Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vegetable Red Thai Curry (+Chicken)

Most of us vegetarians live with at least one meat eater. My mom happily goes along with whatever vegetarian dish I serve, but it's nice once in a while to make her a nice plate of meat. This recipe splits into two parts, where you can make half of the dish vegetarian and the other half with chicken.

Vegetable Red Thai Curry with Chicken and Tofu
The Best of Fine Cooking: CookFresh

Tofu                                                      Chicken

This recipe serves four people. Divide it up into meat and veggie however you need. 
(It can also be cut in half for two people)

3 Tbs red Thai curry paste
2 C sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced diagonally
2 large shallots, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper cut into thin, 2 -inch strips
1 14 oz can coconut milk (lite or regular works)
6 wild lime leaves (optional) 
1 Tbs brown sugar

**Tofu, drained and cut into small cubes (4 oz per vegetarian)
~ 1 Tbs soy sauce (more or less depending on number of vegetarians)

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into small pieces (4 oz per meat eater)
~ 1 Tbs fish sauce (more or less depending on number of meat eaters)

1 1/2 Tbs fresh lime juice

**The recipe says to add the drained tofu right into the mixture. I like my tofu well-done, so I broiled it for about ten minutes before adding it. Feel free to prep it any way you like, or just add it cold

First, heat some olive oil in a large skillet and add the curry paste. Cook it for about 30 seconds, stirring, until it is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the peas, shallots, peppers, coconut milk, sugar, (lime leaves), and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine, being sure that all of the curry paste dissolves evenly.

Next, divide the mixture into appropriate meat and vegetarian portions. (i.e. if you have three vegetarians and one meat eater, transfer a quarter of the vegetable mixture to another pan) 

Add the tofu to one pan and the chicken to the other. Cover and cook each for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the proteins are cooked. Next, add the fish sauce to the chicken mixture and the soy sauce to the tofu mixture. Divide up the lime juice and the basil and add a portion to each pan. 

Let each pan rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, and Feta Tart in a Teff Crust

This is a delicious, flavor-packed main dish. I love the way all of the flavors - balsamic vinegar, sweet potatoes, and chard - blend together. 

Teff flour is made from teff, a tiny, brown grain that is a good source of iron and fiber, and has a fair amount of protein. You can find it in most grocery stores. The most common brand is Bob's Red Mill and is usually in the baking aisle.

Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, and Feta Tart in a Teff Crust
The Best of Find Cooking: CookFresh

This is the photo from the magazine...It looks much prettier and appetizing in person!

1 C teff flour
1 C all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
3/4 tsp salt
6 oz  cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 to 5 Tbs ice water

11/2 lb sweet potatoes
2 medium red onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaved chopped
11/3 C crumbled feta cheese
2 eggs

To make the crust: 
Place the flours and the salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is incorporated and the mixture appears grainy. Add 4 Tbs of ice water and mix again until the dough just sticks together. If it is too dry, add a little more water. Form the dough into a thick disk and wrap it in plastic. Refrigeration for about half an hour. 
Remove the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 14 inch circle. It might crack a little, but that is normal - just press the dough back together. Carefully lift the dough and place it into a 11-inch tart pan.
**The recipe says to use a tart pan with removable sides. If you have one, great, but I don't so I just used a regular pie plate. It worked great.

Press the crust into the pan and fold any overhanging dough into a lip around the rim. Prick the bottom with a fork several times. Bake it at 375 for about 10 minutes lined with parchment paper with pie weights or beans in the bottom. When the edges appear dry, remove the beans and paper and bake it for another 7 minutes or so, until the bottom looks set. 

For the filling:
Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork. Place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast them in the oven at about 350 for an hour or so, until they are soft when pierced. 
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a medium skillet and saute the onions over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Once they are tender and slightly charred, cover them, reduce the heat a little, and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until they are soft and caramelized. Keep an eye on them and stir them frequently so that they don't burn! A 1 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar to the onions, stir until the liquid evaporates, then remove from the heat. Set the onions aside in a small bowl.

