Posts Tagged ‘Vegetables’

Pan-fried Chickpea Salad

This salad from 101 Cookbooks is another great example of the huge flavor she gets from basic, healthy ingredients.  I tried this yesterday and LOVED it – what a great side dish with tons of healthy stuff and big taste!  I am a big fan of curry spices but even if you’re not I think you’d like it – the garlic and lemon and leeks (I used half leeks and half shallots) make it really fresh and flavorful, and the curry just adds a bit of sweetness to the background.  And I love the yogurt base which adds nice tang and creaminess.

I am exploring with more and more Indian spices, and learning about many new and different flavors.  Whenever I see cinnamon in a recipe, I tend to throw in some complimentary spices, like nutmeg, allspice or ground cloves.  I’m beginning to be the same way with curry – I throw in some turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, ground cloves or fenugreek.  If you enjoy the curry family, I’d highly recommend playing around with dashes of these spices.  It gives the dishes such warmth and depth.  Garam masala is a good one to start with.  Some of these aren’t commonly found at the grocery store…I got my garam masala and fenugreek at Southern Season in Chapel Hill which has a huge selection of specialty foods.  But you could also find them at an Asian store or other specialty foods store.

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I made up this easy recipe for a side dish tonight and LOVED it!  I am not normally a big fan of squash, but I find roasting it, especially butternut squash, actually makes it sweet and carmelizes it a bit – and that I like! I’m particularly liking the squash since I’ve found it pre-cubed at Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s, AND Costco! What an awesome time-saver. The goat cheese adds a nice creamy coolness and the walnuts add some crunch.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Chevre and Walnuts

1 large butternut squash, about 3 lbs, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (or buy it pre-cubed!)

1 Tbs olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

2 oz goat cheese

½ cup walnut pieces

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  • Roast in one layer for 25-30 minutes, tossing once to prevent sticking, until squash is tender.
  • Remove the pan and sprinkle balsamic vinegar and the walnuts over the squash; toss with a spatula and return to the oven for 2 minutes to toast walnuts.
  • Plate the warm squash and crumble goat cheese over each portion to serve.

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I recently tried out a fun new recipe from Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving issue that I think you all would like, called Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing!  It is the perfect side dish – makes a lot, and complements a lot of the richer autumn and winter flavors without being too rich itself.

First, though, a confession: I HATE stuffing.  I know I’m in the extreme minority here, but seriously – soggy bread??  No thanks.  I pass on it every year.  Even last year, when I thought there was a chance I might like the Bojangles-biscuit base of the stuffing I made.  The top parts that got crunchy were ok, but the rest was the same deal as every year.

So no doubt part of what made this dish jump out at me was that it’s called a ‘stuffing’ but does not involve any wet bread!  As such it’s lighter and healthier, but it’s still hearty enough to stand up next to turkey and gravy – or grilled sausage, which we ate with it.

I was also intrigued by the wild rice…since reading about it in my new Super Natural Cooking cookbook (which I am in love with and will tell you more about later) I have been wanting to try using it in more recipes.  Curiously, wild rice is not rice at all, but a grass!  Wikipedia says: “Almost always sold as a dried whole grain, wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine anddietary fiber, and low in fat. Like true rice, it does not contain gluten. It is also a good source of the minerals potassium and phosphorus, and the vitaminsthiamineriboflavin and niacin.”  So very interesting stuff, and pretty healthy, as are mushrooms.  Definitely worth a try, I figured.

It’s a bit of a process to pull together – not difficult at all, but requiring several steps that are time-consuming.  The wild rice is a little tough and has to cook for about 45 minutes on its own first.  Meanwhile you’re sauteeing and browning various veggies in batches in your other pot.  Eventually they all go in together with brown rice and chicken broth to cook for more time.  Which is all excellent for developing and layering flavors, but does take some time to complete.  The good news is that I’m pretty sure you could make this in advance and reheat for your meal – which is especially good for Thanksgiving but frankly, why reserve a perfectly good dish like this for once a year?

I halved the recipe since it was just the two of us and leftovers that I was cooking for, and it made for two dinner helpings and two lunch-bowl sized portions.  The full recipe would definitely feed a crowd, expecially as one of many sides.  But the leftovers were delicious warmed up and no worse for their time in the fridge.

One interesting ingredient in the recipe is the ancho chili.  You don’t really think of adding heat to a dish like this, but we really liked it!  I didn’t bother with looking for the dried ancho at Harris Teeter, instead I used one chipotle pepper (as I’ve mentioned before, I like to put the ones I don’t use into separate plastic baggies in the freezer so I can add them in small amounts to soups and stews and salsas).  One chipotle made this pretty hot – perfectly hot for Michael and a bit too hot for me.  I’d add half a chipotle for half the recipe next time, and a whole one if I’m making the full recipe.

In summary, this is a great side dish with tons of flavor that is healthy and hearty and will complement a lot of rich, wintery meals.  Find some time on a weekend, start an hour and a half ahead of dinner, and make a batch to try.  I bet the leftovers would freeze well too!


