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My last post was about two months ago. In that post, I made a big deal about how I’ve been super busy, but that I promised to get back into the swing of things. I also made a big stink about giving up meat for Lent. I can’t promise that I’ll be back in the swing of things, but I can tell you that a lot has happened since my last post. For one thing, I got accepted into graduate school for Elementary Education and certification. Hurrah! I’m going to be a teacher. I also successfully gave up meat. I lost 6 lbs. doing it. Then I gained 3 (or more) back when I went on vacation to Boston and New Hampshire and drank lots of different beers. Then I ran a 10 mile race. And now I probably want to run a lot more. That being said, I have a lot more free time now that graduate school applications are out of the way (for good) and I’m no longer training for my run (for now.)

I can go on and on for hours about all of the terrific, and not so terrific meals that I cooked while I was without meat. I can also tell you about the terrible cheeseburger that I had after my race on Sunday. But instead, I’ll leave you with a post about one of my favorite meals that I made while I was without meat. I loved it so much, I’ll make it again and again. It’s called Pad Thai. And it’s awesome.

Vegetarian Pad Thai
Adapted from Mark Bittman 

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles, 1/4inch thick
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces pressed tofu, or extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and sliced
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
1 /4 cup chopped peanuts
1 /4cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 small fresh jalapeno peppers
1 lime, cut into wedges

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them a little longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost flat against the bottom of the pan; you’re aiming for a thin egg crêpe of sorts, one with the smallest curd you can achieve. Cook just until set and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.

Raise the heat to high and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic, tofu, scallions, and half the bean sprouts to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Put the drained noodles, eggs, nam pla, tamarind, and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through, then add the stir-fried tofu mixture. Toss once or twice and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles, and remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges.

This dish is particularly special because Stu and I have been trying to recreate it for years. My dad actually makes a killer Pad Thai, with chicken and sometimes shrimp, and he made it for us one of the first times Stu came to my house for dinner. We’ve been trying to make our own ever since, and have been continuously unsuccessful. Mostly because we can’t get the noodles to the right consistency, but also because we wait until the verrrry last minute to prep everything. Something clicked with this recipe though, probably because we didn’t use meat so we weren’t juggling as many steps as normal. This dish was divine! I loved every bite of it, and the leftovers the next day. A co-worker who used to work at a Thai restaurant even commented on how delicious it looked. I was super pleased. This is certainly one dish that made giving up meat a breeze!

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I am backed up on posts, so this meal is from a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it’s too late to enjoy it, even though pumpkins have given way for candy canes, chocolates, and tons of delicious cookies. I made this right after Thanksgiving with a pumpkin that I’d had in my apartment as a decoration for the Fall. I felt bad throwing it out, and decided to honor it properly by cooking it up!

I had been saving a recipe that was sent to us by our CSA from way back in October. I was waiting specifically until I didn’t have need for a pumpkin anymore. So after Thanksgiving came to an end, I got right to work.

Roasted Pumpkin Curry
from Nibbledish.com

1/2 of  1 small pumpkin seeded, peeled, and cubed
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 or 3 tablespoons of red curry paste
2 or 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 or 5 tablespoons sugar
1 red bell pepper, julienned
8 oz. firm tofu, diced into small cubes
1 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of steamed jasmine rice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut pumpkin into two halves and roast, cut side down, for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Reduce heat and add bell pepper, carrots, tofu, green peas, and roasted pumpkin. Simmer until bell pepper and carrots are soft. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

This dish was so delish! I was really surprised how well the pumpkin worked with the curry. It was very spicy- great for a chili night. The chili paste and the coconut milk made it silky, spicy and sweet. The vegetables complimented it well and the rice made it thick enough to fill you up. I highly recommend this for veggie lovers and my vegan friends. If you don’t have access to a pumpkin (by now it is past Christmas and finding one is probably quite a challenge), you can probably use any type of winter squash. I’ll probably make this meal again before Winter comes to an end. I am pretty obsessed and have been singing it’s praises for over a month now!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Brussels sprouts. This is just purely based on the idea of BrusselsSprouts, not even the taste. I hadn’t event tried them until a few years ago when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home, when a friend brought a side dish of sprouts to our  potluck. I didn’t fancy them back then, and I was still skeptical of them until recently. We received some in our CSA share in the month of November. I was a little reluctant, but Stuart was ecstatic. I took a measly bundle from the bottom of the bin, and searched far and wide for a good recipe. I ended up cooking them in a Frittata with bacon, and it was absolutely horrendous. I swore off the sprouts again.

