LOW-CARB SUPER FAST CHICKEN PARMIGIANA

Air-fryer to the rescue again… I will give you pretty loose instructions, because how you make it will depend on your carb goals. If you want to do close to zero carbs, omit the bread crumbs. The texture will suffer a bit, but it will still work. If you want to do moderate carbs, use the mixture I did. I am quite surprised by how much I liked the texture of the meat, and the fact that frying the chicken breast on the stove top before baking was not needed at all. A leap of faith was needed for me to try it the first time. I’ve made it three times ever since.

LOW-CARB AIR-FRYED CHICKEN PARMIGIANA
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, lightly seasoned with salt
2 eggs, whisked with a teaspoon of water, salt and Herbes de Provence to taste
50:50 mixture of bread crumbs and almond flour
(lower carb alternative 50:50 mixture of almond flour + finely grated Parmigiano cheese)
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Dip the chicken breasts in the seasoned whisked egg mixture, coat both sides with your choice of “breading.” Spray the basket of the air-fryer with a little olive oil. Carefully place the pieces of meat side by side in the basket. Turn the air-fryer to 390F and cook for 10 minutes. If you are using very large breasts, cook for 12 minutes, but the recipe works best with smallish pieces of meat.

Gently flip the meat over, add tomato sauce and cheese. Air-fry for 6 additional minutes. Remove the meat and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are three little issues that might annoy you with this method. You know I never lie…

First: if you go real low in carbs, the coating is on the soft side. It will be very hard to flip the chicken piece without losing part of it to the basket. Even with the bread crumbs a little bit is lost. I am not sure if the flipping of the piece is necessary, and intend to try without doing it next time.

Second: it makes a bit of a mess in the basket once the cheese melts. I am a neat-freak and that means I spend quite a bit of time cleaning it up and inspecting every little corner. It still does not prevent me from making it, but keep that in mind and don’t get mad at me…

Third: if you have a smallish air-fryer like I do, you can only do two pieces of chicken at a time. It turns out that when I make this, I do the regular kind (stove-top, fried then baked) for the husband, and this lower-carb version for me. But if you are feeding a family of four, this is not a good option.

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AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA

The abuse of culinary terms is alive and well in the Bewitching Kitchen. Raita with no cucumber? Yes, I am afraid so. Let’s call it raita-ish. At any rate, this is delicious. I used the air-fryer to prepare the eggplant, which is fast and furious. But not overly furious. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just roast the eggplant in the oven until it softens into submission. Inspiration came from Nik Sharma’s The Flavor Equation.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA
(adapted from The Flavor Equation)

1 large eggplant
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded, minced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (adjust according to your preference)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush the cut surfaces with the olive oil and arrange them in the air-fryer, cut side up. Air-fry until golden brown and soft, about 25 minutes at 390F (or the highest temperature of your fryer). Remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let cool completely.

Remove the flesh, place in a bowl and season lightly with salt. Add the Serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, and black pepper. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, and whisk well to combine. If you want it fully smooth, use an immersion blender, but I prefer to have some texture so I just used a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt.

Make the toasted spices: heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard and Nigella seeds and fry for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the Aleppo pepper and gently mix. Pour the hot oil with the spices over the raita and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really love the book The Flavor Equation (Nik Sharma) but this particular recipe, as written, would not work well for my goals. It would make a very loose dip, with a much higher proportion of yogurt, and that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to enjoy it more as a veggie side-dish to go along a turkey meatloaf (already in the blog and in constant rotation in our kitchen), so I adapted it, as well as a few other minor changes. It ended up working also as a dip, perfect with Ak-Mak crackers.

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ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES AND PEANUT SAUCE

Once again I am following the steps of Joanne. Once again my pictures won’t do justice to how delicious this meal turned out. The peanut sauce is perfectly balanced: salty, sweet, spicy, you will feel like going at it with a spoon, eyes-closed, total bliss.

ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES IN PEANUT SAUCE
(slightly adapted from Joanne’s blog)

2 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch coins
black pepper, to taste
salt to taste
olive oil to lightly coat it (if using air-fryer)

For the quick-pickled veggies
5 oz shredded carrots
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar

For the peanut sauce
6 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek

Pickle the veggies: In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, cucumber, lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set aside as you prepare the sauce and cook the zucchini.

If using an air-fryer, coat the zucchini with olive oil (you can use a spray can), season lightly with salt and pepper, and air-fry at the highest temperature until done (10 to 12 minutes). Reserve. If using a frying pan, add enough oil for a shallow fry, and cook the zucchini on both sides until golden.

Make the peanut sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, maple syrup, sweet chili sauce, and sambal oelek until well combined.

Serve everything over rice, with a nice drizzle of the peanut sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You see that plastic bottle with leftover sauce? You will become very fond of it, and start squeezing it on plenty of stuff. Including your fingers, when no one is around to be a witness.

