Tofu Scramble

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This tofu scramble is our new go to recipe. It is delicious for breakfast or brunch, but we have loved this for dinner because it is so quick and easy to whip up. Here we prepare the scramble with spinach and onions, but it is equally delicious with mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cheese, and avocado. Basically you can use your favorite omelet combination. The nutritional yeast we use in the seasoning mix adds that “meaty” umami taste that makes this a very satisfying vegetarian dish. The yeast also has enormous health benefits. It is a complete protein, providing all 18 amino acids and contains B complex vitamins. It’s also very low in sodium. The vegetarians (and vegans) in your life will love this dish, but we have found that it also satisfies meat eaters as well.

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Tofu Scramble
4 to 6 servings

For the Spice Mix
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water

For the Tofu Scramble
Two 14-ounce packages extra firm organic tofu
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups roughly chopped spinach

Place the tofu in a single layer on a clean dishtowel on either a plate or cutting board. Cover with another clean dishtowel. Place a plate or another cutting board on top, and rest a weight, such as a small skillet, on top. This will press the excess liquid from the tofu. Let the tofu drain for at least 10 minutes. Crumble the tofu with clean hands and set aside.

In a small bowl add the nutritional yeast, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, cayenne pepper, and cumin, and stir. Pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water and stir to combine.

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, and the garlic, and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the crumbled tofu. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often, until the tofu is hot and cooked through. Add the spice mix, stir, and cook for an additional minute. Reduce the heat to medium, add the spinach, and stir until the spinach is soft and cooked through. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

We love to serve this scramble with warm tortillas. Include guacamole, hot sauce and refried beans and it becomes a delicious Mexican night.

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Turkish-Spiced Chicken

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1 Chick dish finished

At this point in summer we’re always looking for a transitional chicken dish, one that’s so quick and easy to make that you can just pop it into the oven and forget about it. But we also want one that’s zesty and hearty enough for the cooler days of fall. Our Turkish-Spiced Chicken is a winner on both counts. Though we’ve lavished it with intense flavors –cumin, coriander, turmeric, and smoked paprika– everything blends together into a comforting dish that spans the seasons.

To speed the cooking process we’ve eliminated the need to pre-brown the chicken, so the pieces go straight from the marinade into the oven. And the whole meal is cooked on one rimmed baking sheet, making cleanup a breeze.

 

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Coat the chicken thoroughly with the marinade, cover the bowl, and place it in the refrigerator.

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Chicken and onions spread in a single layer on the rimmed baking sheet.

Turkish-Spiced Chicken

4 servings

For the Marinade
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Chicken
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 large onion, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
3/4 cup quartered cucumber rounds
1/2 cup pitted olives, green or black
1/3 cup roughly chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

In a large mixing bowl add the spices, the red pepper flakes, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the lemon juice, and the olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and coat thoroughly. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, ideally 1 hour before cooking, if you’ve marinated it overnight. Add the quartered onion to the marinade and toss to coat.

Spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the chicken and the onion from the marinade and place the chicken, skin side up, along with the onion, in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spoon any of the left-over marinade onto the chicken and onions and place the sheet in the oven.

Roast the chicken for 45 to 50 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp.

Arrange the chicken and onions on a serving platter, top with the tomatoes, cucumber, and olives, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

4 chick close up

Coconut Red Curry With Tofu And Vegetables

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Vegetable curry and tofu

Sometimes we have a craving for a particular dish—and this is how our Coconut Red Curry With Tofu And Vegetables came about! This is a healthy, vegan recipe featuring fresh vegetables and tofu. We love curry—all different kinds—and we were in the mood for a curry with coconut milk. Having eaten a lot of curry in restaurants all over the city, we felt the consistency of the tofu was important and noted that the best tofu curry had just the right texture. We like the tofu to be firm on the outside yet still moist and chewy. We pan-fried it first before we added it to our vegetables and curry sauce and we couldn’t have been more pleased! We chose spring and summer vegetables like asparagus and snow peas, along with broccoli and bell pepper—they seem to go so well with the curry flavor. If these are not available you can easily make substitutions.

We were amazed at how many different brands of red curry paste there are. We settled on Thai Kitchen brand for two reasons—we like its deep, rich flavor, and it is widely available in most supermarkets.

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We panfry the tofu first for a chewy and moist texture.

 peppers and peapods in curry

We add the peapods and red peppers and then cover the skillet. This way the vegetables are crisp yet tender.

Lime and basil

The lime juice and basil are added right before serving.

