Sunday, October 31, 2010

sunday - cauliflower and sweet potato curry

Last month I made a delicious cauliflower and sweet potato curry in my pressure cooker. The recipe made a ton, and I had enough leftovers to store in the freezer for a future meal. I also recently made extra barley and stored that in the freezer, so tonight's dinner consisted solely of reheating and stirring! So easy, plus the orange color really went with the Halloween theme. I stirred together jarred mango chutney and plain yogurt for a zippy sauce and garnished it with cilantro.

meal plan

I braved the rain and spent a mere $14 at the farmers' market yesterday, picking up apples, pears, beets, cabbage, cilantro, delicata squash, butternut squash, and onions. I may get an avocado at the grocery store depending on how they look, but otherwise, that's all of my produce for the week.

Here's this week's plan:

Meal 1: cauliflower & sweet potato curry with barley
Meal 2: chickpea, kale, & squash gnocchi
Meal 3: pork tenderloin, roasted delicata squash and onions, salad
Meal 4: sirloin/salmon, beet and cabbage salads
Meal 5: fish tacos, black beans, cabbage slaw

Saturday, October 30, 2010

thursday - pork tacos with pinto beans

Thursday night I used leftover pulled pork to make quick and tasty tacos. I topped the pork with tomatillo salsa (I used homemade but store-bought would be fine), queso fresco, and cilantro, and served pinto beans with onions and anaheim chiles. I had lots of leftover kale slaw from Wednesday night, so we had that in place of the salad I had originally planned for this meal.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Pinto Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked or 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked shredded pork
2 tablespoons water
6 soft corn tortillas, 6-inch diameter

Tomatillo salsa
Queso fresco, crumbled
Cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chile, and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of onion mixture. Add beans and cilantro to remaining onion mixture in skillet, stirring until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, heat pork and water over medium heat, stirring until pork is heated through and adding additional water as needed to moisten the pork. Stir in the reserved 1/4 cup of onion mixture. Remove from heat.

Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Pile a heaping 1/3 cup of the pork mixture on each tortilla, and top with salsa, queso fresco, and cilantro. Serve tacos with the pinto beans and lime wedges.

Makes 3 servings.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

wednesday - pulled pork sandwiches with kale slaw

Pulled pork is one of my favorite meals, in part because it's delicious and in part because I can throw the pork into my slow cooker in the morning and by the time I get home that evening, it's ready. Ahhh. I do reserve it as an "occasional" food because the cut of pork is so high in fat, but I make myself feel a bit better by trimming away as much of the surface fat as possible. I love this recipe for pulled pork sandwiches from Tyler Florence at modify it by cooking it in a slow cooker and cutting way back on the salt. The cider-vinegar barbecue sauce recipe makes a ton, so I halved it and still ended up with a leftover jar to store in my freezer for next time. I used a 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder, which made enough for four sandwiches with leftover pork for tomorrow's dinner.

I usually serve cole slaw to pile on top of the sandwiches, but I felt like something different tonight. I made this kale slaw from was good ("better than I expected" was the review from my husband), but, as much as I love kale, raw is not my favorite preparation. The same dressing would have been tasty on shredded cabbage for a more traditional slaw. I used honey-roasted peanuts instead of salted because that's what I had on hand, so I cut back on the brown sugar. I also omitted the bell pepper. I served a little beet-rosemary relish on the side, which added even more delicious tanginess to the sandwiches.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 2- to 3-pound boneless pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt, surface fat trimmed

Cider-Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup yellow or brown mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pan drippings from the pork

6 whole wheat hamburger buns

Combine the paprika, garlic power, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Place pork and 1/2 cup water into a slow cooker. Cook pork on low heat for about 8 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the pork reads 170°F and the pork is falling apart.

While the pork is roasting, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Transfer the pork from the slow cooker to a large bowl, and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the juices from the slow cooker into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and simmer until juices are reduced by about half. Pour into the saucepan with the barbecue sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

While the pork is still warm, "pull" the meat: Using 2 forks, shred the meat into small pieces. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and stir well to coat.

To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top pork with kale slaw (recipe follows) or your favorite cole slaw. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Kale Slaw

1 large bunch kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, divided
1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Toss kale and carrots in a large bowl. Puree oil, cider vinegar, 1/4 cup peanuts, brown sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts and sprinkle over the slaw.

Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

tuesday - chicken with brussels sprouts and white beans

Short and sweet post tonight--I made this yummy chicken with Brussels sprouts and white beans, based on a recipe from I followed my previous recipe exactly, and since I've posted it here before, I won't repost it. This is a super quick and easy meal to toss together if you already have cooked chicken on hand, such as from a roasted chicken (as in my case) or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

monday - autumn chicken stew with beet & carrot pancakes

I was really looking forward to this Autumn Chicken Stew from as a way to enjoy some of the delicious root vegetables currently coming into season. I was a tiny bit disappointed, however, as I found it to be a bit bland. It was easy, though, and certainly wasn't bad--just not particularly memorable.

I also served beet and carrot pancakes, which I've posted about before. I followed the recipe except for using rosemary instead of basil and serving them with beet-rosemary relish and plum chutney instead of sour cream (simply due to what was available and open in my fridge). They're delicious and easy, provided you have a food processor to help with the shredding of the vegetables. I used a chioggia beet and a golden beet, along with orange carrots, which made a gorgeous combination:

Unfortunately, the colors faded into a brownish hue when cooked:

Still tasty, but not as vibrant as I'd hoped. Since I more or less stuck to the original recipe, I won't repost it.

Autumn Chicken Stew

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, parsnips, carrots, rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and apples; bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken to the pot and stir until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Makes 6 servings.

new haircut? no. new blouse? nope. there's something different about you...

I'd like to thank my friend Mario DiGiorgio for designing the awesome, gorgeous, wonderful new logo you now see at the top of The Best Pickle. He's funny, talented, and generous! Thanks, Mario--I appreciate your help and will gladly repay you in home-cooked meals. Pulled pork sandwiches?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

sunday - roasted chicken with potatoes, carrots, and beets

Tonight we had a delicious dinner of roasted chicken, using pretty much the same recipe I used a few weeks ago from Bon Appétit. I changed up the veggies a bit and roasted them in a separate pan from the chicken so the potatoes would get nice and crisp rather than cooking in the pan juices. I planned on including Brussels sprouts but I ended up with a ton of vegetables in the roasting pan so I decided to omit them, meaning I've had to rearrange the meal plan already (and it's only Sunday!). I also ended up with more chicken than I anticipated (the chicken was quite large), so I will be making a tasty chicken, Brussels sprouts, and white bean combination in lieu of the cauliflower and sweet potato curry originally on this week's plan. The curry is hanging out in the freezer, ready to be a quick meal on a busy evening, so it's no problem to postpone it for a while.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 4-to 4 1/2-pound chicken
4 large fresh sage leaves
5 fresh rosemary sprigs plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 2 1/2-inch-diameter beets, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
1/2 pound potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup lager or pale ale

Position oven rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F.

Starting at neck opening, gently loosen skin from breast and thighs of chicken. Slide 1 sage leaf and 1 rosemary sprig under skin of each chicken breast half and thigh. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt inside chicken cavity and insert 1 rosemary sprig into cavity. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken in pan, breast side up. Rub 1/2 tablespoon olive oil all over outside of chicken. Sprinkle chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt.

Place beets, potatoes, and carrots in a large baking dish. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped rosemary; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
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 roasting pan. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; let rest 10 minutes before carving. Place roasting pan over medium heat on the stove. Add beer to roasting pan 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 (or more) servings.

meal plan

The remaining farmers' markets are numbered here in Portland, so I tried to get the most out of it yesterday. I spent more than usual ($45), but also picked up a lot more than usual, including a bottle of wine, a bag of chicken feet (mmmm, homemade chicken stock), onions, garlic, chiles, beets, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, kale, potatoes, arugula, apples, and pears. That's all of our produce for the week, leaving hardly anything else to buy at the grocery store.

Meal 1: roasted chicken with potatoes, beets, and Brussels sprouts
Meal 2: autumn chicken stew with beet and carrot pancakes
Meal 3: cauliflower and sweet potato curry with barley
Meal 4: pulled pork sandwiches, kale slaw
Meal 5: pulled pork tacos, pinto beans, salad

Not pictured: chicken feet...

