Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mostly Plants for Breakfast: Farro with Fruit and Greek Yogurt

You may have noticed that I have a thing about conquering new foods.


First it was kale, I think. Then fish. Cauliflower went from dubiously tolerated to deeply beloved, and brussels sprouts followed suit. At some point, I confessed to a sudden, irreversible, life-altering change in my relationship with tomatoes.

It became a thing. Find a food I think I don't like, and then find a way to prepare it that makes me change my mind. It was true of anything, I declared loudly. There IS no food I don't like, and if I think there is, I just haven't come across the right version yet.

Except yogurt.

 

Yogurt, it seemed, was the last holdout. The final frontier. The unbeatable edible. The...you get the idea.


People thought they could solve this one easily for me. Just try Greek yogurt, they said. Make sure it's the such and such brand. Try French style. Try it with strawberries. Try the parsnip yogurt, because seriously, parsnips! (Verdict, on all: Ew.)


Until quite recently, when my mom intervened.* And this is what she suggested.


And the yogurt?

Delightful. Necessary. A perfect complement in both flavor and texture. And most importantly? Vanquished.


Ingredients
1 cup farro, cooked according to package directions
10 oz or so plain Greek yogurt (my favorites, texture-wise, are Fage and Voskos)
Local honey**
1 lemon (preferably Meyer), zested
1/2 - 1 tsp grated ginger
Plentiful fruit (sliced strawberries, blueberries, diced kiwi, sliced kumquats, you name it)

Mix the yogurt with the lemon zest, ginger, and a spoonful or two of honey. Serve in layers: a scoop or two of farro, a scoop of yogurt, a heap of fruit. Eat blissfully. Repeat as needed.


Serves about 4, and saves easily in the fridge, separately, for breakfasts throughout the week (just reheat the farro and serve).


*You may remember my mom as the well-intentioned radish foister.
**Turns out honey is one of the most adulterated food products in the U.S. (along with olive oil), so it's worth splurging a little on a source you trust.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Black Beans with Everything

Time is short. Food is delicious. What to do? A simple pot of home-cooked beans can form a delectable base for every meal from breakfast to dinner and back again. And once you make the basics, your fridge is stocked for the week, or even an impromptu dinner party.

 
Ingredients

For the black beans:
1 1/2 cups dried black beans
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
Salt

For the rest:
1 1/2 cups volcano rice or other brown rice
Pepper jack cheese, grated or thinly sliced
Handful or two cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
Handful or two fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 avocados, diced as needed just before serving
Good quality tortillas
Olive oil
Any or all of the following:
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into thirds and then lengthwise into sticks
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut lengthwise into strips
1 shallot or red spring onion, halved and sliced into half rings
Several handfuls spinach or baby kale
Pastured eggs
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Lime wedges


Rinse the black beans. Place in a pot, cover with 1-2 inches of water, throw in 3 cloves of garlic and the bayleaf, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for 45-60 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Remove from the heat, salt to taste, and set aside.

Cook rice according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, sauté the veggies: Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a wide pan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic, stir for a minute, then add the zucchini and cook until golden here and there. Add the peppers and continue cooking until soft, covering if the pan starts to dry out. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot. And/or, heat a pan, drizzle with olive oil, sauté onion or shallot until softened, and then toss in some greens and cook until tender.

Toss together the tomato and cilantro. Scramble a few eggs if you're headed for breakfast burritos. At the last minute, dice the avocado.

Serve as a bowl: Rice, a sprinkling of pepper jack, beans, and then veggies, avocado, tomatoes mixed with cilantro, avocado, whatever else. Or serve ingredients separately and hand guests tortillas to make fajitas with whatever they would like. Or arrange your rice and beans alongside egg, veggies, cilantro, and a dollop of yogurt for a divine breakfast burrito. The possibilities are infinite. Or at least varied enough for a week of easy eating.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Guacamole with Green Garlic and Cilantro

'Tis the season for green garlic. Which means: Make this.



Ingredients
4 ripe avocados
2 tbsp minced green garlic (or sub 2 small cloves garlic, pressed)
4-6 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Several dashes ground cumin
Cayenne or Aleppo pepper to taste
Pinch or three of salt



Coarsely mash the avocados in a bowl. Mix in half the garlic, most of the cilantro, and most of the lime juice, then add a couple dashes of cumin, a couple pinches of cayenne pepper, and a light sprinkling of salt.

Taste, and adjust all the proportions as desired. Cumin and salt will both help round out the flavor if it tastes thin, but note that you may want to under-salt (or taste with your chips) if you're serving with something salty.

Serve. Eat. Sigh. Resolve that you'll totally obviously definitely share next time. Right?


Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Foolproof Fusilli: All Roads Lead to Pesto

This, my friends, is a don’t worry dish. As in: Don’t worry. It will all turn out just fine.


