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Showing posts with label roasted vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roasted vegetables. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

When You Don't Have Time to Cook But You Still Want a Home-Cooked Meal, Do This!

Home cooked meals are definitely better for you and less expensive, but sometimes cooking seems too difficult and time-consuming.

When you're tired and hungry, it seems easier to stop for take-out on the drive home, order in or nuke those Trader Joe's frozen Shrimp Soft Tacos you bought last week.

But with a little effort (not much) and even less time (minutes), you can prepare two easy-to-make vegetable dishes that combine well with a charred steak, sautéed tofu or roasted chicken breasts which cook in no time at all.

Salt-boiled vegetables

Salt boiling cooks vegetables quickly. Cook them as little as possible so they have a crisp, fresh taste. Like pasta, vegetables should be eaten al dente, with a little firmness.

How long a vegetable should be cooked depends on its density and the size of the pieces being boiled. A 1" zucchini round will cook faster than a 1" carrot round. A 2" carrot round takes longer to cook than does a 1" carrot round.

Adding kosher salt to the water gives the vegetables a sweet-salty flavor.
Broccoli florets prepared this way cook in 2 minutes. The bright green flavor bites are so delicious, we eat them hot or cold, as a snack, side dish or, cooled, added to a salad.

Oven-roasted vegetables

Another easy-to-master technique is oven roasting vegetables. As with salt-boiled vegetables, they should be cooked al dente. How long the vegetables take to cook depends on the density of the vegetable and the size of the pieces.
Fingerling potatoes are an especially good side dish to serve with a grilled or baked protein. They are delicious with a steak grilled on an outdoor grill or charred on a carbon steel pan. Before baking, toss the cut fingerlings with Italian parsley, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If you enjoy onions, sprinkling a handful of finely sliced onions or shallots over the vegetables before baking adds a delicious sweetness.

Salt-Boiled Broccoli

Buy broccoli that is deep green in appearance. Do not use broccoli with yellow florets or ones that feel limp because that means they are old and will not taste good.
Besides broccoli, the technique works great for spinach, carrots, English peas and green beans. Each requires a different length of cooking time. Spinach (30 seconds), peeled carrot rounds cut 1/2" thick (3-5 minutes), shelled English peas (30 seconds) and green beans cut into 1" lengths (3 minutes).

Use only kosher salt or sea salt. Do not use iodized salt because of the metallic after-taste.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 3 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 large broccoli crowns, enough to make 10 cups, washed, stem ends trimmed

Directions

Using a pairing knife, cut the florets (the bud or flower of the broccoli) off the stem. Cut each floret in half and set aside. Using a chefs knife, cut the stem into slabs, 1/2" thick, 1" long. Set aside.

Add kosher salt to 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.

Place stems in boiling water first. Cover. Cook 1 minute.

Add floret halves to water. Cover. Cook exactly 2 minutes.

Strain broccoli in the sink. Place cooked broccoli into bowl and serve.

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

If fingerling potatoes are not available, baby Yukon or Sierra Gold potatoes are also good.
Use a Silpat sheet so the potatoes do not stick to the baking sheet. If not available, use parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed

1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion or 4 large shallots, skins, stems and root ends removed, washed, cut into thin slices

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat sheet.

Cut each potato in half, the long way, then into 2" pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with the olive oil. As the cut potatoes are added to the bowl, toss to coat with olive oil to prevent discoloration.

When all the potatoes are in the bowl, add parley and onions. Toss well. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Spread on the Silpat sheet lined baking sheet so the pieces have some room. They will acquire more browning if they are not piled on top of one another.

Place in oven.

After 15 minutes, toss for even cooking. Check after another 15 minutes. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasoning and cook longer if needed. When the potatoes are cooked through but not too soft, serve hot with a protein. The potatoes are delicious with a grilled steak, sautéed fish filet or charred chicken breast.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Go Green! And Cook Easy-to-Make Roasted Artichokes

Spring is happening and artichokes are showing up in our farmers markets. The dark green vegetable, prized by cooks, is healthy and easy-to-prepare.
Looking at an artichoke, with its hard exterior and sharp pointed leaves makes me wonder how anyone figured out they would be good to eat. With a small amount of effort, that tough looking exterior gives up the wonderfully savory flavor bits at the end of the each leaf.
Choosing a good artichoke

Whether you find one that is the size of your hand or a larger one the size of a soft ball, give it a squeeze. If the artichoke feels solid, you've found a good one. An artichoke past its prime will be squishy like a child's squeeze toy. Make sure all the leaves are green. Don't buy an artichoke with brown or blackened leaves.
Having a sharp pair of scissors or kitchen shears, a pairing knife and a chefs knife will make breaking down the artichoke easy.

Roasted Artichokes

One person can easily eat one artichoke the size of your hand. The larger artichokes will feed 2-3 people as an appetizer or a side dish. 

Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes

Total Time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients

4 medium sized or 2 large artichokes, washed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sweet butter (optional)
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place a large stock pot on the stove on a high flame. Add kosher salt. Bring to a low boil. Cover.

Using scissors trim off the pointy end of each leaf.

Trim off the stems of each artichoke, flush to the bottom. Reserve the stems.

