Crostini with Fresh Fava Bean Puree

Fava Bean Puree could be considered Italian guacamole. It is a garlicky, herby green paste that is fantastic when spread on crusty bread slices known as crostini.

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Finding fava beans is not always easy. Ample Bites finally found them at Caputo’s. Fava beans are an interesting vegetable that require quite a bit of preparation to use but they are well worth the effort. The beans are shelled from the long pods and then boiled for 2 minutes and ice bathed, to stop the cooking process, before they are then removed from their inner membrane. The two pounds of vegetable called for in this recipe will yield about 1 1/2 cups of beans.

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Crostini with Fresh Fava Bean Puree
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, 2013)

Makes 12 to 16 appetizer portions

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb,fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched and peeled
2 Tbsp minced fresh herbs (mint, basil and/or oregano)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter or heavy cream
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large baguette for crostini, cut on a bias in thin slices
Thinly sliced Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish

To prepare crostini: Heat oven to 400F. Arrange the bread slices on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and brush tops with olive oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the tops are beginning to turn golden. Allow to cool and store in a large zip-top bag for up to 3 days.

Warm the olive oil and minced garlic in a small skillet over very low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of peeled fava beans and add the remaining beans to the skillet. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the beans are tender enough to break apart with a wooden spoon but are still bright green, about 5 minutes. Dribble in butter or cream and, using a potato masher, gently mash the beans into a coarse paste. Add the lemon juice, herbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and mash again and then blend until smooth in a blender or food processor. Remove from the heat and fold in the reserved fava beans.

Scoop the puree into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the crostini and top each one with a shaving of cheese. Arrange on a platter, drizzle with very good oil and serve immediately.

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Roasted Radishes and Leeks with Thyme

Roasted Radishes and Leeks with Thyme is a dish that features summer vegetables that are not always present on the dinner table. The roasted radishes retain some of their bite but are sweet and tender when roasted. Try this vegetable side dish along with grilled pork or chicken.

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Roasted Radishes and Leeks with Thyme
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com, March/April 2014)

Serves 4

2 bunches radishes, halved if small/quartered if large
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large leek, white and light green part only, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450F.

Combine radishes, oil, salt and pepper in a large roasting pan. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir in leek. Continue roasting until the radishes are lightly browned and tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Stir in the butter and thyme and serve warm.

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Southwest Rosemary Chicken Skewers

Southwest Rosemary Chicken Skewers can be the centerpiece of a quick summer grilling meal. The marinade is a vinaigrette that is enhanced with some crushed red pepper and minced rosemary. To make the presentation of the dish a bit more festive use sturdy rosemary sprigs with about half of the leaves removed as skewers.

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Southwest Rosemary Chicken Skewers
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com, June 2014)

1 small onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 large red onion halved and then quartered
2 lbs. skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges for serving

In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, red pepper, rosemary, oregano, mustard, olive oil and lemon juice. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade. Season the chicken and red onion with salt and pepper and then add them to the larger bowl of marinade. Mix well, cover and marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium for direct cooking. Thread the chicken and red onion onto skewers; discard the marinade. Oil the grate and grill the skewers, turning occasionally and basting with the reserved marinade, until golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately with lime wedges for garnish.

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Stir-Fried Steak and Mushroom Salad

Stir-fried Steak and Mushroom Salad is great way to use leftover steak but it can be even better when made from scratch using thin strips of sirloin. The entire meal preparation including slicing the beef and vegetables should take less than 20 minutes and much of that work can be done ahead of time.

When serving this salad like most others, take care to dress the greens before topping them with the remaining ingredients to ensure that the tangy Basic Vinaigrette permeates the entire salad. Ample Bites prefers arugula for this salad because of its peppery flavor but other left-over lettuce or spinach can be used with equal success.

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Stir-Fried Steak and Mushroom Salad
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 2

1 lb. lean sirloin steak cut into 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch x 3-inch strips
8 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula
1 medium tomato, sliced
1/2 cup toasted croutons
1/4 cup shaved firm white cheese, such as Asiago, Parmesan or Smoked Gouda

For Basic Vinaigrette

1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare vinaigrette: Whisk garlic, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until emulsified and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small mason jar and chill. The vinaigrette can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Season sirloin slices with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet over medium high heat bring 2 tablespoons of oil to a shimmer. Add onions and mushrooms. Saute until just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook for another minute. Remove mushrooms, onions and garlic to a medium bowl and reserve. In the same skillet bring an additional 2 tablespoons of oil to a shimmer and, in batches, stir-fry the sirloin until just medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Drain any residual oil and juice and allow the sirloin to cool on a shallow dish.

To prepare the salad: Toss the arugula with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Place the dressed greens on serving plates, divide the tomatoes and steak-mushroom mixture equally between the plates. Re-season with salt and pepper. Top each salad with slices of cheese and croutons and apply more vinaigrette, to taste. Serve immediately.

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Barbacoa Tacos

Barbacoa is a Mexican cooking method that produces a tender and crispy shredded beef. Barbacoa Tacos with Salsa Verde Cruda is flavorful alternative to the more typical tacos presentations. Salsa Verde Cruda is a fresh, bright green mixture that is spicy and slightly acidic.

Save the braising liquid and freeze for use in place of beef broth in a future meal preparation.

