Cinco de Mayo Menu

How could I forget to include a Cinco de Mayo dinner in this week’s menu?!  Christian and I love going to Mexico and in fact spent our honeymoon about 6 years ago there.  We also work Mexican inspired dishes into rotation so regularly that we often joke that we must have been Mexican in a past life...so we simply can’t skip the Cinco de Mayo festivities even if we do stay home.  That means I’ll be swapping out the White Bean & Kale Soup on this week’s menu for the Cinco de Mayo menu below (since I have the ingredients for the soup though I’ll make that next week....thankfully kale lasts forever!).
Barley Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a new recipe for us from one of our favorite cookbooks, Almost Meatless.  The nice thing about it is that it can be a great vegetarian dinner or you can add a bit of crumbled sausage to it if you’re feeding people who can’t fathom why you would ever have a meal without a bit of animal protein (I, admittedly, used to be a card-carrying member of this group!).  But really, doesn’t sausage make everything better?  I digress! If you plan ahead and cook the squash, the rest of this meal is pretty easy and straightforward.  And for a cold, foggy fall or winter night it’s the perfect comfort food...actually a little reminiscent of Thanksgiving (which lovely flavors I personally think shouldn’t be relegated to just once a year!)  Pair it with a full-bodied Chardonnay (we chose Frog’s Leap 2009) and a week night meal turns into an intimate occasion worth savoring!
Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette

This is another one of our old-standby favorite recipes which makes it into the rotation almost once a month.  It’s super easy and oh-so delicious...I consider it a slightly more upscale comfort food. Great for a cold or rainy night, the type of dish that warms the soul and makes the house smell delish.

Broccoli Rabe is also known as Rapini and what we love about it in particular is how the greens develop a slightly bitter, horseradish-like flavor, yum.  Orecchiette is an ear shaped pasta that stays nice and firm when cooked so that it has a nice bite to it.  Try this one out, you'll love it...I promise!
Pork & Noodle Soup with Shrimp

Christian cooked the Pork Noodle Soup with Shrimp (recipe below) tonight since work ran a bit late for me.  That’s another fabulous thing about having a menu posted on the fridge...if I’m not around Christian can dive right in and at least start cooking for us!

Christian’s a good cook, but can get a bit flustered at times so the fact that he told me that this was an easy recipe means it really is easy which makes it perfect for weeknights.  And we both think that it turned out a restaurant quality soup...so much so that we had a hard time restraining ourselves and saving enough for our leftovers night!
Gnocchi with Radicchio, Pancetta, Pine Nuts & Rosemary
I love making gnocchi...especially on a cloudy Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine in hand, fun and relaxing.  The one trick is that you really do need a potato ricer to get the gnocchi to be the right consistency.  I’ve tried other methods and shortcuts before, but finally had to give in and get a potato ricer and it’s worth it (great for uber-creamy mashed potatoes as well!).  This flavors in this recipe from the December 2010 Bon Appéitt are divine...but I don’t know how you go wrong with pancetta and rosemary.