Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick-braised Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

A few months ago my girlfriends and I got together for a "cooking night" where we would all work together to make several healthy recipes which we could eat during the week. I selected Quick-braised Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese from the April, 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

The recipe note in the magazine suggests to serve it over whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. I ate it with barley, one of my favorites, but my friends were eating it just as it is. We all loved it and I find that I make this every few weeks. I find cutting broccoli a challenge but I've been making this so often that I'm starting to get the hang of it!

Quick-braised Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Serves 6

2 Tbs. pine nuts
1½ Tbs. vegetable oil
2 large heads broccoli (1 lb.), cut into small florets
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (2 oz.)
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to large bowl.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, and cook 2 minutes, or until florets are evenly coated with oil and beginning to soften and brown, stirring constantly. Carefully add 1/3 cup water; cover tightly with lid. Steam broccoli 4 minutes, or until water has evaporated and broccoli is tender.

Transfer broccoli to bowl with toasted pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle goat cheese over broccoli, and stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Drizzle vinegar over top, and serve warm.

Nutritional information as published in magazine:
Per 1-cup serving: 115 Cal; 5 G Prot; 8 G Total Fat (2 G Sat Fat); 7 G Carb; 4 MG Chol; 74 MG Sod; 3 G Fiber

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Latin-Rubbed Pork Loin Chops with Chimichurri

We made these Latin-Rubbed Pork Loin Chops with Chimichurri only because I was looking through my cookbooks for pork chop recipes and this one seemed to have ingredients that I already had in the house. I found it in Grill Every Day which isn't a cookbook I turn to very often, but I was flipping through it just to see if there were any other grilling tricks I wanted to learn before it's too cold to grill anymore!

I'm not sure why I haven't paid more attention to this book, because there are lots of recipes for the basics - pork chops, pork tenderloin, chicken, steaks, etc. My Mario Batali and Bobby Flay grill books - which I turned to most often this summer - have more complex and expensive recipes.

So anyways, I learned that you can have a fabulous dinner with nothing more than a spice rub and sauce both made of simple ingredients. The flavor combination of the rub and the Chimichurri is really great and we were raving about it with every bite!

We followed the instructions almost exactly, except that we made the Chimichurri in a blender instead of a food processor. And even though it looks complicated when you read it - make a rub, make a sauce, etc., I think this is one of those dinners you can have on the table in a about a half an hour. Start the coals, make the rub, whip up the sauce and get grillin'! We threw some asparagus on the grill with it and we were ready to go. Yum!

Latin-Rubbed Pork Loin Chops with Chimichurri
Serves 4

4 bone-in, center-cut port loin chops, 3/4 to 1 inch think (10 to 12 ounces each)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Latin Spice Rub
1 cup chimichurri

Latin Spice Rub
makes about 1/4 cup
1 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Latin Spice Rub: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, pepper, ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir well to blend. Use immediately, or transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store away from heat and light for up to 6 months.

For the Chimichurri: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar and process until the garlic is minced. Add the parsley and lemon juice and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. With the machine running, pour the 1/2 cup olive oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is well blended.

For the Pork: Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on medium-high.

Remove the port chops from the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before grilling and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the chops on both sides with olive oil. Liberally season the chops on both sides with the spice rub. When the grill is heating, make the sauce.

To create a cool zone, bank the coals to one side of the grill or tun off the burners. Oil the grill grate. Place the pork chops directly over the medium-hot fire. Grill on one side until nicely seared, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until seared, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Move the chops to the cooler part of the grill, cover, and grill until the meat is slightly pink in the center, or an instant-read thermometer registers 145°, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

Remove the chops from the grill and let rest 5 minutes. Transfer to chops warmed dinner plates and spoon some of the sauce over the top. Place the rest of the sauce in a bowl for passing. Serve immediately.

I thought this would be a good recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging because of the use of parsley in the Chimichurri. Parsley is almost an invisible herb to me - something green that a lot of Italian recipes call for. Something my grand ma told me to chew on to freshen my breath (but tasted gross so I never did). So i was impressed when this simple ingredient, that I use alot but have never appreciated on its own, was used with some simple spices and oil to make such a great sauce.

Look for more herb recipes at Healthy Green Kitchen who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging roundup.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables

I'm a huge fan of couscous, but this recipe for Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables from the April, 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine is one of the few times I have cooked with Israeli couscous. I know the recipe is titled "Spring Vegetables", but I had no problem finding these ingredients in early fall (I used frozen peas). For some reason, to me Israeli couscous seems more foreign than regular couscous - maybe because of I have made tons of recipes with regular couscous. But I fed this to two people who "don't like couscous" and they never wrinkled their noses once! They both really loved it. To them it tastes more like pasta and they like the texture of this larger couscous than regular.

