Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment


Up until this recipe, I kind of only enjoyed broccoli in two forms- either slathered in sugary sauce form Chinese takeout, or when prepared by a friend of mine down in DC. She’d host dinner parties and often make broccoli. I have no idea what she did, but it was always so good (hmm sorry I can’t be of more help there). But then. But then came this recipe. One of those why have I waited this long to make this recipe kind of recipes. It’s easy and delicious- the level of delicious where I want to eat an entire pan of roasted broccoli myself. I’m pretty sure it’s the lemon juice and zest which seals the deal here, and the way the broccoli and its leaves gets slightly charred- completely irresistable. You want a nice al denté bite to the broccoli, so when it gets around the 20 minute mark of roasting, test it by pushing a knife or fork into one of the stalks- it should resist a bit. Also, if you’re using tiny broccoli florets, the cooking timing will likely be much less- I recommend checking after 15 minutes or so of roasting.

I know it’s Monday and I just showed you broccoli, but I assure you it is that good. Promise. Now let’s get to it!


Parmesan Roasted Broccoli from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics
Makes 6 servings

  • 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
  • garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves) (I made it once with basil and one without- I’d say it’s optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. While the broccoli cooks, place the pine nuts in a small frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. Set aside.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.


Learning to Love Kale

February 7, 2012 § 7 Comments

Friends,  I have some exciting news.  Channeling Contessa is getting a facelift! In just a few short weeks my blog will get a completely fresh look.  I’m so excited about the new design and all the new things it will bring to the blog, so here’s hoping it’s not too much longer before the new look is in place.

The work of redesigning a blog, or at least mine in this case, involves the oh so glamorous task of sorting through and re-cateorizing all my recipes from the past year plus. Props to those who do it with two or three years worth of recipes! The good news is that it will be much easier to navigate the different recipe categories on the new site.  It will also help me to, ahem, beef up the areas that are somewhat lacking… i.e. side dishes! This area definitely needs some attention on Channeling Contessa, which is why I’m glad I have a new favorite side dish to tell you all about.

Do you eat kale? It was definitely one of those items I felt I “should” be eating, after reading how unbelievably good it is for you.  But sautéed or steamed? I don’t love it.  Toss it with salt and olive oil and roast it, which turns regular kale into kale chips- I’ll inhale the whole thing. It’s kind of amazing how these thick leaves break down into crispy chips, but they somehow do.  And when you add in garlic salt, dried onion, sea salt, smoked paprika, or whatever you have on hand- they’re unbelievably delicious. I paired them with two fried eggs for lunch yesterday and I think that might be my favorite combination yet.  Enjoy!

Kale Chips adapted from Espresso and Cream 
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

  • 6 cups chopped kale, large stems removed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or regular salt)
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the rack on the lower third of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the kale in an even layer on the foil.  Pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the seasonings.  Toss with your hands to combine. Roast the kale for 15 minutes, tossing at 6 minutes, then 12 minutes, and removing from the oven at minute 15.  Serve immediately. As a warning, the chips will char up a bit.  I’ve seen some folks complain about this on other blogs, but it’s to be expected.  In order to get the kale crispy, a few of them will be pretty dark, but I find them still perfectly delicious!

Mashed Potatoes: This Year’s Secret Ingredient

November 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well maybe it’s not so secret, and I really can’t take credit for it, but I can tell you it’s really really good. This year I’m putting cream cheese in our Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.  Yep, cream cheese!

Do you guys cook with cream cheese?  I’m a little bit obsessed with it.  Yes I love it on bagels but I find when I have some around, it’s always useful in whatever I’m cooking, whether I’m thickening a sauce or making a dish a little bit more indulgent. And in mashed potatoes it is unbelievable.  We can’t credit this one to Ina, it’s full on Pioneer Woman. I haven’t talked  much about Ree Drummond here but I’ve always liked her recipes, and I think she’s a solid go to when it comes to fool proof comfort food. I made a variation of these mashed potatoes a few weeks back and shortly after I told my mom we had to have them at Thanksgiving!  I can’t wait to top them with gravy and cranberry sauce.

I modified the recipe a little bit by cutting back on the butter.  I know, I know, me of all people! I really do love butter,  but the amount used was even a bit too indulgent for my tastes.  It is Thanksgiving though, so feel free to go all out! Either variation is sure to be delicious.  Oh, and the best part?  You can make it a day ahead! You can never have too many make ahead dishes on Thanksgiving.

I’ll be back a little later tomorrow with some super simple tablescape ideas that I’m very excited to share. And, in case you need it- here’s a stellar sweet potato recipe. Happy holiday prepping!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman
Serves 10

  • 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup (to 3/4 cups) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese, and milk. Mash until very smooth with a potato masher. Next, add salt a pepper. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more if necessary (do not under salt!).

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish or oven proof bowl.  Place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until potatoes are warmed through (15-20 minutes).

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Photo Credit

My Stuffing Philosophy

November 16, 2011 § 6 Comments

I’m not gonna lie, I think my family’s stuffing is the best. No other stuffing is superior; my mother’s stuffing is sheer perfection. I don’t want to research new recipes, I just want the same sausage, apple, and cornbread stuffing she’s been making for years.

But don’t you feel the same way? Don’t you think your family’s stuffing is the best? I think most people feel this way, which is why I decided against posting a recipe and instead want to talk about my stuffing philosophy.  Even though I want no other stuffing on Thanksgiving, stuffing is stuffing and there are tons of other delicious recipes out there.  But here are my three requirements- you need something savory, you need something sweet, and you need a decent mix of breads. For savory I think something like sausage, thick cut bacon, or pancetta. For sweet I love granny smith apples, but what about pears or some sort of dried fruit like cranberries or dates? That would be delicious. And lastly- the bread. You need at least two kinds, if not three.  My family’s recipe includes peasant bread, whole wheat, and homemade corn bread. I don’t think I’ll ever give up having corn bread in my stuffing but there are so many other interesting and flavorful breads out there. What about rye, pumpernickel, or sour dough?

So tell me- what do you guys put in your stuffing?  Do you need something sweet and salty? What kind of bread do you use? Anyone have any good vegetarian stuffing recipes? I’d love to hear!

Ps:  If you’re interested in seeing my family’s recipe (I promise, it’s amazing!), leave a comment and I’ll email it to you!

Photo Credit

A Killer Thanksgiving Salad

November 10, 2011 § 8 Comments

I managed to actually get my act together this year and research some Thanksgiving recipes before the big day. I have a habit of keeping holiday issues of food magazines from previous years.  You can never make all the recipes in one season, so I love referring back to them in later years- they’re such a good source of inspiration!  I was thumbing through my November copy of Bon Appétit from 2009 last week and saw a Thanksgiving salad which really caught my eye- a brussels sprout slaw with mustard dressing and maple glazed pecans (I told you I had a salad coming!).

To see if it was fit for our Thanksgiving table, I did a “test round” this week and made the salad for dinner one night. I added thinly sliced green apples in with the brussels sprouts.  I just couldn’t resist the combination with the glazed pecans and spicy mustard dressing.  I let the salad marinate for three hours before serving. This softened the brussels sprouts and really brought the flavors together.

Before we even sat down to eat I had a hunch this one was a knock out.  Boy, did it deliver.  We loved it so much, it’s not only going on my Thanksgiving table, but will likely become a fall staple.  And to think I didn’t even like brussels sprouts that much! If they’re not your favorite either, you must must try them in salad form.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend ahead. My mom’s in town for a little joint birthday celebration.  More on that on Monday!

Brussels Sprout and Apple Slaw with Mustard Dressing slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 8 servings

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup large pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt plus additional for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

Make the pecans- recipe here. (can be made two days aheads).

Whisk mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar in small bowl; whisk in oil. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

To cut the brussels sprouts you can use a food processor fitted with 1/8- to 1/4-inch slicing disk, and feed them through, or slice then as thinly as possible with a knife and then gently pull apart the pieces.  Place the shave brussels sprouts and sliced apples in a large serving bowl.

