Wednesday, June 30, 2010

tuesday - pasta with shrimp, garlic scape pesto, and peas

Garlic scapes are new to me. My husband spied them at the farmers' market and we decided to give it a try. These lovely green corkscrews are the flower shoots from garlic bulbs and usually show up in the spring, but spring is especially prolonged in Portland this year, so we still have them. The scapes are kind of like garlic chives on steroids--fresh, garlicky taste with a nice crunch. I made pesto using Dorie Greenspan's recipe and tossed it with pasta, sugar peas, and a partial bag of frozen green peas that had been languishing in my freezer. Overall, a nice summer dish, and it would be equally good with basil pesto, I think.



I had planned on adding seared scallops, but I found domestic pink shrimp at the grocery this week so I got those. (Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has a handy pocket guide on sustainable seafood that you can print out on their website and an iPhone app that I just downloaded but haven't tried yet. I've been using the Blue Ocean Institute's text option, which I love--text the name of the seafood you're considering, e.g., "shrimp", to 30644, and you'll get an immediate text detailing which species are good buys.)



Pasta with Shrimp, Garlic Scape Pesto, and Peas

8 oz. linguine
2 cups sugar peas, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup garlic scape pesto or basil pesto
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add linguine. Boil for 6 minutes, then add the sugar peas and green peas. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes until pasta is al dente and peas are crisp-tender. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in pesto and ricotta, adding a small amount of cooking water if needed to moisten the sauce.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Turn shrimp and add white wine. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes until wine is mostly reduced and shrimp are pink and curled. Add shrimp to the pasta and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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We had a simple green salad with butter lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and goat cheese, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bottled dressings always seem to have an unpleasant taste, so I always make my own which is surprisingly easy and fast. I never measure, but here's an approximate recipe.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (or other flavored vinegar such as red or white wine)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small jar or whisk together in a small bowl. Adjust with more vinegar or olive oil, as needed.
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Monday, June 28, 2010

sirloin & salmon with chimichurri

Ok, so I don't always prepare meals in the exact order listed on my meal plan. Tonight I decided to make sirloin & salmon with chimichurri sauce, which is listed as Tuesday's dinner. I'm flexible that way. My husband doesn't eat beef, so I rarely cook it at home, but every once in a while I'll pick up some flank steak or sirloin (both very lean) if I'm craving it or if it's on sale. This week, it was on sale! I purchased thin-cut sirloin strips (2-3 ounce portions), which I individually wrapped & froze for future dinners. I try to limit my beef intake to once or twice a month; I would love to buy local, grass-fed beef, but unfortunately it just isn't in our budget right now. So, I try not to eat much meat in general. I had two of the smaller strips tonight, about 4 ounces total. I purchased frozen wild salmon in individual 6 ounce portions.

Super-easy dinner tonight--rubbed the sirloin & salmon with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, then grilled them over medium-high heat. The sirloin portions cooked quickly--1 to 2 minutes per side, and the salmon cooked for 3 to 4 minutes per side.




We topped both with a delicious chimichurri from epicurious.com.



Chimichurri

3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf, broken in half

Place all ingredients except bay leaf in food processor & pulse until the mixture forms a chunky sauce. Add bay leaf, and let stand for 30 mintues at room temperature. Discard bay leaf, and stir sauce before serving.


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This is a "fast food" meal at our house--quickly grill or broil fish or some other lean protein, cook a whole grain or starchy vegetable, add a vegetable of some sort. Tonight, I roasted the potatoes I bought at the farmers' market. It's so easy it doesn't even really need a recipe: Scrub potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes, toss in a baking dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, and about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (if you have it; if not, skip it). Roast in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once or twice.

I also used the red Russian kale from the farmers' market. Again, super easy.

Quick Kale

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Wash the kale and remove & discard the tough stems. Coarsely chop the leaves. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add the kale, stirring to coat. Toss frequently until the leaves begin to wilt. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the kale is soft and wilted. Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.


quinoa-pinto bean burgers

Last night I made veggie burgers to use up some hamburger buns I had left over from last week's pulled pork sandwiches. I based my recipe on this from epicurious.com, but I used quinoa instead of bulgur because I had a Costco-sized bag of it (as an aside, if you have a 4-pound bag of quinoa, don't keep it on the top shelf of your cabinet and then pull it down all willy-nilly, unless you want to still be picking quinoa out of your hair the following day). Overall, the burgers were tasty--a little mushy, which I think could be improved by making smaller patties and cooking a bit longer (I made 5 patties total, but I adjusted the recipe below to make 6). They were too crumbly for the grill, so I cooked them in a skillet. This morning, I diced a leftover burger and topped it with a poached egg for breakfast--tasty!




Quinoa-Pinto Bean Burgers

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup packed cilantro sprigs
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
6 slices low-fat Muenster cheese (optional)
6 multi-grain hamburger buns, toasted

In a medium saucepan, stir together quinoa and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Cook half of the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer cooked quinoa and onion to the bowl of a food processor, and add beans, soy sauce, walnuts, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining raw onion. Pulse until finely chopped. Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 6 (3 1/2-inch-diameter) patties. Chill at least 10 minutes.

Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Cook patties, carefully turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Add a slice of cheese during the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking, if using. Serve on toasted buns.
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For the side dish, I made a grilled cabbage slaw based on this recipe, also from epicurious.com. I bought a head of green cabbage at the farmers' market this week, so I halved the recipe & left out the red cabbage. I enjoyed the grilled vegetables for a change from usual slaw (plus, cooking cruciferous veggies such as cabbage makes the phytonutrients more bioavailable), but the dressing was a bit too sweet, so next time I'll probably decrease the sugar to only two tablespoons.

Grilled Cabbage Slaw

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or less to taste)
1/4 cup canola oil plus additional for brushing
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 medium head of green cabbage, quartered through core
6 to 8 green onions, trimmed

Spray grill rack with non-stick spray, and preheat grill to medium-high heat. Whisk vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard, and parsley in medium bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Brush cabbage and green onions with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill cabbage wedges until dark grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Grill green onions until charred on 1 side, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer vegetables to work surface.

Chop green onions and cabbage; place in large bowl, discarding cores. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.
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I also served pickled asparagus and beets that I made and preserved a couple of weeks ago, with delicious margaritas to drink! I use this recipe (also from epicurious.com--such a great resource) for classic margaritas: 1 part fresh lime juice, 1 part Cointreau, 2 parts tequila.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

laurelhurst theater

Last night we went to Laurelhurst Theater. I love so many things about this place--it's walking distance from our house, you can see a movie for only $3, and you can have a slice of pizza and cider (or beer or wine) while you watch the movie. It's always such a fun and affordable night, and I like being able to support independently-owned theaters. Plus, Portland summer means it was still light out on the walk home at 9:30pm!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This week's meal plan

It's a gorgeous Portland summer day! I love my Saturday routine lately--wake up, watch a couple of cooking shows while drinking coffee, cook breakfast, then head to the Hollywood Farmers' Market. Here's the bounty my husband and I picked up today:

Red Russian kale, green cabbage, sugar peas, butter lettuce, carrots, cucumber, garlic scapes, onions, potatoes, cilantro, and parsley. I budget $25 a week for the farmers' market, and this week I came in at $22.

Based on the produce I got today, here's the meal plan for the week. I'm including links to the recipes I'll be using, then in my daily posts I'll include any changes I made when I actually prepared the dishes.

Sunday: veggie burgers, grilled cabbage slaw, and pickled vegetables
Monday: grilled fish, carrot-ginger soup, and chimichurri quinoa (plus leftover slaw, if available)
Tuesday: grilled sirloin & salmon with chimichurri sauce, roasted potatoes (probably also tossed in chimichurri sauce), and kale
Wednesday: seared scallops tossed with pasta, peas, and garlic scape pesto and a green salad (plus leftover soup, if available)
Thursday: pizza with potatoes, pancetta, and kale and a green salad

I generally plan meals for 5 nights a week, leaving the weekend nights free to go out, make something easy & quick with whatever I have lying around the pantry, or finish up any leftovers. I made a grocery list today to get any additional ingredients I need for each recipe and any other essentials that we're getting low on, and will go shopping tomorrow.

I've been on a canning/preserving kick lately, and there's a sale on organic apples and peaches at the grocery store. Depending on how they look, I may stock up and make apple or peach butter (or both?) this week. If you're interested in preserving, I highly recommend Ashley English's book, Canning & Preserving, from her Homemade Living series. It's filled with useful tips, easy-to-follow instructions, and delicious recipes.

Enjoy your Saturday--I hope it's as lovely as mine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

First post!

Just a quick note to lay out my plan--I usually go to the farmers' market on Saturday mornings, take a look at my bounty once I return home and plan the week's meals based on what I bought. I write up my shopping list based on the meal plan, and go to the grocery store for the remainder of the ingredients on Sunday. I'll post this week's meal plan as soon as it's ready, then I'll post on each meal with the recipe after I've prepared it during the week.

And we're off!