Thursday, September 30, 2010

food revolution newsletter mention--thanks!

I'd like to give a big thanks to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution for featuring "the best pickle" as one of the Blogs of the Month in their September newsletter. This is a big honor for a few reasons--first, it's always nice to get a little recognition. But more importantly, it's Jamie Oliver! Not only is he an awesome chef, cookbook author, and TV personality, but he's doing incredibly important work to change the way we eat. If you haven't already, I encourage you to head over to his website to read about (and get involved in) the work he's doing and sign the petition to improve school food.

Thanks again for featuring my blog!

wednesday - cauliflower and sweet potato curry with brown rice

Finally, a very successful entrée cooked in my pressure cooker! It's been a great tool for cooking whole grains and beans with lightning-fast speed, but, as you may remember, I've struggled a little bit with some of the entrées I've made (well, with meat-based entrées anyway--veggie dishes have been fine). Last night I made a delicious vegetable curry with cauliflower, sweet potatoes, green beans, onions, and garbanzo beans based on a recipe from Lorna Sass's cookbook, Pressure Perfect. The flavorful sauce was made up of coconut milk, curry paste, and yogurt, and the dish was garnished with cashews and cilantro (although basil would have been nice also). I had an open jar of mango chutney in the refrigerator (otherwise I would have used plum chutney), so I stirred that into plain yogurt for a quick topping for the curry. If you'd like to keep the meal vegan, skip this step. I made extra brown rice on Tuesday night to serve with the curry, and the whole meal was ready in under 30 minutes.

If you have a pressure cooker, I really encourage you to check out Lorna Sass's cookbooks--she's definitely an expert on pressure cooking and has great tips and recipes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, I found this similar sweet potato curry recipe at could add cauliflower and green beans to make it a bit heartier and more similar to the curry I made last night. Overall, this was a delicious, fast vegetarian meal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

tuesday - pork chops with maple-mustard sauce, braised red cabbage, brown rice, & salad

This was a delicious autumn meal. The sauce on these pork chops from is so good--a perfect balance of sweet and tangy (and super quick to prepare). I followed the recipe exactly (except for using whole grain Dijon--either would work well), so head over to their website to make it for yourself. I also made braised red cabbage, which is one of my favorite cabbage dishes.

I was initially going to use this recipe from Bon Appétit, but I decided an hour was too long so I found a similar recipe in Lorna Sass's cookbook, Pressure Perfect. Three minutes in my pressure cooker (less than 20 minutes total from start to finish), and I had delicious braised red cabbage.

It was actually a tiny bit overcooked--this seems to be a recurring theme with dishes I prepare in my pressure cooker, so I'm learning to reduce the recommended cooking time. It's such a handy tool for quick cooking, and I really want to master it. The dish had red cabbage, onions, cider vinegar, and apples--very flavorful, but if you have the time, a regular stovetop braise is always delicious. I also served brown rice and a salad with arugula, tomato, white beans, and crumbled chèvre, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

bonus recipe - plum chutney

You may have noticed the Can Jam button that appeared on my blog recently--I'm a total Johnny-come-lately to the Can Jam challenge, but it is an awesome year-long canning bonanza. I encourage you to check it out and try your hand at preserving local, seasonal foods. September was stone fruit month, which I'm totally on board with. I haven't used this plum chutney yet (I just canned it yesterday), but since it will be showing up on my meal plan soon I thought I'd go ahead and post about it.

After the cherry festival on Mt. Hood earlier this summer I made some incredible cherry chutney. I've been in a near panic lately at the thought of running out (only two half-pints left!), so, after spying delicious plums at the farmers' market this week, I decided to try out this plum chutney recipe from

I haven't opened a jar yet, but it was tasty--tart and savory--before I processed it. I added a cinnamon stick and crushed red pepper, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. It made eight 4-ounce jars, which, incidentally, are the cutest, tiniest jars ever. If you don't want to preserve the chutney and have ample freezer space, you could store the jars in the freezer, or alternatively, reduce the amounts and make just enough for one meal. It would be great on chicken or pork.

chopped plums:

pot o' ingredients:

same ingredients, 40 minutes later...

finished product:

Plum Chutney

1 1/2 pounds plums, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup dried currants
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cinnamon stick

Special Equipment:
8 4-ounce jelly jars
8 lids with sealing compound for 4-ounce jelly jars 
8 bands for 4-ounce jelly jars
Boiling water canner or 15- to 20-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid
Canning rack that fits inside the boiling water canner or 15- to 20-quart pot
Thin, flexible rubber spatula
Jar lifter

For sanitizing the jars and lids: Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Dry the lids and bands, and set aside. Place the jars in a boiling water canner or a 15- to 20-quart pot fitted with a canning rack and a lid. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat. Keep the jars in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.

For the chutney: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, or until reduced by 1/3. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to make sure chutney does not burn, until chutney is syrupy, another 10 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. When chutney is ready, remove the jars from the hot water with a jar lifter, letting excess water drip off. Bring water in the canner back to a simmer (about 180°F) for processing the packed jars. Remove chutney from heat and fill the sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. To remove any air bubbles, slide a clean rubber spatula down the side of each jar and press inward on the chutney while rotating the jar; repeat 2 to 3 times for each jar.

