Salsa di Parmigiana

I hate to be overly dramatic so early on a Monday morning, but… it must be said that this recipe will change your life. It’s not just delicious (and sweet baby Moses, is it delicious), but it goes on EVERYTHING. It’s the universal condiment! You’ll make it, and then you’ll spend the next week of your life spooning a little bit on to every. damn. thing. you eat. It’s that good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Salsa di Parmigiana with Dutch Oven Bread

Salsa di Parmigiana
recipe very slightly adapted from here

8 oz parmigiano reggiano*
8 oz asiago cheese
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 to 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil

*This is the time to pony up the cash for the real deal. Don’t buy the weird, rubbery domestic chunk of parm that comes vacuum-sealed in plastic from Kraft – find the legit, pay-by-the-pound stuff that’s in the fancy cheese case. Yes, it’s like $18 a pound, but it’s SO WORTH IT. Your taste buds will thank you. (And don’t you dare toss that rind when you cut it off the parmesan! Put it in a ziploc bag, throw it in your freezer, and add it to your next pot of soup.)

Salsa di Parmigiana

1.) Cut the parmesan and asiago into large chunks (roughly 1″ or so). Add all the cheese to your food processor, and pulse until the cheese is broken down to pea-sized chunks. Transfer the cheese to a large mixing bowl.

Salsa di Parmigiana

2.) Add the garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, oregano, and pepper, and give everything a good stir with a rubber spatula. Grated garlic temps to clump up, so be sure to get those clumps broken up as best you can.

Salsa di Parmigiana

3.) Pour one cup of olive oil over the cheese mixture, and stir to combine everything. Add more olive oil as needed – you want the salsa to be a bit looser than a paste, but not soupy or overly wet.

Salsa di Parmigiana

4.) Spoon the salsa into an airtight container of your choice. It’s best to let it sit for a few hours before using it to let all the flavors marry, but it will certainly be delicious right out of the gate, too. The salsa will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge.

And now, what to do with this gigantic container of cheesy salsa goodness?? Let’s see…

– spoon it on to some crostini or nice, crusty italian bread
– mix it into some scrambled eggs, right at the end
– use it as your “sauce” for a white pizza
– spoon over the top of sauteed green beans
– spread it on top of a burger
– pour it directly into your mouth

Salsa di Parmigiana Burger with Arugula

I am dead serious when I say that my husband added this to every single meal he ate for three or four days straight. You’ll think that the recipe makes a ton, and you’re right… but it will disappear before your very eyes. Next thing you know, you will be fighting with your spouse over who gets the last spoonful, and running to the grocery store in a panic, desperate to buy another million dollar chunk of parmesan.

ALERT: if you are looking to impress the hell out of someone(s), may I recommend bringing this salsa to a gathering along with a loaf of this embarrassingly easy bread? Combined, the two will take a grand total of like, 12 minutes of active time in the kitchen – and whomever you serve them to will become convinced that you are Ina Garten’s long-lost child. You’re welcome.

Why NOT replace all the fresh, healthful vegetables in a salsa with dairy products?!

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

This year, I thought I’d try something new, and post a Thanksgiving recipe BEFORE Thanksgiving! Isn’t that a great idea? Just you watch, I think it’s gonna catch on around the food blog world. I’m practically a genius.

This has become one of my go-to sides this fall. The idea actually came to me after I made a dinner that involved stuffing acorn squash halves with chipotle chicken (I’ll be back with that recipe before too long) – and I LOVED the flavor combination of the sweet squash and the smokey, spicy chipotles. I often find that acorn and butternut squash can be too sweet for my liking, but the addition of some spice completely turned things around. I tried this mash out shortly thereafter, and my husband and I can’t get enough of it! I think it’ll make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving – a newer, more interesting take on the traditional sweet potatoes (not that I have anything against brown sugar and marshmallows – I’m not a MONSTER).

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash
serves 4 as a side dish

2 medium acorn squashes, halved and seeded
3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a fork
2 chipotles, minced
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (2% or full fat – sour cream will also work)
1 T butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°, and line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly spray the inside of the acorn squash with olive oil, and season the flesh with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet, and place the potatoes on the same sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the squash and potatoes are fork tender (the potatoes might take longer than the squash).

