Posts tagged ‘parmesan’

October 23, 2013

Warm Fennel White Bean Dip with Kale and Parmesan

Food 2013 013 I’m not going to tell you that I’ve been too lazy to keep up the blog lately. Or that my daily routine leaves me tired and uninspired sometimes. I’m not going to tell you that I feel just a teensy bit overwhelmed with planning a wedding or that I like to give my brain a rest with an episode of Scandal most weekdays. Because you don’t wanna hear that complain-y crap!

What I am going to tell you is that I’m back to share recipes with you.

While I’ve been away from voracious for a bit, I’ve still been in the kitchen most days cooking nourishing food to keep us going. I’ve even cooked some especially good things. But I’ve mostly been falling back on dishes that are easy for me to make and aren’t deemed “blog-worthy”.

I’m making a promise to work harder to share the dishes that are coming out of my kitchen with you – because I know that we all need a little inspiration for simple healthy food that tastes good. Or at least I do.

And I’m starting out easy with a dip.

This is a new spin on the old can of white beans. Or bulb of fennel, depending on how you look at it. It’s creamy, dip-able, spreadable and great for sharing. I love the fresh rosemary in this but you could use thyme, parsley, basil or any other herb, really. I’d probably use a bit more when using leafy herbs though.

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April 1, 2013

Eggplant and Butternut Squash Bake

eggplant and butternut lasagna

I know, I know. I’m the worst.

I haven’t written. I’ve been in a hole of nine-to-five-ing. During the week I’ve been getting up to exercise at 6 am and not getting back home until almost 7 pm.

I’ve been cooking all along, but mostly after the sun is almost gone and there’s no pretty light. The food itself  hasn’t been the cutest. It’s been nourishing combinations of vegetables that don’t necessarily look that great, but it’s exactly what I need.

And eggs. There’s been a lot of eggs consumed.

On the weekends, I’ve been cooking too – and even taking a few pictures of the process. But mentally I’ve just been too lazy to put words to paper/screen. That’s real life.

I’m going to do better. I just need to find a new rhythm to my writing, cooking and photography that fits in with my real person job.

It’s a work in progress, but I’ll get there.

With the late summer and early fall weather we’ve gotten both butternut squash and eggplant in our vegetable delivery box for a few weeks in a row. I’ve cooked these two together in quite a few ways – with Moroccan spices in the slow cooker and roasted on a baking sheet. With quinoa, atop a bed of greens, with lashings of sriracha, and with a poached egg on top.

I would never necessarily think to put these two vegetables together, but they’ve been a surprising hit. They’re meaty and filling, complex and satisfying – the butternut squash brings a sweetness and the eggplant, an earthiness.

I thought about calling this a pasta-less lasagna but I landed on Vegetable Bake. The layering aspect along with the ricotta, pesto and tomato sauce is totally reminiscent of lasagna, but calling a pasta-based dish pasta-less is just straight up inconsiderate.

January 15, 2013

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad

sundried tomato pasta salad #voraciousvander

This pasta salad is summer. It’s backyard barbecues and days at the beach.

I hated summer camp as a kid. Loved summer (duh), hated summer camp. I went to one of those day camps with my best friend at the local high school. I mean, we were in a school during the summer – what’s that about?

We spent our days trying to avoid playing volleyball and kickball and sitting around in our overalls, making friendship bracelets and talking about which Now and Then character we were. The highlight of my day was getting a frozen Snickers or a Gatorade from the vending machine.

Another thing I always looked forward to was lunch (yes, some things are very much the same.) I think my mom knew I hated camp, (I may have made it painfully obvious. In fact, that may have been the summer I perfected my signature eye roll.) so she sent me off with some extra special lunches in the summer months. Ones like this one, that I still think about.

July 31, 2012

Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

There are some things that I really wish I was interested in. Like cricket, football or the stock market.

This is mostly because I like to have something to say about everything, but when these topics are brought up…I’ve got nothin’.

I also really wish I was into astrology. Like, actually believed in it.

I’ve tried…I started reading my Astrology Zone forecast at the beginning of the month and have managed to find some tenuous links between what was predicted for me and my fellow lionesses and what has actually happened. But my trusty internal skeptic is kind of a loud-mouthed biatch.

