Tag Archives: carrots

the curry comeback

I missed you guys!

I really like blogs. In fact, I have several I read every day, I enjoy catching up on daily musings and adventures of writers who feel like virtual friends. A Pear to Remember is not currently a site for daily recipes, and I decided recently that I am okay with that. Rather than disappointing myself with unrealistic expectations of time, or regularly pairing recipes with apologies, I’m going to visit to talk deliciously do-able cooking whenever I can–and that might not be every day. I just love living life, you know?

You see, I do get my blogging in: I also author a weekly WordPress blog at my new job, so you can find new recipes and Nutrition-talk here. I hope you’ll feel free to pop over and see what I’m cooking in my new career.

I don’t forget about you, no no—I’ve photographed many a dinner, anxious to share the secrets to recreating the magic in your kitchen. I even made homemade pumpkin spice lattes that are the best welcome home treat ever. Last night was the third time I made the dish in today’s post—you know I rarely make any recipe twice, so third time here is truly a charm. And I added a few special twists you will love. You do not need a dutch oven to make this rice, you can steam it right on the stove, or bake it in a covered dish—amazing baked rice has come from my Grammy’s vintage turquoise pyrex. But it does look pretty in Monsieur Pesto, oui?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugFinal disclaimer before we get to the goods: I know a few dears out there are going to FREAK OUT at the word preceding “cauliflower” in the recipe name below. In previous Indian dishes on this site, I’ve tried my darndest to remind you that curry is really a verb meaning to mix. When the Brits got a taste of how spectacular Indian food is (my favorite cuisine, in fact), they—yes, the Brits—invented a spice blend to mimic Indian flavors. Curry powder, I made some last week when I ran out, can be as simple as turmeric + cumin + coriander + cayenne. Put it in a jar and people freak out. An alarming number of people have said to my face: Oh see, I don’t like curry. Well, if I can’t change your mind, this rice will change your world.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAndrew will gladly call your house and tell you himself.

One-Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice

loosely based on a recipe from Everyday Food, serves 6

4 teaspoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter—oh God!!)

1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (or 1 bag frozen florets)

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice (we used brown), rinsed well

4 heaping teaspoons curry powder (if it’s been in your pantry for two presidents, time for a new jar)

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 3/4 cups low-sodium broth

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

½ cup other veggies in your fridge (I diced carrot and fennel), optional

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate.

Add 2 teaspoons oil and onion (plus any other veggies) to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add the rinsed rice, curry powder, and chickpeas.

Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 minutes. Add broth and coconut milk (shake the can first!) and bring to a boil.

Scatter cauliflower over top (do not stir to combine). Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes (25 minutes for brown rice).

Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro and a pinch of salt for pizazz. We enjoyed ours with a side of fried paneer.

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greetings and bean-ings!

Hi friends, I’ve missed you, too! Where have I been? I have an exciting life-project (which may involve me reading 22 books) that I can’t reveal for some time—sorry for the necessary suspense. How have you been?

Here’s the quick catch up on me since August…

Andrew and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary at our favorite B&B

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I chopped my hair off (my students love the fairy resemblance)

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My sweet sister-in-law got engaged (while I snapped, surprise!, 201 photos)

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For Andrew’s 27th birthday this month, we threw a wildly successful Mad Men party (where Andrew had this genius idea to have everyone else bring the food)

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I honored my Grammy’s memory with her kick-ass thanksgiving stuffing

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And, kind of personal, but it’s been nearly 300 days since my last sinus infection so I lovvvvvvve being chronically healthy now (thank you, Symbicort) and in the kitchen every day!

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I realize last time I dropped in to chat, we were discussing corn, but the weather demands we move on. I don’t know where you live, but Virginia had a sunny, 60 degree Thanksgiving day quickly turned blistery-cold weekend. Let’s warm-up and snuggle up with a hearty, healthy dish before the neighbors start delivering cookies…

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Fresh herbs are vital in this simple stew, trust me. And grab a big, fresh, cheesey loaf of bread to scoop up every last drop.  We serve this with Trader Joe’s Alpine Gruyere bread. Click on the highlighted words should you like a demonstration on technique. In this dish, don’t concern yourself with precise vegetable measurements; the more veggies the tastier.

