Monday, June 11, 2018

Meatless Monday--Curried Broccoli Coucous Salad

It's funny how your tastes develop and change over time.  When I started college in Washington, D.C., one of the things I was so excited about what experiencing new cultures and their food.  I remember hearing so many of friends and fellow students talking about how much they loved Indian food.  I'd never even had it and could only recall even seeing Indian food a couple of times.  Even though I was a somewhat adventurous eater, the sweet, spicy, pungent smell of the curry was overwhelming to me.     

Eventually, several years after graduating, I saw a recipe for curried chicken salad.  I'd always loved chicken salad, and with my confidence in the kitchen increasing, I thought I'd give it a shot.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  A few months later, though, that flavor came creeping back up on me and I decided to make it again.  I was a fan.  I began to seek out simple Indian recipes and eventually stumbled upon Bal Arneson's no-butter chicken.  I loved it then and I still love it now.  You all do too, apparently; it's one of the most popular recipes on this blog.

A little over a year ago, I went to London to visit a dear friend.  You'd better believe I jumped at the chance to eat all the Indian food I could and my sweet friend knew exactly where to take me.  While waiting in line for one of London's Indian hot spots on a typically chilly, drizzly early spring evening, the restaurant sent out mini shooters of chai that warmed us through and through.  Each rich, fragrant, mouthful comforted me and made me feel so at home, even in a city I'd never before visited.



This salad certainly isn't the luxurious dal or buttery, garlicky dal I remember from London, but it is a healthier, brighter, lighter way to bring in some of the flavors and scents that will forever make me think of that perfect first trip.  It comes together simply and quickly, can easily be vegan (just use agave in place of the honey), and makes for excellent lunches throughout the week.

London, I'll be back.  For now, I've got some home cooking to do.



Golden raisins and Madras curry powder make for a sweet, spicy, simple salad that makes perfect lunches and only gets better as the week goes on. 

Curried Broccoli Couscous Salad
an Apple a Day original

Ingredients:

For the salad:
1 c. Israeli (also called pearl) couscous
3/4 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-in. strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. golden raisins
2-3 tsp. Madras curry powder 
red pepper flakes, to taste
fresh spinach, chopped if desired

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 TBSP dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey or agave 

Directions:
1.  Bring 1 1/2 c. water to boil.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt then stir in the couscous.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, covered.  Remove lid, let stand 2 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Warm the oil and cook the onion and broccoli until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining salt.  Add the chickpeas, raisins, desired amount of curry powder, and red pepper flakes, if using.  Cook 2-3 minutes more.

3.  When the couscous is done, pour into the pan with the broccoli mixture and stir to combine.  Let cook 2 minutes more, adding up to 1/4 c. water if you feel the mixture is too dry.

4.  To make the vinaigrette, put all ingredients into a jar.  Tightly seal and shake to combine.  Make salads by putting desired amount of spinach into individual bowls, topping with the couscous mixtures, and drizzling with dressing.

yield: 4 servings    

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow Chicken)

Please tell me y'all love Chrissy Teigen as much as I do.  I think she's hilarious.  Honest.  Vulnerable.  More than willing to laugh at herself first so you never can.  If that's not enough, there's this.   She got the Backstreet Boys to explain why, whatever "it" is, they simultaneously want it that way, but also not that way.  She basically solved the mother of all late 90's TRL mysteries.  

Feel free to take to twitter to thank her.  She's basically the queen over there.


basil chicken

Still not convinced?  How about a little food?  I think better after a good meal, too.  And let me tell you--this was one. good. meal.  It's simple and quick and pretty darn healthy, too.  It doesn't use many ingredients, but each one is packed with flavor.  Most notable, of course, is the basil.  Fresh basil is one of my all-time favorite smells and, since you'll use three cups of it here, your whole kitchen will smell amazing.

So this summer, when your basil plant is out of control and you've already made multiple batches of pesto, give this a try.  You'll want it that way.  Or not.  I don't know...have Chrissy Teigen explain it.  She got the answer firsthand.


chrissy teigen basil chicken

Fresh summer basil comes together with a handful of other ingredients for a quick, healthy summer meal bursting with flavor.  If it's good enough for Chrissy Teigen, it's good enough for me.

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow)
from Chrissy Teigen, Cravings

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb. bonelss, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP oyster sauce
2 TBSP light soy sauce
5 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile (or as many fresh Thai chiles as you can stand)
2 TBSP vegetable oil
3 c. fresh basil, preferably Thai basil
cooked jasmine rice, for serving (I used brown jasmine)
chile garlic sauce, for serving (my addition)

Directions:
1.  In a bowl, toss the chicken with the oyster sauce and marinate for 10 minutes.  Mash the garlic and chile (seeded, if desired) in a mortar and pestle until finely smashed.  If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mincing that garlic and chile will work fine.

