Thursday Night Menu: Longing for Spring Edition

I don’t know about you, but my last few weeks have been full of activities and work. Add to that an unexpected snow storm that created havoc on the roads today and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and short on time. So tonight’s menu is about simplicity and freshness. The snow and cold makes me long for fresh fruits and vegetables (and seed catalogs). I know good quality can be hard to come by this time of year, but I am tired of soups and stews, so I’ll do the freshest I can with the ingredients available. Nothing exciting about this pasta dish, except it is quick, easy and fresh. Substituting good quality canned diced tomatoes (maybe even roasted tomatoes) will work if you can’t find any decent fresh tomatoes. I can usually find local greenhouse tomatoes at the indoor farmer’s market, along with fresh dried pastas, so I try to get there when I can. For the salad, I look for anything that sounds like it might be a good addition: snow peas, jicama, grapes, peppers, even sliced apples, to add to several types of greens. A friend introduced me to Greek yogurt recently and I really, really like it. It’s smooth, creamy and works well as a dessert. I know blueberries and raspberries can be iffy when fresh this time of year (re: bland), not to mention expensive. I like frozen, organic blueberries that are small and taste almost like wild blueberries. Frozen raspberries are almost always better than any out of season fresh raspberry. I thaw them and serve with the yogurt and that works really well. So with all that, I’ve done my best to bring some fresh ideas to a cold winter’s weekend.

On the board tonight:

  1. Tomato-Parmesan Linguine
  2. Tossed Salad w/Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
  3. Steamed Asparagus Spears
  4. Blueberries & Raspberries w/vanilla yogurt

Tomato-Parmesan Linguine

  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes, diced (or equivalent)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes and skip the oil)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta
  • Parmesan for topping

2 saucepans, serving dish

Heat oil in saucepan, add tomatoes, basil, oregano & garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes on medium-high, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 minutes, add parmesan and cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook linguini according to package directions. Toss together pasta and tomatoes and serve. Serve with additional parmesan.

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (more if needed)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil

Add lemon zest, salt, juice & thyme in blender. Slowly add oil while blending, emulsifying the mixture. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or salt as needed. Let sit for ½ hour before serving.

Shopping list:

  • Salad ingredients
  • 32 oz vanilla yogurt
  • 8 oz blueberries
  • 8 oz raspberries
  • 6 oz olive oil
  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes (or equivalent) – or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 6 oz fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta

Also: lemon zest, salt, lemon juice, dried thyme, ½ cup olive oil, crushed garlic, dried oregano

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