With broccoli starting to come up in my raised winter vegetable bed, I’ve been cooking a lot with it lately. One of my favorite ways to cook it is with pasta. Here’s a simple one that’s easy to make with store-bought, good quality ravioli. Add a drizzle of olive oil at the end to enrich the sauce if you like.

Ingredients

3/4 pound broccoli, cut into florets
1 pound goat cheese ravioli (homemade, fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Instructions

1. Bring a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the ravioli and stir. Simmer them gently, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until they’re tender (or according to the package directions). Don’t let the water get to a rolling boil, or the ravioli may break apart.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the broccoli and season with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is bright green and tender but not soft, 5-8 minutes.

3. Add a splash of the pasta water to the broccoli to form a sauce. (There should be just enough liquid in the pan to cling to the ravioli.)

4. When the ravioli are done, add them to the pan with a slotted spoon. Gently toss them with the broccoli. Sprinkle over the red pepper flakes, parmesan and more freshly ground black pepper.

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November Produce

by brys on November 13, 2011 · 0 comments

The Charleston Farmers Market sets up every Saturday downtown in Marion Square until December 19, just two days before the first day of winter. That’s about a month away, and the harvest from the surrounding sea islands — Johns, Wadmalaw, James, Edisto — goes on. It may even be fair to say (especially if you like greens) that the variety is as good or better now than it’s been all year. The extent of the local farm bounty was one of the most fun discoveries I had after moving to Charleston a couple of years ago.

Even though I’ve been cooking with greens from my raised beds out here on Sullivan’s for weeks now, I’ll stil be able to get fresh local produce for a while, if not all year round. By this time last year in the lowcountry we had dipped into the low 40’s just a few nights despite near freezing temperatures upstate, and even then summer crops like tomatoes, melons, okra, peas and peanuts still look great. Most farms are surrounded by water that’s about 65 degrees this time of year, which helps a lot. But this year has been really mild by contrast, which I’m not complaining about at all.

This time last year I was talking regularly with Jay Maynard at the Thackeray booth for a while, who had a lot of great information about what they’re growing, which I was beginning to gather together for an article in the Charleston City Paper’s Dish Dining Guide. I’m going to try to head out to the farm next week to check out some of the heirloom varieties they’re growing, and compare that to last year. Last year I asked Jay if the okra below was the red variety (which you never see around here). He said that no, it’s just green okra that’s wintering off — or naturally producing red tannins in anticipation of frost. He said Sean Brock (it always goes back to Brock) is cooking with an heirloom variety of okra called Copahee (which must be from around here), which is truly red in color.

Heartier cool-weather greens and roots like sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots and onions are not only abundant now, but are doing their best, and should be around until January or so. Some say collards and other greens taste best after a frost.

At home out on Sullivan’s Island I’ve had collards, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red and green kale and cauliflower planted for about a month. Just about everything looked wilted when we were in the upper 70’s, but it’s all happier and happier the cooler it gets. I’m looking forward to seeing how long the cool-weather vegetables last — and may even try to squeeze in an early spring crop after letting the bed lie fallow for a month or so, depending on the weather.

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Fall Breakfast Fusion

October 11, 2011

It’s not exactly chilly in the lowcountry right now, but this rainy coastal system moving up from Florida made yesterday a pretty dreary Monday. It was actually nice for a change.
Now that fall’s here, there’s a shift in ways to explore the relationship between Southern and Southeast Asian (among other cuisines) food and cooking. I [...]

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Gorgonzola

September 14, 2011

After trying many versions over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s impossible to write (or follow) a foolproof recipe for fresh gnocchi.
The right ration of flour to liquid depends on subtleties like humidity, the size of the eggs (if you’re using them), and the size of and amount of moisture in the [...]

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Broiled Eggplant With Soy, Lime, Chile And Garlic

September 13, 2011

I love broiling eggplant. Since the oven’s heat hits the eggplant from above (as opposed to from below like on a grill) it’s easier to baste the eggplant with a flavorful sauce and have the sauce stay put to really sear into the eggplant’s flesh.
Last week when I came across a few firm purple Chinese [...]

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Penne With Field Peas, Tomato, Feta And Basil

September 12, 2011

A 2008 back issue of Saveur that I flipped through over the weekend has me inspired.
Around that time, along with the usual beautiful photography, they were starting to focus more and more on ingredients and techniques, with the various cuisines of the world as context. This month they highlight crab, brown rice and southern peas [...]

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Chickpeas With Merguez Sausage And Kale

September 7, 2011

serves 2
Ingredients:
2-4 links merguez sausage (about 1/2 pound), sliced
1 bunch red kale (about 1 pound), stemmed and cut into ribbons
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Instructions:
1. Prep the sausage, kale and chickpeas.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan [...]

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An Italian Take On Turkey

September 4, 2011

These days you can buy the bird in so many forms — turkey pieces, turkey cutlets (or tenders), turkey sausages, smoked wings and legs, rolled or bone-in breast roasts — that there are endless options for cooking turkey.
Last night I put together a simple, elegant saltimbocca that’s a take on the classic Italian veal saltimbocca. [...]

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Pan Roasted Duck

September 1, 2011

Pan roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook meat indoors. Any cut of meat that will fit in a pan (chicken breast, steak, pork chop, etc.) can be seared over high heat, then finished in a moderately hot oven. Searing gives the meat browned flavor and crispness, and finishing in the oven helps [...]

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Butternut Squash Tempura

August 25, 2011

Here in the lowcountry, local markets are replete with squash of all kinds. Over the weekend I picked up some of the butternut variety, and decided to tempura fry them as a gameday appetizer for a few friends.
Tempura frying is quick and the batter is light, so as long as the oil is nice and [...]

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