INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR – JANUARY 2018

It’s done. I  just added a new category of recipes to the blog, entitled Incredibly Simple.  You can find it on the right side, scrolling past Blogroll. Under this new category I list recipes that are almost effortless to put together. In the near future I will also make a separate category in the index page, so they are not only easy to make, but also easy to find in the site. For this round-up I share four side dishes, one uses the air-fryer. I am aware that not many people own one, but I was so amazed by the outcome that I had to include it. You can of course make it in a regular oven… it will just take a bit longer to reach the dinner table, and the texture won’t be quite the same.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

MICRO-STEAMED ASPARAGUS  

Inspiration for this recipe came from seriouseats

The simple part of this method is the steaming.  I’ve been using it all the time now. Place asparagus in an even layer on a large microwave-safe plate and season with salt and pepper. Lay a double layer of damp paper towels on top of the stalks, completely covering them. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Check with a fork, if necessary add another 30 seconds to 1 minute. That is it. You can dress them super simply with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, or if you have a bit more time, go for this simplified walnut vinaigrette. 

Toast half a cup or so of walnuts in a skillet or oven. Coarsely chop them and place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of a mild vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, a very light drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, until it all emulsifies. The walnuts will help the process. Season with salt, and add on top of the asparagus fresh from the microwave step.  That is all. You want to know a little secret? The exact same method works well for broccolini too, you might have to slightly increase the steaming time.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
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AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD  

Inspiration for this recipe came from Geoffrey Zakarian on a recent episode of The Kitchen.

Don’t let the simplicity of this non-recipe fool you. The result goes well beyond expectations. As GZ put it on the show, the combination of orange and avocado is a complete winner, and we agree. The only work involved is segmenting the orange. Distribute the slices of avocado on a plate, add orange segments on top. Squeeze all the juice left from the orange in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, whisk a small amount of olive oil to emulsify it. If you like your dressing on the sweet side, a touch of honey will do.  Drizzle on top of the salad, and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top. You can also substitute toasted slivered almonds or walnuts in case you don’t have pomegranate around.  I’ve made it twice in the same week, and intend to keep bringing this to our table. Blood oranges would make it even more special, so keep that in mind.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

ROASTED BROCCOLINI WITH LEMON AND PARMIGIANO CHEESE

Inspiration for this recipe came from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes, by Alison Roman.

Put a baking dish in the oven and heat it to 425 F. You will need broccolini, one lemon, and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.

Add one or two bunches of broccolini to a large bowl, add to it very thin slices of one lemon. Drizzle olive oil all over, just enough to coat the veggies and lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the broccolini on the hot baking sheet in one layer, add a small coating of grated Parmigiano cheese and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until it all starts to get golden, and the broccolini is cooked through.

The cheese will more or less disappear, but you will notice its sharp bite as you bite into the broccolini.  Super simple indeed, and absolutely delicious.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

This is really a non-recipe if I’ve ever seen one.  Fork the skin of the sweet potato a few times. Rub it with olive oil, season with salt.  Place in the air-fryer set at 390 F or the highest temperature your machine will go.  Cook for 35 minutes, turning it once or twice during frying.  Remove from the fryer, cut the skin open, add some butter, salt and pepper. That’s all.

What amazed me about this recipe is that you won’t have to wait for the oven to heat to high temperature to start roasting. The air-fryer needs no advance notice. You turn it on, in a minute or so you are right where you need to be. For whole potatoes or sweet potatoes, it’s hard to beat the convenience of using the air-fryer. And the texture turned out perfect, I think better than a regular oven. We would need a blind test to be sure, but I tell you, this was really really good. Apparently regular potatoes can be prepared exactly the same way and won’t take more than 40-45 minutes to be done. They are on my list for the near future.

So that’s all for now… Four recipes that are so easy to put together, no matter what happened at work, you can face their preparation with a smile. Making life simple is always a good move.

ONE YEAR AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

TWO YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

SIX YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

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AWESOME BROCCOLINI

Ah, the bliss, the joy, the thrill of a stove with hot burners!  Stir frying, and any  other cooking style that imparts a wonderful, golden brown color – promises of great flavor ahead – just can’t materialize without intense heat.  I look at the powerful flame on our stove, and discreetly wipe a tear from my eye … Some things get to me.  A big sink to wash dishes.  An oven with three racks and the capability of 500 F.  Stuff like that.  But, back to food.  I found  some organic broccolini at the grocery store.  It’s a great veggie, a perfect side dish for anything from poultry to seafood.  BTW, it’s not baby broccoli,  but a cross between broccoli and  kai-lan, a Chinese leafy cabbage.  The cross mellows the broccoli character, almost yielding the flavor of asparagus, which explains one of its alternative names: asparation (I’m glad this name didn’t stick!  ;-))

My take on broccolini is a slight departure from the stove-top version of broccoli that I posted a year ago.

BROCCOLINI WITH GINGER AND LEMON
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 small bunches of broccolini, preferably organic
2 tsp olive oil
red pepper flakes
1 tsp grated ginger
zest and juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
splash of water (if needed)

Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel skillet (that will hold the veggies without crowding), when smoking hot add the red pepper flakes, swirl for a couple of seconds and immediately add all the broccolini. Do not move them around, let them get a nice brown color at the bottom. Season with salt and pepper. After a couple of minutes, add the ginger and lemon zest, and shake the pan to move the broccolini and coat well all sides with the ginger, lemon zest, and oil.

Cover the pan, let it cook for 2-3 minutes more, then add the lemon juice – test the broccolini with a fork to see if it’s done to your liking.  If it’s not, and the pan is too dry, add a splash of water and cover the pan again, checking after a minute.  Once it’s cooked al dente, transfer to a serving dish and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  If you are anti-broccoli and think broccolini resembles it too much, please reconsider!  There’s absolutely none of the broccoli flavor/smell that many object to.  Avoid over cooking it, and buy young broccolini, with a bright green color and a firm flesh. This recipe is low in carbs and fat, but sky-high in flavor!  Lemon, ginger & red pepper flakes might very well be my favorite flavor mix right now: good on everything!

ONE YEAR AGO: Pizza! Pizza!

TWO YEARS AGO:  From Backyard to Kitchen

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