Friday, October 22, 2010

thursday - roasted red pepper & artichoke frittata with kale salad

My initial plan was to add sautéed kale to last night's frittata, but I didn't use as much kale in the quesadillas earlier this week as I had anticipated, leaving me with more kale to use last night than would have comfortably fit within the frittata. Slight change of plans! I blanched the kale and tossed it with fresh mozzarella and a lemon-olive oil dressing for a delicious salad. I also added a few spoonfuls of a beet-rosemary relish from Ashley English's Canning & Preserving, which is a great book that I've mentioned here a few times before. I liked the addition of the beet-rosemary relish with the kale, but it was a bit too tangy coupled with the lemon-olive oil dressing--I probably should have added one or the other but I had both and couldn't make up my mind. This frittata recipe from makes a delicious and quick meal, and is similar to an omelet but without all that pesky flipping--so much easier to prepare. I made several changes, using roasted red peppers, shallots, and goat cheese instead of the red bell pepper, garlic, and Parmesan the recipe calls for. I also added a couple slices of prosciutto since I had some leftover from the pizza a few nights ago, but this is definitely optional if you want to keep it vegetarian. This frittata is a great way to use up any lingering ingredients in your refrigerator, and while it's an obvious choice for brunch, it also makes a tasty and filling dinner.

Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Frittata

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup sliced shallots
2 thin slices of prosciutto, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
1/2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled chevre
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and prosciutto, if using, and cook until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Add roasted red peppers and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the pan.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in artichoke hearts, chevre, oregano, salt, pepper, and the roasted red pepper mixture.

Set a rack about 4 inches from the heat source; preheat the broiler.

Brush the pan with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil; heat over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and tilt to distribute evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the bottom is light golden, lifting the edges to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the pan under the broiler and cook until the top is set, 2 to 4 minutes. Slide the frittata onto a platter and cut into wedges.

Makes 2 servings.

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale, center stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
1/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons beet-rosemary relish (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Special equipment: Salad spinner

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. Toss with mozzarella and beet-rosemary relish, if using.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Season dressing with salt and pepper, and toss with salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

wednesday - shrimp with quinoa and arugula

Last night I cooked a shrimp and arugula dish that was based on this recipe from I used quinoa instead of the spaghetti that his recipe calls for, which led me to think about all the other possibilities for substitutions--varying the grains (brown rice or barley would be interesting), the protein (chicken, strips of flank steak, Parmesan or mozzarella cheese), or even the veggies (spinach, kale, or other types of greens). There are so many possibilities to change up this dish and keep it fresh and interesting, and this can be done with so many other recipes also. If you're feeling stuck in a rut because you cook the same thing all the time or if you're only comfortable making a few dishes, try changing up one or more of the ingredients while keeping the rest of the recipe the same--the dish will take on a whole new life and you'll suddenly have countless new dishes in your repertoire. This was a tasty and fast meal, and I'm looking forward to trying it with other ingredient combinations, particularly a vegetarian version with a little cheese instead of the shrimp (or a vegan version without the cheese, depending on my mood).

Shrimp with Quinoa and Arugula

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
6 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and puréed in a blender, or 2 tablespoons sun dried tomato purée
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 handfuls arugula, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the quinoa in a medium sauce pan with 1 cup of salted boiling water for 15 minutes or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp, if using, and sauté for 1 minute. Add white wine and tomato purée and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and curled. Toss the cooked quinoa with the shrimp mixture, and add the lemon juice and half of the chopped arugula. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide between 2 plates and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest and the remainder of the arugula.
Makes 2 servings.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

tuesday - pizza with prosciutto, mushrooms, and artichokes; butternut squash and white bean soup

Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and I really like making it at home so that I can have a bit more control over the ingredients. Last night, I used a whole wheat crust and topped it with prosciutto, sautéed mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and fresh mozzarella. I made a sauce based on this recipe from Tyler Florence at Based on his recommendation, I used canned San Marzano tomatoes. They're more expensive than regular canned tomatoes, but I really could taste a significant difference. They were fresh and flavorful in a way that most store-bought canned tomatoes aren't.

I also made a butternut squash soup based on this recipe from I added cannellini beans that I made recently and stored in the freezer, and I used my pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process. I skipped the Parmesan croutons, but I did add the sage leaves--I wouldn't go out and buy sage just for the garnish, but if you have some in an herb garden it was a lovely touch. This was a good soup, but a tiny bit boring--I thought that garnishing it with a crumble of blue cheese would have been perfect. It made tons and tons, so I'll definitely put some away in the freezer for a future meal.

Pizza with Prosciutto, Mushrooms, and Artichokes

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), drained and hand crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 ball fresh pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
3 thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, drained

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 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, basil, 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.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the preheated pizza stone from the oven. Roll or stretch out pizza dough, and place on the hot pizza stone. Spread tomato sauce over dough. Lay the prosciutto slices over the sauce. Evenly spread the mushrooms and artichoke hearts over the prosciutto. Tear mozzarella into small pieces and scatter evenly over the toppings. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cut into 8 slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
16 fresh sage leaves
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and fry for 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels; set aside.

