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Archive for the ‘Veggie’ Category

We get cravings for pasta quite often, but we wanted something a little different than our typical tomato sauce based pasta, and we weren’t quite in the mood for a creamy pasta dish.  Greens and beans over pasta would do the trick.  You may select from a number of different greens for this recipe, but we chose kale because it looked the best in the grocery store.  We were going to go with spinach, but for some weird reason there was no spinach on the produce shelves.  None!  Wanting to stay with fresh and not frozen, we selected the kale, and since we do not eat kale often (try never), we thought it was adventurous. 

 

This meal smells good right from the beginning when you are adding the garlic and crushed red pepper to the hot olive oil.  You inhale this delicious peppery scent, and it actually makes you want to add more red pepper just to make sure that smell continues. 

As the garlic simmers and you begin to add the kale, the firm light green leaves with curly edges soften and turn a deep dark green, but then you add the white beans which brighten the greens up again.  The chicken broth adds a hearty flavor, but can be replaced with vegetable stock for an all veggie meal.  Then comes the wine vinegar which changes the smells completely and provides the perfect sweet and tangy smell, exactly what this bitter kale needs. We served it over thick ziti with grated fresh pecorino on top and everywhere in between.  There were so many flavors, and they all stood out, none being overpowered by the other.  

Sautéed Kale with Cannellini Beans over Pasta (adapted from Epicurious)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 large bunch kale (other greens will work too)

1 ½ cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans rinsed, drained

1 teaspoon (or more) wine vinegar

Prepare greens by removing stems, and cutting into 2 inch strips.  In large nonstick pan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and add garlic and dried crushed pepper.  Cook, stirring, until garlic is lightly browned. About 1 minute.  Add greens and stir until greens begin to wilt, adding more as space allows, and coating with the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. 

Add chicken broth, cover, and simmer until greens are just tender. Add beans and simmer until hot and almost all liquid is absorbed.  Add vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir together. Serve over pasta (ziti worked well), with freshly grated parmesan or pecorino.

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If you want a simple, yet tasty and impressive snack, then you want a tomato and feta phyllo tart.  I must caution you though, this snack is only as good as the quality of its ingredients.  So if you have nice looking tomatoes, good quality olive oil, and real feta cheese with some flavor (nothing packaged in plastic from the grocery store…think cheese shop), then I encourage you to try this.  The reason being is that the phyllo is rather tasteless.  It is the topping that provides the real flavor.  If your tomato and feta are bland, then this entire thing is bland.  You have been warned.

Next time I would make the tarts smaller and with more topping, thereby eliminating the wide phyllo edges.  When I took my first bite, all I got was phyllo…not very tasty.  So I would make the topping go all the way out to the edges.  

Tomato and Feta with Olive Oil Phyllo Tarts

1 package phyllo dough

1 large tomato

2 cups feta cheese crumbles

2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for brushing onto phyllo

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thaw phyllo dough, and brush a sheet with a light coat of olive oil, and set aside.  Then brush the rest of the sheets, and place one on top of the other. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into squares-two rows, four squares in each row.  Chop tomato and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese on top of each square, covering the entire square.  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown.

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Since we are on a chickpea kick, we decided that this recipe from Smitten Kitchen would suit us just fine on a Monday evening.  It is pretty simple, no real technique needed, except washing, draining, heating and stirring.  It is a hearty meal, and it looks like it should be spicier than it really is, so next time I would add more cumin and perhaps a touch of cayenne pepper to fulfill the look.  I purchased two bunches of fresh spinach leaves, which is probably over a pound, but I might suggest to you to add maybe a half bunch more.  The leaves reduce drastically.  Also I increased the amount of tomato sauce, just because I love tomatoes, but I did not increase the spices to meet this increase (which may account for the lack of spiciness).  I have adjusted for extra tomato sauce below. 

Speaking of spices, when you add the cumin to the bread crumbs, garlic and olive oil, a delicious scent will arise from the pan.  If you have additional time, you can cook dried chickpeas for this recipe, but I opted for the canned variety.  Once the chickpeas and spinach are hot, and you have swirled the spinach leaves through the mixture a few times,  heat some olive oil in a small fry pan, and place pita bread in, flipping it to slightly coat both sides in oil, and heat on a low to medium heat on both sides until slightly browned and crispy.  Cut pita bread into quarters, and scoop spinach and chickpeas.

Spinach and Chickpeas (adapted and revised from Smitten Kitchen)

2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound spinach, washed
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

2 cups tomato sauce

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash spinach and cut off stems.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the spinach leaves.  Stir well and remove when leaves are tender.  Drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat 3 more tablespoons olive oil in the same pan, and add the bread crumbs, garlic, cumin, and pepper.  Cook until garlic begins to brown (5-6 minutes).  Then transfer to a food processor.  Add vinegar and process until smooth, like a paste. 
Return the paste to the pan, add the chickpeas and tomato sauce, and cook until hot.  Then add the spinach, salt, pepper and paprika, and cook until hot.  Serve with pita bread that has been fried in olive oil.

