Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

pasta primavera fresca

In dinner on June 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

for me, there is really nothing as wonderful as a big bowl of pasta. but as you know, i’m really trying to eat less refined white flour. it’s just better for us to avoid it.

so i go through all these contortions to make the big bowl of pasta just a little bit healthier. there are the quinoa pastas and the whole wheats, which are great, but sometimes only the good old white stuff will do. i read something (bittman, probably) a while ago that advised making pasta salad with more salad than pasta.

now i try to do that with hot pasta, too. especially in the spring and summer. these dishes are also great lukewarm or room temp.


so check out this one. pasta primavera fresca with peas, green beans, ricotta, a little lemon zest and shallot, and fresh arugula.

i also love that it’s a one-pot wonder.

i cooked the pasta in my cast iron dutch oven, threw the frozen veggies in for the last minute or so.


drain, and throw back in the hot pot with some finely minced shallot, olive oil, a biiiig dollop of ricotta cheese, some pasta water (don’t forget to save it before draining!), salt and pepper


and mix well.


if you’re going to serve it all at once, let it cool just a little and mix in the arugula right away.

i was planning on reheating some later, so i added the arugula to my bowl


and then topped with pasta.

fresh veggies, light cream sauce, fat noodles… and less guilt!


salmon-sweet potato burgers

In dinner on May 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm

this recipe was inspired by a dish my parents buy in the prepared foods section of their whole foods. when i asked for it at my whole foods, they looked at my like i was crazy! so i decided to try to recreate it myself.


my version turned out really well. they weren’t as firm as the WF ones, but that’s ok with me.

it’s a little bit dump-and-guess so feel free to make your own variation, but i’ll show you what i did.

i started by peeling and cubing 2 large sweet potatoes. you could use two mediums or maybe one super large. (i had some leftover) boil the cubes until super soft.

drain, and mash well with a fork. (if you have a food mill or ricer, now would be the time to use it! i don’t, so fork it is)


meanwhile, cook a piece of salmon. you could buy precooked, if you want, but raw is cheaper and you can cook it just how you want it.

my piece was about .85 pounds and i asked for it from the thin end of the fillet so it would cook faster. i did it in my toaster oven on broil and it didn’t take very long at all.


drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before cooking.

the way i see it, you want your salmon under-done and your potatoes over-done.

you also want to make a mixture of bread and egg as a binder. i tore a small dinner roll into pieces and put it in the mini chopper with an egg.


you could also whisk the egg and add a handful of pre-made bread crumbs.

in any case, you want to end up with a blended egg-and-bread mixture.


flake the fish when it’s cool enough to touch and add it to the bread/egg. make sure you get the dark meat off the skin (great flavor!) but don’t get any skin.


add 3/4 of a small red bell pepper, finely chopped, and three or so thinly sliced green onions.


add enough mashed potato to get the ratio of fish:potato you want. i used about 2.5 cups of mash.

finish it off with a lot of freshly ground pepper, as many crushed red pepper flakes as you can take and a teaspoon or more of salt.

mix well. you’ll probably want to take your finger jewelry off and get in there with your hands.

form mixture into patties and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. i even froze the ones we didn’t eat right away.


to serve, microwave on high for 2-5 minutes, depending on how cold they are and how hot your microwave is.

then brown both sides in a frying pan with a little oil. be gentle, as they are a little fragile the first time you flip.


serve with a bun or without. we thought they were dynamite with a little sriracha!

bulgur chili

In dinner on May 19, 2014 at 1:20 am

while i love my black bean and sweet potato chili, sometimes you just want a big ol’ pot of the spicy red stuff.

the bulgur in this recipe is not only healthy and serves to bulk up the veggies, but it also has the consistency of ground beef for those who care. i also used this method in the yummy joes.

it looks like a lot of ingredients, but that’s mostly the spices. and if you don’t have something, just leave it out.

bulgur chili
large onion
two large carrots
two celery stalks
several heads of garlic minced (i used five)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
salt to taste (at least 2 teaspoons)
bay leaf
one bottle of beer
28 ounces whole, peeled tomatoes
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup bulgur
27 ounces of kidney beans (give or take)

cook your onions, carrots and celery (!!) until quite soft.