I am, however, beginning to fully buy this Mercury in retrograde business.

For the past few weeks I’ve been seriously struggling in the inspiration and writing departments. While this is probably due to a number of other, more earthly things, I’m going to go ahead and blame it on an astrological issue.

If you’re looking to make excuses for your poor communication skills over the past few weeks, read more about this MIR beast here or here.

Something good that’s come out of these chilly July days is my daily reinvention of the warm salad.

Healthy, satisfying and endlessly adaptable – it makes the perfect lunch or slack dinner if you’ve got access to a large skillet. I’ve been using lots of warm grains, wilt-able greens (like kale and spinach), and quick cooking vegetables (like corn, zucchini and snow peas.)

This salad was one of my favorites – a nod to the summer weather in the northern hemisphere with the zucchini and peas, but served on the warm side to keep me toasty on cool Sydney winter days. If fresh peas aren’t an option, frozen work fine too.

It’s a simple combination, but the Parmesan and a generous amount cracked pepper really give it that extra (boom boom) pow.

Put an egg on it to make it a dang fine meal.

Pea and Zucchini Farro Salad

- 1 cup cooked farro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, grated on a box grater
- 1 cup shelled peas (or frozen and thawed)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- salt, to taste
- a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper

To cook farro: place 1 cup farro in a pot with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, covered for about 15-20 minutes until tender and little chewy. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.

If using fresh peas, blanch them first in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and run under cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add grated zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the zucchini is heated through and softened. Stir in peas and cook for 1 minutes.

Stir in farro. If the farro is room temperature or cold, cook for 1-2 minutes until warmed through.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and heaps of cracked pepper. Serve warm, at room temp or cold.

March 14, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper, Chili and Cashew Dip

A fun fact about me: I am a huge klutz. Like, textbook definition of clumsy, uncoordinated, and awkward. It’s kind of unfortunate.

I’m terrible at all sports, so I generally try to stay away from those.

Other things are not so easily avoided. I knock over full cups of liquid almost daily, I carelessly cut and burn myself while cooking (we need to keep a first aid kit in the kitchen), and I knock my shin into the bedpost pretty much every time I walk past it.

Family members sarcastically call me Grace.

I’ve tripped while jogging, resulting in serious cuts on my hands and knees. Which was pretty painful and embarrassing. I did that twice. The second time, I cut and scraped the exact. same. places. WHO DOES THAT?

Gauche. So gauche.

Something I cannot manage to screw up: this dip. Pantry staples + food processor = accomplishment without injury (thanks, largely in part, to the advanced safety features on my food processor.)

The sweet and smokey peppers, the crunchy sweetness of the cashews, and the salty Parmesan are tied together perfectly by the chili. You can control the spiciness with the amount of chili paste you use. A half a tablespoon is a good place to start. I used a whole tablespoon – which gives it a definite edge without overwhelming the whole operation.

Dip it, spread it, mix it. It’s excellent with eggs, roasted veggies, toast, avocado, rice or quinoa, on crackers or pitas, with chicken or fish…you get the idea.

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper and Cashew Dip
- 3-4 large whole roasted red peppers (or 1 cup of chopped roasted red peppers)
- 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili paste
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- sea salt, to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped but not completely pureed. Adjust seasoning. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes:
Cashews: You could use dry roasted or raw cashews and toast them yourself.
To toast: place cashews in a dry pan over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until golden. Allow to cool before using.

March 8, 2012

Zucchini, Garlic and Rosemary Soup

Dang, if ever there was a soup day in Sydney – today is it.

Each day I’ve been trying to write down 3 things that I am thankful for. It doesn’t matter how big or small, I just throw them in an Evernote list as I think of them. It’s supposed to be a practice in positivity. I learned it from a TED talk, so it must be a good idea.

A lot of times, I find myself thinking of  things I am grateful for in times of frustration, which makes me think that it’s working.

Stuck at the bus stop for 45 minutes in the rain? I am thankful for a warm, dry home to go to, fresh banana bread on the counter and a slack tea with my favorite guy.

