Greek Quinoa Salad

June 2, 2013

Greek Quinoa Salad - Sweet and Savory KitchensMargaux says…

In the warmer months, we eat a quinoa salad at least once a week. Everyone loves it…including my picky son, it’s super quick and easy, and nice and healthy. I should really call this one “clean out the fridge” salad, because I often make it when I really need to go shopping and I have to just use up whatever is left in the fridge. We always have most of these things on hand because they’re all favorites of my son. I find that you can add or subtract any ingredient, based on what you might have on hand. Some other things that would be good tossed into this are avocado, parsley, chopped fresh spinach, mint, celery, zucchini, green onion, radishes, pine nuts or white beans.

Greek Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 red onion, fine chop
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (leave out for vegan)
1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse and drain quinoa. Add water and quinoa to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it starts boiling, cover, run down heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Dump immediately into a large serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies. When the quinoa is cool, add all veggies and beans to it and mix.

Make dressing: Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over salad and mix well. Carefully stir in feta. Serve at room temperature with warmed pita and white wine as a main dish. Also great as a side at a BBQ, or with chicken.

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Roasted Cauliflower Pasta - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says . . .

I’m really loving non-traditional pasta dishes like this with just a few ingredients tossed with some pasta.  Probably like most Americans, I always assumed pasta came with meat sauce, marinara, or, if you’re feeling fancy, Alfredo…Jason and I survived on spaghetti marinara for the first few years we were together, living in our dinky little basement apartment in Lincoln Park.  It was either that or Ramen noodles, and I really hate that stuff.  So it’s been really fun the past several years, since I’ve become a stay-at-home mom/foodie cook, discovering all pasta has to offer.

This Martha Stewart recipe has been sitting in my files for a few years now, and I really wish I would have pulled it out sooner!  The sweetness of the roasted cauliflower and onion coupled with the salty bite of the capers is really fantastic.  This is in the “can’t stop eating it” category, for sure.  We ate it as a main dish, with a green salad.  For those of you keeping track, my little picky eater loved it, too!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve noticed lately that cauliflower seems to be the new kale.  It’s everywhere!  When I told Margaux that I wanted to make this cauliflower pasta recipe, she said she’d been intending to make this one from Martha.  So we’ve made both and this is our first post.  I’m not sure I know which is my favorite – I loved both.  Look for a post on the other recipe soon.  We served this as a side dish to a roasted chicken breast and served the leftovers as a main dish, both with a green salad.  Yum either way!

1 large head cauliflower cut into small chunks (about 7 cups)
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1/4-1/3 cup capers, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
12 oz orecchiette pasta, whole wheat recommended
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available
1/3 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Preheat oven to 450. Toss the cauliflower, onion and capers with the olive oil in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and brown, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, al dente, according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Turn the pasta back into the cooking pot or a large bowl.  Toss the hot pasta with the roasted cauliflower mixture, 1/4 cup of the pasta water,  the parsley and lemon zest.  Stir until completely combined.  Add more pasta water if too dry. Either add the cheese to the pot and stir to combine or pass the cheese to add to individual servings.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and thought it fit right in to our Pasta Wednesday theme – easy, throw together quickly, healthy and delicious – even if it is hard to say!  It reminded me of another no-cook pasta sauce we posted a couple of years ago that had a variety of nuts but basically the same approach.  This recipe is a little less fancy, qualifying it for a perfect weeknight meal.  I love cooking with mint and nuts which are ubiquitous ingredients in Sicilian cooking.  (I must take a trip there one day.)  The quantities listed made a lot of pesto so I had a chance to experiment with different pastas.  I had it as a main dish on bow-tie pasta served with a salad.  I served, as you see in the photo, as a side dish to salmon. While  I liked it both ways, it’s very rich so I thought is was better as a side dish.  An Italian white wine is a perfect match, even better if you can find one from Sicily where they are a little on the richer side.

1/2 pound pasta makes 3 main and 4 side servings

1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled

3/4 cup diced plum tomato (2 tomatoes)

1 large garlic clove or 2 small

a handful of fresh mint leaves

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

a handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1/2-1 pound dried pasta, whole wheat recommended

Pulse the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed.  Turn into a bowl and add the olive oil.  Stir until creamy, a bit like chunky peanut butter.  Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain and rinse the pasta.  Return to the pot and add 1/2 cup of the pesto per 1/2 pound pasta.  Add a little of the pasta water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Add enough of the pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Keep on the heat to heat through before serving.

NOTE:  The pesto can be refrigerated and used at a later date or used as a sandwich spread.

Warm Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Butterbeans and HerbsAunt Suzy says . . . 

The most recent Bon Appetit is chock full of what look to be fabulous things to cook and bake, so I thought I’d better get started.  This recipe contains only a few ingredients and none of the usual suspects of garlic, onions or shallots so I was curious about the flavor profile of the finished dish.  I kept thinking “I should have added some garlic!” as I was cooking this, but am glad I didn’t – it is a WOW with many layers of flavor.  The added bonus is that it was a snap to make!  We served it with roasted chicken breasts and a green salad, but I can also see it as a first course or a vegetarian main dish.  An Italian Pinot Bianco was a perfect wine pairing.

1/2 cup pearled farro (or barley)

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

juice of half a lemon

5-6 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

1 small can butter beans (or gigante or corona)

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

Cook the farro: Place farro in a saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 or so minutes until water is absorbed.  Place in a large bowl to cool. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Whisk mayo, mustard, lemon juice and 4-5 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the cauliflower:  Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower when oil shimmers.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, uncovered, until browned in places, turning occasionally.  Add 2 tablespoons water, then cover and cook for 5-8 more minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad:  Turn the cauliflower, while still hot,  into the bowl with the farro.  Add the butter beans and stir to combine.  Add the dressing and stir to thoroughly blend.  Next add the parsley, oregano and lemon zest and toss to blend all ingredients.  Enjoy!

COOK’S NOTES:  I adapted the BA recipe in a few ways. The original recipe called for barley, but I had farro on hand so used that. I think it would be good with either and possibly brown rice.  I also used less mayo than called for and believe it could be made without it altogether.  Also called for was tarragon, which I didn’t have so I substituted fresh oregano – I’ve been looking for uses since our plant is doing really well in the house this winter. I found the canned butter beans locally at Whole Foods – it took some searching!

 

Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

Garlic and Kale Linguine

January 18, 2013

Garlic and Kale Linguine

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

The basis for this dish is a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for classic spaghetti with garlic and olive oil which I made recently.   Last week I saw another recipe for spaghetti and kale with similar ingredients but without the scientific technique of the CI recipe.  Randy and I both agreed that with or without the kale, the CI dish is outstanding.  The kale makes it just that much better and healthier!  This could be a main dish or a side.  Shown is a main dish portion, and we have also served with sauteed boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Either way, an Italian white,  Orivetto or Pinot Grigio, is a great accompaniment!

Makes 4 main dish or 6-8 first course servings

4 garlic cloves, peeled and processed through a garlic pressOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup high quality EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a skillet

1/2-1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano (omit for vegan)

3/4-1 pound whole wheat, regular or GF linguine or spaghetti

Place processed garlic in a small bowl and add the teaspoon of water.  Heat the olive oil to a little over medium in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, optional pepper flakes and kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until garlic is golden and kale is soft.  Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat.  Shake the pan regularly and watch carefully so they don’t burn!  At today’s prices especially that would be a shame. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and rinse briefly.  Put the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Add the reserved kale mixture along with part or all of the pasta water and toss to combine thoroughly.  Heat through, stirring.

Place on individual plates and top with a little cheese, if using, and some pine nuts.  Alternatively, if you will be eating all of what was cooked, you can stir the cheese into the pasta before serving.  Then top with the pine nuts.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Recently I asked my brother John to do a guest post on the stuffed pumpkins he makes, but when he sent me the recipe I changed my mind. Instead of a guest post, I decided we should do a joint post!  He’s been telling me about these pumpkins for a couple of years, but I’d never attempted them.  Since I was travelling to his house for Thanksgiving, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to learn from the master.  Since there were so many options for the stuffing, we decided to experiment with three slightly different fillings.  I thought it would be fun to report on the results of the variations.

Uncle John says . . . 

This recipe comes from an NPR story from a couple of years ago featuring Dorie Greenspan’s stuffed pumpkin recipe.  This struck me because I was looking for something to do with winter squash beyond the typical sweet recipes made with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup.  I particularly liked the flexibility of Dorie’s recipe – you can use many different approaches to the ingredients and proportions of the stuffing.  I’ve experimented over the last couple of years and landed on our favorite ingredients.  I’ve also developed a philosophy of how to make sure you have the right amounts and proportions.  I’ve never had anyone eat these pumpkins who didn’t say “wow!”.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

For this recipe, we will not provide exact amounts but the “philosophy”  ingredients and amounts.  Half the fun of making these pumpkins is inventing the stuffing.  Here are the guidelines, as well as the instructions for how to assemble and bake:

Start with the pumpkins:  Select pie pumpkins at about 3 pounds.  This size will serve 2 people as a main dish and 4 people as a side.  In our experiment, we tried a red kabocha squash and thought it superior to the traditional pumpkin, but either work well.  Cut a “lid” out of the top of the pumpkin/squash by running a sharp knife around the top at a 45-degree angle. Set the lid aside – do not discard. Scoop out the seeds and use a spoon to remove the strings from the flesh.  Wash out the cavity and then dry with a paper towel.

Determine the amount of stuffing: Uncle John’s trademarked technique is to fill the cavity with water and then pour into a measuring cup.  This will tell you the capacity of  the pumpkin, determining the total quantity of ingredients.

Decide on your ingredients: The stuffing is comprised of a starch base, a meat flavoring, cheese (optional), vegetables, aromatics and spices – the exact ingredients and combinations of which are variable.  Here are some guidelines.

Starch base options – cooked brown rice and stale bread cubes will form the base. We cooked both and liked the rice better, but the bread was good as well.

Meat flavoring – we used sage breakfast sausage and bacon and think ham would work as well.  Whatever your choice, it must be cooked prior to combining with the other ingredients.  I can also see a vegetarian version with a combo of chipotle peppers and chickpeas or black beans.

Cheese – we used sharp cheddar with sausage/rice stuffing and pepper Jack with bread/bacon.  Gruyere, Swiss, blue and Parmesan would all be good options.  We made the kabocha without cheese and it was delicious.

Vegetables – we used cooked spinach and cooked Lacinato kale and thought the kale more flavorful as well as substantial.  Cooked Swiss chard, peas and Brussels sprouts leaves also sound good.

Aromatics and spices – for savory fillings you will want sauteed onions and garlic at the least.  Add celery, carrots and bell pepper to your taste.  We used fresh thyme and in the bread stuffing added nutmeg.

Binder – heavy cream or half and half are recommended to bind the ingredients together. We think stock could be used for a non-dairy version.

Other options – I’d like to try this with nuts and fresh or dried fruits.  Speaking of which, you could take this in a whole different direction with a sweet rice or bread pudding approach to the filling.  But that might have to be another blog post.

Prepare the filling and stuff the pumpkins: Combine all stuffing ingredients in a bowl.  A guideline is roughly 1/3 starch base, 1/3 meat and 1/3 vegetables, which you can vary according to taste.  To this, you’ll add the aromatics, spices and other ingredients until you get slightly more filling than the capacity of the cavity of the pumpkin/squash.

Place the filling in the pumpkin and pack down.  Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream, half and half or stock. Place the “lid” back on the pumpkins.

Baking the pumpkins: Place the stuffed pumpkins on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place in the center rack of a preheated 350 oven and bake for about 90 minutes with the lids on. Don’t be alarmed by the liquid escaping from the pumpkins – that’s natural.  After 90 minutes take the lids off and bake another 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 30 minutes.

Serving:  Depending on size, cut in half or into wedges to serve.  Or if small, individual pumpkins could be served to eat right out of the shell.

Making ahead:  These reheat really well in the oven.  We made the pumpkins in the morning, then cut in half, put back on the baking sheet and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  Delicious!!