Tag Archives: peppers

a little chick[pea] told me…

…that you must try Indian food. When I brought my homemade Indian leftovers to work and opened the container to release cumin and tomato-scented steam throughout the teacher’s lounge, there were two, predictable, reactions:

reaction no. 1

“Oh my gosh, is that homemade Indian food? Oh I love chana masala, one of my favorites! That smells so good!”

reaction no. 2

[initially nonverbal; glances down the nose towards my reddish-brown pile of garbanzos, followed by:] “I’ve never liked curry. My mother never liked curry, either. I simply can’t stand the flavor of curry.”

the curry myth

I cannot count how many times I have been told “I don’t like Indian because I don’t like curry” everywhere I go. Interestingly, this remark always comes from the same demographic. I imagine post-WWII mothers in the kitchen, their daughters eyeing the cake in the oven while they learn important Lady Life Lessons: keeping one’s knees together in a skirt, crossing at the ankles, and lastly, “You might hear of a thing called ‘curry’, dear. Avoid it, it’s rather unpleasant.”

Curry is a meat, vegetable, or fish dish with spiced sauce and rice or bread. In Britain, where chicken tikka masala is the national dish, “curry” is often a generic descriptor for all Indian food. However, the word curry describes more of a soup or stew, it is not a particular ingredient. Curry powder is a spice mixture developed by the British to make Indian food at home. Curry powder can range from 5 to 20 ingredients, and you will not see it in today’s recipe. Think of seasoned salt or dried Italian seasoning: convenient? yes. traditional? no.

the yellow spice tumeric will stain, watch out!

Like the most recent post on my very favorite Indian dish, Palak Paneer, or spinach with fried cheese, this is a very mild dish you could make spicy if you like. I’m a wimp.

Chana masala is a Northern Indian chickpea stew with tomatoes; masala refers to spices in a thick sauce for rice or flatbread.

Unpretentious, economical (canned chickpeas, canned tomatoes, dried spices!) and even better the next few days.

Chana Masala

(slightly adapted) from Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon vegetable/olive oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced (on your microplane)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (on your microplane)
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced (optional; I use half a can of TJ’s mild fire-roasted green chili)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I use a quarter of this because cayenne is extremely hot)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced)

fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and peppers and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes with juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, if you’ve got it.

Serve over basmati rice (click here for a flawless recipe) and buttery flatbread (click here for our top freezer-section pick). And do write back about your culinary experimentations!

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succulent steak

If you’ve visited A Pear to Remember before this, I don’t blame you for being bewildered. No, I didn’t develop a recent palette for beef. But in cooking for crowds recently, I’ve found flank steak a smash hit. Andrew, as my Certified Meat Taster, assures you this marinade is stellar. Eyes wide and an “Oh, honey”! Your guests with surely agree in delight.

Miraculous Marinade

for chicken, beef, pork from Susan Wyler’s Cooking For A Crowd

this recipes halves and multiplies easily, this is for 36 servings

6 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

6 pounds skirt (or flank) steak

4 medium onions

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh orange juice

1 cup sherry vinegar

2/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

2/ tbsp. dried oregano

2 tbsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Layer the chicken with half the onions and garlic in one large plastic container or large bowl. Layer the beef with the remaining onions and garlic in a second container or bowl.

Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, lime juice, oil, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Pour half over the chicken and half over the beef. (Note: If you are preparing this recipe so that you can grill the chicken in advance, make all the marinade, pour half over the chicken, and store the remainder in a covered jar, to use the day you grill the beef. It is not safe to use all the marinade for the chicken and reuse it for the beef.) I usually make this marinade a day before and marinate the steak overnight.

Best Tip: Dry the meat so it browns.

To cook the chicken, prepare a moderately hot fire in a barbecue grill (or heat a stovetop grill). Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry, scrape off any onions of garlic that cling. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until the chicken is nicely browned outside and white inside, but still juicy, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for a minute or two, then slice into thin strips.

To cook the beef, remove the skirt or flank steaks from the marinade and pat dry; scrape off any onions or garlic. Prepare a hot fire in a barbecue grill and cook for about 2 minutes per side; this steak needs to be on the rare side or it will be tough. (Still, I cooked it a bit longer, making a cut in the middle to ensure it was not overdone). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for a minute or two before carving crosswise on the diagonal into thin slices. 

One possibility: Serve the chicken and beef strips with warm flour tortillas and your choice of garnishes. I grilled poblano peppers and onions, and served with tomatillo guacamole , sour cream, and varied salsas. Don’t forget this unbeatable Mexicali salad.

Another possibility: Serve with grilled onions and mushrooms, fresh ciabatta slices, and these slow-roasted tomatoes. Homemade mac and cheese makes for a memorable entrée.

in the kitchen, where else?

We’re well past 7,000 viewers on the blog, thank you for reading!

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the night of the bruschetta

When Andrew’s away, the vegetarians will play.

If you haven’t figured out by now, my carnivore hubby isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about eggplant and greens as, say, you and me. So when the film buff headed out to see True Grit, I invited my veggie-loving in-laws over for a grilled feast.

You remember my new grill pan, right?

There’s no need to blather on with introductions, trust me this was a memorable meal. Let’s jump right into a sweet winter salad and some simple recipes with a light fits-just-right-into-your-new-year’s-resolution supper. (Not to mention enjoying the juiciest version of Blackberry on at the market).

Lindsey’s Own Citrus Winter Salad

I improvised this dressing with my cabinet findings. I strongly recommend these ingredients for sweet shallot-infused success, but you’ll find substitutions in italics that feature similar flavors.

baby arugula (or baby spinach)

1 tsp. agave nectar (or sugar)

1 medium shallot, sliced very thin

1 navel orange

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. grapeseed oil (or canola)

6 oz. blackberries

for my favorite new Linvented dressing:

Zest 1 tsp. of the orange rind and toss with the sugar in a small bowl. Cut the orange in half. Set one half of the orange aside, and juice the other into a bowl. Into the orange juice, whisk the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, sugared rind, and sliced shallots. Taste and adjust if needed, whisking in more agave nectar to thicken and sweeten.

for the salad:

Keep the orange cut side down on your board. With a small sharp knife, remove the entire peel from the remaining orange half—especially the white pith. Segment the orange and combine with the baby arugula and blackberries. Just before serving, toss with the dressing, zest and shallots. (Arugula is a delicate lettuce, so only dress the leaves to be immediately consumed. Reserve the rest.)

Onto the main event… grilled bruschetta.

White Bean Bruschetta

adapted from Weber’s Big Book of Grilling (2001)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (more recommended)

2 tsp. finely chopped oregano (optional)

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine

1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

for the topping:

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano (if using) and cook one minute more. Add the beans and vinegar and cook until mixture simmers.

 Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and stir in parsley.

Now trust me that you could easily enjoy this dip with crackers, veggie sticks, etc. But it’s really, really, really delicious on grilled bread.

For all the bruschetta recipes here, you’ll need a pastry or silicone brush plus

1 loaf rustic Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices

1 tsp. olive oil

 Brush a very light layer of olive oil on each side of the bread. Grill about 3 minutes per side on direct medium heat, or until golden.

Sweet Pepper and Eggplant Bruschetta

1 jar roasted red bell peppers, chopped fine

2 medium japanese eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices

extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup basil, sliced thin

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

8 oz. fresh goat cheese

Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill over direct medium heat until soft and browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and baste with oil halfway through cooking time. Transfer to a cutting board and dice small. Add to the peppers along with the remaining topping ingredients, salt and pepper to taste.

Grill the bread slices, as above, and spread a layer of goat cheese on each slice while the bread is still hot. Spoon the vegetable mixture  on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

I hope you also enjoy a bruschetta party, with lots of grilled bread and an assortment of these simple, delectable toppings. Salad on the side to round out a satisfying veggie-lovers meal.

On a separate note…

Perhaps you’re thinking today’s photos are slightly more crisp than the usual? I’m playing around with a friend’s Nikon D100 today and am looking to purchase a DSLR. Suggestions my fellow readers??? I’m currently swayed by the Nikon 3100. Please leave your input, I know much more about green beans than cameras.

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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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the world may not be flat, but this pizza sure is

Oh, hello. Did you come here looking for another super fast, ridiculously easy weeknight dinner? Well, twist my arm why don’t you.

I completely forgot to tell you about this Lavash Pizza I made two weeks ago. Lavash is a soft, thin flatbread that is becoming easier to find nowadays at the grocery store. The bread is common in Iran, Armenia, and Georgia—and thankfully at Trader Joes and Whole Foods! Lavash is made simply of flour, water, and salt—it’s fat-free and low in sodium, so what better inspiration for a lunchtime wrap or evening pizza?

For quick pizza, brush a light layer of olive oil on each side of the lavash. Place on a cookie sheet under the broiler for just three minutes or so on each side, until it starts to brown.

Then simply top with your favorite ingredients! The crust is so crunchy and thin, it doesn’t really require sauce. I layered tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers—which I sautéed first—and a sprinkling of shredded cheddar. 10 minutes on 450F until the cheese is nice and melted, and you’re ready for dinner.

No time for weeknight cooking? I know for me it is more often a lack of energy. Lindsey’s Lavash Weeknight Pizza meets all requirements for lickety-quick delicious.

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small summer bites

My dear readers, I cannot keep you in the dark a moment longer about this mind taste-bud-blowing corn pesto I made over the weekend. As you read most recently, I bought an abundance of fresh goodies at Saturday’s farmer’s market, which have supplied extra deliciousness to this week’s meals.

I agree seven ears of corn is potentially overwhelming for a family of two, but Bon Appetit inspired my own version of Corn Pesto that is not to be missed. And, yep, you’ll need a lot of corn.

I do not consider myself a food / recipe visionary, but… After spotting these precious peppers, I imagined them sliced in half, roasted, and filled with ribbons of basil and corn pesto. (Let’s hope the inspiration continues!) Bon Appetit featured a corn pesto sautéed in bacon fat and served over pasta, but it sounded too heavy and starchy for the light meals this weather encourages. The idea of corn pesto, however, was too intriguing to pass up my own rendition…

Because I wanted to start with a strong flavor base (in lieu of bacon grease), I must first tell you about the other hors d’oeuvre I made to accompany my stuffed peppers:

Lindsey’s Herbed Tarts with Feta and Caramelized Onion

Is it apparent by now how I so enjoy any excuse for caramelized onions?? For cousin Kelly’s sweet 16, I volunteered to bring hors d’oeuvre (one of my favorite things to make), and what’s a great appetizer without sweet, succulent onions?

Click here for details of how I make my (shortcut) tartlettes. My experimental variation this time around includes pressing fresh chopped herbs (parsley here) into refrigerated pie crust. I would prefer chives or basil, but parsley had to make due and indeed it worked!

I unrolled a store-bought pie crust, sprinkled herbs over top, and rolled very thin. I was cautious here on using too much parsley (which I pressed into both sides of the dough), as I didn’t want its peppery flavor to be overwhelming. To my delight, I found the flavor almost completely muted once cooked, and the herbs contributed only a dainty greenery to my tarts. Just what I wanted! As I will try chives or basil next time, I will be more generous with the amounts.

I’m telling you, this is really as simple as can be. After a mere two minutes of rolling the dough, cutting out circles with the lip of a drinking glass, the dough pressed right into an ungreased mini muffin tin. (Poke plenty of toothpick holes to prevent puffing). 10 minutes later are these impressive, elegant, and tasty tarts. Could it be any easier??

With the tarts complete, I simply filled each with caramelized onions (click here for my method) and a nice cube of feta.

I don’t doubt these are delicious under the broiler for two minutes, the feta just golden and melting into the onions. Unfortunately, the severe power outages over the weekend (and into the week) prevented me from heating the tarts before serving. But, thankfully for me and your future guests, these serve beautifully at room temperature, and are guaranteed to be gobbled regardless.

Hopefully your host (or aunt-in-law) will have a lovely plate for their display. But I can’t make any promises, blink and they’re gone.

There was only the peeking sun (post-storm) offering light for this photo, but hopefully you enjoy a glimpse of the finished product.

Now onto the main (and more versatile) dish…

Lindsey’s Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Corn Pesto & Purple Basil

Perhaps you’re not making both of these appetizers, but I must let you know I saved the pan with browned onion bits as key flavor for my corn pesto. A few chunks of caramelized onion intentionally joined the corn saute, so consider searing, say, 1/8 of an onion before adding your corn…

(As with most pestos, you will need a food processor.)

adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Slicing the kernels from 6 ears of corn sounds disastrous, but was not so messy (and scattered) as you may fear. I sliced off both ends of each cob and sliced straight down with a sharp knife in a gentle sawing motion. Completing this prep work over an 8-cup measuring bowl sure makes things a little easier…

    Heat one and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. After the oil is hot, add corn, coarse salt, and pepper.

    Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic during the last minute of cooking, stirring well. Reserve 1/4 cup of the corn kernels in a small bowl, scraping the rest of the corn mixture into the food processor.

    While the corn is cooking, toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat—keep an eye on them! You want them beautifully golden, but they can burn in a blink.

    Into the food processor with the piping hot corn, add 1/2 cup Parmesan (get the good stuff, though it doesn’t have to be Parmigiano) and the toasted pine nuts.

    Like most pesto, the processor does all the work for you, and the dish is practically done from here. With the machine running, add olive oil through the feed tube and blend until pesto is also smooth. You’re done!

    Now what to do with this amazing, amazing buttery batch? Here’s one of many inspirations…

    I sliced a handful of sweet mini peppers in half (stem on for extra dose of adorable) and brushed the cut sides with olive oil to help the edges char.
    On a rimmed baking sheet (parchment paper beneath to prevent sticking), these peppers were cooked to perfection after about 8 minutes at 400F. You want to see the edges brown, but don’t cook them so long they soften and lose shape. That is, if you want little cups for your corn pesto! (P.S. Vegetables as containers for other ingredients seriously makes me smile. At our wedding, we had this sautéed mushroom medley in halved acorn squash… just gorgeous).

    You can see here that the peppers are glistening with oil and charred slightly on the inside. Like the corn pesto and the onion tarts, these store wonderfully at room temperature, should your serving conditions lack, say, electricity.

    For easier filling, I transferred some corn pesto into a plastic bag with a cut corner. From here, it’s super fast to pipe the pesto into the peppers (say that five times fast) and top with ribbons of purple (okay, or green) basil. You recall I didn’t have much lighting to work with for a good photo, but you get the idea…

    If you like, sprinkle the filled peppers with the reserved corn kernels. Or, you can serve this thick, chunky mixture as a delicious dip for pita chips or multigrain crackers—it’s just as enjoyable this way, too. 

    Do write about how you use your corn pesto! I hope this also becomes a summer favorite in your kitchen 🙂

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    fruits & veggies (as easy as it gets)

    I don’t know where you live (okay, well some of you), but it is hot here. I mean 103F, heat advisories until 11pm hot. And hot weather + heavy food can be an unpleasant mix.

    So I thought we ought to enjoy a light, chilled dinner when our friend Mark comes over.

    Where should I seek inspiration for said meal? Sure, I’m into culinary learning opportunities, but I’m definitely not a Food Network fanatic. If there’s anyone whose recipes I’m occasionally inclined to replicate, it’s Ina Garten—aka Barefoot Contessa. I love her Greek spin on Panzanella (pahn-zah-NEHL-lah), which is traditionally an Italian bread salad made with onions, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar and seasonings and—oh yeah—chunks of bread. This fun Greek version includes feta and red onions, naturally.

    Here’s the ironic outcome of the evening, I wanted to serve two cold, raw salads for dinner—which is fine for me, but likely insufficient for Andrew and our friend Mark. I hadn’t shopped for, or even thought up, any meat dish as of two hours before dinner. So I threw together an impromptu marinade for some chicken tenderloins: olive oil, kosher salt, plenty of fresh pepper, five cloves of crushed garlic, and dried oregano. Baked at 425F with the garlic on top. Sure enough, Andrew claims it’s the best chicken I’ve ever made (meaning it’s worth jotting down this recipe).

    But now the third dish, which I must soon remake for my hubby’s parents because this is the fruit salad of fruit salads. And my mother-in-law is Queen of Fruit Salad. I ate the rest for breakfast this morning thinking, “Man, would Alice love this!”

    Without further ado, here are the ingredients to a seriously delicious evening. (Little mess, little cooking—hurrah)!

    GREEK PANZANELLA

    • Good olive oil
    • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
    • Kosher salt
    • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
    • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
    • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin in half rounds
    • 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

    As unfortunate as it seems, you must first cut all the beautiful crust off your loaf of bread. I bought a Rosemary Boule, which worked wonderfully.

    Day-old bread is ideal for this salad, and most white french loaves would work fine. Use your thumb (knuckle to nail) to approximate one-inch for the cubes. Better to have these a little on the large side.

    Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt. Cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned.

    The cubes soak up the oil quickly, but don’t be tempted to add too much additional oil. It might be helpful to heat one or two tablespoons of the oil and add the rest gradually, while turning the cubes.

    To de-seed the cucumbers, cut lengthwise and scoop down the middle with a small spoon. Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl. I used orange bell pepper as well, since I had some on hand and it added to the beautiful colors of the salad. I also sliced the onions paper thin, so the raw onion wasn’t too strong in the salad.

    For the vinaigrette:

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup good olive oil

    Whisk together the garlic (minced on your microplane!), oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl.

     

    While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. This dressing is incredible for other salads, or even as a marinade.

    Add the feta, olives (if you’re using them) and bread cubes and mix together lightly. I reserved 1/4 of the bread cubes for leftovers—though the point is for the bread to get a little soggy, I didn’t want my second-day salad that soggy. 

    Set everything aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

    The fruit salad of a lifetime

    Oh it sounds dramatic, but it’s accurate. If you like sweet and salty, you will also go nuts over this pistachio salad. With the grapes, nuts, and seeds, it delightfully crunchy, too! I hope you like pistachios, because while you could substitute another nut here, the salty flavor of pistachios is delicious. If you read about my berry tart, you know I had some blueberries and strawberries on hand. This was a sweet way to enjoy the leftovers. (This recipe was developed by Sunny Anderson).

    Fruit Salad with Poppy Seeds & Pistachios

     

    • 1 cup halved green seedless grapes
    • 1 cup quartered strawberries
    • 1/2 cup blueberries
    • 1 tablespoons sugar (or less for ripe, sweet fruit)
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (or less, as you prefer)
    • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted (mine were roasted and salted)

    When Mark and I labored in a bakery together—which is how we met—we had plenty of minute and tedious tasks. I guess this is why Mark laughed aloud as he peered into the salad bowl and said, “You halved the grapes?!”

    Do trust me, cut the grapes in half. (A large, sharp knife gets the job done without much trouble).

    Toss the grapes, strawberries and blueberries with sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in lime juice, and poppy seeds. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1/2 an hour. Garnish with pistachios and serve.

    I know I have tags on my posts for “easy” meals, but this doesn’t even belong there. I really need to have a simplicity ranking, because believe me: this belongs in the easiest possible delicious food category. And isn’t it a beauty? 

     

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    ( don’t forget the delicious chicken recipe above… if that’s your thing 😉 )

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    mexicali. cha! cha! cha!

    MEXICALI is a new word for me (and you know how I adore great words). When I came across this Mexicali Chop with Crunchy Tortilla Strips recipe, I assumed “Mexicali” termed a festive blend of regional cuisines—perhaps Mexico and California? Okay, so 3 seconds of research proved me wrong. Mexicali is a city in Baja California, Mexico, located across the border from Calexico, California. So I wasn’t too far off.

    With lots of corn and tomatoes on hand, I invited Andrew’s parents over for un poco Mexican feast. A Mexicali chop salad, caramelized onion & Jack cheese tortillas, cantaloupe ruffles, and pineapple-cilantro chicken.

    CANTALOUPE RUFFLES

    I’ve always been afraid of cantaloupe. Don’t ask me what’s so intimidating about cutting into large, heavy fruits, but I’m admitting here and now I’ve not worked my way up to a pineapple.

    Sure enough, once I sliced both poles of my fruity globe, the peel was not a challenge from there. (A small Wednesday triumph). Now, one can chop into traditional wedges at this point, but you know I love experimenting. And I love vegetable peelers. When I make one of my favorite dishes, egg noodles with zucchini and carrot ribbons, I blanch beautiful vegetable strips easily produced by a vegetable peeler. I played around with the same idea here.

    Once you remove the skin, cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds, just start peeling strips from the flat core. Press the peeler firmly to cut strips that aren’t too thin.

    That’s it! Arrange the ribbons in piles, or little swirls. Garnish, as I did, with lime zest and a light drizzle of honey. For very sweet cantaloupe, the honey really isn’t necessary, but a little lime juice on top of the zest is just right.

    So easy and elegant.

    MEXICALI CHOP

    This salad has three components in the prep: the tortilla crunchies, the dressing, and the salad pieces. It may sound a little tedious, but the prep doesn’t take long. Besides, you can adjust the salad parts to your preferences (as I did), making the dressing ahead of time, and hopefully you will also find that you have a lot of these ingredients on hand.

    Here’s a visual so the parts make sense:

    the dressing

    1/2 cup olive oil

    2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

    2 tsp. ground cumin

    2 tsp. ground coriander

    1 tsp. sugar

    1 tsp. salt

    1/4 cup chopped green onion

    1/4 cup cilantro leaves

    pinch cayenne pepper

    I have an aversion to most recipes with over five ingredients, but the photo of this salad in Vegetarian Times was irresistable.

    You will need a blender (or an immersion blender). Heat the oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar, and salt in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes over low heat, or until the garlic begins to sizzle. 

    (With all of these dried spices, the dressing can be a little gritty. Be sure to stir the contents over the heat so the sugar dissolves.) Blend the remaining ingredients with a garlic-spice oil. That’s it! Stick in the fridge or just set aside.

    the crunchy tortilla strips

    1.5 tsp. canola oil

    3 6-inch corn tortillas

    1/2 tsp. chili powder

    1/4 tsp. sugar

    1/8 tsp. salt

    Corn tortillas are bland on their own but trust me that you need them for this recipe! Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the oil on the tortillas. Cut in half, then cut into 1/8-inch wide strips.

    Spread the strips on a baking sheet and combine the chili power, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the strips. Now I ended up doubling the chili-salt-sugar mixture. I didn’t find this given amount to be enough, and since I used a mild chili powder blend, ample spice on top was just delicious.

    Bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside to cool while you assemble the rest of the salad.

    salad

    1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thin (8 cups)

    2 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)

    1 avocado, diced (1 cup)

    3 celery stalks, sliced think (1 cup)

    1 seedless cucumber, diced (1 cup)

    1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed)

    3/4 cup cooked pinto beans

    1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and sliced thin

    1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

    As I said before, you can certainly adjust these ingredients to your own preferences. I excluded pinto beans and celery in my version. Toss all the salad ingredients together with tortillas strips and 1/4 cup dressing. I recommend serving the dressing on the side, so as not to make those crunchy bits all soggy. Serving your salads on a flat platter allows your eaters to get all those delicious and teeny ingredients that might otherwise spend their evening in the bottom of the bowl. 🙂

    per 1 and 3/4-cup serving: 160 calories, 4 grams protein, 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 21 grams carbs, 0 mg cholesterol, 229 mg sodium, 6 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar (this recipe is gluten free and vegan)

    Since you’re enjoying such a healthy, crunchy salad, you may consider my onion-jack cheese tortilla wedges on the side. To use up the remaining few corn tortillas, I sprinkled them with caramelized onions, topped with shredded colby jack and sharp cheddar cheeses. While I broiled the pineapple-cilantro chicken tenderloin, I placed a baking sheet of these tortillas beneath. Next time, I’ll place the tortillas on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to crisp the underside. Once you pull the tortillas out of the oven, drizzle lightly with the following: sour cream thinned with lime juice, a generous sprinkle of lime zest and chopped cilantro.

    The salad recipe is from the July/August 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

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    hold the mayo

    Pasta salad: a picnic classic. If you’ve spent any time on A Pear to Remember, you know I like to keep things simple and packed with flavor. Though it veers from The American Classic, I think you will love this pasta salad. I made it up about a year ago and it’s been a hit among pasta lovers. It’s easily adaptable to your ingredient availabilities and preferences. Here are the basics:

    • Pasta (fun shape of your choosing)
    • Olive Oil
    • Kosher salt or sea salt (not table salt) and pepper
    • Assorted vegetables (sautéed, grilled, jarred)
    • Cheese (parmesan or cubes of fresh mozzarella)
    • Optional: lemon zest, fresh herbs (chives! basil!)

    I love any pasta dish with these ingredients, but they really make a sensational pasta salad. Deliciously chilled for summertime. Pasta salad should be vibrant in flavor and appearance—bold colors and shapes. My favorite pasta shapes for pasta salad are Cavatappi (corkscrews) or Campanelle (little bells).

    Prepare your veggies (and chop the pepperoni if you must). I chopped up zucchini and eggplant (and often add red onion), tossed with olive oil and ample coarse salt. Flavoring the veggies before grilling provides exceptional additions for your salad.

    I also had some lovely fresh corn. Grilled corn is exceptional when the kernels are charred, but I’ve found the corn burns before cooking through when placed bare on the grill. This time around, I experimented by removing the outer husks until just one or two layers remained. Leaving the ears on the grill while tending to the chopped veggies (not cut too small) allowed the corn to steam through.

    After rotating the corn for about five minutes, I peeled the remaining husks from the ears with my grilling tongs and allowed the kernels to char slightly (yum). You could brush with flavored olive oil or butter here to aid in flavor and browning, but it’s still fantastic on its own.

    After cutting the kernels from the cob and combining with the other grilled vegetables, I seasoned these before adding to the pasta–coarse salt and pepper as needed. It’s easier to intensify the flavors at this point before they mingle with your remaining ingredients.

    Cook your pasta in salted water until al dente. Gooey, overcooked pasta reminds me of grocery-store pasta salad. Yuck. Rinse the pasta slightly and drain well. Set aside in your serving bowl with just enough olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. Combining the pasta and grilled (or sautéed) veggies while everything is still warm allow the flavors to marry and absorb into the pasta before refrigeration.

    You can add whatever amount and variety of vegetables you wish, but jarred veggies simplify the task of beautifying your pasta salad. I added some of my homemade slow-roasted tomatoes, but jarred sun-dried tomatoes do the same trick. I also love jarred roasted red peppers, chopped finely to toss into pasta. They are so mild yet sweet, a great dish-booster even to eaters who might otherwise think they don’t enjoy bell peppers. I’ve met such people.

    Remember you could also add artichokes, olives, whatever you fancy.

    Fresh shredded parmesan is often just enough cheese for this simple salad. However, if it’s a special occasion (like this particular pasta celebration) and you’re in the mood for something special, hunt down some super-fresh mozzarella.

    As I mentioned earlier, combining your salad ingredients while the pasta and veggies are warm really allows the flavors to mingle. But how to do this without melting the mozzarella?

    Cut the mozzarella into cubes and place on a dish or small baking sheet (wax or parchment paper beneath). Refrigerate for an hour or just pop in the freezer for 20 minutes (I adore efficiency). Now toss with your salad, no fears of melting!

    Once you’ve combined your ingredients, it’s very important to taste for flavor. Even with vibrant vegetables, the noodles may turn out surprisingly bland. This is where I add (as I did this time around) lemon zest, salt and pepper, additional olive oil, fresh basil, and even a slight splash of balsamic.

    I discussed in an earlier posting about my dislike of most dried herbs—and chilled pasta salad is not the time to raid your spice cabinet for flavor. Fresh ingredients are best. (I do recommend fresh basil if you can find some, it’s certainly an attractive addition to white pasta). However, I did mention my appreciation for McCormick’s Spiced Sea Salt blend for a quick pasta boost. It has coarse sea salt, dried lemon peel, garlic, red pepper, and oregano—great for a vegetable combination like this. Be sure to toss well, as all the good stuff sinks to the bottom! You can really get creative, simplifying this with three ingredients or amplifying with a variety of seasonal veggies and herbs.

    If you read a recipe for American pasta salad, you’ll need peas, celery, dry Italian-style salad dressing mix, mayo, sour cream, and milk. If that’s your thing, fantastic. But Lindsey’s little Mediterranean-inspired medley—beyond sounding more temperature stable—is light and bright. Not to mention all of those fresh, nutritious ingredients.  

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    healthy, happy

    I’ve set some high standards naming this post “happiness”, when it’s actually not what I’m feeling right now. Fully engrossed in my Nutrition grad studies this week has me very, very sad about the obesity in our country. Right now, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is around 77 years old. For children born in 2010, that lifespan is estimated to be ten to fifteen years less. As obesity affects more and more and more children, those children are suffering from diabetes II, heart problems, and cancers at significantly higher rates and early ages. 

    The happy note: this is preventable. So what does this mean for our kitchens?

    I’m motivated more than ever to reiterate that cooking and eating healthy is not only possible, but affordable in terms of our money and our time. My little household is on an awfully tight budget these days, and spending my evenings studying for exams doesn’t allow me the relaxing hours of cooking I crave. But here’s the thing: I absolutely refuse to buy into the “convenience” of convenience foods. No matter the time crunch, our health just isn’t worth the sacrifice in my book. Our health is the bottom line. 

    But Lindsey, I’ve seen pictures of your pizza and tarts!! How is pizza health food? 

    Such a legitimate point. Making food at home from real ingredients (the whole potato vs. the paper packet of dehydrated potato flakes + 22 indistinguishable items) allows me to control the amount of salt and fat and portion sizes in our meals. Yes, I’m going to sprinkle some salt on my vegetable/sauce/pasta dish, etc. But that 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt is 280mg of sodium. Incredibly less than the thousand of sodium milligrams in frozen pizza or pre-seasoned foods. We enjoy butter and cheese at home, in moderation, but I cook with fats (mostly olive oil) in small amounts. Dousing butter and cheese on top of already prepared foods adds such unnecessary saturated fat, and is a dangerous habit. 1 tbs. olive oil, p.s., has 2 grams of saturated fat vs. 1 tsb. of butter with 7 grams of fat. As I discuss below, it’s not always the amount of fat, but what kind of fat the ingredient contains. 

    Lindsey’s Super-Engergizing Made-in-Minutes Lunch 

     

    I substitute-taught for high school this morning, and that means I was up at 5:30am. No sympathy from the rest of the working world, I’m sure, but it was so darn dark. Since most of the morning is spent waking myself up in the shower, desperately trying to figure out what to wear, and taking time for a nourishing breakfast, I’ve got little time to pack a sustaining lunch. (Oh you’re right, making something the night before makes a lot of sense, but what I had in mind would be soggy by morning, and I’m too picky for soggy). 

    Hmm, leftover fettucine in the fridge with sautéed broccoli. Why not just bring that? Well, thanks to my ever-expanding Nutrition education, I know that my refined (i.e. white) pasta is going to break down quickly into glucose, giving me a little sugar rush for lunchtime but yawning through 5th and 7th period! Since complex carbohydrates contain fiber, they have so many ways to break down slowly in my body, releasing energy for me throughout the day. And when the morning starts that early, lunch comes at 11am, and I’ve got the rest of the day to stay awake. 

    So what to make for lunch? I always, always, always have whole-wheat pita in the freezer, and this morning was no exception. While I defrosted it in the toaster oven, I made a quick, healthy cheese spread and to accompany avocado. 

    In my favorite little mini food prep processor, I combined one container of crumbled goat cheese (though feta would be fantastic here) with three large roasted red peppers straight from the jar of, you guessed it: Trader’s Joe’s Roasted Red Peppers. This took about 10 seconds to combine, and could also be done in a blender I imagine. Put the rest in a little jar in the fridge; a great dip or spread for future lunches. 

    I spooned my pepper-cheese spread (would be great with garlic or onion, but HELLO, not when you’re talking to people all day!) into one side of my pita, and mashed avocado on the other side. Smoosh together and DONE. I reeeeeally didn’t think I’d have time to make a good lunch, but this less-than-five-minute-prep turned out stupendous. And I was awake for the entirety of The Crucible, Act IV! There are endless variations to this idea, but in case you hadn’t thought outside of turkey and cheese on (insert your refined grain here) for a while, I was inspired to share this.  

    One generous-sized, affordable-gourmet sandwich… Avacado: 74 cents, Large Whole-Wheat Pita: 35 cents, 1 Jarred Roasted Red Bell-Pepper: 43 cents, 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese $2.99… $4.51.  

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    If your avocado is really ripe, just mash it into your sandwich with spoon. This avocado wasn't mushy yet, so I made slices through each half, and scooped all the slices out at once with a large spoon.

    Just add the avocado pieces to your cheese-pepper spread. You don't HAVE to mix these, but the peppers and crumbled cheese stay in the sandwich much easier as a spread. Little extra work and no added fat. Fresh basil on this sandwich makes it simply phenomenal.

    A nutritional note about avocados. Yes avocados have fat, but in comparing sandwich ingredients… say 6 slices of avocado with one slice of cheese: 

    SATURATED FAT: avocado 2 grams vs. cheese 4 grams 

    UNSATURATED FAT*:  avocado 8 grams vs. cheese 4 grams 

    TOTAL FAT: avocado 10 grams vs. cheese 8 grams 

    These differences may seem minor in grams, but the greater nutritional value is in the avocado. And in our bodies, this all makes a major difference. (See nutritional note below).

    An amazingly quick lunch, far more nutritious than the diet sodas and bags of chips in the staff lounge. I don’t say this to say my lunch was superior (though perhaps in flavor). I’m saying that it’s easy to believe there’s no time for a healthy lunch. But there is. And, honestly, I say if you’re going for healthy, you’re really going to need to make it yourself to control the sodium and fat content. 

    This is why I started A Pear to Remember. I started this blog because I believe we can improve the quality of our lives by nourishing our bodies with delicious, home-prepared food.  I am not clinical nutritionist, and I am not here to offer health advice. I am, however, excited to share academic, scientific information to build our understanding of informed nutritious choices. The nutritional facts today are directly from the 8th Edition of Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition by Rolfes, Pinna, and Whitney.  

    I love to eat, to cook, and to enjoy scrumptious food. Food that helps my heart? That just makes me happy.

    And when Andrew says, “Good dinner, honey.” 

     

     

    *a note about unsaturated fats–avocados are rich in monounsaturdated fats. “unsaturated” refers to the position of hydrogen bonds in fatty acids, which I won’t bore you with. the body is more easily able to break down unsaturated fats because of this structure. the many benefits of mono and polyunsaturated fats (vs. saturated) include preventing heart disease and lowering cholesterol. saturated fats are so saturated with hydrogen atoms, the body cannot break them down as easily.

    trans fats do not occur in nature (meaning they can only be created in a lab), so the body also has a very difficult time breaking these down properly… picture little lego blocks floating through our blood. uck. trans fats remain in chunks in our system because the body does not recognize them. 

    we’ll get into hydrogenation and trans fats some more another time… feel free to write with questions. I’m happy to provide resources for further information on fats.

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    Filed under health, here to share, lickety-quick