Tag Archives: vegetarian

Roasted Butternut Squash with Hoisin and Chives

Hands down, our favorite new roast squash recipe! Here, hoisin mixed with rice vinegar and sesame oil makes a salty-sweet-tangy-nutty dressing for tender chunks of roasted butternut squash that provides a creamy and tasty mouthful.

You can purchase already peeled and cut squash from the grocery store, but keep in mind that if the pieces are smaller or larger than specified here, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Use a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet, as the squash chars for about 10 minutes under the broiler.

Peeling squash was never a favorite prep step. But our new Milk Street Precision Peeler makes it so easy! Few peelers actually do what they are designed to do: shave away the skins and peels from fruits and vegetables. At a cost of $29.95, it is pricey, but so well worth it.

The ovoid shape fills the palm for comfort when gripping tight and the graceful pinch grip provides a precision hold for controlled peeling even the toughest peels, skins and zest. The blade has a wide pivot to accommodate ingredients of all shapes and size, from butternut squash and eggplant to Parmesan and chocolate. Comes with extra blades.

The weight of our two butternut squash exceeded the required 3 pounds. We decided to roast all of it (in two baking sheets) and use the remainder to accompany another meal, and make butternut squash soup. Don’t crowd the baking sheets with squash flesh otherwise it will steam and not obtain the light char that is preferable.

As far as cooking time, our sheet of squash chunks roasted in the hot oven for 15 minutes instead of 10. Then a total of 15 minutes under the broiler while turning and moving the baking sheet a few times—even so, some squash obtained more a of a char than others.

With cooler temps rolling in for the autumn and winter months, this side dish is a welcome accompaniment to grilled meats, braised dishes, vegetarian meals, and roasted poultry.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Hoisin and Chives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 2 tsp. packed brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives OR 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack 6 inches from the element.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the neutral oil, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until just shy of tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the oven to broil and broil until charred and fully tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, vinegar and sesame oil. When the squash is done, immediately add it and the chives to the bowl, then toss.

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Recipe courtesy of Milk Street

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

Prepared Mediterranean-style, this nutty Toasted Orzo Pasta Recipe with Garlic, Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes will steal the show next to your favorite protein. You can even serve it as a quick and easy vegetarian meal on its own; it will feed 4 people as a vegetarian main and about 6 or so as a side dish. 

It was a superb complement to our top sirloin and veggie kebabs. In fact, this orzo recipe jumped to the top of the list and one we’ll make time and again!

Leftovers? Lucky you. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat.

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup oregano, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or more to your liking

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add the orzo and cook, tossing around, until toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
  2. Add at least 7 cups of boiling water to the saucepan and season well with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente according to the package instructions (about 7 to 8 minutes).
  3. Just before the pasta is fully cooked (after about 5 minutes), remove 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside.
  4. In a large pan, warm 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and season with a pinch of kosher salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, tossing regularly, until just fragrant. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Raise the heat if needed to bring to a boil. Add the parsley and oregano.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the pan and toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Toss to combine. If needed, add a little more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Finish with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if you like.

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Adapted from a recipe for MediterraneanDish.com

Summer Solution Pasta

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.

It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.

On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.

Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.

*FOR THE SAGE PESTO:
• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
• ½ cup fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
• Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Summer Solution Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
  4. Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
  6. Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
  7. Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.

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Grilled Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad With Feta Dressing

With the last gasps of the unofficial summer calendar closing in on us, let the season’s bounty shine on the plate. And to that end, this lively salad of corn, scallions, jalapeño and avocado tossed with a tangy buttermilk-feta dressing is like summer on a plate. The sweetness of peak-summer corn and the richness of creamy avocado balance out the tartness of the dressing.

While this recipe from NYTimes Cooking could be a side dish or a vegetarian main, we opted to add a protein to give it more heft as an entrée. In that vein, we grilled some chicken breasts with a Japanese 7-spice rub, but grilled shrimp or salmon would work wonderfully also. And to save time on dinner day, we grilled the chicken the day before while barbecuing other items.

The directions below are for the full recipe which allows for 4 to 6 portions. But with just the two of us, we cut most of the recipe in half, while altering quantities of other ingredients as we saw fit. After eating two healthy servings, we still had some leftover for lunch the following day.

