Tag Archives: texas

Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives

11 Jul

A few weeks ago we visited one of our favorite restaurants, Russo’s, located in Marble Falls, Texas.  They have wonderful food and so many tasty options that it’s really hard to decide what to order.  I wanted a little bit of everything, and luckily my mom was willing to share the zucchini spaghetti that she’d ordered.  And by sharing, I mean one bite.  With that one bite, I’d decided that I’d found a new favorite.  Offered on Russo’s menu as an alternative to regular pasta, zucchini spaghetti provides the sauce delivery system that I love, while leaving behind the heaviness and unwanted calories of traditional pasta.  Bonus that it is nutritionally superior.  The trick to making it at home is having the right tool.

I love you, Lemon Zester.

Unless you have kickin’ knife skills, you’re going to need a tool to create all of the thin, even zucchini strips.  Unfortunately, I do not.  Pair that with my HUGE fear of using a mandoline (which seems like it might be a good tool for the job as well), I knew I needed another option.  I dug around in my utensil drawer and came up with the lemon zester.  Turns out, it was AWESOME for creating these strips.  Originally purchased for zest, I found that when I needed a dash of citrusy goodness, I preferred the microplane zester.  But, not wanting to discard the first one, I just kept it around.  And now I know why: zucchini spaghetti.

With the right tool in hand, prepping the zucchini spaghetti is easy.  Remove both ends of the zucchini and peel it, leaving behind some thin strips of the dark green peel if you’d like.  It does nothing for flavor, but does add a little bit of color contrast to the finished dish.  Holding the zucchini squash in one hand, scrape down one side with the multi-holed end of the zester to create long, thin strips.  Roll the zucchini in your hand, continuing around the zucchini until you eventually reach the seed center.  Discard the seed center, or save for another use.  Prepping the zucchini takes just a few minutes, and should be done right before cooking.

I think that the zucchini would work really well as a substitute for pasta in almost any recipe.  To cook the zucchini for use with any sauce, follow these basic steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. When it’s hot, add the zucchini spaghetti and cook for two minutes.
  3. Sauce it up.

When considering the sauce for this recipe, I decided to take an idea from the dinner salad at Russo’s and combined Kalamata olives and orange zest.  It is a refreshing and tasty combination, and works really well with the zucchini spaghetti and some fresh basil.  I really loved this dish, and will definitely make it again as a side or a light lunch.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives
Serving size: About 2/3 c.
Serves: 4

1/2 c. kalamata olives, halved
1/2 t. orange zest
2 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 zucchini, ends cut off and peeled
2 T. white wine
1 T. fresh basil, cut into thin strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together kalamata olives and orange zest, set aside.

Using a lemon zester or mandoline, cut zucchini into thin, long spaghetti-like strips.  Turn zucchini and continue to create strips until you reach the seed center.  Reserve the seed centers for another use.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add zucchini and cook for 1 minute.  Add wine and basil, cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in olive mixture, season with salt and pepper.  Divide between plates, and drizzle with any remaining sauce.

Estimated calories:  137 cal/serving

Print it: Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives

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Braised Ribs

21 Jun

My son Martin really loves ribs.  He orders them any time he spots them on a menu, and when we talk about going to TX, his list of activities always include EATING RIBS (love that boy).  Unfortunately for him, I don’t make ribs at home very often.  It’s not that they are that hard really that hard, it’s just that the idea of grilling them up can be kind of daunting.  After you’ve had GREAT ribs, like those found at Coopers and The Salt Lick, it is pretty hard to make any ribs that measure up.  Since we are not in Texas and our access to THOSE ribs is limited, we decided to give making ribs a try.  And since baseball season is in full swing, leaving no time for a grilled meal, we went with the next best option:

Slow-cooked, braised ribs.

I started with a recipe I tried a few years ago for baby back ribs.  I remembered that they were really tender, but also felt like there were a lot of steps.  Using this recipe as a guide, I made some changes to better suit our tastes and to simplify it a bit.  I made two different sets of ribs, one for the child who hates all things spicy (salt, sugar, and ketchup only), and one set for the child who loves a touch of heat (peppery spice blend, sugar, BBQ sauce).  Both were good, but I preferred the peppery version.  The other big change to note is that I used Pork Loin Back Ribs instead of Baby Back Ribs.  I prefer the Pork Loin Back Ribs because they are meatier, with thicker chunks of meat on top of the bone.  The braising method makes the pork fall-off-the-bone tender, which is good for me because I hate gnawing on a rib like a caveman.  I like to look like a lady; a lady who really likes ribs.

When I made ribs this week, I was banking on baseball being cancelled due to rain.  The weather held out that night, and we did not have time to eat the dinner I had planned.  Instead of trying to cram in the tasty meal, I left them wrapped up and finished them with sauce the following night.  They were perfect.  I would highly recommend making these a day ahead, and finishing them to serve the next night.  These would be perfect for a crowd, as it would be just as easy to double or triple the recipe for more guests (or hungrier guests).

Braised Ribs
Serving size: Approx. 3 ribs
Serves: 6

 

3-1/2 lbs pork loin back ribs
1/2 c. white wine
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire
1 T. ketchup
+ One of the options listed below

OPTION 1 (mild)
1 T. brown sugar
3/4 t. kosher salt
Ketchup

OPTION 2 (medium)
1 T. brown sugar
Peppery spice blend (recommend Coopers)
BBQ sauce (recommend Coopers & The Salt Lick Original, mixed)

 

Decide which spice blend option you prefer, then mix together the brown sugar and salt or pepper blend.  Divide the mixture evenly between each of the racks of ribs, sprinkle on top and lightly rub into the meat.  Completely wrap the rack of ribs in foil, leaving one end rolled for easy access later.  Place the foil-wrapped racks in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250° F.

In a small container, mix together the wine, vinegar, Worcestershire, and ketchup.

Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet.   Gently open one end of each of the foil packs and pour in some of the liquid.  Divide the liquid pretty evenly between each of the foil packets, then seal it back up.  Place the tray of ribs in the oven and cook for 2 hours.

If you are ready to serve, remove the ribs from the foil and return to the baking tray.   Top with the ketchup or BBQ sauce (depending on which Option you chose above) and spread it around a bit.  Increase oven temperature to 350° F, return ribs to oven, and cook for 15 minutes.

If you are making ahead, leave the ribs in the foil packets and refrigerate until you are almost ready to serve.  Place the wrapped ribs in the oven at 200 degrees and reheat for 30 minutes.   Top with ketchup or BBQ sauce and spread around a bit.  Increase oven temperature to 350° F, return ribs to oven, and cook for 15 minutes.

 

Estimated calories:  670 cal/serving

Print it: Braised Ribs