Trim off the top 1/4" of each artichoke and discard.

Using a chefs knife, cut each artichoke in half, from bottom to the top. Cut each half into two pieces. If the artichoke is large, cut those four pieces in half, creating eight segments.

Working quickly because the inside of the artichoke will discolor when exposed to air, use a sharp pairing knife to remove the fuzzy part on the inside of each section. Discard.

Place all the artichoke sections and the stems in the boiling salted water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper, a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil.

Using the pairing knife, test one of the artichoke sections. The knife should easily go into the fleshy part on the bottom of the leaves. If the knife doesn't go in easily, cook another 5 minutes.

Place a colander or strainer in the sink. Pour the water with the artichoke sections into the colander and drain.

Transfer the artichoke sections and stems to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.

Arrange the artichokes and stems on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the oven and cook 15 minutes. Using tongs, turn the sections over and place back in the oven another 15 minutes so they cook evenly.

If serving with melted butter (optional), melt the butter in a small saucepan being careful to avoid burning.

Remove the artichokes from the oven and serve while hot. Accompany with sea salt, black pepper and small dishes of melted butter (optional). Trim the stems down to the round center, chop and use in a salad.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Even in February, the farmers markets in Southern California have plenty of summer greens. Plump bunches of romaine, red leaf lettuce, arugula and Italian parsley are stacked high on the farmers' tables.

To create a healthy, refreshing dish, all you have to do is rinse the greens in clean water, flick dry and toss with a simple dressing.
But this is winter and another group of vegetables come into their own when the sun's rays have weakened, the days are shorter, and the temperatures lower.

Black kale, turnips, beets and celery root are now in their prime and require only a little more effort to create a delicious salad.

Using an oven's heat to bring the best out of vegetables turns starch into sugar and coaxes crispness out of leafy greens.

For Zester Daily I wrote an easy-to-make recipe for a roasted vegetable salad that is delicious when the chill is in the air. A salad with a bit of warmth is a perfect accompaniment for roasted meats and seafood or a hearty braise: A Winter Pick-Me-Up: Roasted Vegetable Salad.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Easiest Pasta You’ll Ever Make Using Grilled Corn and Roasted Garlic


On a recent trip to Sonoma County, my wife and I wandered from the coast to the inland farmland to eat our way across one of America's most productive valleys. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful meals. We especially enjoyed chef Josh Silvers' 
We loved his roasted garlic-butter sauce on his grilled corn, I was inspired to write a recipe that adapted that flavor combination with pasta.  I posted the recipe on Zesterdaily.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cooking for the Palisadian-Post

Michael Aushenker wrote a profile of me recently for the Palisadian-Post.  I like that he talked about my family and my passion for cooking, weaving in my continuing work as a tv producer and writer. He also highlights my writing on the Traveling Mom website, which describes my obsession with how many dishes you can create from one chicken and a few roasted vegetables!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Barbrix Opens in Silver Lake

The front wall of Barbrix (242 Hyperion Avenue, Silver Lake 90027; 323/662-2442) is no wall at all.

On hot summer nights, crowds will no doubt start inside at the bar, then, drink in hand, move outside to claim one of the half dozen tables and settle in for an evening sampling the appetizers that include marinated olives, burrata with tapenade, shrimp & chikpea flour tortillas (a favorite), and crostini topped with soft and sweet crescenza, fig relish & prosciutto.

Go deeper into the restaurant and you'll discover intimate groupings of tables, some against the side wall under the picture windows, others tucked into semi-private alcoves.


The stylish restaurant was recently opened by a husband and wife team, Claudio Blotta and Adria Tennor Blotta who met when they worked at Campanile.

They designed Barbrix so it would feel as inviting for couples out for an intimate meal as for groups of friends who want to spend an evening hanging out. The bar offers wines and beers from around the world to pair with the savory offerings on the affordable, tapas-style menu.


At the back of the restaurant there is an open kitchen designed around an L-shaped counter. Chef Don Dickman keeps a watchful eye over his chefs as they plate--to the left--the appetizers, salads, cheese plates, and charcuterie while on the right he directs the finishing of meat and fish courses--the wild boar sausage with a bean ragu, Niman Ranch porchetta style pork belly, and grilled skirt steak on a wild arugula salad.

For those who prefer seafood, the menu offers plates of pesto manila clams, grilled sardines with preserved Meyer lemon & mint aioli, monk fish swimming in a spicy chorizo sauce with chickpeas, and roasted Alaskan halibut resting on a funeral pyre of sunchokes, chard & alba mushrooms with gremolata.

Mediterranean ingredients give Barbrix its flavor edge. The take-away for me--unfortunately we took home no doggie bags that night because we ate everything we ordered--was the memory of a very pleasant evening and a new love for chermoula.

Served on the Roasted Cauliflower Salad, the charmoula added multiple levels of flavor to the caramelized vegetables.

When we came home I was determined to make my own version of the classic North African sauce. I experimented over several nights and discovered its versatility. I used it with fish, grilled meat, roasted vegetables, salt-crusted potatoes, and as a dipping sauce for a vegetable crudite.

