Not at a restaurant and not at home.

Saffron chicken veggie soup

Now that we are clear about how much salt I believe we should use lets talk about spices. While most of my recipes have short spice lists I love a good curry with a 14 spice ingredient list as much as the next person. Spices are awesome but should never be used to mask low quality ingredients. Always use the very best (spices and ingredients) you can afford/find.  One way I cut back on how much we spend on food is I don’t really buy a lot of meat. The meat I do buy I use to its fullest extent. We BBQed two chickens on Sunday and I literally ate them all week and is the chicken I used in this recipe too. I split the roast chicken with my sister and total we have had somewhere on the order of 20+ servings over six different recipes. Booyah.

Back to spices though. Spices can elevate what is a very simple recipe (chicken soup with veggies) in to something quite special and decadent. Saffron and chicken are a classic combination. The tiny, albeit expensive, amount of saffron in this recipe shines through and elevates an ordinary dinner in to something I wouldn’t be ashamed to put on a restaurant menu. If I ever do have a restaurant. A girl has got dream right?

So are we on the same page? Use great ingredients. Taste, taste, taste. Salt liberally. Use spices to kick things up a notch.

Awesome.

Saffron chicken veggie soup

Saffron Chicken Veggie Soup (serves 8)
wildly adapted from Epicurious

3 tablespoons butter
1 chopped onion
3 diced peeled carrots
5  diced celery stalks
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 small package frozen corn kernels
4-5 medium waxy potatoes (such as red or yukon)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (like from leftover BBQ chicken)
10 ish cups chicken stock

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, shredded chicken and saffron and bring to boil. Taste for season and salt as needed. Reduce heat; simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn and cook till all veggies are fork tender.

Chili relleno casserole

I have an incredible weakness for Mexican food. I love good authentic Mexican food. In fact, when I traveled to Mexico for work a few years ago, I ate at the street carts two blocks from my hotel instead of at a real restaurant. The food was unbelievably good and so cheap. It was fresh and hot and perfectly seasoned. The food vendors got such a kick out of the gringa, who could speak Spanish, patronizing their little stand day after day. It was some of the best food I have ever had.

Mexican restaurants around here tend to fall into two categories- tex mex fast food ish or we-serve-tasteless-rice-and-beans-and greasy-food type restaurant. While I will gladly eat at Chipotle five days a week it does little to satisfy the craving for good non-greasy hearty Mexican food. There was a teeny tiny hole in the wall taco stand that used to be amazing but as they bettered their restaurant they let their food standards slip.

roasted aneheim chilies for a chili relleno casserole

So I have been eating lots of Chipotle these days and wishing I could transplant one of those tiny taco stands from Mexico City into my backyard. And then I ran across the recipe I am sharing today. It was the perfect storm- I either knew immediately where to get all the ingredients or I already had them all in my fridge, I had time to cook, and I NEEDED good hearty food. Peppers are still plentiful at the market stands around here so I was even able to score some local Anaheim chilies.

The only down side to this recipe was it didn’t make enough. It made a tiny 8×11 pan, which I could have eaten all by myself. But nooooo…. I had three boys in my house, in addition to my sister and me, and this was devoured in 3.2 seconds flat. Does this happen to anyone else? You make something you feel ok about and it lasts for weeks. You make something you want to keep all to yourself and devour while watching Downton Abbey under a blanket and everyone else eats it up. Sigh.

I’m glad it was shared and enjoyed though. At least when I reminisce about it I will have four other witness who will agree that this is quite possibly the best dish I have ever made.

chili relleno casserole

 Chili Relleno Casserole (barely feeds 5 if you include hungry boys)
6 Anaheim chilies
3 eggs
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sour cream
1 3 oz can of sliced black olives
12 oz Mexican blend cheese< 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used leftover bbq chicken)
1 can/packet green enchilada sauce (I used this sauce as it didn’t have artificial ingredients)

chili relleno casserole

Rinse chilies and place on a baking sheet covered in foil. Move oven rack to very top of oven and broil chilies for about 5 minutes on each side or until skin is blackened. Remove from oven and place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove chilies. Skin and remove veins and seeds. Cut into strips. Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine eggs, flour, sour cream, olives, salt and pepper to taste then mix thoroughly. Coat a baking dish with butter. Start layering the casserole using 1/2 of the ingredients- first chilies. then eggs mixture, then cheese, then beans, then meat. Repeat. Sprinkle the top with a bit more cheese then smother in the enchilada sauce. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (pop under the broiler for a minute or two if the top isn’t crispy enough). Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

chili relleno casserole

Leek and Potato Soup

The rain started a few days ago. Fall was absolutely gorgeous this year in the PNW. Cool, crisp mornings. Afternoons getting so warm Little ran around the park in a short sleeve shirt just a few days ago.