To the oil remaining in the pot, add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, using a pressure cooker, bring to high pressure for 5 minutes, then quick-release the pressure.) When the squash is soft and cooked through, remove from heat and stir in the cannellini beans. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or, working in batches, using a regular blender. Adjust seasoning, and reheat if needed. Divide the soup between bowls. Sprinkle with a few of the crispy sage leaves.

Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

monday - gnocchi with tomatoes, pancetta, and arugula

I often say that this gnocchi recipe from is what I make on nights that I don't feel like cooking, because it's so incredibly fast and easy (and it doesn't hurt that it's incredibly tasty, too). It can be made even faster by using a can of diced tomatoes, but last night I used chopped Roma tomatoes that I picked up at the farmers' market--I'm trying to enjoy fresh tomatoes while I still can, as I suspect they won't be around much longer once fall settles in. I usually use spinach in this dish, but I used arugula last night and the original recipe calls for watercress, so it's quite versatile. I love this method of wilting the greens--you place the greens in the colander used to drain the cooked gnocchi, with the hot cooking water lightly wilting the greens as it drains. This method works well when cooking pasta also. The recipe could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta, and the sauce could be used on pasta or another grain if you can't find gnocchi.

Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Pancetta, and Arugula

2 ounces pancetta, chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 2 large tomatoes) or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound gnocchi, preferably whole wheat
4 ounces arugula or spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (6 cups packed)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Put a large pan of water on to boil.
Cook pancetta, if using, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, sugar, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are almost completely broken down, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and salt. Remove from the heat.

Cook gnocchi in the boiling water until they float, 3 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Place arugula (or spinach) in a colander and drain the gnocchi over the arugula, wilting it slightly. Add the gnocchi and arugula to the sauce in the pan; toss to combine. Serve immediately, with Parmesan.
Makes 4 servings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

sunday - quesadillas with pinto beans and kale, red lentil soup with lemon

Quesadillas are such a great comfort food. I did amp up the nutritional value in these by adding kale and pinto beans to the requisite flour tortilla and cheese, with great results--these were delicious, and would have been even better with a dollop of sour cream if you happen to have any. You could also use whole wheat tortillas, but I eat them so rarely that I went with traditional white flour tortillas.

I also served a red lentil soup from Orangette (who in turn adapted the recipe from Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite). At first I was concerned that the soup was going to be a bit bland, as most of the ingredients are pretty unassuming. I was pleasantly surprised, though--it ended up being delicious. The lemon gave it a nice zing, and it was a lovely, warm autumn soup that paired well with the quesadillas.

Quesadillas with Pinto Beans and Kale

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and chopped (or other mild green chile)
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans (or about 1/2 of a 15-ounce can, rinsed)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 kale leaves (stems removed), chopped
2 flour tortillas
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chile, and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add beans, cilantro, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Uncover, and stir until mixture is combined and kale is tender. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer bean-kale mixture to a small bowl, and wipe out skillet with a paper towel.

Place one tortilla in skillet over medium heat. Spread half of bean-kale mixture over half of the tortilla, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Fold the tortilla in half over the bean-kale mixture, and cook until the quesadilla is golden on bottom and cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with remaining tortilla, bean-kale mixture, and cheese. Cut quesadillas into wedges before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional oil for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones and debris
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onion, and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree about half of the soup. It should still be somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with cayenne, if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

meal plan

I just got home from the farmers' market on a beautiful fall day in Portland. I spent only $17 this week and picked up a bell pepper, onions, carrots, anaheim chile, kale, rosemary, butternut squash, arugula, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Here's the meal plan for the week:

Meal 1: quinoa with shrimp and arugula
Meal 2: pizza with prosciutto, mushrooms, and artichokes; butternut squash and white bean soup
Meal 3: quesadillas with pinto beans and kale; red lentil soup with lemon
Meal 4: gnocchi with tomatoes, pancetta, and arugula
Meal 5: frittata with roasted peppers, artichokes, and kale; leftover soup and/or salad

friday - roast chicken in milk, wheat berries with leeks and shiitakes, salad

This recipe for roast chicken from was so interesting--it was such a unique mix of ingredients and flavors, but I thought it really worked. The sauce was delicious and unexpected. I also served this wheat berry dish from, which has a great mix of leeks, shiitakes, pancetta, and grape tomatoes. Regular white mushrooms would be fine in it instead of the shiitakes, as would a slice or two of crumbled bacon instead of pancetta. I tossed a simple salad of arugula, grape tomatoes, chèvre, and pepitas with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Roast Chicken in Milk

1 4-pound chicken, preferably organic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 handful of fresh sage
Zest of 2 lemons
10 cloves of garlic, skin left on
2 cups 1% milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a snug-fitting pot, fry the chicken in the butter and olive oil until golden, turning to get an even color all over. Remove from heat, put the chicken on a plate, and drain and discard the excess oil and butter left in the pot.