Chermoula Sauce

Yield 4 servings
Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, skins on
1/4 cup cilantro, mostly leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, mostly leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of Cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

Char the cloves on an open flame. Clean off the blackened skin, mash, and finely chop. Use a mini-grinder and puree the garlic, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Season with sea salt, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Refrigerated in a sealed container, the sauce will keep 3-4 days. Serve at room temperature.

Variations

Add 1/2 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon
Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Use dried parsley instead of fresh

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Couscous and Bulgar Salads are Affordable, Easy to Make and Oh So Good for You

My wife is on her way to her parents' house in New Jersey. She packed her clothes, bathroom kit, and Walter Mosley's latest detective novel, The Long Fall. I wanted to contribute to the weekend's meals even if I wasn't going with her. I put together a small packet with a mini-apple pie, a banana chocolate chip walnut cake, freshly cooked black beans, brown rice, grilled broccoli, bulgar salad with celery, and a box of whole wheat couscous. All but the couscous were ready to eat.

When we visit her parents, I usually do some of the cooking under her mom's supervision. The first time I cooked in Helen's kitchen I was showing off my then-specialty: whole roasted chicken cooked at high temperature. The impact on her kitchen was regrettable. The "high heat" was so high that her corningware roasting pan exploded. The resulting splatter on the inside of her oven took several days to clean. Needless to say I didn't make the best first-impression on my prospective mother-in-law. Luckily the chicken was delicious but I haven't used her oven since.

Couscous is one of Michelle's staples, so she took along a box of whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe's. Since she hadn't made it before, I wanted her to have the recipe for the weekend.

The recipes for couscous are the same as for bulgar. They are delicious as salads and side dishes. They accommodate any number of vegetables and herbs.

Couscous or Bulgar Salad with Celery

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup instant couscous or fine grained bulgar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, washed, leaves removed, finely chopped
1 scallion, washed, ends trimmed, finely chopped
5 Italian parsley sprigs, leaves removed, washed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Boil the water. Put the couscous or bulgar into a bowl, add the water, stir, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous or bulgar, add the rest of the olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper to taste, toss with the celery, scallion, and parsley.

Serve at room temperature as a salad or a side dish.

Variations:

Add chopped raw tomatoes

Add Iranian cucumbers, washed, peeled, finely chopped

Add 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

Add currants

Couscous or Bulgar with Grilled Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup instant couscous or fine grained bulgar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large carrot, washed, peeled, ends removed, cut into 1" long slabs, 1/4" thick
1 large broccoli crown, washed, cut into 1" long slabs, 1/4" thick
5 Italian parsley sprigs, leaves removed, washed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Boil the water. Put the couscous or bulgar into a bowl, add the water, stir, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.

Toss the carrots and broccoli pieces with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Grill or roast in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool and finely chop.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous or bulgar, add the rest of the olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper to taste, toss with the cut up carrots and broccoli.

Serve at room temperature as a salad or a side dish.

Variations:

Add 1/4 cup corn kernels, seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, grilled or roasted

Add 1/4 cup olives, pitted, chopped

Add 1 cup spinach leaves, no stems, washed, roughly chopped

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For my mother, Thanksgiving was the best day of the year. She enjoyed being surrounded by friends, family, and food. One day of the year when everyone was focused on being together and remembering how blessed we all are. She's been gone now for two years but this year, as we did last year, we'll toast her and remember how much she enjoyed Thanksgiving.

We all know that while turkey is the centerpiece of the meal, the side dishes and desserts reign supreme. Cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing with sausages and dried apricots, mushroom and giblets gravy, salads, pickles, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, string beans, squash...and the desserts: pies, custards, cakes, fresh fruit, cheese... Thanksgiving celebrates an iconic moment of generosity from strangers at a moment of crisis. Given the difficulties the world is facing for the coming year, we can use Thanksgiving to share with one another our hopes for the future.

Everyone has their favorite side dishes for the holiday. They need to be flavorful and easy to make. Here are mine: Roasted Whole Tomatoes, Arugula Salad with Hazelnuts, Carrots, and Avocadoes, Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad, Blackened Peppers with Capers, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and, my new favorite, Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sautéed Shallots, Garlic, and Mushrooms.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sautéed Shallots, Garlic, and Mushrooms

I prefer sweet potatoes that have a bright orange flesh. Find ones that are slender, appropriate as a single serving. For a dinner party, pick ones that are about the same size.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients

4 sweet potatoes, washed, skins on
2 teaspoons sweet butter
1 cup shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup brown or shiitake mushrooms, washed, dried, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves only, washed, finely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Cayenne (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each sweet potato in tin foil, place in the oven, turn every 30 minutes. Depending on your oven and the size of the sweet potatoes, they can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. When the sweet potatoes are soft to the touch, they are done.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, drizzle olive oil in a frying pan, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and sauté the shallots, garlic, parsley, and mushrooms until lightly browned.

Remove and discard the tin foil. Take a sharp paring knife and slice each sweet potato open the long way. Using your fingers, push the sweet potato in from the ends so the cut section opens like a flower. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter and a light dusting of cayenne (optional). Top with the shallot-mushroom sauté and serve.