Archive for the ‘Main dish’ Category

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onion

November 4, 2008

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this recipe.  I think I got lost in the new layout of the Food Network’s website.  I thought I was getting some of Ellie Krieger’s multigrain recipes, but somehow I ended up with one of Bobby Flay’s.  No matter!  

This was supposed to be a farro salad, but farro is expensive!  No thank you.  Also expensive right now?  Japanese eggplants.  So instead I went with the quinoa in my pantry, and some lovely Whole Foods regular eggplants.  

I made this recipe as part of an effort to cook more for myself.  Unfortunately I decided to make it on a Saturday where the evening was full of baby meltdowns and I was left wondering why I didn’t choose a recipe that at least somewhat resembled comfort food.  But, I pressed on and thank god I did!  This salad is GOOD.  It was good warm, it was good cold the next day with shredded chicken and it was good cold the day after that with diced avocado.  It is so good in fact, that I am making another batch just as soon as I get my hands on more quinoa.  

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Quinoa Salad with Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onion
Based on Bobby Flay’s Farro Salad

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
3 cups water
1 medium eggplant, halved, sliced in 1/4″ slices
1 small red onion, peeled, halved, and thickly sliced
olive oil for brushing
Salt and black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below

Combine quinoa and water in large covered pot. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Place in a large bowl. Heat grill to high (alternatively, use a grill pan over high heat). While the quinoa is cooking, brush the eggplant and onion slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and cut into one inch dice. Add the eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and dill to the quinoa. Pour balsamic vinaigrette over the mixture and stir to combine.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and dill in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.

Daring Bakers – Pizza

October 29, 2008

This month the Daring Bakers are tackling pizza.  I love to make homemade pizza and have several dough recipes that I use, but none of them employ the overnight technique that I’ve heard so much about.  The thing I loved about this recipe was that there was no rising time.  Getting dough to rise can be tricky in my house.  It’s drafty, it’s chilly and I usually resort to warming the oven a bit and doing it there.  But for this I didn’t have to employ any workarounds.  And the dough was fabulous!  So easy!  

We had two guidelines for the month.  First, we had to toss the dough.  Second, the pizza needed a sauce and toppings.  That was it!  Beyond that we were free to do what we wanted as far as type of dough and toppings.  I made the dough with regular bread flour and did both a savory version and a sweet.  

The recipe was the Basic Pizza Dough recipe from Peter Reinhart’s ‘The Bread Baker’s Apprentice’.  Thank you to Rosa for hosting!

Tossing the dough.  I did okay, although the dough was thin in the middle and thicker at the edges.  This happened both times and I’m not super sure how to correct this.  I like the tossing method to stretch out the dough, but definitely need some help perfecting my technique.

Pizza #1.  Pureed squash with italian sausage and red onions.  I topped it with mozzarella cheese, which was too bland of a cheese.  Because the squash was sweet, it needed a cheese with some bite.  Next time, feta.

Pizza #2.  I really wanted to make a dessert pizza.  I thought about doing a PB&J pizza, but I had cream cheese in my fridge that I wanted to use up.  In the end I did cream cheese as the sauce and topped it with kind of a streusel topping – brown sugar, flour, butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips and almonds.  I wanted some chocolate and some caramel, but I went a little heavy on the streusel.  Next time no flour, and less of everything else.  

Lentil Soup

January 19, 2008

Sorry for being so terribly MIA.  Being pregnant with twins has fairly squashed any desire I’ve had to cook.  But, as the twins crowd out my stomach I’ve been trying to make each calorie count, and that means cooking more.  It feels good to get back in the kitchen!

Lentils are an ingredient I tagged a while ago as wanting to explore more.  I love meat, but it’s not always the healthiest, most cost effective ingredient.  I also dearly love the 101 Cookbooks site.  It’s so pleasing to the eye and the recipes always sound so good, it was an easy choice to get me back in the kitchen. The recipe was easy and quick to make, making it an excellent choice for a weeknight dinner.

 As Heidi talks about, this recipe is full of nutrition.  Even eating a small bowl, I felt like I was getting a nutritious, well balanced meal.  Since I didn’t have any saffron at home, I skipped the yogurt and instead topped the soup with a swirl of olive oil and chopped avocados.  The avocado added just the right touch of butteriness.  Because I knew I would be reheating the soup, I added in some chicken stock so that it wasn’t so thick. The best part? There was enough to freeze!

