Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs


I’ve made a few alterations to this dish, which was good but not great in our opinion. The fennel was originally cut into largish wedges, which while pretty, was far too much fennel per bite. I’ve instead advised chopping the fennel, which in turn reduces cooking time and amount of broth used. I’ve also added more spice, because we thought the original recipe didn’t deserve the adjective “spicy” in the title as was.


8 servings

Prep Time

0 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time

0 hours, 20 minutes


  • 1 three-ounce package pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 large red (or green, if necessary) jalapeño chiles, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound spaghetti (We used whole wheat spaghetti)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Toscano cheese, divided


  1. Sauté pancetta in large skillet over medium heat until pancetta is golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in skillet. Add garlic and chiles; sauté over medium heat 1 minute. Add fennel; cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
  2. Mix in broth, 2 tablespoons parsley, lemon juice, and fennel seeds. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until fennel is very tender, 10 minutes. Add extra chicken broth as necessary to keep slightly moist. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook pasta until tender; drain. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
  4. Uncover skillet with fennel mixture and return to high heat. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add fennel to pasta. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup cheese, and pancetta. Add cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Toss pasta; transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley over. Serve with cheese.

Stuff a taco

When you cook with a lot of different vegetables or are a CSA member, you come to see the common tortilla as more than an ingredient. Instead, I think of tortillas as containers, as vehicles, as something in which you can put most anything and somehow make it delicious. At Casa Local Dish, we go beyond the normal taco fillings of chicken, pork, beef and beans. In fact, we’ve been know to stuff a tortilla with:

After all these experiments, I’ve learned a few important things, such as spicy green salsas pair especially well with sweet vegetables like squash. Therefore, I was pretty confident that this latest recipe was going to be a big hit:

Bean and Butternut Tacos with Green Salsa

That’s right, it’s my favorite
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Butternut is also used in the Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas linked above, but that recipe is a bit of a big to-do. I was looking for something similar but simpler and just as tasty, and these tacos knocked the ball out of the park.

squash.jpg - medium

This lovely squash is from our farm, Greenhorn Acres, as were several other ingredients, including the tomatillos, jalepeno and onion, which are quickly toasted and then thrown in a blender to create the homemade salsa.

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It’s nice to make such great use of the week’s produce from our CSA, certainly, but please make note: If you have the time to make the salsa, fine. Or, make a big batch and freeze some to skip the step next time around. But to make this meal take half the time and effort and be an effortless weeknight meal, feel free to use pre-made green salsa from the grocery and sprinkle on some avocado instead of blending it into the salsa. There are some great green salsas out there and I don’t think this homemade version was any better or worse, so skip the time and the dishes if you feel like it.

tacos1.jpg - medium

Because once the salsa is out of the way, you roast the squash with chiles and spices, heat up a can of pinto beans with other spices and assemble, topping with sliced cabbage and feta cheese. The beans are a good source of protein, and the squash is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium.

And did I mention? They just taste good.

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So, there you go. The versatile taco can take just about any combination of ingredients, especially when you experiment to see which veggies and spices balance each other. If you have tortillas and some imagination, you likely have dinner at your finger tips.

Anyone out there have any interesting taco, burrito or enchilada recipes to share?

Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa – Local Dish

Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa

Ways in which things are returning to normal at Casa Local Dish:

  • Out with the lunch meat! We’re eating dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, which has been our habit and preference for years. You can only eat so many sandwiches. No matter how you vary the ingredients, it’s still a sandwich.
  • A full pot of tea every morning! No more heating up water in the microwave or kettle to make individual mugs. Our “coffee” maker is full steam ahead, using our favorite loose-leaf teas to make 12-cup pots of warmth for early winter mornings.
  • Also full dishwashers! No more paper plates. No more take-out containers. You wouldn’t think I’d be happy about dishes, but, well, life can be surprising.
  • Welcome back tofu! Welcome back spicy! Welcome back Asian! Three of my favorite things to cook myself, all included in:

Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa

Is that a Kate dish, or is that a Kate dish? (Hat tip to

Gina on Pinterest

for the recipe.) But not everything is business as usual. How could it be in such new surroundings? What’s not normal:

  • The vast, lovely amount of space I have in my new kitchen to arrange my ingredients for blog photography.
  • The amount of Sriracha hot sauce this recipe calls for: 1/3 cup. Hoo whee.
  • The shiny, white counters, which are awesome but reflect more light than I’m used to when I take food photos.
  • The vast, lovely amount of space I have in my new kitchen to arrange my ingredients for blog photography. Oh, I said that already.

