Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smoky lentils with sausage & greens


I love lentils....they have endless delicious possibilities & are a great protein base for tons of different add-in's & spices.  I like 'em cold and mixed in a salad, hot and spicy and mushy with super flavorful Indian flavors, or as in this recipe, more hearty & stewed, mixed with smoky sausage, healthy collard greens and roasted bell peppers.  

For this preparation I like to use black beluga lentils (pictured) or French green lentils.  They really retain their shape and have a firmer texture when cooked than some of the other varieties.

I also recommend sprinkling on some Aleppo pepper when serving.  If you are unfamiliar with this spice, it's high time you picked yourself up some :).  It comes from a Turkish chili that has a moderate amount of spice, but also kind of an underlying raisin-y sweetness with a hint of salty tangy-ness (wow, that's a lot of adjectives!).  I sprinkle it on pretty much everything - eggs, pasta, pizza, any protein...click HERE to order it on Amazon...you will love.

Serves 6

1 t. olive oil
1/2 large onion - chopped
1 large carrot - diced
1 large celery - diced
2 medium cloves garlic - minced
15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes - drained
2 1/2 c. chicken or veggie broth
1 c. black beluga lentils, or French green lentils
1 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
1 t. smoked mild paprika

1 t. olive oil
12 ounces pre-cooked smoked sausages
1 bunch collard greens
1/2 c. chopped roasted bell peppers

garnishes (optional):
crumbled sheep’s milk Feta
Aleppo pepper

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, carrot & celery and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils & return to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

While the lentils are simmering, you can prepare your sausage & collard greens.  Pull the collard leaves off of their though stems and roughly chop.

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausages and cook, turning often until plump, warmed through, and slightly charred - about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.  While pan is still hot, add the collard greens and sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until they appear bright green and wilted.  Season with salt & pepper.

Slice sausages into bite sized pieces. Add sausages, collard greens and roasted bell peppers to the lentils and stir to combine.  Add more salt & pepper if necessary.  Serve in bowls topped with crumbled Feta and finish with a sprinkle with Aleppo pepper.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blood orange mimosas



One of the best parts of winter is all the amazing citrus that is in season, and this particular beauty cannot, and should not, be ignored...the beautiful blood orange.  In fact, it should be admired, featured and celebrated.  

On the outside it looks only slightly different than a regular orange - it's skin can range from slightly blushed to quite wine-red.  When you cut them open, they can go from a mottled bright red/orange combo to a deep, dark (almost scary) blood-red.  When you squeeze them you get most insanely, intensely gorgeous juice ever.  That's right - ever.

I love to juice a ton of them for cocktails when entertaining because anything you use it in is instantly so darn pretty.  And tasty.  Last night for a friend's birthday, I mixed the juice with St. Germaine, vodka and Q lemon soda & the outcome was quite fantastic. 

Another winning combo is the blood orange mimosa (everything is so lovely with champers, right?).   Just combine a very dry Brut champagne/sparkling wine and the fresh-squeezed blood orange juice in a juice:champagne ratio you like best.  So simple and stunning - it would be an awesome, elegant drink for an Oscar party or Easter brunch.  Of course, you can always omit the booze and just drink it like as you would regular OJ!

I found that juicing 20 blood oranges gave me a about one quart of liquid.  Your results may vary slightly depending on size, juiciness, etc., but it's a general guide for ya'.  Enjoy!




Saturday, February 14, 2015

Roasted romanesco with currants & parmesan


In our last Good Life Organics CSA box (CSA = Community-supported Agriculture, a great way to get local produce delivered to you...check it out in your area!) that we receive at school, there was a beautiful head of romanesco included, and while everyone thought it was pretty amazing to look at, there was some chatter as to what one actually does to prepare this veggie.  Then I also saw big a stack of them at the grocery store and that did it... 
I was officially inspired to share my favorite way to cook this beauty.

