Monday, March 26, 2012

Meatless Monday Features My Recipe for Apricot Cilantro Quinoa Pilaf

This week, Meatless Monday is featuring my recipe for Apricot Cilantro Quinoa Pilaf.

And my photograph graces their main page, too.

I love this recipe—it's quick (cooks up in less than half the time of rice pilaf), healthy, packed with protein, and flavorful. It's great on its own or as a side dish to any meal.

What a great way to start the week!

Here's the link to my recipe on Meatless Monday

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quick & Easy Greek Salad

Some of the best recipes are the simplest. 

As I have mentioned, this is also true for many of the best things in life.

There are few things I love more than a great Greek Salad. In fact, this is what I'm planning to make for lunch today. The combination of heirloom cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, crisp red bell peppers, grassy dill, and tangy feta just works.

I toss these great veggies and cheese with mixed greens (or occasionally arugula). The dressing—just fresh squeezed lemon juice and good extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper. That's it. Really.

It takes only minutes to make, but you'll want savor it for even longer.

Quick & Easy Greek Salad
Serves 2 people
Prep time: 10 minutes
Vegetarian; gluten-free

  • 4 cups mixed baby greens 
  • 1/2 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Place the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, dill, and feta into a salad bowl or mixing bowl. Add the lemon and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.
  2. Add the mixed greens and toss again.
  3. Transfer the mixture to bowls. Top with a little fresh ground pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Thyme

Welcome to spring a/k/a asparagus season!

Even if it doesn't feel like spring yet, it will. March has arrived. Yesterday, we sprung forward, much to the collective grumbling of those of us who rose to alarms this morning. But the net benefit of more sunlight later in the day is worth the pain of losing that precious hour. At least, this is what I told myself when I forced myself out of bed today. Even the Adorable Monster wanted to sleep in later. 

But I'm up now and sipping green tea and blogging!

It was an action packed weekend. I hosted a fun wine and pizza party with pies from Pace, one of my favorite restaurants. And had a meet and greet session with my friends' brand new twin girls (so precious!). It was nice to catch up with my college friends, who I don't see as often anymore.

But back to what you really came for—asparagus.

Glorious, jumbo asparagus has been showing up at my local grocery stores and farmers markets. Hands down, this is one of my favorite vegetables. It's flavor is totally unique. It also packs a nutritional punch, with tons of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  

Usually, my go-to cooking method has been roasting asparagus in the oven, but lately I've been slicing up the jumbo stalks and cooking them in my beloved cast iron skillet. I throw a few thyme sprigs into the mix for great flavor, and finish the asparagus with shaved parmesan and a little fresh lemon.

Is this dish simple? Yes. But is it also one of the best tasting things ever? Yes.

That's how it is with many of the best things in life.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Thyme
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 10 minutes
Vegetarian; gluten-free

  • a big bunch of jumbo asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • fresh lemon juice 

  1. In a cast iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the asparagus slices and the thyme sprigs. Quickly cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is beginning to soften. Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze in a little lemon juice.
  2. Pick out the thyme sprigs (you may use them as a garnish if desired). Transfer to a platter to serve family style or portion into bowls or onto plates. Top with the parmesan. Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cauliflower Olive Chicken Stew


I love stews.

Comforting. Warm. Healthy. Great leftovers.

That's what I think when I think of stews. I got the idea for this Greek-inspired iteration of chicken stew from the fabulous New York Times column Recipes for Health: Chicken Stews to Savor, or Store Away. In it, Martha Rose Shulman writes about how her niece is about to give birth. She provides several chicken stew recipes that work great frozen (the article is worth checking out for all of them). My good friend just gave birth to twin girls.

This made me want to try out a stew recipe.

What made me choose this one over the others offered was the interesting combination of cauliflower, chicken, and cinnamon. I also loved that she finished it with crumbled feta, though it's great without it, too. She also uses chicken legs and thighs (which I always do), as they don't try out like breasts when braised. Also, they tend to be less expensive.

The resulting dish was everything that you wanted a stew to be (see my list above), yet it was also imbued with a touch of the exotic (this came from the cinnamon). It kept great in the fridge and tasted even better the next night for dinner. I would like to try freezing a portion in the future, too.

The next time I make it, I may try doing a version in my slow-cooker. I love my slow-cooker. And I have a feeling that this stew would taste even better after simmering away all day long.

Cauliflower Olive Chicken Stew
Adapted from Recipes for Health by Martha Rose Shulman
Serves 4-6 people
Cooking time: about one hour

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, with juice, pulsed in a food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives (about 45 grams)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken, in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the pieces to a plate or bowl as they’re browned. Pour off the fat from the pan. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft. 
  3. Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes and their juice, the cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly and fragrant.
  4. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. 
  5. Add the cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is just about falling off the bone. 
  6. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with grains, with the feta sprinkled on top if desired.
Advance preparation: The stew keeps for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and freezes well. With leftovers, make a delicious rice casserole by spreading cooked rice over the bottom of a baking dish and topping with the chicken and sauce. Heat through for 20 minutes at 325 degrees.