In Season-Fall

Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013


In my last blog I gave you a recipe for Roasted Plum Tomatoes.

Today I am offering you a suggestion of how to use them in a quick pasta dish.

Here is my recipe for Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes.  This recipe is enough for one or two people as a side dish and can easily be increased.

Cut ½ cup of the roasted tomatoes into large dice. Seeds, skins and all.

Sauté 2 cloves of sliced garlic in 1 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over low heat for a few minutes or until the garlic just begins to take on color.

Add ¼ teaspoon salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano.  Sauté one more minute.

Add the roasted tomatoes and simmer 2 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Boil 2 to 3 ounces of dried pasta.  Reserve a few tablespoons pasta water before draining.  Add pasta along with one or more tablespoons pasta water to sauce.  Toss.

Sprinkle with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Toss then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin oil.

If you prefer add some torn basil leaves to the pasta at the end and omit the oregano.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes


Roasted Plum Tomatoes are delicious and versatile:

  • As a side to broiled or pan roasted fish.
  • In pasta dishes.
  • Also good to eat with mozzarella or for goat cheese and tomato crostini or in a sandwich.
  • As a flavor enhancer when added to vegetable soup.
  • You can also put them through a food mill for a smooth tomato sauce.

So great to have Roasted Plum Tomatoes on call to use in a variety of dishes. They last for one week in the frig.

You can still find local plum tomatoes at the farmers markets and the price is right. You may not even have to let them ripen this time of the year.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013

  • 12 ripe plum tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt mixed with 1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced, green stem removed if any

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a stainless steel skillet or a shallow roasting pan. The skillet you choose should be big enough so the tomatoes have a little space between them.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife and put them in the skillet cut-side up. Do not over crowd. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne. Insert a sliver of garlic in each half.

Roast at 300° for 1-3 hours or until they have shriveled a little, are soft, and are a little brown on the bottom but still holding their shape.

This recipe can be adjusted to a small amount or a large amount of tomatoes. The more tomatoes you have in the oven the longer they will take to finish roasting.

Spring Vegetarian Delicacy

Fava Beans, one of the treasured parts of spring have arrived. We made these in class recently and they were a big hit. I wanted to share the recipe with you. You can serve them as an appetizer, or a side dish; hot, or room temperature.

Braised Fava Beans

Braised Fava Beans


  • 3 ½ pounds of fava beans (once shelled, blanched and skins slipped off will yield 1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup leeks (white and light green parts only), split, washed and diced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (or more) of chicken stock, warmed
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme or marjoram
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. chiffonade of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. finely diced scallions (split lengthwise then sliced into 1/8 inch semi-circles) or snipped chives
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil for finishing


  1. After shelling the fava beans, blanch half of them in 2 cups of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon then repeat with the other half. Slip off the skins. Set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch stainless steel skillet, sauté the leeks for 3 minutes in 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium low heat or until they have softened. Add the salt and pepper. Add the fava beans to the sauté pan and turn over in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the stock a few tbsp. at a time, using up to ½ cup, as necessary, until the fava beans are cooked through. Total time will be between 7 to 10 minutes, but begin to taste for doneness after the first 5 minutes. Be careful not to stir the beans too often or they will begin to break. Remove from the heat. Add the herbs – the thyme, rosemary, half the basil and half the parsley to the pan.
  3. Place the fava beans on a serving plate. Drizzle the beans with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, sprinkle the beans with the diced scallions and the rest of the basil chiffonade and parsley.
  4. The dish can be made a few hours ahead and can be served either hot at room temperature.


As an alternative to the fava beans, the dish can be made with any fresh bean, such as cranberry or lima beans, or with any dried beans, such as chick peas or black beans, which will need to be soaked and cooked in advance.

“Last Taste of Summer”

We recently prepared in class this Black Bean and Corn Salad.  Julie Inglis, one of my regular students, commented, “This is delicious. . . . our last taste of summer”.

Black Bean and Corn Salad is great to serve as a side dish, as a first course, for lunch or as an hors d’oeuvres in Belgian endive leaves.  I place the corn salad and the black bean salad along side of each other so the black beans do not bleed into the corn.

You can still buy corn from open air and farmers markets.  During colder months I buy corn from produce stores and some supermarkets.  Always ask: “Was the corn delivered today?” and if the produce person said yes then I buy it. The sugar in corn turns to starch overnight so when you return home, steam or boil it right away to preserve all the sugar and that sweet wonderful appealing taste of corn.

Black Bean and Corn Salad  and Tomato Salad

© Karen Lee 2012

1 cup black beans, washed, drained, covered with water by 7 inches, soaked for 8 hours, drained and simmered covered in 2 cups of water and one bay leaf for 1 hour or until soft. When the beans have cooked through, you should have no more than 2 tablespoons of water in bottom of pan. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the black beans at the end of the cooking. Allow to cool. This step can be done three days in advance.

