Chronicling my life through the food that I cook

Lemony lentil salad with feta, sweet potatoes, and greens

In Budget-friendly on January 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm
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I promise it tastes better than this photo looks

This is the best lentil salad I’ve ever had because it covers the whole flavor range: the sweet potatoes and bell pepper provide sweetness, the feta cheese provides a tangy saltiness, the lentils are earthy and provide a textured bite, the arugula is slightly spicy, and the acidic brightness in the lemon juice-based dressing  contrasts really well against all of it. Bonuses: this is really as healthy, budget-friendly, tastes great warm or cold, and stands up really well as leftovers.

Warm lemony lentil salad with feta, sweet potatoes, and arugula 

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup brown lentils

a good 3 handufls of fresh arugala (I used this mix which I loved – but don’t use just spinach as it has the same earthy taste as the lentils – you need the slight kick that arugala or tat soi has)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
Feta cheese
2 sweet potatoes
3 lemons
mustard
olive oil
salt and pepper

Instructions

Peel your sweet potatoes, and cut into cubes. On a foil lined tray, toss the cubed potatoes with a olive oil, sea salt and fresh black pepper until all the cubes are well coated. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender and brown in spots – around 30 minutes, but keep an eye on them around 20, and stir occasionally.

While your potatoes are roasting, cook your brown lentils. Put them in a pot, and season with salt. Throw in a bay leaf if you have one. Cover with enough water so that the water comes up about 1/2 to 1 inch above the lentils. Turn the stove on high until the water starts to boil, then lower the temperature to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, but keep an eye on them. It’s important the lentils don’t become mushy – they should be tender but not overly soft. Drain of any remaining water.

Put your greens in your serving bowl. Top with the warm lentils and warm roast sweet potatoes. Add as much crumbled feta as you’d like – I used around 1/4 of a block. Add in your bell pepper.

Make your dressing. Juice 3 lemons into a bowl. Whisk in 1 TB of smooth mustard. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or minced fresh garlic). Whisk in a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Pour all the dressing over the salad. Eat warm, room temperature, or cold the next day. Serves 4.

Fettuccine with Red Pepper and Basil Sauce

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I’ve long been on the lookout for a great red bell pepper pasta sauce  - I love the sweetness that bell peppers have, and I wanted to venture out from the normal tomato base. Most recipes were made delicious by the use of cream, but being January and all a pasta + cream dish didn’t really sound like the best idea.

The below version though is, though, pretty fantastic and also cream-free. The flavor comes from a lot of garlic, a hit of red pepper flakes, and the important use of fresh basil and good quality parmesan cheese at the end. The sweetness of the bell peppers and basil contrasts really well with the chili heat. If you do desire some creaminess to the sauce (and I don’t blame you) stir in some 2% (or whole milk) at the end – I did this once when I added a little too many chili flakes by accident, and the end result was rewarding.

red pepper sauce

 

*Note – the above picture of the finished suace has an instagram filter on it, and looks to have a deeper red/orange color to it than it did in real life. Don’t be alarmed if your sauce has a lighter color.

Fettuccine with Red Pepper and Basil Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet – serves 4 (also good for leftovers)

  • 4-5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried hot red pepper flakes (if adding milk or cream at the end, increase to 1/2 teaspoon to maintain some kick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried italian seasoning (or a mix of dried basil, oregano, whatever you like in your pasta sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 red bell peppers, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • fresh lemon juice to taste
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • freshly grated Parmesan as an accompaniment

In your pot/pan of choice, heat the olive oil until shimmering and then add your shallots. Once translucent add the garlic, the red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste in the oil over moderately low heat (make sure garlic doesn’t brown.) Add the bell peppers and the broth, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the peppers are very soft. In a blender purée the mixture until it is smooth, return it to the skillet, and swirl in the butter. (Alternately, use an immersion blender.) Stir in the basil, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste and keep the sauce warm.

In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the fettuccine until it is al dente, drain it well, and transfer it to a serving bowl. Add the sauce, toss the pasta well, and serve it with a healthy dose of  Parmesan.

 

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

In Chicken on January 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm

New year, new way of doing things. In an effort to share more recipes my family with the time and schedule that I have, this blog is going to be a lot less wordy. You’ll find here instead just  a photo + recipe with a few notes when necessary, with the idea that the only recipes I post are ones that I found to be tremendously good. I hope you find some useful ideas and inspiration on here!

First up, my recent go-to dish for company. I amped up this already excellent recipe with a few more spices in the mix. You can serve this with any grain; here it’s pictured (in the front left) with basmati rice (I flavored the rice with some butter and lemon zest), a simple salad and some roasted potatoes.

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Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

adapted from Gourmet

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 to 2 pounds chicken boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion, halved, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • about 1-2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and diced
  • 5 fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
  • handful of slivered almonds to garnish

Stir together ground cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces in batches and turn to coat well with the spices.

Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in base of tagine (or in skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of chicken, skin sides down, turning over once, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown remaining chicken in same manner, adding any spice mixture left in bowl.

Add onion, ginger and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Tie cilantro and parsley into a bundle with kitchen string and add to tagine along with 1/2 cup water, chicken, and any juices accumulated on plate. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. (Note: you can add cilantro/parsley at the end if you don’t have twine). Near the end of this cooking period, add in dried apricots – you want them to plump up a bit in the liquid. Also add at this time the cinammon stick and a tablespoon of honey. Discard herbs and cinammon stick, and sprinkle with slivered almonds (and fresh parsley and cilantro if you didn’t add it before.) Serves four with no leftovers.

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