So 2013, this is happening!
Resolutions are in full force – are you sticking to yours so far?
I took a look back some of my cooking goals for 2012 to see what I actually accomplished.
Making my own yogurt didn’t happen, and I definitely need to learn more of my Dad’s seafood secrets. But I did make frozen things and, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve made a paella that I’m happy to share with you today.
Please please please tell me you’re not on a juice cleanse. Then you wouldn’t be able to eat paella with me.
The thought of a juice cleanse brings back memories of my job as an advertising assistant for the most serious of all fashion magazines. Picture irritable, high-powered women in an underfed, over-caffeinated state. Juice and stress and terror go hand in hand in hand in my brain. Just say no.
Birthday cake…this is not. This is more like a fridge clean out -slash- way of using up some odds and ends of leftovers situation. Cooked black beans, one corn cob, half a head of cauliflower and some shredded kale – all tied together with my guiltiest spice-blend pleasure: Cajun seasoning.
This wasn’t a well thought-out dish, but it’s a perfect example of my no-wasting, often experimental lunchtime cooking.
Have you heard about this whole “ricing” of cauliflower thing? I think its main selling point is as a low-carb/low-cal substitute for rice. My regular diet is neither of those things, but I was curious – so I took to the food processor.
The idea is to get your cauliflower chopped up so finely (but not too finely) that it becomes rice-like in texture. Then you use it like you would rice – as a bed for a stir-fry or in a pilaf like this one here. I would recommend applying some heat to the chopped cauliflower along with a little olive oil and seasoning, otherwise it’s straight up dry and bland.
Since I had some farro lying around, I added it for some chewy good-for-you grain-ness. But you could leave it out altogether or swap it for quinoa, barley, wheat berries or brown rice.
This pilaf is a total texture party with a great kick to it. It’s perfect as a side for some grilled salmon, chicken or beef. Or, just serve up a bowl with a poached egg on top and some lashings of hot sauce for a good time.
In related news, I’m thinking about changing my middle name to “put an egg on top”. It’s my favorite remedy to magically turn a salad or side into a meal. Poof!
I would also really like to name a pet Oprah, but we can talk about that another time.
Cajun Spiced Farro and Cauliflower Pilaf
- 1/2 cup dry farro (you will have leftover)
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
- olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup diced red pepper
- 1/3 cup corn kernels either fresh or frozen and thawed
- 2 cups “riced” cauliflower
- 1/3 cup cooked black beans
- 2 cups of kale, shredded or finely chopped
- salt, to taste
- a handful of cilantro chopped, to serve
- fresh lime, to serve
To cook Cajun farro: place 1/2 cup farro, 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes until the grains are tender and chewy. Allow to sit covered for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Set aside. Can be made without Cajun seasoning
To rice cauliflower: roughly chop a half a head of cauliflower and place in the food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is chopped into small pieces the size of rice.
In a large pan with high sides, heat a splash of olive oil over a medium high heat, add shallot and cook, stirring for 2 minutes until softened.
Add red pepper and corn kernels and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the corn is browned in parts.
Add remaining seasoning and riced cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until the cauliflower has softened.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in black beans and kale and cook covered until kale is wilted – about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup farro. Season with salt as needed.
Top with cilantro and a spritz of lime. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. Keeps for a few days in the fridge.
Hmm, how can I explain my relationship with my baking trays without sounding like a crazy person?
I just feel like…they’re my best friends of the kitchen.
You know, I see them almost every day and they’re always there to help me with anything I need. Making chocolate bark? Line with baking paper and smooth melted chocolate over one. Cookies? Obviously, they’re the one for the job. Granola, salt and vinegar potatoes, roasting veggies…a baking tray is my partner in crime.
I kind of want to sing the Golden Girls theme song now…but I won’t. That would be legit crazy.
Roasted vegetable ratatouille is a slightly less saucy version of my stove-top favorite but with a way simpler approach. All you need to do is oil up your veg and bake it on our favorite BTs. I made some rosemary croutons to take the whole thing into roasted summer vegetable panzanella territory.
Serve it up on its own or as a side.
Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille with Rosemary Croutons
Ratatouille recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
(serves 4 as a side)
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes
- 1 large red pepper, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces
- 1-2 medium zucchini, cut into half moons 1/2 inch/1 cm thick
- 1 medium red onion cut into large chunks
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 6-8 cloves of garlic still in their skins
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C
Combine eggplant, red pepper, zucchini, onion and rosemary together in a large bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, marking sure everything is coated well. Spread the vegetables out on a large baking tray and sprinkle with salt.
On another baking tray, spread out tomatoes and cloves of garlic tossed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Place baking trays on separate oven racks.
Cook the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes rotating and stirring once halfway. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Let the other vegetables cook for about 40-45 minutes (stirring and rotating the baking tray once or twice.) Let these vegetables cool for about 5 minutes.
Remove garlic cloves from their casings and chop them into smaller pieces.
Combine all the vegetables, tomatoes and garlic in a big bowl and mix well to distribute the garlic. Top with croutons to serve. (Can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.)
- 1 cup of 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes of stale bread (I used sourdough baguette)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Toss bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil and rosemary. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add the bread and cook, turning the pieces of bread over a couple of times, until all sides are golden. About 5 minutes.
There’s a lot to like about chimichurri sauce.
Mostly because there are endless variations of the traditional Argentinian sauce, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a version that you like. The basic recipe has parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. But it’s not unheard of to involve tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and my favorite addition, paprika. The constant in chimichurri for me is the paprika – no matter what herbs are thrown in I must have olive oil, garlic and paprika. I love the deep orange tint and rich, full flavor it gives.
Another excellent rendition is this kalamata olive chimichurri, from Bon Appetit’s 2012 cleanse menu. The salty olives are a perfect foil for the fresh parsley and smokey paprika.
This sauce was intended for a nice piece of grilled beef, which I still plan on using it with, but I also thought I would try it out on some fresh grilled vegetables. To me, the kalamatas are meaty and the paprika is reminiscent of chorizo, so I didn’t even really miss the beef. That said, this makes for a beautiful side to grilled fish, steak, or a seafood paella. You could also serve it over brown rice for a satisfying and colorful meat-free meal.
(adapted slightly from Bon Appetit)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- 1 medium sized shallot, finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a medium sized skilled over a medium heat. Add garlic, chilli flakes, and the bay leaf and cook for 1 minute.
Add shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent. Stir in paprika and cayenne and remove from heat. Stir in parsley, olives, vinegar, and a teaspoon or two of water.
You can prepare ahead and let stand at room temperature until you’re ready to use. Add more water in very small amounts if the sauce needs thinning.
For the Grilled Vegetables:
Ideally, I would do this on a BBQ, but I did a quick pan “grill” session, to speed things up.
All you need is a little olive oil in a pan over a medium-high heat, season the veggies with some salt and pepper and you’re on you way. I used:
- Red pepper/capsicum, cut into thin strips
- Broccoli florets
- Zucchini, cut into thin strips
Add the vegetables that take the longest to cook to the pan first. I put the red peppers in first, because they take a little while to soften but also because they give off the most aromatic flavor of the bunch. Then in went the broccoli for a minute or two, and the zucchini last. I covered the pan to trap a little steam in there to move things along. All up, my veggies took about 10 minutes total.
Spoon chimichurri over the top to serve.