Whole Wheat Pasta with Sardines

3 pounds Roma tomatoes, blanched, skinned and chopped

Olive oil

1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced

1 small sweet pepper, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped fennel fronds

1 Tbslp finely chopped preserved lemon rind

1 tin unsalted sardines (I used Trader Joe’s brand), spines removed and fillets roughly broken into pieces

8 ounces whole wheat pasta

Feta cheese, for garnish

Capers, for garnish
Sauté onion, sweet pepper and garlic on olive oil. Add diced tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes are tender and sauce has thickened slightly. Add fennel and continue to simmer while pasta is cooking.

Cook pasta and drain. Toss pasta with sauce and add the sardine fillets. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and capers.

Makes four servings.


Lobster in Chili Cream with Lemon-Basil Basmati

I have not done much cooking with lobster.  I don’t have much trouble accepting that living creatures are butchered for my dinner, but I hate the idea of putting a live creature in scalding water.  I also don’t like paying a galling amount of money for a lobster tail.  So I was quite excited when Earth Fare had a special offer this week for two lobster tails for $9.  I bought 4.

I scouted the internets for some recipe ideas, but didn’t find myself excited by all the butter, cream, and oils used in so many of the recipes.  For instance, a sauce for 4 servings required 1 cup peanut oil and 2 cups heavy cream.  I already rode the cholesterol carousel once this month, thank you!  But for some reason, my belly wanted a cream sauce for this lobster.  A fairly thick one at that.  I wanted something with a robust flavor as well, but not something that would completely mask the subtle flavor of the lobster.

Here’s what I came up with:

4 lobster tails, uncooked, shells removed and reserved.

Lobster in Chili Cream with Lemon-Basil Rice

Lobster in Chili Cream with Lemon-Basil Rice

2 T. corn starch
2 T. chili powder (I used Earth Fare’s blend for this)
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 1/2 c. half and half

1 cup basmati rice
2 c water
Juice from two lemons
1 T. dried basil

First, I started the rice, liquids and basil in the rice cooker.  Have I ever said that I love my rice cooker?  I love my rice cooker.  Anyway, I started the rice.  I would probably have preferred to use chicken stock in place of the water, but I was making extra rice for a dish for the church dinner tomorrow, and wanted that dish to be vegan, so, water…

Once the rice was ready, I started on the lobster part.  I cut through the shells and removed the meat.  The shells went into a stockpot with the half and half, and simmered while I worked on the rest of the meal.

The mushrooms were thinly sliced and ready for the pan.  I cut the lobster tails into 5 or 6 pieces each, then patted them dry with paper towels.  These were then tossed in a bowl that had the cornstarch, chili powder and cayenne mixed together.

The coated lobster pieces then went into the sauté pan wherein the oil and butter were hot and ready, along with the mushrooms.   This was sautéed until the lobster was cooked through and the mushrooms were tender but not limp – probably 6 minutes.  I strained the hot half and half over the lobster and stirred it until the sauce was thickened and well combined with the seasonings from the pan. Just for fun, I added a splash of peppered vodka, a little sea salt, and a pinch of sugar (which was needed to offset the slight harshness from the vodka.  If I hadn’t used the vodka, I would not have needed the sugar.

To serve, I placed a nice little timbale of rice in the center of each bowl, piled the lobster and mushroom mixture down one side of each timbale, and pooled the chili cream around the bottom of each bowl.  Garnished with a few chopped green onions (green part only), and served with some fresh baguette and a glass of chardonnay, and it was a festive dinner.