tarragon pasta

the cheese that inspired it all: river valley's fresh tarragon goat cheese. this artisan goat cheese in incredibly fresh tasting. at such a young age, the cheese still has quite a bit of moisture in it, giving it a slightly different texture than your typical crumbly chevre. this week at the farmers market they came with a new flavor - one of my favorite herb flavors actually - tarragon!

delicious green tarragon pasta salad with tarragon goat cheese:
penne pasta (i used whole wheat penne, but it would have been more fun to use green spinach penne!)
large bunch of fresh asparagus 
1 jar of artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (marinated or not)
tons of fresh tarragon, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
green onions, chopped
crushed raw or roasted garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
goat cheese
salt and pepper

cook pasta as directed. strain and coat with a generous splash of olive oil. let to cool while you cut your asparagus into thirds, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. roast in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until tender. while the your pasta is still warm, mix in the zest, garlic, and herbs so that the olive oil on the pasta absorbs the flavors. finally, mix in the artichoke, asparagus, lemon juice, crumbled tarragon goat cheese with tons of salt and pepper. this dish can also be great warm, but i like the freshness of the lemon in a chilled pasta salad best!

spicy sesame crackers and baba ganoush

crackers are simple to make and there are an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to flavors. i wanted something spicy, with sesame seeds to compliment a lovely chickpea-eggplant dip i made up.

for the baba ganoush:
2 eggplants
1-5 cloves garlic
lemon juice
1 cup chick peas
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
smoked paprika or garam masala

cut 2 medium eggplants in half, brushing the cut side with a bit of olive oil. place skin side down in a roasting pan or baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes until the skin is well browned/charred. (note - you can use raw garlic. or while you're eggplant bakes, you can roast some garlic in olive oil along the side). let cool for a few minutes before scraping out the insides of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. add into the blender several cloves of roasted garlic (or 1 raw clove), tahini, lemon juice, chick peas, spices, salt and pepper. blend until smooth, adjust flavors and texture by adding more or less lemon juice or chick peas. should be slightly thinner texture than hummus. you don't to use chick peas, but it does wonders to the texture of your dip without taking away from the flavor of the roasted eggplant!

sesame crackers ~ 4-6 servings

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup oil (i used a grapeseed oil marinated with chili peppers)
1/2 cup cold water
teaspoon sea salt

combine all ingredients in food processor, or mix by hand. once combined, place dough on floured surface and kneed briefly, adjusting consistency with additional flour if necessary. you should have a dry but not too crumbly dough. roll out as thinly as possible (1/8 inch), flouring both sides so as to not stick to your rolling pin. take a fork and poke wholes all over your rolled out dough. use the rim of a glass to cut circular crackers, or cut to desired shape/size. place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. bake at 400 degrees until bottoms are light brown (bake time will depend on thickness and size of crackers.) once bottoms are browned, gently flip each cracker over, and bake for a couple more minutes. cool on a drying rack and sprinkle with a bit more salt. 

roasted garlic & sun dried tomato soup with pumpernickel croutons

seattle weather is completely unreliable! i woke up to a cold cloudy sky and instantly though of soup! this is my fancied up version of tomato soup with crackers:

roasting garlic adds a ton of flavor without the bitterness of raw garlic. to roast, simply peel your garlic, coat with olive oil, and wrap all the cloves in tin foil. bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes until browned.
it may be a lot of effort... but so worth it!

the soup: 
one onion chopped 
2 full heads of roasted garlic (15-20 cloves... oh yeah!)
dried thyme & oregano
3 small or 1 large potato, cubed 
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
4 cups vegetable stock
3-4 cups canned tomatoes

saute the onion with olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add in a spoonful of thyme and a pinch of oregano along with the roasted garlic cloves. saute for another minute. add in your cuped potatoes and sun dried tomatoes. cover with 4 cups vegetable stock. bring to a boil, and let simmer until potatoes are tender (15-20 minutes depending on the size of your cubes). add in the canned tomatoes. taste - add salt and pepper! use an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen toy!) or puree in batches in a blender until smooth. 

pumpernickel croutons:
tall grass bakery - a local bread company that frequents the seattle farmers markets - makes amazing artisan breads. their pumpernickel loaf is light and great for making flavorful croutons! 
cut your bread into 1 inch cubes. mix together a quarter cup olive oil, 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, tons of dried thyme, salt and pepper. drizzle over bread cubes and mix with hands. spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until edges are brown and crisp. let cool on a paper towel or paper bag.