Sunday Italian Stuffed Peppers & NY Times Asparagus Salad

Italian Stuffed Peppers (3)

“The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.”
Great warrior quotes

Ninja cooking …Not every Italian Sunday has to include pasta so today I am changing up Italian stuffed peppers and including quinoa in the mix instead of rice or pasta.   Since I am trying to break in a new kitchen toy, Ninja 3-1 cooker it will be a good test ride using the oven setting for the pepper recipe. As I am prepping basically two meals ingredients today I’ll have another opportunity to use the slow cooker on another setting some time during the week.

Italian Stuffed Peppers Stuffing 2

To begin with I do grind my own pork, veal, and beef; I know exactly what is in the mix when I’m done…I’m tossing lamb into part of the meat recipe as I want to try a Bolognese recipe during the week.

Italian stuffed Peppers II

Peppers from Summer

I started with about 6 lbs. of pork, veal, lamb and beef (use some or all of the ground meats) adding in some basic ingredients, herbs and spices all ground together, I have enough for stuffed peppers, a sauce Bolognese and the remaining unseasoned pork ended up as ground sausage.   I’ll do my best to break down the stuffing ingredients since I mixed a large batch to divide, keep in mind that you can adjust the ingredients to our own tastes and test a small finished cooked patty and adjust seasonings.

If you aren’t as enthusiastic about pre preparing more than one meal at a time, buy the amounts of ground meat ingredients for one recipe, season as you like for the stuffed peppers.

For the peppers I am using about:

7 small sweet assorted color peppers, tops cut off, microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes
3/4-1 lb ground meat mix (equal parts of beef, pork and veal – optional lamb)
¼ of a medium chopped onion
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
12+ big grape tomatoes, rough chopped
¼ teaspoon porcini dust * optional (from ground porcini)
½ teaspoon fennel seasoning
Optional *Sausage seasoning
2/3’ds of a cup cooked quinoa
¾ tablespoon chopped caper
1 beaten egg
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh oregano leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
I don’t add additional salt as the cheese and some of my spices already contain salt, so feel free to adjust to your taste
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese – reserve one to top stuffed peppers
2 tablespoons pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons grated mozzarella or ricotta salata to top stuffed peppers
1-1/2 cups marinara sauce for the pot not the stuffing

To the ground meat add everything with the exception of, ½ the chopped tomatoes, the marinara sauce, mozzarella and 1 tablespoon parmesan.

Fill peppers, but don’t pack too tightly, place 1 cup sauce in bottom of cooker, add peppers, sprinkle the rest of the chopped tomatoes over and around peppers, sprinkle with cheeses, cover and turn “Ninja” dial to oven 350° cook for 35-40 minutes.

*conventional oven 40-45 minutes/350°
The pan sauce can be served with additional quinoa.

Chiarello fennel spice:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-chiarello/fennel-spice-rub-recipe.html

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad I

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad

1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon and chives
1 cup baby arugula
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce slivered Parmesan

1. Steam the asparagus for three to five minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are. It should be tender but still have some bite. Rinse with cold water, and drain for a minute on a kitchen towel. Cut into 1-inch lengths. Place in a salad bowl, and toss with the mushrooms, herbs and arugula.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil. Toss with the asparagus mixture and the slivered Parmesan, and serve.

Yield: Serves four to make ahead and dress salad just before serving