I’m a guest writer! You can find my latest recipes and post over on Anilia’s health and home blog: A Little Inspiration. Today, I’m writing about pistachio pesto, a 5-minute plum salad, and sharing the yellow roma tomatoes I submitted to the 2011 Virginia Grown farmer’s market photo contest! Click over to read, and see you back here soon 🙂
Tag Archives: arugula
If I had been working late tonight and Andrew was on his own, he’d probably be content to bake a frozen pizza and enjoy the relief from my disastrous kitchen messes.
But me? On the rare night Andrew’s working late, I go to town. Oh yes, something carefully and beautifully prepared all for me. In my book, that’s a great end to a long day in second grade.
I made this salad once before, and even featured it in the very first post of this blog. Tonight’s photos came out better than those from the dinner I shared with Andrew, Maggie, and Elijah a year ago. Though I made some substitutions tonight (spinach, pears, pomegranate seeds), I’m going to post the original recipe because it’s just that great.
Confession: While on a post-work stop at Target for household essentials, I did purchase this mandolin for $6. I’ve read these inexpensive little guys work just as well as the $100 versions, and cannot wait to use it for prepping tarts, onion rings, and money sandwiches!
a beloved recipe from January 2010 Vegetarian Times
2 Tbs. agave syrup
1 1/2 Tbs. lime or lemon juice
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 oranges or blood oranges
1/2 cup coarsely chopped arugula
1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise, and loosened into strands (1/4 cup)
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
To make Dressing: Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Taste for balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, adjusting seasonings as necessary. Set aside.
To make Salad: Slice ends off oranges and grapefruit. Stand fruit on cutting board, and slice away skin and pith from outside with knife. Cut fruit segments from membranes, and transfer to bowl; toss lightly with arugula, shallot, and mint. Toss with Dressing. Serve garnished with peanuts and sesame seeds. Lots of them!
While I really thought I was in an unusual mood for “salad night”, I got so hungry in my mental preparations (and grocery store excursions), I decided to whip up this divine pasta side. I told myself it was really so I would have leftovers for Thursday’s lunch… but I ate a few forkfuls from the pot before packing it up. After a plateful to accompany my salad.
The Danger of Eating Alone.
I hope you never encounter a shortage of pasta, olive oil, and fresh garlic in your pantry. You’d be amazed what intense luxury results…
Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Romano and Roasted Garlic
a regular Linvention
whole-wheat angel hair or thin spaghetti (as much as you want)
one head of garlic
freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
a few tablespoons of olive oil
red chili flakes
Start boiling your water in a big pot (so it will be ready whenever you need it). Place the garlic head in a sheet of aluminum foil, and drizzle olive oil over it. Seal into a little foil package and place on a baking sheet at 400 F. This is best in a toaster oven if you’ve got one (what a pain to heat an entire oven for this teeny thing). In about 15-20 minutes, poke a small knife though. When the garlic is roasted through, the knife should meet no resistance and come out cleanly. Set aside to cool.
Cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. With your hands or a fork, squeeze all the pulp out of the garlic skins. Mash it with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine roasted garlic oil with pasta, a pinch of chili flakes, and a good sprinkling of the grated cheese. Add a bit of pasta water to melt the cheese. Top with more fresh black pepper. That’s it, but darn if it’s not simple and satisfying.
Indulgent, perhaps, but I had to stop at the store and buy myself a teriffic ingredient or two to survive paper-writing and tonight’s late-late grad class. (And maybe even treat myself to a freshmade pretzel roll at Whole Foods). Because it was an exhausting day and a night full of work and I might convince myself that I deserve a treat.
The truth is, ever since this month’s Vegetarian Times arrived in the mail, I have been staring at my purple post-it notes popping out, desperate for an excuse to make these meals I’ve been coveting…
How could I pass up the full-page photo this gorgeous salad??? So delightful, rewarding and sweet, I must share with you while pears are in season.
A fast, elegant meal–perfect for lunch or a light supper with fresh bread. Simply slice pears, fill them with a teaspoon of something delectable, bake briefly and serve over salad.
Roasted Pear Salad with Chevre and Fig Vinaigrette
from the October 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times, serves 8
4 pears, halved and cored (Bosc, Comice, Concorde or Bartlett)
8 tsp. plus 2 Tbsp. fig jam, divided (love Organic Adriatic Fig Spread)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 cups watercress or baby arugula
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
You can adapt this salad with another cheese (bleu, mmm), salad mixture, or leave the onions out (in case your pantry is empty like mine). The warm baked pears over fresh greens is the real treat. And these measurements don’t need to be taken too seriously–it’s an easy dish you can customize to your liking. You may look at this, think it looks appealing but it’s not really the kind of thing you’d ever make. Have faith and reconsider.
Spoon 1 tsp. jam in the center of each pear half. Top with goat cheese rounds, and lightly drizzle with oil.
Divide the greens on your plates, sprinkle with onions and walnuts, then gracefully adorn your salad with these precious pears. Drizzle with the dressing. And, gosh darn it, take a picture.
Not to be depressing, but it’s the week when I am struck with the harsh reality that all things come to an end. (Many, at least. And for a while, anyhow.)
I suppose we could look on the sunny side of things and say that summer tomatoes make room for fall potatoes. And who tires of potatoes? Saturday’s visit to the farmer’s market behind our apartment was exquisite—everything wonderful is in season, the abundance of fruit and vegetable variety is at its finest. Had I not headed to the hospital soon after my successful shopping, I was about to return and take photos of my sunny walk for you.
And though my Saturday did not end happily (nor did my Sunday or Monday), these lovely veggies were calling to me over on the sofa since I returned home. And today, the humming of pain killers subdued, the little guys were screaming.
Blame it on Mom for teaching me not to waste, or the mid-day inspirational television to which I’ve been subjected in my excrutiating recovery. If the blind 19-year old can inspire the town despite his broken trumpet valves, I ought to be able to hobble to the kitchen and make good use of those ripe tomatoes?
So in my Advil-induced state, I beckoned the tomatoes and purple potatoes (+ coordinating basil) to join me in a whole-hearted, half-conscious attempt to play with my food.
Lindsey’s Purple Potato Tomato & Basil Spaghetti
You could spare 5 minutes cooking time by omitting the potatoes, but they’re such an indulgent vegetable, and when they’re purple who can really resist?
1 lb. baby potatoes
1 tbsp. butter, melted, combined with 1 tsp. olive oil
salt and ground pepper
My dad made up this potato dish, which he made often for us growing up. It’s great with tender redskin potatoes. In a safer effort than mine tonight, slice the potatoes about 1/2 centimeter thick. These bake quickly in the toaster oven, but for a larger batch like this one, spread the slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
Heat the oven to 375F. Brush the top of the slices with the butter/oil mixture. Sprinkle with coarse salt followed by a very light dusting of pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until browning and bubbly.
for the pasta
inspired by Fresh from the Farmers’ Market by Janet Fletcher
1 lb. assorted gold and red cherry tomatoes, halved (yes, really)
3 large shallots, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 lb. dried spaghetti or spaghettini
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Yes, Andrew came home to find his recuperating wife tempted by the fruit of another—because we’re on the same page about tomato being a fruit, right? You must trust me about taking the trouble to halve the tomatoes. This is what I was doing, slouched on a kitchen stool, when Andrew walked in the door tonight to, “What are you doing?”
Add the shallots for another 2, then dump all of the tomatoes into the oil. Bring the mixture to a simmer, tossing gently once or twice. Turn off the heat before the tomatoes break—no longer than 5 minutes total. Turn off the heat.
When the pasta is just cooked through, transfer directly from the pasta water to the skillet of tomato sunshine. Toss gently over high heat for a minute or so until the noodles glisten with tomato-ey magic.
Toss the potato slices inside, or serve atop the spaghetti. Sprinkle with basil and fresh parmesan.
Ah, tomatoes in just the shade of my autumn mums. We’ve got to take advantage of these things while they last. I sure thought I’d be going into the week with an appendix, and I don’t mean the handy one in the back of my new Market cookbook…
leftover update: for lunch, wilt your leftover salad greens (arugula, spinach) in a few drops of olive oil. toss leftovers in the skillet, heat and eat! (with plenty of parmesan, of course.)
Friends, today I have two recipes that take FIVE INGREDIENTS and FIVE MINUTES. You see, even this cook (who occasionally throws dinner together in a flash) seeks faster ways to get food on the table. My motive? Not that any impatient twenty-something needs reason to be in a hurry, but I got a job. A real job with a real salary (wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles)!
So with a full-time job starting Monday, a part-time job removing staples and keeping the copier company, and grad classes (Food & Culture this semester!), I need some super-fast meals.
This week was exhausting, and while we did resort to Chinese carry-out for the first time in a year, I threw two dishes together I really must share with you. Just in case you’re busy, too. Or hungry.
Do I really need to tell you reason number four-hundred sixty-three why I love Trader Joes?? We could talk about how affordable this whole salad is there, sure, but this week I went ga-ga over their Goat Cheese Medallions. You know those bags of mini Babybel cheese wheels in the little red wax? Trader Joes now offers a similar little bag of mini cheese wheels— goat cheese wheels—and my work week has entailed enjoying these cheesey samplings in every which way.
This was my easy and sumptuous lunch, way less than five minutes to assemble, unless you need a few seconds to wash the lettuce.
1. Lettuce (I used arugula, spinach or another dark green would also work)
2. Dried cranberries (I prefer these over sweetened Craisins, as the cranberries are sweet enough)
3. Walnuts (from an affordable bag of TJ’s bits-and-pieces. you could also buy in bulk or enjoy almonds here)
4. Goat Cheese (I would be tempted to eat the whole log of chevre if I had one, so the individual portions are perfect for this snappy salad)
5. Dressing (specifically, a squeeze of lemon wedge and a drizzle of olive oil. simple bliss)
Combine. Enjoy with gourmet crackers, cheese twists (pictured here), or a slice of hearty bread. It looks as sophisticated as it does beautiful, but believe me, there’s such little work involved. I brought the ingredients to work and did a one-minute assembly before scarfing it down. On other days of the week, I substituted avocado for cranberries, or tomato. All were delicious. (I am not liable for drooling co-workers).
I promise I didn’t eat arugula and lemon every day this week, but I had enough around to need a few variations. As Andrew put in a DVD last night and reached the menu screen, this meal was done. On the plate, awaiting a fork.
Fast, nutritious, effortless, and oh-so good.
Lindsey’s Whole-Wheat Lemon Couscous with Wilted Arugula
1. Whole wheat couscous
2. Whatever veggies you find in the fridge
3. Almonds (or other nuts)
4. Fresh parmesan
While you’re heating the olive oil for the couscous (which cook in five minutes no matter how much you make!), chop your veggies (tomatoes + arugula) and soften them in the hot oil just before adding the water. When the water comes to a boil (equal parts water to dry couscous), remove the pot from the heat, stir in the couscous (and salad greens here, if using), cover for five minutes.
In the brief, brief time the couscous cooks, grate some parmesan on your plate, grab a small handful of nuts, and get your beverage while you’re at it because you simply combine everything on your plate (minus the beverage) and it’s all ready to eat! Yes, already. Squeeze a small wedge of lemon over everything for a really divine finish. I prepared 1/2 cup dry couscous, one plum tomato, and a small handful of arugula. This was enough for a generous single serving, and delightfully filling.
I hope you didn’t think beautiful food has to take a lot of work and a lot of money. Not on this blog, my friends.
I don’t mean to be cheesey (unless we’re talking quality parmesan), but is my pesto the besto? You bet. Not to be a smarty-pants, but when culinary perfection happens on accident, me-oh-my, it must be shared!
The Five-Ingredient Meal of All Time… (or at least so far in our kitchen)
I wasn’t trying to make pesto, let alone memorable pesto. I came home Friday afternoon, wiped out from the most exhausting group of third graders I never hoped to encounter. After throwing my bag on the floor and plopping on the couch, I practically dozed off until the hubby arrived home 30 minutes later. This is when I realized two—no, make that three–disheartening things: 1. I was too sleepy to cook 2. we were pretty much out of fresh groceries and 3. I was really hungry.
A survey of the fridge confirmed these things: 1/4 bag of baby arugula, orange juice, yogurt, assorted nuts, a small block of parmesan-reggiano, and some frighteningly aged leftovers.
I don’t completely understand how, but my random assortment of ingredients made for one of the best sauces I have enjoyed anywhere. So I’m just going to tell you exactly what I did, in hopes that you (and I) can replicate this arugula wonder. Note: If you’re using a large food processor, you can add everything at once—adding the oils gradually.
Lindsey’s Rocket Pesto
- about a half-cup of baby arugula with almost a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- then one clove of garlic and a little more baby arugula and just enough pure olive oil to dampen the mixture, along with about a half-teaspoon of sea salt and a bit of pepper
- then about a quarter-cup toasted walnut pieces and the rest of the arugula
- then two BIG hunks of parmesan-reggiano, and I mean, really, promise you’ll go for the special parmesan
- then add a little more extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to make it really moist (switched between extra-virgin and pure olive oil so the extra-virgin didn’t overpower the entire flavor)
Sounds basic enough, and I’ve enjoyed tasty pestos in restaurants. But this was silky. I mean silky and rich. And here’s what I think made it all the better… (This made about one and a half cups of arugula pesto, which goes far with the method below)
When I boiled my pasta (just to al dente, a few minutes shy of recommended cooking time) in slightly salted water, I saved about one cup of the starchy water at the end of cooking. After returning my drained pasta to the hot pasta pot, I scooped in the amount of pesto I wanted for my personal serving (around a tablespoon). Then I drizzled in some reserved pasta water, which made the consistency unbelievably creamy. I think the huge hunks of cheese also contributed to the texture 🙂
This pesto is thick, not runny like some restaurant pestos. I added just enough oil (predominantly the less-intense Pure olive oil) for smoothness, but not for swimming. Who wants a pool on their plate? I think the magic also happened in allowing the starchy water to melt the pesto into the hot pasta, vs. adding more and more and more oil until the flavor of the pesto is drowned out. (I use whole-wheat pasta 95% of the time, but here is a tasty place for the alternative texture of semolina pasta).
Even some of my favorite pestos can have a gritty texture—which is often their single downfall. But not this little sensation. That’s what shocked me about this 8 minute meal. I didn’t really have any expectations. I was hungry and in the mood for an indulgent bowl of pasta. And some quality fridge-scraps produced this.
As I said, I don’t know why the texture and flavor was so superior to any other pesto I have had, but I think the amount (& quality) of parmesan, in addition to incorporating a little pasta water, made a difference.
I made this broccoli pesto two weeks ago. It had hazelnuts and mint and lots of lemon, and sounded fantastic from reading about it in my most recent Vegetarian Times magazine. I tossed it with goat cheese and, though flavorful, it lacked excitement. This arugula (less-effort) pesto was all the more simple and satisfying.
Should I sing the 5 ingredient-8 minute refrain?? Who says good, no fabulous, food needs to be expensive or timely or challenging to make? Not me.
Homemade pizza tonight…well, almost homemade. Though this turned out to be a slightly decadent dinner, I wasn’t going to risk setting the kitchen on fire like last night. (Special Thanks for that extinguisher, Pops).
I picked up two fresh pizza doughs in the deli section of Trader Joes this week. I thought it would be fun to make gourmet pizzas this week, except when it came to making our meals, Andrew wanted to know where I was hiding the tomato sauce and cheese—whoops!
Sure enough, I purchased apples and a red onion this week, inspired to combine them with the gorgonzola and walnuts I had at home. Naturally, this was a disgusting idea to my Andrew (though I came prepared), so I whipped out some marinated chicken breasts and he came up with a fantastic BBQ chicken pizza!
I thought it wouldn’t hurt to type “gorgonzola apple caramelized onion” into Bing for some additional inspiration. Ironically, I found “Granny Smith Apple and Gorgonzola Pizza” from who else but Kevin, a fellow food blogger, who created my Oscar feta dip!!
While Andrew ran out to “borrow” some BBQ sauce, I caramelized some thickly sliced red and yellow onions—I wanted red for my pizza (especially flavorful alongside gorgonzola), but thought yellow onions a better complement to Andrew’s chicken. Once they were soft and shriveled, I stirred in some balsamic vinegar.
Mom gave me this goofy chopper that is completely useless for my onion-tears situation, but just perfect for chopping nuts. Kevin, of the blog Closet Cooking, inspired me to add walnuts to this pizza. You may think I’m going nuts with these exotic pizza ingredients, but I was striving for a sophisticated vegetable tart—with pizza dough for ease 🙂
Special thanks to my Momma Stark for loaning me her ultra-groovy apple-peeler-corer-slicer! Besides that it saved me extra work for tonight’s dinner, the apples were just the right width for even cooking (and display)!
Homemade pizza cooks beautifully crisp on preheated pizza stones (as this is the best re-creation of pizzeria perfection at home), but sliding heavy pizza from a peel onto a hot stone has proved detrimental in our previous efforts…
I do have some carrots in the fridge to use up, but I don’t imagine anyone I know approving of my serving roasted carrots with pizza! Arugula leaves with shavings of parmesan and deliciously simply lemon vinaigrette was just right!
Both of our pizzas resulted in gourmet flavors, and created easily at home. In eight minutes. Of course, if you want super-duper easy, have marinara and cheese on hand… though I’d argue it’s no more work to throw some veggies on top 😉 Perfect with Pinot!
99-cent pre-made pizza dough plus on-hand ingredients… that’s less than a tip for the delivery guy!
p.s. can you guess what film we enjoyed with our pizzas??
If you’ve read a little about me, you may recall I’m currently in grad school for Nutrition. Well, I’ve gotten in this funny little habit… my huge university requires a two hour early arrival, as finding a parking space takes 50 minutes on average. So then I’m on campus too early for class, and some days don’t feel engrossed in my studies enough to study prior to a three-hour lecture.
That’s when I discovered these fantastic chairs in the student bookstore. My campus is filled with deceivingly comfortable chairs, but fifteen minutes in most has me desperate for an ottoman. Besides that the purple chairs in the bookstore are adorable in a Lindsey-loves-retro kind of way, these seats are seriously comfy.
It’s merely by coincidence that my favorite chairs are adjacent to the extensive Cooking genre shelves. I admit that I’ve spent the week indulging in hours of cookbook reading, today’s reading leading to several Italian recipes now penciled in the back of my spiral notebook.
What’s also exciting is that this meal was not terribly expensive, thanks only to Trader Joes (and this recipe ended up making enough for 6 to 8). For under $15, we enjoyed a healthy and truly gourmet dinner with crisp Pinot—no required reservations or tip!
I came home with this beautiful half-pound hunk of fresh gorgonzola cheese from TJs…surely would have been well over $9 at another grocery store. Only this little guy was under $3.
I broke the cheese into smaller pieces and processed until smooth. This could be done with a variety of cheeses, and next time I think I’ll try goat cheese. The processed result resembled gray putty, but the aroma was fantastic.
I rolled the cheese into teaspoon-size balls. This sounds like a lot of work, but it wasn’t complicated or messy, and the result was absolutely worth the time. A quick dip in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and I lined them onto some wax paper. Though the recipe said they should be refrigerated for an hour, the freezer was much more effective in helping the cheese to stay put during the frying process.
This was really no more than ten minutes of work. Now that the cheese was in the freezer preparing for later frying, I could start on the dressing for the salad and sauce for the pasta. I’ve heard all kinds of food chef celebrities acclaim this salad dressing, and it was one of those things I always wanted to try. Let me tell you: it is simple, and divine. AMAZING LEMON & OIL DRESSING: I combined the juice of two lemons with some fresh lemon zest, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and thickened with a sweet teaspoon of honey. Remember, mincing garlic with your microplane is a fantastic method to incorporate garlic evenly into your recipe. Chopped garlic would have been way too harsh in this raw dressing.
Once I whisked all of these together (plenty of salt and pepper), I added olive oil to taste. The recommended 1/3 cup was way too little. I just kept adding little dribbles, whisking well, and tasting for balance. That’s IT. This dressing is light and flawless.
As you can see in the background, toasting the walnuts was essential. If you want to toast nuts on the stovetop (and believe me, you want to toast your nuts), you may choose to do so because, like me, you store an obscene amount of kitchenware in your oven and taking it all out to toast a cup of nuts is plain silly. Or you may toast them on the stovetop because keeping them in sight makes you less likely to burn them 😉 Either way, be sure you have a dry skillet on medium heat and toss the nuts occasionally. You will smell their fragrance as they toast, they’re just about done at this point. Don’t burn!!
You may look at the walnut sauce ingredients here and think: that’s just odd, Lindsey. But I assure you, toasted walnuts with a little bit of butter, plenty of salt and pepper, and some fruity Extra-Virgin Olive Oil makes for the beginning of a fantastic pasta sauce.
After processed until smooth (drizzling the oil in very gradually), I stirred in 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I considered substituting milk or plain yogurt, but gave into the heavy cream this time for the sake of a quality recipe. Cream and cheese and the sauce is ready to be set aside for the finished pasta!
I substituted whole wheat pasta for its nutritional value, and in the case of a light, nutty sauce like this, hearty whole wheat pasta was just so perfect. And if you’re a meat eater like my hubby, you may enjoy trying what we did tonight: chopping up some store-bought rotisserie chicken to add to the finished pasta. Andrew couldn’t believe how well the chicken balanced with the sauce. The vegetarian here will just take his word for it.
This was a really hearty and filling meal, I couldn’t even finish my pasta! Fried cheese is so enjoyable as it is, and crisping my little gorgonzola balls in olive oil made for impeccable flavor. I love bleu cheese with fruit, so dried cranberries were the perfect complement to the arugula and lemon and gorgonzola.
Yes, this meal was some work, but really nothing technically challenging or complex in ingredients. Great meals don’t have to be expensive, or “gourmet”. I like to think any simple dish at home can taste better than restaurant cuisine. Once in the while, it’s fun to try something exceptional and unique in one’s own kitchen. Tonight’s dishes were well worth it.