Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta

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Tom and I are starting our Jeff Galloway half-marathon training program next week and I am busy reading about foods that will help fuel us without weighing us down. I know pasta is considered a “no-no” in many circles, but whole grain pasta just can’t be beat for giving me long lasting carb energy.

This pasta recipe came about from a Pinterest pin by Lauren’s Latest. The original recipe for Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo sounded so good, I couldn’t wait to try it. Fortunately, our peppers here are going crazy this fall, so beautiful sweet red peppers are quite affordable at the farmers markets. I increased the amount of red bell pepper and added some fresh shrimp and some local, organic Shitake mushrooms, but otherwise I stuck pretty close to the original recipe.

The result was a light and delicious pasta that had a fresh taste, but also had the rich taste of the goat cheese. We used some basil-black pepper local goat cheese from the Hillsborough Cheese Company, and it was super with the red peppers.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta (makes four servings)

  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti pasta
  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 6-8 fresh, Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Heat a gas grill to high.
  2. While grill is heating, toss the whole bell peppers with the tablespoon of olive oil. Using tongs, put the peppers on the hot grill. Cover and let cook for about 8 minutes, turning peppers every 3-4 minutes. Peppers are done when the skin is charred all over.
  3. Put the hot peppers in a large bowl and cover the bowl with a lid or a plate. Let steam for about 15 minutes.
  4. Put a stock pot of water on to boil (for pasta).
  5. While peppers are cooling, heat the grapeseed oil in a deep skillet. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft.
  6. While onions are cooking, remove the charred skins, stems and seeds from the roasted peppers. Chop the peppers and add them to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring well.
  7. Add the cup of half and half, asiago and the goat cheese. Stir until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes or so.
  8. Pour the mixture into a blender or CAREFULLY use an immersion blender to puree the pepper/goat cheese mixture (NOTE: my pan was too shallow, making a splattery mess once I cranked up the immersion blender. I ended up pouring the mixture into a large, deep bowl, pureeing it, and returning it to the pan.)
  9. Cook the pasta according to directions.
  10. While pasta cooks, add the shrimp and mushrooms to the blended sauce, and cook until shrimp are pink and opaque–about 6 minutes.
  11. Drain the pasta and add pasta to the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta well.
  12. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh parsley or more cheese.
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Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza

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Seeing figs at the farmer’s market is a bittersweet thing. On the one hand, I love figs, and I’m almost out of Sticky Fig Jam, so I’m ready to get moving to make some more. On the other hand, the arrival of figs means the end of summer, which is always a sad time for me. Recipes like this Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza give me a reason to smile, though! This pizza is incredibly simple and very, very tasty. The way the end of summer should be, right?

For this pizza, I used fresh, local goat cheese and onions and figs from our farmer’s market. The onions in this recipe are caramelized quickly using a “cheat” of vinegar and sugar, but you can skip the sugar if you want–it gives the onions the flavor of caramelization without the long cooking time, but you can do what works for you. Don’t skimp on the balsamic vinegar though–the pairing of the vinegar with the onions and the cheese is pretty spectacular. We used coconut sugar in our recipe, mostly because we have it handy and I am totally in love with it. It is sustainably produced and has a flavor almost like brown sugar, but is minimally processed and closer to a natural state. I wouldn’t buy it just for this pizza, but it’s worth trying in all kinds of baked dishes.

Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza (Serves 2)

  • 1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust (see below or use your own)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large, sweet organic onion, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or organic, unbleached cane sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 10-12 fresh organic figs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thirds
  • 1 cup grated, fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare pizza dough and let rise according to recipe directions.
  3. In a medium size skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent and soft. Sprinkle with salt to help the onion release its juices (this will help keep it from browning too fast). Reduce heat if onion starts to brown or burn.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar to the onion, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and make sure onion does not burn.
  5. Stretch and shape the pizza dough into your desired shape onto a baking sheet or pizza stone (our pizzas are almost never really round, and we are okay with that!).
  6. Mash the goat cheese and distribute evenly over the pizza dough surface.
  7. Top the goat cheese with the caramelized onions.
  8. Arrange the fig slices on top of the goat cheese. Top the pizza with the Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is cooked and the cheese is bubbly and melted.
  10. Serve immediately.

Roasted Vegetable Tarts with Fig and Goat Cheese

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This roasted vegetable tart is a wonderful, light dinner that makes the most of seasonal, fresh vegetables. This could easily be brunch as well! We used zucchini, squash and onions from our Produce Box this week along with organic broccoli from the farmer’s market and some cherry tomatoes from last summer that we stashed in the freezer. The base is our very own Sticky Fig Jam and the tarts were topped with local goat cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Company. A very locavore dish!

These tarts are very light and if you have hungry family, double this recipe!

Roasted Vegetable Tarts with Fig and Goat Cheese (makes 4 tarts or two servings)

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 package)
  • 1 beaten egg white
  • 4 cups chopped vegetables (we used 1 yellow squash, 1 zucchini, 1 spring onion, 12 cherry tomatoes and 1/2 lb. fresh broccoli)
  • 4 ounces fig preserves
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Unfold the puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cut into four equal squares.
  3. Brush the squares with the egg white and use a fork to crimp the edges of each square.
  4. Bake pastry for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and gently press each square with a spatula so it is slightly flattened. Let cooling the baking sheet.
  6. While pastry is cooling, cut up vegetables into small pieces, toss with olive oil and roast on a foil lined baking sheet for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  7. Vegetables are done when lightly browned and no liquid remains on the baking sheet.
  8. Assemble your lovely tarts–spoon about 2 tablespoons fig preserves onto each puff pastry square. Top with about 1 cup of the roasted vegetables. Divide your goat cheese among the four tarts and sprinkle on top.
  9. Set your broiler to low and broil put the baking sheet with the tarts under the broiler for about 30-45 seconds, just until the cheese is soft and the pastry is crispy (mine here is a little too crispy, but still delicious!).

