We devoured this spring salad

Is it a salad? I don’t really know. It is more like one of my standard mash-ups of yummy ingredients. A bit like the Ranch Salad. A bit of a variation on the Avocado Tartare from Food & Wine that I posted a few weeks ago.

And as usual, I wanted something easy, quick and healthy. This met all of those requirements.

Image

Ingredients (serves two):

  • One large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • One firm but ripe avocado
  • One large red shallot
  • A few fronds of curly kale
  • A heaping handful of spinach
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Two meyer lemons
  • A tablespoon and a half of dijon mustard
  • A few sprigs of curly parsley
  • A few drops of sriracha
  • A teaspoon of Worcestershire 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter/olive oil for cooking

Chop the chicken into 1″ cubes and salt and pepper all sides. In a pan, heat up (over medium to high heat) a pat of butter and a dollop of olive oil. When hot, add the chicken and cook until opaque and almost cooked through (about 135degrees). While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onion and kale by thinly slicing the shallot and removing the stems from the kale and chopping into tiny bits. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add a bit more oil and turn the pan to medium heat, and throw the thinly sliced red shallot and cook until starting to crisp. Add the kale and a dash more of the olive oil. Cook, turning often, until the kale is soft. While the kale is cooking, chop the spinach into smallish pieces (about 1/2″) and prepare the sauce. Juice two meyer lemons into your serving bowl. Add the chopped parsley, dijon, srirracha, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and whisk until blended. Add the chicken back to the pan with the tomatoes and cook until the chicken is at 160 degrees. Pour the hot chicken, kale and onion (and all of the juices) into the sauce and add the spinach raw. I always add the avocado last as I hate when it starts to turn brown. So now cube your avocado and add it to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients gently until the sauce covers everything.

We scarfed this down. It was SOOO good. From start to finish it took less than 30 minutes and probably could be sped up if I used two pans (to cook the onions/kale and chicken separately). 

Image

Fake Fettuccine with Lemon Sauce and Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve been trying to use up a giant container of meyer lemons that I bought at costco last week. I had timed the purchase wrong, forgetting that we had a bunch of evening events preventing cooking. So, when I HAVE been cooking, I am all lemon lemon LEMON!  There has been some lemon chicken, and some larb-ish thai chicken (with lemon), a lemon buerre blanc sauce over fish.

One of my resolutions this year has been to eat vegetarian at least one dinner a week (I have plenty of vegetarian lunches; dinner has been the hard change) so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Though some rotisserie chicken meat or spicy sausage would have been spectacular in this, too.

A few weeks ago I bought an alternative to my favorite black bean pasta…mung bean fettuccine: a green and more textured flat noodle. And so when I saw these recipes yesterday, I knew I wanted to do something similar. Hubs doesn’t like food that is too rich, too creamy or too cheesy…so this was going to be all about the balance.

And I forgot to take pictures…like a doof. And it was beautiful!

Ingredients:

  • half package of mung bean fettuccine
  • juice of two meyer lemons (and the zest)
  • one tablespoon butter
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan
  • hefty pinch of red pepper flakes
  • teaspoon olive oil
  • large red shallot, sliced
  • cup of cherry tomatoes
  • packed cup of fresh spinach leaves

Prepare the fake fettuccine according to package. Add a good amount of salt and pepper to the water as the mung bean can be a bit bland without it.

In a large pan, heat the oil and add sliced shallots. We like our shallots a bit crispy. Cook yours to taste. Put the butter into the pan and, once melted, add the lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Mix this with the cooked onions. Add the tomatoes and let them warm and soften, stirring often. Grate the cheese over the mixture in the pan and mix. Take the pan off of the heat and add the yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Using tongs, gently put the fettuccine into the pan allowing some of the pasta water (a few drips per bunch) to join the sauce. Add the spinach and use the heat from the pasta to gently wilt the spinach. Divide into bowls and add more of the parmesan and red pepper flakes. Serve.

I devoured this. It was a powerhouse of lemon-y goodness tempered with the smoothness and tang of the yogurt and the saltiness of the cheese. Hubs was drinking the sauce once his pasta was gone. I highly recommend this.

Fish “Tacos” with Shaved Brussel Sprout, Apple and Pine Nut Salad

Hubs requested Fish Tacos last night and I was craving fish, too. But I had a MAJOR craving for something savory…so the side had to hit that note and still work with the mexican inspired flavoring on the fish. Also, since we are avoiding PPB&R, I decided to use lettuce “cups” as the torilla. The final meal? Cumin seasoned tilapia with cliantro and lemon wrapped in lettuce with shaved brussel sprouts, apple slices and toasted pine nuts.

Something you should know about me. I have ZERO issue with “short cuts”. If I find yummy “fixings” or frozen whatever that is healthy? I use it. Doesn’t apply here, but I have no problem with frozen broccoli, stir fry mix or peas, canned beets or corn, etc. And in this case? We’d just been to a great market and picked up delicious organic, fresh guacamole and salsa…neither of which were cooked by me 🙂

  • Brussel sprouts
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 meyer lemon
  • 5 tilapia filets
  • Cilantro
  • Ground cumin
  • lettuce of choice for wrapping

Trim the brussel sprouts and then thinly slice lengthwise. Discard ends and outer leaves, put sliced sprouts in a big bowl and separate out the leaves. Toast pine nuts over medium heat, keeping constant watch until golden brown. I looked away for a second and burnt some of the pine nuts. Thankfully, only a few were inedible. Put them aside.

Image

Put a bit of canola oil in the pan (I didn’t want the olive oil to overpower the nuttiness of the pine nuts) and, once hot, add in the brussel sprouts. Let them cook down for a bit. While they are cooking, cut the apples halfwise, core and the slice into thin pieces.

Image

Meanwhile, sweat the tilapia with salt, pepper and sprinkle with cumin. This is also a good time to zest the lemon and set the zest aside.

Image

In batches, because the filets are usually quite large, saute the fish in olive oil until almost cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook the rest of the filets. Keep stirring the brussel sprouts, too. When those have wilted and are getting a more bright green, add a bit of balsamic and coat evenly.

Image

Once all of the fish is cooked mostly through, add all of the filet back in, breaking them into chunks. Add in the chopped cilantro. Squeeze the lemon onto the fish and add the zest. Mix thoroughly.

photo (48)-001

 

With the fish finished, I put the salad together. The apples, pine nuts and brussel sprouts were combined in a big bowl and garnished with freshly grated parmigiana.

I set up a serving area on our table for people to make their own tacos. The salsa and guac were front and center. I had lettuce for wrapping the tacos up, too. Here is the finished plate.

photo (49)

Basil Pork with Squash Rounds, Red Pepper and Farro

I was exhausted Monday. I needed and wanted to cook dinner for our little group but my brain wasn’t processing properly. I was having trouble sequencing my thoughts when I was at the grocery store doing our weekly shop so came home slightly unprepared for how and what I was cooking for dinner. This dinner was a little bit of what I could find in our kitchen and a request from the hubs for “that farro stir fry [I] made a few weeks ago.” Documenting the dinners my family enjoys is the main impetus for this blog…and requests like this, when I can barely remember what I had for lunch (Monday? a yogurt with honey, a spoonful of peanut butter, a handful of sprouted sunflower seeds and some carrots. Holy crap! I remembered).

In the fridge I found a pork tenderloin, almost at its sell by date, three yellow squash, a few red shallots and two red peppers. I also went into the garden and grabbed a handful of big leaf basil. 

  • pork tenderloin
  • handful of basil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 3 yellow squash
  • 2 red peppers
  • oyster sauce
  • 1 meyer lemon

The first step was to cook the 10 minute farro that we love. I use chicken stock instead of water. Boil the chicken stock, add the farro, stir occasionally.