 Coconut Red Curry With Tofu And Vegetables
4 servings

One 14-ounce package extra firm organic tofu, drained
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice, rinsed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup chopped asparagus, 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3/4 tablespoon red curry paste (we like Thai Kitchen brand)
One 13.5-ounce can organic, unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 cup sliced red bell pepper, 1/4-inch wide strips
1 cup peapods, trimmed
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chiffonade fresh basil
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Place the tofu on several layers of paper towels on either a plate or cutting board. Cover with more paper towels, place a plate or another cutting board on top, and rest a weight, such as a small skillet, on top of that. This will press the excess liquid from the tofu. Let the tofu drain for at least 30 minutes. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the directions on the package and set aside.

Line a plate with paper towels and set aside (this is for draining the cooked tofu).

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Place the tofu in the pan. Cook undisturbed until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip (we like using tongs for this) and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 6 minutes more. Drain on the paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the broccoli and asparagus and sauté until lightly brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with paper towels and let it cool. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir frequently, taking care not to burn. Add the ginger and the red curry paste and cook another minute stirring frequently.
Add the coconut milk, 1/4 cup of water, soy sauce, sugar and stir. Add the bell pepper strips, peapods, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook, covered, until the pea pods are slightly tender but still crisp, 7-8 minutes.

Add the broccoli and asparagus, and tofu to the skillet with the peapods and peppers and mix. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lime juice and basil. Season with salt to taste and crushed red pepper flakes if desired. Divide the rice and curry into bowls, and serve hot.

 

Vegeatble and tofu curry

Savory Tuna Burgers with a Zesty Sauce

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Tuna burger huff crop

Given all our good intentions of eating fish more frequently –and how hard we try to incorporate it into our weekly menu– more often than not we fail. But now that summer is here we have an easy solution, tuna burgers. We’ve experimented with a number of tuna recipes only to have the burgers fall apart before we can place them in their buns. But these burgers hold their shape and are a snap to make, either on the grill or on a grill pan on the stove. We like to spice them up by adding mustard, cilantro, and cayenne pepper to the tuna, and we serve them with an assertive sauce.

There’s no need to use a meat grinder for the fish. We’ve discovered that after placing the tuna in the freezer for 10 to 12 minutes, a large sharp knife quickly and easily does the job of chopping the tuna into the texture of hamburger meat.

chopped tuna

tuna patties

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (a.k.a. “ Rooster Sauce”) is totally addictive– spicy, tangy, with just a hint of sweet. It’s made from red chili peppers, garlic, distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar. It’s so popular you can find it just about everywhere–supermarkets, grocery stores, and mom and pop operations. Though it’s terrific straight from the bottle, we love it mixed with mayonnaise for a speedy– and delicious– creamy topping for burgers.

Tuna burger sauce

 

Savory Tuna Burgers with a Zesty Sauce
4 servings

For the Zesty Sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Chile Sauce, or to taste
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon organic low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

For the Tuna Burgers
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade tuna
1 1/2 tablespoons of grated onion
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, or more for brushing the patties
Organic olive oil cooking spray
4 hamburger buns (preferably whole-grain)
Your favorite burger toppings for serving

For the Zesty Sauce
Place all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.

For the Tuna Burgers
Place the tuna in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until firm.
Using a large sharp knife chop the tuna into the size of hamburger meat.

In a mixing bowl combine the onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, mustard, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add the tuna and mix thoroughly to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 even-sized patties and lightly brush each side of the patties with olive oil.

Spray the grill pan with the olive oil spray, heat the pan to medium-high, and add the burgers. Cook for 2 minutes on each side for rare, 3 to 4 for medium rare.

Place the burgers on buns, spread them lightly with the Zesty Sauce, and serve with your favorite burger toppings.

Tuna burger closed

Shrimp and Kale Hot Pot

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Hot Pot

We must admit that we’ve fallen in love with hot pots. These one-pot dishes encourage all sorts of variations to fit a range of tastes and diets, and they make getting dinner on the table so easy since protein, vegetables, and a starch are all right there in one dish. We’ve chosen shrimp for our hotpot because these little crustaceans have always been our family’s favorite seafood. We love how sweet and succulent they are, how super quickly they cook, and how deliciously they absorb a multitude of flavors. Since a fragrant broth is key to a successful hot pot, we lightly sauté the shrimp and the vegetables for an added depth of flavor. Then we toss an abundance of baby kale, our newest obsession, into our broth. These tiny leaves are nutrient dense, packed full of vitamins and minerals. To finish the soup we garnish it with crunchy Persian cucumbers and a spritz of lime to brighten the flavors.

