Starchy Preparations

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping

I love to place Grape Tomatoes Topping over Ravino Ravioli. It is more of a topping than a sauce. This recipe makes enough for two portions as a side dish.

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016


  • 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in circles, preferably Del Cabo brand
  • Ravioli
  • Boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 pieces of ravioli, preferably Ravino
  • Garnish
  • ½ cup or more freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chiffonade of parsley


  1. Heat an 8-inch skillet for 1 minute over medium heat.
  2. Add two tablespoons olive oil and then the garlic. Turn the heat to low. Sauté about 2 minutes or until the garlic has just begun to take on a little color.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, oregano, black pepper and cayenne. Sauté 1 more minute, but do not allow the garlic to get too dark.
  4. Add the grape tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes or until they have softened. In order to keep the round shape of the tomato slices, stir no more than 2 times.
  5. In a medium size saucepan, bring one quart of water to a rolling boil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the ravioli to the boiling salted water.
  6. After the ravioli has come to a boil, set the timer for 4 minutes. Stir once. Remove with a wire strainer or slotted spoon.
  7. Place ravioli on two dishes. Spoon Grape Tomato Topping over ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley.


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.

Food Mill


“You say chunky, I say smooth.”  Some people love a smooth tomato sauce others like it chunky. In my April 20th cooking class we made a smooth tomato sauce by using a food mill.

First we sautéed onions and garlic then added seasonings followed by tomato paste, working it in with the back of a wooden spoon, which brings out the flavor of the paste.  Then we added the fresh and canned tomatoes.  Simmered the sauce for about 30 minutes then put the whole contents of the skillet through a food mill, leaving the skins and the seeds of the tomatoes behind.

Apple sauce is another great use for the food mill.  Don’t peel the apples, just leave out the seeds and the stem.  After the apples are cooked and you mill them,  the skins will be left  behind and your sauce will be vibrant with color and more flavor and vitamins from being cooked with the skins.

Penne Arrabiata ©Karen Lee 2013

 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sliced

¼ cup diced onions

2 tablespoons diced shallots

½ cup diced leeks (white and light green parts)

1/16 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like spicy)

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers (seeds and membrane removed), and diced (use rubber gloves)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced

28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (remove basil from can if any); use hands to squeeze and crush into large chunks

1 pound Penne

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle on pasta before serving

1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

Heat oil, add garlic, sauté for 2 minutes over low to medium heat.  Add onion, shallots, leeks; sauté for an additional 4 minutes or until the onions just  begin to take on color.  Add cayenne, sugar, oregano and salt; sauté another 2 minutes to bring out the flavor.  Add jalapenos; sauté 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste; let sizzle in pan for two minutes.  Add the diced fresh tomatoes and the canned tomatoes with their juice; simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce separates.

Cook pasta for half the time the package directs and then taste.  Make it al dente.  Drain then add to sauce to coat.  Turn off heat and toss using two wooden spoons.  Place on a serving platter and add the parmesan cheese.  Toss again then drizzle with finishing oil and optional chili oil.  Garnish with whole sprigs of parsley or basil leaves.







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.

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf © Karen Lee 2013

Last night I made dinner for three of my classmates from the Rudolf Steiner  School. They were in town for our reunion.



Red Kidney Beans with Garlic Rosemary Oil

Mixed Grain Baguette from Orwashers  Bakery (I bought it at Citeralla)

Grey Sole Meunière

A Sauté of Asparagus an Shitake Mushrooms

Brown and Red Rice Pilaf



For the rice dish, I was looking in my pantry with all the different grains I have.

I wanted to make a simple rice pilaf, but with a different twist.

I decided to try combining short grain brown rice with red rice.

Lynn Rubin, a dear friend and one of my once a month regular students, had brought me some red rice when vacationing in the Camargue region in the south of France.

