Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turkish Stuffed Peppers

I'm not sure what possessed me to make such a time consuming dinner on a weekday, when I knew I had a lot do to that day.  Oh, and did I mention that I chose to make hummus - from scratch, using dried beans - as a side dish? I suppose it's a good thing I bought the pitas, and didn't try to make my own!

Somehow, though, I managed to get the peppers done while my almost 3-month-old daughter, Tova, napped (thankfully, she decided to take a really long afternoon nap today!). And they were worth every minute they took to make! I tend to love savory recipes that have cinnamon it them, and this was no exception. We all loved these, and I will definitely make them again.

In case you were wondering how I fit the hummus into my schedule: I soaked the chickpeas overnight, cooked them as soon as I woke up in the morning while I was getting the two older kids ready for school, put them in the fridge, and the finished making the hummus right before dinner.
I used THIS recipe, from the same cookbook as the peppers. It's fantastic.

Stuffed Peppers (Turkey)
Mediterranean Harvest, Martha Rose Shulman

6 medium red bell peppers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons dried currants, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups water, divided
1 1/4 cups short-grain rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
Lemon wedges

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove and discard the seeds and membranes. Save the tops.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat and add the onion and pine nuts. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and beginning to color, about 8 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute, and stir in the currants, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Stir together, then add 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover the pan with a clean towel. Leave for 10 minutes, then stir in the herbs. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture and replace the caps. Stand the peppers in a wide pan. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoon olive oil, and the lemon juice, and pour over and around the peppers. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until there is no longer any liquid, just oil, in the pan and the peppers are very tender. Uncover and cool in the pan.

Arrange the peppers on a platter, garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over the peppers, and serve.

6 main dish servings or 8 to 10 appetizer servings

Advance preparation: This is an excellent keeper, and since it should be served at room temperature, it's fine to make it a day ahead and refrigerate overnight. Bring back to room temperature before serving. You can also make the rice filling a day before stuffing the peppers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

I wanted to make something to use up some pesto I had in the fridge, and after looking through a few cookbooks I decided on this recipe. The pesto is mixed with some of the pasta cooking water and tossed with the pasta, and then the pasta is topped with a delicious tomato-chickpea sauce.

This was a very tasty meal that came together really quickly, making it great for a weeknight dinner.

Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains, Andrea Chesman

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups diced vine-ripened or canned tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flaked (I used just a dash)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (I used canned)
1 pound orecchiette or shells
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the tomatoes, wine, and both, and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the hot pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain well, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid to thin down the pesto. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Thin the pesto with the reserved cooking liquid, add the pesto sauce to the pasta, and toss well.

To serve, spoon the pasta into individual bowls. Top with the tomato-chickpea mixture. Serve at once.

4-6 servings

(Based on 4 serving:) 795 Calories, 26 grams Protein, 18.9 grams Fat, 1mg Cholesterol, 9 grams Dietery fiber, 243 mg Sodium, 108 mg Calcium  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bruschetta with White Bean Puree

I've tried several white bean dips, and this one is by far my favorite. It's really creamy and fresh tasting. I had to hold myself back from going back for thirds!

(I forgot to save the bean broth, so I just used water in the puree and it came out fine. Also, my beans were finished cooking after the first hour, so make sure to keep a close eye on them.)

Bruschetta with White Bean Puree
The Very Best of Recipes for Health, Martha Rose Shulman

This recipe will give you more white bean puree than you'll need for the bruschetta. The savory, hummus-like mixture makes a great high-protein, high-fiber dip or spread, so you'll be glad to have plenty left over. You can use canned white beans for this, though they won't taste as good. Substitute milk for the bean broth and omit the garlic.

1 cup dried white beans, rinsed and picked over, soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 1 quart water
1 medium onion, halved
4 garlic cloves, divided
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Ground black pepper
4-8 slices country bread, preferably whole grain
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, rosemary, or parsley

Drain the beans and transfer to a large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion, 2 of the garlic cloves, the bay leaf, and 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are thoroughly tender. Drain through a sieve set over a bowl. Set aside the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and bay leaf.

Mash 1 of the raw garlic cloves with 1/4 teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle.

Place the beans and the mashed garlic in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add 2 tablespoons of the bean broth, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the lemon juice. Stop the machine, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Add more of the bean broth as needed for a creamier consistency. The mixture should have the same consistency as moist hummus.

Lightly toast the bread. Halve the remaining garlic clove and rub the toast, then brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Top with the white beans, sprinkle with the herbs, and serve.

4 servings (plus extra white bean puree)

362 Calories, 16 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 16 g fiber, 12 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 177 mg sodium 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crisp Spiced Chicken with Hummus Vinaigrette

I had originally planned on making this for dinner last Sunday, but the store I shop at (which always has pomegranates) was out of pomegranates. They finally had some in stock today, so I was able to make this for dinner tonight.

