Roasted Radicchio with White Beans, Figs and Walnuts

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I was scrolling through Facebook last night (the eye of winter storm Juno) and a friend’s post caught my eye. The NY Times headline: No Food Takeout During Storm. The Mayor placed a ban on non-emergency travel, cutting off food delivery vehicles. According to Mayor De Blasio, a “food delivery bicycle is not an emergency vehicle”. My comment? New Yorkers are going to be forced to cook (muhaha!) All jokes aside, when you dive in a little deeper, this pseudo-crisis, is well, a crisis.

A friend visiting from out of town commented how little I had in my fridge. But when the time came to make dinner, I dug into my pantry and found a few vegetable odds and ends rolling around in my crisper. Spices, good olive oil and salt, salt, salt, and dinner was done. In 30 minutes, nonetheless. I often cook by way of my fridge”mise en place”, or everything in it’s place. A weekly batch of farro, a tray of roasted vegetables, cooked beans I froze months ago – they all add up to whole meals. I keep rich extras like Greek feta, real, crumbly Parm and toasty walnuts at the ready. This is the way I’ve been cooking for years and most likely the way I’ll always do it. Augmented with something fresh – a gorgeous piece of fish from Whole Foods, a bit of cooked sausage from the butcher, a ripe-right-now avocado, it all gets used.

This warm salad is an homage to my pantry. Thirty minutes of prep work on a Sunday meant this dish came together in 10. This is more of a formula than a recipe. Combine a roasted vegetable with a cooked bean, add some caramelized onions, something crunchy and something sweet. Lemon and salt, always. Maybe there will be a new headline “Storm Brings People Back into the Kitchen”. I like the sound of that much better.

Roasted Radicchio with White Beans, Figs and Walnuts

Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4

  • 1/2 pound white beans (such as cannellini or flageolet), soaked overnight in water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 2 heads radicchio, sliced into 2″-thick wedges
  • 1/3 cup caramelized onions (here’ how)
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried figs, sliced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Drain soaked beans and place in a large pot. Cover with fresh water, add bay leaf and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer. Cook on low, covered, for about 30 minutes until beans are tender. Remove bay leaf and garlic (you may smash the garlic with the back of a knife and stir into the beans). Season the pot with Kosher salt to taste. Keep warm. Beans can be cooked a few days ahead of time and stored in their cooking liquid.

Heat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over radichio gently toss to combine. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper and spread out on baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes until tender and charred in some places. Set aside.

Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. In a large skillet, combine beans, roasted radicchio, mustard and caramelized onions. Heat, stirring occasionally and adding spoonfuls of bean cooking liquid to bring everything together. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and garnish with walnuts, dried figs, lemon zest and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Enjoy warm.

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Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Pickled Red Onion

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Full disclosure: this is not a post about tacos. Yes, these tacos are the bomb-dot-com (does anyone say that anymore?) They happen to be vegan, gluten free and yes, really, really delicious for carb-eating carnivores as well. They take about 30 minutes start to finish. They are also cheap economical and are satisfying enough that you *may* forgo that after-dinner trip back to the kitchen for a brownie. But again, this is not about the tacos.

In an effort to create some balance in my life, I’ve signed up for my fifth (count ’em) half marathon. On May 17th I will be making the 13.1 trip from The Brooklyn Public Library to Coney Island. I can’t help but get nostalgic for my first borough. Jogging in Prospect Park, trekking to the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket – I’ll be running through my past, literally. In the next couple months, I’ll be sharing with you a bit about my training, more specifically what’s fueling me. While I’ve made a career out of cooking for and teaching others, my everyday eating is a lot more pared down and purposeful. Get ready for hearty salads, soups, oatmeal-y breakfasts and lots and lots of green things. Yes, there will be kale (obviously), but also chocolate, more protein-heavy recipes than I’ve shared before and simple snacks I like to keep around.

Let’s do this thing!