This weekend I pulled out the first sweater of the season. I’m beyond thrilled to move into a different section of my wardrobe as I was getting tired of the warm weather clothes. Does this happen to anyone else? I am beyond excited for cozy clothes. Remind me of this when I am FED UP in March. It will happen.

Leek and potato soup

With cozy clothes comes cozy food. Soup is a huge comfort food for me. This soup reminds me of pure de verduras that I ate many times growing up. I grew up in Spain remember? Yeah you knew that. I miss it terribly. At least this is a small taste of home.

Can we talk ingredients for a quick second? I have a few food philosophies but this is me at my core- good food prepared simply. I am fairly confident I have share that with you before. This recipe is that philosophy at its purest seeing as there are only four ingredients. Well six, if you count salt and water. To make this taste good you need to get the very best ingredients you can. I cannot stress that enough. Particularly when it comes to things like stock. Buy the expensive box or better yet make your own. It isn’t hard to make stock and it freezes well so make big batches and keep it on hand. It is worth it.

So cozy up. Make some soup.

Leek and potato soup

Leek and Potato Soup (makes 6 generous servings)

2 large leeks
4 cups chicken stock
4 medium sized potatoes
2 tbs butter
salt and pepper

Slice leeks down the middle and rinse under running water to remove sand and dirt. Chop coarsely. Set a large soup pot over medium high heat and melt the butter. Add leaks and cook till soft, about 10 minutes. While leeks are cooking peel and chop potatoes into bite sized pieces. Add potatoes to the cooked leeks and cover wit the chicken stock. Add water is necessary to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook till potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Puree soup either with an immersion blender directly in the pot or with your stand blender (you might have to work in batches). Serve immediately with crusty bread.

 

Rosemary lemon BBQ chicken

I feel a bit bipolar on here these days.

Yey fall! And apples! And pumpkins! And football! And crunchy leaves! And we beat the Huskies (the best part of the fall in my opinion). And yes this a gratuitous picture of Little who also does not like the Huskies.

I support a husky free northwest

Noooo!!!! Where is summer going!?! The rain is coming and oh my goodness the world is going to end. Let’s cling to summer!

But there are apples… and pumpkin. But the rain. And the dark. But we can make SOUP. But we are headed for months of tasteless tomatoes. But there is squash! Augh.

I’m embracing my crazy. It mostly comes out of sleep deprivation but, eh, I like it. It means we are enjoying the best of the end of summer bounty while taking full advantage of the fall goodness that is coming in to full swing. However, I am not willing to give up on barbequing quite yet.

This spring my sister and I joined a CSA for chicken. A CSA stands for Community Support Agriculture and essentially means paying the farmer directly and up front at the start of the season and in exchange you get to enjoy the bounty the grow/raise/harvest/produce. We got two chickens every other week all summer long. They are raised not but 10 miles from my house. Happy happy local chickens.  This is not like picking up ready to go chicken breast from your grocery store which is super versatile and takes no forethought. Utilizing whole chickens takes planning. This recipe has been our go to so many times because 1. it is easy and 2. it is delicious. Plus it uses the whole chicken with no planning.

Rosemary lemon bbq chicken

Sidebar: I want to share something with you. I can’t stand the taste of leftover cooked poultry. At all. Anyone else know what I mean? Somehow making the chicken this way on the BBQ eliminates that flavor I can’t stand. This opened up a world of recipes for me- recipes that called for cooked and shredded chicken. Best ever on that list is a buffalo chicken pizza. Recipe to follow… someday.

So in my desperate attempts to cling to summer we fired up the bbq made this one last time on Sunday. So good. So easy. So quick. And so much you can do with the tasty leftovers!