It turned out beautifully and I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Rice Recipe

1 cup short grain rice

¼ cup red rice

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup diced leeks or onions

¾ teaspoon salt

A pinch of cayenne

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 cups stock ( chicken, turkey, or vegetable)  heated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or scallions


Wash and drain the brown and red rice.

Put the rice in a bowl, cover it with cold water, swish it around with your hand.  Particles of dirt will float to the top, then pour them  off.  Drain in a strainer.

Place the stock in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

In a 2-3 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting cover, (my favorite pot in which to cook rice is Le Creuset, which is cast iron coated with enamel) heat the pot for one minute over a high flame.  Add the olive oil, turn the flame to low  and then add the leeks.  Sauté for 2 minutes .

Add the salt , cayenne, and turmeric.

Turn the flame to medium high and add the washed, drained grains.

Using a wooden spoon stir to coat the rice with the oil for about 2 minutes.

Add the heated stock, bring to a boil, stir cover and turn the flame to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes take a peek , you may need to raise the flame slightly.

The rice is done when you see ” fish eyes” or steam holes, the stock has been completely absorbed into the rice, and the grains are cooked through.

Turn off the heat and let the rice ” relax” for 15 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions.

The rice will stay warm for up to one hour.

Store left over rice in the frig for up to 5 days.

You can buy red rice at Fair Way and Whole Foods.

Try to catch a sale if you are interested in buying a Le Creuset pot. Sometimes department stores run a sale when the company is discontining the color.

Store turmeric in the refrigerator to maximize the scent.

If using a commerical stock, omit the salt in the recipe.

Wild Rice Pilaf

I love to make wild rice pilaf at Thanksgiving. It goes great with poultry. Also please check out my other Thanksgiving tips on the Holiday tab of my Table of Contents.

Wild Rice Pilaf

Wild Rice Pilaf


  • 2 cups wild rice cup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups leeks, white part and light green
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup scallions cut into ¼ inch ½ circles


  1. Wash and drain rice.
  2. Heat stock in a sauce pan.
  3. In a heavy 2-3 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting cover, sauté the leeks for 3 minutes over medium low heat. Add the salt, pepper and turmeric, turn the heat to low and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained wild rice and stir to coat all the grains for another 2 minutes. Then add the hot stock, bring to a boil stir, cover, turn the heat to low and simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the rice is tender. You may have to add heated stock if all the stock evaporates and the rice is not done. Check after 30 minutes and then again after another 15 minutes. Keep checking every 10 to 15 minutes after the first 45 minutes.
  5. While rice is cooking:
  6. Sauté the mushroom in an iron skillet.
  7. Heat skillet then add the oil and then the mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat until a little brown then add the scallions and continue to sauté for an additional minutes.
  8. Place rice in a serving bowl and top mushrooms, and
  9. scallions. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


  • Store mushrooms in a white paper bag or an open bowl, not plastic.
  • Buy mushrooms 3-5 days in advance.
  • You can eliminate the mushrooms and the scallion to save time.
  • Turmeric has been given credit for preventing: acid reflux, inflammation and cancer.
  • Wild rice pilaf keeps well for 5 days in the frig. You can re-heat the wild rice pilaf in a bain marie or micro wave.

Turmeric-Cumin Fix For The Day

In a small sauce pan or skillet over low heat, heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of sliced garlic ( green stem removed), saute for 2 minutes or until garlic softens. Add 1/2  teaspoon  turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon cumin and continue to heat for 3-4 minutes over very low heat. If the bubbles are too rapid remove skillet from heat. The oil must stay green, so it does not become saturated. Use as a dip for bread instead of butter or you can spoon it over rice or a baked potato.

Turkey Fried Rice

A great way to use leftover turkey or chicken or duck is to make Fried Rice.  This recipe is for Turkey Fried Rice made with your leftover Roasted Turkey.

