One Pot Kale and Israeli Couscous
Serves 4 as a side, or two as a light lunch
This is a lovely zesty side dish that is easier than it appears. All you need is one pot! If you are a fan of couscous, but have not explored Israeli couscous, I highly recommend it. This variety is also known as Pearl couscous. It’s larger size makes for a tender and delicious ingredient that is ready to soak up any flavors you throw at it. In this dish, the simple combination of vegetable broth and lemon juice make the couscous sing.
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (you can use boullion cubes)
1 cup Israeli couscous (aka Pearl couscous)
juice of one lemon
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1. Add the vegetable broth, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
2. Add the couscous, stir, and then add the kale. Don’t mix, allow the kale to sit on top of the broth and couscous where it will gently steam. Cover the pot and lower the heat as low as possible.
3. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
4. Once the couscous is tender, gently stir together the kale and couscous. Serve.
Summer Stuffed Peppers
Serves 2 as a side or appetizer
Sweet corn off the cob, tender zucchini and bright cilantro and lime; these are some of my favorites summer flavors. The inspiration for this dish came from the beautiful hot banana peppers I brought home from the farmer’s market. Cream cheese acts to bind and cool the combination of corn, zucchini, cilantro and lime. This is an exciting side dish or appetizer that is surprisingly simple since the corn and zucchini are not cooked before they are stuffed in the pepper. Be warned: hot banana peppers are HOT! But mild banana peppers or jalapeno would be an excellent stand in for those with a more mild palate
3 hot banana peppers
1 ear of corn
1 small zucchini, medium diced
1 scallion, diced
1 tbs cilantro
2 tbs cream cheese
1 tbs fresh lime juice
pinch of smoked paprika
Pre-heat oven to 400°
Carefully remove the corn from the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Add zucchini, scallion, cilantro, cream cheese, and lime juice to the bowl and combine. Set aside.
Cut the banana peppers in half lengthwise, removing the seeds. Stuff about a teaspoon of the mixture (or as much as you can jam in there) into each pepper boat. Sprinkle with paprika and set into a baking dish, being careful they stay in place and don’t topple over. (I say this from experience – notice the picture is missing a few peppers .
Bake for 10 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Tangy Avocado Pasta Salad
This summer dish is everything you want in a pasta salad and nothing you don’t! There is nothing heavy in this one; no cheese and no mayo. Ripe avocados coat the pasta, arugula, and tomatoes; creating a creamy yet healthy dressing. It delicious both warm or chilled.
1 package of bowtie pasta (or rotini etc)
3 very ripe avocados
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
generous pour of olive oil, to combine
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 package of arugula
pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste
This salad is very quick to assemble, so first get your salted water boiling and your pasta cooking according to package directions. While it boils, mash up the avocados in a large bowl along with the lemon juice and red pepper flakes and set aside. Don’t worry too much about the texture yet.
Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside.
Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and add it immediately to the large bowl containing the dressing. The hot starchy water that clings to the pasta will help combine the dressing. Drizzle olive oil over the dish as you combine.
Finally, fold in the tomatoes and arugula, and add S&P to taste. Serve hot or chilled for the perfect summer meal.
Seared Veggie Sandwiches
This simple summer lunch is composed of seared zucchini and tomato, parsley, and feta cheese. The veggies become so flavorful after a quick bath in a hot pan drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with Italian herbs. The concentrated sweetness of the veggies burst in your mouth to deliver all the freshness of summer.
1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 vine ripened tomato, sliced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Italian herbs
4 tbs coarsely chopped parsley
2 tbs feta
pinch salt and pepper
4 slices of bread of your choice
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup cashews
Heat a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the evoo and herbs. Allow the herbs to sizzle for a moment. Add the zucchini slices.
Allow the zucchini to brown on both sides, remove from heat. Add the sliced tomato to the pan and sear on both sides. Set the veggies aside.
Blend the cashews and sun-dried tomatoes (along with a splash of water if you need it) until it forms a semi-creamy spread.
Assemble the sandwiches: smear the spread onto the bread, layer veggies, top with feta and parsley, finish with a pinch of S&P
Chef’s Notes: While this sandwich is DELICIOUS, it is not ideal for picnics or beach trips, as the bread slices suck up the succulent tomato juices and make for a soggy samich. If you can hang with soggy bread, go for it! The flavors will still be delish. But if you are like me and soggy bread makes you squirm, then simply assemble the sandwiches on site.
French Bread Stuffed with Broccoli and Cheese
a.k.a. Homemade Hot Pockets
Let’s face it, anything stuffed inside a golden loaf of crispy french bread is going to be delicious. The filling for this home style hot pocket does not disappoint. Aldente brocolli, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic and lemon zest come together inside this pillowy bread to make a meal you won’t soon forget.
French bread dough *
2 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
I used my bread-maker to whip up some french bread dough*. I use this website for recipes http://www.bread-machine-recipes.com/. But you can also use french bread dough in the tube (PILLSBURY). You will need two tubes for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 425°
Get some salted water boiling. Meanwhile get the rest of the ingredients (except the beaten egg and Parmesean cheese) into a large bowl and combine.
Once the water is boiling add the broccoli. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until it is just tender.