For processing the packed jars: Wipe the rim and threads of each jar with a clean, damp towel. Place the lids on the jars, checking that the sealing compound is centered. Fit the jars with bands and tighten just until resistance is met. Check that water in the pot or boiling water canner is at a simmer (about 180°F), and set the jars in the canning rack. (The jars must be covered by 1 to 2 inches of water. Add additional boiling water as necessary.) Cover the pot with a tightfitting lid and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Process the jars for 10 minutes at a gentle but steady rolling boil. (Begin calculating the processing time once water is at a rolling boil. Check occasionally that water remains at a steady boil.) Once processed, remove the jars with the jar lifter and set upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel. Do not retighten the bands; let cool at least 12 hours. After the jars have cooled, check for a seal by pressing the center of each lid. If the center is concave and does not flex, remove the band and try to lift off the lid with your fingertips (don’t pull too hard). If you cannot lift the lid, there is a good vacuum seal. If the lid pops off, your jar did not properly seal. Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within two months. To store properly processed jars, wipe each lid and jar with a clean, damp cloth (the bands don’t need to stay on for storage), label the jars, and store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Unopened jars can be kept up to a year when stored properly. Once opened, keep in the refrigerator and use within two months.
Makes 8 4-ounce jars.

monday - grilled sirloin on a quinoa, edamame, and arugula salad

This salad from is one of my favorite ways of serving quinoa--it's a fast preparation and packed with delicious flavors. Usually I have all of the components in my pantry/freezer, which is a bonus. Sometimes I serve the quinoa on its own as a side dish, and other times, like last night, I serve it as a salad on a bed of greens. The warm quinoa wilted the arugula slightly, and I topped the salad with grilled, thinly-sliced sirloin (4 minutes per side for medium-rare) for a filling, protein-packed meal.

The original recipe calls for toasting the quinoa before cooking it--I skip this step and just give the quinoa a good rinse to remove any of the bitter outer coating. The recipe also calls for tarragon, which is delicious with it, but last night I used basil. Whatever herbs you happen to have would work well.

Quinoa with Edamame and Roasted Red Peppers

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups (10 ounces) frozen shelled edamame
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, tarragon, or other fresh herb
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup drained and diced jarred roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for 8 minutes. Remove the lid and, without disturbing the quinoa, add edamame. Cover and continue to cook until the edamame and quinoa are tender, 7 to 8 minutes longer. Drain any remaining water, if necessary.

Whisk lemon zest and juice, oil, basil, and salt in a large bowl. Add peppers and the quinoa mixture. Toss to combine. Top with walnuts. Serve on a bed of arugula or other greens, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 27, 2010

sunday - grilled halibut & zucchini with romesco, arugula & white bean salad

I had a bit of romesco sauce in my freezer that was left over from dinner a couple of weeks ago, so last night I defrosted it to serve with grilled halibut and zucchini. I rubbed the halibut with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grilled it for about 3 minutes per side. I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled until tender, also about 3 minutes per side. I then cut the zucchini into bite-sized pieces and tossed with about 1/4 cup of the romesco--it had a nice flavor, but unfortunately was a bit mushy. Less time on the grill should prevent that. I served additional romesco with the halibut.

I based the salad on a recipe from Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave--the recipe isn't posted on, but there is a video of her preparing the salad on her show. I tossed arugula and tomato with a simple vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. I then topped the salad with white beans, crumbled soft goat cheese, and fresh basil. It was a delicious salad and would make a nice light meal served with soup.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

meal plan

Great day at the Hollywood Farmers' Market yesterday--honestly, it rivals Disneyland as the happiest place on earth with the delicious food, live music, great people, and incredible selection of produce, meats, seafood,  honey, etc. I'll be so sad when it closes for winter. I spent a grand total of $29 and picked up spinach, arugula, red cabbage, cauliflower, onions, garlic, green beans, tomatoes, pears, apples, plums, strawberries, and honey (carrot madras honey from happy local bees). The only produce from this week's list that I couldn't find at the market is sweet potatoes. Not bad!

You may have noticed the swordfish from last week's meal plan never showed up in a post. Hmmm. I did make the arugula & corn salad as planned on Friday night, but it was shared with neighbors during an impromptu dinner party. I couldn't find swordfish at the grocery store last week, so I purchased halibut instead (wild Alaskan, a "best choice" from Seafood Watch). It's currently defrosted in the refrigerator, so I'm planning on making it tonight along with some zucchini given to me by my sister. I received lots of zucchini from my sister, in fact, so I'm also planning on making some zucchini pickles today.

Meal 1: halibut with romesco, grilled zucchini, arugula & white bean salad
Meal 2: pork chops with maple-mustard sauce, braised red cabbage, brown rice
Meal 3: grilled sirloin, quinoa with roasted peppers & edamame, salad
Meal 4: cauliflower & sweet potato curry with brown rice
Meal 5: shrimp & spinach with polenta

What's on your meal plan this week?

Friday, September 24, 2010

thursday - pork chops, kale & bacon salad, roasted potatoes

Last night I prepared pork au poivre based on this recipe from Ellie Krieger at She used pork tenderloin in her recipe, but I opted for pork chops to reduce a couple of steps. I also used white wine instead of red wine. Overall, it was good, but I prefer this recipe for pork chops au poivre from

I also made a kale and bacon salad from this month's Bon Appétit. Yum! This was delicious, and I loved the texture of the kale after blanching and shocking it. I cut back on the amount of bacon and bacon drippings, and, due to an oversight on my part, I left out the olive oil entirely, and it was still very flavorful.