4-8 ears of corn (buy and cook same day).  Steam or boil for 4 minutes. Shocking is not necessary.  After cooling, shave off corn kernels.

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters if they are large

½ cup snipped chives or ¼ cup scallions cut into 1/8- inch rounds

1/3 cup red onion, diced, then soaked in ice water for 15 minutes, drained

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (opt.)

2 tablespoons chopped dill


1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons aged sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin


Place the tomatoes and corn in one bowl and toss gently with dressing.

Dress the black beans separately.

Scatter arugula or water cress or mesculin on a serving platter or individual plates.

Add herbs and scallions to the black beans and toss.

Place the corn mixture and the black beans side by side over the greens.


Pasta with Sauteed Peppers

Last week I promised a post on the bamboo chopsticks and their many uses, however, I just returned from the Union Square Market this morning and I saw gorgeous local peppers which are at the height of their season right now.  I wanted to share this recipe with you.


5 peppers, combination of red and yellow peppers and a few hot peppers

When picking out red peppers, choose the ones that are crimson red.  They will be sweeter.  As for hot peppers, the smaller the tip of the pepper, the hotter the pepper.  So choose hot peppers that are not too small.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

8 cloves of sliced garlic, green stem removed, if any

½ teaspoon salt

½  pound  of penne

1 tablespoon butter, opt.

20 large fresh basil leaves

1-2 tablepoons of chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup or less of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Three of my favorite places to buy parmesan cheese are:

Di Palo’s at 200 Grand Street

Buon Italia at the Chelsea Market (16th St. and 9th Ave.)

Salumeria Rose at 73 rd st and Amsterdam Ave.

And soon they are opening on the east side 903 Madison Ave.

It must say Reggiano Parmigiano on the rind with pin sized holes embedded in the rind around the wording.

Here is what to look for on the rind when purchasing parmesan cheese.

My favorite brand of dried pasta is Setaro.  It is made in Naples, high in the mountains where the water is considered the best in all of Italy.  They sell it at Buon Italia at the Chelsea Market.  If it is not easy for you to get to the Chelsea Market they will ship it to you.  Please don’t overcook – stir and taste after the first few minutes and keep tasting.

Rinse peppers, dry, cut in half, remove seeds and all membrane.  Use rubber gloves if desired for the hot peppers.  Slice peppers into ½-inch broad pieces, or triangle cut.

In a 12-inch sauté skillet or Rondeau, sauté the garlic slowly in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until it is lightly brown.  Remove the garlic and place it in the serving dish you will be using for the finished dish.

Add the peppers, turn the heat to medium and sauté the peppers for about 10 minutes or until they are cooked through and slightly brown.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bring a large kettle or pasta pot filled with water to a rolling boil.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt and then the pasta.  Cover and over high heat bring the pasta back to a boil as quickly as possible.  When the water returns to a boil,  uncover and cook the pasta stirring occasionally for 8 or more minutes.  Taste.  The pasta should be  slightly underdone (al dente).  Drain.

Add the pasta to the peppers, along with the garlic and the basil and the parsley and the optional butter (or you can use a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil).  Low heat, toss.  Add the cheese.  Turn off the heat and place in the serving dish.  Serve immediately, but also good room temperature.

Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash

Look for a small squash, dark green with a splash of orange called a kiss of sunshine.  Acorn squash is packed with beta carotene.

Rosemary has been given credit for improving the memory, being an antioxidant, and a natural anti-inflammatory.

Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash


  • 1 acorn squash, organic if possible
  • 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, organic if possible


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Rinse the squash then dry. Cut in half lengthwise through the stem end; remove seeds. I like to use a serrated knife to cut the squash in half, and then a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds.
  3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in and around the cavity of the two halves of the squash (not the skin side).
  4. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place a half sprig of rosemary in each cavity.
  6. Add the remaining one teaspoon olive oil to the bottom of an iron skillet (8 or 10 inch).
  7. Flip the squash over so it is skin side up and the rosemary is hidden in the cavity.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. Lift the squash with a spatula to see if the rim is brown. If so turn the squash over and bake another 7 to 10 minutes or until a knife can easily pierce the skin and go through the squash.
  10. Eat hot or room temperature.

Nantucket Scallops

Here’s a re-post of a previous entry, with some more tips included.  Nantucket scallops are in season now and are fabulous… we made them in class last night and everyone said they were the best they ever had.  Recipe follows.

