Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

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Spinach Gnocchi Gratin

February 17, 2018

Wasting food always gives me a massive guilt trip. Even though I know I can always compost spoiled fruits and vegetables rather than throwing them in the garbage, it always feels like such a poor use of resources (both financially and otherwise). So when I had most of a one-pound bag of cooking spinach and a small amount of heavy cream left over last week – both on the verge of getting too much past their prime – I was on the hunt for a recipe to use them up ASAP. This spinach gnocchi gratin in the Gourmet cookbook turned out to be a perfect fit.

So as soon as both my kids were down for naps at the same time, I figured I had just enough time to complete this recipe: about 1 hour. These aren’t the more common potato-based gnocchi you usually find on Italian restaurant menus; instead they’re based on French pâte à choux dough made by cooking flour in melted butter and water/milk on top of the stove and then beating in eggs. But rather than piping the dough onto baking sheets like pâte à choux pastries, these gnocchi are dropped by spoonfuls and par-cooked in boiling water, then baked in a casserole dish with a sprinkling of good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

This recipe uses a few separate pans and bowls, but you can maximize your pan efficiency by using the same pan for the spinach and dough. While the spinach cooks, start the water heating in the large pot for boiling the gnocchi, then while the spinach is draining in the colander, use the former spinach pan to make the dough.

This also has quite a few more steps than most recipes I’ve made lately (having a toddler and a 3 month old doesn’t lend itself well to many of the complex recipes I used to make all the time!), but it sure did feel good to make something a little “fancier” for once rather than frantically trying to complete the laundry or stay on top of toy clutter, which is my usual naptime activity. :) Enjoy!

Spinach gnocchi gratin

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Matcha Tea Granola

January 24, 2018

I was out on maternity leave during Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I ended up making several DIY food gifts for my family for the holidays. This granola was one of them. I’m always looking for more inventive ways to use matcha tea powder (like my favorite matcha tea cookies), and I thought this recipe posted by Bakerita sounded delicious and easy to put together (especially with having a newborn to care for). Turns out it was indeed both easy and tasty, and I’ve made several more batches for myself over the past few weeks!

If you didn’t know that there was matcha coating this granola, I’m not sure that you’d be able to place the flavor in a blind test. It provides a slight earthiness to offset the sweetness, which I enjoy but my husband does not. Fortunately my dad tends to enjoy the same flavors that I do, so after the jar I gifted him was all consumed, he looked up the recipe and made some for himself too!

One thing to note: this granola doesn’t stick together in clumps once baked. I don’t personally mind granola with a finer texture, but if you’re looking for chunky granola, you’ll need to modify the sweetener/oil to match a recipe that provides the texture you prefer. Enjoy!

Matcha tea granola

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Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale

January 24, 2016

This red lentil dal is another easy recipe I clipped out of Food and Wine (February 2015) during my recent magazine purge. Dal is the Indian word for dried split peas or lentils, and is also used to refer to the thick stew made from them.  We had it as an accompaniment at most meals when I visited India in 2010 (including breakfast!); I fondly remember scooping up mouthfuls with delicious homemade chapati. This recipe adds kale as a hearty green to bulk up the stew, so this would be suitable as a light main dish (accompanied by a salad and some crusty bread) as well as a side dish.

I never really jumped on the kale bandwagon of a few years ago (which still seems to be going strong, although I hear it mentioned more often now in the form of green smoothies), but I don’t dislike it and am happy to try recipes that make good use of it. This dal recipe doesn’t specify the type of kale to use; even though I have more familiarity with the Tuscan variety, I bought the more common curly-leaf variety this time. The recipe only used about half the bunch, so now I need to figure out something to do with the leftover kale in the next couple of days! The type of chile peppers is also unspecified: the recipe just calls for “small red chiles.” I ended up buying Fresno chiles, which have a kick but didn’t overwhelm the dish with spice.

Overall we really enjoyed this lentil stew! The coconut milk adds just the right amount of background coconut flavor without being overly coconut-y. Recipe has been pasted into my binder of ones to keep and make again!

IMG_9016_out

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Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

January 24, 2014

When I was growing up, my parents frequently made huevos rancheros for a quick vegetarian supper. If you’ve never heard of it, huevos rancheros is a Mexican breakfast dish: the basic idea is eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce/salsa, served over tortillas and sprinkled with cheese. Like many kids, I hated runny egg yolks and insisted that my parents cook my eggs until they were essentially hard boiled. But now my taste in eggs (and my appreciation of food textures) is a little more developed. :)

I was looking for a quick dinner idea a few weeks ago, preferably something I could make with what I had in the pantry, and I found this recipe in the December 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. It sounded very similar to huevos rancheros, but when I read further, it turned out that this version is actually a north African dish! I didn’t have any pita bread to serve with it, but we had naan bread left over in the freezer, and that worked just as well as an accompaniment.

The inclusion of chickpeas in the sauce gave the dish some body, and the tangy feta went perfectly with the spicy tomato flavor. I loved the way this dish turned out; my husband was a little bit more ambivalent about it. He’s never really cared for mixing the flavors of eggs and tomatoes though, so I wasn’t expecting it to be a favorite. I think it grew on him though because I made it again the following week and he didn’t complain! :)

Eggs poached in tomato sauce with chickpeas and feta

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Caramelized Onion-Garlic Dip

January 21, 2014

Caramelized onions may take some time to cook, but the development of the sweet/brown/complex flavors is absolutely worth the time required. I love using them on pizza, in dip, on baked brie… etc. So here’s an oldie-but-a-goodie appetizer from the ATK Family cookbook that makes good use of them. I’ve made this dip many times before, but I didn’t make it last year because I tried a caramelized onion/shallot dip from Bon Appetit instead. That one was delicious, but a bit more time consuming; this year I had frozen leftover caramelized onions, making this a 5-minute recipe. And with all the other party foods I had planned, I was all about expediency wherever I could find it!

Caramelized onion-garlic dip

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Hummus

January 8, 2014

Among all the cheeses, desserts, and other indulgences at our Christmas party, I try to include something healthy, and hummus has become a staple. I usually end up making it several other times throughout the year, because it’s so fast and easy (and cheap!) to throw together. I personally prefer homemade hummus to that sold at the store, and it doesn’t take any ingredients that I don’t normally keep in my pantry. The one slightly unusual ingredient, tahini, keeps for a long time in the pantry or fridge (I keep mine right next to the peanut butter), so I buy a large jar to have on hand.

Although I usually make it super-fast with canned chickpeas, this time I made what Cook’s Illustrated calls “Ultimate hummus,” made with dried chickpeas. This version requires a little more forethought because the dried chickpeas require an overnight soak plus an hour of simmering time. Was this extra time worth it? Just for fun, I also made the canned chickpea version to do a side-by-side taste test. (Actually I made it because my husband really wanted hummus RIGHT NOW and couldn’t wait until the party the next day, but we’ll pretend it was for science.) My husband actually preferred the canned chickpea variety, while I liked the one made with dried chickpeas slightly better. Final verdict? Make whatever you have time for, and don’t feel like you’re “cheating” using canned garbanzos. I’ve included both versions of the recipe below. Enjoy!

Hummus

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Cheddar-Beer Spread

January 6, 2014

Cheese has always featured prominently at our Christmas open house; it’s a perfect opportunity to sample three or four kinds from the shop that I would never just buy a hunk of on my own to eat. In addition to serving blocks of various cheeses, I’ve always made a baked brie wrapped in puff pastry. But this year we skipped the baked cheese and I brought back this zesty cheese spread, which I’d forgone the past few years in favor of trying new spreads and dips. Although I never personally developed a taste for drinking beer, I love how it works in recipes. And the flavors of sharp cheddar and beer pair perfectly – picture soft Bavarian pretzels with zingy cheddar dip from your favorite brew house, yum!

This spread from the ATK Family Cookbook is super easy to throw together, as long as you have a food processor. Even if you only have a mini processor, the recipe can easily be cut in half. The Worcestershire, dijon, and Tabasco give this spread a definite kick, so it’s best paired  with a hearty whole wheat or multigrain cracker. Rye crackers would also make an excellent flavor combination. Enjoy!

Cheddar-beer spread

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