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

2.) When the squash and sweet potatoes are cooked through, allow them to cool for a couple minutes. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh of each into a medium bowl, and add the chipotles, greek yogurt, butter, salt and pepper. Mash until smooth, and well-combined.

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

3.) Spread the mash into a baking dish, and pop back into the over for 5-10 minutes, so everything can warm through. Serve hot.

This could certainly be made ahead of time – I’d say up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate the mash (either in an airtight container, or in the baking dish, covered with plastic wrap), and then reheat in the oven for 20-25 minutes before serving.

I’ve actually found that this makes for a great, quick, weeknight side dish. I throw the squash and sweet potatoes in the oven, and let them bake while I prep the rest of dinner, or work out, or watch some HGTV. Despite needing some baking time, the active prep for this mash is about 5 minutes total! Not too bad, if you ask me. It’s healthy, it’s creamy, it’s a little spicy, and it reheats beautifully – so make a big batch, and use it up throughout the week! You could even spread a little bit on to your post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, to add a little kick.

How can you not love a holiday that basically REQUIRES elastic-waist pants?

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

This past weekend, I did a whole lot of “using up what’s in the fridge”. I didn’t have a neatly laid out meal plan for Saturday and Sunday, but I did have a relatively full fridge – leftover bits of produce used in other recipes during the week, an ounce or two of a block of cheese I didn’t quite finish up, things like that. Luckily, all those things that were left behind after the week’s meals resulted in a few really delicious dishes – beginning with a potato and sausage hash with baked eggs!

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs
serves 4

olive oil
8oz red potatoes, cut into a 1/2″ dice
half a bell pepper, any color, 1/2″ dice
half a red onion, 1/2″ dice
8oz italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt
black pepper
2oz white cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs
fresh flat leaf parsley

Optional toppings:
halved cherry tomatoes
diced avocado
greek yogurt or sour cream

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

1.) Start by placing a large (oven proof, preferably cast iron) skill over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil to the pan, and let it get nice and hot. When the pan and oil are hot, add the potatoes, and spread them into a single layer in the pan. (Pro tip: the oil will be very, very hot – so, if you just toss the potatoes into the pan all willy-nilly? The oil WILL splash up on you and burn your forearms. Be gentle, if you care to keep the skin you have.)

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

2.) Allow the potatoes to cook for a good three minutes or so – they should be nice and brown (and release easily from the pan) before you start flipping them. Continue flipping them every few minutes until they’re golden brown, and ALMOST cooked through; they should still have a bit of bite to them, so they don’t end up overcooking in the oven. Sprinkle them with a generous pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

3.) Remove the potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate. Add a touch more oil to the pan if needed, and add the bell pepper and onion to the pan. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, and saute for a couple minutes, until the vegetables are starting to brown and soften.

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

4.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet, and add your sausage. Cook the sausage, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until it’s browned and cooked through.

5.) Partially drain the can of diced tomatoes and chiles; you want a bit of liquid in there, to help deglaze the pan. Pour the tomatoes and what’s left of their liquid into the skillet, and use your wooden spoon to scrape up any delicious browned bits from the bottom. Add the potatoes back to the pan, stir everything together, and season with a touch more salt and pepper, the garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

6.) Sprinkle half the grated cheddar over the hash. Use the back of your wooden spoon to create four small indentations in the hash; crack one egg into each indentation, and then sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top.

7.) Place the skillet into the oven, and allow the hash to cook until the whites of the eggs are set, about 10 minutes. If you prefer a non-runny yolk, you’ll want to leave the skillet in the oven for 15-17 minutes.

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

8.) Remove the skillet from the oven; sprinkle with some chopped parsley, then roughly section the hash into 4 wedges (one egg in each), and serve with toppings of your choice.

What a delicious and filling breakfast! My husband and I both really enjoyed this dish – and it’s incredibly versatile. I happened to have some leftover turkey Italian sausage from making this pasta on Friday, so I used that – but you could use pork sausage, ground beef, or even some already cooked chicken sausages, diced. The vegetables can be switched up however you want – a different color bell pepper, a white or yellow onion, some leftover roasted brussels sprouts, etc. I will say, I inadvertently overcooked my eggs – but even without the runny egg yolk to coat the potatoes and vegetables, the whole thing was incredibly tasty.