Those who are not fond of shrimp can easily substitute cubes of tofu, or strips of beef or chicken to the dish, and if kale is not to your liking you can use broccoli florets, asparagus, bok choy, or Napa cabbage.

The vermicelli noodles are gluten free, so this is a lovely soup for those on a gluten-free diet. And this heady, Asian- inspired soup is comforting on a chilly summer evening, yet light and airy for a hot and humid August day.

We’re aware that shrimp once had a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, but the thinking on that has changed. Recent studies have shown that the bad cholesterol in shrimp is balanced by good cholesterol, so now shrimp are prized for zero saturated fat, high protein content, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

mise en placeHere’s our mise en place, with everything washed, cut, and measured.

shrimpQuickly and lightly sautéed shrimp.

Shrimp and Kale Hot Pot
4 servings

4 ounces rice stick vermicelli noodles
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound large shrimp (15 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 cups shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 cup carrot, coarsely grated
4 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
3 tablespoons organic low-sodium soy sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups baby kale, tightly packed
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 small red hot chili pepper (or to taste), sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 Persian cucumber, diced
1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the noodles in a large mixing bowl and completely cover them with boiling water. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft but still firm. Drain, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.   When shimmering, add half the shrimp in a single layer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until just pink, being careful not to overcook. Remove with tongs to a paper- towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan, and when shimmering add the mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and carrots, and cook, stirring, an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, 2 1/ 2 cups of water, the soy sauce, 1 /2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/ 8 teaspoon of pepper, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to simmer, stir in the baby kale, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili pepper, and noodles and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and scallions and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls, garnish with the cucumbers, and serve with the lime wedges.

finished soup

Bulgogi Beef Salad

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Bulgogi Beef

As you must know by now, we love salad! As the weather gets warmer, we especially love a big salad for dinner. Often we top our salads with sliced chicken, a beautiful piece of grilled fish or, if it is Meatless Monday, tofu to create a full meal.

We were in the mood to try something different, something with steak. We had eaten and loved Thai beef salad many times and wondered how a salad would taste prepared with a Korean style beef. We have always loved Korean Barbecue, particularly Bulgogi. The combination of the tender slices of meat, with the sweet and salty marinade is irresistible. It turns out; this is a crazy good combination. For those who don’t eat beef, chicken or tofu would be delicious too!

The key to success when preparing the beef is to slice as thinly as possible. That is why we recommend freezing the meat beforehand. This makes slicing so much easier. Sprinkling sugar on the meat gives it that beautiful caramel coloring when sautéed.

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 To make the garlic sugar paste, a mortar and pestle works beautifully, but you can also use a fork as an alternative.

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We love using radishes and hot Fresno peppers on the salad. This spicy combination pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the beef, but most any vegetable works well, so feel free to improvise.

Bulgogi veg

Bulgogi Beef Salad

4 servings

1 1/4 pounds beef tenderloin (you can also use sirloin)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the Marinade
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar to make a paste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
2 small heads Bibb lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
2 radishes, sliced into rounds
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut into half moons
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cooked, shelled edamame beans
1 Fresno chili pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

For the Dressing
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped

Freeze the beef for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to an hour. This will make the beef easier to slice thinly.

Remove the beef from the freezer and slice as thinly as possible. Layer the slices of beef in a large casserole dish, sprinkling the two teaspoons of sugar over each layer.

In a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, the garlic paste, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and stir. Rub the marinade all over the beef and set aside.

For the Dressing
In a glass jar with a lid, or a small mixing bowl, combine the grape seed oil, the rice wine vinegar, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, the maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh mint, and shake vigorously or whisk in the bowl to emulsify.

For the Beef
Heat a large grill pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and heat until shimmering. Raise the heat to medium-high and fry the meat in a single layer until nicely browned, about 15 to 20 seconds per side. Remove the cooked meat to a platter and continue until all of the meat is fried, set aside.

For the Salad
In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with half of the dressing to coat, adding more to taste. Put the lettuce into individual shallow bowls or plates. Top each salad with carrots, radishes, cucumbers, red onion slices, and edamame. Place the beef slices on top of each salad, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of fresh mint, and serve.

Bulgogi finished

Buddha Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spiced Chickpeas, and Swiss Chard

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Buddha Bowl 1

Lori went to college in Northern California and we often went to visit. The food scene there had a big influence on all of us. Even those many years ago we were into fresh, locally grown vegetables, and whole grains. Our dog-eared cookbooks were The Moosewood Cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, and Laurel’s Kitchen. One of our favorite things to make in those days is what is now commonly referred to as Buddha Bowls. We didn’t call them that then. At the time, we now recall, we just liked eating meals out of a bowl and it was a great way to use up any of the leftover vegetables and grains we had bought over the course of the week.