I roasted potatoes as an additional side dish--toss unpeeled, 1-inch chunks of potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper and roast at 425° F until golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pork Chops Au Poivre

2 4-ounce boneless pork chops, trimmed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white or red wine
Kosher salt

Spread mustard over both sides of pork chops and rub in pepper, pressing gently so it adheres well.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Put pork chops in pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 150° F, turning once. Transfer pork to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add chicken broth and wine to pan and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Season with salt. Pour sauce over pork.
Makes 2 servings.
Kale & Bacon Salad
2 slices smoked bacon
Kosher salt
1 bunch kale, center stems removed, leaves torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped shallots (about 1 large)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Special equipment: Salad spinner
Cook bacon in medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Reserve skillet with drippings.
Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add kale and cook 2 minutes. Drain; transfer kale to ice water and let cool until cold, about 1 minute. Drain kale. Spin drained kale in salad spinner to remove additional water. Place kale in large bowl. Crumble bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and add to kale.

Combine vinegar, shallots, and mustard in small bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon bacon drippings into vinaigrette. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Toss salad with vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings.

wednesday - chicken with brussels sprouts and white beans

After making the roast chicken on Tuesday, I shredded the remaining meat to use in additional meals this week. We've been enjoying chicken tacos for lunch, and Wednesday night I stirred chicken into this delicious dish from This combo of Brussels sprouts, white beans, and cheese (I used Asiago) is so flavorful and would make a great side dish without the chicken or even a main dish along with some soup for a filling vegetarian meal. This technique of cooking the Brussels sprouts--browning over high heat and then braising in a small amount of liquid--is a simple, flavorful method that I use frequently. It brings out the natural nuttiness without yielding the overly bitter flavor or mushy texture that many people usually associate with Brussels sprouts. I cut back on the oil and left out the butter altogether, and the dish still had plenty of great flavor.

Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and White Beans

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) coarsely grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. When just about to smoke, add Brussels sprouts (work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan). Cook until brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add garlic; sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add broth and Brussels sprouts. Cook until Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add beans and chicken; stir until heated through and broth is reduced to glaze, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

tuesday - roast chicken with parsnips and beets, rustic spinach and cornmeal soup

There are few things in life as simple and lovely as a nice roast chicken. Also, I love that I can cook once and get not only several meals out of it, but also use the carcass to make a supply of chicken stock. Quite the multitasking meal. I used a recipe from this month's Bon Appétit, which calls for delicious root vegetables that are popping up at the farmers' market (I skipped the Jerusalem artichokes, though, as they're one of the few veggies I'm not a big fan of). The pan juices are reduced with a bit of beer, which gave it a great flavor.

I also served a cornmeal and spinach soup from the same issue of Bon Appétit. I used a combination of chicken broth and water (because I was low on chicken broth, hence using the chicken carcass to make more this week) and cut back on the total butter. Otherwise, I stayed pretty close to the recipe. The soup is made with polenta and became very thick (it's described as porridge-like in the recipe, which is pretty fitting). It was fine like that, but I thinned it out with a little of the beer-enhanced pan juices from the chicken, and that gave it a ton of extra flavor that I really enjoyed. You could, of course, use regular chicken broth to thin it instead.

Roast Chicken with Parsnips and Beets

1 4-to 4 1/2-pound chicken
4 large fresh sage leaves plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided
3 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
3 fresh rosemary sprigs plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 2 1/2-inch-diameter beets, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
1 pound parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup lager or pale ale

Tuck wing tips under chicken. Starting at neck opening, gently loosen skin from breast of chicken. Slide 2 sage leaves, 1 thyme sprig, and 1 rosemary sprig under skin of each chicken breast half. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt inside chicken cavity and insert 1 thyme sprig and 1 rosemary sprig into cavity. Sprinkle outside of chicken all over with 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Place chicken, breast side up, on plate. Cover and chill at least 2 hours (or overnight).

Position oven rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450° F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place chicken in center of prepared sheet. Place beets and parsnips in medium bowl. Add olive oil, chopped thyme, chopped rosemary, and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange vegetables around chicken on sheet. Roast chicken and vegetables 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° F. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken thigh registers 165° F and vegetables are tender, turning vegetables occasionally, about 50 minutes longer.

Using tongs, tilt chicken to allow juices to drain from main cavity onto baking sheet. Transfer chicken to platter. Arrange vegetables around chicken. Place baking sheet over 2 burners. Add beer to baking sheet and boil until pan juices are slightly reduced, scraping up browned bits, 3 to 4 minutes. Season juices to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer juices to small pitcher. Serve chicken and vegetables, passing pan juices alongside.

Makes 4 servings.

Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup

2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 cups water
3/4 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
Coarse kosher salt
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Bring broth and water to simmer in large saucepan; cover to keep warm. Whisk polenta and flour in heavy large pot. Add 1 cup hot broth mixture; whisk over medium-high heat until smooth. Stir in butter and garlic; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Gradually add 5 cups hot broth mixture by cupfuls. Boil gently over medium heat until polenta is tender and soup is creamy and thickened, whisking frequently and adding more broth (or pan juices from roast chicken recipe, above) to thin, if desired, about 25 minutes. Stir in spinach by handfuls; simmer until wilted, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Season with more coarse salt and black pepper.
Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

breakfast (!) - whole wheat english muffin with poached eggs, sautéed beet greens, and roasted red peppers

I didn't eat dinner at home last night, so I decided to write a post about breakfast rather than skipping today altogether. I have a few breakfast meals in my usual rotation--whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and homemade jam, whole wheat English muffin with two poached eggs, oatmeal with walnuts and cinnamon--which I pair with fruit and plain yogurt or a smoothie. This morning I went the toasted English muffin and eggs route, but I had beet greens in the fridge that need to be cooked so I decided to add those to the mix. I often add sautéed veggies to my eggs on the weekends, but I realized today that it really didn't take any extra time since I prepared the vegetables while the eggs were poaching. Easy! And a delicious, healthy start to the day.

