Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad

I have this hi-tech system for saving recipes that I want to make in the future. It's called ripping them out of magazines and shoving them in a binder. Genius, right? I subscribe to so many magazines, and once a month after reading them, I flip through and tear out and recipes I want to try, sometimes I just tear out the photos though, and leave myself with no clue as to which magazine it came from. Some magazines are smart and put the name next to the page number, but not all. This magazine was one of them!
Since I only had a photo to work from, I had to kind of go with it and make it my own. I did keep the two obvious ingredients - nectarines and heirloom tomatoes, but the rest was a mystery. It looked like a sprinkle of some cheese on top, some red onions, herbs and a dressing. I decided to put this on a bed of lettuce rather than just arrange it on a plate. I topped it with crumbled feta to balance out the sweetness of the nectarines, but goat cheese would be a great substitution!
For the dressing, I went with a simple honey mustard, but the recipe looked like a balsamic vinaigrette because of the purple-ish tint. It's all about what you can do with what you have, and this made a delicious salad to pair with the previous grain pilaf!

Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce, or any mixed greens
1 nectarine, sliced
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup red onion slivers
2 tbsp. feta cheese crumbles
2 tbsp. honey dijon dressing, recipe follows

Honey Dijon Dressing:
2 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. minced tarragon
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. greek or regular plain yogurt
2 tbsp. EVOO

Whisk together all ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings (these are all approximations, your tastes may require more or less of a certain ingredient).

Arrange salad in a shallow bowl or platter, drizzle with dressing and serve.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Porcini Mushroom and Mixed Grain Pilaf

Last thursday night, I was thinking about what I'd make for dinner Friday because I had no plans. I decided to soak some lentils, wheatberries, barley, and brown rice overnight and figure something out after work the next day. When I got home, I browsed through the pantry and found a box of dried porcini mushrooms, and decided their earthiness would pair well with a wheatberry and lentil based pot. Then I looked in the refrigerator for some vegetables, and found roasted red peppers and carrots. I also grabbed my staples - garlic, onions, parsley, stock and a lemon. And since it was Friday, I cracked open a bottle of white wine. Literally, this meal was a clean out the fridge, empty the pantry, made from staples meal, but you'd never know. It was absolutely delicious, so flavorful, light, but hearty. This meal is vegan, however feel free to top it with some crumbled goat cheese or feta crumbles. I ate this with a salad, which will be my next post.

Porcini Mushroom and Mixed Grain Pilaf
(Serves 1 large portion)

1/4 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup dried pearled barley
1/4 cup wheatberries
2 tbsp. brown or wild rice
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbsp EVOO
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1 roasted red pepper, minced
Handful of parsley, minced
1 lemon, zested and half of juice
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Add lentils, barley, wheatberries and rice to a mixing bowl, add water, cover and soak overnight.

Add porcini mushrooms to a glass measuring cup, pour in 1 cup of boiling water, soak for 15 minutes.

Heat a pot over medium-low, add EVOO, garlic, onions, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 5 minutes, until tender.
Add white wine, reduce by half.
Drain grains and add to the pot, add 1 cup vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, turn to low and cover.
Drain mushrooms through a coffee filter, reserve stock.
Add mushroom stock to the pot, bring to a simmer, cover and turn to low.

Cook for 10 minutes.
Rinse mushrooms, chop, add to the pot, stir and cover.
If the pilaf needs more stock, add about 1/2 cup.
Cook covered for another 10 minutes, until grains are tender.
If not tender, add more stock, stir and cover again.
Turn heat off, stir in roasted red pepper, zest, lemon juice, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.
Spoon into a bowl, serve.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Corriander Roasted Carrots with Feta and Cilantro

This recipe is a simple side dish that is bright and colorful, and great for spring! It is inspired by a recent Martha Stewart Magazine recipe for Roasted Carrots with Parsley. I used to have an aversion to parsley, but now I enjoy it in dishes like Tabouli or as the base of a pesto. However, I still prefer many other fresh herbs and enjoy their stronger flavors, so if I see a recipe with parsley, I tend to look for other herbs to substitute. The other change I made to this recipe was to add some spice to the carrots. When roasted, they become very sweet, the feta adds a salty punch, so I wanted an earthy flavor and a bright flavor. That's where I brought in a double punch of cilantro and corriander. Because corriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, they have similar flavor profiles, but are also quite different. The corriander adds a smoky quality, and the cilantro adds a bright, fresh punch of flavor. They compliment eachother very well in this recipe and add depth of flavor to a rather simple side dish.

