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Meatless Mondays: Chickpea and Tomato Salad

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I found the original recipe for today's post on Pinterest and fell for its visual appeal.  I am a sucker for well photographed food.  The colors and textures just burst off the screen and demanded to be made, and finally I got around to making it.

Instead of making the recipe as is, I adapted it to suit mine and Drew's tastes, and I wanted to simplify it.  We both really enjoyed it, but if you want it to be a light meal rather than a side, I would encourage you to make double the amount, which would feed 2-3 people, or serve it with pita toasts or something.

This comes together quickly and easily, and if you use canned chickpeas or ones you prepared earlier in the week, there's no cooking, which translates into keeping your house cool enough to live in without turning your power bill into an all consuming monster.

Chickpea and Tomato Salad
adapted from greenlitebites.com

feeds 1 very generously (with leftovers) or 2 as a hearty side- or as I said in the post, serve with pita to make a light meal

1 can chickpeas (1 2/3 cups), drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. lemon juice
Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a medium to large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper with a whisk or fork.  Add all other ingredients and stir to mix and coat with the dressing.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Meatless Mondays: Ricotta Pasta with Zucchini and Corn

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Wow.  It's been almost a full month since my last recipe share with you.  If you're returning to read, thank you!  We had family visit the middle-end of June, and when my routine is thrown off (a very welcome throwing off, but still a major routine deviation), I have a hard time getting my routine back fully.  Sure, I return to work and teaching Zumba classes, but it takes a while to get back into the groove of cooking, cleaning, blogging, and anything else.  

Anyway, about this meal- I haven't shared garden pictures with you this year, but we added squash and zucchini to our garden for the first time, and they've done great!  When our family was in town, it was nice that we were able to fry so much squash for everyone to enjoy as much as they wanted.  

Decided to use the grill pan instead of the grill- just for convenience reasons

I have tried a couple recipes to use up zucchini and have enjoyed every one of them.  This particular one came from a search I did for pasta recipes that contained zucchini and ricotta.  Wouldn't you know that the very recipe was sitting in one of my old issues of Everyday Food?  I continue to return to these little gems for simple, delicious meals.  

Zucchini is grilled and chopped up, and then tossed with corn, ricotta, herbs, and pasta for a decently quick and tasty meal.  Even Drew liked it, and he's usually none too excited about pasta recipes.  It also makes a ton.  I'm pretty sure we got something like 6-8 servings out of this recipe.

Try this recipe out for a nice, light feeling summer meal!

from Everyday Food, July 2012 or marthastewart.com

Salt and pepper
3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle
1 3/4 cups corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
3 medium zucchini
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Prepare zucchini:  using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice the zucchini lengthwise into long, thin slices.  Grill on outdoor grill or grill pan over med-high heat, lightly oiling the zucchini and sprinkling with salt and pepper prior to grilling.  Flip when the bottom side has nice grill marks.  Remove from heat when zucchini are softened and both sides are lightly charred.  Set aside to cool, and then chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions; add corn and cook until tender, 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pasta water, ricotta, and Parmesan. Add pasta mixture, zucchini, basil, and dill and toss to combine. Add more pasta water if necessary to create a light sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper and top with more basil and Parmesan.

Notes

  • I used a mixture of cellentani and rigatoni pastas to use up what I had in my pantry.  Any shorter pasta will do.  
  • I had fresh basil from my garden and didn't use dill at all.  
  • I had some boiled corn left over from another meal, so instead of boiling it, I just sliced it off the cob and used it that way.  You could also use frozen corn.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

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I am always the last person to know about something.  Juicy gossip?  All dried up by the time I hear about it.  Not that gossip is good, but you get my point.  I am not the person to ask about what's going on.  I'm also not a trendy person.  I'm that person wearing some of the same pieces she wore in high school.  

The same goes with food, which brings me to today's recipe.  I first saw the idea/recipe a couple years ago, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I made these little gems.   They're one of my new food fixations.  I brought them to the beach when I went with my side of the family, thinking I was about to rock their snacking world, and the dialogue went something like this:

Me:  I made crunchy roasted chickpeas for us to snack on.  You have to try them; they are so good!
Mom:  Oh, yeah.  They are good!  
Me:  You know about them?
Mom:  Yeah, we've made them a few times.  We like them.