Toss brussels sprouts and apples with dressing. Let marinate for 3 hours before serving. Mix in some pecans. Place slaw in serving bowl. Top with remaining pecans.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette ( and a winner!)

September 26, 2011 § 11 Comments

All- so sorry about the delay over here! Thanks to a lovely ticket I received this weekend, I had to get my car inspected this morning.  Oh the anger. Anyway, moving on! I’m very excited to announce we have a winner for last week’s giveaway.  Lisa of Karma Per Diem– congrats!  Please email your address to so I can get this fabulous prize to you. Thanks again to all who participated, I loved reading all of your delicious sandwich combinations.

Now- on to salad. A few weeks back I wrote a detailed post about how to make my salad dressing.  For this salad, forget that.  The magic of this salad is that the ingredients, when mixed together, actually make the dressing themselves. Yes you still use olive oil and vinegar, but everything is mixed into one bowl- no making a separate dressing. For someone who makes salad dressing almost every night of the week, this is a welcome change!

Here’s the breakdown: heirloom tomatoes, an English cucumber, some olives and salty feta, get tossed with a bit of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Then you let the salad sit. As it sits, the vinegar releases the juices in the tomatoes. As the juice mixes with the feta, it creates this incredible almost creamy-like feta vinaigrette. It’s downright addictive.

The thing is, you need really good heirloom tomatoes to make this salad happen.  Tomato season will soon come to a close, so I urge you, grab what’s left at your local farmer’s market and make this one this week. Another word of advice, never store your tomatoes in the fridge. Yes, never!  The cold makes them lose their flavor, so keep them in a bowl on your counter top.  And that goes for any type of tomato- not just heirloom. Got it? Cool.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

Serves 4

2 large or 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into large chunks

1/2 and English cucumber, diced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped olives

5 T olive oil

3 T red wine vinegar


Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives in a large bowl. Place the feta cheese on top. Pour the olive oil and vinegar over the salad, and sprinkle on a large pinch of salt and several grinds black pepper.  Toss the salad gently, so as not to bread up the tomatoes.  Let sit at room temp for one hour.  After one hour, taste for seasoning (you may need a little more salt or vinegar).  Serve immediately.  Salad can be stored in the fridge for up to two days, but it’s really best eaten the day of.

Find Your Chickpea

September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

Months ago, I read a post by Erin over at Fresh365 about chickpeas.Specifically, about finding your chickpea.  As a vegetarian, chickpeas are her go-to ingredient for creating an effortless but protein rich vegetarian dish. When friends question her ability to create innovative dishes while being a vegetarian, she urges them to “find their chickpea.”

I think I truly found my chickpea last March, when we went vegan for 3 weeks. During that time I began cooking with beans, especially chickpeas, all the time. We fried up a lot of chickpea fritters, threw them in salads, and made a ton of homemade hummus.  Nowadays I’ll always keep a can on hand, knowing I’ll throw it into some dish during the week.  Yesterday though, it dawned on me that I had never roasted chickpeas.  Pan fried, yes.  But roasted, no.  Inspired by many recipes online, I quickly threw together my first batch for lunch.  The results could not have been better, nor the process simpler.  The crunchy and salty warm beans served as the perfect addition to my salad.  These guys would also make for a great (not to mention effortless) appetizer or side dish.

PS:  Apologies for the quality of the photos, I’ve loaned out my SLR this week!

PPS:  If you haven’t done so already, there’s still plenty of time to enter my Barefoot Contessa inspired giveaway!

Roasted Chickpeas slightly adapted from Steamy Kitchen

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 T olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 garlic powder

several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating, drain and rinse your chickpeas, then pat them dry.  Be sure they are very dry, or else they will not crisp up nicely.  Place the chickpeas in a small roasting pan and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Roast for 30-35 minutes until the skins are crisp and golden brown in color.  Enjoy immediately as a snack or side dish, or serve over tossed mixed greens.

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