Cathie Campbell

Something other than sweets

by cathie campbell

Browned butter gnocchi with spinach is a good way to celebrate a special day.
Browned butter gnocchi with spinach is a good way to celebrate a special day. Kim,

I wanted to recognize that Valentine’s Day will soon be here, but got to thinking that recipes for sweets might be a little too, well, too common. We are bombarded with sweets for the occasion, in the form of boxes of chocolates and other candies, plus cookies, pies, cakes and cake pops. Even sweet beverages. So why not throw some non-sweets into the mix, such as for brunch, lunch or dinner? As delicious as candy is, there comes a time, even on Valentine’s Day, when we just crave some real food. Here is a selection that might include that “just-right” recipe for your special day. You are all my valentines, because you are so sweet.

Mushroom asparagus quiche

1 tube (8-oz.) refrigerated crescent rolls

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1  1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into  1/2 to 1-inch pieces

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

 3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, either white or crimini

 1/4 cup butter, cubed

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups (8-oz.) mozzarella cheese, shredded

 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

 1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and rubbed sage

1. Preheat oven to 375. Separate crescent dough into eight pieces; place in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate with points toward the center. Press onto the bottom and up the sides to form a crust; seal perforations. Spread with mustard; set aside.

2. In a skillet, cook the asparagus, onion and mushrooms in butter until asparagus is crisp-tender. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in the asparagus mixture and pour into the crust.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand about10 minutes before cutting into the quiche. makes 8 servings.

Shrimp and angel hair pasta

4 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

 3/4 to 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

 1/2 cup chicken broth

1 small Roma tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

 1/4 teaspoon salt

 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon each minced fresh parsley, thyme, oregano and basil

 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. As the pasta cooks, saute shrimp and asparagus in oil in a large skillet, for about 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the mushrooms, broth, tomato, salt and pepper flakes; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes.

2. Drain pasta and add the pasta to the skillet, along with the fresh herbs. Toss to coat and top with the Parmesan cheese. Makes 2 servings.

Browned butter gnocchi with spinach

1 package (16-oz.) gnocchi (or equivalent of your favorite homemade)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 package (10-oz.) fresh cleaned spinach, torn

Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Orzo and black bean salad

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed and drained

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

3 green onions, sliced

1 can (15-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

 1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chili powder

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 avocado, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain very well and rinse. Place orzo, corn, tomatoes, green onions and black beans in a large bowl; mix to blend evenly.

2. For dressing: In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons cilantro, lime juice, sour cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne and garlic, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over orzo mixture; toss. Top with avocado; garnish with remaining cilantro and parsley. Makes 4 servings.