The secret to cooking fried rice is to use cold leftover rice.  Brown rice is considered a whole grain.  Turmeric has been given credit for playing a role in preventing inflammation, acid reflux, and some even say cancer.  Cumin is considered to be a healing spice in regards to the prevention of Alzheimer’s.  Cayenne has been given credit for lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, and inflammation and is easy to digest.

You don’t have to have all these ingredients, just the spice mix, the rice, turkey, turkey skin and a few vegetables (onion, pepper, carrot will suffice).  Sometimes I add corn to the mixture of vegetables.  If adding corn, steam or boil for 4 minutes then shave off the kernels after steaming.  I like to mix 2 or 3 different kinds of brown rice but just one kind is good too.  If you prefer you can use white rice.

Turkey Fried Rice


  • Spice mix
  • Measure all spices by scoop and sweep method i.e. level
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil or pure olive oil
  • 3 ½ cups cooked cold rice (see yesterday’s blog for Steamed Brown Rice)
  • Generous ½ cup of turkey skin (leftover from your roasted turkey), diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of peanut oil or pure olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion diced, about 3/4 cup ( green stem removed)
  • 1 leek diced
  • 1/3 cup carrot diced (scrubbed but not peeled if organic)
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, diced (no seeds no membrane)
  • ¾ cup diced red pepper (no seeds, no membrane)
  • 1 cup diced leftover turkey meat


  1. Mix together the spice mix: curry powder, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Make rice and let cool, then refrigerate until cold. This can be done in the morning or the day before. Or just use left-over rice.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the roasted turkey skin crisp, place in an iron skillet and roast in the oven about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Heat an iron skillet or a steel wok over high heat for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add red onions and leeks. Sauté until translucent. Add carrots and sauté another minute. Add Jalapeno and red peppers; sauté another minute. Remove contents of wok to a dish.
  5. In the same skillet (or wok), add another 1 ½ tablespoons oil; add rice, turn heat to high. Press down on the top of the rice with a spatula then sauté about 2 minutes breaking up the rice. Turn heat to medium and add the spice mix and continue to stir fry a minute. Then add the turkey; stir a few seconds. Empty contents of skillet (or wok) onto a serving platter.
  6. Drape the vegetables over the rice.
  7. Top with the crispy turkey skin.

Steamed Brown Rice

My favorite pot in which to cook rice is a Le Creuset, enamel.  It is a heavy pot with a tight fitting cover.  You can store the cooked rice in the refrigerator for 3 days.  Leftover rice is great for making fried rice (see tomorrow’s recipe for Turkey Fried Rice) because the rice needs to be cold.  My favorite rice is Lundberg, organic.  I like to use a combination of 2 different kinds of brown rice such as Basmati and Short Grain Sweet Rice.  Long grain rice produces a firmer every-grain-separate texture whereas short grain has a sticky texture.

Steamed Brown Rice

Yield: approximately 3 ½ cups of cooked rice


  • 1 ½ cups brown rice
  • 2 ¾ cups turkey stock, vegetable stock, chicken stock or water


  1. Wash rice by placing in a bowl, cover with cold water, swish it around with your hand, pour off the water, then put rice into a strainer to drain.
  2. While rice is draining bring water or stock to a boil, uncovered.
  3. Add the rice; bring back to a boil, stir in a figure-8 motion to reach the center of the sauce pan. Cover then turn the flame to low.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked through. It can be slightly underdone if you are using it for fried rice. When the rice is done you will see steam holes. The Chinese call these “fish eyes”, and the rice will have absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the rice “relax” for 30 or more minutes covered.
  6. Place the rice in a serving dish.
  7. Optional: after the resting period you can stir in ½ teaspoon of salt, a chopped scallion and a tablespoon of chopped parsley if desired. If you used a salted stock, then do not add salt. If you are using rice for Fried Rice, allow to cool then refrigerate.

Steamed Brown Rice

Brown rice is delicious, easy to make, and it goes with just about anything you’re making for dinner.

Print the brown rice recipe.