Clean the skillet and reheat it with a bit of olive oil. Cook the garlic for about a minute over medium heat, until it is fragrant. Increase the heat a little and add the chard with a pinch of salt. Toss it around in the pan for about 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Add the other Tbs of balsamic vinegar and cook until it is absorbed. 
Transfer the greens to a large bowl and add about 3/4 a cup of the feta and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Peel the roasted sweet potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes. Add them to the chard mixture and toss. Whisk the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper and add them to the mixture as well. 

To Assemble:
Spoon the filling into the bottom of the crust, and sprinkle the top with the remaining feta. Bake it at 375 for about half an hour, until the cheese is golden brown. 
**The recipe to says to add the onions when the tart comes out, but I added them about 5 minutes before I took it out of the oven so they would warm back up.
At whatever point you decide is best, spoon the onions over the top of the tart, almost completely covering it. Allow the tart to cool a bit, then if you used a tart pan remove the rim. 

Cut it into wedges and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tomato & Garlic "Sauce-less" Pasta

This is a family favorite. It's simple yet bursting with flavor . See the bottom of the page for optional changes to the recipe!

Sauce-less Pasta
Adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta

This is a random picture borrowed from the internet, but it looks almost exactly like what I serve at home. 

8 oz pasta, shape of your choice - I like penne, farfalle, or good old fettuccine 

2 tbs butter
3 cloves garlic
1 Can whole or diced tomatoes
1/3 C Parmesan cheese, shredded
Hefty bunch of fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

This recipe is so simple:
Boil the pasta water. Meanwhile, mine the garlic and finely chop the parsley. If using whole tomatoes, cut them into smaller pieces but do not discard the juice! If using diced tomatoes, they are ready to go.

When the pasta is cooked, strain it and allow it to drain into the sink. In the pasta pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute lightly for about 3 minutes, or until it is aromatic. Remove from the heat and add the pasta, tomatoes, cheese, and garlic. Mix and serve immediately with extra cheese for garnish.


I absolutely LOVE grape (and cherry) tomatoes. My trainer was telling me about a recipe she makes similar to this one, but in place of the canned tomatoes, she sautes cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil until they heat up and "pop", then mixes them with her pasta.
This sounded like a perfect change to my classic sauce-less pasta recipe, so I gave it a try tonight. I actually had campari tomatoes on hand, which are slightly larger and rounder than grape tomatoes- more like mini versions of vine tomatoes. Anyway, I cut them into quarters and  heated them with the garlic. It tasted great - the fresh tomatoes added a nice juicy, sweet flavor. I am planning on trying this with actual cherry tomatoes, but it was delicious this way as well.

I would recommend giving any of these types of tomatoes a try:



You can also experiment with different herbs, adding a little fresh Basil in place of some of the parsley.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pasta and Pea Bake

I made this dish up tonight. I was in the mood for something warm, tasty, and satisfying, so I just started opening drawers and cabinets and this is what I came up with!

Pasta and Pea Bake
totally made up

8 oz. whole wheat pasta shapes such as bow ties or penne
1 1/2 C frozen green peas
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
handful of fresh spinach, chopped
bit of fresh basil and/or Italian parsley
dash of dried oregano and/or basil
black pepper

1/2 C parmesan or Romano cheese

Boil some water for the pasta. Meanwhile, steam the peas just long enough for them to defrost and loose the excess water. Drain them. Cook the pasta until it is al dente - it will cook a little more in the oven.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for about two minutes. Add the peas, tomatoes, spinach, and herbs. 

**As you can see from my random ingredient list, you can ad just about anything you want to this sauce. I kept it simple, but I would suggest diced onion, finely chopped carrots, chopped mushrooms, or diced bell pepper - or a combination of these. 

When the pasta is done, drain it an then return it to the pot and heat over med-low to evaporate the excess water. Pour the sauce and the pasta into a casserole dish and stir in the cheese. You can just mix all of the cheese in or reserve some to sprinkle on top. Feel free to try other types of cheese as well. 

Bake it at about 350 for 15 minutes or so until it looks warm and bubbly. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mini Black Bean and Mango Casseroles

This was an interesting dish - lots of flavor. It seems complicated but it turns out to actually be fairly simple. Next time I plan to change some methods and toss in a few different ingredients.

Mini Black Bean and Mango Casseroles
-Vegetarian Times

2 13.5-oz. cans full-fat coconut milk (I used regular milk)
1 C polenta 
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro 
2 Tbs  nutritional yeast 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
3/4 tsp. salt 
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper 
1/2 tsp cumin 

Mole :
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes 
1 Tbs minced unsweetened chocolate 
1 Tbs raisins, finely chopped 
2 tsp honey 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 C diced onion 
1/2 C diced red bell pepper 
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 C chopped toasted almonds 
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro 
2 tsp lime juice 
3/4 C diced fresh mango

shredded cheddar cheese
dried cilantro

Bring 2 cups coconut milk, 1 cup water, and remaining  polenta ingredients to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until thick. Coat 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Smooth Polenta mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate overnight. (I actually only froze it for about an hour and a half...)

Simmer all of the mole ingredients ingredients in saucepan over medium-low heat 3 minutes, or until sauce is smooth. 

Heat some olive oil in saucepan and cook the onion and bell pepper over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add black beans, almonds, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and Mole. Fold in mango. 

Preheat oven to broil. Brush 6 1-cup ramekins with oil, and place on baking sheet. Scoop 1/3 cup black bean mixture into each ramekin. 

 Unmold Polenta from cake pan, and cut into 6 rounds with 3-inch round cutter. Sauté Polenta rounds in oil in medium skillet until browned on both sides. Place Polenta rounds over bean mixture in ramekins. Sprinkle each  ramekin with cheese, and dust with dried cilantro. Broil 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

SO, next time I make this dish, here are my plans:

1. I might remove a little of the heat - it's not too popular in my household.
2. I will make less polenta, and create a thinner sheet to cover the bean mixture.
3. To make it a more savory dish, I might try dropping the chocolate, cinnamon, and mango, and adding jalapenos, more cumin, and perhaps even a little avocado.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lentil-Spinach Stew

This is an easy, delicious soup-like stew. It's a perfect "pantry" dinner - you probably have all of the ingredients on hand.

Spinach-Lentil Stew
Better Homes and Gardens: Vegetarian Recipes

1 C dry lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

4 C water
1/2 can of whole tomatoes
vegetable bouillon**
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp each: dried thyme, crushed fennel seed, pepper
1 bay leaf

2 medium carrots, chopped ( 1 C)
1 10 oz package frozen spinach
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

**I use Superior Touch brand "Better Than Bouillon". I think it has the best flavor, but BEWARE: it is salty.  I always use about a third of what the directions on the jar call for and do not add extra salt to recipes when using it. Whatever type of bouillon you use, adjust your usual amount to flavor the four cups of water. (With my brand, I would use a hefty teaspoon or so)

Heat some olive oil in a large soup pan and cook the garlic and onion over  medium heat until tender. Add the water, lentils, tomatoes, bouillon,Worcestershire sauce, thyme, fennel, bay leaf, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. 

Add the carrots and *frozen* spinach. I was surprised that the frozen spinach didn't make the stew too runny when all of the liquid melted, but when I added it it actually seemed to absorb the liquid in the pot. Trust the recipe!

Cover the pot and allow everything to simmer about 15 more minutes, or until the carrots and lentils are tender. Finally, discard the bay leaf and stir in the vinegar.

I would recommend serving this with a sprinkling of Parmesan or other flavorful Italian cheese. Enjoy!