Drain the broccoli and add it to the large bowl with the rest of the ingredient and combine. The warm broccoli will get coated in all the creamy dreamy ingredients.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a large rectangle. About 12” by 8”, but just eye-ball it. Cut the large rectangle into two smaller rectangles.
Divide the filling between the two rectangles. Fold the long sides over the filling and press together, then fold up the short sides and press to seal. You don’t have to seal very tightly so don’t worry.
Lightly oil a large baking sheet and place the hot pockets seam side down. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cook’s Notes: This recipe is very forgiving. If you have CREAM CHEESE in the fridge, throw that in instead of the goat cheese. Or if you only have cheddar, double the amount. I served this along side a simple salad. Half of one of the hot pockets along with a side should fill one hungry adult. So this recipe serves four.
Fool Proof Pan Fried Tofu & Perfect Teriyaki Sauce
Tofu can be tricky when you first start to experiment with it. But when you learn a few basics, tofu can become a staple in your kitchen. I have perfected a pan frying method to get golden brown crispy tofu that never fails.
This post is more to share a technique than to share a specific recipe. So serve this tofu with any sauce, vegetable, and grain you have on hand. I chose a teriyaki that bubbles in the pan with the tofu and ends up lightly caramelizing the tofu. YUM!
Follow these three guidelines, and your bland tofu days will be over!
FIRST- when dealing with tofu, it is important to press it for an extended amount of time in order to get the excess water (and therefore the watery, yucky texture) out of the tofu.
1- Wrap the tofu in paper towel (to keep fuzzy bits of kitchen towel from sticking to it)
2- Wrap in a kitchen towel (to absorb all the excess water)
3- Put something heavy on top. I use a large skillet, but anything will do.
4- WAIT… for at least 20 minutes. But you can start it pressing in the morning and let is go all day. You can press it in the fridge so that it is ready for you to cook with in the evening.
SECOND- Cook the tofu on high heat in a seriously non-stick pan.
1- Get a skillet, frying pan, or wok preheating over high heat.
2- Cut the tofu into whatever size pieces work for the dish you are creating.
3- Add oil to the pan. Vegetable oil is best since it does not easily burn.
4- Wait for the oil to heat up. When you add the tofu it should immediately sizzle.
5- Brown on each side. Depending on how hot your pan is it should take about 4 minutes on each side.
THIRD- Flavorful sauce is a must for tasty tofu. I have a few different favorites. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite, PERFECT TERIYAKI.
1 cup low sodium soy sauce (if you don’t have low sodium use 1/2 water, 1/2 soy sauce- otherwise the salt will overpower all the other flavors)
1/2 cup mirin (sweetened rice wine)
3 tbs sugar
-optional: splash of OJ, zest of lemon/lime/orange, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes-
Add this after the tofu is browned and allow is to bubble in the pan. It will reduce a little bit and caramelize slightly. The flavor is amazing and so much better than store bought teriyaki.
Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses one block of tofu which serves 2 people. The teriyaki recipe makes quite a bit of sauce. The extra can be drizzled over the vegetable and grain you serve alongside the tofu.
Click on the pictures for a description.
Everyday Daal (Lentils)
This easy pantry meal uses Indian spices to create an exciting twist on the common lentil. I use red lentils, but any lentil variety will do. Once you build up your spice cabinet (it’s so worth it!), you should have all the ingredients necessary for this wonderful dish.
1 cup red lentil (or any lentil variety you have on hand)
2 cups water (or veggie broth)
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1/4 cup oil (I use vegetable oil)
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
2 cloves (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or 1 serrano pepper)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chunk of fresh ginger, minced (1-2 tbs), [or 1 tbs ground ginger]
1 16oz can of diced tomatoes (or a couple fresh tomatoes diced)
2/3 cup cashews and 2/3 cup water (optional)
Easy as boiling water, and sauteing onions… Plus a few spices.
1. Cook rice according to directions on package
2. In a separate pot, combine 1 cup (rinsed, picked over) lentils with 2 cups water (or broth)
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick, garam masala, and red pepper flakes; allow to froth in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic (add a touch more oil if the spices have absorbed it); cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes to the the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer until the lentil are thoroughly cooked. When the lentils are very tender, add them to the skillet and combine.
5. This last step is optional, but it adds a lot of texture to the dish. In you food processor/magic bullet/immersion blender combine the cashews and water. Puree until smooth. This cashew cream can be drizzled on your plated lentils or mixed into the lentils in the skillet before serving. An alternative is to add some plain yogurt to the lentils for a similar (non-vegan) result.
Cook’s notes: Serve along side rice. Store-bought naan is a wonderful addition to the meal as well. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you have it on hand. Adjust red pepper flakes to suit your taste; we usually add some extra at the end. If using serrano pepper, slice it longwise down the center and add to the skillet. Do not mince until you have tried the dish once; dices it adds A LOT of heat to the dish. Garam masala is a spice mix that varies depending on the brand you purchase, it may contain cinnamon and clove as well as cumin and cardamon. You may even venture to create your own garam masala mixture once you explore your palate.
PS- We LOVE Indian food and often treat ourselves to take-out from our local Indian restaurant. I was intimidated by the idea of cooking my own Indian dish. But this dish is such a crowd pleaser, from veteran Indian food lovers, to beginners. Make it your own by adjusting the spices and being adventurous with the spices (especially the pepper!).