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
 .
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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WATERCRESS SALAD

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a weak spot for words. I fall in love with certain words (no matter what’s the idiom) the very first time I hear or read them.  Watercress is one of those.  I just love to say it, and I love to see it written with the twin s’s at the end shushing along hand in hand.  And I also love the veggie, but where we live it’s hard to find.  Plus, when we do find watercress it’s pricey, and sold in plastic containers that require a degree in Puzzle Solving to open. It’s precious stuff!  When I found a carton at the grocery store the other day I gently placed it in my cart, hurried home and made a salad that received intense nods of approval from all guests. Full disclosure: there were two guests, me and my beloved.   😉

WATERCRESS SALAD WITH GINGER VINAIGRETTE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Watercress, preferably young leaves
Orange segments
1 avocado, sliced
cherry tomatoes, cut in half, lightly salted
squeeze of lemon juice

for ginger vinaigrette
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp grated ginger (or use 1 Dorot cube)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/8 cup grapeseed oil

Start by making the vinaigrette.  Dissolve the sugar in the rice vinegar, add the ginger, salt, and pepper, and whisk.  Leave it at room temperature for 10 minutes while you prepare the salad.    Right before dressing the salad, you will add the oil, form an emulsion by vigorously mixing it.

Cut the avocado and sprinkle the slices with lemon juice to prevent oxidation. On a serving plate,  distribute the watercress leaves, the avocado slices, tomatoes, and orange segments.

Add the dressing (you may not need it all, save leftovers for later), adjust seasoning, and….

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you don’t like ginger, this vinaigrette is definitely not for you… Both rice vinegar and grapeseed oil are very mild in taste, so you need something to perk this dressing up.  If ginger is a no-no, add some lime zest and a little squeeze of lime juice.  That should do it.

Blood oranges are perfect if you find them in your markets.  In that case, I’d probably  use yellow grape tomatoes, just to mix the colors.   Chow-mein noodles  are another great addition to this salad.  I avoid bringing them home, though, because they usually win the battle against my will power.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread

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