Put the chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours, basting with the cooking sauce occasionally.

Pull the meat off the bones and divide onto plates. Serve with the milky sauce from the roasting pan.
Makes 6 servings.
Wheat Berries with Leeks and Shiitakes
1 1/2 cups dried wheat berries
2 ounces pancetta, diced
2 cups chopped leeks (from 2 large leeks; white and pale green parts only)
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook wheat berries in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, about 55 minutes. Drain.
Cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add leeks to drippings in skillet; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and oil; stir 1 minute. Add wheat berries and stir until heated through. Mix in pancetta and cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Friday, October 15, 2010

thursday - sweet potato fritters, smoky pinto beans, corn and poblano soup

Hmm. Given the recent success I had with the delicious beet and carrot pancakes, I had high hopes for these sweet potato fritters from Unfortunately, they weren't bad, but they weren't great either. I used coarse cornmeal (polenta) instead of the fine cornmeal the recipe calls for, which may have contributed to their dryness, so if you make them, I recommend sticking to the recipe for hopefully better results. I also used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, which I don't feel affected the outcome taste-wise but did increase the fiber. Instead of the poblano peppers, I used a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. I think by serving the fritters with a dollop of sour cream and salsa, these could have been much better. As you may have guessed, I had the leftovers for breakfast with poached eggs on top--tasty, but still very dry.

The smoky pinto beans included in the recipe were very good, definitely more successful than the fritters. I cooked dried pinto beans in my pressure cooker (in only 19 minutes with no soaking!), but canned beans would work if you're pressed for time. Other than the canned green chiles, I followed the recipe for the beans exactly, and I loved the smokiness--it's definitely worth seeking out smoked paprika if you don't already use it.

I also served a corn and poblano soup, which is the same soup I made last month--I had lots of extra and stored it in the freezer (I stirred the poblano puree into the soup prior to freezing it). The soup froze nicely and was still delicious, nice and creamy despite not having any cream.

Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoky Pinto Beans

1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed 
1 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
Sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Prick sweet potato in several places with a fork. Microwave on High until just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425ºF until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.) Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and green chiles and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Add beans, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Peel the sweet potato and mash in a large bowl with a fork. Stir in the reserved onion-green chile mixture, egg, and water. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.

Form the sweet potato mixture into eight 3-inch oval fritters, using a generous 1/4 cup for each. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 4 fritters until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fritters and oil.

Bake the fritters until puffed and firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the fritters with the reserved bean mixture and sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

tuesday - polenta with white beans and spinach

The meal plan has gotten a little off schedule this week. I will probably postpone the shrimp with edamame and quinoa until next week, just FYI; otherwise, everything else is still a go.

I love this polenta and white bean dish from

The sherry vinegar and smoked paprika are both such delicious touches, but if you can't find them, white wine vinegar and regular paprika will work also. I always use roasted red peppers and cannellini beans due to my personal preference, and this week I used Asiago cheese because that's what I had in my fridge. I greatly prefer either Manchego or Monterey Jack, which is what the original recipe calls for and what I usually use, so I'm keeping those ingredients in the recipe posted here. The Asiago seemed too sharp for the dish, but otherwise, this was a delicious, fast, one-skillet meal.

Polenta with White Beans and Spinach

1 16-ounce tube prepared plain polenta, sliced into 8 rounds
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked, plus more for garnish
½ cup roasted red peppers, drained and diced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (or other white beans), rinsed and drained
4 cups packed spinach
¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup shredded Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preheat broiler to high.