Roasting it is so very simple and delicious.  As when you are roasting any vegetable, make sure the veggies are completely dry and are not crowded on the sheet pan before putting them in the oven, otherwise they will steam themselves instead of getting that tasty caramelization on them.  Also make sure your pieces are roughly the same size (in this case 1 1/2 to 2-inches) so they  all finish cooking at the same time.

Romanesco is very similar to cauliflower, so this preparation works equally as well with any variety (white, purple, orange) you may want to try. 

Serves 4, as a side dish

One large head romanesco
2 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1/4 c. water
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. dried zante currants

2 T. fresh grated Parmesan
1 T. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut romanesco in half through the stem.  Remove core and separate florets.  If you have any larger florets, cut them into approximately 2 inch pieces.

Toss romanesco with olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Place in the oven and roast 15 minutes.

While romanesco is roasting, you can prepare your currants.  Place water, red wine vinegar and currants in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let them sit & plump up for about 10 minutes.  Drain off the liquid.

After 15 minutes, flip the romanesco pieces and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes of roasting.  The pieces will get quite brown & caramelized, but don’t worry - that’s what makes it so delicious!

Remove from oven and immediately toss with Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.  Top with currants and serve.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Dark chocolate & caramel on grilled brioche



If you follow my blog, you know I don't post a ton of desserts.  I'm not a baker by nature, don't crave sweets (I know...it's weird), and generally try to promote healthier kinds of cooking.

HOWEVER...in honor of love and chocolate and Valentine's Day, I came up with this incredibly easy, yet freakishly good dessert - Grilled dark chocolate-caramel brioche sandwiches - that would be awesome for the Day O' Love or anytime you want to impress & indulge in mere minutes.

If you have brioche bread available to you, USE IT - it's ridic!  If not, challah, or a Texas-toast style bread would be really good as well.


I love the dark chocolate-caramel flavor combo and found it perfect for getting all melt-y & oozy.  I used this Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Bar and am in love with it.  But if caramel isn't your thing, straight dark chocolate (or milk choc - it's your world) is obviously delicious as well.






Serves 2-4 (depending on your sweet tooth!)

1, 3.5 oz. dark chocolate-caramel bar (I used Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Bar)
4 slices brioche bread, cut thickly
unsalted butter - room temperature

Fleur de sel or Maldon salt

Preheat a cast iron, or heavy bottom, skillet over medium-low heat.

Very coarsely chop the chocolate-caramel bar into approximately 1/2-inch pieces.  Butter one side of each slice of brioche.

Lay the buttered side of 2 brioche slices down in the pre-heated skillet.  Cover with a single layer of chopped chocolate-caramel bar.  Top with the remaining brioche, buttered side up to the outside (like you are making grilled cheese).

Cook 3-4 minutes, until bread is golden & toasty and the chocolate-caramel has started to melt.  Carefully flip bread and cook the other side until golden brown.

Remove from pan, sprinkle with a little pinch of Fleur de sel, slice in half & serve immediately.  Groan with pleasure.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Red curry butternut squash soup




This red curry butternut squash soup is pleasing in so many ways...it's a tad spicy, a little sweet (but with no sweeteners!), slightly creamy (but with no dairy!), has a hint of tang and is topped with smoky, crunchy toasted pepitas.  Its very clean eating (veggie-packed, dairy-free, vegan) but still feels incredibly nourishing and complex in flavor.

This recipe make a large amount because I love soup the longer it sits, so I eat it for days.  Or you can have some to freeze.  I figure, while you're at it, might as well make a lot, right?  It's very easy to halve if you want to make less.

Eat more soup!!

Serves 8

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups (approx.) 1-inch cubes butternut squash
3 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
2 T. Thai red curry paste
2 t. kosher salt
a couple grinds fresh ground pepper
5 c. vegetable broth

 

Cumin pepitas:
1/2 c. pepitas
1/4 t. olive oil
1/2 t. fresh lime juice
3/4 t. ground cumin
a few generous pinches fine sea salt

1/4 c. + 2 T. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. + more for drizzling, full-fat coconut milk
fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, butternut squash, coriander, cumin, red curry paste, salt & pepper.  Stir until squash is evenly coated with spices.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat and vigorously simmer 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, toss pepitas with olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven.  Roast for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Remove from oven.