I also had a nectarine (still available at the farmers' market, though I suspect not for much longer) with a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

Sautéed Beet Greens and Roasted Red Peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup beet greens or spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons basil leaves, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add beet greens (or spinach) and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until greens are wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle basil over vegetable mixture. Serve over eggs, as an omelet filling, or as a side dish.

Makes 1 serving.

Monday, September 20, 2010

sunday - shrimp enchiladas with sweet potatoes and parsnips

Ok, so this was definitely a weekend meal rather than a weeknight meal, as these shrimp enchiladas with sweet potatoes and parsnips from this month's Bon Appétit took quite some time to prepare. Part of the reason it took so long was that I made the tomatillo salsa from scratch (I picked up two pounds of tomatillos at the farmers' market this weekend and planned on canning salsa based on this recipe, but I ended up using so much of the salsa for the enchiladas that I modified the recipe to be less acidic and stored the extra in the freezer.). If you use purchased salsa verde like the recipe suggests and buy peeled/cooked shrimp (I had to peel my shrimp--also time-consuming), it will go much faster. It's worth the time investment, though, as these enchiladas are delicious! And, being from Tucson, I know my enchiladas. The root vegetables gave it a nice sweetness, and the shrimp added a nice texture to the soft root vegetable filling. You could omit the shrimp, however, and have a great vegetarian meal. I used queso fresco, which I highly recommend, but feta has a very similar taste if that's all you can find.

I served a simple arugula salad with the enchiladas, tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Shrimp Enchiladas with Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
12 ounces sweet potatoes (about 2 small), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 small jalapeño chile, halved, seeded
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped green onions (about 6)
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles (preferably fire-roasted), drained
2 cups salsa verde or mild tomatillo salsa (recipe follows, or used purchased salsa)
1/4 cup sour cream
8 ounces cooked peeled deveined shrimp, coarsely chopped (optional)
12 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas
8 ounces crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. If using whole cumin seeds, toast the seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground (or finely chop and crush with a knife). Combine parsnips, sweet potatoes, and red onion in large bowl. Add ground cumin, oil, chili powder, oregano, and salt; toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Roast vegetables until soft and browned in spots, turning occasionally, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375° F. With machine running, add garlic and jalapeño through feed tube of processor and process until finely chopped. Add cilantro, green onions, and drained green chiles. Using on/off turns, process until coarse puree forms. Add salsa; process to blend. Transfer salsa mixture to large deep skillet. Add sour cream and stir over medium-low heat just until warm (do not allow to boil). Remove from heat. Season salsa mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Measure 1 cup roasted vegetables; set aside. Transfer remaining vegetables to processor. Using on/off turns, process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to large bowl. Add shrimp, if using, and toss to incorporate evenly. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels, and microwave for 30-second intervals until heated through. 

Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture over bottom of 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Place 1 tortilla on work surface; sprinkle generous 2 teaspoons crumbled cheese down center. Top with generous 1/4 cup roasted vegetable filling, arranging down center atop cheese. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and filling. Scatter reserved 1 cup roasted vegetables over enchiladas. Spoon remaining salsa mixture over. Sprinkle with any remaining cheese. Bake enchiladas until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Tomatillo Salsa

2 pounds tomatillos (about 27 medium)
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to food processor; process until almost smooth. Transfer salsa to sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Makes about 4 pints. Can be stored in freezer for up to 3 months.

Friday, September 17, 2010

thursday - citrus shrimp with barley, corn, & arugula salad

You may have noticed that shrimp made the meal plan twice this week. Normally I try not to have duplicate proteins in a week, but I recently came across a huge sale on 5-pound bags of frozen wild-caught U.S. shrimp (a "good alternative" according to Seafood Watch) that I couldn't pass up. So there's lots of shrimp in my freezer that I'm working my way through. Last night, I made this sizzled citrus shrimp recipe from I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out really well and was quick and easy to prepare.

On the side, I made a spin on this barley, corn, and arugula salad from I left out the green beans, but otherwise stayed fairly close to the original recipe. I really enjoyed the mix of the tangy goat cheese, sweet corn, and bitter arugula, and it was hearty enough to be served on its own as a light meal.

Barley, Corn, & Arugula Salad

1/3 cup pearl barley
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 large ear)
2 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet)

Cook barley in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; cool. Transfer to large bowl. Add corn kernels and arugula to bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk olive oil, vinegar, shallots, thyme, and Dijon mustard in small bowl to blend. Pour dressing over barley mixture to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

wednesday - grilled sirloin and salmon, beet and carrot pancakes, and sautéed beet greens

Last night I grilled a sirloin steak (for me) and a salmon fillet (for Courtney). I had planned on topping the meats with chimichurri sauce that I had in the freezer, but it smelled a bit off when it was defrosted, so I tossed it ("when in doubt, throw it out" is a dietitian's motto, after all). So, simple grilled beef and fish--always tasty. I rubbed each with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled over medium-high heat (3 to 4 minutes per side for the salmon, 5 minutes per side for the sirloin).

The real treat last night was the beet and carrot pancakes that I based on this recipe from and this recipe from Both recipes had great reviews at each website, and, while I was a bit skeptical as I was preparing the pancakes, they turned out to be really delicious. I used more beets than the recipes call for, so they were definitely heavier on beets than carrots. I threw in a handful of fresh basil but it really got lost among the other flavors, so you could leave it out or sprinkle fresh herbs over the finished pancakes. It really helps to have a food processor to shred the vegetables--it's a huge time-saver. I found that the vegetable mixture was very crumbly, so it helped to squeeze out excess liquid as I was forming each pancake. It was also important to let the skillet get nice and hot first so the pancakes get a nice sear--this helps hold them together when they're transferred to the baking sheet. On a side note, I also enjoyed the pancakes topped with poached eggs for breakfast this morning. Mmmm.

Since I was cooking with beets, I roughly tore the beet greens and quickly sautéed them with olive oil and garlic as an additional side dish.

Beet and Carrot Pancakes

3 cups (packed) coarsely shredded peeled beets (from 4 medium)
1 cup coarsely shredded peeled carrots (from 2 medium)
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon chopped basil (optional)
6 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine beets, carrots, and onion in large bowl. Mix in egg, salt, and pepper. Add flour and basil (if using); stir to blend well.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Using a heaping 1/4 cup beet mixture, squeeze out excess moisture and form into pancake. Drop 4 pancakes into skillet. Press with the back of a spatula to flatten each into a 3-inch round. Cook until crispy and golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pancakes to the prepared baking sheet. Continue with 2 more batches, using the remaining 4 teaspoons oil and vegetable mixture. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with sour cream, if desired.

Makes 6 servings (2 pancakes each).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


You may notice some exciting changes to The Best Pickle today. Most importantly, I've added tabs at the top of the page, including a discussion on meal planning and why I feel it's so important. Feel free to join the discussion, leaving your comments on how meal planning has helped you, or what you struggle with in your efforts to get dinner on the table each night.

I've also added an easier way to share this blog on Facebook and Twitter--you'll notice the "Share It" icon on the top right of the page. Help me get the word out and let your friends know what you're reading! There are also icons at the end of each post to easily share recipes and meal plans via Facebook, Twitter, or email. And as always, you can "follow" the blog towards the end of the right column to join The Best Pickle community.

I'm really excited about the last addition to the blog--I've added an ingredient list to the column on the right side of the page. So if you're looking for a recipe that contains a certain ingredient, you can now click on that ingredient and peruse the recipes I've posted that use it. Looking for vegetarian dishes? There's a "vegetarian" button. Interested in browsing all of the meal plans that I've posted? There's even a "meal plan" button! Hopefully you'll find this useful.

Are there any other changes or additions that you'd like to see here? Is there anything that would make it easier for you to incorporate meal planning into your busy schedule? I want to hear from you!

tuesday - grilled pork chops & treviso radicchio, steamed romano beans

While I generally shy away from any recipe that's too complicated, sometimes I'll make a dish that's so simple and delicious that I wonder why I ever make anything else. Last night's meal was one of those lovely, simple treats. I'd never had Treviso radicchio (it's a longer, thinner type of the radicchio that's commonly found in the supermarket), so, after spotting it at the farmers' market, I was excited to try it using this recipe from It has the same pleasantly bitter taste as regular radicchio, and the sweet balsamic glaze was delicious drizzled over it and the pork chop. I served steamed Romano beans on the side, using the same recipe that I've posted here before.

Grilled Pork Chops & Treviso Radicchio with Balsamic Glaze

3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4- to 1-inch-thick pork rib chops
1 head of Treviso radicchio or round radicchio
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Mix 1 1/2 cups water, coarse salt, and sugar in 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish; stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Add pork chops; let brine 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Cut Treviso lengthwise into quarters, keeping some core attached to each piece. Place on baking sheet; spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil vinegar in small skillet until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season glaze with salt and pepper.

Remove pork from brine; rinse and pat dry. Brush with oil; sprinkle with pepper. Grill pork and Treviso until vegetables are softened and thermometer inserted horizontally into center of chops registers 150°F, 2 to 3 minutes per side for vegetables and 4 to 5 minutes per side for chops.

Transfer pork and vegetables to plates. Drizzle glaze over; sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 2 servings.

Steamed Romano Beans with Garlic and Rosemary

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound Romano beans, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and rosemary until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling but not brown. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 20 minutes (do this step first, then prepare the rest of the meal).

Using a steamer basket over boiling water, steam beans until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer beans to a large bowl. Remove garlic and rosemary from oil. Finely chop garlic; discard rosemary. Drizzle beans with enough oil to coat (you may not use all of the oil), add chopped garlic, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 13, 2010

monday - pizza margherita with arugula & corn salad

As previously mentioned, I canned 17 pints of tomatoes last week. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortuitously), two of the pint jars failed to seal, so I took that opportunity to make pizza (as if I really need a reason--in case you haven't noticed, I really love pizza). Tonight I made a simple margherita pizza (based on a recipe from to highlight the tomatoes and the surplus of fresh basil in the garden. I also served a very tasty arugula and roasted corn salad  based on a recipe from I followed the salad recipe pretty closely but omitted the pecans and Parmesan (I figured I had enough cheese on the pizza). Overall, a delicous, fast weeknight meal.

