Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Lentil Stew with Basmati Rice - serves 4 with leftovers

I love all beans. They are wonderful not just in soups and stews, but as the main dish in entrees. They make a great subsitution for any starch and pack a great load of vitamins. There are so many beans to choose from, particularly in the bulk section of Central Market/Whole Foods. Most beans require an 8 hour soak if which the case, add about 1/4 cup table salt per every 4 cups of water (this is brining and you'll thank me for this tip when you eat them). They're easy to fix and when perfectly seasoned, a great meal.

2 tsp canola oil
2 cups chopped red onion
1 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbls tomato paste
1/2 tbs chili powder
1/4 tsp cloved
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp curry (if you don't like curry, try same amount of allspice)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried red lentils
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
4 cups hot cooked basmati rice (cook accrding to pkg directions)
Nann bread, to be served with meal (found at Central Market/Whole Foods)

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomato paste and chili powder through the curry. Stir 1 minute and gradually add broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Increase the heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer.

Rinse lentils in cold water ; drain. Add lentils to broth mixture and simmer, partially covered, 35 mintues or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt. Spoon basmati rice into bowls and ladle with lentils. Top with cilantro and serve.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bacon and Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Spinach - Serves 4 with Leftovers

Risotto is one of Italy's best comfort food. It can be paired as a side or a main dish, but either way it's a wholesome meal that has so much potential. There are so many things you can do with risotto, you just have to experiment, keeping it simple like this recipe. Perfectly paired with a summer cabernet that you might want to start to get through the stirring.

4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
6 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup chopped shallots
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup Madeira, dry sherry or port (my favorite)
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup (2oz) grated fresh Asiago cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil); keep warm over low heat. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook 8 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Add shallots, oil, thyme, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in mushrooms; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in Madeira, sherry or port; cook 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly abosorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in the spinach; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass, serves 4

For the record, these recipes are a mixture of my own and recipes that I find. I do a lot of reading to begin with and cookbooks and magazines are my favorite. I'll even take a recipe, add and omit things and make it my own. That being said, I'm on an Asian kick and this one was absolutely wonderful. My kids and husband loved it and it's pretty easy to make. Add some organic vegetable rolls (in the frozen food isle) and you have a great meal.

2 1/2 tbs canola oil
2 small, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 pd.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz), peeled and thinly sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, outer layer discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsp packed light brown sugar
51/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1 1/2 cups)
9 oz fresh udon noodles (found in specialty markets. Use fettucine if not available.)
2 jalopenos, seeded and thinly sliced
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 tbs soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sloced for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat 1 1/2 tbs of oil in a 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and cook without disturbing until its browned and releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.

Prepare noodles and cook according to package instructions.

Add the remaining 1 tbs oil and the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Use your fingers or the tines of fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the broth, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles to the broth. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the jalopenos, torn basil, lime juice, and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide noodles amoung four large bowls, ladling soup over and garnish with basil sprigs, scallions, carrots and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Broccoli Rabe and Beef Flat Bread - serves 4

Who doesn't like pizza? Who doesn't love pizza that has veggies on it that kids will eat, let alone your husband? Here, you can get the best of both worlds and you don't have to tell anyone how healthy it is.

1/2 pound ground beef
1 pound of store bought pizza dough (remember, buy from Whole Foods, Central Market or make your own)
1 tbs cornmeal
2 cups chopped broccoli rabe
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large skillet, brown beef until cooked through. Shape the pizza dough (if not already done so) into a large oval. Dust pizza pan (or baking sheet) with cornmeal and place dough on top. Top with beef, broccoloi rabe, red onion and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Black Bean-Garlic Catfish, serves 4

Ok, I know some people don't like catfish and think it's a "dirty" fish. It is actually. They're ground dwellers and they can come from pretty nasty waters. However, if you buy farm raised catfish, the bottom of their habitat is controlled therefore removing the "dirtiness" from their diets. I only buy this kind, and ask the butcher if it is in fact farm raised. Don't get ANY kind of fish that doesn't follow strict fishing guidlines and doesn't come from a reliable source/country.

This recipe is as easy as it gets and has an Asian flair. Catfish is packed with a lot of good nutrients such as protein and potassium. This is a great dish served with Basmati rice and bok choy, stir fried with a little soy sauce.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 catfish fillets, patted dry
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon black bean-garlic sauce (found in the Asian food section at your local grocery store)
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle catfish with garlic powder and salt. Dredge the catfish in the flour, shaking off the excess (discard the remaining flour).
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, black bean-garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon scallion, vinegar, water and crushed red pepper in a small bowl.
Serve the fish with the sauce and garnish with more scallion, if desired.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chinese Egg Noodles with Five-Spice Pork, serves 4

My family loves Chinese food. Trying to cook it healthy can be a challenge, but this recipe is very simple and your family will love you for it.

Kosher salt
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/4 lb bacon (3 to 4 slices) cut into thin strips
2 medium cloves of garlic, coursely chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger, coursely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 pd ground pork
1/2 tsp five-spice powder (in spice aisle)
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs Asian sesame oil
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 lb egg noodles

Cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

Heat oil in a heavy-duty 12inch skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon mixture and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon until the bacon renders most of its fat and darkens somewhat, about 4 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high and add the pork, five-spice powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses all of its raw color, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion whites, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and sugar. Keep warm over low heat.

Once egg noodles are done, drain and put in a large bowl. Toss in the pork mixture and sprinkle with the scallions greens, peanuts and serve.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken Taco Pizza - Serves 4

Another quick and easy recipe for busy families. It also makes great leftovers should you want to make extra. And, if you're busy like we are, makes for a great breakfast. Always gets the kids off to a good start in the a.m. "Pizza for breakfast!"

(I get these items at Whole Foods, particularly the pizza dough. I think Baboli is gross. So, if you don't want to make your own dough, get it here!)

1 frozen Whole Foods organic wheat pizza crust, thawed
1/2 cup premade tortilla salsa, plus more for serving
1/4 lb part skim mozzarella, shredded (cheaper to buy a block and shred yourself)
1 cup, no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed
1 1/2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (use the rest for a great sandwich!)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425. Arrange the crust on a pizza stone or a large baking sheet. Spread salsa over crust then sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with beans, corn, chicken and remaining cheese and bake until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbly, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, cut into 8 pieces and serve with more salsa on the side.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cavatappi with Asparagus, Arugula, Walnuts and Bleu Cheese

I just finished planting my garden for vegetables, onions, garlic, radishes, tomatoes, mixed micro field greens and lots of arugula. The arugula I grew last season is ready for eating and it's my favorite lettuce. If you like spice, arugula packs a peppery punch and can be used not just in salads, but pizza, pasta, soups and even topped on a sandwich. This is a great, quick recipe, particularly on a Friday, to enjoy with a great glass of Sauvignon Blanc to get the weekend underway.

Cavatappi is a short, tubular corkscrew-shaped pasta. Penne is a fine substitute. If you prefer, use mild-flavored baby spinach in place of peppery arugula. The grated apple, added just before serving, balances the other flavors in this dish.


1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 pound cavatappi
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus , bottom 1 inch trimmed and discarded, spears halved lengthwise if larger than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup walnuts , chopped
4 cups arugula (lightly packed), washed and dried thoroughly (about 1 bunch)
6 ounces blue cheese , preferably Roquefort, crumbled
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Granny Smith apple , peeled, for grating over pasta

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Add asparagus, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, without stirring, until asparagus begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until asparagus is tender-crisp and nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes; toss in arugula until wilted. Add asparagus mixture, cheese, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Serve immediately, grating apple over individual servings.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spaghetti with Garlic and Leeks - serves 4

We have just begun baseball season with games every other night. Games are often late so dinner has to be done before the game, in time so that my son isn't getting sick running the bases. (Not a pretty sight.) So, pasta is the entree of choice with no meat to upset the stomach and the carbs to get my boy that homerun I've been waiting on since he started playing. I feel the time is near.

Give this about 45 minutes to prepare:

2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs extra virgin oo
6 medium leeks, (light green and white parts only) halved and sliced crosswise into 1/2' pieces
10 meduim garlic cloves, halved
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
Parchment paper to cover skillet
12 oz spaghetti (cooked to pkg directions/SAVE 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid)
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat the butter and oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the leeks, garlic, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and press a 12-inch round piece of parchment over the leek mixture to cover completely. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally (you'll have to lift the parchment), until the leeks are very soft but falling apart and the garlic is very soft, about 40 minutes. (You're braising!)


Uncover the skillet and remove the parchment. Stir in the half and half and cook, stirring occasionally, unti the sauce thickens, slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss. If necessary, add the remaining pasta water 1 tbs at a time, to make a silky sauce that clings to the pasta.

Take off the heat, stir in the cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve.