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Fall Sheet Tray Salad ~*Cranberry Bog Blog*~

16 Nov

IMG_2106Every few months I get a package with a Cranberry Bog Blogger Recipe Challenge. I usually receive a few ingredients and a recipe, but for this month the challenge was turned around and I had to come up with my own recipe using the ingredients in my mailer.

Fall Cranberry Bog Blogger Challenge: We’ve provided a few ingredients you may not typically think of when serving cranberries – and we challenge you to use them all in one cranberry-inspired holiday dish! Show us your chops by making a main course, side dish or dessert that includes the surprise ingredients you’ll find in your package arriving in the mail this week.

The ingredients: cannellini beans; whole berry cranberry sauce; quinoa; sage

I worked with what I know best, the warm grain salad. This time, I made a sheet tray style salad. Continue reading

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Chickpea Vegetable Pancakes with Yogurt and Urfa ~*Recipe ReDux*~

22 Apr

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This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is ‘Spring Cleaning:’

“Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize.” 

Some hidden ‘treasures’ that I found in my kitchen include: pine nuts, canned pineapple, chocolate balsamic vinegar, amarena cherries, anchovies and anchovy paste, and capers. If anyone has suggestions for what to do with some of these ingredients please let me know in the comments. These ingredients have been patiently waiting to be used for a long time now.

Ultimately, I decided to focus my attention on the chickpea flour that has been hanging out in my pantry. Continue reading

I made hummus and you should, too

10 Feb

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I made hummus this weekend. Classic chickpea-tahini-lemon-garlic hummus. I even went so far as to soak dried chickpeas the night before and I took the outer skins off the chickpeas before blending. All of those extra little steps lead me to the most sublime, or as Deb Perelman says, ethereally smooth, hummus. Continue reading

Bon Appetit’s Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

17 Jul

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My pantry is filled with grains. Grains in various packages–bags, quart containers, boxes, tupperware, and random bulk-bin bags. Grains in various amounts–a nearly full container, half empty, one or two servings left, and a serving that requires more math to calculate liquid-to-grain ratios than I would like to think about.

In my pantry I have: amaranth (I’ve been checking this post out for how to use my amaranth. I want to try popping it), bulgur (that one is in the fridge for some reason), three different kinds of oats, about two servings-worth of farina, polenta, grits, barley, a cupful of arborio rice, couscous, short grain brown rice, jasmine rice, farro, roasted buckwheat grouts (aka kasha), a handful of egg noodles, angel hair, and spaghetti. I recently polished off the quinoa and the millet, and I am exercising serious restraint not to buy more before I finish off some of my other grain odds and ends. Those darn odds and ends. At least grains have a long shelf life.

Looks like Amanda Hesser and I are on the same wavelength, though. She recently prepared lunch for her kids by using up the “various inconvenient amounts” of grains lying around. She boiled them one at a time in the same pot and, like magic, lunch was packed and pantry space was created and only one pot was dirty.

The upshot of all of this pantry overload is that overtime I built myself a arsenal of healthy, quick (and not-so-quick) pantry grains for that perfect throw-together meal. I just need a better system for storing, organizing, and keeping track of all the grains.

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One of the many grains in my pantry is barley. I bought the barley in the winter when I made this creamy chicken soup, and it’s about time that I use it again. Let’s take barley’s “heft and chew” from winter stew to summer salad.

I enjoyed a big bowl of Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad for dinner with a little sautéed pesto zucchini and a cold cherry balsamic shrub with a squeeze of lemon juice. Hit. The. Spot.

Leftover grain salads make a great lunch the next day, too.

Barley tip: I soaked the pearled barley in water overnight to speed up the cooking time. Soaking is also thought to enhance the nutrient absorption of the grain by decreasing phytic acid. Nutrition Stripped has a handy guide on soaking and sprouting as a quick reference.

Soaking changes the color of the barley to a slightly gray-color vs. a toasty beige, but the taste is essentially the same. Check out this Serious Eats post about soaking. Up to you if you want to soak, but I recommend it, if anything to save you some time.

Don’t have barely on hand? Feel free to use brown rice, quinoa, farro, wheatberries, pasta, or really any other grain you have in your pantry!

Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

adapted from Bon Appetit

makes about 4 servings

NOTE: I didn’t use all of the barley that I cooked. That was my personal preference. Using all of the barley for this recipe seemed like A LOT of barley, and I liked having more even amounts of grains, beans, and veggies in my salad. I saved some of my leftover barley in the fridge and ate it later in the week with different accoutrement. You can also eat leftover barley as a sweet or savory breakfast. 

8 oz. green beans, halved crosswise

1 cup pearled barley, soaked overnight and drained

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

handful of fresh spinach, leaves torn

juice of half a lemon

optional: fresh ground pepper, pinch of salt, a few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano…), a pinch of your favorite spices 

  • Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a sieve or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water.
  • Return water to a boil, add barley, and simmer until tender (refer to packaging for timing, mine only took about 10 minutes since I soaked it overnight); drain. Let cool slightly.
  • Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook pumpkin seeds, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; let cool.
  • Toss green beans, barley, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, feta, spinach, lemon juice, and optional herbs and spices in a large bowl. Enjoy!

Summer Salad Round-Up!

24 May

Summer is about to hit us in full force, and I want us to be prepared for the potlucks, barbecues, picnics, and shenanigans to come. Pretty soon I will transition from roasting all of my veggies to shaving them into ribbons and enjoying them raw, preparing grain-based salads, bouncy pastas, light sautés, and brothy soups. It will simply be too dang hot turn on the oven.

Here are some ideas for no-cook (or very-little cook…) hearty salads to ring in the sunshine and keep us lookin’ nice and cool. Variations and substitutions are encouraged. Have fun and experiment.