Again, the last to know about/try something new(er).  I hope that you will not be the last to try these crunchy roasted chickpeas.  They make a great snack- they're affordable, healthy, and tasty, and very transportable.  The only problem is that you'll look down and wonder, "who ate all my chickpeas?!"

from Everyday Food magazine

2 cans or 3 cups prepared chickpeas
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse Salt
1 1/2 tsp. flavoring spice of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse chickpeas and scatter on a paper-towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Let stand 15 minutes. Remove towels and toss chickpeas with olive oil. Roast until crisp and golden, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss with salt and ground seasonings if desired, and serve.

Notes
  • I used chickpeas that I prepared from dried ones.  I soaked them overnight and then cooked them on the stove top, bringing them to a boil and then cutting the heat back to simmer them until softened, around 1- 1.5 hours.  I used those in place of the canned chickpeas, and I used about 1/2 lb.
  • I have tossed the chickpeas with various combinations, but my favorite is chili powder and ranch dressing mix.  Paprika/smoked paprika and plain, salted are good too.


Weekend Breakfast: Waffles

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Do you have a favorite weekend breakfast treat?  I don't know that I could pick a favorite, but I do love a good waffle.  I'm not too picky; for weekdays I've been known to eat and enjoy the frozen waffles, but there nothing like having a waffle maker and eating a freshly made waffle, hot off the iron.  


The "egg quarantine."  Crack and separate the eggs in a separate bowl, then pour the whites into their own bowl and the yolks into a different container, too.

The only complaint at all that I could lodge about the homemade waffles I've made in the past is that they tend to have the same texture running throughout, dense and soft.  Then I found this recipe.  It's more work than just mixing all ingredients together; you separate eggs and beat the whites until they're stiff and meringue-like.  You carefully fold those into the batter.  You might be thinking that ain't nobody got time for that, but once you taste them, you might just make time.  What results is a dense-yet-light waffle with a crispy exterior and a good taste.  

Stiff peaks- they can stand up (or in this case, straight out) 

I topped mine with freshly sliced strawberries and maple syrup, and they were so good.  I froze the leftovers, individually wrapped and stored in a resealable freezer bag, so I can enjoy waffles any day.  Yay!

Buttermilk Waffles
from Cooking Classy Blog

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, whites and yolks divided
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups buttermilk
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and preheat an electric waffle iron. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on moderately high speed, whip together 2 egg whites (make sure they don't have even a drop of yolks in them) along with cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then add in sugar and whip until firm and glossy peaks form, set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, melted butter, vanilla extract and 2 egg yolks until well combined. Add in dry ingredients and whisk just until combined (batter should still be quite lumpy) then using a rubber or silicone spatula, add half of egg white mixture to waffle batter and fold. Then add remaining egg white mixture and fold just until combined. 

Cook according to waffle iron manufacturers directions. Once each waffle has been cooked, immediately transfer to a wire cooling rack and transfer cooling rack to preheated oven to rest while remaining waffles are being prepared. Serve immediately with maple syrup or other topping of choice.


Notes
  • As you can see from the pictures, it's important to have an "egg quarantine."  The egg whites won't foam up like that if there's yolk in there.  It has to do with the fat of the yolk coating the protein in the white.  I think.  In order to avoid getting egg yolk in your egg whites, have three bowls- a larger one to put the whites in, and two smaller ones for cracking/separating and holding the yolks.  Crack and separate the egg into its own container and then pour the whites and the yolks into their own bowls.  I actually had a yolk "break" on me, so the quarantine saved me from starting all over with the eggs.

Meatless Mondays: Tortilla Española

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While this may not be hugely vegetable based, it is vegetarian, and when served with a green salad on the side, it's a nice, filling meal.  A Tortilla Española (aka Spanish Omelette) is a pretty common and iconic Spanish dish, and usually it's an egg dish made with onion and potato.  It's also delicious.  It feels really luxurious

It was featured in May's issue of Bon Appetit and is definitely a departure from our normal, so it was fun to make and sample.  I made it on a Saturday afternoon and we had leftovers a couple times.  Drew and I really enjoyed it.  I plan to make it again, but I may try to sort of tweak it to make it a little lighter.  2 cups of olive oil don't exactly make for the lightest dish.  When you eat it, though, you probably won't care.  It's nice and custardy (think soft and almost velvety).  It's good for any meal of the day.  



Tortilla Española
from Bon Appetit

Serves 8 (we had about 5 servings)

1 tablespoon plus 2 cups olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 medium waxy potatoes (about ¾ lb.), peeled, cut into ¾” pieces
8 large eggs

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and dark brown, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat potatoes and remaining 2 cups oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until oil around potatoes begins to bubble; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender but have not taken on any color, 10–12 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving oil. Season potatoes with salt and let cool slightly.