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Who doesn’t love latkes?  Well maybe you are not a fan, but we especially love potato pancakes when they are hot, crispy and dipped in sour cream and/or applesauce.  Something about zucchini replacing potato convinced me that these are a healthier version of the beloved potato pancake.  However, this is a lie since they are also fried in oil, and there is some potato still involved. 

I revised Ms. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, removing the baking powder, replacing red onion with shallots, and adding feta cheese, which melts into the pancake and adds a salty kick.  These were definitely lighter than the potato version, but be sure to squeeze out any extra liquid from each patty before cooking so that they will stay together better.

 

 

Zucchini and Feta Latkes (adapted and revised from Barefoot Contessa)  

3 medium zucchini

1 small potato

1 shallot

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup feta cheese crumbles

5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil  

Peel zucchini, potato, and shallots.  Shred zucchini, potato, and shallots against the large grating side of a box grater into a large bowl.  Stir in eggs. Then stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in feta cheese.

Roll vegetable mixture into small patties.  Add vegetable oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat..  Once the vegetable oil is hot, carefully place in latkes and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until brown and crispy.  Remove latkes from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve hot with sour cream or applesauce.

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When we were in Paris last year, we had the best beef bourguignon at a small restaurant where the tables were so close together that it felt like you were actually eating dinner with the strangers next to you.  I have always been a fan of beef stew.  I have memories of my aunt’s beef stew, but unfortunately I do not have the recipe. I remember how tender everything was and how each bite was just delicious. I often try to replicate my memory of it, but it never comes out quite right. 

The beef bourguignon was nothing like my aunt’s comforting stew.  It was much more refined with much stronger flavors.  Although I really love beef stew in all its forms, I rarely finish all of the meat in the dish. I much rather have a little piece of meat with lots of veggies that have borrowed flavors from the meat.  When I came across this recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon I thought that it was a fantastic idea.  When I explained what I was cooking to my husband, I believe that he was a bit confused that there was no meat.  The sauce was very tasty, and although I used regular white button mushrooms instead of portabella or cremini, it turned out well.  I especially liked the pearl onions, which gave the sauce a sweeter taste.  However, I must admit that while we were eating, I did say…this is good, but would be great with a little beef in it.

Mushroom Bourguignon (adapted from SmittenKitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 pounds mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices

1/2 carrot, finely diced (or handful of baby carrots)

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup full-bodied red wine (I used Malbec)

2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

Pinch of salt

Egg noodles

In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Throw the mushrooms into the pot, but do not crowd them.  Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken.  About three or four minutes. Remove mushroom and set aside. 

Then add a tablespoon of olive oil, and sauté the carrots, onions, thyme, a pinch of salt and ¼ tsp of fresh ground pepper until onions are slightly browned.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the wine.  Turn the heat on high, and reduce wine by half.  Then add tomato paste and beef broth and stir until combined. Add the mushrooms with any juices that have collected.  When the liquid begins to boil, reduce temperature to low, so it simmers for about 20 minutes.  Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more. 

 In a small bowl, combine butter and the flour with a fork.  Stir it into the stew. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Boil egg noodles.  Serve mushroom sauce atop a bed of egg noodles.

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Swiss chard seems to be sweeping the food blog world.  Everyone is using it in everything from eggs to pasta.  What is this Swiss chard phenomemon you ask?  Although it is typically in season from June to August, swiss chard looks great right now in the local grocery stores and it is incredibly cheap.  It is another bitter-tasting green that is usually eaten with many other ingredients surrounding it. 

 

With my left over gigantic sweet potatoes that I had from a few weeks ago, I decided to try this recipe.  In my opinion, this dish really seems to belong to Thanksgiving, with the sweet potatoes and nutmeg and all, but I found it to be a delightful springtime side dish or meal as well. 

 

I did a little revising to this recipe for several reasons.  First, I did not use enough greens.  One bunch looked like plenty to me in the store, but once the greens cook, their bounty decreases.  So I would add another bunch of chard.  I used skim milk instead of whole milk my first time through, but I would recommend the whole milk because I felt like the sauce sort of disappeared while the gratin was baking.  A thicker sauce may have more staying power.  I got rid of the parsley and thyme because I wanted to actually taste the chard and sweet potatoes and not have the dish be over taken by thyme, which I feel thyme has a tendency to do.   Also, and most important I believe, add more cheese.  The original recipe calls for 1 ¼ cups cheese, which I felt was too little.  It did not cover the layers at all, and after baking, the only cheese you could taste was the cheese sprinkled on top of the dish.  I chose Emmentaler cheese because I tend to really like this cheese in general.  But I think you could use any type of Swiss cheese or gruyere.  I would avoid cheddar and parmesan though, just because I don’t think cheddar would necessary compliment the sweet potatoes and the parmesan does not have the right consistency for melting in this gratin. 

