Summer Stuffed Shells with Creamy Fontina Sauce

Stuffed Shells with Fontina Sauce

Stuffed Shells with Fontina Sauce

This post is sponsored by Cakebread Cellars. Thank you for supporting Nerds with Knives’ sponsors!

Whenever we cook for a crowd, baked pasta is our go-to. All the prep can be done ahead of time, so all that we have to do is pop the pan in the oven, make a quick salad and open the wine. This time of year, the farmer’s market is bursting with early summer vegetables like Swiss chard, baby peas, spring onions and basil. So to celebrate the season, we made our stuffed shells with a mix of our favorite greens and paired them with the most delicious fontina cream sauce. And then popped the corks on a couple of bottles of white wine and enjoyed the sunshine!

Our wine of choice to pair with a beautiful early-summer outdoor dinner is something light with a subtle floral and fruit character. We’ve paired up with Cakebread Cellars’ Napa Valley Chardonnay and our garden peonies opened up just in time to help us celebrate the season.

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Stir Fried Farro with Garlicky Kale and Poached Egg

Tender stir fried farro, garlicky sautéed kale, and a perfectly poached egg. If that’s not a good breakfast, we don’t know what is. This simple, healthy grain bowl is packed with everything you need to start your day off right. 

Breakfast isn’t typically an ideal meal for slow food. Our modern lives pack our days with tasks demanding attention: we have kids to get to school, work deadlines to meet, errands pulling us in twenty directions. But while a cup of coffee and a quick carbohydrate filler, like a bowl of cereal or piece of toast, may get us up and out of the house quickly, they hardly constitute a satisfying and well-rounded meal. That’s why when we’re able to, dedicating a little more time to a breakfast that actually provides a whammy of flavor, as well as going some way to fulfill those balanced-food-groups and five-a-day promises, is a worthy goal.

Note: This recipe is part of our series with Serious Eats.

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Nettle Risotto with Green Garlic and Taleggio

Nettle Risotto with Green Garlic and Taleggio

Stinging nettles aren’t just for stumbling into with painful consequences. We’ll show you how to use the leaves safely to make a delicious and super healthy nettle risotto. Flavored with green garlic and Taleggio cheese, this is a knock-out Spring dinner. But don’t worry if you don’t have nettles and green garlic, you can make it with spinach and regular garlic too! 

As a kid growing up in a vaguely-rural part of England, I quickly learned that if there was one plant that resisted your attempts to live peacefully with nature, it was the stinging nettle. Wherever it was most fun to run around in the woods, that’s where they lurked. If there was a perfectly tempting blackberry bramble by the side of the road, you could bet your last Rolo that there’d be a patch of nettles right in front of it. Children and nettles existed in a sort of uneasy symbiosis. We would fall into them, and they would sting us … actually, that’s not really a symbiosis, is it, it’s just how both nettles and children tend to work.

We were always encouraged to grasp the nettle! (meaning, just go for it, and it probably wouldn’t sting you, which was a lie). I wonder if many childhoods would have been changed for the better if we’d been encouraged to eat the nettle instead.

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Sausage, White Bean and Escarole Soup

Sausage, White Bean and Escarole Soup

The classic combination of spicy sausage, creamy white cannellini beans and bright escarole has never been so satisfying. We go heavy on the garlic and herbs, add more vegetables, and give it a hearty, creamy texture by mashing some of the beans and adding a little cream cheese. 

Every year on the blog about this time we complain about the weather. It’s so cold right now, we’re watching the Hardhome episode of Game of Thrones, where Jon Snow and his pals are as far North as they’ve ever been, and they’re fighting through a vicious blizzard and the cold is literally making people’s hands drop off, and we’re thinking “mmm, that looks like a toasty vacation spot”.

This year, the weather gods have outdone themselves (it’s -16ºF / -27ºC with the wind chill. That’s an incomprehensible amount of cold.). So instead of shaking our fists at the sky and risking instant frostbite, we fight back by making the coziest, heartiest, most fortifying soup we can imagine.

Rare footage of Matt learning we’re out of milk for tea.

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Baked Eggs with Creamy Greens and Garlic Butter Toasts

baked eggs with kale spinach

Three kinds of leafy greens combine with mushrooms, garlic, leeks, mustard, and spices to form the base for a baked egg dish that’s a bit like an omelette turned inside out. It’s an ideal recipe for brunch, or really any meal of the day.

Sometimes we want to start the day with an omelette: maybe cook up some chopped leafy greens, sauté a few mushrooms until they’re golden, throw in a handful of cheese, and enclose the whole thing in an egg jacket. And sometimes, we want to flip the whole concept inside out and bake the eggs right on top of the other ingredients, because, you know, we’re mavericks like that.

It does take a little longer than the omelette method, and it requires turning on the oven. But really, since we’re fully cooking the greens and mushrooms either way, it’s the difference between a couple of minutes standing at the range and 20 minutes of unattended baking. You can also cook the creamed greens ahead, and bake the eggs when you’re ready for eat. 

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Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and White Beans


PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, BROCCOLI RABE AND WHITE BEANS

Pasta with sausage, broccoli rabe and white beans is a classic combination that needs its own name. While you’re thinking of one, check out our recipe.

Neither one of us grew up in an Italian family. We didn’t have childhoods where there was always a lasagne baking away in the kitchen, twenty people crammed into a dining room, cheerfully shouting at one another to pass the meatballs, Dad sitting at the head of the table with his slicked-back hair, pencil moustache, eating slices of orange, two bodyguards at the door … you know what, I’m thinking of “The Godfather” there, that’s what that is.

Of course, it’s easy to get inspiration from Italian cuisine – there are are a handful of classic pasta dishes that we fall back on for dinner parties or quick weeknight meals, and I think this might be one of our favorites – it’s cheap, easy and phenomenally delicious. We make it all the time.

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