There’s nothing I hate more than a cold. This past week was pretty bad health-wise for those of us at the law school. It seemed like all of my friends were sick, and my friend Amanda and I got pretty bad colds. All of my Vitamin C consumption just couldn’t stave off the law school germs. It probably didn’t help that I’ve been staying up late doing work for the past week and a half, but what’s done is done. I’m just hoping that I’ve fulfilled my cold quota for the year and that the germs will now leave me alone. What can I say? I’m an optimist sometimes.
After a week of soup, soup, and more soup, I was really craving something hearty last night. I spotted this recipe for vegetarian burger a few days ago on Tastespotting and pinned it within seconds of reading the ingredient list. I love black beans. Black bean soup, black bean salad, black beans burritos. You name it, I will eat it. And I love veggie burgers. I’m always looking for more ways to get in my daily dose of protein, and this was just the ticket. It’s hearty and flavorful, and you can easily adapt it to what’s in your kitchen.
The original recipe calls for quinoa, but I am somehow completely out. So I substituted farro. While the grains normally take 35 to 45 minutes to cook, Trader Joe’s now makes a great ten-minute variety. I am actually obsessed. If you haven’t tried farro yet, you definitely should. It’s nutty and filling, and Oprah has classified it as a health food (so it must be true). All I know is that I feel great eating this whole-grain, and it doesn’t hurt that it tastes fantastic!
Today’s recipe comes from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, whose cookbook may be the greatest gift of 2012 to home cooks everywhere. Deb has a fantastic blog, and when I saw that she was releasing The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I preordered copies for my sister’s and my good friend Caroline’s Christmas presents. I was lucky enough that my friend Sam (from Blogging with My Mouth Full) was generous enough to gift me the same.
My high school friends and I had a potluck this past weekend, and, as the hostess, I contributed the main dish and a side dish–both of which came from this book. I’ll post the side dish later this week, but it was the main dish that completely blew my mind. First of all, it was easy to make. Easy to assemble, easy to double for a large crowd, easy to do other things like clean your apartment while the chicken bakes. A win for any dinner party.
Second, it was flavor intense. I was both intrigued and wary when I saw that the original recipe featured a combination of grapes and olives. Salt is probably the seasoning that I struggle the most with (isn’t that pathetic?) because everything that I think is too salty, most others find to be not salty enough. What can I say? I’m broken. Leave me alone. As a result, I kind of sort of hate olives. I really want to like them. I try them whenever they are presented to me at Italian restaurants, but I pick them off pizza and never buy them myself. I was also worried that the grapes would be too sweet. Combining the two? Pure genius. The flavors balance each other so well, and the resulting sauce was too perfect for words.
I hope that you give this recipe a try. It might seem a little adventurous but the result is oh-so-worth the risk. Happy eating!
This is my go-to quick sauce recipe, or, as I like to call it, “weeknight sauce.” It goes on pasta. It goes on pizza. It sometimes gets used in eggplant parm. Prep takes roughly 5 minutes. Cooking averages 15 to 20. You can adjust anything and everything to suit your taste, and it can be multiplied easily to serve a crowd. It’s got a bit of a spicy kick, but feel free to tone down the heat. If you prefer your sauce to be slightly chunkier (as I did for my pizza), don’t cook the fresh tomatoes for quite as long–only about 2 to 3 minutes–or add them in with the canned tomatoes and wine. If you plan on freezing some, leave out the fresh basil.
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (I use a mix of rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 scant tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ to ½ cup red wine (For some inexplicable reason, I always think this tastes best with Malbec)
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste
- Fresh basil
- In a medium pot, heat your olive oil until shimmering over medium heat.
- Add in the onions and garlic and cook until just starting to soften.
- Add the tomato paste and about half of the dried spices. Stir to coat the onions and garlic and cook about 1 minute so that the tomato paste loses its raw flavor.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook three to five minutes until softened and starting to disintegrate.
- Add the remaining spices, the canned tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, and the wine. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in some freshly torn basil.
- Serve warm.
Makes about 2 cups.
Prosciutto and Melon Salad, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad, Negronis
Summertime is a time for being outside and hanging out with friends and family. It is not a time for slaving over a hot stove. Who needs it to be any hotter than it already is? Luckily, summer is also a time when gardens and farmers’ markets are exploding with great produce that requires little else than a bit of chopping and a dash of salt for eating.
Brandon and I love August, because it means heirloom tomatoes and sweet stone fruits, and last summer, I shared one of our very favorite recipes using just those two ingredients. This summer, we’ve happened upon another foolproof dish using one of this season’s best ingredients, and to be honest, not one I’ve ever been fond of: melon. I’ve always found melon to be cloyingly sweet and unpleasant to eat, but when it’s drizzled in mint-infused balsamic vinegar and wrapped in prosciutto, its deliciousness cannot be denied.
Another score for no-cook summer salads: they’re easy to pack for picnics and brown bag lunches. Like Rosemary mentioned in her recipe for wild rice salad, packed lunches can get monotonous, so why not spice them up with an unexpected salad?