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Pickled Red Onion

Makes 8 tacos

Tacos:

  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • Sliced avocado, cilantro and lime, for serving
  • Hot sauce (optional)
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Pickled Red Onions:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

For the tacos: place the poblano pepper under the broiler in your oven and turn occasionally, charring on all sides, about 5 minutes. Alternately, char the poblano directly over a gas flame on your stove. Place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to steam for about 20 minutes. Using a paper towel, wipe off the charred skin, take out the seeds and roughly chop the flesh. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until transluscent. Season with salt. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more, stirring constantly (careful not to burn the garlic). Add the chopped poblano, sweet potatoes and spices. Season with salt and give it a stir. Cover, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, checking periodically and adding a little water if the mixture is sticking to the pan. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft. Taste and season.

While the sweet potato mixture cooks, make the pickled onions. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt, stirring over medium heat to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil, add onions and turn off heat. Allow the onions to ‘steep’ in the vinegar mixture until softened.

Add black beans and stir well. Cover and cook 5 minutes more until warmed through. Heat tortillas over and open flame to char the edges a bit or wrapped in foil in the oven until warm.

To assemble tacos, fill each tortilla with a spoonful of filling, cilantro, avocado, a few pickled onions and a squeeze of lime. These have a good kick, but add more hot sauce if you like things really spicy.

The pickled onions may be made in advance and can be stored in the fridge for about a month.

Creamy Dill Hummus with Crunchy Cucumbers

Sour cream dill dip with pumpernickel bread was a favorite growing up in Upstate New York. Thick, creamy, rich yet refreshing, the dip was plopped in a scooped-out round pumpernickel loaf. The hollowed-out pieces were used for dipping. When the bread pieces were gone, we ate the bread bowl, too. I channeled the dill dip experience here, using fresh ingredients. My standard hummus recipe is jazzed up with a handful of dill, while cucumbers add a satisfying crunch and pickle vibe. Other good dippers: toasted whole grain pita, carrots, endive, jicama and cherry tomatoes.

Creamy Dill Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (liquid reserved, optional)
  • 2 T. tahini
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • Handful fresh dill, washed and roughly chopped (leaves only)
  • 2 tablespoons water or reserved liquid from the chickpeas
  • Extra Virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne
  • Sliced cucumbers, for serving

Directions

In a food processor, combine garlic, chickpeas, tahini, a few tablespoons lemon juice, dill and a pinch of kosher salt and cayenne. Pulse to combine. With machine running, stream in a little water or reserved bean liquid until you reach a creamy consistency (this may take a couple minutes), scraping down sides. For an even creamier dip, stream in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and adjust with additional salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Chill before serving. Serve with cucumbers.

Two Tomato Artichoke Salad with Parmesan and Summer Herbs

Sometimes the best dishes emerge from nothing. Take this salad. I had a couple tomatoes lying around and unfortunately, not much else. With a little dip in the pantry, I assembled a tasty lunch in under 5 minutes. Feel free to throw in more veggies or protein (zucchini and shrimp would be good).

Two Tomato Artichoke Salad with Parmesan and Summer Herbs

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts (fresh, jarred or frozen, defrosted)
  • 2 small tomatoes, small dice
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup assorted fresh herbs (I used basil, rosemary, thyme and sage), coursely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Optional: lettuce or baby greens for serving

Dressing

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and Dijon. Stream in the olive oil. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs and gently toss to combine. Add Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on lettuce or baby greens (optional)

 

Fava Bean & Couscous Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Fava Bean & Couscous Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fava beans, fresh, dried or canned (for how to cook, see this NYT article)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 small tomato, cored, seeded and diced (I used a yellow tomato)
  • 1/2 cup couscous (any type), cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced into a paste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, gently combine fava beans, olives, tomato and couscous.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, cumin and garlic. Whisk in tahini and olive oil in a stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add dressing to fava/couscous mixture and toss to coat (be sure not to overdress). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving.