While the farro is cooking, cut the tenderloin into 1 inch by 2 inch pieces. Salt, pepper and douse in oyster sauce, coating evenly. Slice shallot thinly. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over med-high heat until shimmering and then add the shallot. Cook quickly until slightly soft, push to the edges of the pan and add pork. 

While the pork is browning, cut squash into discs and zest the lemon (saving the lemon for later). Turn pork if starting to brown and cook through. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add squash. Turn the squash in the olive oil to coat and then arrange them so that most are laying flat on the bottom of the pan. Lightly salt and pepper.

Image

While the squash softens and browns, chiffonade the basil and cut the peppers into thin strips. Turn the pork as it should be getting near finished, add the basil and lightly coat with oyster sauce again. Squeeze half of the lemon on the pork. Mix thoroughly. Turn the squash so that all pieces are evenly browned. Remembering that the pork will continue to cook in the pan and that pork should have a bit of pink in it, turn off the burner and move the pan off the heat. Add the red pepper to the squash. 

Image

(Be sure to take out the lemon seeds after squeezing…or, you know, avoid them all together 🙂 )

When the squash is soft and slightly browned, add reduced balsamic and coat. Turn off heat.

Serve by adding to a bowl a layer of farro, the squash/pepper mix and then top with the pork. It was DELISH.

Image

Lincoln Park Salad with Shrimp

Last week M and I had an early dinner at a local restaurant (Lincoln Park) and I ordered a really fantastic salad. I wanted to recreate it and maybe add my own spin to the mix. Their salad was kale, butternut squash, blood oranges and beets in a cumin dressing.  It was perfect for that night but for me to feed our little family, it needed a bit more heft. So I made it as follows:

  • 2 bunches of kale
  • butternut squash
  • blood oranges
  • 1 can of sliced beets
  • 2 bags of frozen, cooked, tailless shrimp
  • 1 lime
  • 3 meyer lemons
  • cumin
  • mustard powder
  • 2 tbs unsalted, hulled sunflower seeds
  • Brianna’s French Vinaigrette

photo (45)

First things first, I turned the oven on to 425. Next step was to wash and tear the kale into small pieces in a large bowl. I then zested three meyer lemons with my microplane into a separate bowl and then juiced those lemons over the kale, making sure all of the kale had lemon juice on it. I then let it sit knowing I would come back to it in 20 minutes or so and massage the kale to make it less tough. The woman who had cut my hair less than an hour earlier had told me that this was the key to delicious kale.

Next I peeled and cut the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes and, onto a silpat covered cookie sheet, covered them in olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and mustard powder. I mixed them all up together to make sure they were evenly coated and into the oven they went.

Onto the blood oranges! With a very sharp knife I cut off the ends and cut off the skin, revealing the ruby red interior. Once peeled, I turned the orange on its side and cut them into slices. If the orange had an extra white pith, I popped it out of the center. Setting those aside, I opened the can of beets, poured them into a strainer over the sink and rinsed them with cold water briefly. I then roughly chopped them into 1 inch chunks, setting them aside when finished.

After checking on the butternut squash, turning the pieces over, I went on to massage the kale. Get your hands in there and really rub on it. It will feel and look strange. Do it. It is worth it. I massaged my kale for about five minutes. As I was going through, I also pulled out and stocks that I may have missed when tearing it earlier. The pieces of kale should be bite sized.

I then added the orange and the beets to the kale, turning to the shrimp. In a saute pan, warm up a tiny bit of olive oil to coat the pan. Once hot, add in the frozen shrimp. Let it sit a second and mix up the shrimp, breaking up those pieces at that frozen together. Cover with a lid for a few minutes to encourage the defrost. Once the ice is melted, empty 3/4 of the liquid into the sink. Squeeze with lime, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through.

The squash should now be hot and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Drain shrimp and add to kale. Pour in hot squash once cool enough to touch. Add seeds and dressing and toss.

This salad is GOOOOOOOD.