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon + extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 cups kale, rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped
1 avocado, chopped

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, water, and chicken stock and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Ladle into bowls, and serve with a swirl of olive oil and chopped avocado.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

August 8, 2007

I’ve not been feeling the best.  I’m taking some antibiotics that make my stomach a little queasy, so when Amy agreed to come over and cook, my only menu request was that it veer to the carb side of things.  Maybe some people crave protein when they aren’t feeling well, but not me!  We were going to page through Giada’s cookbooks, but Amy ended up in Barefoot Contessa at Home and found the perfect recipe.  It’s creamy, lemony, and fresh – very summery.  We added chicken to make it more of a stand alone dish, but for lunch you could easily do without. Since we had tons of leftovers, I reheated this multiple times and it was perfect for lunch.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula and Chicken
by Ina Garten
Makes 6 servings

1 T. good olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
2 lemons
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound arugula (stems removed and leaves cut into thirds)
1/2 cup freshly greated Parmesan cheese
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb chicken breasts

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds, then add the cream, the zest and juice of the lemons, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Grill the chicken over medium high heat until no longer pink inside. Cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch strips.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, and cook al dente according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. (We actually used a large enough saucepan above, so that we were able to add the pasta to the sauce instead of the other way around.) Immediately add the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl and add the arugula, Parmesan,chicken and tomatoes. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Blueberry Pancakes!

July 25, 2007

The local gourmet cooking store does crop shares every year.  When I worked there, I used to consider doing the salad share every spring, but watching those boxes come through every week, I knew I’d never use enough of the vegetables to make it worthwhile.  The fruit share though?  Those I could do.  Normally I just get the blueberries, but one year I also bought cherries and that was just way too much fruit to try to eat.  I gave a lot away that year.

The share is ten pounds of blueberries.  I freeze some, I eat some, I give some to friends and family.  They are big and juicy and so sweet, they are the perfect summer snack.  I eat them on my breakfast every morning, but I need to start using them in other ways too.  So tonight for dinner it was blueberry pancakes!  I have a great pumpkin pancake recipe that I love, but no go to blueberry pancake recipes.  I looked through a few cookbooks before settling on the recipe in my Good Housekeeping cookbook.  Since I had Greek yogurt in the fridge, I added that in for a little extra tang. I think blueberry pancakes need to be a little thicker to balance out the blueberries, and these were perfect.  Not too thick, not too thin, with a nice ratio of blueberry to pancake.

Next up – blueberry muffins!

Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup milk
3 T. butter, melted
2 T. greek yogurt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup blueberries

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, butter, yogurt, and egg and stir until flour is moistened. Fold in the blueberries.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour batter by scant 1/4 cups onto hot griddle. Cook until tops are bubble, some bubbles burst and edges look dry. With wide spatula, turn and cook until underside is golden.

Something towards the healthier side

June 10, 2007

My cousin came over for dinner last night and since she’s trying to lose weight, I wanted to do something that was healthy, but didn’t feel like the standard grilled chicken and vegetables fare.  Mark Bittman’s Chicken Curry in a Hurry that Elise had highlighted had been in my head as something easy, yet high in protein.  But, I needed a salad, some vegetables.  I looked through all of my cookbooks and found a recipe in Local Flavors that I liked, but I knew my grocery shopping was going to be limited and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find the ingredients that I needed.  I had bookmarked the recipe for Carrot and Avocado salad from Chocolate and Zucchini and that stuck in my head.  I love avocado’s and will use them anytime I can, so I decided to go with it.

Carottes Rapées à l’Avocat

– One small ripe avocado, about 150 grams (5 1/3 ounces), diced
– The juice of a lemon or an orange
– A dash of balsamic vinegar or oxymel
– Fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper
– Tabasco sauce or similar (I use Bayou Red) or strong mustard, to taste
– 4 medium carrots, about 450 grams (1 pound) total, peeled and grated
– 250 grams (9 ounces) firm tofu or cooked chicken, diced
– Toasted seeds — sunflower, sesame, flax, or a mix thereof

Serves 2.

Combine the avocado, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar in a medium salad bowl, and mash the avocado roughly with a fork. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Fold in the carrots and tofu, and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour or up to a day. Toss again before serving, adjust the seasoning, and sprinkle with liberal amounts of toasted seeds.

