February 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
While farms (and farm stands) bring us crunchy winter delights like cabbage and sweet apples, I wanted to share my early February lunchbox favorite. This recipe unites an odd assembly of players — dried cherries and purple cabbage, balsamic vinegar and ginger — but they bring more than the sum of their parts to the table. This salad is both sweet and savory and it’s hardy enough to stand alone. While it’s very good at any temperature (I’ve tried ’em all), it’s unequivocally tastiest warm or at room temperature.
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ginger, minced (or more, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt, pepper
4 cups red cabbage, shredded
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar added)
4 small sweet apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1. Shred cabbage and set aside. In a large, high-rimmed pan, saute onion and olive oil on medium-high heat until wilted (about five minutes). Add garlic and ginger and season with sea salt and pepper. Stir until fragrant (an additional minute or two).
2. Add cabbage and gently toss. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and cook for 6 minutes, until cabbage has heated through and is al dente. Meanwhile, slice apples.
3. Add apples and dried cherries and saute until heated through (but not cooked). The apples should still have “crunch” and maintain their shape. Remove pan from heat and fold in feta cheese. Serve warm.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free
May 30, 2011 § 4 Comments
When it comes to grab-and-go snacks, I’m positively addicted to salted peanuts & brazil nuts plus a few banana chips. But after overdosing on a shockingly large freezer bag of the above blend on a recent road trip, I’ve decided to cool off on the ‘nana-crunch snack attacks and instead, create a fantastic bar that offers additional nutritional benefits.
Through my recipe tweaking I’ve learned the following: Substituting OJ for water does not yield good results. Honey can be used as a substitute for agave nectar; however, the agave makes a sweeter bar, which is a good thing in my book, and better chew. Have fun fiddling with the dried fruits. Everyone agrees, the dates are a MUST. Dried figs are also exceptionally good. I’ve tried a couple different kinds of nuts, but pecans (shelled from my aunt and uncle’s tree!) were the clear favorite.
1 + 1/4 cups dried fruit (favorites: dried peach, date and orange-hinted cranberries)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 + 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons teff flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/3 cup agave nectar
1. Preheat oven to 325 on convection (or 350 in a standard oven.) Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan.
2. Chop dried fruit and pecans. Set aside. In a separate bowl, begin adding dry ingredients. (HELPFUL HINT: While doling out teff flour, sprinkle some of the measured amount directly onto the dried fruit and nuts and toss with hands. This will prevent the dates, peaches and cranberries from clumping and sticking into a large mass.)
3. Once all the dry ingredients are assembled, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Combine with dry and stir until completely incorporated and all oats are coated. Spread in greased baking pan. (HELPFUL HINT: Dab the tips of fingers with water and press oats into pan; this will prevent stickage.)
4. Bake until golden and slightly browned on surface, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and removing.
These granola bars stay chewy on the counter for several days, but also freeze and thaw very well.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free
November 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
It’s official: I’m back on the couscous bandwagon. Thankfully, I’m not quite as obsessed as before. Unlike my earlier college days, I do vary my diet a little; I also eat pumpkin pies, apple crumb cakes and cranberry sauce. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: couscous salads are so flexible, you can add whatever you have lurking in your fridge drawers and it’ll probably make a good meal if you spice it up enough. That said, I’ve been making several grain & veggie salads of late and this one really stood out and, despite the fact that it provided a huge Tupperware of leftovers, two days later there wasn’t a semolina granule to be found.
What made this salad different was the spicing: I didn’t skimp with salt (3/4 teaspoon for the entire salad), chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala and cinnamon. I took a riff from my previous Moroccan Couscous dish with the sweet-tastes (I even added a splash of orange juice at the end). But I also wanted it to have a bit of a kick, like a chocolate mole sauce, so I included chile peppers, chile powder and a smidgen of cumin for warmth.
The best and most unusual part of this salad was the fact that the couscous played a minor role. Instead of eating COUSCOUS flaked with a few specks of parsley and a lentil or two, the couscous was the medium to eat nuts, dried fruit and savory, spiced veggies. Each spoonfull had chew and crunch.
I tried this salad hot, room-temperature and cold. My favorite was room-temperature. Conversely, my dad’s favorite was piping hot and my mom loved it cold. As my cousin Emily said, we’re like the Three Bears.
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 cup chopped dates and dried apricots
1 large onion, white or yellow
5 sweet chile peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
generous amount of ground pepper
1/2 cup dried beans (I boiled a 12-bean mix from a market bulk bin)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1. Measure 1/2 cup and and boil according to cooking time. Skim off any white foam that rises to the top during cooking.
2. In an ungreased sauce pan, toast pine nuts and pecans on medium-high, approximately 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
3. Boil amount of water according to couscous instructions. Remove from heat. Stir in whole-wheat couscous and chopped, dried fruit. Cover for five minutes, then fluff. Set aside.
4. In a skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook until wilted and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add peppers, cook another 3-4 minutes. Add generous pinch of sea salt and spices. When cooked, remove from heat. Toss with couscous salad. Add more olive oil to taste, pepper, salt if necessary and smidgen of OJ.
5. When beans are cooked, drain and add to salad. Toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Vegan
October 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
I used to eat a box of couscous a week. I was transfixed by the teeny pasta pebbles. I would cook up a big pot, swirl the warm semolina balls with cheese, scallions and roasted carrots & cauliflower (coated in cumin and olive oil) and this was my lunch every single day. Sometimes I’d vary it a little. (I’d add mushrooms and parsley.) Harking back, I think that couscous salad was my longest food repeat, next to my middle school Ramen noodle days.