Not too long after, as Thanksgiving was approaching, we received some more from our CSA. Stu encouraged me to give them another go around, so I told him I would. I also was lucky enough to stumble upon an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats that was specifically centered around the beauty of the Brussels sprout. I thought I was ready to give them a try.

Oddly enough, I found my recipe in the October issue of Real Simple. This was after searching culinary magazines, websites, and blogs. It was a simple recipe for ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and bacon. Alton Brown had mentioned that bacon is the perfect counterpart to sprouts, and I love a good ravioli dish. I decided to give it a go.

Stu took the reigns on this one, as I was busy tying up loose ends (i.e. a pumpkin pie) for Thanksgiving

Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
from Real Simple Magazine, October 2010

1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
6 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
grated Parmesan, for serving

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Break into pieces when cool.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar. Add the bacon and toss to combine. Serve over the ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and top with the Parmesan, if desired.

Yeahhh! This was so good. I think the bacon did the trick, but also the fact that the sprouts were sliced so thinly. It was just the right combination of bitter green vegetable, savory meat, and soft cheese. Not only would I eat this dish again, but I look forward to the next time I can cook up some sprouts- even beyond the holiday season. Not too shabby!

 

This fall I’ve found myself pretty obsessed with butternut squash. I don’t think I’m the only one who has this sentiment, but I can’t stop myself from picking one up every time we go to our CSA or I hit up a farmer’s market or farm stand. My goal this year though, is to find new and unique ways to cook with the squash, instead of just roasting it or putting it in soups. I’ve had some success with this so far, although I did use some squash in a delicious butternut squash and pear soup. My favorite recipe so far though, has been a butternut squash sauce recipe that I’ve been using on pasta for the past few weeks.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
from Martha Stewart

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 cloves garlic, peel on
1 cup half-and-half
Pasta (such as cheese ravioli or any short pasta), for serving
Toppings, such as grated parmesan cheese, chopped toasted walnuts, finely chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, trim ends; halve squash crosswise to separate bulb from neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor; puree. With motor running, add half-and-half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water; continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt. (To freeze, see below.)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary. Serve with desired toppings.

I made this recipe with ravioli the first time. I loved it because it was almost the same as making butternut squash ravioli with a squash filling, but it was much easier and less time-consuming. I don’t have a pasta maker, so making my own ravioli is out of the question at this point, but the sauce gave a taste that was just as good. It was fairly easy to make and there was a ton leftover. We had the sauce with another pasta dish the following week, and there is still some leftover. There is now some in the freezer for later on in the winter when I can’t access the squash as easily as I can now. I’m curious to try the sauce with something other than pasta, but I’m not sure how that would work. Post in the comments if you have any suggestions.

As harvest season is coming to  a close, it is refreshing to still see lots of leafy greens available. I was pretty excited last week when we received a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in our CSA share. I’ve cooked with chard throughout our CSA season, but I was interested in looking for a more autumn-themed dish. I can always count on my Eating Well: In Season cookbook to provide me with a seasonal meal.

The recipe that I found was pretty similar to some of the frittatas that I’ve made throughout the summer except that this recipe called for a tart crust made from scratch. I was pretty excited to give it a try.

Chard and Feta Tart
Adapted from Eating Well In Season

Crust

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cold water

Filling

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups chopped chard (about 1 bunch), leaves and stems separated.
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

To prepare crust:

Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oregano, salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add 1/3 cup oil and 5 tablespoons water. Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim an overhanging dough and use it to patch any spots that don’t come all the way up the sides. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork in a few places. Bake the crush until firm and lightly brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.