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans and Rustic Cornbread

I know what you’re thinking: “Clare, really? Another weird, mushy vegetarian bean recipe?  And sweet potatoes…again?!” Yes, yes and oh, most definitely, yes. Guys, I admit it, I love me some legumes. As part-time vegetarian (or flexitarian, although that term denotes some crazed body-builder diet) beans are a staple. They’re like the MVP of foods – filling, inexpensive, versatile, and most of all, delicious.

Okay okay enough about legumes. Let’s talk stew. This dish is an interpretation of a traditional West African ‘groundnut’ soup. A base of sweet potato, tomato and red bell and green chili peppers is accented with the richness of peanuts  for an unexpected and decidedly savory finish. Even my meat-eating friends loved this!

As an added bonus, this dish is easy on the wallet and clocks in at around 300 calories per serving. You can make this on the stove top in about 45 minutes or stew all day in the slow cooker. Serve with simple cornbread or couscous.

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans

Ingredients

Makes 6 servings

  • 2  tsp.  olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium dice
  • 1 15-oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2  cups low-sodium  vegetable broth
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1  tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2  tsp. kosher  salt
  • 1/2  tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4  tsp. black pepper
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1  (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 3  T. creamy peanut butter
  • 3  T. chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • 6  lime wedges

Directions

Stove top:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute 5 minutes or until translucent.
2. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients (through chiles). Cover and cook on medium until sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 mins.
3. Turn off heat and using a potato masher, mash stew until thick and chunky.
4. Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew.
5. Stir in chopped peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Slow cooker:

  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients (through chiles). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew. Top with peanuts; serve with lime wedge

Source: Cooking Light via Jen Loves Kev

Rustic Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 3 T. canola oil
  • 2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. baking powder OR 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or  buttermilk*
  • 1 T. honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place oil in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or similar-size glass baking dish and transfer to the preheating oven.
  2. Mix cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg and milk (or buttermilk); stir until just combined. Remove the pan from the oven and swirl the oil to coat the bottom and a little way up the sides. Very carefully pour the excess hot oil into the cornmeal mixture; stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the hot pan.
  3. Bake until the bread is firm in the middle and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then drizzle with honey.  Serve warm.

*Tip: In a pinch, make buttermilk  by adding 1 tsp. white vinegar to 1 1/2 cups milk

Source: EatingWell

Homemade Veggie Burgers + The Works

Like every other New Yorker these days, I am always on a quest for the best burger. While I eschew meat most of the time (have you caught on yet?), I have found some pretty darn good burgers of the veggie variety. Two of my favorites? Westville in Manhattan and Downtown Bar & Grill in Brooklyn. Even my carnivorous friends like ‘ em, and that’s usually a good sign.

I’ve attempted to make veggie burgers in the past, and they usually end up crumbling apart. Thanks to breadcrumbs, eggs and gooey sesame tahini, these held their shape fairly well.

These burgers make a good canvas to all sorts of toppings. I sandwiched mine between those new deli-flat rolls and jazzed it up with munster cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard.

Quick tip: it’s really important to make sure your skillet is heated before cooking the burgers. You need the oil to be thoroughly heated to get that crisp exterior. Do NOT use olive oil this recipe or you will risk burning – canola or vegetable oil works great.

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Makes 4-6 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup plain dried whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Whole grain rolls, lightly toasted (I like deli-flats)
  • Topping suggestions: lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, red onion, your favorite dressing, sauce or spread

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 cup boiling water. Cover bowl, and let sit until bulgur is tender (but still slightly chewy), about 15 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid.
  2. Place beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher until a coarse paste forms. Add breadcrumbs, scallions, egg, carrot, cayenne, cumin, tahini, and bulgur. Season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine.
  3. Form mixture into 4-6 patties, each about 1 inch thick.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low. Cook patties until browned and firm, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Serve on whole grain rolls with your choice of toppings.

