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Recipes - Spring

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Orecchiette with Spring Peas

Orecchiette, meaning “little ears” are small rounded pasta pieces with a thumb shape. Neapolitan in origin, this recipes is adapted from my dear friend Inez Villa Sussman. The light and tasty sauce can be prepared ahead of time and then simmered later while cooking the pasta.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions, garlic, and hot chile until the onions are almost golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste and 3 or 4 grinds of pepper and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add salt to taste and then simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, remove the cover to allow the liquid to evaporate.

Add the fresh peas to the sauce. Stir to mix and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. If using frozen peas, cook for 1 minute. (The sauce can be made ahead up to this point.) Place the basil leaves on top of the sauce, but do not stir. Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat.

In the meantime, bring 4 1/2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a 5 to 6-quart pot. Cook the past for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente; drain.

While the pasta cooks, return the pan with the pea mixture to medium heat and simmer the sauce to warm and cook the peas. Warm the pasta plates and a serving platter in a 180 degree F oven. Transfer the pasta to the serving platter and pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss gently to mix and serve hot in the warm pasta bowls.

NOTE: I purchase whole dried peppers for cooking so that I can snap them in half to remove and discard the seeds, which I find too hot for my taste. By all means add the seeds if you like it hot!


6 to 8 servings


3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large onions, diced

3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

I small dried hot chile, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (12-16 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, drained

Kosher salt

1 1/2 pounds pod peas, shelled, or 1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas

5 to 6 basil leaves

1 pound orecchiette

Asparagus with Croutons and Almonds
by Jacques Pepin

This recipe is inspired by Spanish ingredients and combines them in a quick and tasty way. Jacques likes to use thick asparagus and cooking time may need to be increased or decreased by a minute or so depending on size. Serves 4

1 pound large, thick asparagus, tough ends removed and bottom half of stalks peeled with

a vegetable peeler

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup 1/2-inch bread cubes (croutons) preferably from a baguette

1/4 cup whole almonds with skins

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Rinse asparagus and pat dry with paper towel. Cut each asparagus stalk into 3 to 4 pieces.

2. At serving time, heat the oil over high heat in a large skillet until very hot. Add the asparagus, croutons and almonds and sauté, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing or stirring the mixture a few times, so it browns and cooks all over. Add the salt and pepper and toss again. Serve on four warmed plates.

Note from Silvia: The recipe from More Food My Way lists chorizo as an ingredient. It was my choice not to use the chorizo since I love the pure flavor of asparagus and almonds. And whenever I get a chance to use my crisp home made croutons I will use them. If you choose to use the chorizo you will need a cup of 3/4-inch pieces, about 4 ounces and add them with the asparagus, croutons and almonds. This is an extraordinary recipe. My thanks to Jacques for the inspiration.

Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are called suprêmes in French cooking. The breasts can be stuffed ahead and sautéed at the last moment. Serves 4

For the Tapenade

1/2 cup mixed pitted black oil-cured olives

1 small garlic clove, sliced

2 dried apricot halves, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers

8 anchovy fillets in oil

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)

1 tablespoon light extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 1/2 cups baby or wild mushrooms, washed and cut into 3/4-inch mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley

1. Place the tapenade ingredients in a food processor and pulse to make a coarse puree.

2. Cut a horizontal cut in each chicken breast to create a pocket and stuff with the tapenade.

3.When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180 degrees. Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and when hot, season the stuffed breasts with salt and pepper, and arrange them side by side in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, covered, for about 3 minutes on each side, and then transfer ton a platter and keep warm in the preheated oven.

4. Add the mushrooms and onion to the skillet the chicken cooked in, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and reduce the contents by boiling for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and additional salt and pepper taste, and mix well to incorporate the butter.

5. Serve a chicken breast on each of four hot plates, and add any juice that has accumulated around them on the platter to the mushroom sauce in the pan. Divide the mushrooms and sauce among the servings, spooning it over the chicken breasts, and sprinkle the chives or parsley on top. Serve.

Chicken Suprêmes w/ Tapenade & Mushroom Sauce by Jacques Pepin

Want More Recipes? Read Silvia’s recipe column “The Simple Art of Cooking” every week in Dan’s Papers