Lunch and Dinner

The Bloody Mary, Now In Salad Form!

I’m not sure when or how my love affair with Bloody Marys started. But knowing me, having a vegetable as the base of this lovely cocktail probably has a little something to do with it. I share this Bloody Mary passion with my boyfriend. One day he came up with an ingenious idea: how about I make a Bloody Mary salad? What a fantastic plan, an edible version of our favorite drink!

But like most would-be super original ideas, the internet rained on our parade, letting us know that loads of people had already thought of it. I was bummed for about two seconds, but with the knowledge that it has been done and it works, I felt more driven than ever to make a Bloody Mary Salad. I made mine like how my boyfriend makes a Bloody Mary–with olives and bacon. Pair this salad with a stiff Bloody Mary. Awww yeah. Cheers!

Bloody Mary Salad
Makes 1 main course, or 2 appetizers

Adapted from Running with Tweezers

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared Horseradish
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of ground celery seed (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 slices of bacon
2 large handful of your favorite salad greens
4 ounces blue cheese, sliced
1/2 cup sliced, pitted green olives
2 stalks celery, sliced crosswise (save the leaves for garnish)

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, a dash or two of Tabasco,  lemon juice and zest, and optional celery seed. Stir to coat all tomatoes with marinade. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Place bacon in a large skillet and heat it up over medium-high heat. When bacon begins to brown and curl, flip over and cook until both sides are done. Transfer bacon to a paper towel covered plate. Set aside.

When ready to serve, start with your salad greens on your plate. Then top with sliced blue cheese, olives, and sliced celery. Crumble the bacon over the salad. Finally, add the tomato mixture and drizzle remaining marinade over the top. Garnish with celery leaves and serve immediately.

Lunch and Dinner

Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

I’ll be the first to admit it. Mushrooms are weird. They grow in the strangest places and conditions. They’re funny looking. And something about eating fungi is just not sexy. Yet they are low in calories, rich in nutrients, and one of the rare foods that are a natural source of Vitamin D. Mushrooms are pretty darn tasty too.

Usually used as a garnish, mushrooms often feel more like an afterthought than the star of a dish. But let’s change that. In an effort to get my ‘shroom on more often, I’m trying to think of more mushroom-based recipes. The easiest option is probably making a nice, clean mushroom burger. Or, The Stonesoup’s Anti-Cancer Mushroom Soup looks good and is on my to-make list. But this week, I made mushroom spaghetti.

I was delighted to find an Open Lasagna of Mushrooms, Pine Nuts and Thyme recipe in The Produce Bible (Amazon affiliate program link) by Leanna Kitchen. Her real last name surely can’t be Kitchen…can it?! Anyhow. I found the idea of an open lasagna too fussy, plus I had spaghetti on hand, so I adapted her recipe to make this lovely dish. With bacon, mushrooms, and pecorino cheese, it’s like an umami bomb in your mouth. Ohhhh yeah.

Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
Makes 4 servings

Adapted from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups your favorite assorted mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 slices of bacon, cut into pieces of similar size to the mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pecorino cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put spaghetti in and boil for about 10-11 minutes uncovered, until al dente. You can start the next steps while spaghetti is boiling, but remember to drain pasta as soon as it is done.

Heat the butter in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Heat up another small, dry skillet over low heat and toss the pine nuts in. Add the mushrooms and bacon to the large pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring often. Simultaneously, shake the skillet with the pine nuts frequently to ensure even browning.

Add the garlic and thyme into the pan with the mushrooms and cook for a minute. If your pan is looking very watery, carefully pour out some of the liquid. Then take the pine nuts off the heat and add them to the mushrooms along with the heavy cream and extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste, taking into account that you will be topping this with salty pecorino. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Divide the spaghetti into 4 servings and evenly distribute the mushroom mixture over the servings of spaghetti. Top each with a generous amount of freshly grated pecorino and serve.

Book Review

Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

I’m going to go ahead and admit I’m totally new to the foodie scene. I don’t know most famous chefs, cooking TV shows personalities, or food writers. Though I had heard of Ruth Reichl, I didn’t know anything about her career or what to expect from her memoir, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic (my Amazon affiliate program link).

It appears that the general pitch as to why you should read this book is because of all the strange disguises and characters Ruth Reichl would create to avoid being recognized in New York City restaurants while she worked as The New York Times’ restaurant critic in the 1990s. While they were entertaining, I felt like there was so much more to the book than that. Reichl is a great story teller and she really pulls the reader in, even if you don’t know the first thing about the restaurants or food she’s talking about. Sprinkled throughout her memoir are the actual reviews she wrote for The New York Times, as well as unpretentious recipes for everyday home cooking. You might think being paid to eat at fancy restaurants is the best job ever (like I did), but Garlic and Sapphires is a thoughtful reflection on elitism, office politics, and one woman’s struggle with finding her real priorities and passions.

Reichl included a recipe for spaghetti carbonara, which is such a classic, yet I’ve surprisingly only had it once! And as much as I’d like to get my pork jowl on, I already had bacon in the fridge so I followed her lead and used that instead. So simple but so tasty.

On an unrelated note, this book reminded me of that 80s Steve Martin movie, The Lonely Guy. If my memory serves me correctly, his lonely guy buddy tells him he can eat out at restaurants by himself if he pretends he’s a restaurant critic. A silly movie, but I like this scene when he first walks into the restaurant:


Please check out the book club I joined, The Kitchen Reader, and Marian’s blog, Spelt for Choice.