Tuscan White Beans

Adapted from Ina Garten, serves 6… or amazing leftovers

1 pound dried white cannellini beans, cooked (or about 4 15 oz. cans; I have always used canned)

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves; note jarred minced garlic will be too potent in this dish)

1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I love the rich flavor of Pacific Organic)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or aged cheese like parmesan)

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Rinse and drain the white beans. Heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pepper and carrots, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beans to the vegetables.

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Add 1 cup of the stock, rosemary, salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, until creamy.

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Stir in the Pecorino, season to taste, and serve hot with fresh bread. We’ve never used spoons.

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the friendly giant

Traditional vegetables that makes us happy? For my husband Andrew, it’s green beans. For this Polish-raised gal, what delights so much as the potato?

twelve inches of golden goodness.

Whether you call ’em rosti, latkes, rårakor or blinis, surely we can all agree the only thing better than a potato pancake is a massive potato pancake.

You can find a variety of rosti and fritters on this blog; I find no guilt around the potato.  In moderation, like everything. A white potato has only 30mg of sodium (1% recommended daily value), 7 grams of protein, and 7 grams of dietary fiber (26% recommended daily value). The poor tuber has developed quite a bad rep over the decades. Paired with a healthy side, we enjoy fried potatoes on occasion to spice up meatless meals.

Before we move on to this crunchy and comforting concoction, I’ve been so excited to tell you about this easy and nutrient-packed salad I find every excuse to make. Delicious with the following potato entrée and fantastic in the fridge—your co-workers will have (envious) inquiries.

Tangy Carrot-Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

adapted from Vegetarian Times, serves 4 (consider doubling!)

1.5 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 small clove garlic, minced (1/2 tsp.)

2 cups carrots (grated or sliced with a vegetable peeler)

1/2 red apple, diced (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries (I use unsweetened)

1 tsp. agave nectar or honey

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups baby spinach

Oh friends, please don’t be intimidated by this seemingly lengthy list. One apple, a pack of craisins, a 40-cent bunch of scallions? This salad is quick and economical—besides having only 4 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, and 3 grams of fiber. It improves overnight, as too few dishes do!

hassle-free: use a small scoop to remove the apple core, then dice

More quick and elegant than the recommended shredding, I take a veggie peeler to my carrots and vigorously shave them into ribbons. I find this texture more pleasant than a pile of crunchy shreds.

Combine the cider vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together carrots, apple, green onion, and cranberries in a large bowl. Whisk agave nectar and oil into the cider vinegar mixture. Season with salt and pepper, if desired (I never do). Cover, and chill 2 hours or overnight. Serve the salad on a bed of spinach leaves.

If you toss this quick chopped salad and let is rest while making the potato, the vinegar will have sufficient time to mingle these remarkable flavors.

(Enormous) Potato Rosti

loosely based on Martha Stewart’s Potato and Celery Root Rosti, serves 8

3.5 – 4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

1 large yellow onion

2 tbsp. coarse salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

sour cream, for serving

If you have a food processor, bring out that shredding disk to make this a faster weeknight dish. If not, stretch those triceps and shred the potato and onion on the large holes of a box grater.

Working in batches, wrap the potato in a clean dishtowel to squeeze out the liquid. (I set mine in an over-the-sink colander for a spell and pushed out the liquid with a wooden spoon.) Toss with salt in and season with pepper.

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a 12-ich ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Spread shredded potato-onion mixture evenly in skillet; press gently to flatten using a spatula.

creamy in the middle, ooh baby

Cook for 10 minutes. Run the spatula around the edge to loosen; spoon 2 tablespoons of oil around the edge. Cook until the underside is golden and beginning to crisp, 10 to 15 minutes more. Run spatula around the edge to loosen and invert onto a plate.

Add the remaining 3 tbsp. oil to a skillet. Return the rosti to skillet, golden side up, pressing gently to flatten. Cook, shaking occasionally to loosen, until the underside is golden and begins to crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through about 10-15 minutes. Return to the plate and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream.