Truly delicious recipe, you can make it as Joanne did, with crispy tofu. I skipped that and confess that we enjoyed it with one of our favorite proteins, grilled pork tenderloin. But it would be perfect for a vegetarian meal without it. Ground peanuts wold be perfect on top, and that’s what I plan to do in the very near future.

Joanne, I need to thank you once again for bringing so many cool recipes into my horizon…
we loved this one!

FROM OUR GARDEN TO YOU

Two side dishes, tomatoes and eggplant, from our garden to the blog, thanks to the efforts of my beloved husband, who is turning out like a pro in all things backyard – new lawn (Zoysia), ornamental grasses, flowers, veggies, he’s done it all this year!

TOMATO “PONZU” SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the dressing:
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice from 1 blood orange, strained (or regular orange)
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
tomatoes, any kind you like
fresh dill
flake salt

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk well.

Place the tomatoes in a serving bowl, preferably in a single layer, and pour the dressing over the top. Leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then sprinkle dill and salt, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you will be totally blown away by this simple way to serve them. Ours were so juicy and flavorful! Truly spectacular, a great year for tomatoes in Kansas.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT WITH BUTTERMILK-ZA’ATAR SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

NO AIR-FRYER?
No problem: bake in 400F oven and increase time

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt, full-fat
1/2 tsp za’atar
olive oil to drizzle

Whisk the oil, lemon, salt and pepper.  Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score the surface with a very sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Brush the oil mixture on the surface.  Place the eggplant, cut side up, in the air-fryer. 

Air-fry at the highest temperature (mine is 390F) for about 20 minutes, until golden and cooked through.  

As the eggplant fries, make the sauce by mixing all ingredients except the olive oil. Top eggplant with the sauce, add a little more za’atar, and serve. 
  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I should give full credit to my friend Elaine, the Sourdough Queen, who recently got an air-fryer and has been trying all sorts of goodies using it. She raved about eggplants, so I decided to try it myself. She actually air-fryed it whole, and it works great too, so keep that in mind. Our air-fryer is small, one eggplant divided in half barely fits in the beginning, but as it cooks it shrinks a bit. The texture was amazing. I realize the picture with the sauce on top does not look appealing, but you have to once again trust me: the taste was divine! Looks like 2021 will be the year of posting not-so-good-looking pictures in the Bewitching Kitchen. Oh, well… there are worse problems in life.

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TWELVE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE

We arrive at mid-November and I must tell you that this simple recipe goes into the top 10 of this crazy year. For sure. I used the air-fryer, but it can be made in a regular oven adjusting time and temperature as I mention in the recipe. It was simple to put together, short list of ingredients, great flavor.

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

for the glaze:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
50g granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but advisable)
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

for the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat preferred)
1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed as dry as possible
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the glaze. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce to a non-stick pan. Heat while stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 3 minutes in medium-low heat. Add the sambal oelek, mix stirring gently until the sauce starts to thicken (about 3 minutes).

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, add to the sauce. Simmer, constantly stirring for another couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken quite quickly. Remove from heat, pour into a small bottle or bowl, cool and refrigerate until needed.

Make the meatballs. Combine the zucchini, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, salt, pepper, ground turkey and almond flour and mix them well with your hands. Add the beaten egg and gently finish incorporating it all. Mixture will be a bit loose. Shape as 12 golf-sized balls. Place over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. If they seem too fragile to move around, stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes, it will not affect their roasting, maybe require just a couple of extra minutes.

Heat the air fryer to 390°F, and keep your regular oven at around 300F to keep the meatballs warm as you finish them. If not using an air-fryer, set your oven to 400F to roast the meatballs.

In the air-fryer, they will be ready in about 12 minutes, flip them over mid-way through. In a regular oven they will take 20 to 25 minutes.

As soon as the meatballs are finished cooking, coat them with the spicy glaze. If preparing them in batches, keep the first batch in a 300F oven as you cook the second batch. Serve with your favorite side dish, steamed rice and/or vegetables.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The glaze is the same kind used to dip Spring rolls made with rice paper. You can conceivably buy it ready in the grocery store, but making it from scratch is easy and the pay off is huge. If you like it really hot, add a touch of cayenne. For us, it was the perfect level of heat. Sambal oelek is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the fridge.

As to the zucchini, better avoid using a food processor to shred it. There is something about the size and texture of grating by hand that makes it perfect to combine with the meat. The only variable to keep in mind is the amount of water retained in the zucchini. Squeeze as much as you can, but consider increasing the amount of almond flour to have a consistency that allows you to form the meatballs. Use your intuition.

The meatballs can be formed in small size and served as appetizer with small lettuce leaves to grab them. We enjoyed them as a regular main dish, with white rice and sugar peas made in 5 minutes. Those must go into a future Incredibly Easy post. Stay tuned!

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