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad With Feta Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, rubbed with spices of your choice (optional)
  • 6 ears corn (about 3 lbs.), shucked and silk removed
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp.olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh chives
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 avocados, sliced

Directions

  1. If a protein is desired, grill chicken (or shrimp, salmon) until done. This can be done a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, 9 to 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
  5. In a medium bowl, using a whisk (I used a pestle), mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives and parsley.
  6. Finely chop the charred jalapeño and stir it into the feta dressing; season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter. Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce.
  8. Serve with remaining dressing.

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Adapted from a recipe by Sue Li for NYTimes Cooking

Summer Pasta with Grilled Eggplant Sauce

Eggplants, also known as aubergines or brinjals, grow all over the world. They are fruits — though, like tomatoes, they are treated more in cooking like a vegetable. In fact, they’re closely related to tomatoes and peppers. Purple eggplants are the most common cultivar in American grocery stores. Some purple fruits appear almost black due to their rich pigments. 

And these coveted nightshade plants are currently in abundance from your garden, the local farmer’s market, or perhaps some friendly neighbors. With so many recipes to choose from, this particular one from Food Network uses the eggplant in a clever way.

Even though the exterior of eggplant is a gorgeous deep purple color; the beauty of this vegetable lies on the inside. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that the flesh of grilled eggplant transforms into a luscious creamy sauce that’s perfect for dressing up little tubes of rigatoni. To make the most of summer’s bounty, cherry tomatoes are grilled alongside the eggplant until bursting with juices, then mixed into this summer vegetable pasta.

Health Facts: Eggplant is rich in fiber, protein, manganese, and nutrients like potassium and vitamins C and K. It is a great source of antioxidants, which make it effective in guarding your body against future ailments. Being so rich in fiber, eggplants are also great for keeping your blood sugar levels intact. 

Summer Pasta with Grilled Eggplant Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated zest (about 1 tsp.) and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. mezze rigatoni
  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 1/4 lbs.
  • 11 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved (quartered if large)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare a grill for high heat.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lemon juice to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot; set aside.
  3. Pierce the eggplant a few times with a fork or knife. Place on the grill, cover and cook, turning every 8 to 10 minutes, until completely charred all over and the flesh is soft when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly for 10 minutes.
  5. While the eggplant cooks, prepare 2 sheets of foil, each 12-by-12-inches, and stack them together. Place the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the center of the foil. Fold over 2 opposite sides of the foil then fold in the remaining sides to create a tight seal.
  6. When 15 minutes of cooking time remain for the eggplant, add the foil pack to the grill and cook until juices start to bubble out of the top (this means the tomatoes and garlic are sufficiently cooked without having to open the pack), 13 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the eggplant to a cutting board (keeping any juices that accumulated in the bowl) and squeeze gently to crack the skin and expose the flesh. Use a spoon to remove the flesh, transfer to the large bowl and mash lightly with the spoon or a potato masher (you should have about 1 cup of flesh); discard the skin.
  8. Stir in the ricotta and Pecorino Romano until smooth then pour into the pot with the pasta and mix until combined. Fold in the contents of the foil pack (including any juices that accumulated), the basil, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper; stir until combined, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin out the sauce if needed.
  9. Serve with more basil, parsley, Pecorino Romano and crushed red pepper flakes if using.

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Recipe Courtesy of Emily Weinberger for Food Network Kitchen

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

Zhoug, a spicy pesto-like condiment with a base of cilantro and often parsley, is popular throughout the Levant and Middle East regions. Its zip and pungency comes from fresh chilies, a small handful of spices and fresh garlic. Olive oil supplies fruity richness.

Milk Street claims zhoug is just the thing to add bold, bracing flavor to mild-tasting fillets of white fish. Readily available cod works well in this recipe, but snapper and tilapia are also good substitutes. Whichever you choose, for quick, even cooking, look for fillets no thicker than about 1 inch. Be sure to dry the fish well by patting it with paper towels, especially if it was previously frozen; removing excess moisture helps ensure they brown well in the pan.

Unable to source Serrano chiles, a jalapeño and a Fresno were substituted. Cod was the fish of choice because it was the most economical of the options—and we like it. To complete the meal, we made sides of steamed green beans lightly dressed in a flavored olive oil, salt and pepper; and whole wheat pearled couscous in homemade seafood stock (instead of water), then finished with sautéed shallot and minced parsley.

NOTE: Don’t leave the cilantro wet after rinsing. Be sure to dry it well so there’s no residual water to cause sogginess during processing. Also, don’t move the fish around once it’s in the skillet, and don’t worry if it releases a little a liquid during cooking. The skinless fillets are delicate, so minimal maneuvering is best to keep them intact, as well as for best browning.

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 large bunch), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 6-oz. skinless cod, snapper or tilapia fillets, each about 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, chilies, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until roughly chopped, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the ¼ cup oil and process until smooth, about another 30 seconds. Transfer ¼ cup zhoug to a small bowl; set aside for serving.
  3. Season the fish all over with salt and pepper, then brush the one side with half of the remaining zhoug. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering.
  4. Add the fillets zhoug-side down, brush the tops with the remaining zhoug and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Cook until golden brown on the second sides and the fillets are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to a platter. Serve with the reserved zhoug and lemon wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Bulgur Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms

To bring more diversity to grain sides, Milk Street swapped out rice for bulgur, a form of wheat grain that’s been parboiled and dried so it cooks fast yet still retains all the benefits of whole grains. Earthy mushrooms pair well with the hearty grain and packs even more of a nutritional punch. For big mushroom flavor, choose widely available cremini mushrooms plus a ¼ ounce of dried porcini, to add nice depth.

Just a dash of soy sauce boosts the mushroom’s umami flavor even further and gives the dish a rich mahogany color. Sauté the mushrooms with an onion, then add the bulgur and the cooking liquid (a combination of water and broth) and simmer it until tender.

After removing the pot from the heat, place a dish towel underneath the lid (which helps absorb moisture) and let the bulgur steam gently for 10 minutes, which results in perfectly tender, chewy grains.

NOTES: When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe. Use vegetable or mushroom broth instead of chicken stock if you want to keep it vegetarian.

Bulgur Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • ¼ oz. (7grams) dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. cremini mushroom, stemmed and quartered if small or cut into 6 pieces if large
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed
  • ¾ cup homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley

Our bulgur pilaf became the companion dish for Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs.

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, porcini mushrooms, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in cremini mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until cremini mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in bulgur, broth, water, and soy sauce and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until bulgur is tender, 16 to 18 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, lay clean folded dish towel underneath lid, and let bulgur sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff bulgur with fork, stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Recipe from Americas Test Kitchen

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

These luscious kebabs are an adaptation of the mishkaki from “Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou, reinterpreted by Milk Street. Mishkaki are grilled skewers of marinated meat from Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Tanzania. So transport yourself to another land while in the comfort of your own home and enjoy a laid-back feast of Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs.

Zanzibar’s cuisine represents a fusion of the people and cultures—Persian, Portuguese, Arabic—that once colonized or settled in the area. Chunks of chicken are marinated in an aromatic mixture of their spices including ginger, garlic, tomato paste and lemon juice before they’re skewered and grilled.

Don’t worry if the cut pieces of chicken are irregularly shaped. As long as they’re similarly sized, shape isn’t important. Don’t crowd the skewers on the grill grate. Allow some space between them so heat circulates and the chicken cooks quickly and without steaming.

While it was suggested to serve with warm naan and plain yogurt for drizzling; we paired ours in combo with another Mediterranean dish Bulgar Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms. Suffice it to say, we fell in love with this tasty meal. And the leftovers were just as good!

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium red, orange or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, tomato paste, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, 1¼ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Add the chicken and mix with your hands, rubbing the seasonings into the meat, until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare the grill or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.
  4. While the grill heats, thread the chicken, alternating with the pepper and onion pieces, onto 6 to 8 metal skewers. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook without disturbing until lightly charred on the bottom and the meat releases easily from the grill, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip the skewers and cook, turning every few minutes, until charred all over and the chicken is no longer pink when cut into, another 8 to 9 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.

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Recipe compliments of Milk Street

Portuguese Salad

In a sense, this salad is glorified gazpacho, but chunkier—and it paired wonderfully with our Cataplana (Portugal’s Simple Seafood Stew) entrée. As it only feeds 3 to 4, we doubled the amounts to feed the party of 6.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, our gas oven broiler doesn’t do the best job. When I walked into the kitchen and saw The Hubs down on his knees with his arm stuck into the oven rotating the peppers with tongs, I gently told him that it might be much easier to char them directly over a gas burner. Smart man that he is, he took the hint, because when I walked back in, he was searing the plum tomatoes, two at a time, directly on the grates.

When it comes to hosting, we like to do as much as possible the day prior to the event. For this side dish, he blackened and peeled the tomatoes and bell peppers, then salted the peeled cucumber slices. About half an hour before the feast was served, the salad was finished with the dressing.

Portuguese Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili paste
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Turn the broiler on, and set the red and green bell peppers underneath. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly blackened on all sides. When done, place in a small plastic bag and let steam for a few minutes. Repeat with the tomatoes, but first lightly coat in olive oil. They will cook much quicker. Remove when lightly blackened all over and let cool on a tray.
  2. While the bell peppers and tomatoes cool, slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch inch thick slices. Set on a rack or on a paper towel, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let those hang out for 20 minutes or so until they release some water. Dry with paper towels.
  3. Remove the bell peppers from the plastic bags when cooled. Peel off the skin, remove the stems, and chop into 1-inch squares. Repeat this process with the tomatoes, discarding most of the pulp.
  4. Toss the chopped bell peppers, tomato, and cucumbers in a large bowl. Add the chopped cilantro, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and chili paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat right away, or let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes for the flavors to really marry.

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Adapted from a recipe on Serious Eats by Nick Kindelsperger

Corn Sauté with Miso and Scallions

To create this corn side dish with rich, toasted flavor, strip the corn from the cobs when they are raw and then cook the kernels in a nearly smoking skillet. It is important not to stir the corn for a few minutes to give it a chance to brown. Once the corn is cooked, mix in plenty of salty, savory ingredients to balance the sweetness. Finally, an acidic component rounds out the dish.

Because fresh corn can vary in sweetness, the recipe calls for seasoning with a range of rice vinegar. We made it twice so far, and prefer the version with just 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. When browning the corn kernels in a nonstick skillet, we found it took longer to get that caramelization, nearly three times longer! But so worth it because it was delicious and paired well with our grilled baby back ribs.

Corn Sauté with Miso and Scallions

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin on bias
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. white miso
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (4 cups)
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer scallion mixture to large bowl and whisk in miso and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Wipe out skillet.
  2. Heat oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add corn and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, without stirring, until corn is browned on bottom and beginning to pop, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring once or twice, until corn is spotty brown all over, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  3. Add mirin and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer corn to bowl with scallion mixture.
  4. Stir in scallion greens. Season with salt and remaining vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

These noodles are an addictive combination of salty, spicy and sweet. For best results, use thick Asian wheat noodles, such as udon or lo mein, that cook up with chewy resilience. We try to include vegetarian dishes into our repertoire of meals, and this recipe is anything but ho-hum. Plus the ease of prep and limited ingredients let you serve dinner in under a half hour.

Chili crisp, a Chinese condiment sold in jars, is chili oil amped up with with red pepper flakes and additional spices. If you can find it, it’s a more flavorful alternative to standard chili oil. We used a chili-garlic paste, including the full two tablespoons. In fact, The Hubs added even more to his portion before tasting it–which probably wasn’t that wise 😉

If you want to amp up the veggies, one reviewer suggested including mushrooms, which we both agreed would be a good addition. Our Udon noodles weighed in at only eight ounces as opposed to the ten ounces the recipe called for. Luckily we didn’t have another mouth to feed because we polished off the entire skillet’s worth!

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dried Asian wheat noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chili oil OR chili crisp, plus more to serve
  • ¾ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain, rinse and drain again.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, until the stems are tender; transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, mix the soy, sugar, chili oil and half the peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  4. Add the bok choy and noodles, then toss until warmed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts and drizzled with additional chili oil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

Here, braising coaxes asparagus’s gentler side into the spotlight. It’s not the typical crisp-tender, not browned, nor vibrant green—but it may end up being one of your favorite ways to cook the spears. The vegetable is vigorously simmered in a copious amount of liquid, allowing the braising liquid to evaporate, leaving behind a light glaze that coats the asparagus.

As Cook’s Illustrated mentions, the crisp bite gives way to silkiness; the fresh vegetal flavor evolves into more-complex sweet nuttiness, and the braising liquid can travel into the spears, seasoning them inside and out.

The dish is finished with a less-is-more approach adding just a splash of acidity and a handsome sprinkle of fresh herbs to accentuate the vegetable’s sweet flavor.

FYI, this recipe is best with asparagus spears that are at least ¾ inch thick. We bought ours picked fresh at a local farm market. The benefit of thicker spears is you can peel off their firm, waxy skin without whittling them down to toothpicks.

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. thick asparagus
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. table salt
  • ¼ tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tsp. juice
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh chives, divided

Directions

  1.  Trim bottom inch of asparagus spears; discard trimmings. Peel bottom two-thirds of spears until white flesh is exposed.
  2. Bring water, broth, oil, and salt to simmer in 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add asparagus in even layer. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer and cover. Cook, gently shaking skillet occasionally, until asparagus is tender and can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and continue to cook, shaking and swirling skillet, until skillet is almost dry and asparagus is glazed, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
  4. Off heat, add lemon zest and juice and half of chives and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer asparagus to platter, sprinkle with remaining chives, season with salt to taste, and serve.

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Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, this quick riff on taco salad might just be the ticket for dinner. Having a small party? Then just double the recipe and you can feed up to eight. Let guests prepare their own, layering on just the right ingredients to suit their own preferences. This way it appeals to vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Don’t eat red meat? Substitute ground turkey. Follow a vegetarian lifestyle? Swap out the meat for refried beans. Not into hot and spicy? Omit the jalapeños, and use a mild taco seasoning and salsa. Can’t tolerate raw onion? Cook it with the ground meat to eliminate some of the pungency.

Another fun twist is using beer instead of water when you add the seasoning to the ground meat. As you can see, this salad is very adaptable. I like to start with a layer of lettuce, followed by the meat mixture and cheese, then the peppers, tomatoes, onion, and olives. To finish, add a bit more meat and cheese, and a final topping of jalapeños and sour cream, if using,

To up the party ambiance, plate it all on some fun and festive picnic ware!

Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 tostada bowls
  • 1 1⁄4 lbs. ground beef or turkey (or refried beans if going vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. homemade or packaged taco seasoning
  • 3⁄4 cup water, or beer
  • 1⁄2 cup salsa (your favorite brand)
  • 1 head iceberg or Bibb lettuce, torn into 2-3″ pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1⁄2 each large red and yellow bell pepper, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1⁄2 red onion, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1⁄2 cup black and/or green pitted olives, sliced thin
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled jalapeños, 1⁄4 slices, then chopped
  • Sour cream for garnish, optional

Directions

  • Prep all ingredients.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat until there is no more pink, making sure to break up any large chunks.
  • Add the taco seasoning and the water (or beer), and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the salsa to the meat mixture and heta through.
  • While the meat is thickening, prepare the tostada bowls starting with a layer of torn lettuce.
  • Next, top with some meat and cheese, then add any of the other ingredients you prefer. Finish with another layer of ground meat and cheese, and top with sour cream and jalapeños, if desired.

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Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za’atar

This may be a new cool weather side dish favorite. A recipe from Milk Street, it combines roasted butternut squash and red onion, then finishes them with a tahini-lemon-garlic sauce and a dusting of za’atar—a Middle Eastern herb, spice and seed blend.

Before roasting, the squash and onion are tossed with olive oil and honey to encourage browning. After sprinkling on the za’atar, you scatter on chopped parsley or basil chiffonade for color and fresh, herbal notes.

Don’t worry if the pieces of squash are in different shapes; this is unavoidable. But when cutting the squash quarters crosswise, be sure they’re no thicker than ¾ inch and that the chunks don’t measure larger than 1½ inches in any dimension or they’ll take too long to roast.

We had less than half a red onion on hand, so we threw in a small shallot to help compensate. But the onion was so good roasted, that I want to make sure to have a large whole one when we make it again.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za'atar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise ¾-inch thick
  • 1 medium red onion, root end intact, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp. za’atar
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, or lightly packed fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the squash and onion, then use your hands to rub the mixture over the vegetables until well coated.
  2. Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the vegetables, then roast until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon water; the mixture should have the consistency of thin yogurt (if too thick, whisk in additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin). Set aside.
  4. When the vegetables are done, transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with the tahini-lemon mixture, then sprinkle with the za’atar and parsley.

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Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street