Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Egg and Chick Peas

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Egg and Chick Peas

Yes, I know it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s also hot in Tunisia, from where this recipe gets its inspiration. Shakshuka is a traditional Tunisian breakfast composed of simmered tomatoes, peppers, aromatics and poached eggs. It’s meant to be spicy which is a nifty DIY method for keeping cool in the Saharan heat. (The more you sweat, the more you cool off). As for me, I’ll take anything spicy for the sake of spice, regardless of temperature and geography – especially when it’s screams comfort food like this. The Tunisians call shakshuka breakfast, but I’ve added sausage, kale and chickpeas (why hold back?) and prefer to call it dinner. It’s delicious as is, served with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and yolk. For a complete meal, spoon prepared couscous into shallow serving bowls. Make a well in the center of the couscous and ladle the ragout and and egg into the center of the couscous. All you need as an accompaniment is green salad, chilled wine – and a fan.

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Eggs and Chick Peas

Prepare this in a 10-inch deep skillet and serve family-style at the table. If you’re feeling fancy and are lucky enough to have cute individual skillets as pictured above, then prepare the ragout in one large skillet or pot. Before adding the eggs, divide the ragout between individual skillets placed on the stovetop over medium heat, and add one egg to each skillet. Serves 4 to 6.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 pound hot Italian or chorizo sausages, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 large garlic clove
6 ounces (small bunch) Tuscan/Lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1 32-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce, to taste
4 to 6 large eggs
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages. Cook, turning, until brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer sausages with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard the oil from the pan – do not rinse out the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onion to the skillet. Saute onion over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits, until onion begins to soften, 2 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and cumin. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add kale and cook, stirring, until leaves brighten in color and begin to wilt. Return sausages to the pan. Add tomatoes, chick peas and salt; stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If desired, add harissa or hot sauce to taste. Simmer, partially covered, over medium-low heat, to slightly thicken and allow the flavors to develop, 15 to 20 minutes. Make an indentation in the ragout with a spoon. Crack one egg in a small bowl. Gently slide egg into the indentation. Repeat with remaining eggs, taking care not to overlap the eggs. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks remain runny, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon ragout with one egg into individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve with crusty bread or prepared couscous.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Lamb Stew with Raisins and Honey from TasteFood
Spinach Gratin with Hardboiled Eggs from Simply Recipes
Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup from TasteFood
Baby Kale, Mozzarella and Egg Bake from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata from TasteFood
Egg and Cheese Strata from Leite’s Culinaria

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata

For the past month I’ve been receiving a box of organic produce each week from a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Bay area called Full Circle. They are the West Coast’s leading organic produce delivery service, and have recently expanded into Northern California, supplying farm fresh ingredients from local farmers to the Bay area community. They reached out to me with an invitation to try their service. Since I am a sucker for produce and buy organic as much as possible, how could I resist? Now, each Wednesday morning I wake to a carton outside my front door filled with a selection of fruits and vegetables supplied by local organic farms. It feels like Christmas. I never know what I will get (although, they are happy to supply any requests I might have), but I prefer the surprise. It saves me a few trips to the market, and my refrigerator stays full with just-fresh produce that I use for cooking inspiration.

I made this tart as an appetizer for dinner last night. It was a great way to use the Swiss Chard I received in my box this week. I also added kale, since I always have kale in my refrigerator. I served the tart at room temperature and cut it in random pieces that I arranged on a cutting board for everyone to eat with their fingers. It was a nice rustic presentation that tasted great with a glass of chilled rosé on a warm summer evening.

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata
Loosely adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali

Serves 4 to 6 as a light course or 8 as an appetizer

2 pounds Swiss chard and/or kale, washed, tough stems removed
Salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)

Heat the oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and kale. Blanch until the greens soften and brighten in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the greens, then refresh under cold water. Lay the leaves on a kitchen towel and blot dry. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, chili flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are limp and turning golden brown. Add the chard and kale. Sauté until the greens are wilted and all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the skillet from heat.
Whisk eggs, 1/4 cup grated cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper together in a bowl. Pour over the greens. Gently nudge the greens around to evenly distribute the eggs. Mix the remaining 1/4 cheese and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the tart. Bake in oven until eggs are set and the top of the tart is tinged golden brown, about 45  minutes. If desired, run the tart under the broiler to further brown the top, 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Kale Gratins

Kale Gratins

~ Kale Gratins ~

It takes a village. I consider myself lucky to be connected to an abundant group of friends whom I’ve met over the past few years through my blog and various food communities. These talented cooks and writers have become colleagues and pals whom I also consider like-minded souls. In this era of the far reaching internet, some of these friendships remain virtual (yet they feel so real) while others have luckily manifested into get-togethers and family dinners.

