ASPARAGUS AND SNOW PEAS WITH WALNUT CRUMBS

Do you follow Lisa is Cooking? She writes cookbook reviews and is the person I blame for quite a few of my acquisitions, which are usually Kindle versions, so I feel less guilty. Her latest post centered on a book called East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing, by Meera Sodha. I ordered it within minutes of reading the blog post. I modified one of the recipes quite a bit, and share my version with you today.

ASPARAGUS AND SNOW PEAS WITH WALNUT CRUMBS
(adapted from Meera Sodha’s East)

1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed
Snow peas (about 1/4 pound)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, divided
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade (Panko works too)
1 Serrano pepper, very finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
zest and juice of 1 lemon (I used Meyer Lemon)

Start by making the crumb component. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet and add the walnuts and Serrano pepper, season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir-fry for a minute or two, add the bread crumbs, cook until fragrant and getting toasted. Immediately squirt the juice of 1/2 lemon, mix well and transfer to a bowl. Reserve.

Add one tablespoon of oil to the skillet, and cook the asparagus, making sure they form a single layer in the pan with not much overlapping. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook in high heat for a couple of minutes, cover the pan, reduce the heat and allow it to cook in its own steam for another minute or so. Transfer to a bowl, and add a little more oil to the skillet. Now add the snow peas and cook in high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the asparagus and the reserved crumbs to the skillet, warm everything together moving it often. Squirt the juice of the remaining half of the lemon, adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you need inspiration to prepare vegetables in creative, unusual ways, this book is a must-have. But Lisa reviewed it in the best possible way, so just jump to her blog for details. I made the original version of this recipe that used peanuts and quite a bit more of the crumb component, but to my taste it was a bit much. I toned it down and also liked it better using walnuts in place of peanuts. I think a drizzle of walnut oil to finish the dish could be excellent, and I am kicking myself because I did not try it, as I do have walnut oil in the fridge. Best laid plans.

The book is full vegetarian and vegan, but I will use it mainly as a source for side-dishes. This delicious salad (she calls it a salad, although it is served warm), was enjoyed with juicy grilled chicken breasts, a recipe that quickly became a regular in our kitchen. It was a bonus recipe featured in this post from my recent past.


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ELEVEN YEARS AGO:Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

FARARI BATETA

If that title did not call your attention, nothing will. Brazilians might suspect the dish involves potatoes, since the word for them in Portuguese is “batata.” And they would be right. This recipe, aka Ferrari Potatoes, is enjoyed by Hindus on days they must fast. I would not mind fasting with a nice bowl of these in front of me…

FERRARI POTATOES
(adapted from this blog post)

12 oz small new potatoes, yellow and red cut in quarters
1/3 cup peanuts unsalted, raw
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small Jalapeno pepper, very finely minced
1 piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about 1/2 inch in size)
3/4 teaspoon salt
fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lemon

Coarsely grind the peanuts using a mini-food processor and set aside.

Heat the oil into a wide-bottomed frying pan on a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and as soon as they start to pop and release a nice smell add the potatoes and ground black pepper. The idea is to cover the whole surface of the pan with the potatoes, so adjust the amount of potatoes accordingly.

Stir-fry the potatoes for around 12 minutes, until they start to brown. When they are getting tender, add the jalapenos, ginger, and salt. Continue to cook until the potatoes are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, add the ground peanuts on top, the cilantro leaves, and finally sprinkle with the lemon juice, mixing it all gently.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I never thought of adding peanuts (particularly ground!) to a potato dish, but it turned out pretty awesome. This is a recipe full of flavor, perfect to go along a roast chicken, although that would compromise the fasting aspect even further. I will not hold it against you, in fact… that’s exactly how we enjoyed it, with a very juicy clay-pot roast chicken, which will be on the blog soon.

As I mentioned in the recipe, you’ll need to have the potatoes in a single layer so that they all brown nicely in the end. Depending on the size of your skillet, you can add a few more potatoes than I did. No need to adjust the other components, though. It is all going to have a very happy ending.

The peanuts end up looking like sesame seeds, and I bet those would work very well also, so in case you have peanut allergies, go for toasted sesame seeds when you serve it.

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BUFFALO CHICKPEAS

This could be served cold as a salad or right after mixing the cooked chickpeas with the other ingredients. It is delicius on its own for a light lunch. Chickpeas have that earthy flavor I find addictive, and when paired with the heat of Sriracha – another passion of mine – it gets even better… And let’s not even mention the tahini, so I don’t lose my composure.

BUFFALO CHICKPEAS
(adapted from Skinnytaste)

15- oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large carrots, shredded on a food processor
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 Tbsp Sriracha (or to taste)
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp tahini
mixed baby greens to serve alongside (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the carrots with the celery, squirt a little lemon juice, season lightly with salt and mix gently. Reserve.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chickpeas, spreading them in a single layer, and let cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they brown a bit. Stir, season with salt and cook for a minute more. Transfer the chickpeas to the bowl with the veggies.

