Spaghetti Bolognese

There’s something so comforting about Italian food, especially the way it brings family and friends together. Whenever I cook Italian, I try to channel an old Italian grandmother by using this age-old secret ingredient: love. By putting all my love into the food and preparation, a good meal can become a great meal.

Bolognese is a staple of Italian cooking, though I actually had zero experience making a bolognese sauce before this.  I’m all about easy always, so this recipe is right up my alley. Use the freshest ingredients whenever possible (just another way you can add love to the meal), including fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones if they’re in season. To make this recipe even easier, I recommend having a blender on hand to help with the sauce.

Ingredients

-5 large tomatoes, medium or large diced depending on your blender (my favorite, if you have access to them, are early girl organic dry-farmed tomatoes)

-6 basil leaves

-3 whole garlic cloves, plus 2 chopped garlic cloves (keep separate)

-1lb ground beef (grass-fed, organic)

-1 yellow onion, small diced

-1 lb shitake mushrooms, chopped

-2 tablespoons tomato paste

-extra virgin olive oil

-salt, pepper

-crushed red pepper flakes

-spaghetti

 

Instructions

  1. In a blender, add these ingredients in the following order: 1/2 cup olive oil, chopped tomatoes, 3 whole garlic cloves, basil, salt, and pepper.  Blend until it’s a sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan.  Add the chopped meat, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and chopped garlic. Break apart the meat using a wooden spatula or another cooking utensil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until meat is browned and vegetables are soft. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste.  Stir in the tomato paste until it becomes dark in color, then pour the sauce from the blender. Let the sauce simmer for some time (could be as long as an hour) to get a really flavorful sauce.
  3. Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a rapid boil.  Add spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes until al dente.  Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Strain the spaghetti and return to the pot.
  4. Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer for a few minutes.  Add the sauce to the pot of spaghetti and stir in to combine.  Plate and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!

 

*Some notes about cooking pasta:

– Never add oil to the pot of water or you’ll get sticky pasta.  Add oil after the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking together.

-Always salt the water.

-Reserve pasta water and add to your sauce to allow the sauce to easily mix and stick to the pasta.

Spiced Chicken With Parsley Mint Sauce

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I can’t pretend I watch a lot of basketball, but I sure do follow NBA superstar Steph Curry’s wife, Ayesha Curry. Ayesha Curry is the bomb. Not only does she have the most adorable family and AMAZING kitchen, but she’s an excellent cook.  I happened to catch her on the Cooking Channel preparing this spiced chicken dish. It’s very easy to replicate and tastes so damn good, especially when paired with coconut rice. YUM.

For the Chicken:

-2 organic, skinless chicken breasts

-2 tablespoons paprika

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon cumin

-salt and pepper

For the Parsley Mint Sauce:

-1 1/2 cup parsley

-handful fresh mint leaves

-2 scallions, chopped

-3/4 cup olive oil

-1/4 cup white wine or water

-juice of one lemon

-4 cloves garlic

For the Rice 

-1 can organic coconut milk

-2 cups white jasmine rice

-1 1/4 cups water

-scallions, chopped

-2 pinches of salt

Instructions:

  1. Place rice in a medium saucepan with the water, salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Leave the lid on and remove from heat for about 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and mixing in the chopped scallions.
  2. For the chicken, combine all spices in a bowl. Rub the chicken in the spice mixture until evenly coated. Heat a large skillet or grill pan with some oil and/or a little butter to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides, about 6-8 minutes per side.
  3. For the sauce, place the herbs, white wine or water, lemon, honey, garlic and scallions in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve the chicken over the rice, then drizzle on the parsley mint sauce and add a vegetable side if desired.

 

Getting Dirty

IMG_4301One of my favorite things about living in California is our Mediterranean climate and access to amazing food.  My city is surrounded by farms with fresh produce and humanely-raised animals.  That being said, you don’t need to live in California to enjoy the foods grown by your local farmers.  If you don’t know how to find farms near your area, I suggest looking at the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) website for locally grown produce.

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Last week I decided to get hands on and visit one of my local farms.  Green Skies Vertical Farming is a small farm just across the bay from me in West Oakland.  They grow lots of microgreens and lettuces.  My favorite plant I got to nibble on was the stevia plant, which tasted just like a cube of sugar!  I helped the guys there repot some escarole lettuce.  Here are some photos from my experience!

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Never tried microgreens before?  Here’s how I like to eat them:

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Healthy detox salad: microgreens, avocado, radish, tomato, chickpeas, quinoa, feta cheese, salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil

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Eggs & toast with avocado, tomato, microgreens, pickled sweet red onion, salt, pepper