– Source: Everyday Food

Provençal Chickpea Bajane

Bajane is a Provençal term for the midday meal. This dish incorporates two of my favorite (underrated) veggies – fennel and leeks.  Seek out fresh thyme for this one – the flavor is unmatched to the dried variety.

Chickpea Bajane

Ingredients

Quinoa:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  cup  vegetable broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme
  • Chickpea mixture:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
  • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2  cups  sliced fennel bulb (about 1 large)
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fennel seeds (I left these out)
  • 1/2  cup  white wine
  • 1  cup  vegetable broth
  • 4  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (5-ounce) package baby spinach
  • Preparation:

    1. To prepare quinoa, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 garlic clove to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

    2. To prepare chickpea mixture, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add leek and 4 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, fennel bulb, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in 1 cup broth, 2 teaspoons thyme, and chickpeas; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste) pepper, and spinach.

    3. Serve chickpea mixture on top of quinoa. Sprinkle each serving with thyme.

    Source: Cooking Light

    Variations and Serving Suggestions

    • Nix the quinoa and sub in couscous or rice (or forego completely and serve with slices of baguette)
    • Replace chickpeas for cannellini beans
    • Serve as a side dish to roast chicken
    • Toss together quinoa and chick pea mixture and serve cold as a salad (picnic time, anyone?)
    • Pair with a vibrant bone-dry white like pinot grigio, pinot blanc, dry rosé or sparkling wine

    Lemony Arugula and Sundried Tomato Pasta with White Beans

    This versatile dish is one of my favorite go-to dinners ready in under 15 minutes. The ‘sauce’ takes shape as the pasta cooks. Give yourself a head start and stock pantry staples like whole grain pasta, beans and sundried tomatoes. Fresh arugula, a splash of white wine and lemon zest kick up the flavor and add that summertime vibe.

    Ingredients

    ¾ to 1 whole box of whole wheat pasta such as penne or rotini

    Olive oil

    6-8 cups of arugula

    ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

    1 can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed

    1 lemon, juiced and zested

    2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

    ½ cup dry white wine

    Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated

    Fresh ground pepper, to taste

    Directions

    Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.

    While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, being careful not to burn. Add sundried tomatoes and white wine. Turn up the heat a bit and cook for a few minutes until wine reduces a bit. Add arugula, lemon juice and zest and white beans. Cook for a few minutes until the arugula is slightly wilted. Just before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and add to skillet and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Sprinkle with olive oil, cheese and pepper to taste.

    Hummus is yummus

    Hummus. What did we do before it went mainstream? This creamy Middle Eastern dip is a bonafide trend these days and for good reason – it’s tasty, healthy and pairs well with all sorts of crunchy things. At the rate I dip, those little $1.99 containers from Trader Joe’s can sure add up.

    Homemade hummus is a joy to make, just dump and blend. A few musts: garlic, lemon juice and of course, tahini. This sesame seed paste adds a distinct nutty flavor to the chickpea spread.

    I used my immersion blender to puree everything together, but a food processor would work well (my birthday is coming up, hint hint).

    I adapted this recipe from the ever-so-appropriate Ina Garten. I’m sure Ina enjoys her hummus with a pomegranate martini while Jeffrey is out of town.

    Classic Tahini Hummus

    Ingredients

    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed (set some liquid aside)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 2 T. tahini (sesame paste)
    • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
    • 8 dashes hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

    Directions

    For food processor:

    Add all ingredients to the food processor and process until hummus is pureed, adding more liquid if necessary.

    For immersion blender

    Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mash with the immersion blender, adding more liquid if necessary.

    Serve with veggies, pita or crackers (I like Ak-Mak)

    Another way I like to use hummus is in a veggie sandwich. Spread it on some yummy bread (olive focaccia would be divine) and layer on sliced avocado, tomato, red onion and your choice of greenery (spinach, sprouts, lettuce, whatever). A little sprinkle of feta wouldn’t hurt either.