As with all overabundant good things, couscous salad slowly petered out. I found other good things (wheat berries! bulgar!) that took its place. But yesterday, while riding the bus home and flipping through the last issue of Gourmet magazine, I found reason to unearth my old box of whole wheat couscous hiding behind the oats and semolina flour. While a great many of the November recipes sounded tantalizing (rye bread stuffing; golden onion pie; braised turnip greens with turnips and apples) a giant advertisement for cinnamon caught my eye. I like cinnamon just as much as the next person, but on this unusually blustery, cold afternoon, there was nothing on earth that sounded more delicious than something warm and something cinnamon. Sweatshirt cinched up around my neck, I scanned the ingredients list for this Moroccan side dish to determine what I’d tweak for my taste bud and pantry preference. Then hopped off the bus, made a quick pit-stop to the supermarket bulk bins to buy a few more dried, unsulfured apricots and dates and rushed home to eat. Although I varied this dish a bit from the original recipe–couscous salads are wonderfully forgiving–I stuck by the recipe’s suggestion to add dates and apricots.
A sweet couscous salad might raise a few eyebrows if you’re used to eating couscous with savory add-ins. But let me assure you, this is delicious, naturally sweetened by the dried fruit and absolutely excellent with a few thin strips of parmesan cheese, melted in while it’s still hot. This salad holds up terrifically for next-day leftovers, too.
1 cup whole wheat couscous, raw
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/3 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
several long strips of Parmesan cheese (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. In a dry skillet, heat slivered almonds on medium-high heat until fragrant and toasted, approximately 5-7 minutes. Keep close watch; they burn quickly. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
2. In a small pot, pour 1 cup water, orange zest, dried fruit, spices and 2 tablespoons of butter. Heat on the stove until boiling. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of dry couscous. Stir. Put lid on top and let sit for five minutes.
3. After five minutes, remove lid from pot and fluff couscous with a fork.
4. Pour into individual bowls and top with thin slices of Parmesan cheese (you can use a squash or carrot peeler) and toasted almonds.
October 17, 2009 § 2 Comments
Last Saturday I picked up a twisty-tied baggie filled with large, grade A medjool dates from a Syrian shop by my old house. Typically, I enjoy eating dates plain or I take out the pit and stuff a pecan, large walnut or scoop of peanut butter inside. Generally speaking, when I treat myself to dates, I can’t imagine eating them baked or stewed or blended into something new.
But, after my grocery rendezvous, I found an enticing recipe on the internet featuring dates! I debated whether it was worth it to hack-up my delicious dates and throw them into a batter, fearing they’d lose their luster in a tangle of cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. In the end, I decided to give it a shot. These muffins were moist and savory, and each bite had a warm, gooey piece of date or a crunchy piece of walnut. They also freeze wonderfully.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other alternative or milk)
1/3 cup molasses*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates, pitted & chopped
few pinches of extra all purpose flour
*COOKING TIP: To avoid molasses sticking to the measuring cup, simply grease the inside of the cup with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Measure desired amount of molasses into the cup. When you pour the molasses into other liquids it will slide right out and leave little-to-no residue in the bottom.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Add soy milk and vegetable oil. Grease the 1/3 cup with vegetable oil (see above note) and measure molasses. Whisk with a fork and incorporate into dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. Roll dates in flour and fold into batter.
COOKING TIP: Because dates are gooey when cut and are prone to sticking together, tumbling dates in a sprinkling of white flour and then folding them into the batter ensures they are able to move uniformly throughout the dough and not clump together.
4. Spoon batter into muffin trays 3/4 full. Depending on the muffin size, the baking time will vary. For small muffins, mine were set in the middle and clean (from the “knife test”) within 18-20 minutes. For larger muffins, the cooking time will vary between 23-28 minutes.
5. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack so they set. To remove muffins, carefully take a dull knife and run around the edge of each container and gently pry out.
May 19, 2009 § 2 Comments
“Salad-salads” are my throw- together Spring and Summer meal of choice. The top of my fridge is lined with various dried fruit packets and an assortment of nuts. My cabinets are stocked with a half-dozen vinegars. My veggie drawer is always packed. So, depending on the day, my mood, the heat, I’ll whip up a salad-salad with a variety of different ingredients and call it a meal.
But this Pear and Gorgonzola salad, I decided, needs a bit of broadcast time. I love salads with fruits (especially apple, or even clementines on occasion). And with paper-thin sliced pear, no beans (I promise, it’s not as good), and plenty of good quality gorgonzola cheese, nuts, and a generous amount of dried bing cherries/apple juice-sweetened cranberries, makes this salad a real winner. I’ve paired it with a very light honey dressing, but a spritz of oil and light vinegar would be just as good.
Ingredients (for two):
1 small head romaine lettuce
1 pear, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or balsamic*
sea salt, pepper
*For those on the SCD-diet, be sure balsamic vinegar is SCD-safe (aged 18 years; no added sugars).
1. Heat a small sauce pan on medium-high and toast the pecans until fragrant, stirring constantly (about 5-7 minutes). Set aside.
2. Thoroughly wash and dry romaine leaves and rip into bite-sized pieces and layer on each plate.
3. Chop scallions and pear. Layer on top of salad with gorgonzola cheese, cranberries and pecans.
4. Whisk simple 3-ingredient dressing and drizzle on top of each salad just before serving.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisk), gluten-free