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Winter Wonders for Your Mouth

Three Great Family Choices

Southwest Sausage Skillet 

1 pound mild sausage links
1 small onion (diced in ½-inch pieces)
2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in ½-inch cubes)
1 small red bell pepper (diced in ½-inch pieces)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
½ cup water or chicken stock

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl in pan to coat. Add sausage links and brown on each side. To the pan, add onion, sweet potatoes, and red bell pepper. Allow the vegetables to begin to brown and cook for about 5 minutes. Move sausages around as necessary, and keep the vegetables moving too. Over the vegetables, sprinkle salt, cumin, and coriander. Stir in water or chicken stock. Cover if you have a lid, but it’s not mandatory. This will help the vegetables and sausages finish cooking. Simmer for about 15 minutes, and test sweet potatoes with a fork. They should be tender. Sausages should be cooked to 165 degrees F internally. Slice the sausages to serve, and garnish finished dish with cilantro and sour cream. Serves 4 to 6.

Lemony Asparagus and Herb Pasta

1 pound dried pasta, your choice of shape
4 oz pancetta or smoky bacon, diced
2 shallots, minced
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet peas, frozen
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup parmesan
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Fresh herbs: parsley, basil, mint, chives
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add dried pasta and stir to avoid sticking.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water to thin your sauce at the end. Set cooked pasta to the side while finishing the veggies.

Meanwhile, pre-heat a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet on medium low. When hot, add diced pancetta and cook until crispy and all the fat has rendered. Remove pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, and leave the fat in the pan. Next add the minced shallots and allow to soften, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus and cook for about 4 minutes until softened, but still crisp. Season now with a hefty pinch of salt, then add garlic and cook one minute more. Stir in the peas and turn off the heat, add cream, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, then stir in the herbs. Add a small amount of pasta water to thin out the cream; this will add additional starch and salinity. Taste the veggies to see if you want to add more salt and pepper. Then add the pasta to the veggies and herbs and mix well. Serve on a platter with additional herbs, the crispy pancetta, and more parmesan. Serves 4 to 6.

Greek Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce 

1 pound ground beef or lamb
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon crushed mint
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 egg, lightly beaten
Flour (for rolling)
2 tablespoons butter

Mix the beef or lamb with the grated onion, garlic, and panko bread crumbs. Add the mint, oregano, allspice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add egg and mix well. With floured hands, shape into approximately thirty 1-inch balls. Fry in 12-inch frying pan in olive oil and butter until nicely browned on all sides and completely cooked. Check to see if it’s cooked  by removing a meatball and cutting into the center. Drain on plates with paper towels.

Serve meatballs with toothpicks on a platter with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce: 

½ English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
1 cup plain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Photos: Jenny Tremblay West

Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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