Aleppo Roasted Carrots with Green Garbanzos and Cider-Poached Raisins

carrots green garbanzo beans

Last weekend we were in Vermont for a dear friend’s wedding.  In between a rehearsal dinner of sweet potato coconut pizza, the heart-warming marriage vows, and the after-party bonfire s’mores, Jeff and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Rutland farmer’s market. A great farmer’s market is a treasure. And hitting a great farmer’s market on a great day in the middle of a great harvest, well, that’s just about as good as it gets.  I’m very lucky that Jeff is ever-willing to help me haul my purchases home, because I couldn’t help myself.  From beautiful pink radishes to tiny jars of picked garlic, to shimmering bottles of sweet icewine, I went a little overboard. But the best purchase of the day was these beautiful multi-colored carrots.

multicolored carrots

I adore roasted carrots.  They are nutty and sweet, and when dusted with Aleppo pepper, just a bit smokey. The combination of sweet root vegetables and subtle Aleppo pepper is addictive. You can serve the Aleppo roasted carrots all by themselves as a great side dish.  But the addition of green garbanzo beans and plump raisins takes this from side dish to meal. I have occasionally been able to find fresh garbanzo beans, but more often they are available frozen.   And if you can’t find Aleppo pepper, you can substitute Spanish paprika to mimic the sweet and smokey flavor.

puprple carrots yellow carrots white carrots

Aleppo Roasted Carrots with Green Garbanzos and Cider-Poached Raisins

Serves 2 as a main course

5 cups chopped carrots

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup frozen green garbanzo beans

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots with the oil, Aleppo pepper, and salt.  Spread the carrots on a baking sheet and roast until lightly browned at the edges, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the garbanzos with a few tablespoons of water for 2 minutes, then drain.  Simmer the raisins in the cider until they are very plum, about 5 minutes (you can also do this in the microwave if you prefer, just watch so it doesn’t boil over).  To serve, toss the roasted carrots, garbanzos, and raisins together.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if you like.

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Published in: on October 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm  Comments (5)  
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Sausage Stuffed Bread

chicken apple sausage stuffed bread

I have a terrible tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be.

When I was a kid, my mother would buy these lovely sausage and veggie stuffed baguettes from a local bakery to slice and serve as a dinner party hors d’oeuvre. I adored the crusty outsides and rich, meaty interior.  Mom learned to buy an extra loaf just for me and my brother.  I’ve been wanting to recreate them for ages, but the whole processes seemed, frankly, like a pain in the butt.  I’d have to make bread dough, then stuff, form and bake while hoping that the whole thing wouldn’t explode.  So I never did it.

But, of course, I was making the whole process so much more complicated than it needed to be.  Yes, the real deal would involve a lovely yeasty french bread dough and a whole lot of effort.  But the slap-dash version turns out to be pretty darn delicious!  A good store-bought baguette, some pre-cooked sausage, and a bit of aluminum foil, and you have a wonderful stuffed bread.

I used chicken apple sausage, peppers, and gouda.  But you could certainly play around with the flavors.  I think that a sweet Italian sausage and some chopped broccoli would be lovely with provolone.  Really, you can’t go wrong with sausage, bread and cheese, can you?

baguette stuffed with chicken apple sausage

Sausage Stuffed Bread

Serves 8-10 as a starter

1 plump french baguette

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 links (about 6 ounces) pre-cooked chicken apple sausage, chopped

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 cup store-bought garlic herb cheese spread

3 ounces gouda cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice into the baguette lengthwise, but do not slice all the way through – as if you’re making a very long sandwich.  Carefully dig out as much of the soft interior of the bread as you can, while leaving a solid exterior to encase the filling without collapsing.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage, pepper, onion, and garlic and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Let the sausage mixture cool slightly.  Meanwhile, spread the garlic-herb cheese over the interior of the bread. Lay the gouda evenly in the interior of the bread. Carefully spoon the sausage mixture into the bread cavity, as evenly as possible. Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is warm.  Cool slightly and then unwrap and slice to serve.