The flavors of this dish are somewhat strong - the saffron and kalamata olives really come through. In fact it was a bit to saffron-y for me at first. But this was a really healthy and tasty dish that lasted well for leftover lunches and side dishes at dinner for the rest of the week.

Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables
Serves 6

2 cups dry Israeli couscous
4 tsp. canola oil
2 bulbs fennel, slivered, grated, or finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts finely chopped (1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, chopped (2 Tbs.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
2 0.25-g. pkg. saffron threads
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped, pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
3 Tbs. olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek, and garlic, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute to deglaze pan. Add peas, and let wine reduce 1 minute more, then add broth. Add couscous, tomatoes, and saffron; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spoon into bowls, then top with olives, olive oil, and basil.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita

I'm on a quest to make GOOD homemade pizza. I'm also on a quest to use up all the cherry tomatoes growing in my garden. So it was time to try the recipe for Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita from the April, 2010 issue of Bon Appetit magazine which I have been holding on to for a few months.

I was looking for refrigerated pizza dough at Whole Foods and couldn't find any. Finally one of the employees told me I could get pizza dough from the guys who make the pizza! How exiting is that? So I went over to the corner and had a choice between regular (which I still think is made with whole wheat flour) or multi-grain. I chose the multi-grain. It was only about $2.50 and I got about 22 ounces of dough. I was also advised that I could freeze it if I didn't use within 24 hours.

So home I went all excited with my fresh pizza dough and buffalo mozzarella. I went out back to pick tomatoes off the vine and clip off some basil. I confess that my buddy did most of the work... he wanted to try and flip/spin the pizza dough up in the air so I let him have at it. The dough was foreign for us to work with. We ended up making this recipe three times in one week while trying to perfect it and we learned that adding a bit of flour helped alot! And after watching a few videos about flipping pizza dough, my buddy is becoming quite talented at it.

I worked on the tomatoes. And the tomatoes were so tasty after we finished with all the seasoning, we were drinking the leftover juice!

In this recipe they advise to spread the cheese out all over the dough and then dollop the tomato mixture on top. This seems opposite of what we were used to - spreading tomato sauce on the dough and sprinkling with cheese. But it comes out really well so if you try this, I recommend following their instructions. Yum!

Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita
Serves 4

1 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 12-ounce bag cherry tomatoes, stammed
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon fenndl seeds, coarsely crushed in plastic bag
1/4 teaspoon diced crushed red pepper
1 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella in water (ovoline), diced
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus small leaves for garnish

Position rack in top of oven and preheat to 425° F. Unroll dough on heavy large baking sheet; pull to about 12x8-inch rectangle, pinching any tears to seal. Fold over edge of dough to make border.

Heat large skillet over high heat 2 minutes. Add oil, then tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until tomatoes are charred and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in garlic, fennel and crushed red pepper. Using back of fork, crush tomatoes in bowl, leaving large chunks intact. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Toss cheeses and chopped basil in medium bowl.

Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over dough, right up to border. Spoon on tomato mixture in dollops, leaving some cheese uncovered. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Loosen pizza with metal spatula and slide onto board. Garnish with basil leaves.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers

It's worth making a batch of this whenever you can get your hands on some fresh pineapple. I wish I had know about it all summer! But I just got around to flipping through the May/June 2010 Vegetarian Times magazine recently and that is where I saw this recipe for Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers. Luckily I saw a big box of pineapple at my recent visit to Costco so I snagged it so I could try out this recipe.

Roasting these fruits and vegetables together with a touch of sesame oil is pure brilliance. The taste is so scrumptious that it's hard to explain. The magazine article recommended serving over rice, but I got a bit more creative. With my first batch I served it over broiled tilapia for dinner. Then I ate it with some leftover barley for a super healthy breakfast! I'd also serve it over pork chops and mixed in with leftover asparagus. So many good options.

Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers
Serves 6

3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1½ cups)
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1½ cups)
1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
1 Tbs. lime juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange pineapple cubes, red bell pepper cubes and red onion wedges on ungreased rimmed baking sheet.Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and vegetable oil, sprinkle with brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Toss to coat.

Roast pineapple mixture on center oven rack 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning once. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sweetened coconut flakes, if using, then drizzle with lime juice. Remove to serving bowl and toss well to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature.

For other great healthy recipes check out Slightly Indulgent Tuesday every week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Capellini with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives & Basil

Using up the cherry tomatoes I grow in my own backyard was one of the main reasons I decided to try this recipe for Capellini with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives & Basil I found in The Stinking Rose Restaurant Cookbook. So I used those instead of the "various colors" as described in the recipe and it was a lot of fun to cook with food grown in my yard.

