Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Roasted Broccoli with a Twist

There's not much to this recipe—and that's the beauty of it. I find myself craving roasted broccoli almost always, and tonight I indulged myself, while adding enough spice and variety that it felt blog-worthy.

Garam masala rained down with might. Ginger grated softly in the aftermath. All resulting in a sharp, dynamic heat, the sort that keeps you serving up forkful after forkful in wonder.

I'm saving this recipe as much for myself as for you. Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli with a Twist
Yield: 3–4 servings

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon garam masala
2 inches of ginger, freshly grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine broccoli, cauliflowers, and tomatoes. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle garam masala and ginger on top. Toss to combine.
2. Spread vegetable mixture evenly across 9x12-inch baking dish. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Serve.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Oh, man, here's a new favorite! Brussels sprouts suffer a bad rap, and to their dissenters I usually counter, "Well, you just haven't had them the right way."

When I say that, I'm referring to roasted. Trimmed and halved, salted and spiced, and seared to golden-crusted goodness. But now I've got a new incarnation to tout when people give me grief about b-sprouts.

Raw—and grated directly into the salad for a mild and pleasant crunch. Heck, you don't even have to tell your kids or your picky friends that they're eating Brussels sprouts. Unless you get a kick out of being right.

Kale, bitter on its own, is mellowed by a lemon-dijon dressing, toasted almond slices, and a finishing sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

Lightly dressed, full of strong, healthy ingredients, and it'll slide easily onto a holiday sideboard. Give it a shot!

Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from Epicurious)
Yield: 8–10 servings (as side)

1 bunch kale, sliced into thin ribbons
8 oz. Brussels sprouts, grated finely
1/3 cup almond slivers
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated

For the dressing:1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup olive oil

1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients except olive oil, whisking together thoroughly. Set aside to let flavors meld.
2. In a large bowl, add kale and grated Brussels sprouts.
3. Heat up tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Add almond slices and toast, turning often, until golden (about 3–4 minutes). Reserve on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
4. Add almond slices to bowl. Finish dressing by adding 1/2 cup olive oil and whisking to combine.
5. Dress salad, then sprinkle on cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

Just in time for the blessedly dipping temperatures, this full-flavored side accompanies the Pan-Seared Gulf Grouper I made for Country Roads Magazine's Test Kitchen. Sweet, nutty squash spiced with smoked paprika and cinnamon, drizzled with olive oil and roasted. Folded into a quinoa and arugula mixture and tossed rapidly with red wine vinaigrette and honey.

Calling this one a success! I've never actually had a pumpkin spice latte, so consider this my method for heralding fall. You can find the grouper recipe—with an achingly good, silky sundried tomato and caper topping—right here.

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa
Yield: 3–4 servings


1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
Olive oil (for roasting)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
4 ounces baby arugula
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup toasted pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, toss squash with paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and drizzled olive oil. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions, using half vegetable broth and half water for the liquid.
4. Stir arugula into cooked quinoa. Add red wine vinegar and honey, tossing rapidly. Fold in the roasted squash.
5. Serve, adding a sprinkle of toasted pecans to each plate.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Great Zucchini Basil Caper!

Summer's winding to a close, and while I'll readily say sayonara to the mind-melting heat, I find myself in premature mourning for the produce.

Especially when I happen upon a gem like this, adapted from Food52. A flavorful mélange of herbs, garlic, and pickled flower buds acts as a delicate, gauzy shawl to Madame Zucchini. Nothing fried or heavy. No cheesy blanket to stifle your summer vegetable. Just a quick sauté, a "knife pesto," and a finishing sprinkle of fresh herbs and pecans.

So let's accent our zucchini, shall we? 

Sautéed Zucchini with Basil, Mint, and Capers (adapted from Food52)
Serves 2–3.


2 medium zucchini, sliced (1/4-inch thick)
Olive oil (for sauté)
4 cloves garlic
1 heaping tablespoon capers
5 leaves basil
10 leaves mint
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
Fresh basil and mint leaves, torn (for garnish)


1. In a medium skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add half of zucchini slices and sauté, flipping occasionally, until golden-brown on both sides (about 10 minutes). Reserve slices to the side and add in second batch of zucchini. Cook in same manner.
2. Meanwhile, combine garlic, capers, basil, and mint on cutting board and chop together, creating a sort of "knife pesto" (quoting from Food52). Set mixture aside.
3. Once second batch of zucchini is browned, add back in the rest of the zucchini, along with the red wine vinegar and the herb mixture. Turn off heat and toss gently, until zucchini is coated.
4. Serve, sprinkling each plate with pecans and torn herbs. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stuffed Tomatoes à la Grecque

Here's another outing with Indie Plate ingredients. Indie Plate is a Baton Rouge, La.-based grocery delivery service, sourcing from farms and artisans all around the regions and then bringing that bounty straight to your doorstep.

Rotten tomatoes you toss at things you find odious and offensive (like bad movies, for instance). Fresh, local tomatoes...you treasure those babies. You find a way to spotlight that natural sweetness and bright color.

And then I guess you eat them or whatever. Your mileage may vary!

To glorify my lovely tomato babies (which came from Morrow Farm out of Ponchatoula, La.) I turned to the masterful Gastronomique. French cooking can be daunting, no lie, but the recipe for stuffed tomatoes à la grecque was simple enough and served my aim to make something simple, well-spiced, and pleasing to the eye.

My one problem: someone stole my damn saffron. I am just mad about saffron (that is, my kitchen's current lack of it)! (It is probably not stolen. I misplace things.) So anyway, I substituted turmeric and the world moved on.

Ultimately, I produced two tomatoes teeming with toasted, spiced rice and golden raisins. And now you'll be able to as well! Recipe follows.

Stuffed Tomatoes à la grecque (from LaRousse's Gastronomique)
Serves 2 as side or appetizer.

Ingredients:2 homegrown tomatoes
1/2 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup golden raisins
Pinch of powdered saffron (I used turmeric as a less costly substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Bouquet garni (mine consisted of 1 stalk celery, 1 medium carrot, 1/2 medium white onion, all chopped, and two sprigs thyme—tied up in cheesecloth which was folded over just once)
Olive oil

1. Soak the golden raisins in 1 cup lukewarm water until they swell, then drain.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and toast, stirring frequently, until the grains become transparent.
3. Add 1 cup boiling water to saucepan, stirring to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan. Add saffron, salt and pepper, cayenne, and bouquet garni.
4. Return rice to a boil and then cover and simmer until rice is all the way cooked (about 20–30 minutes).
5. Preheat oven to 475. Slice the tops off the tomatoes (reserving tops) and remove pulp and seeds. Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt and then turn them upside down to drain in colander.
6. Once the rice has cooked, drain and cool before stirring in raisins. Taste and reseason as desired.
7. Dry the hollowed tomatoes and then drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil inside each tomato. Fill each tomato with mixture and then replace the sliced top.
8. In an ovenproof dish coated with oil, place each tomato, nestled closely together. Bake for about 15–20 minutes or until tomatoes have started to soften.
9. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kale Tabbouleh

Boy, I love a colorful dish. And it's a good thing that this was supposed to be served cooled, because I was photographing it till the sun went down. (That is not a figure of speech.)

It's cool. It's crunchy. And, wonderfully enough, it fits in with the vegetarianism I'll be trying for the next month. I'm hoping to re-inspire myself in the kitchen, and to spend some time getting more ambitious with ingredients. My ambition has fallen away!

Here we have a dish that's fairly simple: a little chop-chop-chop with the various ingredients, cook your quinoa and let it cool, and then toss it all in a simple dressing.

But the variety of ingredients and the hushed beauty of how they tumble across the plate...it's the perfect summer dish, I think. One you'll want to eat in the evening light with a chilly, crisp vino. Anyway I'm getting silly just staring at these colors again. Try it out for yourself!

Kale Tabbouleh (adapted from the glorious Food52)
Yield: 4–6 servings.

1/2 bunch curly kale
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup quinoa
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 Persian cucumbers, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
Juice from two limes
1/4 high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, wash the parsley and kale and pat dry. For each, chop off stems, then slice into 3/4-inch ribbons. Rotate bunch clockwise, then repeat process. Slice until greens are very finely diced, but do not form a paste.
3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. Add parsley and kale. Drizzle in lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add quinoa and toss until fully combined.
4. Serve!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes

I adapted this recipe from Anupy Singla's Vegan Indian Cooking, which is filled with earthy, exciting opportunities to improve my health. And I fully intend to turn to it more often!

For now, we've got this Punjabi eggplant and potato dish, or—as Singla has dubbed it—"Babaji's Eggplant with Potatoes," called so after her paternal grandfather.

I made a few adjustments, but Singla's recipe does a fantastic job of emphasizing the simple wonder of the eggplant. Meaty and juicy, a ready canvas to whatever array of seasonings you choose to sprinkle on it.

Let's go ahead to the recipe then!

Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes (adapted from Vegan Indian Cooking)
Serves 4.

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1, 2-inch piece of giner root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-long matchsticks
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 large eggplants with skin on, roughly chopped, with woody ends left intact (Note: the author recommends the woody ends as the meatiest part of the eggplant, to be cooked along with the rest of the dish)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

1. In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high.
2. Add the garlic and onion powders, cumin, and turmeric, along with the ginger root. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the potato and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the onions and chiles and cook for 2 more minutes, until the potatoes have begun to brown.
5. Add the chopped tomato and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Fold in the eggplant, then add salt, garam masala, coriander, and cayenne. Cook for another 2 minutes.
7. Reduce heat to low, partially covering the pan, and allow the ingredients to continue cooking for 10 minutes.
8. Turn off the heat. Cover the pan completely and let set for 5 minutes as the flavors blend.
9. Garnish with cilantro and serve.