Place the polenta slices on a baking sheet and lightly spray both sides with nonstick cooking spray. Broil the polenta slices until hot and slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and paprika, stirring for 30 seconds. Add peppers, beans, spinach, and broth. Cook, stirring, until the beans are heated through and the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and vinegar. Add the polenta slices to the vegetable mixture, breaking up the polenta with a spoon and stirring to combine. Sprinkle with additional paprika, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

sunday - salmon with yogurt-cilantro sauce, wheat berry-lentil soup

Sunday night I made a simplified version of this recipe from In the past I've made the apricot couscous that's included in the original recipe, and it's a nice accompaniment to the salmon. The yogurt sauce comes together quickly--only chopping and stirring required--so it's a nice recipe to throw together in a pinch.

A few weekends ago I made this wheat berry-lentil soup, also from, and stored it in the freezer for an evening when I needed a quick meal. It's a good, hearty soup and is a nice way to use up extra cooked wheat berries. Courtney is not a fan of Swiss chard so I used kale instead. Also, I used red lentils because that's what I had in my pantry--they don't hold their shape when cooked, so for a more traditional lentil soup, use brown lentils instead.

Salmon with Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 scallion, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1/2 pound salmon fillet, preferably wild Pacific

Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
Combine yogurt, scallion, lemon juice, cilantro, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, rub salmon with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. If grilling, oil the grill rack. If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. Grill or broil the salmon until browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve topped with the yogurt sauce.
Makes 2 servings.
Wheat Berry-Lentil Soup
1 1/2 cups red or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed 
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups cold water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries*
1 bunch kale, large stems discarded, leaves roughly chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine lentils, broth, and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until the lentils are tender, but not mushy, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat.

When the lentils are tender, stir cooked wheat berries and kale into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chard has wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot mixture and lemon juice.
Makes 6 servings.
*To cook wheat berries, rinse dried wheat berries in a colander under running water. Place in a large stock pot and cover with several inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until wheat berries are tender, about one hour. Drain well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

thursday - cod with olive, pinenut, & parsley relish; roasted beet & arugula salad

Cod isn't a fish that I usually buy (this was actually the first time I've ever cooked it). I intended to get swordfish, which is what this recipe from Bon Appétit calls for, but using the handy Seafood Watch app while grocery shopping, I realized that imported swordfish is on the "avoid" list. Looking for an alternative, I saw Alaskan cod, a "best choice" or "good alternative," depending on how it's caught, so I opted for that instead. It turned out to be a good choice--it's a firm fish with a really mild flavor, and Courtney and I both enjoyed it. The olive, pinenut, and parsley relish was divine--deliciously salty with the olives, and is nice enough for company although it only takes a few minutes to prepare. I halved the recipe and used kalamata olives instead of green olives, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I'll definitely make this again.

Delicious relish on cod...

I roasted chioggia beets in foil packets and tossed them with arugula, chevre, and toasted walnuts for a delicious salad. Chioggia beets have a beautiful red and white striped pattern, but any type of beet would work.

Chioggia beets...

I tossed the salad with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Those are beets, not tomatoes...

The full meal...

Cod with Olive, Pinenut, & Parsley Relish

2 5- to 6-ounce cod fillets
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup pitted brine-cured olives, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup dry white wine

Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, salt, and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook until opaque in center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter; cover. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and shallots to skillet; sauté over medium heat until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/8 teaspoon red pepper, garlic, and olives; sauté 1 minute. Add pine nuts, parsley, and wine; boil until most of liquid is gone, 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over fish.

Makes 2 servings.

Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad

3 medium beets, trimmed and quartered
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons walnuts
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups arugula
1 ounce chevre, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped basil

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold in the foil, tightly sealing the edges. Place foil packet on a baking sheet, and roast until beets are tender, about 25 minutes. Carefully open packet and let cool.

Meanwhile, place walnuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently, heat until walnuts become fragrant and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop the beets (the skins should slip off easily).

Place chopped beets, arugula, and chevre in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Sprinkle salad with toasted walnuts and basil.

Makes 2 servings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

wednesday - date night!

I mentioned earlier this week that I had to revamp the meal plan to account for unforeseen changes in our schedule. Well, those changes were changed again, leaving us with a free night, and we opted to get dinner and see a movie at Laurelhurst Theater. So, no recipe or photos to post today, which means it's your turn--what did you cook last night? How did it turn out? What are you making tonight?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

tuesday - quinoa tamales, spicy black beans, and garlicky beet greens

This was the first time I've tried this quinoa tamale recipe from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook. I found that, as directed, the "tamale" would have been very, very thick, so I split it into two loaf pans (alternatively, the recipe could have been halved). It seemed like the perfect size after dividing it. This was a really interesting recipe and ended up being very good. There's lots of potential for variations--I kept thinking of different fillings such as black beans, shredded chicken, or pork with green chiles. I know the quinoa is meant to be neutral-tasting like the masa in a real tamale, but I think it would also be nice to season it with chili powder and cumin. I'll definitely make this recipe again using some of these variations. I used the tomatillo salsa that I made a couple weeks ago (I stored several jars in the freezer), but Bittman's salsa included with his tamale recipe is fairly similar. You could also buy salsa verde if you're pressed for time, but having salsa isn't optional--there wasn't a ton of flavor in the tamale itself, and the salsa really helped jazz it up. This isn't a complicated recipe at all, but it does take about 30 minutes for the quinoa to cook and an additional hour for it to bake--you can make the quinoa ahead of time, if that helps. I think you could even freeze the loaf to bake later--I wish I had tried that with the extra pan I ended up with.

I also made spicy black beans with soy "chorizo" (or soyrizo), which is my husband's favorite dish. I've posted the recipe here before and have also discussed my thoughts on soy-based "meats." Typically, I'm not a fan of fake meats, but since Courtney doesn't eat any ground meat (beef, pork, poultry, etc.), I do occasionally use soyrizo to make this dish since he loves it so much. I'm comforted that it doesn't have a million ingredients and that all of the ingredients are recognizable and pronounceable: textured soy protein, water, oil, vinegar, salt, spices, red pepper, and garlic. Not too scary at all (and truthfully, less scary than what's potentially found in some ground meats).

I added sautéed beet greens to the meal plan rather than the salad I had originally planned. I decided to add onions and garlic to the greens, loosely based on this recipe from Rick Bayless at

While the tamales were a bit time-consuming, most of that time was hands-off, so all-in-all this was a fairly simple, very flavorful meal.

Quinoa Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup tomatillo salsa, freshly made or store-bought
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put the quinoa in a large pot along with a big pinch of salt. Add water to cover by about 1 1/2 inches. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are very tender and begin to burst, 25 to 30 minutes. If the grains get too dry, add just enough water to keep them submerged. When the grains are starchy and thick, remove from the heat. (You can cook the quinoa up to a day ahead and refrigerate; return to room temperature before proceeding.)

Generously coat two 9 × 5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Mix the baking powder and a pinch of salt into the quinoa with a fork. The consistency should be thick but spreadable; if it’s too stiff, add a few drops of water. Spread a quarter of the quinoa mixture in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with half of the queso fresco and half of the chili powder. Add an additional quarter of the quinoa, smooth it out evenly, and press down a bit to seal the loaf. Repeat with the other loaf pan. Cover the pans tightly with foil. (At this point the quinoa loaves can be covered and refrigerated for up to several hours.)

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the tops are golden brown, another 30 minutes or so. Remove the pans from the oven and let the tamales sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a platter. Garnish with the cilantro and a little more cheese, cut the tamales into slices, and serve, passing the salsa at the table.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Garlicky Beet Greens

1 bunch beet greens or spinach, stems removed and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Salt, to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add greens. Stir for about 2 minutes, just long enough to wilt the greens. Season with salt.

Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

monday - pork tenderloin with plum chutney, sautéed kale, arugula & chickpea salad

I revamped the meal plan a bit last night to account for unexpected shifts in our schedule coming up later this week--I added the arugula and chickpea salad to the pork meal and changed the kale from a salad to a simple sauté. I prepared the pork using one of Ellie Krieger's recipes from've posted the recipe previously with my minor changes. It's a great way to prepare pork tenderloin, adding tons of flavor with minimal salt. I topped the pork with the plum chutney that I canned recently, which turned out so well! I'm really happy with the sweet-tart taste.

I quickly sautéed kale for a side dish, and also served an arugula and chickpea salad from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I made a few minor changes to his recipe--adding tomatoes and using shallots instead of red onion--and overall it was a nice salad. I left out the optional hard boiled eggs, but I think they would be a nice addition if serving it as an entrée salad.

Sautéed Kale

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

Coarsely chop kale leaves. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add kale, tossing frequently until the leaves are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring to combine. Cook until garlic is fragrant and kale is tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Makes 2 servings.
Arugula & Chickpea Salad
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked or drained canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups arugula leaves
1 tomato, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Put the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the ginger and garlic are soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the chickpeas until hot and coated in the oil and seasonings, about 3 minutes more.
Remove from heat and with a fork, stir in the vinegar, honey, and 1 tablespoon water. Mash a few of the chickpeas as you stir to add texture to the dressing. Put the arugula, tomato, and shallot in a large bowl and toss with the warm chickpea dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

sunday - tempeh, mushroom, & snow pea stir-fry with brown rice

Last night's dinner was based on a stir-fry recipe from this month's Bon Appétit magazine. The original recipe calls for sirloin, which I thought sounded delicious, but my husband doesn't eat beef so I decided to make a vegetarian version. I was a vegetarian for most of my 20s, and while I do eat meat now, I'm still happy to have meatless meals and always try to keep the focus on plant foods. I planned on using tofu in this recipe, but I saw a package of tempeh at the store and decided it would be a good substitute for the beef. If you aren't familiar with it, tempeh is a fermented soy product that's blended with whole grains--if that sounds unappealing, trust me, it has a mild flavor and a nice chewy texture. It's not scary at all, nor is it highly processed like soy-based meat substitutes. Plus it's packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients. Having said that, though, feel free to stick with the sirloin or to use tofu in this recipe if you can't find tempeh.

Overall, this was a good, not great, dish. It calls for hoisin, which is a flavorful sauce but tends to be one of those ingredients that I buy for one particular recipe and then it languishes in the refrigerator for ages. I like the flavor, but I never know what else to do with it. This recipe uses 5 tablespoons of hoisin--yay! It's a nice way to make good use of the sauce if you, like me, have a jar gathering dust. It was on the spicy side due to the chili-garlic sauce, so next time I would use less during cooking and let people add additional at the table to suit personal preferences. The stir-fry was ready in under 30 minutes (that aspect was great!), and I served it over brown rice.

Tempeh, Mushroom, and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
10 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
8 ounces snow peas
1 bunch green onions, sliced, divided
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided
5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (or less, to taste)

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and mushrooms; stir-fry until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add tempeh to skillet; stir-fry until beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add snow peas, half of green onions, and half of cilantro; stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in hoisin and chili-garlic sauce; sauté until peas are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and cilantro. Serve over brown rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

meal plan

I visited the King Farmers' Market today and picked up kale, chioggia beets, arugula, cilantro, tomato, pears, cantaloupe, plums, and apples.

I spent $21, but still had to buy mushrooms, snow peas, and green onions at Trader Joe's to complete the produce on my grocery list. Here's this week's meal plan:

Meal 1: pork tenderloin with plum chutney, kale salad, corn & poblano soup
Meal 2: quinoa tamales with tomatillo salsa, spicy black beans, salad
Meal 3: cod with olive, pine nut, & parsley relish; roasted beets; quinoa
Meal 4: tempeh, shiitake, & snow pea stir-fry with brown rice
Meal 5: chickpea & arugula salad with wheat berry-lentil soup

What's on your meal plan this week?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

friday - shrimp & spinach with polenta

This shrimp & polenta dish from is one of my favorite recipes for a quick and delicious meal. It's basically 4 main ingredients--frozen shrimp, a bunch (or a bag) of spinach, canned tomatoes, and a tube of polenta, all of which I usually have in my pantry, freezer, or fridge. As I recently mentioned, I've got armageddon-levels of canned tomatoes in my pantry, so that's what I used, but fresh tomatoes work well if you prefer. The original recipe calls for escarole, but I think spinach is easier to come by and works well in the dish. Any leafy greens could easily be substituted--kale would be nice and would make the meal even heartier. I love using prepared polenta (sold in a tube either in the pasta aisle or in the refrigerated section near the tofu in most supermarkets)--it's convenient, tasty, and a nice change from pasta or other grains. Plus, it's gluten-free, so if that's a concern in your family, it's definitely a nice staple to keep on hand. The original recipe calls for grilling the polenta--I broil mine, but either way you'll get polenta that's nice and crispy on the outside and creamy inside. This is a great way to prepare polenta and top with any sort of pasta sauce, but the sauce and shrimp in this dish are especially flavorful and are garnished with a few sliced olives. I'm lucky enough to have a jar of home-cured olives given to us by a friend (thanks, Brian!), but any sort of oil-cured olives would give the dish a nice salty finish.

Shrimp & Spinach with Polenta

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large bunch spinach, coarsely chopped, or 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1 16-ounce tube prepared plain polenta, sliced into 8 rounds
8 oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat broiler to high.

Place oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, shrimp, and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are juicy and the shrimp are pink and curled, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the polenta slices on the sheet and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray. Broil the polenta slices until hot and slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Divide the polenta and sauce among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with olives.

Makes 4 servings.