To prepare filling:

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook, stirring until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add chard leaves and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring, until the leaves are just tender and the water has evaporated, about 2-5 minutes. Transfer the greens to a sieve over a bowl and let drain and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk eggs, ricotta, lemon zest and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Fold in the greens olives, and feta. Spread the filling into the crust. Bake the tart until the top is lightly browned and knife inserted in the corner comes out clean, 30 5o 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

 

This was an awesome meal. The home-made crust was so savory from the black pepper and oregano. The filling was delightful. I didn’t have lemons on hand, so I added some lemon-pepper seasoning and it worked just fine. It probably wasn’t as strong as it would have been with the addition of grated lemon peel, but it worked. I loved the combo of the olives and feta with the chard.

This was a great recipe because it involved plenty of baking, but served as a dinner. Although I thought that making the crust would be an extra step and inconvenient, it was one of the best parts. I didn’t have a tart dish, so I used a regular pie dish which worked fine, but didn’t have the same aesthetic. If you are planning to serve this to guests or has hor d’eourves, I would recommend using the actual tart dish. I’ve stumbled upon a few recipes since that require them, and I’ll probably purchasing one in the near future, if I can find one at an affordable price. In the meantime, it’s not really about what this tart looked like, but how good it tasted while I was chowing it down!

I know I said I wasn’t going to post about this recipe, but after having if over and over again I’ve become quite fond of it. I was really excited to receive some kale in our CSA share last week. It is really one of my favorite leafy greens and so nutritious! I have a few friends who have been talking about it a lot lately with their own recipes, so I was anxious to use it. We purchased some chorizo from our CSA that was made from a local source, and referenced a recipe that was included in our CSA newsletter. The results were not as pleasing as I had anticipated, but I was able to make a few changes to improve it after first taste.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup)
from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
6 ounces chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 quarts water
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves finely shredded

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the garlic, onion and half of the chorizo and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Add water, potatoes and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, process the soup to a coarse puree. Bring to a boil. Add the kale and simmer until it is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining half of the chorizo and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil.

What I didn’t really realize about this recipe before I started cooking, was that most of the potato and chorizo were cooked, and then blended into a broth. More importantly, there really isn’t a lot of chorizo in this in the first place. I ended up reserving some of the potatoes and sausage before pureeing into broth, so that it would still be a bit chunky, but it really wasn’t enough. The broth came out pretty watery and flavorless. There was a little kick from the chorizo, which was nice, but it just wasn’t as hardy as I had imagined it would be. My other big mistake, was that I forgot to chop the kale before adding it. I discarded the stems, but just threw in the full leaves, which left it tough to chew and swallow. It was definitely not one of my best meals.

Unfortunately, this recipe made a ton of soup! A ton of bad soup, that is until I found the remedy. After eating it, I went back to the stove, cut up some more potatoes and added them to the pot. I turned the burner on and let the soup sit for about another hour, until the potatoes were tender. Then I ended up going into the soup and cutting up all of the kale so that it ended up in smaller pieces. Overall, it turned out pretty ok. I had it for lunch a few times this week and enjoyed it much more the second and third time around. Next time I go to make a potato, kale and chorizo soup, I’ll read over my recipes a little more thoroughly.

Now that chili season is officially upon us (even though it’s probably going to hit 80 degrees this week), I’m getting excited to try out some new recipes and some old favorites. I always appreciate a good vegetarian chili, or a recipe that adds some unique ingredients, such as chocolate and dried chilis, or cranberries and butternut squash. I am always looking for a new twist on the classic recipe, but Stu has his own thoughts on this cool-weather staple: Meat. Meat. More Meat.

