Tabbouleh Salad With Farro and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

28 04 2014

This is such a tasty meatless meal, packed with loads of flavor and healthy ingredients! Tabbouleh is a Lebanese grain salad typically made with bulgur wheat. I didn’t have bulgur so I improvised with the ancient grain farro, but kept the rest of the traditional ingredients the same with mixing in parsley, mint, cucumbers, tomatoes and dressing with lemon juice and olive oil. Heads up, there’s a lot of chopping to be had here, so grab yourself a sous chef to help!

Tabbouleh Salad With Farro and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Tabbouleh Salad With Farro and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

The following makes 4 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • Minced zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (10 oz) grape tomatoes, halved (you could also use a mix of tomatoes and chopped red bell pepper if you wanted)
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup sliced scallions or green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms (4-6 oz each) stemmed and gilled
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat, crumbled feta cheese

Cook the farro according to package directions. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 3 Tbsp of the vinaigrette to brush on the portobellos.

Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, scallions, mint, olives, and cooled farro. Toss with vinaigrette and chill until ready to serve.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

For the mushrooms, brush both sides with reserved vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms, uncovered, until grill marks appear and mushrooms are softened, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and transfer to a cutting board. Slice mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick strips.

To serve, plate the tabbouleh salad, top with sliced mushrooms and garnish with feta.

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Baked Spaghetti Pie

16 04 2014

I’ve shared the idea for turning leftover pasta into a frittata-like pie before, however this time I’ve used far less ingredients and baked it rather than frying for a much healthier option. This technique is simple, but makes your leftovers feel like a whole new meal…with a crunch!

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

  • Leftover pasta, shown here is leftover spaghetti tossed with a lite alfredo sauce, but you can used whatever you have
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Grated parmesean
  • Chopped parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat a medium oven-proof skillet sprayed liberally with non-stick spray over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the leftover pasta and flatten it out in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 5 minutes until the bottom starts to brown. Add the chicken stock, then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the pie. The trick to flipping is to place the back of a baking sheet on the top of your skillet. Brace the baking sheet with one hand while using the other hand to turn the skillet upside down (be sure to use a pot holder), so the cooked side of the pie slides out on the back of the baking sheet. Next, slide the pie back into your skillet, this time the uncooked side should be in the bottom of the skillet. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board to cut into pie pieces. Top slices with grated parmesean, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes to taste and a drizzle of oil.





Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

7 04 2014

Caprese is a classic Italian salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, dressed with olive oil. I took this simple starter up a notch, turning it into an easy, meatless main or side dish made with healthy barley.

Warm Barley Caprese

Warm Barley and Spinach Caprese

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • Couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian cheese blend or mozzarella, shredded
  • Grated parmesan
  • Fresh basil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Rinse barley thoroughly with water, drain. Cook according to package directions. Mine called for cooking the dried, rinsed barley in a large pot of water for 35-45 minutes. Then drain and return to the pot, much like pasta.

After the barley is cooked, make the sauce. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the garlic. Cook garlic a few minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the tomatoes. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste. Next, wilt in the spinach over low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked barley and stir well to combine.

At this point you could enjoy the dish as is if you wanted, garnished with parmesan and basil. Or you could mix in a little shredded Italian cheese blend and some basil, then transfer to a small casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with a little parmesean and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dish out the barley, top with more basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar just before serving.





Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

30 03 2014

We hosted a dinner party last night and served freshly baked baguette bread from our local baker with the meal. There was no way I was going to let it go to waste, so today I took the leftovers (bread and marinara sauce) and turned them into a fabulous parmesan sandwich with eggplant. This is such a scrumptious, meatless meal that’s fork and knife worthy!

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

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

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Eggplant, sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • Eggs, beaten
  • Grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Aged parmesan, sliced
  • Fresh baguette, sliced into sandwich-size pieces
  • Fresh basil leaves

Slice the eggplant and lay them in a single layer on a cooling rack. Season liberally with salt. Once the eggplant has sweated, blot them dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350.

Add a few Tbsps of oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium-high.

Beat eggs (start with 2 or 3 depending how many slices of eggplant you have, you may have to beat more) and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture until fully coated. Then place in the hot skillet and saute until golden brown on both sides, 5-8 minutes. Place browned eggplant back on the cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Continue to dip and brown eggplant until you’ve used up all the eggplant. Transfer baking sheet with the eggplant to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place sliced cheese on top, as much as desired. Place back in the oven until cheese melts.

Meanwhile, warm marinara sauce in a saucepan over low heat, or make sauce – see recipe below.

Slice baguette in half horizontally, and vertically into sandwich-size pieces. Place in the oven for a few minutes to warm.

Remove both eggplant and baguette from the oven.

To serve, spread some marinara on pieces of warmed baguette. Top one piece of baguette with 2-3 eggplant slices and a few basil leaves. Top with another piece of sauced baguette. Enjoy with a side salad. Pictured here is baby arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the marinara:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Next add the minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly.





Olive and Artichoke Naan Pizza

24 03 2014

Salty olives and feta pair beautifully with artichokes, crunchy kale and bright lemon zest. This naan pizza is a fabulous, and fast, meatless Monday dinner!

Olive and Artichoke Naan Pizza

Olive and Artichoke Naan Pizza

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 whole-grain naan flatbread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 box frozen artichokes, thawed
  • Kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • Kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Reduced-fat, crumbled feta
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Lemon zest
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400.

Place naan on a pizza stone, or baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with artichokes, olives and kale (divide among naan). Next add feta and parmesan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. As far as the measurements go, add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until browned and the cheese has melted slightly.

Top with a little lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes and more parmesan before serving.





Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

5 03 2014

Baked eggplant is an Italian classic, and a great meatless meal option especially if you observe Lent. There are so many great versions, and here, I add a layer of chunky spinach and kalamata olives. A delicious, healthy Italian dinner with a boost of veggies and an extra salty bite, what’s not to love?!

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

The following serves 2-3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup marinated kalamata olives, with some of the oil
  •  2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Marinara (I had some leftover from a previous dinner, but see below for how to make an easy marinara)
  • Reduced-fat, shredded Italian cheese blend (Sargento is a good option)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh basil, torn into pieces

Lay sliced eggplant on a non-stick baking sheet in one layer and sprinkle with salt. Set aside until eggplant starts to sweat. Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle eggplant with a little oil and bake until it starts to loosen slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, add olives, spinach and garlic to a food processor and pulse slightly, until chunky.

Spray a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add a little marinara to the bottom of the casserole. Next, add a layer of eggplant. Top eggplant with a layer of the spinach-olive mixture, and top that with some more marinara (add a glob on top and around each eggplant slice). Top with a layer of shredded cheese as well as a sprinkle of parmesan. Repeat layering: eggplant, spinach-olive mixture, marinara and finally, both cheeses.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove foil, raise the oven to 400 and continue baking, uncovered, another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with basil and serve.

This Girl’s Easy Marinara:

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add half an onion, diced and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 oz) and few leaves of basil, chopped. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly. Store any extra in a covered tupperware container in the fridge.





Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

27 02 2014

Cauliflower braised in tomato sauce is an old Italian side dish. In this version, I’ve tossed it with healthy whole wheat pasta to turn it into a complete and delicious, meatless meal. Very simple, yet oh so tasty!

Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

The following serves 4 (adapted from Lidia Bastianich):

  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly minced
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 28-oz can whole san marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/4 cup drained tiny capers in brine
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves
  • Half a lb (8 oz) dry whole wheat pasta, whatever cut you have or like, I used farfalle
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and let it sizzle for a minute. Toss the cauliflower and stir to coat with the oil.

Sprinkle in the olives, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes and stir. Pour in the tomatoes (crush them with your hands right in the pan, it will be less messy than using a masher) and capers, and bring the cauliflower/sauce to a rapid simmer. Cover, and cook 10 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and season liberally with salt. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and add to the skillet with the cauliflower (once the cauliflower is tender). Toss pasta with cauliflower and sauce until well combined.

Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil (if you have a lemon olive oil, it would be a fantastic garnish!), and tear basil leaves into the skillet. Stir to combine, and serve topped with parmesan cheese.

This Girl’s wine pick: I enjoyed this dinner with Milestone, a California Red Blend.