Today we love Buddha bowls and our kids do too––so simple and healthy and very pretty to serve. Basically ours have four elements and you can design one just as you like. Here are some suggestions:

Grain––quinoa, rice, millet, farro, whole-wheat couscous, barley
Vegetables––sautéed greens, roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots
Protein––beans, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds
Sauce––tahini, peanut, ginger-soy, chili-garlic

Roasted Chickpeas

 

Oarange zest

Sweet potato not cooked

Sweet potato cooked

 

 

Poblano Tahini

 

Swiss Chard Raw

Buddha Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spiced Chickpeas, and Swiss Chard

4 servings

Ingredients

For the Buddha Bowl
2 sweet potatoes (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon orange zest
Sea salt
One 15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained, rinsed well, and patted dry (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, whole
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, rough stems discarded, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
2 cups cooked quinoa, rice, farro (or any grain of your choice)

For the Poblano-Tahini Dressing
1/3 cup roughly chopped poblano pepper
1 clove garlic, quartered
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Preheat the oven to 425° F.

 In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, coconut oil, maple syrup, orange zest, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well until the potatoes are evenly coated.

 Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Flip them with a spatula and continue to cook until the potatoes are beginning to brown and are tender, about 15 minutes more.

 Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas, 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well until the chickpeas are thoroughly coated.

 Spread the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes (stirring them once halfway through.)

 Make the poblano-tahini dressing: Place all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or the bowl of a food processor, and blend until smooth. Add additional water to attain your desired consistency. Set aside.

 Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the 4 cloves of whole garlic, and the red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chard, cover the skillet and cook until the chard begins to wilt, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the chard is completely wilted and cooked through.

 Put 1/2 cup of the cooked grains in the bottom of each of 4 serving bowls. Top each bowl with some of the roasted sweet potatoes, roasted chickpeas, and sautéed chard. Drizzle with the poblano-tahini dressing as desired, and serve.

Close up Buddha Bowl

Orecchiette with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

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Brussels Spouts Pasta

Growing up, we Pollans didn’t consider Brussels sprouts edible. We figured something that smelly must taste even worse. This was one vegetable we tried to avoid eating at all costs. However, all that changed as adults—when we were introduced to an easy and scrumptious new way of preparing them—roasting! We add olive oil, salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven. It’s that easy to make, and we love the taste. In fact, our kids and husbands can’t seem to get enough of them too, which thrills us because Brussels sprouts are chock-full of nutrients—so they are incredibly healthy. We decided to take advantage of this “love” of a healthy vegetable and use it in another dish. We added them to pasta—a favorite in all of our homes. We sliced the Brussels sprouts very thinly, and then sautéed them in a pan with herbs, spices, and shallots, and added them to orecchiette pasta (you can substitute another pasta shape for the orecchiette). We then topped the dish with Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

brussels

What’s so great about roasted Brussels sprouts is their sweet and nutty flavor. By cooking the shaved sprouts in a skillet on top of the stove, and then letting them sit a couple of minutes before stirring, they caramelize. This gives them that sweet flavor that tastes so good.

Garlic in pan

Be sure to stir the shallots and garlic frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Brussels in pan

Orecchiette with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons pine nuts
Kosher salt
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and very thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and shake the pan occasionally until they begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the parsley, red pepper flakes, continue stirring, and cook for one minute more.

Add the Brussels sprouts, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften—about 3 minutes. Spread the vegetables in the pan and press down to flatten with the back of a wooden spoon. Let them brown for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir and repeat. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and mix well. Stir in the cooked pasta. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts, and serve hot.

Brussels pasta 2

 

 

Braised Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

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When we visited our grandmother (Corky’s mom), on Sundays she would often serve us a delicious chicken dinner. It wasn’t a stew, and it wasn’t a roast. Grandma called it “potted,” and we can remember that the chicken was always incredibly moist, tender, and delicious. When we’d ask her how she made it she would say, “You brown the chicken, put it in a pot, add a little chopped onion, a little water, and cook it slowly.” Not much to go on. But when we began to “braise” chicken and meat we realized that braising (the cooking technique of the moment) was very much like our grandma’s old-fashioned potting. Braising is a gentle, slow simmering method of cooking that produces succulent chicken and a full-bodied rich sauce. The secret is to take the time to carefully sear and brown the pieces, and to add only a moderate amount of liquid (too much, and you have a stew). Instead of water, you can add a broth, wine, citrus juices, vinegar, or a combination of liquids, and instead of onions a cornucopia of vegetables. We’ve added nutrient-rich butternut squash, healthful spices, and super-healthy chickpeas for a depth of flavor. But we must confess that chickpeas are such a favorite that we toss them into any dish, anytime we can.