After cooking up the first batch of the season with a shredded chicken chili, Stu decided to take charge last Sunday night. I objected a little, because I know that his main ingredient in all chili’s is chunks of steak, which I tend to avoid at all costs. But I decided to let him take the reigns, and it turned out that his chili was quite good.

Stu’s go-to recipe is from All Recipes, but he usually tweaks it a bit. You can find the link here, and Stu’s adaptation below.

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili
from AllRecipes.com

2 pounds shoulder-cut steak (or any general slab of steak, I suppose), chopped into 1/2-inch cubes.
1 pound hot Italian sausage, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, or beans of your choice
2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
3 ounces can tomato paste, or a little less
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen corn
2 green jalapeno peppers, with seeds, chopped|
1/2 cup beer (we used Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoon Sriacha sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
3-5 scallions, chopped for garnish
cheddar cheese, for garnish

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the steak and the sausage into the pan. Cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.

Pour in the red kidney, black, and canellini beans, the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, jalapenos, corn and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, Sriacha sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.

To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with green onionsand shredded Cheddar cheese.

This chili is as classic, hardy, manly man meatfest as it gets. Surprisingly I quite liked it. I’m not saying that I will look forward to eating this again and again throughout the winter, but I really didn’t mind eating it while drinking a Dogfishhead Punkin and watching the Phillies play on a Sunday evening. (Football, like steak, is not really my thing.) It was a pretty good ending to my weekend. The recipe made plenty so we had leftovers for lunch (yes, I did have a 2nd or 3rd helping during the week) and we froze some for a few weeks down the line. If you are into meaty meals, or trying to please your manly man significant other, I strongly suggest you give this recipe a try. Stu knows what he’s doing… Go meat!


As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time recently scouring the internet for Fall-appropriate meals. Amidst all of my recipes involving apples, butternut squash, pumpkin, and chili, I kept stumbling upon recipes for macaroni and cheese. This excited me. I’ve never made it before, but boyyyy do I love it. I couldn’t wait until the temperatures dropped enough for me to make a nice baked mac ‘n cheese and curl up with a big comfy bowl of it. There is nothing like a nice big bowl of something warm and cheesy to make your day better!

Mac and cheese can be pretty unhealthy, but I found a recipe that includes butternut squash, to add a bit of vegetation and with that, some nutrients! I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out, and Stu is pretty skeptical of butternut squash these days, but I figured I’d give it a try.

Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash
from Martha Stewart

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound) , peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
olive-oil cooking spray
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

 

This was quite good. Different from your standard macaroni and cheese, but the mashed up butternut squash added such a nice flavor and texture. If you didn’t make it, you might not even notice it was in there, very subtle, but in just the right way. Stu was a big fan. This made a lot of macaroni. We had leftovers for lunch and even froze some to have in a week or two on a busy night. I don’t know if I’ll make this again, I think one time is enough, but I was really glad that I got to give it a try, and that it came out well. If you’re looking for a fun and new way to put your butternut squash to use- this is it!

Last week our CSA gave us a beautiful head of cauliflower. We had the choice between cauliflower or broccoli, and I really don’t care for either. But, I was interested in seeking out some unique recipes for the cauliflower and thought that maybe I could come around to it. Plus, it was too good-looking to turn down. I snatched it up and then came home, and snatched up this great stir-fry recipe from The New York Times.

There is a great column in the Diner’s Journal blog on the NYT website. Each week a different columnist takes a turn at contributing a vegetarian or vegan recipe to put together what has become “The Temporary Vegetarian.” This is great because I can sometimes consider myself a temporary vegetarian; I love a good veg-packed meal, but I sometimes can’t resist a juicy hamburger, delicious sausage, or a pulled pork sandwich. I’m sorry. But, I try as hard as I can when I cook at home to incorporate as many veg-friendly meals as possible. I also have a few friends, as well as a sister, who are on the vegetarian/vegan route, so I try to incorporate as many veggie meals as possible into this blog. This one’s for you, ladies!