Rosemary Lemon BBQ Chicken (serves 4 plus a bit leftover)

1 whole chicken (4+ lbs)
2 lemons
2-4 garlic cloves
1 large sprig of rosemary
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Rosemary lemon bbq chicken

Remove the back of your chicken and butterfly it (video on how to do it here). Save the back for stock. Juice both the lemons into a  large pan or zip top bag. Chop up rosemary and garlic and add to the lemon juice. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking. Place chicken in the pan or bag and stir/toss/rub to coat with the marinade. Place the chicken in the fridge to marinate; do not marinate longer than 4 hours. Set at room temp for 30 minutes before setting on the grill.

Fire up your gas or charcoal grill (I am charcoal all the way). We are looking for medium high heat- you can hold your hand 3-4 inches above the grill for 3-4 seconds. Salt the chicken generously (1 tbs or more for the whole chicken). Pepper if you want. Place on grill breast side down. Cook for 20 minutes then flip. Place an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh not touching the bone. Cook to 165 degrees (about 30-40 minutes more). Remove from grill and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Rosemary lemon bbq chicken

Roast pork loin with fennel

In my opinion there are three main ways of deciding what to make for dinner: a new recipe you just have to make, that produce that looked too good at the market and you just had to buy despite having no plan for it, or using up what you already have at home in the pantry, freezer or fridge.

Roast pork loin with fennel- easy one pot dinner

When I first started cooking I mostly approached cooking based on new recipes I found. The problem was this often resulted in $30+ shopping trips for ONE dinner. Delicious yes but not sustainable for our poor checking account. These days my cooking is a combination of the latter two methods of deciding dinner. I base what I make on what is in season (not intentionally as I buy what looks good and is inexpensive) and then pair it with what I already have at home. It has taken years for me to develop this method of cooking as I have slowly built up a repertoire of recipes in my mind. When I see irresistible inexpensive in season ingredients I snatch them up quickly running through what I have at home that will go with. So was the case with this roast.

Roast pork loin with fennel- easy one pot dinner

Our local farmers market is incredible and for the first time this year they had the most beautiful fennel. I LOVE fennel but the first time I made this recipe it was early on in my cooking adventures and it was certainly a $30+ dinner as I bought fennel out of season and the rest of the ingredients full price. The above picture is all the main ingredients. The fennel (look how stunning it is!!!) and potatoes were from the market, the pork from the half a pig we bought earlier this year, the carrots from my garden and the onion from my most recent shopping trip. Everyone keeps onions on hand for just in case right? Right. Thanks for making me feel normal.

So I encourage you to make this recipe IF you see irresistibly gorgeous fennel. Or have a roast in your freezer you need to use. Or you really really want to make it.

Roast pork loin with fennel- easy one pot dinner

Roast Pork Loin with Fennel (feeds 6 very hungry people)

2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 3-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied if you want (I had a bone in roast in my freezer and it worked fine)
3 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
10 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced diagonally
10 small new potatoes, quartered
2 onions, thickly sliced
4 tablespoons good olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mince the garlic finely.  Mix with the salt and thyme. Add the mustard and combine. Spread the mixture over the loin of pork and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulbs into thick wedges, slicing through the core. Toss the fennel, carrots, potatoes, and onions in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper.

Roast pork loin with fennel- easy one pot dinner

Transfer the vegetables to a large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the pork to the pan and continue to cook for another 30 to 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork reads exactly 138 degrees. Remove the meat from the pan and return the vegetables to the oven to keep cooking. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

If tied remove the strings from the meat and slice it thickly. Arrange the meat and vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

PS. We DEVOURED the veggies. They are incredible. When Nathan woke up this morning he reminisced about this dinner before getting out of bed. Seriously it is THAT good.

Roast pork loin with fennel- easy one pot dinner

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

It seems that these days the only time I take a moment to capture what I am making is when I am cooking for someone else. The day to day meals I throw together for my little family seem to slip past my camera lens. This recipe is no exception.

Again I was cooking for someone else. This is actually the second time I have made this recipe. The first time I made it WAY too spicy. I didn’t have the chili powder the recipe called for so I subbed in cayenne pepper. I knew knew the cayenne was spicier so I am only used half the amount the recipe called for. Thankfully, the person I made it for loves spicy foods. I managed to eat it doused in sour cream and cheese. My husband loved it too. I guess I am a wuss when it comes to spice.