Which brings me to this lovely little side dish. The inspiration came to me this week from a post by my friend Steve who writes the wonderful blog Oui Chef. I haven’t met Steve in person yet, but I feel like we go a long way back, sharing similar food and travel interests, and a passion to feed our families well while sharing in the pleasure of cooking. He posted this cozy recipe for Creamed Kale that had my attention the minute I read it. Blame it on the rain that day, or just the fact that I adore kale, but I wanted to eat it right then and there. Steve dedicated this recipe to another good friend of ours, Liz, who authors the blog Liz the Chef. A while back Liz posted a phenomenal recipe for Spinach Gratin on Food 52 (which is where these friendships began – thanks Food52!) Liz and I have had the good fortune to meet a number of times, sharing meals at our dining table and connecting at food blog events. Her spinach gratin has been on my mental to-do list since the moment I saw it. And when Steve’s recipe popped up, I had all of the inspiration I needed to make these little Kale Gratins – thanks to my village of food-loving friends.

Kale Gratin

I served these as an accompaniment to steaming bowls of Cioppino Stew this weekend. Makes 6 individual gratins or one large gratin.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 bunches kale (I used a combination of curly and Tuscan), ribs removed, coarsely chopped – about 10 cups

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat butter in a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, until bubbling and golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove pan from heat and add kale. Stir to completely coat the kale leaves; they will begin to wilt. When the kale is thoroughly coated and slightly wilted, divide between gratin dishes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until the tops of the gratins are golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

If you like this you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian
Potato Gratins
Root Vegetable Gratin

Potato Gratins

Potato Gratins

Yes, that’s potato gratins in the plural – not singular. I made these last weekend. Not only are they very cute in their individual ramekins, they are also elegantly and cleverly portioned. This ensures that you will be less likely to find yourself gobbling up half a baking dish of gratinéed potatoes or wrestling your child for the last crunchy cheesy corner stuck to the rim. Just saying. It happens.

Potato Gratins

A mandoline works best for thinly slicing the potatoes. Keep the skins on for extra nutrients and texture to balance out all of the cheesy goodness. Makes 8.

Unsalted butter
2 cups full-fat sour cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small white, Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, washed, very thinly sliced – no more than 1/8 inch thick
8 ounces grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 8 3/4-cup ramekins. Whisk sour cream, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl. Arrange 2 layers of potatoes overlapping in ramekins. Top with a heaping teaspoon of sour cream, spreading to cover the potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat layering process, occasionally sprinkling with additional salt and pepper, until ramekins are full, gently pressing down on each layer. Finish with a layer of sour cream and grated cheeese. Arrange ramekins on a baking tray. Bake until potatoes are tender and top is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour. (If top browns before potatoes are fully cooked, lightly cover with foil to prevent burning.) Serve hot.

Brussels Sprout Gratin

Brussels Sprout Gratin


~ Brussels Sprout Gratin ~

If you have more than one child you may understand this tale: I have two children. One is an adventurous eater, and one is not. One loves fish, and the other can’t stand it (although I don’t really remember her tasting much of it.) One loves butter, while the other would prefer not to be seated at the same table with it. My highly unscientific theory is that this is nature’s way of ensuring that it’s offspring do not starve. If siblings have opposite tastes, then there is enough sustenance to feed the litter. After all, how would our species advance? At least this is how I console myself as a parent and a cook.