Pizza Margherita

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (or 2 pint jars), drained and hand crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ball fresh pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
1 8-ounce ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, divided

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Put a pizza stone or a half sheet pan in the oven.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Cook until just fragrant, then add tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.

Remove the preheated pizza stone from oven. Roll or stretch out pizza dough, and place on the hot pizza stone. Spread tomato sauce over dough. Tear mozzarella into small pieces and scatter evenly over the sauce. Scatter half the basil leaves evenly over the pizza. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cut into 8 slices. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves before serving.

Makes 4 servings.


Arugula and Corn Salad

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ear corn, husked
6 cups arugula

Whisk oil, vinegar, basil, tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary in small bowl until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Lightly spray corn with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil corn until crisp-tender and golden brown in spots, turning frequently, about 7 minutes. Cool. Cut corn kernels off cob. Place kernels in large bowl.

Add arugula to bowl with corn. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

sunday - shrimp ceviche tostadas

Tonight I made this shrimp ceviche recipe from It was my first time making it, and Courtney & I both felt like it was a bit lackluster. I think next time I would double the lime juice and omit or reduce the orange juice to give it more acidity. I used a jalapeño instead of serrano chiles and left out the avocado (mine wasn't ripe enough, unfortunately). I toasted some corn tortillas to create tostadas--lightly spray the tortillas with cooking spray and bake in a 350˚ F oven until crisp, about 8 minutes.

Shrimp Ceviche

Poaching Liquid
2 quarts water
1/4 cup kosher salt

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 oranges
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced (1/4-inch dice)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro leaves, plus more leaves for garnish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine water and 1/4 cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Chop the shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a medium nonreactive bowl. Add lemon, lime, and orange juice. Stir in cucumber, onion, and chiles. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Stir tomato, avocado, chopped cilantro, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the shrimp mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

meal plan

Meal 1: shrimp ceviche (with leftover cheese enchiladas)
Meal 2: pizza margherita with arugula & corn salad
Meal 3: grilled pork chops & Treviso radicchio, steamed romano beans
Meal 4: grilled sirloin/salmon with chimichurri, beet & carrot pancakes, sautéed beet greens
Meal 5: citrus shrimp with barley, corn, & arugula salad

saturday - cheese enchiladas with jícama and cucumber salad

I decided that, when making the sauce for these cheese enchiladas from, I would use the partial can of chipotle chiles in adobo that has been stashed in my freezer for ages rather than buying the red New Mexican chile powder called for in the recipe. As the sauce was cooking, I seriously regretted that decision as it was much, much spicier than I had anticipated. Luckily, though, once the whole dish was assembled it had just the right amount of heat. The sauce never really thickened up like the recipe stated, but it was flavorful and different than any enchilada sauce I have made previously. Because they're layered enchiladas rather than filled, it's a super easy dish to assemble and comes together quickly.

I served the enchiladas with a jícama and cucumber salad from the same article in Eating Well magazine. Again, I didn't have the New Mexican chile powder and at this point I was too scared of the spice factor to use any more chipotles, so I used regular chili powder and a little ground chipotle powder in the dressing. This was a light, mild salad and a refreshing side dish for the enchiladas.

Cheese Enchiladas

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo (canned), minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and mashed, or nonfat refried beans
2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, (8 ounces), divided
1/4 cup minced white onion, plus more for garnish
Reduced-fat sour cream (optional)

To prepare sauce: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and continue cooking until the onion is translucent and soft, about 2 minutes more. Stir in chipotles and chili powder. Add broth, water, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. (The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.)

To prepare enchiladas: Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch (or similar-size 2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine beans and yogurt in a small bowl.

Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce in the baking dish. Arrange 4 tortillas in the dish, overlapping them to cover the bottom. Top with half the bean mixture, using the back of a spoon to spread it thin. Scatter 2/3 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons onion on top of the beans. Top with one-third of the remaining sauce, 4 tortillas, the remaining bean mixture, 2/3 cup cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons onion. Spread half of the remaining sauce on top and cover with the remaining 4 tortillas. Top with the remaining sauce and the remaining 2/3 cup cheese.

Bake the enchiladas until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional minced onion and sour cream, if desired.
Makes 8 servings.
Jícama and Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced onion
1 teaspoon chili powder, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small jícama, peeled and diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Puree vinegar, honey, oil, onion, chili powder, chipotle powder, and salt in a blender until smooth.
Toss jícama and cucumber with the dressing in a large bowl; stir in mint. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the salad with more chili powder before serving, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

thursday - curried squash soup, indian mango dal with barley

This was a very yellow meal--chock full of vitamin A. It was my first time making this curried squash soup from I left out the chicken, so the entire meal was vegan. The soup was a bit bland as the original recipe instructs, so I doubled up on the spices and it ended up being delicious. The Thai red curry paste (found in the Asian foods aisle at most grocery stores) is worth seeking out--it has such a great flavor and can be mixed with plain yogurt for a quick and easy dip or sauce. I made my own squash puree from roasted ambercup squash blended with a little water, but you could certainly use a frozen squash puree like the original recipe calls for. Because the soup was quite thick (perhaps the proportions were off since I made the squash puree myself), I added a little extra water at the end to thin it out.

yellow squash puree...

I served the soup with this Indian mango dal from I followed this recipe exactly (well, I used red lentils instead of yellow, but that's a pretty minor change) and served it over barley. This dish is flavorful and packed with fiber, so it's very filling.

yellow mango dal...

yellow soup...