Sweet potato quinoa chili

When I made this recipe again yesterday I was making it for one of Nathan’s co-workers who just had the most precious little baby girl. Knowing spicy food can sometimes upset nursing babies, I used half the amount of spice I used last time. It was perfect. Just enough heat so you knew it was there but not outright hot. We devoured the two servings I kept for us for dinner.

The main reason I made this recipe is that I feel GOOD when I eat food like this. It is nourishing, healthy, and delicious. You can’t help but feel better when you eat such nutrient dense food. When I first had Little we were blessed with many many homemade meals. They were all delicious but my favorites were the ones chocked full of veggies. Eating healthy when you are getting no sleep and recovering from birth is a must, in my opinion. I hope this hit the spot.

Sweet potato quinoa chili

Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili (serves 6 very hungry people)

one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 6 oz can tomato paste
32 oz stock- vegetable or chicken
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro for garnish  (optional)

Sweet potato quinoa chili

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper . Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes – 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Add a bit of water if the chili becomes too thick for your liking. Top with topping of your choice- avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and cilantro are all wonderful.

Baked penne with bolognese

I hugged my loves a little tighter today. Lingered a little longer over conversations. Treasured moments a little closer. Why? Because yesterday I found myself rearranging my day to make dinner for someone who wont get to hug her husband again. For a family that lost their dad.

Life happens in a blink of an eye and can get lost between dishes, laundry, errands, and general “have-tos.” All while cooking yesterday I brushed away tears thinking of how I would feel if God called Nathan home tonight. I felt for this family and poured all my love into, what I felt was, the least I could do.

Baked Penne with Bolognese

This recipe doubles easily which is what I did when I made it. One for a grieving family and one for my little family, for which I gave many thanks. I have made this recipe many many times and every time it comes out the same- delicious. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it is totally worth the 2+ hours it takes to go from recipe to table. It is nourishing. The kind of food that not only fills your stomach but also your soul.

So, please, stop and think of all that you have and what you can be thankful for. Call those you love that are far away. Hug those you treasure that are close by. Slow down. Breathe deep. Make dinner for your family. Sit and eat together. Laugh. Love. Live. All too soon it is gone. Life is happening right now- take it in all for all it is worth.

Baked Penne with Bolognese (serves a crowd- at least 6)

3 tbs olive oil
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 large onion diced
4 celery ribs finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 lb ground beef (preferable humanely raised and grass fed)
2 tbs tomato paste
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 lb penne rigate
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz grated Parmesan

Baked Penne with Bolognese

Heat oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs. Cook till vegetables are light golden brown. Add ground beef and cook till it starts to color, breaking up any large pieces as you go. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 5 more minutes then stir in the canned tomatoes and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer for 1 hr.

In another pot bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add 2 tbs of salt, then the pasta, and stir well. Bring back to a boil and cook per the package directions. Once it has reached al dente drain in to a colander.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix the pasta and sauce. Taste for season and add salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes till golden brown and bubbly. Serve at once.

This dish reheats extraordinarily well.

Baked Penne with Bolognese

Pea Pesto

My garden is completely wild. In a good way. Well, mostly. My wonderful, dear, sweet husband planted way too much squash then never thinned it. We can’t find the cucumbers because it has taken over the back half of the garden. All the plants are enormous. The tomatoes are taller than I am (that isn’t saying much), the carrots are doing wonderful (see previous post about carrot cake cupcakes), the bean are going for broke, and we have more peas than anyone should ever have at once. Unless you are in possession of a killer pea pesto recipe- which also freezes well.

Pea pesto

We harvested the garden this past weekend. Some of the harvest was thinning (carrots and chard), some was trying to stay on top of what was producing (beans and zucchini), and some of it was pulling what was at the end of its season so we can replant something else (peas and lettuce). As previously mentioned the carrots were made in to cupcakes, the lettuce was gifted far and wide, the beans were canned, the zucchini sauteed, and the peas (all 5+ lbs) were turned in to this pesto.

I am so looking forward to pulling this out mid winter and having a delicious taste of summer. Now if the tomatoes would just ripen.

Pea pesto

Pea Pesto (makes enough for generous appetizers or 12 ounces of cooked pasta)

I used sugar peas that I grew and threw them in pod and all. You can use fresh shelled peas or even frozen peas. This is a recipe for one batch (I made four).