Vegan Indian Stir-Fried Cauliflower
from The New York Times Diner’s Journal, originally adapted from Chef Hermant Mathur

1 large whole cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 to 2 fresh Thai bird chilies (about 1 inch long), seeded and finely minced (I used jalepeno peppers)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
small pinch chili powder
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
salt
half a small orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
half a small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1 1/2 very large heirloom tomatoes, or 3 large plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Immerse the cauliflower florets in a bowl of cold water and set aside.

Place a large, heavy-bottomed skillet with a lid over high heat, and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add cumin seeds and cook, stirring rapidly, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add 1 minced chili, coriander, cumin, chili powder and turmeric.

Drain the cauliflower, add to the skillet, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning. (If the mixture starts to stick, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water.) Season with salt to taste. Stir. Adjust spiciness to taste, adding part (or all) of the second chili, if desired. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover, and continue to cook, lifting the lid and stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add orange and red bell peppers, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes. Increase heat to high and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the cilantro, and serve immediately. If desired, serve with rice or bread.

This was a really beautiful dish. Like the article says, it is really vibrant and full of color. Also full of flavor. Definitely a healthy dish, but truthfully, I still am not crazy about cauliflower. I will probably cook with it again if I stumble upon it or if we receive it in our CSA, but definitely not my favorite vegetable. The flavors in this dish helped to make it a bit better, and I definitely recommend it to my vegan and vegetarian friends. I guess next time when I have the choice, I’ll stick with the broccoli.


In our CSA share last week we received some turnips. I’ve never used them before except for in chicken soup, and it wasn’t the best recipe I’ve ever used. Usually I have a few sources that I immediately turn to for recipes, but in this case I was pretty clueless. I think I ended up searching for turnip recipes on Google, and found that Bon Appetit’s website has a whole section on what to do with root vegetables. Perfect, as they are now in prime season. It just so happened that I had all of the other root vegetables already stocked in the fridge, waiting to be used.

Root Vegetable Tangine with Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Turnips, and Spiced Chickpeas
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
4 and 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 and 1/4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled carrots
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cups water
1 and 1/4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound turnips (about 2 medium), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
3/4 cup brine-cured green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 ounce; not oil-packed), thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 10-ounce box plain couscous (cooked according to package directions)

Spice Roasted Chickpeas

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 15- to 151/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, well dried
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Place chickpeas, olive oil, pinch of cayenne, and ground spices in medium bowl. Sprinkle with coarse salt; toss to coat evenly. Transfer to small rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven until lightly browned and crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

 

For the Tangine:

Toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl. Add red pepper, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix lemon slices, lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons coarse salt in small skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lemon slices are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Cool preserved lemon. Drain and chop.

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add toasted spice blend, garlic, and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add carrots and celery; stir 2 minutes. Add chopped preserved lemon, 4 cups water, sweet potatoes, turnips, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer with lid ajar until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Stir in parsley, cilantro, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Spoon couscous into large bowl, spreading out to edges and leaving well in center. Spoon vegetable tagine into well in center. Sprinkle Spice-Roasted Chickpeas over and serve.

I was really excited to try this dish. I love any kind of Moroccan food, and it featured so many different ingredients. I was interested to see how the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and preserved lemon pulled together. And whoaaa did they! This dish was jam-packed with all sorts of flavors, and eat bite was different from the previous one. The lemon flavor was probably the strongest, but there were tastes of cumin, caraway seed, sun-dried tomato, and spice from the red pepper. The different root vegetables also gave the dish an ever-changing texture, from the heavy and sweet potatoes to the slippery , tangy turnips. The chickpeas on top were awesome, and I ate them throughout the week as a quick snack. I’d make them again on their own just to have around the house, or to serve to guests in replacement of nuts. They were nice and crisp and just the right amount of spicy.

This was also my first time working with preserved lemons. It was so much easier than I could have imagined. After putting them on the stove to simmer, I basically forgot about them until they were just about ready. Mixed them in and ate the slices whole, right in with the rest of the dish.

This is an awesome dish for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone who appreciates a really delicious and flavorful meal.