Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cranberries, Feta, and Gingered Walnuts add Zest to Seasonal String Beans

This is a flavorful and colorful side dish that will be appreciated for its unusual combination of ingredients. I love to serve it with baked chicken. In this recipe I use Valbreso French feta cheese because I’m partial to its zesty flavor and creamy texture. Use either traditional green beans or wax beans.
Image result for image of green beans

1 pound green beans, washed

1 teaspoon salt
Several grindings of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Image result for images of dried cranberries2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup walnut halves
Salt, to taste 
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.     Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil; reduce heat slightly (water should be rumbling) and cook green beans, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes or until fork-tender. Immediately drain beans and transfer to a large bowl. When green beans are cool enough to handle, trim ends and cut into 1½-inch pieces.
2.     In a 2-cup jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar. Shake until ingredients are well blended and salt has dissolved. Add olive oil and shake again to combine ingredients. Store at room temperature.
3.     Preheat oven to 375°F.
4.     In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce or tamari, rum, sesame oil, brown sugar and ginger until well combined. Add walnut and toss to coat the nuts well. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer walnuts to a lightly oiled sheet of tin foil, disperse nuts in a single layer and immediately season with salt.
5.     In a large bowl toss green beans with just enough dressing to coat the beans. Add cranberries, feta cheese and walnuts to the beans and toss adding more dressing if desired. Serve immediately.

4 servings

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Autumn Evenings Call for Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This soups texture is silky-creamy, velvety-smooth and it promises to slither its way down the throat like golden honey or a smooth single malt scotch! When the season for butternut squash rounds the corner, this soup is always on my list of must-haves. 

4 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large onions, diced
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 large Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2½ 32-ounce containers chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Rosemary sprigs (garnish)

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the leeks and onions until glossy. Add the curry powder and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so. Add the chicken broth, potatoes and butternut squash. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the vegetables are fork-tender. Allow the soup to cool slightly. 
  2. In a food processor or blender, purée the soup in batches; transfer the puréed batches into a large bowl. After the final batch is puréed, transfer the soup back into the original large pot, simmer until serving time. Serve hot. Serves 14.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

10 Ways to Make a Meal Out of Roasted Vegetables

Image result for images of assorted roasted vegetablesAround this time of year, I love to roast a variety of vegetables in big batches. It's so simple, cut a variety of peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, eggplant, and zucchini (use whatever vegetables you have from the garden or farmers' market) into chunks. Coat them generously with olive oil and season with sea salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they are tender and slightly blackened, about 45 minutes to one hour. 

Here are some fun suggestions for adding these colorful and nutritious vegetables to your next meal.

  • Add to chicken, beef or vegetarian fajitas
  • Serve with scrambled eggs for a different, colorful, and nutritious breakfast
  • Add them to sandwiches
  • Toss them with hot pasta and top the mixture with crumbled feta
  • Arrange the vegetables on a plate and top with baked fish, scallops, or shrimp
  • Add to grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Place vegetables over hummus for a quick and nutritious appetizer
  • Include them as part of your next pizza topping
  • Make a meal with cooked sausage, roasted vegetables, and tri-color quinoa or wild rice
  • For a different twist on a burger, top vegan or beef burgers with vegetables

Monday, August 7, 2017

Caponata Turns Grilled Cheese to Another Level

Caponata is a sweet and sour Sicilian adaptation of ratatouille, the classic stewed vegetable dish that comes from the French region of Provence. The versatile flavors in Caponata intensify with age, so it’s good to prepare it a day or two in advance. This flavorful dish is a tasty and unique accompaniment to poached eggs, scrambled eggs, and steak sandwiches. But for the ultimate flavor experience, include it in your next grilled cheese sandwich for a really memorable taste-treat. 

1 medium eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch slices
Olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
½ cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons small capers

1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Several grindings of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1.     Preheat oven to 500°F.
2.     Arrange the eggplant slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until fork-tender, turning eggplant slices halfway through cooking time. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut into small chunks.
3.     In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the celery, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped tomato, tomato sauce, vinegar, olives, capers, sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the eggplant and parsley.
4.     Allow the Caponata to cool before covering. Refrigerate overnight. Serve Caponata at room temperature.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Rolls are Perfect on Warm Summer Nights

I love preparing summer rolls on hot, humid summer nights when the only food I want to eat is cold, refreshing, and not too filling! 

Rice paper is thin and at first can be challenging to work with, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be rolling like a pro. These rolls can be assembled in advance; arrange them on a platter in a single layer, making sure that the rolls don’t touch one another because they’ll stick together. 

When buying mung bean sprouts look for plump, white sprouts; for optimum freshness, they should be purchased the day you plan to make the rolls.

Rice paper and hoisin sauce can be found in the international section of most grocery stores. 

Hoisin Peanut Sauce

¼ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari or low sodium soy sauce

In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, water, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and tamari or soy sauce. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.

8 rice paper wrappers (8½-inch diameter wrappers)
8 large cooked shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
16 large fresh basil leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, cut into 3 x ½-inch sticks (16 sticks)
1 large ripe avocado, sliced (16 slices)
About 2 cups mung bean sprouts

  1. In a shallow dish that accommodates the rice paper wrapper (a pie plate works well) soak one sheet of rice paper in hot water for about three seconds or until soft and pliable. Transfer the paper to a cutting board. 
  2. Lay two halves of a shrimp, cut side up, in the center of the paper. Top the shrimp with two basil leaves. Top the basil leaves with two cucumber sticks, two slices of avocado and several mung bean sprouts. 
  3. Fold each side of the rice paper toward the center, take the bottom half of paper and fold it over the filling, roll to close.
  4. Serve immediately with hoisin peanut sauce or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

4 servings