Quickie: Shiitakes & Soba (v, gf)

Mushrooms! So tasty, so good for you. Shiitakes, specifically, are a well-known source of iron and immune-boosting properties (hear ye, hear ye, vegans and vegetarians: rich veggie iron source). The ever-popular goop recently published a piece on the health benefits of mushrooms (more on that here) and ideas on how to work them into your diet; here’s my very quick, single serving, weeknight-friendly take on their “Stir Fried Noodles with Mushrooms.” Enjoy!

mushrooms 4

SHIITAKES & SOBA

Adapted from goop

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle soba noodles or 1 cup cooked soba (note: soba noodles must contain ONLY buckwheat flour to be considered gluten-free) mushrooms 5
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced; Whole Foods sells an especially tasty 1/4 lb package
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Directions:

Cook your soba noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Chop your aromatics while the noodles cook (love the word aromatics). Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring to ensure they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

mushrooms 2

Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add the cooked noodles, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil, tossing to coat and heat everything through. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy! Really tasty 10-minute dinner! The best kind!

mushrooms 3

Eggplant Lasagna with Ricotta and Parmesan (veg, gf)

I love eggplant parmesan. I love lasagna. I do not necessarily love heavy meals that can’t be scarfed without guilt and/or heartburn unless those meals involve pizza and/or cookies, which have their own special place in my life and in the universe. This lasagna is really a lovely meal to serve, is very cheap to make, and is easy to assemble. Fresh veggies, grain free, a blender sauce, creamy ricotta, earthy eggplant, light and rich all at once. Ahh.

eggplant lasagna

So satisfy your Italian cravings and up your veggie intake. I served it with mixed greens on the side and Parmesan for passing. How will you serve your eggplant lasagna?

EGGPLANT LASAGNA WITH RICOTTA AND PARMESAN

Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise (see photo below)
  • 1/2 lb Roma tomatoes, seeded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup light ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped or torn
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Parmesan for serving
  • salt and pepper

lasagna finished

Directions:

You will probably want to slice your eggplant first, as it’s the only pseudo labor-intensive part of this recipe. Cut the top off of your eggplants so you can stand them sturdily on one end. With a large knife, slice them in 1/4 inch slices from top to bottom (you may instead slice the eggplants horizontally, if you like; comme ci, comme ça). Brush both sides of the slices with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then arrange on two baking sheets.

sliced and ready to broil

sliced and ready to broil

Okay, now preheat your broiler. While it heats up, puree garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper in a blender. Sauce: done! Fabulous! Slide the first baking sheet of eggplant into the oven and broil your rustic slices for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once. Repeat with the second batch.

sauce in blender

While the eggplant cooks, grab a small bowl and combine the ricotta, egg, basil, and another 1/4 each salt and pepper. Mix throughly to combine. When all eggplant slices have been broiled, lower the oven heat to 400. In the bottom of a deep 8″ baking dish or a 9×13″ dish (whichever will hold the length of your eggplant slices), spread half of the tomato sauce. Layer one-third of the eggplant slices over the sauce and top with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the eggplant layer and the ricotta layer, using the remaining ricotta.  Top with the last of the eggplant, the sauce, the Parmesan, and a few decorative basil leaves if you’re feeling fancy.

eggplant heading for oven

Bake for 15-20 minutes, uncovered,  until the lasagna bubbles and the top is slightly browned. Take an artful picture of your cat in the meantime.

artful cat

rawr

Remove lasagna from the oven and let cool ten minutes before serving. The mixed greens with oil and vinegar really were a perfect accompaniment. We had a few chicken breasts left over from the night before, so we had those, too. The greens alone would have been fine. This meal makes a very pretty and light lunch or dinner, all while being easy on the wallet and waistline. Enjoy!

eggplant dinner

Spaghetti Squash & Garlicky Kale: Vegan Italian Extravaganza! (v, gf)

Well, well, well, looks like dinner was vegan and I didn’t even mean to plan it that way. And meat was not missed! This meal was full-flavored, hearty, and robust, sans any major source of protein.  I did miss having a glass of wine, though- but that still wouldn’t have disrupted the accidental vegan harmony (winey ommmmm).

20130920-132418.jpg

Dave and I made spaghetti squash for the first time last month, after my mother-in-law ordered it at a Ruby Tuesday (who’da thunk it) the night before a race. The race went well and we were left with happy memories of swimming, sweating, and spaghetti squash. I’ve made it three times now, and have been roasting it à la Martha– the squash has turned out well each time. Ms. Stewart doens’t disappoint. You really will be shocked and amazed at how easily the strands shred away in noodle-like ribbons from their gourds. Ooh! Aah! Spaghetti squash has a mild, neutral flavor, so pairing it with this very bold kale worked well. I also opted to use Newman’s Own Sockarooni, a loud sauce, for the squash itself.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH & GARLICKY KALE

Ingredients:

  • 1+ lb kale, washed and cut into ribbons
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • water
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar Newman’s Own Sockarooni or 2 cups homemade marinara (show-off)
  • salt & cracked black pepper
  • Parmesan, if desired (I understand this is not vegan- leave it off for true vegan purity and click more for a related video)

Directions:

***Before you begin, let me tell you that roasting spaghetti squash takes an hour and a half. It can be microwaved, but I can give zero advice on microwaved spaghetti squash because I haven’t done it. That sounds pretty unappealing, anyway. Cleared your calendar? Good! Here we go!***

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and move the rack you plan to use to the middle or bottom middle of the oven. Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a knife, in rows from top to bottom. Place the squash on a baking sheet and b=roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes- set your timer for 40 minutes so you can flip it halfway through.

Once you have flipped the squash at 40 minutes, heat your olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Add enough chopped kale to cover the bottom of the pot and stir. It will be snap-crackle-popping, but don’t be scared. Add more kale if you think too much bare, hot pan is exposed and causing oil to pop. Stir and add the rest of the kale, in batches, coating with the hot oil. After all of the kale has wilted (about 3-5 minutes), salt it, cover and reduce heat to medium. After 5 minutes, or if the kale seems too dry, add a bit of water (about 1/4 cup), and recover.

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Let this kale cook until the spaghetti squash has just 5 minutes left, and add more water if you need to. With 5 minutes to go on the squash, uncover the kale, cook off any excess water, and push the kale to one side of the pot. Add a splash of olive oil to the bare side, and add the garlic to the oil. Stir gently for 1 minute; then combine with the kale. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, and stir again. Done!

20130920-132442.jpg

Okay, back to the squash. Remove it from the oven, cut off the ends with the trimmed stem, and cut the squash in half lengthwise to cool- use an oven mitt for this. It will be hot. Let the squash cool for about 15 minutes, then remove its middle seeds with a slotted spoon, the way you would with the seeds of a [piping hot] Halloween pumpkin. Holding a squash half with an oven mitt, scrape the flesh out from side to side over a colander. The flesh will come out in perfect, spaghetti-like strands! Heat a bit of sauce and top the squash with the sauce if your choice. Serve alongside the kale. Tasty, healthy, hearty, ever-loving goodness.

Quickie: Broccoli Slaw, Grilled Bok Choy, and Rice Noodle Salad with Salmon and Avocado (pes, gf)

We had about an hour to buy and make dinner last night, before my beloved and long-lost husband was shipped out again ahead of a winter storm for work. I felt obligated to fill him with omega-3s and veggies before he left, really laying down HARD the enticing groundwork to get him to come back. I like the guy! Hang out with me and eat delicious dinner salads!  Come back! Here’s what my feminine wiles and I came up with:

salad

BROCCOLI SLAW, GRILLED BOK CHOY, AND RICE NOODLE SALAD WITH SALMON AND AVOCADO

Ingredients:

Lemon-sesame vinaigrette recipe below.