I have also noticed that a lot of my gratitudes are weather-dependent. You can usually tell what type of day it was by at least one item of the three.

Today’s thankful three would look something like: sweatpants, cookbooks and soup. (Food is another common theme, as you might have guessed. I’ve mentioned important things like cheese, popcorn at the movies, curry and banoffee pie.)

I usually have a couple of zucchini kicking around in my fridge this time of year. Most of the time, I just roast them with heaps of seasoning until they taste like candy. But I thought I’d branch out when I saw a recipe for zucchini and mint soup in Gourmet Traveller. I decided to swap the mint for rosemary to justify the addition of cheese. I also doubled the amount of garlic, just because.

And that is what I call good decision-making.

Zucchini Soup with Rosemary and Chili
inspired by Gourmet Traveller

- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 medium zucchini, diced into 1 inch/ 2.5 cm pieces
- 3 small chat potatoes, diced very small into .3 inch/1 cm pieces
- 600 ml of hot vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, plus an extra to garnish
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- sprinkling of toasted almonds to garnish

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion, garlic and chilli and stir occasionally until tender, about 5-6 minutes.

Add zucchini, potatoes some fresh ground pepper and sprinkle of salt. Stir occasionally until the zucchini is bright green, about 4-5 minutes.

Add hot stock, increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer until zucchini is just tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes. Process with a hand-held blender or in a standing blender until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the pureed soup back up to a boil. Stir in Parmesan.

Serve warm with more Parmesan and toasted almonds.

January 20, 2012

Raw Silverbeet Salad, inspired by City Bakery

I worked at City Bakery in New York for a brief stint. They’re known for their hot chocolate (they allocate a different type of hot chocolate to each day of February! Insane!), handmade marshmallows, divinely buttery cookies and the invention of the pretzel croissant (oh dear lord, the pretzel croissant is perfection.)

I gained a few L.B.s that autumn. No big deal.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of working there was their lunch buffet, which we were given full access to on our breaks. Chef Ilene Rosen is responsible for this impressive savory spread that never failed to beautifully highlight seasonal vegetables. A mainstay of her salad bar is the raw kale salad. People love this dish. Rave about it. How does she make kale taste SO good?

I know that I have a strong affinity for all edible plants, but if ever a vegetable dish could be likened to crack – this would be it.

It’s so simple, but so perfect. Salty aged cheese with the fragrant crunch of hazelnuts, the sweetness and bite of a little red onion amidst a bed of dark emerald ribbons of kale.

Very romantic right?

I felt that a home made version was in order this week. Unfortunately, I cannot find kale in Sydney so I used silverbeet – that’s Swiss chard to my fellow Americans. I love kale, but this works just as well here. And truth be told, I think the good quality cheese and olive oil play a big roll in the crack-ishness of the dish.

Another thing I love about this salad is that it can be dressed hours before serving it. Because the silverbeet and kale leaves are much stronger than spinach or lettuce, they take on the olive oil gracefully – like they’re being marinated. You can of course eat it right away too – but I think it gets a little better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Raw Silverbeet Salad, City Bakery Style
(Serves 4 as a side)

- 6 cups-ish of silverbeet (or kale) leaves, center stems cut out and finely shredded*
- 1 small red onion or shallot, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/4 cup good quality Parmesan or aged Gouda cheese, finely grated.
- salt&pepper
- pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)

Toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet on a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until golden and fragrant. Set aside.

Put silverbeet and sliced onion in a large mixing bowl, pour olive oil in and mix well (this coats the leaves so the cheese can stick to them). Add vinegar, chilli flakes, a little bit of salt* and a healthy grinding of black pepper. Toss again.

Add cheese in batches and toss, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Finally, add hazelnuts and dried cranberries. Serve within a few hours.

While the salad is perfect on its own, it also welcomes many different additions.
Some options:
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Granny Smith apple
- Red pepper, thinly sliced
- Avocado
- White beans

*Notes:
I would really recommend spending an extra minute making sure your silverbeet leaves are very finely shredded. Because the leaves are on the tougher side, the texture of the salad is much more enjoyable with thin ribbons of the bubbly leaves.

Only add a little salt, if any, of your own. The cheese will bring the saltiness.

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