add the garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant – a minute or so.


push vegetables to the side, add a small puddle of olive oil and dump in the spices (except bay leaf). stir everything to coat and cook for a minute or so.


add beer, all tomatoes, 1/2 to a cup more water and the bay leaf. taste and season with salt. you’re going to need at least two teaspoons.

bring to a simmer. cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.


stir periodically, and as the chili is cooking, use the back of your spoon to break down the tomatoes.

add a cup of bulgur and keep simmering with the lid slightly cracked until done, about 10 minutes.


when the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and stir in the drained kidney beans.

baked gnocchi

In dinner on April 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm

this is an all-star dish i found in a food network magazine back around the holidays. it’s hearty enough for a vegetarian dinner, or you can serve it as a side with meat or a meatless sausage, like so:


plus, it has all my favorite qualities in a recipe: one dish, just a handful of ingredients, comes together quickly, tastes great and is super healthy.

all you need is:

one large or two small bunches of brocolini cut into bite-sized pieces
a pack or two of fresh (not frozen) gnocchi
1/2 of liquid (broth or water)
a couple cloves of garlic, minced or microplaned
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
a couple glugs of olive oil
1/4 grated parmesean

mix everything together in an 8- or 9-inch baking dish.

bake, covered tightly in tin foil, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. take the foil off and bake another 10 or so minutes. you don’t want it to dry out so much everything sticks to the bottom of the dish, but you do want most of the liquid to cook off.

shake a little more parm over the top and broil until just browned. delish.

taco casserole

In dinner on April 17, 2014 at 1:19 am

long ago in a galaxy far, far away, i used to attend first friday potlucks at church.

one of the regular dishes that most sticks in my mind (besides the canned pears in green jello) was diane’s taco casserole.

now of course, diane used ground beef, but i’m going to use my favorite new trick – bulgur – as a substitute.

cook up about a cup and a half or a little less. you want it to be al dente so it doesn’t get too soft in the casserole.

next dice an onion and sautee it until soft. then add some pre-mixed taco seasoning or make your own. i used:


1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin

to that mixture, add

26 ounces chopped tomatoes
15 ounces black beans, drained (or kidney beans)
about a cup of frozen corn kernels

and the pre-cooked bulgur.


taste for seasoning and let it bubble away a little while you make the cornbread. (feel free to use boxed cornbread mix – diane certainly did – but my whole foods didn’t have any?!)


for the cornbread topping:

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil

grate a pile o’ cheese (the yellow-est i could find) and add about a cup to the cornbread. save the rest for topping.


when the cornbread is ready and your oven is preheated to 400 degrees, dump the bulgur mixture into a big baking dish


and spoon your cornbread topping over it.

sprinkle with cheese and if you’re cooking for my family, add decorative rings of jalapeno to the top. if jalapenos aren’t your thing, you could use more cheese, or black olive rings, or green onion… something taco-y.


bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden and the filling is bubbling.


it came out really well! i think i should have baked mine just a titch longer and added a little more salt to the filling, but otherwise, great. now if only i had some jello salad…


two-tomato and ricotta pasta

In dinner on March 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm

this was one of those things i concocted in my head and just had to try. turns out i’m super on-trend because just a few days later, the times ran a recipe using the same idea. haven’t tried yet, but i’m going to because it sounds delicious.

i started by sauteing a shallot and a couple garlic cloves in a little more oil than usual. when they got soft, i added a container of cherry tomatoes and a handful of slivered sun-dried tomatoes.


cook on medium or medium-high until everything is soft and the tomatoes start to split open. coax them with the back of a wooden spoon if necessary.


you don’t want it to get to dry, so add a little water or a little more oil if need be.

meanwhile, cook up some linguini, and toss it right into your large saute pan when it’s done.


save the pasta water because you’re going to need it.

turn the heat down a little and add between a cup and half a cup of part-skim ricotta.


stir everything together until it’s all mixed well. add a little pasta water to soften things up and taste for seasoning. i think it needs a fair amount of salt and pepper.


it was great!! i’m definitely going to use the ricotta technique again to create an easy, rich creamy sauce without a lot of fat.


and it came together so quickly.


winter vegetable salad

In dinner on December 22, 2013 at 1:16 am

winter vegetables are so lovely, and coincidentally, super good for you, too. i love to roast up a big pan of them. always make more than you think you’ll eat – not only do they shrink down, but they’re great as leftovers, too.


in this mix, i used a sweet potato, a japanese purple sweet potato, a turnip, two parsnips, a beet (i know! i ate a beet on purpose!) and a bunch of brussels sprouts. i was going for vibrant color.

toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, a couple crushed garlic cloves and my new favorite secret ingredient – a minced jalapeno!

roast at 400 degrees until soft-but-not-mushy, about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on what veggies you chose and how small you cubed everything.


they just look like jewels, don’t they?? and they have such an excellent sharp peppery and sweet flavor.

baby kale salad with a fried egg

In dinner on October 23, 2013 at 1:29 am

whoever said dinner for one can’t be elegant hasn’t had dinner for one at my house.


baby kale salad with thinly sliced red bell peppers, shallot-balsamic dressing, whole wheat garlic croutons and a gently fried egg on top.

by the way, have you ever tried baby kale?! i was introduced to it this weekend by ms ekw. it’s delicious. heartier than regular baby greens, but not as tough as regular kale. perfect for this salad because it holds up to the heat of the egg.

chicken leftovers (part deux)

In dinner on September 26, 2013 at 1:18 am

if you’re from area code 302, you know about capriotti’s,* and i’m betting you’ve enjoyed a bobbie – classic roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and, of course, mayo.

with our lovely leftover roasted chicken, i got it in my head to make a bobbie. i got a box of stove-top stuffing (don’t worry, stove-top stuffing is grandma-approved in my house) and some french bread rolls.

since it’s not cranberry season yet (arg!), you can’t find canned sauce OR frozen OR fresh ones. WHY aren’t i allowed to enjoy cranberries all year ’round??

it’s ok, though, i’m the queen of making cranberry sauce from nothing.

i soaked some dried cranberries in warm water for a couple hours. then into a sauce pan with some red wine, salt, pepper, a little sugar and cooked it down until the liquid was more than half gone.


(i’m also making stuffing. can you spot the celery? mind over matter! i’m over it!)

then i added a little mustard to the cranberry mixture and threw it into my mini chopper. blend until smooth.


stuffing’s done! it only took a box and a cup of water and about 7 minutes (plus my carrots, onions and celery). better living through chemistry.


and that’s gravy heating up.

to assemble: toast your buns and zap your chicken in the microwave so it’s not ice cold. schmear some mayo on one side and cranberry on the other. top with lots of stuffing and chicken. i also added sprouts to freshen it up a little. drizzle with gravy if so desired.


i served with brussels sprouts for the full thanksgiving experience.


* the google tells me that the very same capriotti’s also exists in several other locations around the country including… foxboro, mass! the original location, however, is a mere 1.2 miles from my original location.

chicken leftovers (part one)

In dinner on September 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm

yes yes, chickens have faces, i know. but this one was from whole foods and so happy and patted and hormone-free, she practically had a social security number.

last thursday, he (the man i live with) roasted her (the chicken) to a golden perfection. she was served with tiny potatoes and beautiful thin green beans. plus there was yummy giblet gravy.

two nights later, i was in charge of leftovers (part one). i don’t know what made me do it because i don’t think i’ve ever had one before, but i decided to make a delicious cobb salad.

small-cubed chicken, tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs with blue cheese – apparently there was supposed to be avocado, too? but i didn’t know that – served on a bed of iceberg lettuce with sprouts mixed into it.

i also chopped up and added the leftover potatoes and green beans, and he made fancy bacon crumbles.

mostly, it’s all in the presentation:


the dressing was

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic, microplaned
1/4 teaspoon salt
at least 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


an excellent first use of leftover chicken, but she was a fatty. wait til you see what i do next!