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!

EVERYDAY FOOD FOR A QUICK AND EASY DINNER

I don’t buy every single issue of Martha Stewart‘s Everyday Food, but often grab it for a quick browsing at the grocery store. Depending on what catches my eye, I’ll bring it home.  Even though I’ve been reading the publication for years, only last week I noticed they offer free online newsletters, which I subscribed to. If you want to check them out, jump here and choose the ones that appeal to you.  I signed up for “Dinner Tonight” and “Everyday Food”. Once a day I get an email from each with a recipe title in the subject. If it seems interesting, I open it, otherwise I  delete it right away, no time wasted.  Last week, one of these emails was a big teaser:  “Whole-wheat Spaghetti with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce.”   There’s no way I could “skip the click.”  😉

WHOLE-WHEAT SPAGHETTI WITH VEGETABLES AND PEANUT SAUCE
(adapted from Everyday Food)

8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 ounces sugar snap peas, tough strings removed, sliced
3 medium carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes less than specified in the package.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the sliced sugar snap peas and the shaved carrots to the pot with the pasta and cook everything together for a minute.  Drain the pasta and the veggies and set aside.

In the same pot you cooked the pasta, mix together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, combining them well.  Add the pasta and veggies,toss gently, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce that coats spaghetti. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I could not stop thinking about soba noodles while I savored this dish.  It would be a natural match for the sauce and veggies, but whole-wheat wasn’t bad at all.  As to the grilled chicken, couldn’t be simpler:  I made a quick marinade with olive oil, lime juice, tequila, and a touch of agave nectar.  Placed boneless chicken breast filets in the mixture for 15 minutes, seasoned with salt and pepper, and grilled them while the pasta cooked.   A delicious, healthy dinner, ready in less than 30 minutes!
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TWO YEARS AGO:  Lemony Asparagus
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CINCO DE MAYO DINNER CELEBRATION

Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival i...

Image via Wikipedia

If you love Mexican food, then Cinco de Mayo is a perfect excuse to invite some  friends over and make a tasty dinner at home. The holiday is celebrated with more enthusiasm by Mexicans living in the US than by their compatriots in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with Mexican independence (that happened in 1810), but instead celebrates a huge Mexican victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla,  36 years later.  Outnumbered and outgunned,  all odds were against the Mexicans, but they pulled off a spectacular victory, and now celebrate the date with all the pride it deserves.

Because we are living in California this year, I want to make a special dinner with a truly authentic recipe that’s appropriate for Cinco de Mayo.  Mexican cuisine is famous for moles : sauces that may be complex, time consuming to prepare, and a bit intimidating for the unfamiliar (such as myself).   After a lot of research I settled on  a recipe for chicken in peanut mole sauce, and made a “trial run” this past weekend.   Tasty, tasty, tasty….  And, by the way, if you throw a Cinco de Mayo party, make sure to serve a batch of guacamole for starters.  My husband’s recipe es muy deliciosa!

POLLO EN MOLE DE CACAHUATE
Chicken in Peanut Mole Sauce
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican Cooking)

1 (4-pound) stewing chicken, cut up
8 cups water
4 stalks celery with leaves
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 sprigs parsley
2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp salt (+ more for final seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (10-ounce) tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 slices white bread, torn in pieces
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 whole cloves
3 whole black peppercorns
1 (1/2-inch stick) cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 small clove garlic, minced

Place the chicken pieces in a large pan or Dutch oven with water. Add celery, carrot, onion, parsley, bouillon granules, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over very gentle heat for 2 hours or until the chicken is tender. Don’t let the water boil, make sure it stays at a constant simmer.

Take the chicken pieces from the pan (remove the skin if you like) and season it lightly with salt. Place the pieces in a baking dish. Strain the broth; skim off fat. Reserve 1 + 1/2 cups of the broth for the sauce. Let it cool slightly before proceeding with the recipe.

Make the mole sauce: in a blender or food processor place the reserved chicken broth, tomatoes with green chiles, bread, and peanut butter. Cover and blend until completely smooth. Place in a saucepan.

With mortar and pestle (or in a spice grinder) crush cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon well; add to saucepan along with chili powder and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.

Spoon the peanut mole sauce over the chicken pieces in casserole. Bake, covered, in 350-degree F. oven 30 to 40 minutes or till heated through. Remove the cover and run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want a little more color.  Serve the chicken over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

for an oldie but goodie from Cake, click here

Comments:  Don’t use a small, fryer-type chicken for this recipe, or you’ll  end up with dry and tasteless meat.  You need a stewing chicken, in all its plumpness, to stand up to the long cooking;   at the same time it will give the broth an intense, deep flavor.  You can freeze the leftover broth for use later, just remember it has a little salt already added to it.  Even using the correct size of chicken, make sure the cooking liquid is kept at only a gentle simmer.  I’d say this is the most important point to keep in mind when making this recipe.

The mole sauce seemed a tad too spicy when it finished simmering, but it mellowed during the final baking. The small amount of bread gives it that extra substance, so that the dish, as my husband stated quite well,  “is Mexican comfort food at its best.”

My first mole adventure will definitely not be the last…

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!

ONE YEAR AGO: Thom Leonard’s Country French Bread

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