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Potato Salad with Pickled Red Onion. Can you say 4th of July party?! This salad is salty, crunchy, acidic, herby, and creamy all-in-one. Heck yes.

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Get your fix of beans with this 3 Bean Summer Salad with Corn, Tomato, Avocado & Lime. Colorful and bright, this salad is great on its own or even used as a taco filling or chip dip.

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Radishes are taking over the farmer’s marktes in NY right now. Snag a bunch, slice them thin, and add them to this Israeli Couscous Salad. You could also try making a variation of this salad with a Miso Dressing.

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This Sweet and Savory Quinoa Salad is an old-time favorite. If it’s too hot to roast cauliflower, feel free to use whatever vegetable is easy to prepare and catches your eye. The dried fruit and Mediterranean spices remind me of summer fun.

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You better get your hands on asparagus NOW, before it goes out of season! Enjoy it in a Farro Salad. I recently made a variation of the potato salad above and added asparagus to it.

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No Cook Summer Fruit Salad. I like to use a mix of fresh fruit and dried fruit, with some fresh herbs and cinnamon to pack a punch. It is hard not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting.

Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

14 Apr

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Casseroles. Not too much effort to prepare, and they can yield multiple servings. So great for feeding a crowd, or a smattering for many days.

Kind of like a smoothie (here me out…), a casserole can pack in a lot of healthy (or not so healthy…up to you) foods into a meal. We’ve got carbs (cornbread!), veggies, and protein (beans and/or meat and cheese) all in one. Some of my other favorite casseroles include: lasagna and matzo lasagna.

I fondly remember my college days, living in a co-op house with 60+ students, where this sort of cornbread topped casserole dish was in heavy rotation (along with “lentil loaf,” homemade pizza nights, and giant pasta-bakes…).

This type of meal is a great week night throw-together that I imagine would please a family with young kids or teenagers, too. Perfect on it’s own, or maybe with a light side salad.

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The best part about this type of casserole is that you really do not need a recipe except for maybe the cornbread topping. I just threw in a handful or this and that, with some dashes of “tex-mex” style spices. This was my “kitchen sink” casserole; a great way to use up the odds and ends laying around from the week.

My casserole had a thinnish layer of cornbread on top…but if you really love cornbread, you may want to double the proportions for the recipe below. Or feel free to whip up your favorite cornbread recipe and just plop it on top of the veggie mixture before baking.

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Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

loosely adapted from NYTimes

bakes up in a 3-qt casserole dish

Filling:

1 onion, chopped

2-4 different kinds of veggies, chopped (I used zucchini, mushrooms, spinach…)

optional: 2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, chopped (or ground beef/turkey)

about 2 cups of black beans (or pinto, or kidney, or black-eyed peas…)

1 cup of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

spices: cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper (no need to measure, just add some dashes to taste)

optional: some chopped chili in adobo sauce (from the can)

Topping:

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large skillet, heat some oil and add the onion, veggies, and sausage. Cook until the onions start to soften and everything starts turning slightly golden brown. Add the black beans, tomato sauce, and spices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

To make the corn bread: Whisk together the dry ingredients (corn meal/flour/sugar/baking powder/salt) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Add the wet to the dry. Loosely cover the veggie mixture with the corn bread topping. The topping may disappear slightly into the veggie mixture but will rise during baking and form a layer of corn bread. Optional: add some grated cheese on top before or mid-way through baking. Bake until the corn bread is brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Black Bean Brownies

30 Aug

I am always amazed when a brownie or cookie recipe calls for anything less than a stick of butter. Usually you see a shocking 2 sticks of butter!

As a pastry professional, I’ve learned to get over my fear of using generous amounts of butter. That’s just how the cookie crumbles in that world. But at home, I try to only use butter when I can really make it count. Less is more. I want to treat myself, but still look good, ya dig my flow?

Black beans are the new applesauce when it comes to baking. Their dark color blends in perfectly with the chocolate, and they’ve got protein and fiber that are not only good for you, but help retain the whole rich-dense brownie thing.

I live with 3 dudes who dove head first into these fudgy squares. Dudes are into black bean brownies. It especially helps to put walnut studs, extra chocolate chips, and some coarse salt on top.

I don’t have a food processor. I hope you have one because it makes life easier. If you have one, just give the beans a whir. If you are like me and do not have one, you can smash your beans with a fork or your fingers, or pour your beans into the melted chocolate/butter mixture and then use an immersion blender and get it as smooth as you can. It’s ok if there’s a little texture. It all gets baked up and masked by the chocolate anyway.

Note that I first tried to blend my beans in my blender, but the blender was too large for the small amount of beans and nothing was happening. Moral of the story, buy a food processor. I just like to take the hard way, mostly because I have no room for another kitchen gadget in my apartment.

Black Bean Brownies

makes 9-12 brownies

adapted from Joy the Baker

1/4 cup (half a stick/2 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 oz of the darkest dark chocolate you can find (think 72% and up), chopped

2 large eggs + 1 egg white

1/4 cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and pureed in the food processor

1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (155 g) all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

walnut chunks, chocolate chips, and coarse salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch (9-inch is ok, too) square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter and flour the parchment paper as well.

In a small bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer. Place the butter and chocolates in a heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir until the chocolates and butter are melted and combined. Carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan and let it cool for a minute or two.

Whisk the eggs and white into the chocolate/butter mixture, one at a time. Next whisk in the pureed beans, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Dump the sifted dry ingredients into the mix all at once and fold and incorporate everything together with a spatula. Once thoroughly combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, chocolate chips, and coarse salt, if using.

Bake the brownies for about 25-28 minutes. Note that brownies are better slightly underdone than overdone. Right? Right. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment overhang. Slice and enjoy.