Lastly, these recipes are great for brunching and entertaining. Guests will be surprised that you can pair peaches with tomatoes and ham with melon. And to really kick it up a notch, serve your salads with an easy, but refreshing summer cocktail, like a Negroni—our unofficial cocktail of summer 2012. It’s bright red color and citrusy flavor is a great way to get a party started. Continue reading
As mentioned, breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, but I sometimes find myself in a rut. I adore pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, and eggs in almost any form (I refuse to eat them smothered in hollandaise. Weird quirk. I know), and I’m always on the lookout for new breakfast recipes. So I thought I’d compile a list of some of my favorites as of late. If you have a great breakfast recipe, please post it in the comments! I could definitely use some inspiration (and incentive to get going) in the morning. Happy eating!
- Breakfast burritos: Spinach, feta, tomatoes, and mushrooms make for a great “Greek-style” burrito on the run. Pesto, spinach, asparagus, and some Parm makes for a delicious Italian take. My favorite kinds of breakfast burritos, however, involve salsa. There’s something wonderful about the the slight zing of cilantro and onions that takes a burrito to a whole new level. Just whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa into a couple of eggs and quickly scramble on low heat. Wrap it up in a tortilla with a bit of cheddar cheese and, if you have time, some sauteed peppers and onions, and you are good to go!
Sooooo it’s been awhile. It seems as though Christmas was just yesterday, and I has only recently posted about tomatoes. Turns out, time flies–especially when one’s mother chooses to indulge one’s Indian food cravings and one then lacks motivation at the start of the new semester. Last week was a low point in my cooking world. There was Trader Joe’s tomato soup, pasta with sauteed veggies, and, my personal favorite, eating an entire grilled zucchini and some onions for dinner. Pitiful? I think yes.
BUT I’ve resolved to change that. One of my resolutions is to vary my diet this year. I often find myself using the same old seasonings out of habit, and I think my repertoire needs a revamp. The first thing I decided to tackle? Eggplant. I usually just wind up grilling or broiling eggplant, then either smothering it in some tomato sauce and sprinkling with some cheese or tossing it with some cumin and onions. While eggplant parm is lovely, you can only eat it so many times.
One of my favorite new places for lunch by the law school is Roti–a Mediterranean take on a Chipotle-style restaurant. You pick whether you want a plate or sandwich, choose your meat, and then–my favorite part–select your veggie toppings. They have a red cabbage slaw to die for and their Spanish eggplant is a must any time I go. So imagine my delight when I realized that Roti features the recipe for Spanish eggplant on its site! This dish is warm and flavorful. It’s full of delicious vegetables and it can be served warm or at room temperature. I also love how colorful it is. If you’re looking for a new take on eggplant, this is it! Happy Eating!
I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a very happy holiday. We had a relatively quiet holiday as our little cousins were sick (boo!), and I came down with a nice dose of allergies. That being said, the food was delicious (Thanks, Mom!!), and my Benedryl-induced naps were pretty awesome. For a low-key holiday, it wasn’t half bad. That being said, I think I prefer the usual chaos of Christmas and can’t wait to see the little ones when they are back in fighting form next weekend!
So during the hell period that was finals, I invented a couple of quick, mid-week dinners. I’m not going to lie, this was the result of my somewhat interesting finals-grocery-shopping and the subsequent attempts to use everything in my fridge before going home for the holidays. The sauce is extremely basic. Both dishes use essentially the same ingredients–the only real difference is that, in one case, the sauce is tossed with some pasta and a splash of pasta water, whereas in the other, it serves as a savory topping for some flaky salmon.
In any case, I consider this a testament to the magic of tomatoes and feta. Serve either of these dishes with a healthy serving of sauteed spinach or winter greens, and you’ll have a pretty well-balanced meal. Hope this helps you out in a pinch. Happy Eating!
Hurry! You must get to your farmers’ market quick. With the beginning of fall creeping in, we are officially nearing the end of both tomato and peach seasons. If you are thinking, “Who cares?,” then you have never had the joy of slicing up a densely-flavorful heirloom tomato or biting into a perfectly juicy and sweet peach.
Others of you might think, “Heirloom tomatoes? You mean those ugly, cracked, overpriced things?” Yes, I do.
Heirloom tomatoes are not your everyday tomatoes. They come in many shapes and sizes—ranging from red to yellow to striped green to purple—and can range in flavor from slightly peppery to candy-sweet. Their flesh seems to pack so much more flavor than your normal hybrid breed, and they are rarely mealy or watery like many tomatoes. Many farmers say that the uglier the heirloom, the better. Don’t pass one by for having a small crack on its side. It is probably a gem. Hung up on the price tag? Let me ask you, how many bad, mealy tomatoes have you wasted your money on over the years? I promise you, these babies are worth the extra $1 per pound.
Simply sliced with a drizzle of good olive oil, heirloom tomatoes will steal the meal, but in my opinion, the best way to showcase these bad boys is with another seasonal item: the humble peach. The combination might seem a bit strange, but trust me, the tomatoes and peaches bring out the best in each other. For me, this salad is the highlight of summer. Continue reading