Hearty Macaroni & Cheese with Ham (and Spinach Salad)

Hearty Macaroni & Cheese with Ham

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups skim milk
16 ounces medium shell pasta
1/2 lb ham (any type except country), finely diced
2 1/2 cups mixed reduced fat (partially skim) cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
1/2 cup plain or Italian bread crumbs (you can also make your own!)

Cook pasta just shy of al dente (between 1 and 2 minutes shorter than the package recommends). Drain and set to the side.

In a large cooker, make a roux by melting butter and adding in flour. Whisk together until foamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add Dijon mustard, stirring together continuously. (Note: the roux will “seize up” this is okay!) Add skim milk and whisk continuously until roux relaxes and combines together. Continue stirring until thickened. Add ham and cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat, and stir in pasta. Once pasta is completely coated, turn out into a 9x13x2 baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly brown. (Serves 6 as a main course, more as an appetizer.)

Spinach Salad with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette

The Raspberry Vinaigrette and dried cranberries cut through the pungency of the onion for a sweet and tangy taste.

This is just a starting point. Go crazy with the veggies!

12 ounces of spinach, cleaned and dried.
3 large carrots, cut into coins
4 ounces of radishes, sliced
1 medium white (or red) onion, cut into half and then into strips
2 ounces dried cranberries

Using four salad bowls, layer 3 ounces of spinach, 1 ounce of radishes, 1/2 ounce of dried cranberries, carrots and onions to taste. If using other veggies, pile them on as well! Top with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.

Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette

1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tsp.)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp dried tarragon, crushed
1 cup water
2 tbsp walnut oil

Combine the vinegar and salt until salt is thoroughly dissolved. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container. Shake well before using.

Yield: 2 cups. (Serving size: approximately 2 tbs)


Seared Tuna Spinach Salad with Soy Sesame Dressing

Seared Tuna Spinach Salad

16 oz fresh tuna steaks
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz baby spinach, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
12 oz white mushrooms, sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
2 ribs celery, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil in skillet and heat to just to smoking. Add tuna steak and sear on each side for 45-60 seconds (tuna will be rare in the interior). Remove from pan, and allow to cool for 3 minutes, before slicing into 1/4″ slices.

Arrange 3 ounces of spinach on each plate, add carrots, red onion, mushrooms, and celery (you may also add any other vegetables you like). Place 4 ounces sliced tuna on each plate, in a star pattern. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper on the side, along with Soy Sesame Dressing.

Soy Sesame Dressing

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon Asian chili sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Serve in small dishes alongside the seared tuna salad.


Insalata Composta Degli Spinaci

Insalata Composta Degli Spinaci

1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion
1 tbsp honey
4 ounces turkey bacon, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
6 cups fresh spinach
Dijon Vinaigrette
4 large poached eggs
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In pan, heat 1 tsp oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add honey and continue to cook over medium-low heat until golden-brown (about 1 additional minute). Remove from the pan and transfer to a small bowl to cool.

Heat the same pan over high heat and add the turkey bacon pieces, frying until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel (Turkey bacon, being more lean than regular pork bacon, will render off far less fat).

Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Add onion, and dress with the 1/4 cup Dijon vinaigrette, toss, and distribute among 4 plates. Place a poached egg on top of each, and arrange bacon pieces around edge of each plate before serving. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.

Serves: 4

Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In bowl, whisk together the shallots, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk as you slowly add the oil. Mix well to incorporate. Keeps in refrigerator up to 2 days.


Mandarin Salad Margherita with Wasabi Dijon Dressing

Mandarin Salad Margherita with Wasabi Dijon Dressing

3 cups of salad greens (spinach, red lettuce, or your favourite mixture)
3 scallions (green onions), diced
1 small white onion, diced fine
1 small red onion, diced (or if particularly sweet sliced into bite-sized pieces)
1 six oz can of mandarin orange slices, drained
Wasabi Dijon Dressing
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon wasabi paste

In a salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve with dressing on the side.

For dressing in a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, mustard, and wasabi paste. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify into the consisting you prefer. Stores well for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Serves 2, generously.


Spicy Beef and Broccoli Soup

Spicy Beef and Broccoli Soup

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb lean sirloin, cut into small cubes
1 small white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz reduced sodium chicken broth
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp ground celery seed
1 lb broccoli florets
1 lb Russet potatoes, julienned (a food processor with a 4mm julienne blade makes quick work of this)
Parmesan cheese shavings

In a large soup pan, heat olive oil until the surface shimmers. Add beef, onions and garlic. Stir to break beef cubes apart and sauté until brown, 5-6 minutes

When beef is nicely browned, add chicken broth and using a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan to release the fond (that’s the French term for the yummy flavour that has formed, as a brown substance, on the bottom of the pan).

Next, add spices and potatoes, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then turn heat back to a simmer. Cover, slightly askew and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes.

Add broccoli, stir to combine. Cover, and cook 5 minutes more.

Serve in bowls topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Garlic toast rounds may be served in lieu of croutons.

Serves 4.