Burrata, Sausage + Peppers

If you follow my feed you know that Sausage + Peppers is a major go-to for me. Why? Especially when it’s grilling season, it’s just such an easy way to create a comprehensive dish that feeds many. I always switch it up a little, but this time I think I really found the KEY to taking this dish OVER THE TOP. Burrata!!

SHOPPING LIST: 2 packages of mini bell peppers, 2 lbs. sausage links, onion, chopped garlic, olive oil, truffle oil, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, onion powder

Before we get into the cooking, let’s talk sausage for a second. I used two packages of Nature’s Promise Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage with Kale. You can use WHATEVER kind of sausage you want – sweet, spicy, pork, chicken, have creative freedom here but like maybe not lamb – this isn’t THAT kind of dish. Now turn your BBQ on high heat and get it ready for some action.

The first thing you want to do is cut the stems off of your little sweet peppers. Put your peppers in a bowl and give them a generous drizzle of olive oil (about 1/4 cup). Add 2 tB. of chopped garlic, and season well with salt, pepper and onion powder and give them a good toss so all of your peppers are coated with oil and seasoning. Throw the peppers on one side of your grill and your sausages on the other. You want your peppers to be blistered on both sides and SOFT, they will easily “squish” for lack of a better word between your grill tongs. For the sausage, make sure to grill them THOROUGHLY, until they are charred on the outside and contrasty, are FIRM between your tongs.

Return your cooked peppers to your prep bowl as they are finished and top withy our cooked sausage. In the bottom of your serving dish, add 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce, mine has always been Rao’s Arrabiata (sometimes I like to use a few tB. of pesto sauce instead of/ or in addition to the red sauce) and a drizzle of truffle oil. Then, on a cutting board, slice your sausages into about 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Add all of your peppers and sliced sausages on top of the marinara and truffle oil and toss well. Top with four small balls of SLICED burrata so your guests can see the creamy stracciatella on the inside. If you can’t find the smaller burrata, you can always cut a large ball into quarters — AND YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE CHEESE, because, trust me, sausage and peppers WITH cheese is better than sausage and peppers WITHOUT!

Spaghetti Carbonara

The other night my daughter wanted a side of eggs with her pasta. It felt like the right time to educate her on the origins of my absolute favorite pasta dish. I touched on this a bit in my Cauliflower Carbonara recipe, how my favorite version ever is at Maccheroni in Rome – but let’s be honest, NOTHING is as good as the real deal. And the truth is, it’s not very difficult at all. Now let me say ONE more thing before I begin. Many years ago when The Gluttoness worked for AlwaysHunrgyNY, I had the pleasure of learning how to make this dish from the incredible Chef Cesare Casella and he used a drop of cream and therefore, so do I.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box spaghetti, 1 package bacon, 3 egg yolks, 1/4 cup cream, salt, black pepper

Rough chop your entire package of bacon and start it in a COLD pan over medium heat. While your bacon is cooking, bring a pot of HEAVILY SALTED water to boil. Par-cook your spaghetti, and when your spaghetti is a true al dente and still a touch firm in the center, strain your pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of your pasta liquid. Toss the spaghetti in olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

When your bacon is crisp and all the fat is rendered, add the 1/4 cup of pasta water and 1/4 cup of cream and bring to a simmer. When the liquids are simmering, add your pasta back to the pan and continue cooking 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and coated your pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer your pasta to your serving dish. Top you with your three egg yolks. Use a tongs to IMMEDIATELY toss the yolks into your pasta.

Hot + Cold Tomato Mozzarella

With summer upon us and the local farmers’ markets bursting with gorgeous produce, a tomato-mozzarella salad is always an easy go-to! I have a few ways I like to spruce up this class dish – both in flavor and presentation. Let me just say this – this success of this salad is 90% how fresh your ingredients are, especially your mozzarella.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 beefsteak tomatoes, 1 ball FRESH mozzarella, 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, olive oil, chopped garlic, pesto sauce, salt, pepper

I like to use my toaster oven for smaller projects like this. Pre-heat your toaster oven on the CONVECTION mode to 375 degrees. Lay out a peice of tin-foil, folding the ends up so it makes a bit of a perimeter and add all of your cherry tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and 1 tB. of chopped garlic. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes 10 minutes or until they are just bursting at the seems!!!

While your cherry tomatoes are cooking, THICK slice your tomatoes and mozzarella. This is part of the trick of making an impressive looking dish. No one wants measly slices. Beautiful thick-cut slices of tomato and mozzarella speak for themselves. Once you layer your slices, tomato/mozzarella/tomato/mozzarella/etc. I like to sprinkle the entire platter with salt and pepper.

For me, what makes this dish special is the difference in temperatures. After your slice and plate your fresh tomatoes and mozzarella – POP THE PLATE IN THE FRIDGE! Chilling your tomatoes and mozzarella before topping them with the warm, blistered cherry tomatoes will add to the contrast of hot and cold.

Finish your platter with the warm cherry tomatoes, fresh out of the oven, and finish the platter with a drizzle of your favorite PESTO. (You want it to be a drizzle, so if you’re pesto is a bit thicker, you can always thin it out with some fresh squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar).

Spicy Fennel Salad

The first Fennel Salad we made was a bit involved – it had a base of lemon whipped ricotta and grapefruit supremes. While delicious, those extraneous elements take TIME and sometimes you just want to whip up a quick and simple salad on the fly. This is that fennel salad.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 fennel bulbs, 1 jalapeño, shredded parmesan, lemon, olive oil, salt

Remove the stems, fronds and core of your fennel bulbs so you’re left with something looking similar to the size of an onion, making sure to KEEP some of your fronds to finish your salad. Slice each fennel bulb in half, and then very carefully THINLY slice your fennel — if you keep a mandolin on hand, this would be a GREAT opportunity to use it, the thinner the better!!!

Add your sliced fennel to your serving bowl. Next, thinly slice your entire jalapeno (or less if you don’t want it SO spicy) and add that to you fennel. Top with 1 cup of SHREDDED parmesan, making sure you get lots of those larger pieces in the mix. Use a microplane to remove the zest of the entire lemon directly on top of your parmesan, and then squeeze the juice of the entire lemon over your salad.

Grab a handful of the fennel fronds you kept and give them a rough chop and add them to your salad .Finish with 2 tB. of HIGH QUALITY olive oil and 1 tsp. of salt. Give your salad a quick toss and that’s it. Easy, fresh, spicy, and bright with a hint of the salty, nutty parmesan, this salad is truly one of life’s simple pleasure.

Warm Bacon + Onion Salad

This salad demonstrates how a little bit of bacon can transform your peppery arugula greens from basic to bonkers. This salad is warm and cozy like a fuzzy blanket on a rainy day. Add some chopped grilled chicken or shrimp and it could be a meal in itself!

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box of arugula, 1 package bacon, red onion, blue cheese, dried cranberries, stoneground mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Rough chop 6 pieces of bacon, keeping the pieces fairly large as they will shrink while cooking. As always, start your bacon in a cold pan and then put the heat over medium-high. While your bacon is sizzling, fill your serving bowl with the arugula. Top with 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and 1/3 cup of blue cheese crumbles and set aside.

Slice 1/2 a red onion. When your bacon is sufficiently browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the grease, placing it on a paper towel to strain the excess oil. Add your sliced red onion to the bacon grease and sauté until soft and golden. Season your onions with salt and pepper. Again, using a slotted spoon, add your onions on top of your arugula and your crispy bacon bits as well.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tB. stone ground mustard, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar and 1 tB. and whatever bacon grease remains in your pan . Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over your arugula salad and give the salad a quick toss so the mustard-bacon dressing really coats all of your greens.

Using a green like arugula is great for a salad like this because it can hold up to the warmth of the onions. Other friends you might want to add to this party? Our favorite quick candied pecans, a diced avocado (tossed in lemon juice, of course) or the addition of ANOTHER green – like frisee – would be wonderful as well!

Quick Candied Pecans

We use these babies in lots of recipes so it made sense to finally give them a little attention of their own! Whether you use them for any of the following recipes, throw a bowl of these on your next cheese plate or add a handful to a bowl of vanilla ice cream, these candied pecans are easy and versatile in so many ways!

SHOPPING LIST: pecans, confections sugar, salt, cayenne pepper

Take 1 cup of pecans and lay them on a baking sheet and throw them in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Set up a strainer in your sink and then, in a mixing bowl, combine 2 tB. of confectioners sugar with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. When the pecans emerge from the oven, put them in the strainer and run water over the nuts so they are equally wet. Then, toss the wet nuts in the bowl of spiced confectioners sugar. Replace the seasoned nuts on your baking sheet and bake them another 5 minutes in the oven until they are crunchy and candied. Allow them to cool.

Feel free to double or even triple this recipe as you can ALWAYS save these in a jar for future uses – or just to nibble on as a delicious snack.

Tomato and Feta Cauliflower

Here we go again. Another night staring at a few heads of cauliflower and trying to figure out how to make it interesting. Thankfully, my love affair with sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL continues (see the 3-Way Tomato Salad for more sun-dried tomato inspo).

SHOPPING LIST: 3 heads of cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, feta cheese, coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, using the convection function if you have that option. Remove the florets from your cauliflower and lay on a sheet pan. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Toss well so all of the florets are equally coated in oil and seasoning and bake for 40 minutes.

The key here is actually the super garlicky oil that that sun-dried tomatoes are preserved in. Once your cauliflower is done roasting, use a large spoon to drizzle about 4-5 tB. worth of the oil over your cauliflower and place the tray under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until your cauliflower is blistered.

Remove the roasted florets into your serving dish and add 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (removed from the oil) and 1/2 cup of feta. I chose NOT to slice the sun-dried tomatoes because I thought they looked beautiful full-sized against the larger cauliflower florets – but you could totally give them a rough chop or slice them in half if you prefer smaller bits. Just remember, at many gourmet markets you will find specially packaged “sun-dried tomato olive oil” so purchasing your sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL actually gives you two products in one! You can also use this garlicky tomato oil in your salad dressings, as a drizzle for a classic tomato/mozzarella salad, or even as a topping on pizza!!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I had the ABSOLUTE pleasure of traveling to Vietnam with my husband when the world was normal and traveling was a thing and there are a FEW dishes that stick out in my mind – one in particular was the lemongrass chicken at Cuc Gach Quan. It’s just one of those restaurants where you feel like someone’s grandmother is in the kitchen, and you’re eating in their living room, and each dish is more incredible than the next. Needless to say, I’ve never had Lemongrass Chicken like theirs, so the next best option was to do it myself!

SHOPPING LIST: 3 chicken breasts, jalapeño, scallions, chopped garlic, dried lemongrass, grapeseed oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper

I’m going to link here to a similar version of the lemongrass I used because you want to make sure you are using a FINELY cut product like THIS. Lemongrass isn’t always the easiest thing to find fresh so using a dry product allows us to get the same result with an ingredient that is accessible to most everyone.

Chop your entire bunch of scallions and thinly slice your jalapeno. In a saucepan, add 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add your scallions, sliced jalapeños, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and 1/4 cup of your dried lemongrass. You want to really fry your spices for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, chop your chicken into cubes. (As a very good Indian friend taught me, DO NOT season your chicken yet because it will omit too much water – WAIT until your chicken is nice and browned).

When you spices are browned and fried, add your chicken, increase to high heat and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR PAN. Let it really get a nice brown on one side. After 5 minutes, give it a quick toss and 2 tB. of fish sauce and 2 tB of soy sauce. Use a wooden to spoon to remove all of the browned bits from the bottom of your pan and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook another 7-10 minutes or until your chicken is fully cooked through.

I didn’t put any garniture because I really wanted you to see the bits of fried garlic, jalapeño and lemongrass on the chicken but if you have leftover scallions or fresh Thai basil a little bit of fresh herbs would be a lovely finishing touch.

Creamy Cucumber + Radish Salad

SHOPPING LIST: 2 English cucumbers, 2 radish, red onion, parsley, lemon, mayonnaise, salt, black pepper

Slice the ends off your English cucumbers and then thinly slice both cucumbers. Place all of your cumber slices in a strainer and toss with 1 tB of salt. Mix well and allow to strain 10-15 minutes so that some of the liquid leaves your cucumbers. This is a very important step if you are making this dish ahead of time so that it doesn’t become watery as your cucumber omit their natural liquids.

Next, thinly slice your radishes and reserve in a bowl of cold water until it is time to compile your salad. Mince 1/2 of a red onion and add to the bottom of your serving bowl. Rough chop a handful of parsley leaves – leaving you with about 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Add your parsley to the onion.

Over a small bowl, use a microplane to remove the zest of one lemon. Add the juice of the entire lemon to the zest. Add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise (obviously my vegan friends can substitute with a plant-based alternative), 1 tB. of black pepper, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. Mix your dressing well.

Give your cucumbers in the strainer a final shake to remove the excess liquid. Add the cucumbers to your onions and parsley and then use the strainer to remove the liquid from your radishes as well. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl, give your creamy lemon dressing an extra good mix and pour over the contents of your bowl. Toss your cucumber salad and CHILL. I love a salad like this to have to be served a little bit cold – also, the chill will keep your cucumbers CRUNCHY!

Fig + Rosemary “Baked” Brie

You know that Dalmatia Fig Jam that you always buy and put out with your cheese plates and MAYBE someone takes a spoonful and then you put it back in your pantry until you make another cheese plate? Or maybe that’s just me. Either way – let’s put that bad boy to FANTASTIC use. I know, “baked brie” doesn’t scream summertime – but this isn’t en croute. A full-sized wheel of brie in a cast-iron skillet with a fantastic topping makes this warm, gooey brie perfectly positioned at your picnic, poolside or dinner table. Just don’t forget the crackers.

SHOPPING LIST: large brie cheese, fig jam, dried rosemary, red pepper flake, walnuts, balsamic glaze, salt, black pepper

Unwrap your large wheel of brie and place it in the center of your cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, combine about 3/4 cup of your fig jam with 1/2 cup of walnuts. Add two pinches of salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tB. of dried rosemary and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes and mix well. Top your brie with the fig mixture.

NOW – you have two options. You can either bake this in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes OR since you are making this in a cast iron skillet, fire up your BBQ and you can GRILL your skillet for the same 25-30 minutes period. Grilling it will infuse the brie with a bit of a smokey flavor which is lovely as well.

When your brie is melty and popping at the seams, finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra burst of tangy sweetness. Aside from traditional crackers, I love serving this with my favorite ever – Aurora Tostones – or a freshly sliced French baguette.