Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ 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.

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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.

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding

November 2, 2007

My friend Amy and I have done more than a few dinner parties together.  Sometimes they’re casual, sometimes they’re more formal.  For the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk, we auctioned off a formal dinner party for 8.  We would cook, they would eat.  Fortunately, some friends of ours won the auction, so it was a very fun event.

We’ve amassed a stable of recipes that are always a hit so we assumed we could pull from that.  But, a few of the dinner guests had some dietary restrictions and we really needed a vegetarian appetizer.  I had no idea how much proscuitto figures into my favorite recipes until I couldn’t use it!  Our other appetizer was a fried meatball on pesto crostini (recipe to be posted soon) so we didn’t want to do bruschetta or a goat cheese crostini.  Amy remembered the Savory Bread Pudding from Top Chef and I was in.   These were so good!  The vegetarian in the group loved them, as did everyone else.  Plus, I think they are very versatile.  You could definitely serve them as a main dish as well, topped with a scallop, prosciutto, anything like that. 

Savory Bread Pudding
Makes 18
1/2 large red onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 quart whole milk
3/4 can tomato paste
Seasonings – dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 loaves baguette, diced small, with crust
1/2 bunch basil, chopped
1/4 bunch thyme, chopped
4 oz cream cheese

In a saute pan, saute onion and garlic until translucent. Mix in whipping cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together milk and tomato paste. Add the onion-garlic cream to the tomato mixture. Season liberally with dried parsley, basil, oregano and more salt and pepper. I should say here that we needed to season things heavily. Lots of salt and pepper. Be sure to taste! Add eggs and diced baguette. Combine well and let stand for 45 minutes.

In a food processor, mix basil, thyme and cream cheese. Blend until finely processed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread pudding in muffin pan for 20-30 minutes.  Liberally top with basil cream when ready to serve.

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.