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I took this picture a week or so ago, because the beautiful summer bounty in my basket was too good to not share.  It made me SO EXCITED to look at this because all the potential of what yummy things will come from this healthy collection.  Here is the pile that we started with:

Basket O Veggies

And here’s the list of food that it all went into:

– The corn was grilled with Old Bay Butter and what we didn’t eat was cut off the cob and went into a salsa with some of the fresh tomatos.  It was an awesome salsa in the end – I love smoky chipotle in mine, but I added way too much chipotle up front and had to keep throwing things in to cool it down so I can’t give you a recipe until I try it again with what I think are the correct proportions.

– The little sungold cherry tomatoes I usually eat for a snack, they are like candy to me, such wonderful sweet summery flavor!  (I love tomatoes, I can always eat them plain).  But these I used to make a topping for a lentil burger (post to follow on that recipe).  I sauteed a little onion in olive oil, then added the halved cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and cooked them on a high heat, stirring frequently, with a little sugar added, until it became a nice jammy balsamic-tomato reduction type thing.  Really, really delicious w/ goat cheese atop the lentil burgers!

– The green tomatoes would have been awesome fried up in my new favorite recipe but we didn’t have time for the frying so they have just gradually become red tomatoes and will go into a salad soon.  Or just eaten plain with salt for my lunch.  I love them that much.

– The green pepper was cut up with onions and sauteed with shrimp in a Thai green curry sauce (my favorite jar from Trader Joe’s) as a stir fry with some fragrant basmati rice and topped with toasted coconut and peanuts.  Easy peasy and very yummy.

– The nectarines went over yogurt with honey for my breakfasts.

– The bananas went from green to brown too quickly for Michael’s taste (he likes the bananas for lunch) and so went into a banana bread which went into the freezer to take to our rental house for my sister’s wedding weekend coming up (yay!).

– The eggplant and red onion got a very simple treatment – chopped into large pieces, tossed in olive oil, doused with salt and pepper and roasted at 400 until they were sweet and tasty.  When they came out I added another quick pinch of salt and a drizzle of truffle olive oil.  They went with the next recipe as a veggie side.

– Some of the zucchini went into a Zucchini Tart.  This was a DELICIOUS new recipe that I got from the excellent blog 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lasagna-tart-recipe.html).  It was particularly good because I used homemade ricotta cheese in it, which made it wonderfully decadent.  You may think homemade ricotta cheese sounds difficult; in fact, it’s unbelievably easy!  You bring milk, buttermilk and salt to a boil and let it sit a few minute, then skim the solid stuff off the top, let it drain and presto, ricotta cheese!  I found the recipe here: http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/journal/2009/5/31/ricotta-in-print.html, and have already made it twice.  It’s heavenly as dessert with raspberries or other fresh fruit on top.  And it definitely MADE the Zucchini Tart.

– The rest of the zucchini went into Zucchini Bread.  I’ve been meaning to tell y’all about this for a while.  Because zucchini is one of those things that overruns summer gardens and kitchens and everyone is always looking for great things to do with it.  And ALL of the ones I see are for savory dishes.  My mom made this bread for us growing up, so I assumed it was something people have heard of before, but I’m starting to suspect they have NOT because otherwise wouldn’t it be like one of the MAIN things that is suggested for leftover zucchini?  It should be, because it’s totally delicious, easy and freeze-able.  If it sounds strange, think carrot cake.  Similar flavors, and the zucchini gives the same moisture to it’s bread that carrots do to their cake.  This is really yummy for breakfast, and also made a nice little cupcake with cream cheese frosting when I had some of that left over from a big old cake.  Please do try this recipe, it’s wonderful!

Zucchini Bread


2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp orange zest

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground allspice

2 beaten eggs

1 ¼ cup sugar

½ cup oil

2 ½ cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar and oil together.  Add egg mixture to the flour mixture with the zucchini and nuts and mix.
  4. Turn batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to wire rack and cool completely.


Makes one loaf.  This recipe is easily doubled, and the loaves freeze well, wrapped in plastic and then foil.

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Corn Maque Choux

Let it be known that we at A Table do take requests. 🙂  This is for Jessi, who is currently my bravest friend.  She has recently relocated with her husband and twin 2-years-old-any-day-now girls to Jakarta, Indonesia, on oh, about a month’s notice.  Jessi is one of my dear friends from Tulane, so she knows and loves good Cajun/Creole food, and she put in a request for some recipes in this vein that they can make in Jakarta. 

I love this Corn Maque Choux (pronounced mock shoe) because it actually involves mostly vegetables and a minimal amount of butter, two things which are a rarity in Cajun cuisine.  I think it makes a perfect dinner with a nice grilled or fried fish.  Really, it’s just sauteed corn, peppers, onion and tomatoes.  This is usually made with either crawfish or shrimp thrown in as well.  Crawfish are perfect in it, but harder to find and more expensive than shrimp, which is what I usually use.  I actually finish this dish with a little cream, just a TAD, because it really brings everything together and come on, it’s not any worse than what you put in your cup of coffee in the morning!