(Sorry, I’ve probably crossed the line into bragging now. I’ll stop.) (I’ll try to stop.) As the last pictures show, the key to this recipe is preparation. This is not something to throw together after a long day of work or on short notice. This requires reading all the steps in advance and staying organized, which at least in the kitchen,

I’m usually pretty good at

. Even so, I wouldn’t label this recipe as the original CHOW post did: “It’s still simple enough for a weeknight dinner and you won’t use every pot and pan in the house.” Yeah, even I don’t consider it simple. Not hard, but not simple. The quinoa, broccoli, carrots and tofu all have to be cooked in separate stages. Then the dressing, tasty but thick and sticky, is difficult to stir evenly through all the ingredients. There were a few pockets of nothing but dressing that took me by surprise. It’s a Kate recipe, and one which I’m glad I made. It was good. Not good enough for me to eagerly put it back into rotation right away, though. Surprisingly, the best part — the new bit I’ll take away to put into use in the future — was simple: the preparation of the quinoa… … which is cooked in broth and coconut milk. Why have I never thought of this? Talk about flavor! The healthy whole grain becomes creamy and craveable all by itself. Perhaps it could be used as a simple side dish? Perhaps the same method would work well with other grains like rice? You eat every day, my friends. Might as well learn something new, too.

special-occasion recipes to re-emerge to be enjoyed at holiday meals — hopefully with some new photos to accompany. Happy holidays!

Beef and Lamb Air Fryer Burger


This is one of my favorite ways to make healthy burgers. This is a bit different than what you are used to making. For these burgers, we are not going to be using a normal grill. We are going to be using a healthy oil free fryer or “air fryer”. Air fryers work by cooking or frying your food with hot air. The hot air is circulated around the food, cooking it thoroughly all around. I can see a lot of you right now reading this and probably rolling your eyes but trust me, it’s amazing and actually good for you (depending on how lean your beef is). You can make this in pretty much any air fryer with a large basket.

Here’s how it’s done:

Always start off with washing your hands!


-2 pounds high-quality beef (I prefer 70 percent lean as it is the juiciest IMO)

-1/2 pound ground lamb

-1/2 onion

-your favorite burger seasoning (I love Emeril’s Burger Seasoning)

-Sliced pepper jack cheese


-2 tomatoes

-2 tsp basil



  1. Add your ground beef and ground lamb into a large bowl.
  2. Dice your onions and toss those in as well.
  3. Add your burger seasoning.
  4. Add in the ground basil.
  5. Mix everything together nicely until everything is evenly spread out.
  6. Form your lamb/burger meat into 4-5 patties
  7. Cook in your Air Fryer at around 390 degrees for 20 minutes
  8. Take them out and check them after 10 minutes. In most cases they will need further cooking. Cook them for another 10-15
  9. Cook them for another 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

That’s it! Take them out and add on the fixings and serve. Such an easy and healthy dinner. The lamb adds a wonderful and juicy flavor to the beef.




Eggplant Rollatini – Local Dish

Eggplant Rollatini Image


I love eggplant Parmesan, but not so much the frying involved. This recipe seemed a great solution. Thin slices of eggplant are breaded and baked, then are wrapped around a cheese mixture and topped with marinara. It a good deal of work, but the dish satisfies that Italian craving in a (cheese aside) healthy way.

The drawback is that the process is messy and takes more time than I’d like for a weekday meal. Crisp and delicious straight from the oven, I may steal the method for cooking the eggplant to create a side dish or a component for another recipe.


8 servings

Prep Time

0 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time

1 hour, 0 minutes


  • Cooking spray
  • All-pupose flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
  • 2 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 18 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick lengthwise eggplant slices (from 2 medium)
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese (preferably whole-milk)
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 cups marinara sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 3 baking sheets and one 13×9×2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Place flour in 1 wide shallow bowl, eggs in second bowl, and breadcrumbs mixed with 1 cup Parmesan cheese in another. Sprinkle each eggplant slice with salt and pepper. Coat each slice with flour, then beaten egg, and finally breadcrumb mixture. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Bake eggplant in batches until coating is golden, turning after 15 minutes, about 30 minutes total. Cool on sheets.
  2. Mix mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, basil, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Season filling with salt and pepper. Divide filling among eggplant slices (about 3 tablespoons per slice); spread evenly. Starting at 1 short end, roll up eggplant slices, enclosing filling. Arrange rolls, seam side down, in prepared baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon marinara sauce over rolls; sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered until rollatini are heated through and mozzarella cheese melts, about 30 minutes.


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