Hillsborough Cheese Company

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My child is in love. With a cheese.

Really, it could be worse, right? This sweet infatuation began at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market, where we visited the booth of artisanal cheese makers The Hillsborough Cheese Company (hillsboroughcheese.wordpress.com). We had been looking for a local cheese source, and were thrilled to find the cheese booth, complete with tasting opportunities. We sampled a few and ended up purchasing some Eno Sharp for grilled cheese and some fresh mozzarella for pizza.

Then, we tried the Bloomin’ Sweet Ash, an aged goat cheese that gets its ashy exterior from the application of a food grade vegetable ash. Really! They describe the cheese this way: ‘The result is a creamy, gooey layer surrounding a delicious, chevre-like spreadable center that alternates between notes of sweetness and bitterness.” My child believes this is the best cheese. Ever. I heard about the virtues and superior quality of this cheese all the way home. Apparently, I am going to be adding this to my list next week.

Hillsborough Cheese Company offers a nice range of cow and goat milk cheeses made with locally produced milk. Their cow milk comes from Maple View Farm in Orange County, which sets the standard in our area for high quality, no growth hormone milk from pasture raised cows. Their goat milk comes from similar high quality goat dairies in the area. Cheesemaker Cindy West focuses on crafting European style cheeses and it appears that they have some standard offerings as well as some seasonal varieties that take advantage of available local ingredients.

So how was the cheese? We tried the Eno Sharp in our grilled cheese last night and all of us agreed it was amazing. It had perfect melting qualities and a wonderful milky taste that was not overly sharp, but had enough flavor that we could really taste the cheese. Hard to describe (I’m not a cheese expert by any means). We would definitely do this again.

The mozzarella is a fresh, hand stretched mozzarella that we used on our homemade pizzas. It was so much more flavorful than store-bought pizza cheese that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to shredded cheese in a bag. A $4.00 round of cheese made enough grated cheese for two pizzas, so that’s $2.00 a pizza–definitely within our budget.

Hillsborough Cheese Company cheese is available at some farmer’s markets in the area–check their website for specific information. As for me, I’ll be heading out Saturday to purchase some Bloomin’ Sweet Ash for my bloomin’ sweetie.

Week 21 Budget and Menu

We are gearing up for another exciting, busy week. Softball season is keeping us hopping and we are enjoying every second of it! Our menu this week reflects not only our need for quick dinners, but also our celebration of Memorial Day! We haven’t had beef on our menu in a long time and we are going to enjoy every bite of these grilled hamburgers!

Our budget is under budget, even with wine from Trader Joes 🙂 Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Let summer begin!

Budget [$88.58]

  • The Produce Box (asparagus, romaine lettuce, garden peas, cilantro, strawberries, spring onions, kale): $27.50
  • Locals Seafood (crab cakes): $10.20
  • Mae Farm (smoked pork): $6.00
  • Melina’s Pasta (spinach fettucine): $6.00
  • Black Hoof Run Farm (heritage, grass-fed ground beef):$6.32
  • Trader Joes (burger buns, organic onions, organic chicken, frozen fruit, wine): $27.56
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (roasted pepper ketchup, jam): $5.00

Menu

  • Wednesday–Scrambled egg tortillas
  • Thursday–Pasta with smoked pork and garden peas
  • Friday–Salad with strawberries, pecans and goat cheese
  • Saturday–NC crab cakes, creamy grits and asparagus
  • Sunday–Grilled beef burgers with bacon-onion marmelade, green salad, fruit parfaits
  • Monday–Barbecued chicken, deviled eggs, broccoli salad
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Week 19 Budget and Menu

Our little family is unbelievably busy this spring! Between softball, Girl Scouts and homework, our evenings are chock full of activity. Rather than drive myself to distraction trying to race home and cook a big supper, we are focusing on easy, healthy meals that are also quick to prepare.

We are right at our budget of $100.00 this week. While we aren’t spending a lot more at the farmer’s markets, staples that we buy at the grocery sure have gone up! Have you noticed this as well? Yikes!

Most of our budget for week 19 went to The Produce Box. I have to say, they pulled out the stops this week. I’ve never had local, fresh bamboo shoots! They take a bit of preparation, but it will be fun to try something new. We will also have fresh snap peas and local goat cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Company. Can’t wait!!!

Speaking of excitement, SOLE Food Kitchen now has a Facebook page! Click HERE to find us on Facebook and “like” us if you want to get more SOLE Food goodness!

Budget [$100.03]

  • The Produce Box (strawberries, spring onions, spring garlic, romaine lettuce, tomato, purple and green asparagus, bamboo shoots, snap peas and herbed goat cheese): $47.50
  • Trader Joes (roast beef, chicken thighs, prosciutto, rice, frozen fruit, yogurt, soymilk): $38.53
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (jam, salsa, pickles, roasted tomato sauce): $14.00

Menu

  • Wednesday–Scrambled farm egg burritos with homemade salsa
  • Thursday–Roast beef wraps with herbed goat cheese spread, strawberry/pineapple salad
  • Friday–Grilled cheese and jam sandwiches, green salad, strawberry cobbler
  • Saturday–Chicken and vegetable stir fry with organic rice, leftover cobbler
  • Sunday–Pasta with asparagus and prosciutto in a goat cheese sauce, Linzer muffins
  • Monday–Chicken salad sandwiches, homemade pickles
  • Tuesday–Asparagus soup, salad

Have a happy and healthy week ahead!

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