  • 1 bag broccoili slaw (we bought our ingredients at Whole Foods; their version is julienned broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage)
  • 1-lb salmon plank
  • 1 1/2 tsp jerk seasoning or other all-purpose seasoning or 1 tsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp honey (no need to add this if you used soy sauce)
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced and a few inches of green tops discarded
  • 3 oz cooked or uncooked vermicelli rice noodles (you could instead use 1.5 cups of cooked brown rice)
  • handful shredded carrot, optional
  • 1 head bok choy, washed and root cut off
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • sesame oil  

Directions:

Disclaimers: This is mostly a quickie entry because I was cooking like the wind and neglected to take any step-by-step photos. So this is where your spectacular imagination comes in!! Really. Right now. Another note- I labeled this a vegetarian entry because the salmon could easily be left out or replaced with tofu or edamame.  Here’s what we’re doing: MAKE NOODLES, MAKE SALMON, TOSS VEGGIES, DRESS AND SERVE. Let’s get started.

Boil water and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse and pat salmon dry. Top salmon with 1 tsp honey and sprinkle with jerk seasoning; set aside. Drizzle or brush the bok choy leaves with a small amount of sesame oil. Heat a well-oiled grill pan or saute pan over medium-high. Once hot, grill or wilt the bok choy leaves about two minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board and cut into pieces. Alternately, you could cut and saute in a saute pan for 3-4 minutes.

Turn the heat in the grill pan down to medium. When it has cooled a bit, place salmon in pan skin-side down and cook for 5-6 before flipping. Since you have a few minutes now, you can whip up and dress the salad base. Toss the broccoli slaw, green onions, carrots if you’re using them, cooked noodles or rice, and bok choy in a large bowl. Drizzle with your dressing of choice and toss. Set aside.

When the salmon is done, serve dressed salad in bowls and top with the lovely fish. Garnish with a few slices of avocado. This would be great with: cilantro, other salad greens, chicken, well-marinated flank steak, bean sprouts, more red cabbage or green cabbage… the list goes on and on. Just use what you have in the fridge. It will all work. This is man-hooking salad!

LEMON SESAME VINAIGRETTE: 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp sesame seeds, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of kosher salt, 1 tsp honey. Whisk together. Drizzle in olive oil as desired until emulsified. De. Lish.

Turkey Times Two: Turkey Meatballs with Pasta and Arugula

What happens when turkey breast is on sale? All turkey, all the time is what happens. Turkey meatloaf  yesterday? I’ll take your meatloaf and raise you some meatballs. I wanted to use leftover parsley, shallot, arugula, and extra turkey I had, which pointed me in one direction: meatballs!! With the addition of a few staples (bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, etc.), a heathy and filing pasta dish was born. Again. In turkey form. Here goes it:

goodies

TURKEY MEATBALLS WITH PASTA AND ARUGULA

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast (you may halve this recipe easily)
  • olive oil
  •  4 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
  •  2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic paste, or 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 2 shallots, grated
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • a few healthy grinds black pepper
  • jarred tomato sauce
  • two large handfuls arugula (it’s a ve-ge-ta-ble)
  • a handful of basil from your neighbor, cut into ribbons
  • pasta (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 and heat two tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan (stay with me here). In a large bowl, combine egg, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, grated shallot (just grate them right into the bowl), and Parmesan. Blend them all well, and then add the turkey, stirring until well combined. Don’t worry that the mixture looks green and that the turkey is completely incorporated- the meatballs will be pretty again once cooked. Let this sit for a moment while you start the pasta and sauce.

steps 1, 2, and 3

This sentence is a friendly reminder to start your pasta water and cook the pasta you’ve chosen to use while you take care of the meatballs. I used Tinkyada brown rice spaghetti. You may also take this mindful moment to heat your jar of sauce (or homemade sauce, you creative devil, you) over low heat and toss in the handfuls of arugula and the chopped basil. Just let this quietly heat on a low setting and the sauce will wilt the arugula. Stir if it comes to mind, but it will be fine on a back burner.

just toss it right on top

Back to the meatballs! The easiest way for me to make uniform [meatballs, patties, servings] when cooking is to form the meat mixture into a relatively even-sized ball and divide, divide, divide. Split the ball it in half, then split that half in half, and then split those halves in half. Roll these into meatballs- you’ll have 16. They’ll cook more evenly and please your discerning, compulsive eye.