Curried Squash Soup

2 cups cubed and peeled winter squash (such as ambercup or butternut) or 1 10-ounce package frozen pureed winter squash
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2-2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place squash cubes in a baking dish. Spray with cooking spray and toss to coat. Bake until squash is very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. (Can be prepared ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one day.) Cool slightly, then puree squash in a food processor, adding water until a smooth consistency is achieved. (If using frozen squash puree, skip this step.)

Heat squash, coconut milk, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Stir in spinach, lime juice, sugar, curry paste to taste, and salt, and continue cooking until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning if needed, and thin with additional water to desired consistency.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

wednesday - chickpea, kale, & squash gnocchi

Last night I made a spin on this recipe from using chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), kale, ambercup squash, and whole wheat gnocchi. This was a hearty, filling meal, perfect for the chilly & cloudy weather we're having here this week. If you're unfamiliar with gnocchi, it's a potato-based dumpling that can usually be found in the pasta aisle (shelf-stable) or frozen. While it is mostly made from potatoes, it does have some flour added--Trader Joe's now carries whole wheat gnocchi, which is what I used last night. Courtney and I preferred the whole wheat to the regular gnocchi we usually use--it felt more substantial and had a nuttier flavor. I substituted kale for the spinach, and I think it gave the dish more substance than spinach would have. I bought an ambercup squash at the farmers' market this week, which I peeled and sliced instead of the butternut squash. I used about half in last night's recipe, and cubed and roasted the other half in preparation for tonight's curried squash soup. I did use the currants that the recipe called for, but really, they were hardly noticeable--I think they could be omitted or another dried fruit could be substituted (e.g., dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, or even chopped prunes). I canned a batch of homemade chicken broth recently, which is what I used instead of vegetable broth, but either would work (even water would be fine if you don't have any broth on hand).

Chickpea, Kale, & Squash Gnocchi

1 pound frozen or shelf-stable gnocchi, preferably whole wheat
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced peeled ambercup or butternut squash (1- to 2-inch-long slices)
1/2 cup sliced shallots (1-2 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups fresh kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

If using frozen gnocchi, cook in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and pat dry. (If using shelf-stable gnocchi, skip this step.)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, squash, shallots, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in kale, broth, currants, sage, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the squash is almost cooked through and the kale is tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add chickpeas and the gnocchi and cook, gently stirring, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

tuesday - corn and poblano soup with wheat berry and vegetable salad

Last night was my first time making both of these recipes, and they both turned out really well. I omitted the heavy cream from this corn soup recipe from, and it still turned out creamy and delicious. If you're pressed for time, you could use a can of green chiles instead of roasting and peeling the poblano pepper; alternatively, you could skip the poblano puree altogether and the soup would still be good. It could easily be made vegetarian by using veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and could be made vegan by omitting the butter. The original recipe states it makes 4 servings, but I think it easily could serve 6 as I have plenty of leftovers.

I made several minor changes to this grain & vegetable salad recipe from The Oregonian, our local newspaper. I used wheat berries instead of farro; they're similar grains but wheat berries are easier for me to find. You could use brown rice or another whole grain depending on what you have on hand. Since I already had the broiler on to roast the poblano for the soup, I broiled the asparagus and squash rather than blanching them as I think this gives the vegetables a better flavor. I reduced the bacon by about half and I felt like the dish still had plenty of bacony flavor. The bacon could be left out altogether to make the dish vegetarian; crumbled goat cheese or shaved Parmesan would both be good additions in its place. Finally, I used sherry vinegar instead of champagne vinegar, and I think other types of vinegar--particularly cider or red wine--would work well also.

Corn and Poblano Soup

1 poblano pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Fresh corn kernels from 10 ears of corn (about 5 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

Heat broiler. On a broilerproof baking sheet, broil the pepper, turning occasionally, until charred, 8 to 12 minutes. Seal in a plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds from pepper. In a blender, puree the pepper with 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth; transfer to a bowl. Rinse out the blender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (do not let it brown), 8 to 10 minutes. Add the corn, the remaining chicken broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the corn is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the pot.)

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the poblano puree; sprinkle with the cilantro, if using.
Makes 6 servings.
Wheat Berry and Vegetable Salad
3/4 cup uncooked wheat berries
1 pound sliced asparagus, cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch lengths
3 medium pattypan squash, sliced and cut into quarters
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bacon (preferably applewood-smoked & uncured)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Add wheat berries to a large pot of boiling salted water. Lower heat to allow to simmer until tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Wheat berries should be slightly chewy. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Heat broiler. Spread the asparagus and squash on a broilerproof baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the vegetables until tender and lightly browned, turning once, about 8 minutes. 
In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels. Gently blot with more paper towels to remove excess fat. Crumble bacon into small pieces.
Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the wheat berries, asparagus, squash, bacon, and vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

monday - salmon with romesco, shell beans & tomato salad

This romesco sauce from is delicious on fish, chicken, beef, vegetables (especially asparagus)--practically anything, really. Last night I put it on grilled salmon, and since the sauce freezes nicely, I made a bit extra to have on hand for future meals. I followed the sauce recipe exactly (using smoked paprika and sherry vinegar), but I'll repost it here because I didn't make the zucchini that's listed in the original recipe.

I picked up some unshelled cranberry beans at the farmers' market this weekend and made this tasty salad from I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it exactly. If you don't have shell beans, canned beans could be easily substituted (cannellini beans would be nice).