The end result is a bold and flavorful pasta dish. It reminds me quite a bit of pasta puttanesca which I have made several times before. But instead of making a full tomato sauce, the loose tomatoes seemed to make the pasta a bit lighter. Roasting the garlic cloves independently, instead of the whole head, was a fun and new way to do it. We spread the leftovers on some toasted bread topped with salt. Yum! My buddy who ate with me the night I made this doesn't like kalamata olives so he wasn't a big fan. But I ended up with leftovers and this heated up well too.

A few months ago I was in San Francisco and while I didn't eat at The Stinking Rose, we did pass it a few times and it always smelled wonderful. I forgot I owned this cookbook and this is the first recipe I have made from it. Flipping through it, there are a lot of interesting recipes to try.

Capellini with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives & Basil
Serves 4

Roasted Garlic
2 cups garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil

16 ounces fresh capellini pasta, or 12 ounces dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 to 10 cloves roasted garlic, from recipe
1 pint cherry tomatoes in various colors, halved
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped

For the Roasted Garlic: In a heavy saucepan, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring once at 20 minutes, until the garlic begins to soften. Preheat the oven to 250° F. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cloves are golden brown and slightly wrinkled.

For the Pasta: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the fresh pasta for 1 to 2 minutes, until al dente. If using dried pasta, cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain well.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic, tomatoes, olives and red pepper flakes. Stir once or twice to heat the ingredients through, then add the pasta, tossing to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Scoop the pasta into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the basil. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Greek Salad with Sardines

I've never been a fan of sardines, but honestly, it's because I made my judgement based on how it looked in a tin - ick! I have never eaten them as part of a recipe before. But for the past year or so I've been hearing about how sardines are a healthy way to get omega-3-fatty acids. That and they are cheap. So I am on a quest to try, and learn to like, sardines.

This recipe for Greek Salad with Sardines which I found in the May/June 2010 issue of Eating Well magazine seemed like a good place to start. Greek salads themselves being one of my favorites, topping them with this fish seemed like a good idea. I used sardines packed in water which I purchased from Whole Foods. They looked really fresh when I opened the tin so I was kind of exicted to give them a try.

The dressing is super simple and healthy which was great. And the whole salad was made by things I already had in the house (except the sardines). I halved this recipe because I was eating by myself and didn't think the salad would preserve well for leftovers. It ended up being a super filling lunch! And I didn't really even notice the sardines too much - they added kind of a richness and nice balance. I will definitely make this one again.

Greek Salad with Sardines
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each

3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large English cucumber, cut into large chunks
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives
2 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil or water, drained

Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives; gently toss to combine. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top with sardines.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup

Now that fall is here, I'm into making a new soup every week. I love to make soup because it usually amazes me how flavorful soups can be. I grew up mostly on chicken, matzo ball and cabbage soup so I never really realized the possibilities until I started trying out recipes found in magazines myself.

I purchased the New England Soup Factory Cookbook a few years ago, but this recipe for Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup is the fist one I have tried. I guarantee I will be trying more recipes in this book because the soup was fantastic! I chose this one because of two things: 1) I wanted to try and make homemade tomato soup; and 2) I wanted a recipe with which I could use my immersion blender.

Roasting the tomatoes as specified in this recipe was great! The house smelled amazing and I think I will be making these in batches to munch on because they are so good on their own! But mixing them in with the sauteed carrots, celery and onion was pure heaven. Topping the soup with shredded cheddar and homemade croutons made it really elegant. Even though I have a enough for leftovers throughout the week, I know I will be craving this soup again.

Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup
Makes 10 servings

Roasted Tomatoes
12 plum tomatoes, cut into halves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons butter
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
Roasted plum tomatoes (from recipe)
6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2½ cups cooked white rice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1½ to 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Croutons, for garnish

For the roasted tomatoes: Preheat the oven 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a small roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 50 minutes, or until the skins look wrinkled but the tomatoes retain their shape.

For the soup: In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the roasted tomatoes and continue to saute for 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, stock, and tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the basil. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth. Place the soup back into the pot if using a regular blender. Add the rice and season with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir so that the rice is evenly distributed throughout the soup. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and croutons.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spinach-Zucchini Soup

I made a batch of the Spinach-Zucchini Soup so I could have something healthy to take for work lunches during the week. I didn't have that much hope for this recipe which I found in Vegetarian Times magazine because it seemed sort of plain from the recipe list. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the mint and lemon flavors. And I'm not a big fan of lemon so that was even nicer. The soup is actually filling and refreshing.

I used a can of butter beans instead of cannellini beans. I thought the butter beans were a bit to large for the soup and they kind of fell apart over time. But it all tasted good together.

Spinach-Zucchini Soup
Serves 6

1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini, or 1 15-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups baby spinach (4 oz.)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 tsp. finely chopped mint leaves

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add zucchini, and cook 8 minutes more, or until vegetables are well browned. Add vegetable broth and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Stir in beans and spinach, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and mint. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.