2.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering hot, add the garlic chile mixture and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to high, add the chicken, and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Add the basil and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

3.  Serve with the rice and chile garlic sauce, if desired.

yield: 3-4 servings
     

Monday, May 21, 2018

Meatless Monday--Spinach Artichoke Frittata

When I was a kid and my mom could sense I needed to talk about something, we'd go to a local Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.  We'd always start out with an order of espinaca--Mexican spinach dip--and dive into our conversation after the first couple of bites.  

As the years went on, we found spinach artichoke dip on more and more restaurant menus.  We'd almost always order it, deep conversation or not.  By the time I'd graduated high school, we were quite the connoisseurs.  I'm not ashamed to admit we'd sometimes pick the restaurant solely based on how good their dip was. 


spinach artichoke frittata

My mom and I have lived in different states for almost five years now and, sadly, I've learned just how unhealthy most spinach artichoke dip is.  It's certainly worth the splurge every now and then, but I'm so glad to have found this frittata.  With just a half a cup of sour cream and a small amount of cheese in the entire recipe, both the creaminess and the protein comes from eggs--another one of my favorite foods.  Add in a hearty helping of greens, and you've got yourself an easy, healthy vegetarian meal.  One that's high in nutrients and, for me, high in guiltless nostalgia.   


spinach artichoke frittata

With just a skillet and a handful of ingredients, you can whip up a healthy, hearty frittata that will leave you feeling like you've indulged in creamy, bubbly spinach artichoke dip--without the guilt.

Spinach Artichoke Frittata

slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

Ingredients:
2 green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (15-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts
6 c. baby spinach, loosely packed
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 TBSP stone-ground or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. plus pinch kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c. sour cream or crème fraiche, plus more for serving
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2.  Thinly slice the green onions and set aside.  Drain the artichoke hearts and roughly chop.  Also chop the spinach leaves if they are very large.  

3.  Heat a 10-in. nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Warm the olive oil.  Sauté the spinach, stirring until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Add in green onions and garlic and sauté 1 minute more, stirring and pulling some of the spinach mixture to the top.

4.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, shaking the pan to allow the egg mixture to spread evenly and fill in around the vegetables.  Cook 5-7 minutes until the bottom is set and the edges can be pulled back from the sides with a spatula.

5.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until the top is puffed, set, and slightly browned.  Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve warm, garnished with red pepper flakes and additional sour cream, if desired.

yield: 4-6 servings 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meatless Monday--Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad

It seems as if spring has finally come to Dallas...except on Saturdays.  Each of the last three Saturdays have been chilly and windy and drizzly.  The other six days of the week have, for the most part, gotten their business together.  I'll take it.


strawberry cucumber salad

To celebrate those days when the sun is shining and my windows are open, I've been making this light, colorful salad.  The ingredients all play nicely together--but make no mistake--the bright red spring strawberries are the star here.  As much as I like all the other ingredients here, this salad would be nothing without the strawberries.  Spring is here, friends.  Let's enjoy every minute.


strawberry cucumber salad

Bright red spring strawberries steal the show in this light salad just meant for sunnier spring days. 

Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad
adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:
3 c. fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
1 c. chopped strawberries
1 c. chopped cucumbers
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 TBSP fresh mint, minced


Directions:
1.  To make the dressing, pour all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake to combine.

2.  Place spinach in a large serving bowl or four individual bowls.  Add equal amounts of the strawberries, cucumbers, and onion, then drizzle dressing over the top.  Sprinkle cheese, almonds, and mint on top.  Serve immediately.

yield: 2 servings       

Friday, April 20, 2018

Quick Pickled Onions

I wasn't even sure if I should post this.  These quick pickled onions are so unbelievably simple, they barely even count as a recipe.


pickled onions

But anyone who love tacos--real tacos--knows the pickled onions (and radishes, if you're lucky) are the most perfect garnish.  Just a few of these ultra-savory, pucker-worthy gems take your tacos (or salads, or bowls, or burgers, or grilled cheese sandwiches) to the next level.  Case in point, the carne deshebrada (Mexican shredded beef) tacos I shared earlier this week.  The meat was outstanding on its own--tender and full of flavor, but with the acidic punch and eye-popping color from these onions, they were out of this world!


pickled onions

Take your tacos to the next level with these super simple five-ingredient quick pickled onions.

Quick Pickled Onions
from Bon Appetít, June 2012 

Ingredients:
1 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large red onion, thinly sliced

Directions:
1.  Pour water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake until sugar and salt are dissolved.  

2.  Add in sliced onion, secure lid, and shake to coat.  Let stand at room temperature at least one hour, shaking a couple of times if all onion slices are not submerged at first.  Can be kept, refrigerated, up to two weeks.