After 20 minutes, the squash should be very tender.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender until very smooth.  Add the lime juice and 1/2 c. coconut milk to the soup.  Stir to combine flavors. 

Serve in bowls topped with fresh chopped cilantro leaves, an additional drizzle of coconut milk and toasted cumin pepitas.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Baked sweet potatoes with salsa verde and chipotle


Sweet potatoes (or yams) are one of nature's most perfect foods.  Their list of health benefits is impressive...they're packed with vitamins B6, C & D, iron, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, beta carotene and other carotenoids...you'll be warding off cancer, promoting anti-aging and managing stress by simply eating these tasty little sweeties.

Plus they are cheap and versatile and a satisfying plant-based entree...although they are a great side dish to any meat as well.  

Nothing could be easier than popping a few potatoes in the oven for an hour and adding these simple, bright toppings for some extra flava...so go ahead and get all healthy up in your kitchen!

Serves 4

4 small to medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (or yams)
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
4 t. butter (optional)


salsa verde:

1/2 c. packed cilantro leaves
1/4 c. packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 green onions - whites & greens, sliced
1 small clove garlic, peeled & roughly chopped

1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. sea or kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

1 c. Greek yogurt
Chipotle hot sauce - I really like “Dan’s Prime Smoky Chipotle Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Poke several holes in each sweet potato with a fork or paring knife.  Rub skins with olive oil.  Place in oven and cook for one hour.

Near the end of baking time, prepare the salsa verde.  Combine the cilantro, parsley, green onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper and olive oil in a mini food processor or blender.  Pulse in one second intervals until herbs are nicely chopped and ingredients are combined.  This sauce does not have to be totally smooth - it can be a little chunky.

Remove the sweet potatoes from oven.  Slice through the top skin to reveal the flesh, like a baked potato.   With a fork, gently mix the flesh of each potato with salt & pepper to taste, and 1 t. butter (optional).

Top each sweet potato with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a generous spoonful of salsa verde and a drizzle of chipotle sauce.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Immunity bowl




This past week our house has been hit with a round of colds.  It seems to happen every year around now... this post-holiday, middle of winter yuck.  Everyone I know has had the same sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, loss of voice, etc. Enough, already!

I decided to use this as a wake up call to boost our systems with healthy immunity-promoting foods (in addition to purchasing every supplement I could get my hands on at Whole Foods).  Out of my research came this yummy immunity rice bowl.

Each ingredient in this recipe is found on pretty much every list published regarding immunity foodsgarlic, ginger, Japanese mushrooms, chard (or any dark, leafy green - feel free to sub in your fav), pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds...lots of zinc in these), and sprouts.  

I used black Japonica rice because it is: a) gorgeous b) has a delish nutty taste, and c) is packed full of the same antioxidants found in blueberries and blackberries.  But feel free to use brown rice instead - it's still super healthy.

Be well out there!

Serves 2

1 c. black Japonica rice
2 t. finely chopped ginger - divided
2 t. finely chopped garlic - divided
2 t. vegetable oil
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms - stems removed & thickly sliced
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. Asian toasted sesame oil
1 bunch of chard, roughly chopped
kosher salt & pepper
1/4 c. roasted & salted pepitas
1/2 c. pea shoots or bean sprouts

Cook black Japonica rice according to directions on the package.  (One cup of dry rice will yield 2 cups of cooked rice.)

Heat vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add shiitake mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, stirring only a couple times, allowing them to get nice and browned.  Add 1 t. garlic and 1 t. ginger, stir and cook one more minute.  Turn off heat and add the soy sauce.  Stir to combine.  Remove from pan.

Reheat the toasted sesame oil in the same large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the chopped chard and cook until wilted - about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining teaspoon of ginger and garlic and sauté one more minute.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the rice between two bowls.  Top with sautéed chard and mushrooms.  Sprinkle pepitas and sprouts over the top.