Combine eggs, onion, potatoes, and ¼ cup reserved potato cooking oil in a large bowl and gently beat with a fork.

Heat 3 Tbsp. reserved potato cooking oil in a 10” nonstick skillet over medium heat (reserve remaining oil for another use). Add egg mixture and cook, lifting at edge and tilting skillet to let uncooked egg run underneath, until bottom and edge of tortilla are set but center is still wet.

Set a large plate on top of skillet. Swiftly invert tortilla onto plate, then slide back into skillet, cooked side up. Cook until center is just set, about 2 minutes longer. Cut into wedges.


Notes
  • It says you get 8 servings.  We got 5.  You'd have to be a pretty polite eater to get 8.  
  • It may be tortilla española blasphemy, but I may try boiling the potatoes in water rather than oil next time to save on calories.
  • I cubed the potatoes- online sources said you could cube or slice.  I may try slicing in the future, but the cubes were fine.
  • I am not positive I cooked it perfectly, since I've never had or made this before now, but the center of mine was possibly undercooked.  What I mean is that it was still a little loose to almost runny inside.  Either way, the entire tortilla was not overcooked or dry, and it made for better reheating.  We didn't get sick.  With eggs, I have read/heard to err on the side of less cooking, so that's what I did.
  • Flipping this is difficult.  No tips.  Drew had to help me.  

Strawberry Ice Cream

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I scream, you scream!  Who doesn't love ice cream?  We don't often make ice cream at home for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it's so readily available, but there's just something special about your own, homemade ice cream.  This past weekend I bought some strawberries that were possibly overripe, some even going bad, so I knew I had to use them, and quickly!  Drew suggested strawberry ice cream, and I don't there there's a better use for them.

After searching through a few recipes, we chose this one because I already had most of the ingredients on hand and it looked easy enough, and it's solid.  Good taste, good texture.  Little room for error.

The lemon juice in the recipe adds a slight tang that makes you think you're eating frozen yogurt; I love it, feeling like it adds brightness to the ice cream and Drew likes it but isn't sure if it's his holy grail of recipes.  If you're unsure, just leave it out.  Either way, this recipe involved no cooking, so it's quick to throw together.  If your ice cream maker isn't that great, make sure you take a good hour or two to both refrigerate the mixture and to get it really cold in the freezer.

Strawberry Ice Cream
from Southern Living

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk $
1 (16-ounce) container fresh strawberries or 1 (16-ounce) package thawed frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher or large bowl until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Process strawberries, lemon juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir into milk mixture.
Pour milk mixture into freezer container of a 1-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.)


Remove container with ice cream from ice-cream maker, and place in freezer 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container; freeze until firm, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Meatless Mondays: Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs

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I have the perfect warm-weather dish for you today.  I first came across this recipe in an old issue of Bon Appetit, and I have been making it a few years now.  It's an ideal spring/summer dish.  The lemon gives it a bright, almost sunny taste, while the herbs also keep it bright, interesting, and a little earthy.  The chickpeas give you good texture, flavor, protein, and fiber, which leaves you with a meal that will fill you even on hungry days but won't make you feel like you just ate half a buffalo.



This chickpea salad is so simple, and it comes together in something like 10 minutes.  It's well balanced in flavor and acidity.  It can be left unrefrigerated, making it perfect for a packed lunch or a picnic, and it's hearty enough to be a main course.  It could be a side dish, served maybe with some grilled chicken or fish, but I've never even bothered with that.  You could also serve it with some spinach or mixed greens to add even more salad-y goodness.  If you like chickpeas, you will love this.  They're practically made for lemon, herbs, and olive oil.

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs
from Bon Appetit

makes 2 servings

The beauty of this basic recipe is that it can be tweaked in numerous ways. For a spicy version, add some sriracha sauce. Try swapping out the lemon juice for lime juice and use feta cheese instead of Parmesan and mix in some chopped fresh cilantro and chopped red onion or shallot. For a curried chickpea salad, leave out the Parmesan and add curry powder to taste, dried currants, sliced green onions, and shredded carrots.

1 15-to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse kosher salt


Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Chickpea salad can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.

Notes

  • I'll often use chickpeas that I have prepared from dried beans, both for the cost effectiveness and the other awesome things I can do with chickpeas, such as hummus or roasting them for a snack (more on that later).  I think a pound would yield something like 4-5 cans' worth of chickpeas.  
  • This last time I didn't have any fresh garlic, but found out that granulated garlic works well too- 1/4-1/2 tsp, depending on how garlicky you like things.