Once the gratin is prepared you have this pretty multi-colored dish, and once it is cooked, the golden top accentuates the purples, oranges and greens which have now taken on deeper tones.

 

The sweet potato definitely steals the show in regards to flavor.  The combination of the sweet potato, greens and cheese make the dish a comfort food.  I also enjoyed finding the pops of Swiss cheese throughout.     

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin (adapted from SmittenKitchen)

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 bunches Swiss chard

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely grated Emmentaler cheese (or Swiss cheese or Gruyere)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  First, separate leaves and stems of the chard.  Cut leaves and stems into 1 inch pieces.  Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over moderately low heat until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper and cook until tender. Turn heat to medium-high, and add the leaves and cook until wilted.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Place greens in a colander to drain.  Make sure to press as much liquid out of the leaves as possible to avoid sogginess.

 Peel the sweet potatoes and then cut into slender 1/8 inch thick rounds.  Then, place milk and garlic in small saucepan and bring to simmer.  Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat and stir in flour, and whisk for one minute.  This is the roux, as my Husband always loves to point out.  Add the milk/garlic and continue to whisk for about 2-3 minutes, until thickened. 

 Butter a deep baking dish.  I used a glass rectangle Pyrex dish.  Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish.  Add a ½ cup of the cheese. Spread half of the greens mixture over the cheese.  Again add a ½ cup of the cheese over the greens. Pour half of the sauce over the layers.  Then spread the remaining sweet potatoes, ½ cup cheese, and remaining greens.  Pour remaining sauce over those new layers.  Add ½ cup cheese to top. 

 Cover the dish with aluminum foil, but be careful to not press the foil down near the cheese or it will cook to the foil.  Bake for 1 hour, until most liquid id absorbed, and then cook another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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My husband found an article on a variation of the traditional cucumber yogurt sauce using beets instead of cucumber.  Beets?  I would have never thought to interchange cucumber for beets, but I was very interested in this new concept.  What really sold me what the color of the tzatziki sauce-bright purple!  Since we are trying to incorporate beets in more of our dishes (chicken with beets), I thought this would be a great way to do it. 

I have to admit that I was skeptical to change my classic tzatziki sauce that has been working out pretty well, but I was excited to see if the beet tzatziki could beat it.  (ha!)  So here we go.  First, you roast the beets and then let them cool.  This process can take about 2 hours, so you may want to prepare the beets the day before.  Then you shred the roasted beets and stain your hands purple in the process.  Then you combine all the rest of your ingredients, and watch as the color changes from light pink, to purple to bright purple (or “hot purple” as I thought to name it while snapping photos of this jazzy sauce). 

Although it looks wonderful, and I was eager to dip a piece of broccoli in to taste this colorful sauce, we found it necessary to add more ingredients.  This recipe leaves out some essential pieces that I think add that extra zing to my traditional tzatziki sauce, and the lack of these ingredients really decreases the flavor of the sauce.  So a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of wine vinegar, and an extra clove of garlic should find their way into the sauce  I was especially happy to use the dill I have been growing in a planter in a third floor window of our house.  The delicate green color looked great against the purple, but as I stirred it into the sauce, the color got lost amidst all the purple. 

 

Beet tzatziki sauce is its own thing.  It is not the cucumber yogurt sauce that we are familiar with, but it definitely has flavor.  The minute you taste it you will identify that there are beets in there.  The beet flavor establishes itself in the yogurt.  Next time I may try half beets and half cucumber just to see which flavor will stand out more, and see more variations in color.  This dip will definitely be a conversation piece as you place the purple yogurt sauce onto a plate, and watch as your guests try to figure out what it is.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. (Later this week, we’ll show you how to sauté the greens.) Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish (or lidded ovenproof casserole dish). Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins.

Beet Tzatziki Sauce (adapted and revised from the New York Times)

3 medium beets

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 container low-fat Greek style yogurt (or full fat)

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  First, roast the beets.  To do this, cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Wash and scrub the beets, removing any dirt.  Place beets in a baking dish with lid, and add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes.  Test to see if the beets are done by piercing with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, then they are done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Once cooled, cut the ends of each beet and pull off the skins.Then, grate the roasted beets on the large holes of a grater. Chop garlic cloves finely, and place in large bowl with salt and lemon juice.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add the yogurt and stir the garlic into it.  Add black pepper, olive oil and wine vinegar.  Then stir in the beets and dill.  Watch as the color explodes.

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