Make the dressing by mixing the yogurt, lemon juice, Sriracha and tahini. Add to the bowl of chickpeas and veggies, and fold gently. Serve with baby spinach/lettuce right away, or refrigerate and enjoy later as a salad, but in that case do not add the greens.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you might have to add a little water to thin the dressing a bit. Mix it as described, then adjust if needed. As I mentioned, this dish could stand on its own for a vegetarian meal, but we enjoyed it with grilled pork tenderloin for a nice and easy weeknight dinner. Leftovers were my meat-free lunch two days later, barely passed by the microwave just to break the cold from the fridge. The carrots mellow quite a bit after a couple of days in the fridge, so if you like a bit more texture, grate additional raw carrots on top. Crumbled blue cheese would be quite appropriate also…

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MONET’S GLAZED CARROTS

Surprised by the title of this post? Monet was not only a great painter, but also a lover of good food. When we visited his home/museum in Giverny a few years ago, Phil bought the book “Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet”, full of wonderful pictures of his garden and home, including the amazing kitchen. The book even shares a recipe for his favorite cake that he requested every year for his Birthday. That very cake was a technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off a few years ago. Browsing the recipes, the first thing I noticed is how cooking changed over the decades. We now rely so much on ingredients, spices and produce from all over the world. Miso, pomegranate molasses, harissa, dried limes… In Monet’s time it was all quite different. One of the components that was present in many recipes – even the most basic veggie concoctions – was rich beef or chicken broth. For the most part, that was how they intensified flavors. This is a recipe for glazed carrots that intrigued me because it is so different from the way I “understand” glazed carrots. I made it, we loved it, therefore I share…

MONET’S GLAZED CARROTS
(adapted from Monet’s Table)

3 cups of carrots, cut in slices, not too thin, not to thick
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
4 sprigs parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup beef broth (I used canned from Rachael Ray)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (yes, you read that correctly)
additional parsley to serve (optional)

Cook the carrots in 3 cups salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, reserved carrot cooking liquid, and the beef broth. Stir well, then add the lemon juice, powdered sugar and carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to as low as it will go, and leave the lid slightly open so that the liquid will reduce. Cook for one hour, or until the carrots are cooked and glazed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Several things intrigued me about this recipe. I never imagined starting with a roux, using beef broth, and adding a touch of powdered sugar. It also seemed like an awfully long time to cook the carrots. The whole time I kept telling myself – this won’t have a happy ending. But I was proved wrong, way wrong. It ended up less sweet than some of the glazed carrots I’ve made in the past, and with more complex flavor, which I am sure comes from the beef broth.

This was a Polar Vortex dinner that we cooked together. I made the carrots, and Phil prepared a pot roast, simple but I must say it turned out outstanding (sorry ladies, he is taken). To deglaze the pan to make the gravy, he used some of the water I cooked the carrots and that was a winning move. A real back to basics meal. Which sometimes is all we need.

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SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME AND CARDAMON SAUCE

Once again I turn to Joanne’s blog for inspiration. Like me, she also loves Ottolenghi and adapted this recipe from his new cookbook, Flavor. His method calls for high-temperature roasting of sweet potato slices coated in maple syrup and spices. I changed things around a bit, as I am absolutely set on roasting them low and slow (after trying the method described in this post of my recent past). You can conceivably make the sauce and the potatoes days in advance to finalize the dish quickly before meal time. I served it alongside grilled chicken breasts. They worked so well together that I decided to feature both recipes in a single post.

SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME & CARDAMON SAUCE
(adapted from Joanne’s blog)

for potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes, cut crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
olive oil to rub potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
5 tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes, blended until smooth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp lime juice
1 cup water
2 tsp finely chopped dill

For the sweet potatoes. Heat the oven to 300F. Rub them with oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and slow roast for 60 to 90 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool, peel the skin off and slice it into 1 inch thick rounds to proceed with the recipe (can be made a couple of days in advance).

Make the sauce. Combine the olive oil, jalapenos, shallots, and a pinch of salt in a large saute pan over medium heat, cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cardamom, cumin, lime zest, and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes so the flavors can combine, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 425F. Add the sauce to a shallow baking dish that can hold all the potato slices in a single layer, if possible. Place the slow-roasted potatoes on top of the sauce and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Close to the end of roasting time, sprinkle dill on top. If you like a little more color development, use the broiler.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was absolutely delicious, and if you spread the preparation by roasting the potatoes the day before, it is a breeze to put together. I actually find myself slow-roasting sweet potatoes and saving them, still with the skin, for all sorts of uses later. Cardamon and lime in the tomato sauce? Winner combination. I intend to make a roasted tomato soup pretty soon with those basic flavors. Stay tuned. And now, as I promised, the main dish we had with these wonderful potatoes.

BONUS RECIPE

GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients, except chicken (of course). Whisk well until brown sugar is dissolved. Place chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and add the marinade. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, but if you have time allow it to sit for 4 hours or even longer.

Heat grill, and cook around 6 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice on the bias, and serve, preferably with those amazing sweet potatoes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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