I do think that you could substitute some jicama for one of the carrots and it would be fabulous. I used tofu because I was doing chicken in the main dish, but I think if you do do chicken here, it needs to be flavorful, not just grilled chicken. Again, this salad was fabulous and bright and perfect for summer.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry
1 Tbsp corn, grapeseed, or olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder, or to taste
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)*
1 cup sour cream
Minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

* Chicken breasts can be so huge. I prefer smaller pieces and so cut each breast into thirds to make something more like chicken tenders.

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions (and optional raisins), sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, sprinkle with half of the curry powder, and continue to cook a minute or two.

2 Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle it with the remaining curry powder. Move the onion to one side of the skillet and add the chicken in one layer. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

3 **Add the sour cream and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is nice and thick. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for a couple more minutes, or until cooked through, turning once.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve with rice.

** As I scrubbed the pan, I noticed there were tons of delicious brown bits that were wasted. When I make this again, I would deglaze the pan at this point with a little chicken broth, then add the sour cream.

Serves 4.

Saturday evening dinner party

June 6, 2007

I’ve lived in this house for almost six years and my favorite room is the screen porch.  It’s the perfect place for entertaining in the summer.  I also got a new grill recently so I thought it was the perfect time to break both in.  I invited Jessica and Amy over for a grilling feast:

Tomato and Watermelon Caprese Salad with Basil Granita
Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauces
Grilled Vegetable Packets
Grilled Pizza with Honeyed Goat Cheese and Strawberries


This salad was beyond amazing. The watermelon added the right amount of crispness and the basil granita was icy and perfect. The granita was a little futzy because I had to take it in and out of the freezer quite a few times to get it to the right consistency to scoop, but it was so worth it.

Tomato-Watermelon Caprese with Basil Granita – serves 4 as side dish
adapted from Running with Tweezers

For basil granita:

one small bunch fresh basil – washed, dried and de-stemmed
1 tsp. sugar
8 ounces cold water
– Add all ingredients to blender and puree on high until fully combined and there are no large pieces of basil remaining. Pour liquid into glass/non-reactive shallow baking dish and place in freezer. Periodically check on mixture and fork to loosen as it freezes – every 15 minutes or so – until it reaches desired consistency.

For salad/assembly:

8 oz. container of mozzarella bocconcini
2 cups watermelon pieces scooped with melon baller
1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, optional
– Mix all ingredients together save for the optional olive oil and vinegar. Before serving, top salad with melon ball scoops of basil granita. If dressing the salad, do so at the very end for presentations sake.


We’d had a few glasses of wine by this point and I forgot to take a picture when I plated things, but you get the general idea. It seems like chicken breasts are so huge and thick these days, I prefer recipes where you pound them thin. It also cuts down on the grilling time and I’m much more confident that the chicken is cooked through without getting too dry.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Adapted from About.com
4 boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon each of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme
1 clove minced garlic
4 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

PREPARATION:
If breasts are too large, cut on the diagonal. Put each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound lightly to flatten evenly. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces.
Lightly oil the grill or grill pan. Grill over medium coals or medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Goat Cheese Sauce:
Combine olive oil, wine, and chicken broth in a saucepan; simmer over medium heat until reduced by about 1/2. Add the fresh herbs, garlic, goat cheese, and salt and pepper. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened. Our sauce never really thickened, but we did let it simmer for over thirty minutes and it was still fabulous.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
Roast two red peppers (or use a jar of roasted red peppers).  In the food processor, combine roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup olive oil, one clove of garlic, and four or five basil leaves.  Process until the consistency you like.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Vegetable Packets
This is a recipe we came up with a few years ago. You can use just about any vegetable, although if they are going to be on the grill for a bit, I recommend putting the heartier vegetables on the bottom (such as zucchini).
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 roma tomatoes sliced
1 red onion sliced
1 stick butter
Herbs – dried or fresh to taste
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Slice all of the vegetables so they are roughly the same thickness. Divide between two foil packets. Melt the butter in a saucepan, adding the herbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the butter over the vegetables and top generously with the bread crumbs. Seal the foil packets and place on the grill over medium heat for 20 minutes. We used to flip the packets, but then the butter ran out and it just didn’t work.

I’m going to skip the grilled pizza recipe because it just wasn’t that fabulous. I burned the crust on the grill, the strawberries had too much liquor in them and really, there are better dessert recipes out there.