Unshelled cranberry beans:


Finished plate:

Romesco Sauce

1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1/4 cup halved grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Use sauce to top fish, beef, chicken, or vegetables; as a sandwich spread; or as a dip.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

meal plan

I'm still enjoying summer produce from the farmers' market, such as corn, tomatoes, and shell beans, but fall is in the air so soup is making two appearances on the meal plan this week. I also plan on canning 20 pounds of tomatoes in the next few days to help get us through the long, gray winter that's right around the corner.

Meal 1: salmon with romesco, shell bean and tomato salad
Meal 2: corn and poblano soup, wheat berry and vegetable salad
Meal 3: jicama and cucumber salad, cheese enchiladas
Meal 4: curried squash soup, mango dal with brown rice
Meal 5: chickpea, kale, and squash gnocchi

Thursday, September 2, 2010

wednesday - fish tacos

I had leftover tortillas from Sunday's chicken chili and coleslaw from Tuesday night, so I decided fish tacos would be a wise and tasty choice for dinner last night. I used mahi mahi and marinated the fish using this recipe at I topped the tacos with the lime and cilantro coleslaw, lime crema (which is sour cream mixed with lime zest and lime juice; calling it crema just makes it sound fancier), chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. I served additional coleslaw on the side.

Fish Tacos

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 pound mahi mahi or other flaky white fish
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
8 fresh corn tortillas
Coleslaw with Lime and Cilantro (or shredded cabbage)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the chile powder, oregano, cumin, and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish on a dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the fish well on both sides. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the baking sheet. Season the fish with salt. Broil the fish for 4 minutes, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer fish to a large bowl. Flake the fish with a fork (or cut into strips). Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

For the lime crema, stir together the sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the tortillas on a plate and sandwich them between two slightly dampened sheets of paper towel. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Place the warm tortillas in a towel-lined basket or plate and cover.

To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the fish onto the center of a tortilla. Top with the lime crema, coleslaw (or shredded cabbage), and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

tuesday - mexican polenta scramble, coleslaw

To continue the welcome-home celebration, I made another of Courtney's favorite meals last night. He was, luckily, well enough to eat this one. I usually make this polenta scramble from as a side dish, but last night it was the entrée along with a simple, light coleslaw. It would have been good and a bit heartier with a can of rinsed black beans stirred in during the last few minutes of cooking--I may try that next time I make the dish. The coleslaw is based on a recipe from my former boss, Susan, in Tucson. Next time you happen to be in Tucson, swing by the University Medical Center café to pick up a copy of Savor the Healthy Flavor, the awesome cookbook put together by their Nutrition Services department (full disclosure--I edited the cookbook while I worked there). You'll get the original recipe for this coleslaw plus many, many more delicious and healthy dishes.

Mexican Polenta Scramble

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce tube prepared plain polenta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add green chiles, tomatoes, and cumin, stirring until tomatoes start to break down, 2 to 3 minutes. Add polenta cubes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in scallions, cheese, cilantro, and lime juice. Serve topped with diced avocado and toasted pepitas.

Makes 4 servings.

Coleslaw with Lime and Cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 12-ounce package coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, drizzle the dressing over the coleslaw mix. Toss to coat.
Makes 8 servings.

monday - spicy soy pork tenderloin, grilled asparagus, cilantro rice

After three long weeks away, my husband came home this past weekend, so I made his favorite pork recipe to celebrate. Unfortunately, he came home with a nasty bug so he was unable to eat it. Regardless, it was tasty! I served the pork with simple grilled asparagus and baby bok choy (toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill until just tender, about five minutes) and cilantro rice from I cooked the rice in the pressure cooker (15 minutes instead of the usual 35 to 40), then stirred in the cilantro oil. If you aren't a fan of cilantro, I think parsley would be a good substitute.

Spicy Soy Pork Tenderloin

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat

To make marinade, whisk soy sauce and sugar in a medium bowl until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in garlic, ginger, chile garlic sauce, and oil.

Place pork in a resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag, squeezing out excess air. Turn bag to coat pork. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, turning bag once to redistribute the marinade.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove pork from bag, discarding marinade, and place on grill over direct heat. Cook pork, turning until seared on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer pork to indirect heat and continue to cook until just cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 150° F in the thickest part of pork, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Makes 4 servings.

Cilantro Rice

1 1/3 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon (or more) rice vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked brown rice, warm

Combine cilantro, green onion, and ginger in food processor. Add both oils and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Blend until almost smooth. Season cilantro oil to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired. Drizzle cilantro oil over warm rice and stir to combine.

Makes 4 servings.

sunday - chicken chili with hominy

We've had a chilly, rainy week thus far in Portland, so this chili from sounded like an appropriate meal. This is one of my favorite soup recipes--the tortilla strips thicken the soup nicely and the hominy gives it an appealing chewiness. I stuck closely to the recipe except that I poached and shredded the chicken rather than browning it as the recipe instructs.

Chicken Chili with Hominy

4 corn tortillas
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-fat milk
1 28-ounce can white hominy, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 lime wedges
Place a tortilla directly on a stovetop burner set at medium-low and toast, turning frequently with tongs, until light golden and fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips and set aside.
Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add bell peppers and onion; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and milk and bring to a simmer, stirring. Stir in reserved tortilla strips and hominy.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in chicken, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with remaining cilantro and lime wedges.

Makes 6 servings.