Potato and Sausage Skillet with Baked Eggs

This would make a great brunch dish for guests, as you could easily chop and prep all the vegetables ahead of time, to minimize active cooking time. Use slightly larger amounts of each ingredient, a few more eggs, and a bigger skillet, and you would easily have enough for 6 or 8 people. You could even make it vegetarian, by using a meat substitute in place of the sausage (or no meat at all)!

Some of my best ideas come from the saddest, loneliest items that got lost in the back of the fridge,

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto

So, you whipped up a batch of kale pesto last week, and you had a bit leftover… not quite enough to freeze for another batch of pasta, but enough that it seems silly to throw away. A few tablespoons worth, maybe. I found myself in this exact situation this past week – or, almost this exact situation. Turns out, the monster bunch of kale I used to make my pesto actually produced enough pesto for TWO one-pound batches of pasta… and then some. I mixed some of the pesto with linguine for dinner (and several leftover lunches for my husband), froze another portion to have on hand for an easy dinner later, and still had about a quarter cup left. I threw it in the fridge, knowing I’d come up with a way to use it later.

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto

Well, later came – and it was yet another exceptionally frigid day, with a threat of snow. By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted and freezing, and wanted nothing more than to put on my warmest sweats, and make dinner in less than 15 minutes. Enter: leftover kale pesto! A quick scan of the fridge produced two great ways to use up the leftovers. First, grilled cheese sandwiches, fancied up with some kale pesto, and crisped prosciutto. Second? A delicious dip for raw vegetables that took approximately 8 seconds to make. And BAM, dinner was done!

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto
serves 2

4 slices sandwich bread (I used a fairly hearty white bread)
2 T leftover kale pesto
2 one ounce slices of provolone cheese (mozzarella or monterey jack would be fine, too)
3 thin slices of prosciutto
2 T grated asiago cheese or parmesan cheese
salted butter

1.) Start by crisping up your prosciutto. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and throw in the prosciutto slices; it should take just a minute or two on each side for the prosciutto to render some fat, crisp up, and turn golden brown. Remove the prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto

2.) On two of the slices of bread, spread a tablespoon of the kale pesto. Top with the provolone cheese, then the prosciutto, then the asiago or parmesan. Top each sandwich with the remaining slices of bread.

3.) Heat a skillet over medium low heat, and melt about half a teaspoon of butter in the center of the pan. Most people spread softened butter directly on to the bread for their grilled cheese; personally, I find that, while it results in a crispy, buttery, brown crust on the sandwich, it’s a little TOO buttery and greasy for my liking (and I LOVE me some butter, trust me). By melting the butter directly into the skillet, you’re able to use a lot less, and still get the desired brown, crispy crust. ANYWAYS (my apologies for my lecture on Grilled Cheese Etiquette), melt the bit of butter in the center of the pan, and then add your sandwich to the pan.

(Please excuse my excessively dirty stove top. I swear I cleaned it as soon as I was done making these grilled cheese sandwiches.)

(Please excuse my excessively dirty stove top. I swear I cleaned it as soon as I was done making these grilled cheese sandwiches.)

4.) Cook each sandwich for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the bread is golden brown, and the cheese is fully melted (I often loosely tent the pan with foil, to help speed up the cheese melting process). Add a bit more butter to the pan when you flip the sandwich, so the second side will brown nicely as well.

5.) Allow the sandwiches to rest for a couple minutes after removing them from the pan, so the cheese can firm up slightly, then cut in half and serve.

Of course, this “recipe” is about as flexible as they come. If you don’t have prosciutto? Use bacon! If you don’t want to use meat? Don’t! If you think tomatoes would really make this grilled cheese amazing? Put some in! Got some leftover caramelized onions looking for a home? Add ’em to your sandwich!

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto, Kale Pesto and Greek Yogurt Vegetable Dip

To make the vegetable dip, here’s what you need to do: place 1/3 cup of plain greek yogurt or sour cream into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of leftover kale pesto. Stir. Serve with raw vegetables or crackers of your choice. (It may have taken me 1,000 words to tell you how to make a grilled cheese, but I can be succinct about a two-ingredient dip, dammit!)

The point of all of these very, very many words: even if you HATE leftovers (*Tina quietly raises her hand*), you can often make them into something totally different than their original state. Leftover meatballs can become meatball pizza! Extra ham from Easter turns into a delicious dip! A pesto that began its life as a pasta sauce is now a sandwich spread!

Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto

I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation points this morning,