This is based on the recipe by Emeril Lagasse in Louisiana Real and Rustic, but I’ve adapted it a bit.  My version is below.  Amounts can easily be varied based on personal preference and what you have on hand, so feel free to adjust to more or less of any item.  It would be great with some chopped scallions or parsley on top, too.  Happy cooking, Jessi et al!


 Corn Maque Choux

2 tablespoons of butter

3 cups of corn, frozen or fresh and removed from hull

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (Depending on how salty and spicy your seasoning is, you can add more salt and cayenne pepper or hot sauce)

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp or crawfish

1/4 to 1/3 cup cream


1.    Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the corn, onions and bell peppers.  Add the Cajun seasoning.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes on medium heat

2.    Add tomatoes shrimp/crawfish and cook about 5 minutes longer.

3.    Add the cream and let cook for 2 minutes, until cream his heated and well-mixed with juices and seasoning.


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Best Vegetable Dish of 2008!

Ok, I may be a little caught up in the end-of-the-year Bests, but this cauliflower I made tonight just rocked our world!!!   And to be honest, Michael and I were both a little surprised.  I’m not overly fond of vegetables, usually because they don’t have a ton of flavor, and I like all my food dripping with flavor.  For this reason, Gramma’s stir-fried broccoli is my go-to vegetable, with garlic, lemon, salt and sugar to make it uber-flavorful.  This new cauliflower recipe is right up there with stir-fried broccoli, and I honestly never thought I’d be able to say that about about another vegetable – let alone CAULIFLOWER!

The official name of the recipe is Pan-roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Garlic and Rosemary.  I cut it out quite a while ago (I think at least a year ago?) from, guessing from the type font, Cottage Living.  It’s survived a couple purges of my cut-out recipe piles (I usually go through them a couple times before deciding to keep them around to try them), mainly because it seemed like you wouldn’t really be able to go wrong with the mix of ingredients, despite the fact that they are sprinkled on CAULIFLOWER.

Maybe I’m being too judgemental of this particular veg.  To be fair, I really haven’t had a lot of experience with it, aside from the “Mashed Potatoes” I made once on the South Beach diet from steamed cauliflowers.  It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but it certainly didn’t have a lot of flavor.   Or any flavor, come to think of it.  I’ve never really seen cauliflower on menus or in other recipes.  But it’s in season in the winter, so it makes sense to come up with some good ways to prepare it.

Not surprisingly, it also packs a healthy punch.  Here’s the nutritional information written about the humble cauliflower on wikipedia:

Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density. As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower shares with broccoli and cabbage several phytochemicals which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. In addition, the compound indole-3-carbinol, which appears to work as an anti-estrogen, appears to slow or prevent the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate.[8] Cauliflower also contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, substances which may improve the liver‘s ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances.[9] A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.[10]

 So now that I’ve got you buttered up to maybe just CONSIDER that this might be good, let me try to explain the heavenly combination of flavor and texture in this little gem of a dish.  The cauliflower is tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary (fresh would be even better but I used dried and it was still good).  You roast the slathered cauliflower for 20 minutes, then take it out and add (and this is the point where you start to think, dang, this might actually taste pretty good!) chopped garlic and pine nuts.  After another 10 minutes of roasting, the cauliflower and pine nuts are golden and gleaming in their olive oil dressing and the scent of garlic is wafting under your nose.  But, we are not done yet!  Add some toasted bread crumbs and toss – and all the flavor from the olive oil and spices gets soaked up and clings to the cauliflower.   The breadcrumbs also offer a little crunch to the dish.  When I couldn’t believe how good it was, Michael said, well anything will taste good if you drench it in butter – which is actually how this tastes – buttery, garlicky, goodness!   But there’s not a drop of butter, just healthful flavor boosters.

I feel a little bad to be bothering you with something as mundane as cauliflower when ’tis the season for cookies and all things sugar, but take my word for it and give these a whirl – if it’s not a good fit in the midst of the festivities, you may feel like it when January and the post-holiday-weight-loss-panic sets in.  And then, I think, you’ll forgive me. 🙂

Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Garlic and Rosemary

(adapted from Cottage Living, serves 4)


2 lbs fresh golden, purple or white cauliflower (about 1 head), washed and cut into 1 ½ inch florets

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (dried can be substituted)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

¼ cup pine nuts

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

¼ cup breadcrumbs, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place cauliflower in roasting pan, and toss with rosemary and next 3 ingredients.  Roast at 400 for 20 minutes.
  2. Add pine nuts and garlic; toss to combine.  Roast 10 minutes, rotate pan and roast 10 minutes more or until golden brown.
  3. Toss with breadcrumbs and serve warm.

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