Category Archives: Main Dish

Salad of the gods: Romaine, Orange, Feta, Almonds in a Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

In an effort to avoid the grocery store and use up my CSA from last week, I quickly threw together this salad for lunch. Upon the first bite I realized:

This salad is amazeballs!!!!

If you find that term annoying then substitute any non-cloying superlative in its place that means “rocktastic” rather than “sucktastic.”

It’s super stellar qualities were further elevated by the ease with which I threw it all together.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 Cup almonds
  • Feta Cheese
  • Honey
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop up the romaine. Stick it in a bowl.
  2. Roughly chop the almonds. Throw them on top of the lettuce.
  3. Peel the orange. Cut each section into bite size pieces (I cut it into three pieces each). Throw the orange bits on top of the almond bits.
  4. Squeeze a zig zag of honey across the top of the salad.
  5. Sprinkle some feta on top.
  6. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on the salad.
  7. Stick a fork in it and shovel into mouth. Feel the “OMG amazeballs” love.
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Roast Chicken with Bananas and Potatoes

My husband said the last roast chicken I made, with apples, was the best chicken of his life. Tonight I roasted a chicken with little more than a few cloves of garlic, two semi-green bananas, and some potatoes. This dish just may make him revise his opinion yet again.

I found it to be quite good, something I’ll certainly do again, but perhaps with some tweaks (like smearing the chicken with some honey….).

If you’ve got a defrosted bird, this meal can be tossed together in mere minutes before being roasted and primed for your belly in about 60.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 unripe bananas
  • 5 potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, rosemary, dash cloves, Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
  • Large cast iron skillet

Directions:

  1. Take the bird out of the fridge (you want it close to room temperature before being put in the oven). Rinse him out and set him on a plate.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  3. Pour the olive oil into a bowl.
  4. Chop (and peel if you like) the potatoes into large hunks.
  5. Peel and crush the cloves of garlic.
  6. Toss the potatoes and garlic in the olive oil before arranging them on the bottom of the cast iron skillet (be sure to reserve most of the oil for rubbing down the bird).
  7. Chop one banana in half and stick that half in the cavity of the bird. Chop the remaining one and a half bananas into large hunks and arrange in the skillet.
  8. Rub in part of the olive oil into the breast side of the bird. Generously salt and pepper the breast side. Then place the chicken breast side down over the potatoes and banana.
  9. Rub the remaining oil over the other side of the bird. Sprinkle liberally with rosemary, then sprinkle with the dash of cloves and another seasoning blend (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute).
  10. Place the skillet in the 450 degree oven. Check if done in 50 minutes. I peeked twice. At 40 minutes I noticed the skin was getting very dark, near burnt, and so I put a little piece of foil over it. Cook until the juices run clear and the potatoes are done (it should be 50 to 60 minutes or so).
  11. Pull the skillet from the oven, cover the chicken with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Enjoy! We planned on serving the chicken with some mole sauce.

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Roast Chicken with Apples, Spuds, and Carrots

According to my husband, this created the best roast chicken he’s ever eaten. I liked it because it was easy to assemble then cook, and I’m all for being lazy and taking the easy route. Marinating? Trussing? Way too involved if you ask me. I read a few recipes and then experimented to bring you this delicious gem. The key is the apples which bring the moisture for keeping the chicken from drying out. Plus, cooking the bird breast side down means the breasts will braise rather than drying out roasting (so Simply Recipes tells me), and the rest of the meat will be awesome.

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole chicken
  • 5 Potatoes
  • 5 Carrots
  • 5 Garlic cloves
  • 3 Small apples, I used honeycrisp
  • 1 Red onion
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, rosemary
  • Large cast iron skillet

Directions:

  1. Take the bird out of the fridge (you want it to pretty much be room temperature before you stick it in the oven, but don’t sweat it, just take it out first). Rinse him out and let him sit on a plate while you take care of everything else.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium to large bowl.
  3. Chop the onion into thick wedges, toss in the oil and then arrange in the cast iron skillet.
  4. Peel (if necessary for your variety) and quarter the potatoes, toss in the oil, then arrange in the skillet.
  5. Crush and peel the garlic cloves. Place two inside the bird, along with a little bit of onion.
  6. Quarter two of the apples and arrange in the skillet (leave peels on). Chop the third apple into smaller bite pieces and place it inside the chicken.
  7. Peel and Chop the carrots into large hunks, arrange on the skillet.
  8. Sprinkle pepper and rosemary over the vegetables in the pan.
  9. Using the oil left in the large bowl, drizzle half on the breast side of the bird, rub it in.
  10. Place the bird, breast side down on the bed of vegetables and apples in the skillet.
  11. Using the remaining oil, drizzle the other side of the bird, rub it in and then sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  12. Pop that sucker into the 450 degree oven and check in about 50 to 60 minutes. Cook 60 to 70 minutes until the juices of the bird run clear and the vegetables are tender.
  13. Pull out of the oven and cover with foil. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Enjoy the best chicken of your life.

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Pizza Dough with Rye and Whole Wheat Flour

Pizza dough is wonderfully simple to make.  For those unfamiliar with the realm of homemade kneaded and yeasted goodness, it is certainly the best introduction.  I still produce inedible bread bricks on occasion, but my pizza dough is always edible, if not amazing.  This recipe is for a jacked version of pizza dough that uses a slightly different combination of flours.  It is still very easy to make and is ready to go after an hour, although the depth of its flavor profile will of course improve with a longer rising time.  We used this to make an awesome veggie pizza featuring pesto and portabella mushrooms, which will be my next post.

Ingredients:

This recipe makes 2 large pizza crusts

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2  1/4 tsp yeast (equal to 1 packet dry yeast)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Directions:

  • Mix the dry ingredients together (flours, yeast, salt).
  • Add the olive oil and  warm water (you want it to be hot to the touch, but cool enough to have your finger plunked in it for a while, so think “hot bath temperature”).
  • Mix everything together with a fork or spoon until it is too difficult.  Finish mixing the ingredients with your hand.  If the dough is still sticking to your fingers after incorporating all the dry flour, dust with a little more flour.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes and then knead for an additional 5 minutes.  After kneading, the dough should have a satiny smooth texture and stretch rather than tear when you squish it or fold it in on itself.
  • Form the dough into a ball, place back into the large mixing bowl, and lightly oil the top with spray oil, or pour a little oil in the bowl and roll the ball around to coat.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise for at least an hour before use.
  • This dough makes two large pizza crusts.  It is good to go after an hour, but will taste even better with a longer rising time.  Alternatively after kneading, it can be placed in the fridge to rise overnight (or over a day or two), or, either before or after the first rising it can be frozen for later use.  If freezing, coat the dough in oil and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

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Filed under Bakery, Main Dish

Quick Broccoli Mac and Cheese

This stove top broccoli macaroni and cheese is quick and easy.  It also makes minimal dishes, which is another big plus in my mind.  There are endless variations to this recipe that would turn it from a good thing into something even better (use different cheeses or a combination of cheeses, add other or different veggies, add bacon, add pesto, etc).  Since I was interested in something quick and easy to fill my belly, I went with the easiest, laziest way to make it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Boil a large pot of salted water.
  2. While water is boiling, chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets.
  3. Once water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta.  Two minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets.
  4. Strain once pasta is done.  Add pasta and broccoli back into the cooking pot on the hot burner.  Reduce heat to low.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of butter,  1/2 cup milk, and 2 cups of cheese. Stir until all combined.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and serve.

You could also pop this into an oven proof dish and cook it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top, or even bake it for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees to intensify the flavor merger between the hot cheesy broccoli goodness and the pasta.  If you do any of this, however, then it is no longer a quick, easy, lazy mac and cheese dish.

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Egg Fried Rice Featuring Green Beans

This recipe took care of several problems for me all in one fell swoop: I had two fistfulls of green beans from my CSA and about 6 cups of plain cooked rice sitting in my fridge, a leftover accompaniment to a curry made earlier in the week.  Thus, a beautiful marriage was born.  The eggs add protein which justifies calling a bowl full of this dinner.  It would of course make a tasty side to almost anything.  Fried rice works best with pre-cooked rice that’s been sitting in the fridge for a while, hence this is a perfect type of dish to use up leftovers.