10-ounce of peas of your choosing
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons walnuts
1 large bunch of basil
1/2 cup (1 1/8 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Prepare an ice bath, a large bowl filled with ice water. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2-4 minutes (this depends on your type of peas- whole pods take a tad longer). Drain peas then add them to the ice bath and drain again.

Pea pesto

 

Whirl the garlic, walnuts, Parmesan and salt in your food processor until chunky, about 5-6 pulses. Stuff in the basil and  process till somewhat smooth. Add the peas and, again, process till somewhat smooth scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil. Divide in to small ziplock bags and freeze.

You can serve this on crostini, as a dip, put it in soups, or toss with hot pasta. All is ridiculously delicious.

What are you doing to preserve your garden bounty?

Pea pesto

Mac and Cheese two ways

Often when I make dinner for someone else I make a double batch so I have dinner too. When I do my kitchen ends up looking like this.

Mac and Cheese two ways

Does this happen to anyone else? Every pot in the house ends up dirty? This time my wonderful better half husband cleaned up after me. He truly is a saint.

When I doubled the recipe this time I made the two pans of mac and cheese a little different. For my cousin Liz, the recipient of this dinner, I made it almost according to the recipe. Her kiddos are apparently not too big on cooked veggies so I was hoping they wouldn’t notice the cooked cauliflower (they didn’t!). For the batch I kept I went overboard on the veggies adding broccoli and zucchini to the cauliflower and using whole wheat pasta. So so so good.

I want to challenge you to experiment in the kitchen. You don’t have to make a recipe exactly how it is written. Read a recipe this week more like a suggestion. Then make it your own. Sub out ingredients. Add ingredients. Double the ingredients you like, omit ones you don’t. Be a chef!

Here is the recipe. Sorta. I tried to remember all the changes I made and I can’t. This recipe is super flexible. Make it your own.

Mac and Cheese two ways

Mac and Cheese with veggies (Makes a 9×13 pan. Served 4-8 depending on the number of boys)

16  ounces  penne pasta (can sub 12 ounces whole wheat as I did in version 2)
1  head cauliflower, roughly chopped ( can add 1 head broccoli chopped and 1 zucchini sliced for version 2)
2  tablespoons  olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1  onion, finely chopped
2  cups  grated Cheddar (8 ounces, I used white cheddar)
1 1/2  cups sour cream
1/2  cup  milk
1  tablespoon  Dijon mustard

Mac and Cheese two ways

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower (and broccoli if using) during the last 4 minutes of cooking time; drain. Return the empty pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Saute the onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in the pasta and cauliflower, 1 1/2 cups cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard. Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn broil on for 2-3 minutes for an extra crispy top layer.

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

One of my favorite things about trying new recipes is that, when I discover something I love, it changes the ingredients I keep in my kitchen.

Let me explain.

some of the ingredients for spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

The first time I made this recipe I had to buy pretty much everything on the ingredient list except the pasta. When I made this yesterday the only thing I had to buy was the arugula. Seriously. Ok, I should add that I bought the arugula because I knew I had everything else on hand, and some cherry tomatoes threatening to become inedible, but still- I’m proud of my well stocked kitchen. At least well stocked for my favorite recipes.

Lets talk arugula. If you find baby arugula the leaves are sweet with a slight hint of pepper and lemon. Later in the season, or at your farmers markets, you are likely to find bigger ticker leaves that are downright spicy (yey!) with a big bite and a slap-you-in-your-face lemon finish. In case you can’t tell I prefer the latter. But it took a while to get there. Unsure? Start with the baby arugula. You can find it in most megamarts in a clamshell. Once you fall in love venture into the big spicy leaves. Or heck, plant your own and harvest it when the flavor is perfect.

Either way I am telling you to make this. Basil? Lime? Arugula AND feta AND Parmesan? Just trust me. It all works together and is amazing.

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

12 ounces spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Grated rind and juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic
4 packed cups arugula
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Extra Parmesan and feta (for serving)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until it is tender but still has some bite.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, lime rind, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 4 minutes, or until onions soften.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss gently. Tip the spaghetti into the skillet. Toss again.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the arugula, lime juice, and salt. Toss gently and cover the pan for a few minutes. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the arugula. Add the tomatoes, basil, feta, and Parmesan. Toss again. Serve with more Parmesan and feta.

Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes