Macadamia Nut Pesto

Remember that incredible Blackberry Salad with the macadamia nuts?! Well I had some leftover macadamias and the ONLY good thing my house renters did was leave me a ton of fresh basil so it only seemed natural to riff on a classic pesto (which usually has pine nuts).

SHOPPING LIST: fresh basil, macadamia nuts, chopped garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper

Give you fresh basil a quick rinse and dry and then you want to get about 2 cups of basil leaves into your food processor. Top the clean basil leaves with 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and the juice of one lemon. Lastly, add 1/2 cup of olive oil and begin to pulse your food processor until your pesto becomes chunky and emulsified. If your pesto needs more liquid, add 1 tB. of olive oil at a time until it’s easily blended. Finally, add two pinches of salt and one pinch of black pepper and give it one last pulse to blend the seasonings. Your finished pesto should like so:

Now for your pasta. We’re really big fans of the Anna Long Fusilli pasta these days but you can use ANY pasta of your choice. Regardless of noodle, there are a few keys steps to really making this dish perfectly. First of all, make sure you are cooking your pasta in HEAVILY salted boiling water. You want to par-cook your pasta – for this dish I cooked the pasta for 11/12 minutes – and then retain 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid before straining your pasta.

To finish your pesto pasta, add 2 tB. of olive oil (or even butter) to a saucepan with the 1/2 cup of pasta water and 3/4 cup of your pesto sauce and heat over medium heat. The pasta water and oil will loosen your pesto and create a creamier sauce. Re-add your pasta to the pan and continue to cook the pasta 2 minutes in the pesto sauce. Finishing your pasta this way will allow the pasta to really soak in and absorb all of the flavors of the pesto. Give the dish and another pinch of salt and pepper and quick toss before serving. A little red pepper flake would be a nice touch here if you’re cooking for people who like things to have a kick (like me).

** Side Note ** I also love thinning out this pesto recipe – 1/2 cup of pesto with 2 tB. of apple cider vinegar – to create a pesto vinaigrette to use as a dressing for salads or grilled vegetables.

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary Apricot Glaze

I know the name is a mouth-full but this gorgeous dish is actually super simple to execute. It’s got everything you want – the sweet, the salty, the crunchy, the supple shrimp and that herbaceous rosemary finish just brings it all home. Also, I’m just *really* having a moment with dried rosemary – my Fig + Rosemary “Baked” Brie has also been on repeat – I just love the earthiness it brings to these fruit-foward dishes.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. shrimp (peeled, de-vained, tails on), 1 package of bacon, apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar, dried rosemary, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Toss your shrimp with a few tB. of olive oil, salt and pepper so that they are well-oiled and seasoned. Always remember anytime you’re cooking, you want to season EVERY step of the way! Take your package of bacon and lay it flat on your cutting board. Cut the entire package in half so you each strip of bacon is now 2 shorter strips. Wrap each shrimp in a half strip of bacon, starting from the tail and wrapping the entirety of the mollusk. The bacon will be somewhat tacky and stick together if you wrap tightly enough.

While your BBQ is heating up, get an ALL METAL saucepan that you can put directly on your grill (you can TOTALLY do this step inside I just find it’s quite easy to do it together). Add 1 cup of apricot preserves, 2 tB. of balsamic vinegar, 2 heaping tB. of dried rosemary, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place the metal saucepan directly on your BBQ so the apricot preserves can begin to melt into a glaze. Place your bacon-wrapped shrimp on the BBQ. Once your preserves melt, use a pastry brush to add the glaze to the bacon wrapped shrimp. Cook about 5 minutes and then flip your shrimp and continue with another coat of glaze. (If at any point your glaze is getting too hot or reduced, place an oven mit over the handle of your saucepan and remove from the heat). Cook for another 5 minutes or so and then give a final flip and a third coat of glaze. Because the shrimp is wrapped in the bacon, don’t worry so much about over-cooking them because it will take a bit longer for the heat to permeate through the bacon and thoroughly cook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the BBQ and finish with any remaining glaze.

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Rounds

My first harvest. MAJOR! I planted these soup to nuts – built the garden, lugged the soil, planted the seeds, forgot to label them, wondered what I had planted and then basically hoped for the best. So to come back to a dozen GIGANTIC zucchini felt like such an accomplishment and thus here is a simple zucchini recipe. I feel like some people may refer to this type of recipe as “CHIPS” but honestly, chips are deep-fried potatoes lets not get ahead of ourselves.

SHOPPING LIST: 4 zucchini, parmesan cheese, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, garlic powder

The first step is to thinly slice your zucchini into rounds. It turns out zucchini and cucumbers not only look alike – they have similar water content – so in order for your zucchini to not end up water logged you MUST salt your zucchini rounds and let them sit in a strainer for a least an hour. I even like to wipe the extra water off the zucchini using a paper towel before moving forward. DO NOT skip this step!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Lay your zucchini rounds on a rack over a baking sheet. (Again, using the rack OVER the baking sheet will allow the zucchini to continue to omit excess water.) In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of olive oil with 2 heaping tB of chopped garlic. Using a pastry brush, brush all of the zucchini rounds with the garlic-oil mixture, and then season with salt and pepper. REPEAT on both sides, making sure especially on the second side that you get all of those little bits of garlic on top of the zucchini. Finish your zucchini with about 1 tsp. of parmesan cheese PER round – you want them covered!!!!! And then a final sprinkle of garlic powder and red pepper flakes for additional spice and flavor.

Roast your zucchini rounds for 12 minutes and then BROIL for the final 5 minutes until the tops of your zucchini rounds are browned and bubbly. ALLOW the zucchini to cool so that the bubbly parmesan can set before serving. Anyways, like an influencer who gets married and warns “wedding spam coming soon” that’s basically going to be me with new zucchini recipes, 90 percent of which will probably include cheese.

Fried Brussels Sprouts

All Brussels Sprouts are NOT created equally. You know what I mean. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and they are like CRACK. The Smith in NYC immediately comes to mind. My dad’s country club in Philadelphia, Green Valley, also knows what’s up with frying Brussels sprouts. We used to love going to his club on Friday nights for happy hour on the lawn, mainly for the Brussels sprouts, but also because they had babysitters and bouncy houses for the kids and Mama. Had. Off!!!

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lbs. Brussels sprouts, vegetable oil, lime, kosher salt, Sir Kensigton’s Chile Lime Crema

First step is prepping your sprouts. Slice off the ends. Remove any dirty outer layer of leaves so you have clean sprouts and then slice them in half, through the root. I prefer to fry in a cast iron skillet but any steel pot will do. You want have about 3/4 inch of oil – this is a SHALLOW fry, as opposed to a DEEP fry. Get your oil smoking hot (or around 375 degrees if you are fancy and use a thermometer) and drop about 1 1/2 cups of sprouts at a time into your hot oil! It should take about 10-12 minutes for your Brussels to fry. I like to do it in batches, as you know, since over-crowding your pan is never a great idea. While your sprouts pop and sizzle away, set up a drying station (aka a rack over a sheet pan. Give them a quick toss about 6/7 minutes so all the sides can brown evenly. When your sprouts looked fried and crispy all over, remove them using a slotted spoon onto the drying rack and give them an IMMEDIATE sprinkle of salt.

Once your Brussels are cooled and salted, lay them on your serving dish and finish with a generous drizzle of Sir Kensington’s Chile Lime Crema, fresh lime zest and the juice of half a lime. Listen – I could easily give you the recipe to make your own crema, and then give you instructions to buy a squirt bottle (which is actually quite handy in the kitchen, anyways) so that you can properly drizzle your crema, but Sir Kesington’s not only made the exact product you want for this dish, but it comes in the perfect drizzly squirt bottle and everything DOESN’T have to be homemade to be homemade. Chew on that!

Blackberry Salad

True story. I have never used blackberries in a salad before. I love a Strawberry Salad (well, the Prince loves a Strawberry Salad so we make it often) but this Blackberry Salad was special. She was beautiful and luscious and an ideal, bountiful accompaniment for my favorite Foolproof Ribs. Also, salads like this are BEYOND easy to throw together. The hardest part is mixing up the homemade Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette which isn’t actually hard at all and you could totally just ignore me and use any store-bought dressing of your choice and call it a day.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 box arugula, 1 1/2 cups blackberries, feta cheese, macadamia nuts, balsamic vinegar (preferably aged), stone ground mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Most times I toss a salad in the bowl before serving, but for this particular salad, I chose to serve it on FLAT, LONG serving dish so that entirety of the arugula base was covered in all the goodies and then I made sure to go heavy on the dressing. (ALSO – serving extra dressing on the side is always a good idea).

So, using a FLAT, LONG serving dish, create a thin bed of your arugula. Obviously, wash and dry your blackberries and then scatter them around the dish. Continue this same method with your macadamia nuts (WHAT AN UNDERUTILIZED NUT!!!!!!!) and your crumbled feta. I have to admit here – I actually used a Black Pepper Crumbled Feta that I found at Whole Foods, which, for a pepper enthusiast like myself, was an awesome win! OR, if you can find a creamy Bulgarian Sheep’s Feta that you crumble yourself that’s always an awesome choice as well.

For the dressing, mix together 2 heaping tB. stone ground mustard, 1 tB. balsamic vinegar, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar, 1 tB. honey, 1 tB. olive oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. You are going to mix your dressing together and drizzle it all over your salad. I used the entirety of the dressing on my salad so if you want to follow my tip to serve extra dressing on the side than just double the recipe! Last note – since we aren’t tossing the greens in the dressing, I like to finish a salad like this with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Yes, the dressing is seasoned, but this little extra splash of flavor will ensure that each bite is dressed and delicious.

Aunt Joan’s Crab Dip

My great Aunt Joan lives in Bethany Beach, Delaware – which, if you are unaware, is crab country! We would visit Aunt Joan every August when our entire family would head to Sea Colony (a magical place where we drank Mike’s Hard Lemonade at wild beach bonfires at 13, whoops!), and she would always have her famous crab dip waiting for us. I’ve worked hard to reverse engineer this dip based on my fondest memories, and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. lump crab, whipped cream cheese, shredded cheddar, mayonnaise, chopped garlic, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, mustard, old bay, Tabasco, lemon, dried parsley, olive oil

The best thing about this dip is EVERYONE loves it (unless they are allergic to shellfish or KOSHER ha!), and it’s relatively easy to whip up and it’s perfect for entertaining. AS ALWAYS, grease your baking dish with olive and oil and pre-heat your dish in a 400 degree oven while you’re mixing up the dip so you can ensure extra crispy edges!!!

In a large bowl, crack and whisk one egg. Add 1 lb. of lump crab meat (or jumbo lump if you’re really fancy!), 12 oz. whipped cream cheese, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1 cup of shredded cheddar, 1 tB. of mustard, 1 tB. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tB. Old Bay, 1 tB. chopped garlic, the juice of one lemon and 5 dashes of tabasco. Mix well, remove your hot baking dish from the oven, and fill the hot baking dish with your dip. Top with another cup of shredded cheddar and finish with a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning and dried parsley flakes.

Bake your dip in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until your dip is perfectly browned on top. Cover immediately with tin foil and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes so that you don’t permanently burn the roofs of your guests’ mouths.

This is seriously one of the BEST. DIPS. EVER. Serve it with a mix of crackers and crudite. Also — use this exact same mixture as a stuffing for baby portobellos! Bake them 15 minutes with the same shredded cheddar and dried parsley topping. Nothing like a good old 2-for-1 special!!

Blue Cheese + Balsamic Portobellos

Grilling portobellos is a wonderful idea, except when it isn’t. You know sometimes these giant mushroom caps just end up flavorless and soggy. Except of course, for my Portobello Pizzas which are obviously excellent – and now you have this new, super easy recipe, which, for a simple mushroom side dish is totally DECADENT and satisfying.

SHOPPING LIST: 4 portobellos, crumbled blue cheese, balsamic glaze, olive oil, truffle oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

The first key to a nicely grilled portobello is making sure it’s properly oiled before grilling. I mentioned above that they can become soggy (and that’s because mushrooms naturally omit a bunch of water when cooked) but conversely, if they aren’t properly oiled they can become DRY, equally not cool. I like to mix 1 tB. of truffle oil with 1/2 cup of olive oil to use for these mushrooms. Truffle oil isn’t typically used for cooking, but mixing it with the olive oil will infuse your portobellos with a mild truffle essence. Remove the stems from your portobellos and then make sure your mushrooms are evenly coated with the blended oil on BOTH sides – and then generously season each side with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Make sure your grill is SMOKING hot and start grilling your mushrooms STEM(less) side down. Grill your mushrooms about 8 minutes, letting all of the liquid drip into your BBQ so you won’t have soggy shrooms. Flip your portobellos and top each with a HANDFUL of blue cheese crumbles. DON’T be stingy. The use of blue cheese is really ideal here because the flavorful, blistered cheese really becomes the star of the show. Shut your BBQ and cook for another 8 minutes. You will see the edges of your mushrooms become almost CRISPY – this is what you’re looking for!!!!!

Remove the grilled portobellos and drizzle with your favorite balsamic glaze. REGULAR balsamic vinegar will NOT do the trick here. You need the sweeter glaze to balance the stinky cheese. Also, thick store-bought balsamic glaze drizzles beautifully and who doesn’t love a beautiful drizzle?

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).