Introducing the green beans to the cooked onion and garlic

Scrambling the eggs

Ready to be served

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked rice (any kind will work, I used basmati)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • onion
  • 2 large fistfulls of green beans
  • 2 eggs
  • oil
  • soy sauce
  • fresh ginger
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Use the side of a knife to crush the peeled garlic cloves.
  2. Dice about a 1/2 cup of onion.
  3. Snap the ends off the green beans.  Break into 1″ to 1 1/2″ pieces.  (It’s a nice meditative experience to use your hands to snap the ends off and to snap the green beans rather than using a knife.  Fresh beans “pop” a bit like bubble wrap when you snap them.) Rinse the beans.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on low in a large fry pan or wok.  Add the garlic and onions; cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the green beans and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Cook, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes; stirring every minute or two.
  6. Move the vegetables to the side of the pan.  Crack two eggs into the cleared portion and scramble until runny, but almost set.  Push the green beans back to coat the pan evenly.
  7. Add the 4 cups of rice and pour 2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the top.  Stir for a minute or two until everything is mixed together well.
  8. Grate approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger over the fried rice.  (I keep fresh ginger lobes whole in the freezer.  Whenever I need fresh ginger, I pull out a chunk, peel a small area of it and grate only what I need.  It keeps in the freezer for months.)
  9. Stir the ginger into the rice.  Let it cook another minute or two while you stir.

The time it takes you to grate the ginger allows the rice on the bottom to brown a little bit, making it extra delicious.  Serve and enjoy!

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Ratatouille

The contents of my CSA share a few weeks ago were screaming to make Ratatouille, a dish that highlights the taste of fresh summer vegetables. I adapted Ginette Mathiot’s Ratatouille recipe from I Know How to Cook.  It was supposed to be slowly simmered for 2 hours, but I was starving so I cooked it at a high simmer for about an hour.  Then I scooped out the cooked vegetable rounds and cooked the remaining liquid on high until it reduced into a dense oily glaze to pour on top of the vegetables.  Since that endeavor I made a baked ratatouille and I prefer the taste of this version.  I was hesitant to post as I still wonder how the taste would be different if I had more dutifully followed Mathiot’s directions to simmer for two hours, but my results were also worth replicating.

My 5 quart pot filled to the brim with fresh veggies

The cooked veggies waiting to be topped with the reduced liquid glaze

Reducing the liquid

Ingredients:

The specific quantities needed depend upon the size of your pan and what you have on hand.  This is what I used to fill a 5qt pot to the brim.

  • 1 1/2 bell peppers
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 1/2 onions
  • 1 1/2 large tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, basil

Directions:

  1. Slice all the vegetables into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a low simmer in a large pot.  Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
  3. Begin adding the vegetable rounds in alternating layers.  I first added all of the cut pepper, then a layer of eggplant rounds, followed by onion, zucchini, and tomatoes.  Repeat layers if you have additional vegetables.  My ingredients and my pan size made one solid layer of each type of vegetable.
  4. Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and basil.  Drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the vegetables and add 3/4 cup of water to the pot.
  5. Mathiot says to cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.  ***the additional steps detail my variation on her method***
  6. I have an electric turn dial stove, numbered Min-Max with 1-8 listed as the numbers between these two settings.  I began with the burner on “2”, a medium-low simmer.  After 40 minutes of cooking the vegetables covered, I peeked and it looked like there was still a lot of water in there.  I notched the burner to “3”, a medium-high simmer.
  7. At 1 hour and 10 minutes, everything was a nice mushy soft edible texture, but there was still lots of water.  I used a spatula to scoop out the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl.
  8. I turned the burner to high heat, and boiled the remaining liquid to reduce it.  Twice I tilted the bowl of scooped out vegetables to drain their water back into the pot of liquid I was reducing.  Once the liquid had reduced to a oily glaze, I poured it on top of the cooked vegetables.

Whether a low simmer for 2 hours, or a rushed simmer, the moral of the story is that this recipe is the quintessential simple summer dish that is hard to mess up so long as you begin with nice in season flavorful vegetables: cut, assemble, and leave it to do its thing for an hour or two while you do your thing (read a book, watch tv, clean your house, solve world peace).

The taste of the vegetables is heavenly.  It can hold its own as the main fare if accompanied by pasta, rice or bread and serves as an excellent second fiddle to a meat entree.

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