Harissa Lentils and Cauliflower

10 02 2015

This meatless lentil and cauliflower dinner is loaded with good nutrients and offers a unique middle eastern flavor. The homemade harissa is a little spicy, but not overpowering. By using chipotles in adobo rather than other chili peppers, you actually get a smokey flavor.

Harissa Lentils and Cauliflower

The following serves 2-3 (adapted from Naturally Ella):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 and 1/2 cups small cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup reduced-fat, low sodium chicken stock, plus more as needed

For the Harissa:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime (reserve the zest and toss with cooked rice)
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted/charred, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, along with a little of the sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro

Add all the harissa ingredients to a high-powered blender in the order listed. Turn on high and pulse until well combined. Remove from blender and set aside.

Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for a minute or so until beginning to soften. Add the cauliflower and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils and toast for a few minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, harissa and 1 cup of broth. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check often to make sure the liquid hasn’t evaporated too much. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a little more broth. Taste and season with salt.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

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Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

25 01 2015

The style of cooking risotto can be applied to other similar “miniature pearl” starches, such as couscous. The technique is all about adding warm stock in stages to allow it to cook gradually and absorb the liquid. By using a large skillet like I do here, it will take less time too. Serve with quick cooking scallops and asparagus for a special meal that won’t take hours!

Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

The following serves 4 (adapted from The Italian Table):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken stock, warmed
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous or couscous medley with orzo, peas and lentils
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and 1/4 – 1/2 of the bunch cut into thirds
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next, add the couscous and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, a few minutes. Add the wine, stir well and cook until the wine evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a saucepan until warmed.

Add 1 cup of warmed chicken stock to the couscous and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the stock is absorbed. Add another cup of warmed stock and continue to cook, stirring often and until absorbed. Finally, add the remaining cup of stock and cook couscous, stirring until tender. This process will take about 15 minutes. Just be sure not to walk away and don’t forget to stir.

Fold in the chopped asparagus, butter and cheese, stirring constantly until butter is melted and everything is fully incorporated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the risotto is cooking, you can roast the rest of the asparagus and quickly sear scallops to round out the meal.





Kale-Artichoke Dip

12 01 2015

Here’s a simple and unique artichoke dip that features kale rather than spinach. This healthy dip whips up fast, and is great for diving into on game day!

Kale-Artichoke Dip

The following serves 6 (adapted from Girl Who Ate Everything):

  • 1 (14 oz) can artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 4 cups fresh chopped kale
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Lemon zest from about a 1/4 of a lemon or so
  • Multi-grain chips and sliced veggies for serving

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 1 and 1/2 or 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the artichokes, cream cheese, yogurt, 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, parmesan, kale, garlic and lemon zest. Season with salt to taste and mix well until everything is combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Stir and bake, covered, for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add the remaining 1/2 cup of Italian cheese blend. Bake uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Serve with multi-grain chips and sliced veggies such as celery and carrots.

And here’s one more idea for you….in case you have extras, try heating this up the next day and topping it on quick sautéed chicken!





Roasted Cauliflower, Celery Root and Apple Salad

17 11 2014

This was my first time working with celery root, and I must admit I wasn’t sure how to feel about the funky looking veggie. But it pairs wonderfully with roasted cauliflower, fresh apple and a tangy vinaigrette! Thanks Fresh Fork Market, for continuing to introduce me to produce I wouldn’t otherwise buy.

Roasted Cauliflower, Celery Root and Apple Salad

The following serves 4 (adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen):

  • Small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated garlic
  • 1 celery root, trimmed and cut into matchsticks (to trim, cut the entire rough outside off using a sharp knife, leaving just the white flesh of the inside)
  • 1 medium apple, cored and trimmed into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pecans, halved and toasted

I recommend roasting the cauliflower ahead of time, or at least make sure you have enough time to cool it to room temp if you roast it the night you want to use it.

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower florets with a little olive oil, salt and granulated garlic to taste. Roast in a single layer on a baking sheet for 20- 25 minutes, or until beginning to brown, turning half-way through.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Either store the roasted cauliflower in a sealed container in the fridge, or move onto making the salad.

In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil and salt to taste. I give a range for the olive oil, use less if you don’t like dressing as acidic or use more if you prefer the vinegar flavor to be at the forefront (which is how I prefer it!). Start with less olive oil, taste, then add more if you like.

Add the apple and celery root matchsticks to the vinaigrette, along with the cooled or previously roasted cauliflower and toss well. Add the parsley and pecans and mix. Season with pepper before serving if you like.

Enjoy this salad for lunch, or serve along with a protein of your choice for a healthy dinner.





Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

14 10 2014

This tasty dish comes together in less than a half hour, perfect for weeknight dinners and meatless Mondays. Comfort food can be healthy, and it doesn’t have to take all day either!

Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

The following serves 4 (compliments of Cuisine Light and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 heaping cup of dry whole wheat orzo
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and cook orzo to al dente, according to package directions. Reserve a little of the pasta water, then drain the orzo.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute a few minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add bell pepper and saute another few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next add the eggplant and cook until eggplant begins to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add wine to eggplant and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in the broth and tomato paste and mix well. Add chickpeas and  simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with salt to taste.

Next add the orzo and a little of the pasta water, mix well to combine and cook on low for another minute or so. Stir in a good dusting of lemon zest and some of the chopped parsley. Mix to combine and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

Dish out the orzo and garnish with more parsley and parmesan.





Cabbage and Apple Salad

7 10 2014

Here’s a crunchy, healthy and super flavorful salad which I like to serve as a side dish. You can quickly whip it up and let it hang out in the fridge while you cook dinner – which will allow the flavors to combine. Don’t worry about the measurements, just wing it and adjust to your taste as you go. If you like salad a little on the tangy side, add more vinegar. If you don’t like it as dressed, don’t add as much liquid. Just have fun with it! 🙂

Cabbage and Apple Salad

The following is compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat:

  • Dijon mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cabbage, shredded or sliced thin
  • Apple, cored and sliced thin
  • Shallot, sliced thin
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Whisk a little Dijon mustard with some apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Add shredded or sliced cabbage, sliced apples and sliced shallots. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning, vinegar or oil as needed. Add sunflower seeds and fresh parsley before serving.





Spaghetti Aglio e Olio With Marinated Tomatoes

1 09 2014

This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan or romano cheese

Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.

Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.

Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.

Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.