chicken1

Roasting caramelizes the butternut squash and adds an unexpected sweetness.

chicken2

You can easily customize this dish to reflect family preferences. We like a mix of chicken thighs and legs (for that family member who is wild about drumsticks), but you can go for all thighs, all breasts, or a mix of both. With braising it doesn’t matter which cuts you choose, they all turn out moist and tender.

chicken3

Braised Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

4 servings

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 1 /2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 /2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 /8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 bay leaf
2 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Spread the butternut squash in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 10 minutes, turn and roast for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until fork tender.

Dry the chicken and generously season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Using tongs turn and cook for 3 additional minutes. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining chicken. Remove and set aside.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the oil, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until soft, add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring to deglaze the pan, and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of broth, the lemon zest and lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken, squash, and chickpeas and gently stir to combine. Keep the heat at a simmer, and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the olives and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter, spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

 

Bucatini with Sautéed Chard and Vegetarian Sausage

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Right now, for us, chard is the new kale. Don’t get us wrong—we still LOVE kale—but we’ve been craving chard and ogling beautiful photos featuring chard for the last couple of months. Swiss, red or rainbow, we don’t care. It has such a zesty, slightly salty flavor, which makes it an ideal ingredient for pastas, casseroles, frittatas––the list could go on and on…. Popular in Mediterranean cooking, it’s exceptionally good for you—it’s considered one of the most nutritious vegetables there is. So we’ve been on a mission to come up with some scrumptious chard recipes.

bucatini1This one, a pasta dish, is super easy to make and so full of flavor…And it can be modified for lots of tastes and diets––you can easily make it vegan, gluten free, whole wheat, and low fat with simple substitutions. We like to make it vegetarian because it’s one of those vegetarian dishes that have a lot of appeal to meat eaters—they don’t feel like they’re missing anything in terms of flavor or texture. It’s perfect for your Meatless Monday meal.

We do like pasta—a lot. We know a lot of people who won’t eat it. We think the key for us is that we make pasta recipes that have tons of vegetables or other ingredients so that we really are satisfied with the portion of pasta that we are meant to eat (no—it’s not a one pound box for two people.)

We happen to love this dish with an artisanal veggie sausage a friend introduced us to—she’s a tried and true meat eater and she loves it! But you can also use any kind of cooked Italian meat or poultry sausage that you like in this recipe and there are a lot of organic ones to choose from these days. You just need to cook your sausages through, then cut them into rounds and brown.

bucatini2We doubled the amount of chard we would normally use for this recipe. We just found that it cooked down so much in the sautéing process that there wasn’t enough green for our liking. We used both Swiss and rainbow chard—we can’t tell you if they taste much different but we love the combination of colors. Look at this raw rainbow chard––it looks like a painting.

bucatini3When sautéing the chard we begin with the chopped ribs and tender stems—even before we put in the garlic–-our kids don’t like them too crunchy. Then we add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and finally the chard leaves. When you put so much leafy vegetable in the skillet it really is quite bountiful at first––you almost can’t imagine that it will ever cook down. We put a large lid on top at the beginning to help the wilting process, but you still have to stir frequently so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn.

After the chard has wilted you add the sausage back in to get it good and hot.

bucatini4It’s so beautiful and tasty–-you really could take this sauté right here, skip the pasta, and serve it in countless ways––on a bed of polenta, quinoa, or lentils, or chop it a little finer and use it in a frittata. All delicious alternatives. But for us, this pasta dish really hits the spot.

Bucatini with Sautéed Chard and Vegetarian Sausage

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 pre-cooked Italian vegetarian sausages (we like Field Roast), cut into 1/3 to 1/2-inch round slices (you can also use any kind of cooked Italian meat or poultry sausages)
Kosher salt
1 pound bucatini (or spaghetti)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large bunches chard (Swiss, red, rainbow or a combination) leaves cut into 1 inch wide strips, ribs and tender stems roughly chopped (discard the thicker part of the stems)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer; cook undisturbed until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. Set the sausage aside in a dish or bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Meanwhile, wipe down the skillet with paper towels, set it over medium heat, and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering add the chard stems and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and cook for 1 minute. Add the chard and sauté, stirring until wilted, 7 to 9 minutes (you can cover the skillet with a large lid but continue to stir.) Once wilted, add in the browned sausage, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet with 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and Parmesan cheese (if desired). Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

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