Nantucket Scallops

Nantucket Scallops


  • 3/4 pound Nantucket scallops
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt mixed with 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 turns of the black pepper mill
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 lime
  • opt. garnish fresh thyme and lime slices


  1. Tips for success - dry scallops, don't over crowd in pan, hot pan
  2. Wash the scallops by submerging, lifting then placing in strainer to drain for 2 minutes. Flip over the strainer onto a sheet of paper towel to dry. Place the scallops on a plate. Mix together flour, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Sprinkle mixture over the scallops and toss to coat. Heat a 10-inch iron skillet over high heat for 2 minutes or until you see a little smoke. Add the oil and then swirl it around to coat the skillet. Add half the scallops and level them with a spatula into a single layer. Add half the butter and saute over high heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Then shake the pan to turn the scallops. it's ok if they do not all turn over. Saute another 30 to 60 seconds. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon remove the scallops from the pan and place them on a serving dish and garnish with half slices of lime alternating with sprigs of fresh thyme. Repeat procedure for remaining scallops, adding a dash more oil to the skillet if necessary.
  4. Squeeze a little lime juice over the scallops. Serve as an appetizer or as a main course. Only draw back is that they are 30 dollars a pound but if you serve them as an appetizer 1 pound is enough for 5 to 6 people. Enjoy!
  5. NB: sautéing the scallops in batches give you a superior result - more brown and crispy.

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish


  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water, scant
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 naval orange, for zesting
  • 1Tbsp. Grand Marnier, scant (optional)


  1. Pick over cranberries, looking to remove any cranberries that may be soft or rotten. Wash cranberries by submerging and lifting in a bowl of water, drain in a strainer.
  2. Place the orange juice, sugar and water in a wide mouth pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Add the cranberries, dried cranberries, and zest from 1 whole orange. Simmer uncovered for 8 - 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the Grand Marnier.
  3. Note: If the relish is too thick, add a small amount of boiling water.
  4. If you like the relish sweeter you can add an additional 2 tablespoons sugar. You could add the extra sugar by placing it in a small sauce pan with a equal parts of water and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Then add this to the relish.
  5. You can prepare cranberry relish up to 5 days in advance.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I love to make these as a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.  Cumin has been given credit for preventing Alzheimers.  I like to buy the whole cumin seed because of the enhanced flavor.  You can grind cumin with a motor and pestle or a Krups electric coffee mill, available on the second floor of Zabars.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts


  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp. of cumin


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°. For every one pound of brussel sprouts, use 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil and 1/3 tsp. of cumin. If brussel sprouts are large then cut in half lengthwise after blanching.Wash then slice off 1/16 of an inch of the stem end of each brussel sprout then cut a crisscross on stem end.
  2. Blanch ½ pound at a time in 2 cups of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Drain. Place in bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat iron skillet on high heat for 2 minutes. Add brussel sprouts. Do not overcrowd.
  4. Roast at 375° for 10 - 15 minutes.
  5. After the first 5 minutes, sprinkle with the ground cumin. Shake pan to flip brussel sprouts.
  6. When done remove from oven and sprinkle with a little salt. Drizzle with remaining ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.

Stuffing for Roast Turkey

This stuffing yields enough to stuff a 14 to 17 pound turkey.

Since I have called for a 10 to 12 pound turkey then use the balance of the stuffing to bake in a soufflé dish or baking dish greased with butter or olive oil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. After 15 minutes drizzle with pan drippings from the roasted bird or moisten with a little turkey stock.

A stuffed 10 to 12 pound turkey will take about ½ hour longer to roast.  Remove stuffing from bird before refrigerating left over’s to avoid bacteria from forming.

I like to make the stuffing the day before , ie Wednesday.


1 lb. of Italian chestnuts- make a crisscross in each chestnut. Place in a large iron skillet and roast in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or more, peel while warm, then chop then set aside .

1 lb. of  cubed-bread Sourdough Pullman loaf from Sullivan Street Bakery 47th St. between 10th and 11th or Pullman loaf from Citeralla, made by Pain D’avignon or Tom Cat Brioche Rolls, purchased at Fairway.

Cube the bread in ¼ inch cubes 2 days before making the stuffing and leave out in a roasting pan. Cover loosely with wax paper or a sheet pan. If bread is not dry by Wednesday, then roast bread cubes in a pre-heated 250° oven, until dry with no color. About 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat 8 Tbsp. (1 stick or ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add:

  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tsp. Bells poultry seasoning

Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Optional-Add ¼ to ½ lb. ground pork and cook until pork is white, if using pork then use less butter.

Remove from the heat and stir in:

  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 2/3 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tsp. fresh marjoram (or 2/3 teaspoon dried)
  • ¾ tsp. salt mixed with a pinch of cayenne
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup turkey stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Stir in the bread cubes and then 1/3 cup turkey stock and toss until well combined. Let mixture cool.  Add chopped chestnuts to the stuffing mixture. When the mixture has cooled, stir in the  beaten  egg.

Because the stuffing expands while cooking, do not over stuff the bird.