The combination of just a few ingredients added up to a delicious chicken - I even ate the skin, which I almost never do! The couscous was fantastic, too. And the vinaigrette was really good - I could see myself using as a dip for raw veggies, or even as a salad dressing.

Needless to say, this is definitely something I will make again!

Crisp Spiced Chicken with Hummus Vinaigrette
Food & Wine, February 2001 (Recipe by Adam Erace)

4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups cooked couscous
1/2 cup coarsely chopped  roasted pistachios
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup prepared hummus
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 450F. In a bowl, toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the oil and the coriander; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 35 minutes, turning twice, until chicken is cooked through. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the couscous with the pistachios, pomegranate seeds and 1/2 cup of the parsley. In a blender, puree the hummus and vinegar with the remaining 1 cup of parsley and 1/4 cup of oil. Add 2 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Stir one-third of the dressing into the couscous and transfer to a platter. Arrange the chicken on top and serve right away, passing the extra dressing on the side.

4 servings

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Greek Panzanella

I've always been hesitant to try panzanella (an Italian salad, typically made with tomatoes and stale bread). I assumed that if you let pieces of bread, even stale or toasted bread, soak in a vinaigrette, they would get soggy. And that just sounded completely gross to me. However, when I saw the picture of this recipe in Ina Garten's new cookbook I decided it was time to try it.

This recipe combines the typical ingredients of a Greek salad with chunks of toasted bread. And, WOW, is it good!!! Briny olives, salty feta, fresh vegetables. And the bread.... Oh, the bread!  The bread ended up being my favorite part! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and full of so much flavor - not only from the dressing, but also from the vegetables that it marinates with. I already can't wait to make this one again!

Greek Panzanella
Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips, Ina Garten

3/4 cup good olive oil, divided
6 cups (1-inch) diced rustic bread
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and large-diced
1 yellow red bell pepper, seeded and large-diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 pound good feta cheese, 3/4-inch-diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan until hot. Add the bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Set aside.

Place the cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl and toss together.
For the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisking constantly, slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil to make an emulsion.

Add the feta, olives, and bread to the vegetables in the bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to develop. Season to taste and serve at room temperature.

6 servings

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peppered Pear and Goat Cheese Scones

I have a bit of an obsession with goat cheese, so when I was looking for another recipe to try from Savory Baking, I chose to make these scones. I loved them - the combination of tangy goat cheese, sweet pears and spicy pepper was awesome!

Peppered Pear and Goat Cheese Scones
Savory Baking, Mary Cech

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, broken into large walnut-size pieces
1/2 cup whole or low-fat (1% or 2%) plain yogurt
2 tablespoons whole milk, plus more for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and stir together. Add the butter and break it into pea-size pieces with your fingertips. Sprinkle the pear pieces and crumbled goat cheese over the top of the flour mixture and gently toss together, being careful not to break the cheese into smaller pieces.

Soften the yogurt by whisking in the milk. Pour the yogurt over the flour mixture and gently blend the ingredients together with a spatula, being careful not to break up the cheese. The dough may look slightly dry, but it will produce a moist scone. Divide the dough into six equal mounds on the baking sheet, leaving about a 1-inch space between each to allow for slight spreading.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until lightly brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

6 servings

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake

On a recent trip to the library, I came across the book Savory Baking. I flipped through it, and after seeing the gorgeous pictures and reading some of the recipes, I checked it out.
Last night I made my first recipe from it - a savory upside-down cake, meant to be eaten as a side dish. Since it was more time-consuming than I usually like for a weekday, I just served it with some scrambled eggs, and I thought it was great!
I can't wait to try more recipes from this book!

Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake
Savory Baking, Mary Cech

Onion Filling
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry (I used dry white wine)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 medium orange
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup whole milk

To prepare the onion filling, put the olive oil, onions, sherry, brown sugar, vinegar, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a large saute pan or wide-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from sticking. Stir in the water. Add the roasted red peppers to the onions. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Place it in the bottom of the cake pan and generously oil or spray the foil and the sides of the pan. Spread the onions evenly in the pan, reserving some to spoon over the finished cake.

To prepare the shortcake, preheat the oven to 350F. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse for 10 seconds, or until the butter is pea-size. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture starts to form into a dough. Carefully spread the dough over the onions, leaving no gaps and making sure the edges of the pan are covered with dough. Put the pan in the oven and bake just until the top of the cake feels firm in the center when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes (the top will not look brown). Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan. Place and hold a large serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the cake pan and foil. Spoon the reserved onions over the cake. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

6-8 servings