Place 8 meatballs into the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Remove to a baking dish and repeat with the second half. You may need to add a teaspoon of olive oil; this meat is lean and will stick. When the dish is full, pop it in the oven for 15 minutes to let the meatballs cook. They’ll be crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, and you won’t have to fry the bejesus out of them. Let these rest 10 minutes before serving, and don’t forget to drain your pasta while they cook or rest.

delicious

Serve! Pasta, sauce, meatballs. Pass around additional Parmesan. Drink a tasty beer. I think the next variation of these I take a crack at will be Thai turkey meatballs with a peanut and cilantro sauce… stay tuned!!

Chinese Dumpling Pasta (gf)

Hi, all!! We’ve had all kind of things going on lately- workouts, races, friends in town, trees falling on our cars, beautiful nephews being born, parties to plan, and so on and so forth.* The [happy] chaos had led to lots of cereal for dinner and very few blog posts (okay, NO blog posts), but I actually had time to cook last night! Real food involving vegetables, protein, and grains- and none of it came from the ready-made Whole Foods bar. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Good wives go there all the time. At least that’s what I hear. You know, on the streets.

in all its tasty glory

I have mentioned this in a previous post, but I often crave Asian foods- Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese are favorites. I’d made this dish before and it’s just what it sounds like: a pasta dish that tastes like steamed dumplings. BIG flavors, and quite tasty. It really hit the spot. Here’s what I came up with:

CHINESE DUMPLING PASTA

Adapted from Fitness Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1- 1 1/4  lb lean ground pork (you can use turkey or chicken if you’d like)
  • 1 10-oz bag ready-to-eat shredded carrots
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 8-10 tbsp hoisin sauce (sounds like a lot, but it isn’t; made with soy sauce, which contains gluten- substitues accepted for true gf)
  • 1/2 lb-1 lb shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (rehydrated, then sliced, if purchased dry) 
  • 1 pkg Tinkyada brown rice pasta, or pasta of your choice

Directions:

In a large stockpot, cook your chosen pasta according to package directions. On a recent experimental gluten-free kick, I tried the Tinkyada brown rice pasta, and loved it. I was inspired to go gluten-free in an effort to resolve some long-standing stomach issues, by some of the ideas behind the Wheat Belly craze, and by the endorsement of Heather Wurtele, a professional triathlete I admire (I’m a nerd, I know). Side note: Heather and her husband Trevor (also a pro triathlete) live in a tiny RV and drive all over North America racing and training. That sounds like such a great lifestyle to me, so streamlined and focused!

adorable

She’s very positive (check out their fantastic blog here) and she’s a fellow tall girl, which inspires me because she’s been very successful in a field of shorter, compact, fast little women who often seem to have a natural advantage in the sport. I met her in New Orleans and she had a big smile on her face all day, despite having taken a very violent and very public tumble off of her bike. She got right back up, placed 2nd (her hubby won the men’s division that day), and went out on Bourbon that afternoon, bandages and all. Her attitude completely won me over- she’s my fave. Oh- drain pasta and set aside.

good eats

While the pasta is cooking and as you’re perusing the Wurtele’s blog, heat the sesame oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sliced shiitakes, the garlic, and the ginger. Cook for three minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the kitchen smells amazing. Add the pork [turkey, chicken], and cook for another three minutes, breaking up and stirring to cook evenly. Drain at this point if there is a lot of fat coming off of the pork. Add the hoisin sauce and pasta water, cook another 3 minutes, then add the entire bag of shredded carrots and cook until the pork [turkey, chicken] is completely cooked through and the carrots have cooked down a bit (you will know this when you see it).