Ingredients
3 cups corkscrew pasta (best: Eden Organic Kamut spirals*)
3-inch piece green garlic or 1 medium clove garlic
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves**
¾ cups, rounded, coarsely grated Parmigiana Reggiano
A rounded ¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 medium leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and sliced into half rings
1 large zucchini, diced
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Slosh white wine
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved and sprinkled lightly with salt to draw out the flavor***
2-3 handfuls baby arugula****
Kosher salt

 

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions (you might want to start it about midway through cooking the zucchini, below).

In a food processor,***** combine ¾ cups olive oil with the garlic, basil, parmesan, and pine nuts. Blend until smooth, try a bit, and adjust ingredients to taste if needed.

Saute the leek in olive oil till soft over medium low heat, about 8 minutes. Add zucchini, raise heat a bit, cook, stirring only occasionally, for 5-10 minutes (the time will depend on how big your dice is) until the zucchini is just tender. If it browns here and there, all the better.

When the zucchini is al dente, add the beans and a sprinkling of salt and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring, for another couple minutes, then add a splash of wine to keep it from drying out. Stir once or twice, fold in the tomatoes and about half of the pesto, and turn off the heat. Stir in the arugula.

After draining the pasta, toss with about two thirds of the remaining pesto (enough to lightly coat it). Serve into soup plates, top with the sauce, and serve immediately.******


*Not available in your area? Don’t worry. Any other corkscrew pasta will work just fine.
**Unexpected run on basil in your local grocery store? Don’t worry. Half parsley and half arugula. Trust me.
***Not available yet at your farmer’s market? Don’t worry. Dice a regular tomato or two instead.
****Forgotten in the cart/in the fridge/on the counter? Don’t worry. Tastes just fine without it.
*****Mysteriously misplaced? Don’t worry. Pulse in the blender.
******Guests stuck in traffic? Don’t worry. Leave covered in the pan on the stove. Or nuke in the microwave. Magic.
                                

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pasta with Braised Kale, Butter Beans, and Hazelnuts

This one is delightful. Butternut squash, braised kale, hazelnut, and Meyer lemon combine to produce blissful happiness. With undertones of healthy. But soft ones. Layered in goat cheese. Which are the best kind of undertones.



Ingredients
2 very rounded cups whole wheat corkscrew pasta
Olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 bunch green kale, sliced crosswise into thin ribbons
Slosh of chicken broth
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 - 1 cup diced roasted butternut squash
8-9 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced crosswise
Zest of 1/3 - 1/2 Meyer lemon
1-2 oz. hard goat cheese (like Drunken Goat), coarsely grated
About 10 toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for a minute, then stir in the kale. Toss to coat, cover, and cook for about five minutes, stirring from time to time (it's okay if it browns here and there). Sprinkle with salt, add a slosh of broth, and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook per package instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, add the beans and squash to the kale. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding another slosh of broth when it starts to dry out. Add the sage and lemon zest, stir, and turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta, toss it with the kale mixture, and sprinkle in the goat cheese. Stir once or twice before serving. Top with freshly ground black pepper and a light scattering of chopped hazelnuts.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Toasted Prosciutto and Brie Sandwiches with Sauteed Pear and Thyme

In the mood for something decadent? Look no further. A perfect holiday sandwich. Or morning sandwich. Or evening sandwich. Anytime, really. Especially as an antidote to a gray wintry day.


For a variation on the theme, or if you can't get your hands on a pear that's even halfway ripe, sub sliced apple for the pear and add a pinch of lemon zest.


Ingredients (per person)
1/2 - 1 red or green d'Anjou pear, peeled, sliced, and cut lengthwise into 1/2" strips
1/2 tbsp butter (optional)
1/2 tsp honey
2-3 pinches minced fresh thyme
2 slices sourdough bread (like Village Bakery's walnut levain)
Several thin slices brie or triple-cream (like Cowgirl Creamery's blissfully decadent Mt. Tam)
2 slices prosciutto
1 small handful baby arugula
Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter (or sub olive oil, if you prefer), then add the pear and sauté, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey and stir to coat, then sprinkle lightly with thyme. Continue cooking another minute or three until the pears are soft (they should bend easily). Remove from the heat and set aside.

Assemble your sandwich: Cover a slice of bread with slices of brie in a single layer, then the
prosciutto, your arugula, and finally the pear. Top with the second slice of bread.

Use a paper towel to wipe out your pan, then heat it over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil, then set your sandwich in to toast. When the bottom is golden brown (1-2 minutes), flip carefully and toast the other side as well.

Remove from the pan, cut in half if desired, and serve hot.




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sauteed Leeks and Carrots

Easy, different, and delectable.


Ingredients
Olive oil
2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned thoroughly, and sliced into half rings
1/2 - 1 bunch carrots, julienned
1 tbsp pastured butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks and a couple pinches of salt. Sauté for a minute, then turn the heat down to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for 5-10 minutes more until tender. Stir in the butter, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

Serves 2-3.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish Curry with Gypsy Peppers

The thing about wandering the streets of Paris in search of various foodie quests nominated by the brilliant Clothilde Dusoulier is that one must be prepared to carry back armfuls of freshly baked bread and goat cheese with pressed fig and brilliant red globes of plum tomatoes still on the vine. And, if you stumble into Goumanyat, spices. After gazing with deep longing at the saffron honey and sniffing every spice and pepper packed into their sniff bar, we left with a bag full of treasures, including the most amazing curry ever.


Seriously. The most amazing. Go to Paris and see. (I know. Such terrible homework assignments.)



Post Paris, come home and make this.




Ingredients
Olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped (about 4 tbsp)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated or minced ginger
2 spoonfuls of good-quality curry powder
4 gypsy peppers, sliced lengthwise into strips (or sub 2 bell peppers)
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thickly sliced
4 tbsp coconut milk
Chicken or veggie broth
About .6 lbs opah (moonfish), tilapia, or salmon, cut into 1-2" cubes (you want them all about the same size so they cook in the same amount of time)
A few leaves of cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat a pan over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and sauté half the shallot, half the garlic, and all of the ginger until they soften slightly. Add a spoonful of curry powder, stir for about 10 seconds till it turns fragrant, then add the veggies and toss to coat. Sauté for a minute, adding a little more oil if necessary, then add 2 tbsp coconut milk, a slosh of broth, and a pinch of salt. Stir, bring to a simmer, and cover the pan. Turn the heat down slightly and let cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers soften their shape and the zucchini is tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat another pan over medium heat, add a generous glug of olive oil, and sauté the remaining shallot and garlic until they soften. Add a spoonful of curry powder, toast for about 10 seconds, then add the fish. Sprinkle with salt, stir, and saute until it's cooked on all sides. Add 2 tbsp coconut milk, a generous slosh or two of broth (you want enough to make some sauce to spoon over your rice), and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fish is just barely cooked through.

Serve the fish and veggies together (you can mix them in a pan or just layer them in bowls) with brown rice and a glass of Barbera.


Serves 2.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Braised Kale and Broccoli with Chorizo

Every now and then, people express surprise that I eat meat.

Like this: "You ate a STEAK? That's not plants."
Or: "Bacon?? So much for mostly plants, huh?"

To which I say, emphatically: Mostly plants. And when possible, mostly pork-flavored plants. For example, here is a dish that is mostly plants, in terms of content, and yet mostly chorizo in terms of flavor. What's not to love?



Ingredients
Olive oil
1 fresh pork chorizo sausage
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch dino kale, cut crosswise into thick ribbons, rinsed well, and dried
1 lb or so of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets, tender part of stems sliced
Sweet paprika (not smoked)
Aleppo pepper (or sub a little cayenne)
Kosher salt


Heat a wide, nonstick saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Slice the sausage from its casing and add to the pan, breaking apart into pieces with the spatula. Allow to brown on one side, then stir. Add the garlic, stir again, then add the kale and broccoli and toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover the pan and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until browned here and there and the broccoli is tender. If it's browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit and add a small splash of water before covering again; if it's not browning, turn the heat up a bit and wait longer between stirs. (Excess liquid? Leave the lid off for a few minutes.)

Serve hot, sprinkled with a little salt over the top.

Serves 2.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mushrooms with Sherry and Thyme

I realize that I claim bests a lot. And that this habit has led to deep philosophical conundrums in the past. But I can't help myself. These right here. These are the best mushrooms ever.


Make them. Eat them. Love them. We'll cross the conundrum bridge when we come to it.

Ingredients
1 tbsp pastured butter
Olive oil
About 10 oz. crimini mushrooms (whole if very small; halved or quartered if larger)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
A slosh (about 2 oz.) sherry
Fleur de sel or kosher salt


Heat a wide nonstick pan over medium-high heat (make sure it's wide enough to cook the mushrooms without crowding them, or they won't brown). When hot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, then toss in the mushrooms. Stir once or twice to coat lightly, then cook until the mushrooms turn golden on the bottoms. Toss or turn with a spatula, then continue cooking until golden again.

When the mushrooms are nicely browned, turn the heat down to medium or just below. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and freshly ground pepper, stir, and push to the side of the pan. On the other side, add a bit more olive oil, the shallot, and the garlic. Sauté for a minute or two until they soften slightly, then stir to combine with the mushrooms. Stir in the thyme and parsley, and cook for another minute or two.

Add the sherry, stir, and allow to cook off for about a minute. Serve hot, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and garnish with a sprig of parsley.


Serves 2-3.