BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER

Some call it bowls, but I will go with platter. It is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a meal, all components served together. Not too long ago “sheet dinners” were a thing. It seemed like every popular food blogger was showcasing them. I never joined that party, because I find it hard to perfectly time the cooking of different items on the same sheet pan. You have to do a lot of rearranging and/or adding ingredients in stages. It never appealed to me. But in this preparation, items are cooked each to their optimal stage, and then simply placed together for the finale.

BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for pork:
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

for veggies:
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz asparagus stalks, cut in pieces
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
splash of water
salt and pepper to taste

to serve:
1 cup bulgur wheat
tomatillo salsa (store-bought)
blood orange segments (or regular orange)

Marinate the pork. Mix olive oil, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper, emulsify with a whisk. Cover the pork with it and leave for several hours in the fridge. I like to butterfly the pork tenderloin, but you can leave it whole. Grill the pork to your liking, when butterflied I like to grill it for a total of 16-18 minutes. We do not like pork pink in the center, so do as you prefer.

Cook the bulgur in 2 cups slightly salted water, boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until water is absorbed and grain is cooked. Reserve.

Heat the final tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add asparagus, bell pepper, water, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes, then remove the lid, increase the heat and cook until the bell pepper starts to get some golden color.

Assemble the dish. Place the cooked bulgur on a platter, top with the cooked veggies. Cut slices of the grilled pork and arrange on top. Add orange segments, and drizzle a nice amount of tomatillo salsa all over the dish. You can process the salsa in a small food processor to make it smooth, or use it straight from the bottle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one delicious meal! I know you can make your own tomatillo sauce from scratch, but we often use bottled and don’t mind it at all. It makes life easier and there is no compromise of flavor. You can use freekeh, quinoa, couscous, in place of the bulgur. Bulgur cooks so fast, it is a great option. The blood orange gives that burst of freshness, and goes perfectly well with the tomatillo salsa. This will be incorporated in our regular rotation, no doubt. I hope you’ll give it a try!

ONE YEAR AGO: Baking through the blogosphere

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THREE YEARS AGO: Macarons with Ganache Noisette

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quiche with Asparagus and Fennel

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fakebouleh

SIX YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

NINE YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

TEN YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA

Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.

BLISTERED ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA
(from Joanne’s blog Eats well with Others)

for the Masala:
100 g raw cashews
35 g raw pepitas
30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste)
20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves)
2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture)
½ tsp asafetida

for the asparagus:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)

Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.

If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.

Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Home Bakers Collective, April Project

TWO YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Eggplant Meatballs

THREE YEAR AGO: Uzbek Flatbread

FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite – Black Sesame FOUR

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Orange Mini-Cakes

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, May 2015

SEVEN YEARS AGO: P90X3, a Review of Tony Horton’s Latest Fitness Program 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pasta and Mussels in Saffron Broth

NINE YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

TEN YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

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.


ONE YEAR AGO:
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TWO YEARS AGO: Extreme Chocolate Cupcakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Kamut Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Joys of Grating Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Auberge Pecan-Walnut Bread

SIX YEARS AGO:Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars
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SEVEN YEARS AGO:Lasserre, a French Classic
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EIGHT YEARS AGO:Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates
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NINE YEARS AGO:Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze
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TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce
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ELEVEN YEARS AGO:Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

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FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

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THE QUASI-VEGAN QUICHE

As you know, we are members of the Omnivores Without Guilt Club, but what you probably don’t know is that I own many cookbooks on Vegan cooking. I like the concept and the challenge of preparing food that tastes great but is more limited in the ingredients used.  I had very good intentions to make a fully vegan quiche for our dinner, but ended up adding 1 egg to the filling. Oh, well. It turned out very good, and even the resident critic, who considers tofu to be penitence, loved it!

ALMOST VEGAN TOFU QUICHE
(inspired by The Minimalist Baker)

1 rectangular pie pan, 8 x 11 in

for the olive oil crust:
for the pie crust:
250g all-purpose flour (260 grams)
1/8 teaspoon salt
50g olive oil (50 grams)
125 g cold water

for the filling:
12.3 ounces extra-firm silken tofu (patted dry)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp hummus
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
1 egg
2 medium zucchini (thinly sliced)
1 Tbs olive oil medium diced onion per 2 leeks)
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 stalk asparagus
Herbes the Provence (as much as you like)

Make the crust. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the olive oil, stir with a fork until the flour gets coated with it, forming a crumbly ness. Slowly add cold water and knead gently just until the dough starts to comes together.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate one hour before using.

Roll it over plastic wrap lightly coated with flour, then use it to cover a rectangular pie pan (8 x 11 in) with removable bottom (or a 9-inch round quiche pan). Reserve in the fridge until you have the filling ready to bake. No need to blind-bake.

Make the filling. Roast slices of zucchini coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper for about 15 min in a 420F oven. Reserve. Add drained tofu to a food processor with nutritional yeast, hummus, egg, and a heaping 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper. Process until fully smooth.

Spread the zucchini slices in the bottom of the pie crust. Spread the hummus mixture, gently spreading it over it with a small offset spatula. Distribute the cherry tomatoes over the filling, then the asparagus (if they are too thick, sprinkle them with water and microwave for 60 seconds to soften ever so lightly).

Bake quiche at 375 degrees F total of 30–40 minutes or until the top appears golden brown and firm. If the crust begins to get too brown, loosely tent the edges with foil. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you remember my previous post on a pie using olive oil crust, you will notice that I blind-baked it at that time. Now I tried without this step, and was quite pleased with the result. Omitting the blind baking makes this dish even easier to bring to the table. You can roll the crust hours earlier, or even a day before and keep it in the fridge, protected with plastic wrap.

I promise you, there is no “tofu-taste” in the filling. Until I added the egg, it seemed a bit too coarse and grainy, but the egg smoothed things out and I guess made it all a bit lighter during baking. If you want to make it fully vegan, just omit the egg. One interesting idea to lighten it up but keep it vegan could  be folding into the tofu mixture some whipped aquafaba. Hummmm… something to try. Leftovers were delicious on day 2 and day 3. After that? After that they were gone.

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THREE YEARS AGO: Mississippi Roast and the Open Mind

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