Corriander Roasted Carrots with Feta and Cilantro

5 lbs. medium carrots, peeled and cut on a bias
2 tbsp. EVOO
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp. ground corriander
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Preaheat oven to 450 degrees.
Toss carrots in EVOO, salt, pepper and corriander on a baking sheet.
Roast for 15 minutes, flip and toss with a spatula, roast for another 5-10 minutes, until tender and caramelized.
Remove from the oven, spoon into a bowl, top with cilantro and feta and serve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creamy Barley with Tomato and Greens

When I was 12 years old, I decided to become a vegetarian. I have never really enjyoed eating meat, so I didn't feel like I was missing out. When I went away to college in North Carolina, the vegetarian options were slim to none, so I ate whatever I could find, which included bringing meat back into my diet.
For the past few years, cooking in my own kitchen, I have been an omnivore. Primarily because it's just easier than cooking two separate meals for my husband and I. There are also so many delicious recipes that I wanted to make that just don't translate as well to vegetarianism, and when cooked well, I do enjoy meat. However, in the past year I've read more and more about the benefits of eating mostly or all vegetarian meals, and many of the reasons I became vegetarian in the first place have resurfaced. You might have noticed that many of my recipes have been vegetarian entrees, or meals like this. When I make a heartier vegetable/starch combo dish, I can simply add a different protein to JJ's bowl and to mine. I made JJ a chicken sausage, and I stirred cannelini beans into my dish at the end.
This recipe caught my eye because it looked similar to a risotto, but is made with barley, which I love. It also is packed with nutrients and flavor, but is simple and each ingredient shines through.

Creamy Barley with Tomato and Greens
adapted from Real Simple, February 2010

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup pearled barley
2 cups vegetable stock
1 15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 8 oz. bag frozen spinach or 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, thawed and drained
1/4 cup feta cheese
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of oregano

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the barley, tomatoes, wine, and stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 18-20 minutes.
Add the spinach, crushed red pepper and oregano.
Stir well, taste and asjust seasonings.
Divide among bowls and sprinkle with the feta.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Greens and Quinoa Pie

Last week as I was browsing through my folder of recipes torn from magazines, I found this one from the February issue of Vegetarian Times. It was in a special section of the magazine devoted to Passover recipes. I thought it looked delicious, and had some of my favorite ingredients.
When I made this recipe, I made a few modifications. First, rather than use chicory and romaine, I used kale and baby spinach. This is just personal preference, but it did make the dish have a much deeper, earthier flavor. I probably wouldn't do this in the future because the kale and spinach flavors overpowered the other flavors in the dish. I omitted the swiss cheese, and used only egg whites to make it lower in calories and fat. While I didn't love this recipe, I didn't dislike it, I think I was more surprised at the final product not being exactly what I thought it would be. I am definitely going to try it again though, or make a similar quinoa pie dish with different vegetable flavors.

Greens and Quinoa Pie
from February 2010 Vegetarian Times

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch chicory (1 to 1 1/4 lb), cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Kale)
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded (I used 4 c. baby spinach)
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium onions thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated aged goat cheese (omitted)
3 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 4 whites)

Place quinoa in small saucepan, and toast over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost dry.
Ad 1 cup water (I used vegetable stock), and season with salt.
Cover, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, and transfer to large bowl.
Heat large pot over medium heat.
Add chicory, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring frequently or tossing with tongs.
Add romaine, and wilt 1 to 2 minutes more.
Transfer greens to strainer, and squeeze out excess moisture.
Transfer to cutting board, and chop into small pieces.
Stir into quinoa.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 1 tbsp. EVOO in skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onions, and sauté 10 minutes, or until browned.
Add cooked onions, green onions, dill, feta cheese, and goat cheese to quinoa mixture.
Stir in eggs; season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Pour 1 tbsp EVOO into 9" pie pan, and place in oven. hat 5 minutes, or until oil is hot. swirl oil to coat bottom of pan, then spread quinoa mixture in pan with spatula.
Bake 20 minutes.
Drizzle pie with remaining 1 tbsp EVOO, and bake 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Symon Sundays: Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup & Shaved Fennel Salad with Lemon, Dill and Watercress

This week's Symon Sundays recipes were chosen by Tasha of The Brick Kitchen. I was really excited to try the tomato soup because I love anything with blue cheese and sriracha might be my favorite condiment! The soup was fantastic, simple but clean flavors, and lots of it! I love recipes that have fewer ingredients, but utilize big flavor. It almost tasted like a buffalo chicken soup, absolutely delicious!
The fennel salad, I had my doubts about. I'm not a huge fennel fan, but decided to keep an open mind. I think the orange and lemon did wonders at balancing out the sharp licorice taste, and the salad was fresh and delicious. I loved these two dishes, and as always, I love Chef Symon :)
If you'd like to see the recipes, check them out at Tasha's blog as they were her choice this week! Tomato Soup and Fennel Salad recipes can be found here. And stop by everyone else's blog to see what they thought!






Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas and Coconut & Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets

So the names of these recipes are quite a mouthful, but they are actually simple and extremely healthy dishes! I found the salad recipe in my latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I was immediately drawn to it because it had quinoa and peas! I made it once, but forgot the coconut, and decided to make it again. Then I saw these tofu nuggets in Cara's blog, and figured it would be the perfect accompniament to the salad.
Last night though, when I raided the freezer for a bag of peas, there were none! I don't know how that's possible, they're my favorite! I did find a bag of green beans though, so that was a decent substitute. The recipe calls for cooking the quinoa in carrot, beet or vegetable juice, but I decided to use some of the pomegranate juice sent to me by POM Wonderful as well as some vegetable stock to keep the calories i ncheck.
The coconut tofu nuggets were delicious, I had a little sriracha with them for dipping. They were very crunchy, as the recipe states. I could have eaten a million!

Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas and Coconut (adapted from Vegetarian Times)
& Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets (From Cara's Cravings)

1/3 c. chopped almonds
2 tsp. EVOO)
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/2" freshly grated ginger root
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. pomegranate juice
1 c. vegetable stock
1 c. frozen peas (or green beans)
1 medium apple, diced
1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

Toast almonds in a small pot for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to brown. 
Set aside to cool.
Rinse quinoa under running water for a minue in a fine mesh sieve.
Place pot back on stove, heat over medium, add oil and onion, saute until translucent, stirring occasionally.
Stir in ginger, quinoa, stock and juice, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat, stir in peas, apple, coconut and almonds into salad.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets:
1 block organic, extra-firm tofu
1 egg white, beat to a froth
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded coconut
zest from one lime

(Directions are slightly different from Cara's)
Slice tofu in half to create 2 1" regtangles.
Wrap the tofu in a tea towel, place under a heavy dutch oven, let it sit for 10 minutes while the oven preheats to 400 degrees.
Set a cooking rack on top of a baking sheet, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix together the panko, coconut, and lime zest and pour onto a plate.
Cut each rectangle of tofu into 6 triangles, creating 12 total nuggets.
Season the tofu wedges with salt and pepper. Dip each one into the egg froth, then dredge in the panko mixture and set on the cooling rack.
Bake for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until lightly browned and crispy on both sides.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

French Onion Soup

It seems like it's been so long since I blogged, but I have been cooking, I promise! It seems like between work, my job with Folio Weekly as the Bite Club Host, half marathon training, and the continuous odd jobs of being a new homeowner, I haven't been home to cook, I haven't had the energy, or I just want simple meals. I've been making a few of my favorite dishes, like Fajita Pasta, Tofu Noodle Bowls, and Hawaiian Pizza. I have made, and photographed a few dishes, which I will hopefully get blogged soon! I have so many fun things bookmarked, and on my 'to make' list.

Last Sunday, I was having issues with my car, and I had planned on getting a new one for my birthday in May. I went to test drive some cars, just to see what I liked and what was out there... well, I hate car shopping, it's so stressful and long. I knew I wanted this car, and I didn't want to come back in 2 months and go through it all again, plus I didn't know if my current car was going to make it that long without major repairs, so I did it, I bought my first new car EVER! I am absolutely thrilled with the whole process and I love my Jetta, Frau!

So, after the long day of car shopping, I wanted comfort food. Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of soup. I went through the pantry to see what I had on hand since I hadn't been to the grocery store, and there wasn't much. I did, however, have a big bag of onions, a little gruyere in the fridge, and a few open bottles of wine from the previous night. So I decided to just go with what I had, and it worked perfectly! I didn't have any french bread, or yeast to make some, so I opted for a quick bread. Though it's not traditional, but in the spirit of March, I made Brown Soda Bread. This soup was fantastic! Tasted just like my Mom used to make! It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

French Onion Soup with Irish Flair

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tbsp. butter
3 lbs. yellow onions (not sweet, just plain yellow onions)
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup brandy or cognac
2 cups red wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
4 cups reduced sodium beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 bay leaf

1/2 loaf of Brown Soda Bread
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Heat a dutch oven over medium-low heat.
Peel onions and divide in half.
Chop half the onions, and slice the other half (the diced thicken the soup more, and the slices give it more texture, but you can cut them however you'd like!).
Add to the pot, stir and cook until caramelized and water is evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Season with pepper, add brandy and wines, cook until reduced by half.
Add stock, thyme and bay leaf.
Turn to low, cover and simmer for an hour to four hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste the soup, add salt and more pepper, if necessary.
Turn broiler on high. Place 4 ramekins on a baking sheet.
Ladle soup into ramekins (about 2 cup capacity), remove thyme stems and bay leaf when you come across them.
Sprinkle with gruyere cheese, top with bread, and sprinkle with more cheese.
Place until the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and melted.