mushrooms, garlic, ginger

Place the drained pasta back in the large pasta pot and top with meat and veggies, then with scallions. Toss furiously! But don’t break up the pasta. That’s all! Serve with Sriracha (Cruse ketchup) and more hoisin, for those who’d like it. Quite a yummy and complete meal, and this will make a LOT for leftovers. Enjoy!

all together now

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Quick Marinara Sauce For A Crowd, or “What To Do With Four Pints of Grape Tomatoes” (v, gf)

We had a party* this weekend!!!!!! First we’ve had in, oh, about three years, so I bought way too many groceries to make the food I had on the menu. What was on the menu? Burgers, brats, BBQ chicken, all of the necessary burger fixins, chips, dips, potato salad with cabbage and sesame oil, avocado and corn tomato salad, baked beans and 534845321564 cookies and cupcakes (none of which I baked).

It was a delicious and overindulgent day, and I wound up with four pints of leftover grape tomatoes from the avocado salad…. What in the heck do you make for a two-person household using that many tomatoes? A friend suggested I make a marinara sauce (my first instinct was tomato soup), so I did, thinking I’ll freeze some later. This recipe begins with the usual disclaimer that I was short on time, so I had to improvise my way through the slow-cooking I would have preferred for the sauce. Cue the food processor…..

the innumerable tomatoes mock me

QUICK MARINARA SAUCE FOR A CROWD

Ingredients:

  • 4 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes, preferably sitting on your counter ripening for two days, challenging you to a “you can’t cook me” face-off
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 very large onions, chopped
  • 5+ cloves garlic, or 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp  dried Italian seasoning (small palmful)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2-3 tsp kosher salt (you may prefer more, I try to limit salt)
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup water or pasta water, if you’re simultaneously cooking pasta and you like a thinner sauce

Directions:

Heat a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the hot pot, and swirl to coat. Add onion, garlic, and spices, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the washed tomatoes and water, if using, cooking for about ten minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down from the heat and salt. Add balsamic at this point, and stir. Cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes more, or however long you have.

Remove from heat and uncover, letting the sauce cool for about ten minutes before processing in batches. The benefit of quick-cooking a sauce like this is that it’s light and fresh at the end, which is nice in the spring and versatile. I plan to freeze it in muffin cups and use the fairly neutral sauce in future pastas and soups. I also thought that a quickly browned pound of ground beef or turkey could easily turn into a spaghetti dinner with two or three servings of the sauce, tossed in at the end of cooking time to melt and meld, then be served over pasta.  This sauce is also a great way to use sale tomatoes!

If I’d had more time (Always. Always “if I’d had more time…”), I would have roasted the tomatoes and onions together in a large roasting dish with olive oil before transferring to a stock pot to simmer, and then puree. The flavor would have been richer, but that will be a delicious way to try this sauce in the fall. Enjoy!

Sauteed with cooked ground beef- this was the next day’s lunch. YUM

Some more ideas:

  1. omit balsamic, stir in creme fraiche, or chunks of neufchatel
  2. stir in ribbons of fresh basil after pureeing
  3. stir in Kalamata olives and feta cheese before pureeing, serve over fish
  4. add zucchini or spinach for a nutritional boost
  5. use a head of roasted garlic in place of fresh cloves (DEFINITELY trying this!)

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Chicken Thighs Braised in Marinara (gf)

Hello! I haven’t posted in a while- we’ve been moving into and getting settled in our new home! It’s been a very exciting month, but moving always means meals out and cereal for dinner for a while. Instead of posting bowls of Kashi and soy milk, here’s the first meal I cooked in our new kitchen:

CHICKEN THIGHS BRAISED IN MARINARA

Adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients: