Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts from the ‘grains / pasta / potatoes’ category

This recipe uses raw corn and zucchini, which I wasn’t brave enough to try!  I boiled my corn on the cob for 9 or 10 minutes and then removed the kernels … and I blanched the zucchini for a quick minute.  I also made the vinaigrette (olive oil and lemon) in a separate small bowl and added it into the salad (I didn’t use it all).  I would definitely double this recipe as it only serves 2.  This would be great for lunch or a BBQ dinner while fresh corn is still available.

Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn, Parsley & Basil

Recipe from blog Gourmette NYC.

Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn, Parsley, and Basil

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced (use a mandoline for best results)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss the quinoa, corn, zucchini, parsley, and basil. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss, adding more olive oil and lemon juice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.

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I love the Orzo and Spinach Salad that Whole Foods makes and thought about replicating it at home.  A quick search on the internet brought me to one that sounded promising, and I made a few modifications.  This salad can be served cold or at room temperature and would be great to bring to your next BBQ.

Orzo & Spinach Salad

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked orzo pasta (can be whole wheat)
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese (2 cups)
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts,olives, basil, salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
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Wondering what to do with Swiss chard?  It’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there and bountiful at the grocery store and at farmers markets almost year-round.  I’m always looking for new, simple recipes that use this superfood.  This one is wonderful – it’s basically a Swiss chard pesto that would be great on orecchiette or penne pasta.  If you double the recipe, the pesto would freeze well for future dinners.  Enjoy!

 

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard and Parm

Recipe from Mario Batali; featured on the Today Show.

Orecchiette with Swiss chard and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
Preparation

Combine the oil, onion, garlic, and chard in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season well with Maldon salt, add 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is very tender, about 20 minutes. Season with pepper and remove from the heat. Place ingredients into food processor and finely chop. Set aside in large bowl.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Drop in the pasta and cook until just al dente.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the chard ragu and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce). Stir in the cheese.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and serve with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

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I love a tasty wheat berry salad any time of year.  Wheat berries are so healthy (filled with fiber, protein and iron) and they have a wonderful chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor.  This is my favorite recipe that I’ve tried so far – it’s salty, sweet, nutty and chewy.  Since this recipe yields about 3 cups, I sometimes double it since it’s great leftover for lunch or dinner (or bites in between).  It’s best served warm or at room temperature.   Note: I make a vinaigrette with my leftover basil dressing — I just add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.

Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts and Basil

Recipe from the blog Whipped.

Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts & Basil
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 cup soft wheat berries, rinsed
3 cups water
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
1 cup loosely packed basil plus 5 additional large leaves chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3  cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Chewy but firm. Drain and season to taste with more salt.

To make the dressing, put olive oil and 1 cup clean, loosely packed basil leaves in a blender with a pinch of salt. Drizzle desired amount over wheat berries and stir to coat.  You can also substitute a store bought pesto mixed with extra olive oil to make it runny enough to use as a dressing.

Toast pine nuts in a pan or oven (I use a toaster oven) until light brown.  Toss pine nuts, crumbled feta and ribbons of basil into the salad.

HINT: Stack basil leaves on top of each other.  Roll them up the long way to create a “cigarette” shape.  Slice it very thin (1/8 inch).  You will have nice ribbons of basil for garnish or salads.

 

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My mother-in-law Patsy is from New Orleans and she is a great cook.  She can do all of the New Orleans specialties – homemade beignets, crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole, turkey and sausage gumbo, etc.  She serves dirty rice as a side dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in place of stuffing or mashed potatoes.  This dish is so incredibly flavorful.  I sometimes serve it as our main course for dinner with a side salad.  Every Mardi Gras (this year it’s on Tues., March 4th), I cook something traditional for dinner (complete with colorful bead necklaces and silly hats) so the boys will be aware of their heritage.  Note: if the organ meat in the recipe grosses you out, try it without and I bet it would still be good.  The original recipe calls for all organ meat, but instead, I use mostly ground beef and add just a bit of organ meat, which gives the dish a complex and rich flavor.  Chicken livers and gizzards, although high in cholesterol, do offer a ton of vitamins and minerals (iron and zinc) and protein and are fine in moderation.  You can ask for chicken livers and gizzards at the meat counter at Whole Foods.

Dirty rice

Recipe adapted from The New Orleans Cookbook.

Dirty Rice

Serves 4.

“Dirty rice is a popular Cajun dish made with chicken livers and gizzards, vegetables, long grain rice and lots of pepper.  It is served as an accompaniment to poultry and meat.  If the main dish has a gravy, you pour some of it over the dirty rice.  Don’t use leftover rice warmed up; the dish will have an unpleasant texture.”

Ingredients:

1/4 pound chicken gizzards

1/4 pound chicken livers

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

1 2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley

3 cups Boiled Rice (see below)

Directions:

Add chicken gizzards and chicken livers to a small pot of boiling water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and purée in blender (I use a Mini Prep Processor).  Set aside only 1 tablespoon of this puréed organ meat for the recipe; discard the rest.  Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or Le Creuset and cook the ground meat until it begins to brown.  Add the flour, garlic, onion, celery, and green pepper and mix well.  Cook until the vegetables begin to turn soft and slightly brown.  Add 1 tablespoon of puréed organ meat to the skillet along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, most of the parsley, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Cook over low heat for a few more minutes, adding a bit more water during cooking if necessary.  Remove skillet from heat.  Toss in the cooked rice and stir; serve hot.  Garnish with a bit of parsley.

Boiled Rice

“Firm, fluffy, freshly prepared boiled rice is the essential accompaniment to so many of our dishes… Rice is served with gumbos, bean dishes, crawfish bisque, etoufees, and many other dishes.  Preparing it this way takes only 15 minutes, very little more than any pre-cooked convenience rice, and gives you the superb texture and flavor only freshly cooked rice has.  The tiny amount of butter keeps the grains from sticking together.”

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain white rice

2 cups cold water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon salted butter

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir once with a fork, then cover tightly and reduce the heat to very low.  Cook covered for exactly 15 minutes.  Do not lift the cover during cooking.  Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and fluff the rice gently with a fork.

Note: the rice will keep warm enough for serving second helpings if you use a heavy saucepan and keep it covered after serving.  Another way to keep the extra rice warm is to put the covered saucepan in a pre-heated 175 degree oven.  Do not keep it warm for more than 25 minutes.

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I don’t know about you, but I always seem to mess up rice!  I know it’s a simple thing to cook, but if you are off on something (size of the pot, amount of the water, level of heat, cooking time, etc.) you can be left with a sticky mess or burnt rice.  I’m so bad at cooking rice, that  lot of times I resort to (don’t tell!) Boil-in-a-bag Success Rice, but that’s not as good for you.  We are supposed to be eating slow-cooked foods — and choosing whole grains over white.  So, I was over-the-moon when I tried Gwyneth’s recipe for Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  Just like it promises, your rice will turn out beautifully and it does keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Perfectly Cooked Brown RicePerfectly Cooked Brown Rice

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Makes 3 cups

1 cup short-grain brown rice

1 3/4 cup water

Coarse sea salt

Rinse the rice thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  Place it in a pot set over high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, exactly 45 minutes.  Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid, and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.

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