Which brings me to brussels sprouts. OK, I understand that you don’t have to be a child genetically predisposed to preserving the human race to dislike brussels sprouts. These little crucifers are enough to rile many a mature adult. But in our home, they are enjoyed – at least by most of us. My son likes them, and, therefore, my daughter does not. So, in a moment of inspiration and indefatigable hope I purchased a bag of firm pretty brussels sprouts at the market today with a plan. Instead of stir-frying or steaming them, I would gratinée them. While my daughter dislikes brussels sprouts, she loves gratins. Anything cheesy, creamy and crispy is right up her alley. Why not? I would give it a try. And you know what? She liked it. The problem is that my son, who dislikes rich and creamy food, did not.

Brussels Sprout Gratin
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Wash brussels sprouts. Trim outer leaves and bottoms, then cut in half. Steam brussels sprouts until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and light golden in color. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the Gruyere cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg until smooth. Pour over the brussel sprouts and stir to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a gratin dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano in another small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the brussels sprouts. Bake in oven until golden brown and heated through.

Ratatouille Gratin

~ Ratatouille Gratin ~

It’s that time of year when the vegetables sneak up on you. A month ago, summer squash were elusive, appearing in the markets in small groups at a price. In the garden they were merely a hint of themselves peeking from their flowers. Purchases felt premature, tasting a little bitter, and costing too much for something you knew would soon be prolific.

~
Then, before you know it, a month has passed and squash are teeming everywhere. The garden is lobbing them to you like tennis balls, the market shelves are stacked with zucchini, crooknecks, and patty pans, ripe and ready for consumption. With the bounty, it’s time to get creative, because, ironically, it’s easy to tire of this abundance, and that is a shame.  So, yesterday I was determined to use my imagination to celebrate summer squash. Instead of a traditional ratatouille, I made a gratin. And before I made the gratin, I played a little bit with my food and made Ratatouille Stacks.

~ Ratatouille Stacks ~

The ingredients are identical, only the arrangement is different. Serve the gratins as side dishes or a light vegetarian meal. The stacks are fun appetizers.

Ratatouille Gratin with Goat Cheese and Basil

Try to choose squash and eggplant of a similar diameter. This recipe makes enough for an 8 to 9-inch square or round pan. Alternatively, you can arrange the vegetables in smaller individual gratin dishes.

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

1 narrow eggplant, about 10 ounces
1 medium zucchini, about 6 ounces
1 medium yellow squash, about 6 ounces
1 large red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces, plus extra for garnish
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven broiler.
2. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash crosswise about 1/3 inch thick. (If the eggplant is much wider than the squash, quarter lengthwise and slice 1/3 inch thick.)
3. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and peppers in one layer on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with additional oil and lightly season with salt and black pepper. Broil on the top shelf of the oven until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy, and brown in spots, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. Remove and cool to the touch.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8 or 9-inch square or round gratin dish. Arrange the vegetables, alternating and slightly overlapping, in rows or a circular pattern. Tuck the basil between the vegetables in a random pattern so that it is evenly distributed. Scatter grape-size amounts of the goat cheese evenly over the vegetables.
5. Bake the gratin in the oven until the cheese is soft and light golden in spots, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with extra basil if desired.

Summer Berry Tian

Summer Berry Tian

~ Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries: summer in a dish ~

This berry tian highlights the ease of summer in its simplicity of ingredients and preparation. The season’s best fruit – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries -are blanketed with a cardamom-infused custard and baked, resulting in a refreshing and delightful dessert. Tian is a french word for a shallow earthenware casserole, often gratineed, an appropriately simple and elegant name for this dish. Enjoy warm or chilled.

~
Summer Berry Tians (Clafoutis)

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 to 55 minutes
Makes 8 (6-ounce) tians

Unsalted softened butter for greasing the tians
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, quartered strawberries
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups half and half
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 8 (6-ounce) shallow ramekins (or 1 (10-inch) ceramic tart pan). Sprinkle the ramekins with the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and tap out any excess. Place the ramekins on a baking tray. Arrange the berries in one layer in the ramekins.
2. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the half and half, flour, lemon zest, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt until just combined.
3. Pour the mixture over fruit. Transfer the tians to the oven and bake until the tops are tinged golden brown and the custard is set, about 25 minutes for the ramekins (or 35 to 40 minutes for the tart pan). Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
4. Before serving, sprinkle the tians with powdered sugar and garnish with additional lemon zest. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.