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Barbacoa Tacos with Salsa Verde Cruda
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, June 2014)

Serves 4 to 6

4 large poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded
4 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
15 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
8 bay leaves
6 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne
1 12 oz. bottle Negro Modelo
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Warm corn tortillas
Lime wedges, for serving

Salsa Verde Cruda (see recipe below)

Broil poblanos on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet until skin is blackened. Allow to cool and then coarsely chop and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a Dutch oven, combine the poblanos, chipotles, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the beef ribs with the oregano, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper to coat. Place the seasoned ribs over the vegetables. Pour the beer into the vessel and then add enough water so that the ribs are almost completely covered with liquid. Cover tightly and braise for about 3 ½ hours, until the meat is fork-tender.

Heat grill to high. Working in batches, quickly grill the ribs over high heat until charred and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and chop or shred; discard any excess fat and the bones.

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Serve the barbacoa warm with Salsa Verde Cruda and favorite toppings like guacamole, sour cream, chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.

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Salsa Verde Cruda
Makes about 1 ¼ cups

½ lb. tomatillos, husked rinsed and quartered
½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice of ½ lime
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until serving.

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Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Crisps

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Crisps features salty, crunchy crisps with a fresh vegetables coated in a citrusy vinaigrette. In order to create substantial asparagus quarters you will need to find medium to large sprouts. Alternatively, the thinnest asparagus can be used as is.

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Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Crisps
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 4 to 8

4 oz. Parmesan, grated
1 large bunch medium asparagus, blanched and chilled
½ lb white mushrooms
2 Tbsp minced chives
2 garlic cloves, minced finely
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix the grated Parmesan with salt and pepper. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet. Spoon the grated Parmesan in 1-tablespoon mounds on the sheet; press lightly to flatten. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven; cool and transfer the crisps to a rack.

Quarter the blanched asparagus lengthwise. Trim the bottom from the mushroom stems so they will sit flat on a cutting surface. Slice the mushrooms as thin as possible.

Place the chives and garlic in a small bowl; cover with oil. Add the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt; whisk until smooth.

Gently toss the asparagus and mushrooms with the vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables.

To serve, divide the salad on serving plates; season with freshly ground black pepper, and garnish with the Parmesan crisps.

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Parmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp

Topping a rich risotto with juicy roasted Gulf shrimp is a simple way to make a luxuriant meal out of a few simple ingredients. Make Parmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp for a special dinner.

This recipe calls for shrimp stock. If you don’t have any in your pantry or freezer simply boil the shrimp shells in chicken or vegetable stock to make a faux shrimp stock.

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Parmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 6 to 8

1 ½ lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cups shrimp stock
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine at room temperature
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Rinse shrimp: pat dry with paper towels. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread the shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Warm the stock in a saucepan until almost simmering then keep it warm over low heat. In a separate Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion. Soften the onion, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to make sure the rice is coated with butter. Cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze with white wine scraping the pan with a wooden spoon until the wine has evaporated.

Begin adding the warm broth a ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladleful until the liquid has mostly been absorbed by the rice. Repeat until most of the broth has been used, about 20 minutes.

During the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven. Bake until the shrimp is pink, about 5 minutes.

When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat; stir in the Parmesan and about ½ cup of chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately topping the risotto with shrimp, a sprinkle of parsley and freshly grated Parmesan.

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Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Ginger-Pepper Ketchup

My Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Ginger-Pepper Ketchup feature two twists on the classic burger recipe. One is the combination of ground beef sirloin along with lean ground turkey. The second is a homemade ketchup that is fortified with some ground fresh ginger and red peppers.

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Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Ginger-Pepper Ketchup
(Adapted from a recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, April, 2014)

Serves 4

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium red pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 4-inch focaccia squares, split horizontally
1 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
4 slices provolone

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a medium amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully add the tomatoes and red pepper to the caramel and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree. Strain the ketchup through a sieve. Stir in the ginger and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until golden, about 20 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Gently form 4 large burger patties. Brush both sides of each patty with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the burger over direct heat for 8 minutes, turning once, for medium-rare. Place a slice of provolone on each burger during the final two minutes of grilling time. Also, toast the focaccia slices during the final two minutes.

To serve, top each burger with a healthy dollop of caramelized onions and a squirt of Ginger-Pepper Ketchup.

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Grilled Tuna Salad

Grilled Tuna Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is a refreshing dish for spring and summer. It can be a meal or a first course served before a more substantial seafood entree. Add a fried egg for another layer of flavor.

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Grilled Tuna Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, May/June 2014)

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb. sushi-grade tuna
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups baby arugula
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced radish
1 avocado, sliced

Preheat grill to medium-high (350 – 400F).

Brush tuna with oil to coat. Season fish with salt and pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Grill tuna, until 1/8-inch border is opaque but still very rare inside, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total.

Transfer tuna to cutting board and cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine arugula, cucumber, radish and avocado. Add 3 tablespoons Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette (see recipe below); toss gently to combine. Divide salad among serving plates. Layer tuna over salad. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a blender or food processor, add lemon juice, oil, herbs, salt and pepper; process for 20 to 30 seconds until smooth.

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Broiled Eggplant with Balsamic, Basil and Capers

Broiled Eggplant with Balsamic, Basil and Capers is a good side dish to accompany baked poultry or grilled pork. The key to this dish is finishing the eggplant under the broiler to achieve the desired golden brown appearance and soft-crunchy texture.

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Broiled Eggplant with Balsamic, Basil and Capers
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant, trimmed, skin removed, sliced 1/2″-thick crosswise
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp capers, drained
6 basil leaves, thinly sliced

Simmer the vinegar over medium heat in a small saucepan until reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the sliced eggplant on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices over and re-season with salt and pepper. Bake for another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and reset the oven to broil. Place the eggplant slices under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown – take care not to burn.

To serve, placed the eggplant slices a platter, drizzle with the balsamic reduction, and garnish with capers and basil.

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