Published in: on September 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm  Comments (8)  
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Greek Olive Paste

Greek Olive Paste

It doesn’t take long after coming home from vacation for the steady stream of daily to-do’s to wipe out my holiday induced calm. A couple of late nights at work, a family event or two, an overgrown lawn, and I’ve almost forgotten that I ever went to Greece.  Although it’s only been a few weeks, those lazy days on the Aegean sea seem like ages ago. If it weren’t for all of those lovely photos, I’d wonder if we even saw the Acropolis, or explored the mountains of Crete.

Greece Athens Acropolis temple of Athena

Does this happen to you? Does your habitual stress erase your vacation happiness?

In an effort to bring back those calm, sunny holiday hours, Jeff and I have been gravitating towards the food and drink of our vacation.  A tiny cup of Greek coffee in the afternoon, a few honeyed pistachios after dinner.  And most of all, this flavorful olive paste.  At almost every meal in Greece, we were served a big basket of country bread, a little dish of pungent olive oil, and a generous dollop of intense olive paste.  Even Jeff, a proclaimed olive hater, would slather this olive paste over crusty pieces of semolina bread.  Here at home, we’ve been devouring this olive paste as a snack, spread on sandwiches, tossed with grilled vegetables and drizzled over baked chicken.

Greek Olive Paste

In Crete, this olive paste is made with tiny black olives grown locally and used to produce some of the world’s best olive oil.  Here at home, I’ve been using kalamata olives, which give the olive paste a slightly creamier texture, but all in all produce a reasonably close copy of the Cretan staple. If you’re so inclined, it might be fun to experiment with different types of olives in this recipe.

Greek Olive Paste

makes a scant 1/2 cup

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup good quality olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of dried oregano

salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until mostly smooth, with a few small bits of olive remaining.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve with crusty bread or alongside grilled meats, on sandwiches, with a cheese plate, or tossed with fresh pasta.  The olive paste is best used right away, but will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in a covered container.

Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm  Comments (5)  
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Broccoli Pancakes with Lemon, Parsley and Capers

whole wheat broccoli pancakes

I’m really not a picky eater.  I never was.  Oh sure, as a kid I had my quirks. Don’t we all? But over the years most of my food aversions dissipated.  Some of my least favorite foods even became obsessions, like Gorgonzola. Others just became more tolerable as time went on, like celery.  Only a small handful of hold-out dislikes stuck with me all through my 20s.  But after I turned 30, something strange happened:  I decided to try Jello.  Ok, I didn’t exactly decide, I was pretty much forced.  But it turned my world upside down.  My most reviled food nemesis, the evil sugary, wiggly gelatin, was, in fact, yummy.

The Jello episode led me to rethink my other food aversions.  As I said, there aren’t many of them. But capers were high on the list.  After finding out that the terrifyingly jiggly Jello was actually pretty fun to eat, I had to give capers another try.  I’d always believed capers to be overpoweringly briny and obnoxiously chewy.  It turns out that I was wrong.  Capers add a salty kick to savory dishes and get wonderfully crisp why fried up in a bit of oil.  A little jar of capers tucked in your fridge can be a flavor secret weapon.

I made these broccoli pancakes to use up a wilting head of broccoli, but it’s the lemon, parsley and capers that make these pancakes special.  With loads of fresh, bright flavor, these nutrition-packed pancakes are awesome for brunch along with scrambled eggs, and they make for a great quick lunch with a big green salad. You could certainly change up this recipe, using cauliflower instead of broccoli, and maybe some cilantro in place of the parsley, if you like.  But do give the capers a shot.  If, like me, you haven’t always been a big fan of capers, you might be surprised.

Of course, if you are like Jeff, and have held on to a life-long hatred of broccoli, that’s another story.  I would say that you should give these pancakes a try (the buttery batter and fresh parsley do manage to mellow out the brocoli), but I think broccoli-haters are a special breed.  You broccoli haters out there are pretty set in your ways.  I’ve managed to get Jeff to change his mind on everything from bok choy to quinoa but broccoli is off limits.  Which is just fine with me, since it meant I got these wonderful pancakes all to myself!

broccoli caper pancakes brunch

Broccoli Pancakes with Lemon, Parsley and Capers

Serves 4

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 eggs, beaten

1 3/4 cups milk

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons capers

Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, then cool and chop. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, wisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and garlic powder. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave, and let cool.  In a small bowl, wisk together the cooled melted butter, eggs, and milk.  Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Add in the lemon, parsley and broccoli and stir to combine.

Heat a griddle and grease with a bit of the reserved butter.  Drop the batter by the 1/2 cup onto the griddle and flip when the edges begin to brown.  Remove the pancakes and repeat until all the batter is used. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the oil and fry the capers until they begin to brown and get slightly crisp.

To serve, top pancakes with fried capers and additional parsley.

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm  Comments (7)  
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Garden Fresh Double Radish Tartine

fresh french breakfast radishes

Radishes are a seriously underappreciated vegetable.  I could list all the reasons I love radishes (their pretty pink color, their crisp raw crunch, their sweet punchy flavor). But the real reason I adore radishes above all other early spring veggies is that I can grow them – fast. I love that moment, that thrill of pulling up on the bright little greens and seeing the pretty pink root beneath the dirt.  Radishes mature in just a few weeks, and are very forgiving.  They grow well in beds or in containers, they love cool weather, and will do just fine with only 5-6 hours of sun per day.  

Radishes and butter are a natural combination.  In France, raw radishes are served with sweet butter and flaky salt as a lively spring hors d’oeuvres.  In my own kitchen, I adore radishes braised with butter and dill as a sophisticated side dish with grilled salmon. But for a simple spring snack, this super quick double radish tarine hits the spot. 

organi radish sandwich

There is something about gardening that makes me feel frugal. With all the care and attention I’ve given these radishes, I don’t want to waste even a morsel. Which is why I’ve started using the radish greens, and I’m loving them! Baby radish greens are wonderful in salad, and more mature radish greens are tasty sautéed with garlic. Finely chopped, the radish greens make the herb butter in this tartine a really exciting spread. This  herb butter would be great on grilled fish, or tossed with pasta, and it’s great on pumpernickel bread. If you wanted to make this tartine a more substantial meal, a few thin sliced of hard-cooked egg would be a great addition.

organic garden radish

Double Radish Tartine

Serves 8

8 slices whole grain pumpernickel bread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon finely chopped baby radish greens

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh radishes

Toast the bread until crisp.  Allow the toast to cool (you do not want the butter to melt on the toast). Whip the softened butter with an electric mixer. Fold in the radish greens, half the dill, the chives, and the salt.  Spread the butter on each of the pieces of toast.  Arrange the radish slices on top of the butter and sprinkle with the remaining dill and additional salt to taste.  Serve as a light lunch or snack, or cut each tartine into four triangles and serve as party finger food for your next picnic.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm  Comments (6)  
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Not Just For Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Feta Tart

french pumpkin tart with feta cheese

February is my least favorite month for cooking.  Oh sure, there is plenty of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and little else to do besides putter in the kitchen all month.  Even so, every year, right about the middle of February, I lose steam.  With minimal produce for inspiration, and the holiday festivities a faded memory, I cave to take-out and frozen pizza more often than I’d like to admit. 

Do the winter blues hit you too?

As I sit here wishing for spring, planning my vegetable garden and dreaming of tiny strawberries, I’m attempting to jump start spring with a round of spring cleaning.  Today we tackled the basement and the kitchen cabinets.  And do you know what I found lurking at the back of my pantry?  A can of pumpkin.  It may not be a farmer’s market basket, but this vitamin-filled little can really jazzed up our quick winter supper.

You already know about my love of pumpkin.  Layered in a yogurt parfait, swirled into oatmeal, stuffed in ravioli, or baked in a cupcake, you really can’t go wrong with canned pumpkin. The slightly sweet earthy pumpkin works wonderfully with the salty tang of the feta and the nutty flavor of the swiss chard in this simple tart. A sliver of this tart would probably be a very nice appetizer for a fancy dinner party, but a big wedge also works well as a main course served with a big arugula salad dressed in good olive oil and lemon juice.

I like this Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust recipe from the wonderful Chocolate & Zucchini but you can use any tart crust you like.  You could even use refrigerated pie crust dough here and I’m sure the tart would still turn out wonderfully.  I do think that a good tart pan, with a removable bottom, is pretty important, though.  Before investing in a tart pan (really, not a very big expenditure) I made many mediocre tarts in a pie plate.  The too-deep, flat sides of the pie dish result in a soggy crust, and an unpleasant filling-to-crust ratio.  If you don’t have a tart pan, you might be better off making a rustic crostada – just roll out the dough on a baking sheet, spread the filling in the middle, leaving a two-inch border.  Fold the crust edges into the middle, brush with a bit of oil, and bake until golden.

Pumpkin Feta Tart

Serves 6 (as a main course)

1 recipe of tart crust dough 

3/4 cup thinly sliced onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced fresh swiss chard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups canned pumpkin

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully press the crust into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.  Saute the onion in oil over medium heat until soft and just beginning to darken. Add in the swiss chard and cook 1 minute more. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir in the rosemary.  Remove from the heat.  In a medium sized bowl, stir the pumpkin and the eggs well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the crust from the refrigerator.  Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly in the crust.  Sprinkle the swiss chard mixture evenly over the pumpkin mixture and top with the feta cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Published in: on February 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm  Comments (12)  
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Thanksgiving Sides to Savor

Can I tell you a little secret? 

I don’t really like traditional Thanksgiving sides. 

Actually, it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I don’t love them.  And I want to love them. I feel like I’m supposed to swoon over mashed potatoes, but I find most versions kind of boring.  And stuffing? Um, it’s mushy bread. 

But I do love Thanksgiving. I love curling up on the couch with a big mug of coffee to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I love spending the afternoon in the kitchen with my family.  I love lingering around the table. And Thanksgiving isn’t really about the turkey anyway, it’s about family and friends.  I know I’ve harped a lot lately on the concept of good living, but I promise this is the last time.

There’s a moment, after the pumpkin pie, when the whole family is full and happy and laughing. To me, that moment is truly the height of good living. As I mentioned before, the folks at Fage (makers of yummy Greek yogurt)  have asked a few of us food bloggers to weigh in on what makes for good living.  And while I’d gladly trade lumpy mashed potatoes and chilly New England weather for crispy spanakopita and Mediterranean sunshine, we can live the good life right here in Connecticut too. Whether corn bread stuffing makes you drool or not, be sure to savor all of the good moments this week!

And should you like some inspiration for deviating from the usual green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole, one of the following recipes might make a fun addition to your Thanksgiving line up.

noodle kugel

New England Noodle Kugel

 

sweet potato

Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Gnocchi

 

barley side dish

Roasted Onion Barley Risotto

 

chestnut apple tart

Chestnut, Gorgonzola and Apple Tart

 

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Fennel Apple Salad with Fresh Chickpeas and Honey Walnut Dressing

rosh hashanah side dish

Of all holiday food traditions, apples and honey may just be my favorite.  Crisp, sweet apple slices drizzled with rich, floral honey – what could be better? Oh sure, I love Hanukkah latkes and Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, but the simplicity of apples and honey is just so fresh, compelling and versatile.

These Apples ‘N Honey Pancakes, that I shared with you last year, make a nice Rosh Hashanah breakfast. But this year I was searching for the perfect holiday dinner side, something to go with the brisket.  A rich, meaty dinner calls for something light but flavorful, and this salad fits the bill.  I love the incredible crunch of the apples and fennel, especially served with tender, juicy meat.

fennel apple salad

I was lucky enough to find green chickpeas at the market yesterday.  If you’ve never used fresh green chickpeas, they are a wonderful, rare treat.  It does take a few minutes to shell them , but the slightly crunchy bite is worth the effort.  If you can’t find green chickpeas, I wouldn’t suggest canned or dried chickpeas here.  Edamame would actually be a better substitute.  Either way, this healthy salad also makes a great, quick lunch, in case a big brisket dinner isn’t on your menu this week.

green chickpeas

Fennel Apple Salad with Fresh Chickpeas and Honey Walnut Dressing

Serves 6

2 apples ( I used Fuji)

1 bulb fennel, fronds attached

1/2 cup shelled fresh green chickpeas (or cooked shelled edamame)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons walnut oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

salt and pepper to taste

Slice the apples into match sticks. Remove the fennel fronds, chop two tablespoons of the leafy green fronds and discard the rest. Thinly slice the fennel bulb. Place the apples, fennel fronds, fennel bulb, parsley, and chickpeas in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, wisk together the walnut oil, lemon juice and honey. Toss the salad with the dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm  Comments (12)  
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Party Perfect Panzanella: Are You Party Ready?

tomato bread salad

We had a couple friends over for drinks yesterday afternoon.  It was lovely; a few cold beers, a handful of chipotle-spiced walnuts to munch on, and a sunny deck. And then another friend called, and another, and in our beer and sun soaked state, we invited them all over for dinner.

I could have ordered pizza.  I almost ordered pizza.  But this is just the kind of challenge that the Electrolux “Are You Party Ready?” campaign is all about.  Entertaining on the fly makes me feel just a bit like I’m on a reality tv show; 60 minutes to make a celebratory meal from the ingredients in your fridge.  Go!  But I love the flexibility of having friend over anytime, and I love to feed them.  So I’ve developed a few tricks over the years, to keep my sanity and enjoy my friends. The folks at Electrolux suggested that I share these tips with all of you.

chipotle spiced walnits and champagne

My favorite impromptu entertaining tip is to always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge.  I know it takes up space, but you just never know when you’ll have an occasion to celebrate!  And sparkling wine makes even the smallest event into a true celebration.  I can’t take full credit for this tip, it’s really Jeff’s idea.  He’s a big believer in the importance of Champagne.  In fact, Champagne glasses were our very first joint purchase, made long before we were even living together.  As Mereille Guiliano has so often proclaimed, Champagne goes with just about everything, so whatever you’re serving, it provides ultimate flexibility. And even if your cupboards are bare, with a glass of Champagne in hand, your guests will feel like a million bucks.  Plus, the bubbly will distract them long enough for you to make a frantic call to your favorite delivery guy.

My second favorite entertaining tip is less optimistic, but perhaps more practical.  Keep a loaf of good bread in the freezer.  If friends drop by in the morning, make French toast.  A neighbor pops in at lunch? Nothing dresses up canned soup better than buttery homemade croutons. Your boss invites herself over for a drink after work? Well, first pull out that Champagne!  Then toast up a few slices of bread and top with whatever you have on hand – chopped tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or mashed cannellini beans and chives. Even a topping of canned tuna mixed with capers will impress her. 

flank stake grilled with pesto

So last night, as the doorbell rang, I pulled a few cheese-topped toasts out of the oven, grabbed a bottle of Champagne from the fridge, and we were off to a good start.  Thankfully, I had been planning on steak for dinner.  But with a few extra people, I had to stretch the meal.  Trusty freezer-bread to the rescue!  I love the thrift of a panzanella salad.  Stale bread turns into something wonderful when surrounded by bright red tomatoes and sweet onions. Our supper of pesto steak and green salad was stretched to feed the masses with a bright panzanella. And as we move further into tomato season here in New England, I can promise there will be more panzanella on my table this summer. You could add more veggies than I did; cucumbers or peppers would be wonderful.  Next time I might throw in some pitted olives.  And if you’re looking for a bit more heft, I’d suggest some fresh mozzarella cheese, or even a few grilled shrimp. 

cherry berry charlotte

As for dessert, well, that trusty loaf of bread (ok, I admit, I actually had two loaves!) saved me again.  I’m typically a big fan of bread pudding as my go-to dessert in a pinch.  Bread pudding is infinitely flexible, and accommodates everything from bananas and chocolate to apples and cinnamon.  But with an abundance of cherries and berries in my fridge, I experimented with a charlotte instead.  Buttery bread encasing sweet fruit and topped with a bit of chocolate sauce made for a rich dessert.  But I will admit that I’m still partial to the bread pudding, so homey and gooey and rustic.  The charlotte may win points for style, but it’s tough to top the taste of a rich bread pudding, particularly one serves with a bit of bourbon sauce!

cherry berry charlotte

Do you have any favorite tips for entertaining on the fly? I’m sure you do. I’d love to know your tips so leave me a note, and also check out Kelly Ripa’s Are You Party Ready? site to share your entertaining tips!

Party Perfect Panzanella

Serves 6-8 as  a side dish

4 cups cubed French, Italian or good quality white bread

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced in wedges

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with half of the olive oil, a generous sprinkle each of salt and pepper, and the oregano and garlic powder.  Arrange the bread on a greased baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the onion in enough water to cover for about 10 minutes, then drain. 

Wisk together the remaining oil, the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  In a large bowl, toss the toasted bread, the tomato, the basil and the onion with the vinaigrette.

Serve immediately (really, I mean right away!  you don’t want to eat soggy bread).

Published in: on June 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm  Comments (26)  
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Not Quite Mom’s: Creamy Chipotle Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower with pepitas

When I was a kid my mom would make a dish she called ‘Hungarian Cauliflower’.  Steamed cauliflower, topped with strained yogurt and toasty bread crumbs with a sprinkle of bright paprika. I haven’t had it in years.  In fact, I hadn’t even thought about it in years – until a few weeks ago.

My mom’s Hungarian Cauliflower was earthy, crunchy, creamy and delicious – a weeknight favorite. It’s funny how old favorites fizzle, though, when you move out on your own.  I can’t tell you why I’ve never made Hungarian Cauliflower, or the famous family ‘Albergetti’ (something akin to homemade Spaghetti-O’s) or even my mom’s potato-chip topped chicken noodle casserole.

But when I stepped into Michael Schlow’s new Boston restaurant, Tico, I can assure you that Hungarian Cauliflower was the last thing on my mind.  I was looking for spicy two textured beef tacos, and sweet tres leches ice cream … not a blast from the past.

Then a small plate of creamy, smoky cauliflower florets arrived on our table, and I was transported. The cauliflower was roasted, not steamed, and the creamy sauce laced with chipotle. But the food memory was there nonetheless.  Tico’s cauliflower was topped with a bit of crumbly, salty Mexican cheese, and crunchy fava beans – not exactly bread crumbs, but quite a flavor combination.

After that meal at Tico, I bought a head of cauliflower thinking I’d make Mom’s Hungarian Cauliflower. Of course, as soon as I got home I realized that we had no bread crumbs – not even a lonely crust of bread from which to make bread crumbs.  Typical of my haphazard shopping. But then again, most of my recipe innovations arise from missing ingredients.

So I roasted the cauliflower and tossed it with chipotle-laced yogurt, sprinkled it with a bit of salty cheese, and a few pumpkin seeds from the back of the cupboard. And I have to say, it turned out quite wonderfully. This recipe has all the nutty flavor and smokey punch of the dish at Tico and all of the homey creaminess of my mom’s cauliflower. And even better… this version is seriously healthy.

Creamy Chipotle Cauliflower

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 medium head cauliflower

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon bottled chipotle hot sauce

1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets.  Toss the cauliflower with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast about 25 minutes until browned on the edges. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix together the yogurt and the hot sauce. Arrange the pepitas on a baking sheet and roast in the 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Toss the cauliflower with the yogurt mixture and top with the cheese and pepitas.  Serve warm.

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm  Comments (15)  
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