Orzo and Broccoli Rabe

If you haven’t tried broccoli rabe (also known as Italian broccoli or broccoli di rape), this is a good introduction. The bitterness (which I love) overwhelms some people, but is somewhat lessened by the taste of the creamy orzo I can’t convince my husband to eat even this mild rendition, so I often eat it as an entrée when he goes out of town. It is especially good with shaved Parmesan cheese.

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Fresh Herb Couscous

Like pasta in Italy and rice in Asia, couscous is a staple in Morocco.

Serves 6.

½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2½ cups boiling water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (optional)

1. Place the salt, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the basil, and sesame seeds in a small mixing bowl, toss to combine and set aside.

2. Place the water and the couscous in a large mixing bowl and, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the herb mixture and, if desired, the butter, and gently mix.

3. Transfer to a heated serving bowl and serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)

Bruschetta

I’m not going to give complete recipes here, but rather ideas for what to put on toasted or grilled bread. Traditionally, bruschetta is bread that has been grilled over a fire, rubbed with garlic cloves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt. If you don’t have a fire, feel free to do the same in the toaster or oven or grill. When laziness overcomes me, I omit the garlic or use garlic oil instead of olive. It is great served alone or with any of the following toppings.

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