And how many dinners can you really enjoy so for tomorrow’s breakfast?

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noodles with a twist and a twirl

To my American readers, I hope everyone had a memorable and delicious Thanksgiving celebration. Now that we have a moment to breathe before the holiday whirlwind begins, you also may be interested in simpler, healthy dishes equally as comforting as the feasts to come. Pardon my adoration for  alliteration, but I have a pair of pasta platters I simply must share. I rarely make any dish twice (too many recipes still to try!), but we’ve enjoyed this first dish three times in a single month! Yes, by “we” I mean that even my Andrew absolutely loves this dish. A healthy alfredo? Who could imagine something more marvelous?

Thanks as always to the brilliant Vegetarian Times magazine for inspiring two fabulous weeknight dishes…

Lindsey’s Lemon and Chive Linguine

serves 4 (unless you also fall in love and can’t help yourself to an extra serving or three)

8 oz. dry whole grain linguine

1/2 cup Neufchâtel (light cream cheese)

1 tsp. olive oil

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 cup chopped chives

Besides tasting delicious, this meal is elegant and easy on the wallet. Fresh herbs are super-divine here, you must give in with so few ingredients to worry about. Please note the photos include ingredients from the original recipe, but listed above is my deliciously nutritious improvement.

Cook the linguine in salted water while heating a large skillet over low heat. Warm the cream cheese, oil, and juice of one lemon. Stir until the cream cheese melts.

Drain the pasta, and reserve 1/2 cup of the salty, starchy cooking water. Stir reserved cooking water into the cream cheese mixture. To the skillet, add the pasta, lemon zest, and chives tossing to coat. Season with coarse salt and plenty of pepper.

In the words of Ina Garten, how easy is that? Yes, this photo clearly contains parsley. Trust me on the chive revision.

This dish really requires nothing else, but if you’re rooting through the freezer and trying to stretch this out to something a wee more sustaining for big eaters (like A & L in this kitchen), toss in some 3-minute steamed broccoli…

…or some broiled chicken (marinated in lemon + olive oil)?

Did I mention this dish and the one to follow are only 5 ingredients and on the table within 30 minutes?! Hellllllo, relaxing evening.

The next dish we tried just last night. Talk about a sneaky sauce for vegetables! Like the last dish, this sauce isn’t trying to fool anyone with complexity, it is what it is. And boy is it tasty.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

serves 4

2 tbsp. garlic-flavored olive oil*

1 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and chopped

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

1 large carrot, finely diced (1/2 cup)

8 oz. fusilli bucati lunghi, or other twirly pasta shape

*if you don’t have garlic olive oil on hand either, I simply did this: heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. once hot, add four crushed cloves of garlic. stir until the cloves are golden and almost brown, then remove from the oil and set aside.

To the hot oil, add roasted peppers, onion, and carrot. Saute for five minutes on medium-high, or until the onions start to brown. Add 3/4 cup water, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package.

Remove the roasted pepper mixture from heat. If you have an immersion blender (hello fewer dishes!), puree in a small jar. Otherwise, puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

the bold and the beautiful

 

I anticipated a puree that would need serious amounts of pasta water to coat the noodles. But not a drop! It’s a kind of magical sauce. It is so thick, yet a minimum of fat and sodium. Here’s to good health. Delish!

 

 

 

My own little extras…

While blending the peppers, toss some veggies into the hot skillet for a quick steam. Green beans, broccoli, whatever may be around. Once cooked, thinly slice the golden garlic (that you set aside from the oil) and sprinkle over the veggies and pasta. We also had a lovely sharp cheddar on hand, so I added just a few shavings to our dinner. Yum! 

 

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guess who’s bringing the vegetables?

Yes, for family Thanksgiving, I’m bringing loads of vegetable sidedishes to Pennsylvania. Because I wanted an excuse to cook after a previously busy week, I decided to test out a few recipes on Andrew and Leslie—our dinner guest who later initiated an evening of knitting!

Something new for Brussels Sprouts? I thought you would never ask. Sweet, savory, fresh, crunchy, a flavorful twist for your table. Oh, and it takes 8 minutes.

Lindsey’s Sprout Sauté

inspired by Sunny Anderson, serves four

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Toast the nut pieces (almonds or walnuts) in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Remove and set aside.

    Shred the Brussels sprouts by removing the core and thinly slicing. You should have discs of slim sprouts.

    Add the olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until the Brussels sprouts are bright and slightly wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. They should get brown and crispy. Should the sugars stick to the surface of the pan, deglaze with 1/2 cup of water or broth to scrape up the sumptuous bits. If you prefer more tender sprouts, saute about 5-6 minutes.

    Add the toasted nuts and the cranberries and toss to combine. Though this is a great warm dish, it’s incredible delicious cold, so make ahead as you need.

    On the side, I also roasted a quick honeyed carrot dish.

    Toss small (or cut) carrots with enough olive oil to glisten, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of honey. I also sliced one orange into 8 pieces and tossed it too onto a baking sheet.

    Roasted at 450 for about 20 minutes until tender and you’ve got yourself a lovely dish, enhanced with a big sprinkle of cinnamon.

    For my last trick, ladies and gentleman: I am weaving together ingredients from three very different cauliflower gratin recipes to make what I hope will be a memorable dish to join future Thanksgiving feasts. If it passes the kid and meat-man test, I will share tomorrow’s creation!

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    pasta + garlic = audible yummmm

    Everytime I make this dish (and it’s one of the few repeats) I think, Wow—why don’t we eat pasta more often?? You might think as a vegetarian, my options are so limited. But my summer at Azafran Cafe exposed me to the variety of (fabulously creative, ethnic and exotic) meatless meals beyond pasta. Where do you think I ever heard of zucchini fritters?

    This meal is inspired from one of my weekly go-to cookbooks: 200 FOUR-INGREDIENT RECIPES by JOANNA FARROW. This is super straightforward (in case you were overwhelmed by the many ingredients and sidedishes in yesterday’s meal), less than 30 minutes, and no technique (or fancy tools) required.

    All you need for

    Tagliatelle with Vegetable Ribbons

    4 tbsp. garlic oil

    3 large zucchini

    3 large carrots

    9 oz. egg tagliatelle (or wide egg noodles)

    Let’s get started on the garlic oil. All you need: fresh garlic and olive oil. You have two options here…

    If you just decided to make this dish and have 5 minutes to whip together garlic oil:

    Slice 3 cloves of garlic and combine with 1/2 cup olive oil. Heat gently until bubbling, then pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight—be sure to strain out the garlic the next day. (These measurements don’t need to be followed too closely…)

    If you need garlic oil a few hours from now:

    Add olive oil to 3 or more crushed garlic cloves. Cover and place in a cool spot until you need it. No dirty pot!

    Okay, now  it’s apparent that garlic oil is super, super easy to make. You can also add a handful of rosemary sprigs into the oil to flavor it along with the garlic. Just be certain to strain the garlic and herbs from the oil the next day.

    Now just wash and peel these beauties. That’s it.

    Unlike peeling the carrots and zucchini over the sink and tossing the peelings, you want every beautiful ribbon for your egg noodles. The lovely thing about this dish (beyond the flavor) is you don’t need to try hard to make it a beautiful dish. You don’t even have to peel with precision.

     

    any egg noodles will do!

    While you’re peeling the veggies, bring a large pan of (very) salted water to a boil. Boil the veggies for 30 seconds. Really! Only 30! The ribbons will cook a bit further when you toss them with hot pasta. I overcook them every time forgetting this…

    If you can, fish out the ribbons with a small strainer or tongs—boiling vegetables is not an ideal way of cooking. Many of the nutrients (especially the vitamins and minerals) seep out into the boiling water. This is why boiling the egg noodles in the same veggie water (you guessed it: the next step) savors a bit of the good stuff.

    Once you cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Add the vegetable ribbons, garlic flavored oil, and any salt or pepper you desire. Toss over medium heat until the veggies are glistening with oil. Gobble up with haste (this will not prove challenging).

    I realized this time around that it’s such an appealing dish because it tastes so homey—the carrot and egg noodles with subtle garlic remind me of the comforting flavors in a homemade soup. I also added some chopped chives, a nice oniony addition.

    What if you have leftover garlic oil? You can, of course, make Lindsey’s Best Chicken to accompany your green and orange ribbons. It’s so easy it cracks me up that Andrew likes it so much—almost two years of 12-ingredient marinades and all these fancy attempts. I’m never straying again…

    Here’s my silly little marinade that keeps the hubby smiling:

    olive oil (enough to coat the chicken)

    3-5 fresh garlic cloves, crushed

    a generous sprinkling of dried oregano

    a pinch of salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper

    Roast at 400F. Chicken tenderloins take only about 8 minutes!

    P.S. I crumbled some feta over the leftover pasta.  It is awesome. Pine nuts next time, too.

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    rockin’ moroccan

    Yesterday I accomplished a frightening task: cleaning out the refrigerator. Breakfast and lunch this week meant foraging through a stuffed fridge (of inedible items) only to settle on cashews and yogurt for both meals. It’s pathetic. What’s worse, after throwing away the unidentifiable leftovers and expired jars of peppers/marinara/sauce remains, our fridge officially contained our brita water filter, one bunch of cilantro, three carrots, two spiced fritters from last night, and three bags of assorted nuts. A sad sight.

    You can imagine my excitement when I arrived at Trader Joes today, prepared to stock our fridge and cabinets with necessities. In case you’re wondering, here are—what I consider—household staples for healthy, budgeting folk. (Note: we do have a freezer full of other useful items; these aren’t the only ingredients we ever have around…)

    • milk
    • whole wheat pastas
    • whole wheat couscous
    • quinoa
    • frozen fruit
    • plain yogurt
    • granola
    • low-sodium chicken broth
    • sprouted grain sandwich bread
    • cheese & turkey & tomatoes
    • raw almonds
    • a wedge of parmesan cheese

    Then I got home and thought: oh crap, I don’t what I’m making for Dad’s visit tonight and am probably going to have to go out for groceries. You see, I peruse my cookbook collection and salivate over complex recipes with a zillion ingredients I don’t have. Today I was determined to integrate my fresh carrots and cilantro into something delicious—and appease my craving for couscous. I was also in a particular mood for feta.

    That’s what search engines are for, right? I typed in “carrots, cilantro, feta” and came across a cold salad with roasted carrots and the other two ingredients tossed into afterwards. Simple enough for my inspired dinner. So here are the makings for a delicious, delicious Moroccan-inspired feast.

    (Beyond the marinating, this dish comes together is remarkably short time—unless you’re Lindsey in a crammed little kitchen, puppy-sitting and vacuuming between tasks.)

    MOROCCAN MARINADE

    It’s handy to have a special spice cabinet (check out yesterday’s post) for the makings of easy, interesting dishes. It’s also handy to have chicken in the freezer for last-minute carnivore entertaining.

    I was inspired by this marinade from Recipe Zaar, and according to Andrew and Pops, it’s absolutely delicious.

    Right into a large freezer bag to hold the chicken drumsticks (I have 6 drumsticks and this quantity worked out well), I combined:

    1.5 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1.5 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1.5 tsp. salt, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 2 tbsp. lemon juice + lemon zest, 2 tbsp. olive oil

    You could also add ground cloves and ground ginger, but I didn’t have either. Since I planned this early enough in the day, the chicken marinated for about 5 hours. I’m hardly the chicken expert, but with so many spices, I’d allow for as much marinating time as you can.

    I roasted the drumsticks in the oven at 400 F for about 15 minutes, turning once. (Reminder: everything in the oven for this meal is at 400 F for a similar amount of time. Simultaneous baking produces a meal like this in 20 minutes cooking time).

    as close as I get to chicken.

    ROASTED CARROT and FETA COUSCOUS

    I’m pretty proud of this one. Not that I did so much inventing on my own, but I integrated the Moroccan carrot salad idea into a flavorful topping for my whole wheat couscous. I don’t usually purchase whole wheat couscous, as regular semolina is so delicious, but it is incredible. The salty feta cheese (which I adore in a variety of dishes) adds a creamy tangyness to this dish. But before I yap on and on about that, here’s the carrot topping (note that everything is cooked at 400 F, so it can all go in at once): 

    I had 5 medium carrots, which left me slightly short for 1.5 cups dry couscous. Since we still would up with leftover couscous, 1 cup (dry) is sufficient for three people, and 6 carrots would be ideal.

    I peeled the carrots and cut them into 1/2 inch x 2-inch strips. For some reason, my cousin Cassie was very frustrated at this point. Forget the chicken and other exciting ingredients, she was going bonkers over the carrots, which disrupted my prep time…

    Cassie curious about carrots

    She did eventually give up after I took a hiatus from chopping to give her a 5-minute belly rub.

    I think she was so excited because she has this little orange chew toy that looked exactly like a baby carrot.

    Spread the carrot pieces (be sure they’re even in size) on a baking sheet, drizzling just enough olive oil over the carrots to make them all glisten. Be careful not to overdo the oil. Typically, I would salt or season anything I’m roasting, however these carrots sweeten so beautifully, and eventually combine with the very salty feta, there’s not need to season. Pepper if you must. They only need about 5-10 minutes in the oven at 400 F, flip them once or twice and really keep an eye on them—remove once they’re golden.

    Let the carrots cool completely—you may want to do these first, or even ahead of time if that’s possible. Set the carrots aside until the couscous is done cooking. Into the cooled carrots, toss about 2 tablespoons of fresh minced cilantro, and roughly 2 oz. of crumbled feta (low-fat if you can find it), more or less depending on preference. But why not more?? I would wait to add the feta and cilantro until just before serving, mostly so the feta doesn’t melt into the couscous.

    I don’t recall the couscous/liquid ratio for “white” couscous, but for whole wheat couscous it’s exactly even. I added 1.5 cups of dry whole wheat couscous to 1.5 cups boiling low-sodium chicken broth (and a teeny bit of butter). Vegetable broth is fine, too, but try to use low-sodium. You can certainly cook the couscous in water, but the flavor is so ideal that the couscous needs no seasoning after cooking in broth.

    If you aren’t familiar with the wonder of couscous, I think you’ll find it’s as comforting and satisfying as pasta—without the heaviness—endlessly versatile, and the perfect grain with a mere 5-minute cooking time. Since this is a very, very quick side dish, start steaming the couscous when the chicken is just a few minutes from completion. Add the carrot/feta/cilantro mixture on top of the couscous.

    meanwhile, on the sofa…

    SESAME TWISTS

    This item does not mingle with my last-minute cuisine theme, but I’ve been desperate for an excuse to use the puff pastry in the freezer, and to try these appealing cheese sticks.

    You would think after last night , I would avoid that old box grater at all costs. But I wanted a parmesan not so fine as my mircoplane might produce, and more substantial than fully grating with my food processor. This was just the right size for sprinkling on my cheese sticks.

    A nutritional tangent before I continue on to these sesame twists. I do not usually find a need to serve bread alongside pasta or couscous or other starchy meals (or perhaps I don’t regularly indulge in fresh artisan breads by budget alone!)—however, because these portions were moderate amounts of whole grains, there seems little need to feel guilty about the bread. Let me clarify that I do not advocate in the least for limiting carbohydrates, but rather for including whole grains in greater quantities than refined grains within a meal. I’m not opposed to combining the two, but white pasta on top of white bread lacks the fiber and energy contribution of whole grain selections.

    Enough of my digression, and onto my discovery of the magic grocery-store find known as puff pastry. Again, this is an ingredient I would limit in any diet, as it’s mostly additives, but darn if it’s not delicious and convenient. It makes my small list of exceptions among pre-made foods.

    One puff pastry sheet (each box contains two) made six breadsticks. I hate calling them that, lest we develop nostalgic cravings for Pizza Hut. After thawing on the counter (do keep frozen until ready to use), I sliced right along the folds into six strips and brushed with one lightly beaten egg.

    Still on the counter, I sprinkled generously with parmesan and sesame seeds. Poppy seeds would be an attractive substitution for sesame seeds, but I didn’t have any—even in my exotic spice cabinet. At this point, still on the counter, twist each strip a few times. You don’t have to be too dainty about it, I was oddly worried about breaking them or something. Once you see for yourself how beautifully they bake, you’ll laugh at yourself for preparing them so carefully. Relocate the twists to a lined baking sheet, and bake about 12 minutes in a 400 F oven. If you haven’t made these little wonders before, you will be amazed at how sophisticated they appear upon retrieval from the oven!

    And that’s it, friends! Bring the chicken and sesame twists out of the oven at the same time, fluff the couscous, and sprinkle your roasted carrots on top.

    I’m a big fan of color, and I realize my celebratory textiles seem brighter than what may appear to be a bland or starchy meal. But the complex spices of the marinade, and unique combination of carrot and cilantro make these a fragrant platter. And it’s not terribly unhealthy. Like I said, an extra carrot or two would have been ideal—they are remarkably sweet after roasting, I would have loved even more.

    And sweet cousin Cassie didn’t get any scraps from the table, despite those adorable eyes.

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    everybody burns the carrots sometimes

    Please be certain you’re reading the title of today’s post to the infamous Frank Sinatra tune. After this, I must admit: I really burned the carrots. 

    see?

    I bought these beautiful carrots after passing up a bag of liquidy pre-cut baby carrots. I thought, oh I’ll just peel and cut these myself—more effort, but worth it, right? 

     P.S. My favorite color combination, left.  

    I hear so many people complain about the “trouble” of cooking from scratch. I find it so rewarding, both in flavor and in knowing it offers so much more nutrition than pre-packaged meals. 

    And after saying this, after washing and scrubbing the dang carrots, I got so caught up in flipping the potato cakes I completely forgot about the carrots roasting in the oven. One look at them and Andrew accused me of sneaking him burnt sweet potato fries.   

    Enough about the carrots, I’m over it. I’m here to also make a case for potatoes. I came from a meat-and-potatoes family, though clearly the meat notion didn’t take. While my husband didn’t grow up eating potatoes, I’m certain we had them in some form every week growing up. That said, even the health nut I am, I’m an absolute sucker for potatoes. And blinis (bah-LEE-nees, Polish potato pancakes) bring me back to all my memorable childhood visits to central PA. 

    So I’m coming home from school today and it’s frigid out and carbohydrates just seem so appealing. I resisted the urge to make something with four different kinds of cheese and a stick of butter. Instead, I picked up three huge russet potatoes, along with fresh sage and thyme (cue Paul Simon). Tonight: herby potato roti. 

    If you have a food processor, this is the time to whip out the shredding disc, because grating this much potato by hand would have taken way too long (remember, I spent so much time already with the dang carrots).  It took about 40 seconds to grate over 8 cups of potato! 

    After this, I dried the potato on paper towels, though I eventually used my salad spinner to finish the job. (Remind me to tell you about the magic of salad spinners at some point, and where I find fun gadgets like these for waaaaaaaay less). I added in a teeny bit of chopped onion to my mixture, and then combined the grated potato with the sage and thyme. I was surprised the recipe off of which I based my little potato cakes did not call for any egg or liquid to hold the mixture together, but sure enough the pieces cooked together nicely in a hot skillet of olive oil.  I did feel all scientific trying this first in a stainless pan and then in my big nonstick skillet (thanks, Mom) for comparison. Well it was much easier to flip these little guys on the nonstick (duh), besides that I didn’t need to use nearly as much fattening olive oil. But, they did not crisp and brown so beautifully as they did in the first skillet–regardless how high I turned the heat in the nonstick.  

    Although it seems like the herbs should have burned in these little rotis, they worked out lovely.  And they look so artsy, don’t you agree?

    the herby potato roti!

    I got chicken sausages for Andrew (who was delighted to see a meal with meat), and served our dozens of little potatoes with herbed sour cream (stirred those fresh herbs into plain yogurt for a delicious, nutritious substitute), spiced applesauce, and…yes, the carrot fries. 

       

     

     

     

     

     

     

    remember: I love hearing your recipes, cooking ideas, questions, and feedback. and if this photo doesn’t make you want to put on a Simon and Garfunkel album (vinyl or otherwise), I hope you at least have Scarborough Fair in your head the rest of the day. 

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