Category Archives: vegetarian

Orzo Salad – and a delicious red wine vinaigrette

Fresh Basil from the garden

This is a wonderful recipe I am passing on, the original was from Giada de Laurentis and I’ve since doctored it up to suit my tastes.  Upon going to prepare recipe I realized that I didn’t have any garbanzo beans so I substituted red kidney beans.  Feel free to add and subtract ingredients and  do whatever you like with this delightful recipe.  Sometimes you feel like pasta but not really and this is it.   It is perfect at room temperature. What I mostly like about this recipe is that you can use what you have in the pantry and in the house. I have to say the mint and the basil gave it a wonderful fresh flavor and I wouldn’t omit them.  Super Fresh! The vinaigrette is delicious and fresh tasting as well, so give it a try. It also cooks up very quickly which is always a plus for me.

Ingredients: 

4 cups chicken broth ( to keep it vegetarian just use vegetable broth) I like the broth rather than plain water . It adds extra flavor to the orzo.

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed , I used 1 can of Red Kidney Beans because I wanted to make recipe and didn’t have Garbanzo Beans, it was just fine. Any type of bean is fine.

1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, if you can get those great little yellow ones do so. Halve the tomatoes. Use red and yellow. So pretty!

*app. 3/4 cup chopped red onion — If you don’t like onion you can omit it or add a little less

1/2 – 3/4 lb. feta cheese ( sometimes I use crumbled and sometimes I cube it) makes no difference ( I love the cheese but you can omit)

*1/2 bag frozen green peas ( also optional) didn’t use this time–optional

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

3/4  to 1 cup of the Red Wine Vinaigrette dressing ( listed below) but you’ll use as much or as little as you like

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Directions for the Orzo:

Bring broth to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until orzo is tender but still firm, stirring frequently, about 7 – 10 minutes. Drain the orzo as you would pasta in a colander. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss and let the orzo cool down. Set aside to cool completely.

When orzo is cooled down, toss the orzo with the bean, tomatoes, onion, basil , mint and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste with additional salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in the blender. While machine is running , slowly add in the olive oil. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper if desired.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is one of my favorite Chinese food staples in the restaurant and takeout. I decided to make it myself and this is what I did.

It really came together rather quickly even though there are so very many ingredients.

Really delicious and served over brown rice or white rice or any rice or no rice.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the Marinade:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Dry Sherry

2 Teaspoons Corn Starch

1- 1 1/2 Chicken Tenders or Breasts cut into app. 1 -2 ” chunks– boneless and skinless chicken breasts

For the Sauce:

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce

1 Tablespoon Asian Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes — use less if you like it very mild–this did not make it spicy hot but use at your own discretion

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup water

For The Stir-Fry Chicken

3 – 3 1/2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 large red bell pepper , diced

2 stalks celery — I diced but you can slice thinly into small pieces do whatever you prefer with it

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

5 scallions, white and green parts — I diced but you can slice thinly here too

1/3 cup whole roasted unsalted cashews

 

Directions:

Marinate the chicken . In a medium size bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, dry sherry and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the cut up chicken and toss to coat. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. I did this step and then proceeded with the rest of the recipe.

Prepare the sauce: In another medium bowl whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until the cornstarch is dissolved.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or a regular skillet ( spray first with cooking spray) Heat till very hot then add 1 Tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat. Add the bell pepper, celery and salt . Cook and stir frequently until slightly softened and starting to brown, app. 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and set aside.

Add an additional 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil to the pan and set over high heat again. Add half of the chicken ( don’t crowd it) and brown on one side about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces and continue cooking for another 2 minutes — just till chicken is cooked through. Transfer this chicken to bowl with vegetables. Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan and add the remaining chicken and cook the same way as first batch. Add app. 1/2 Tablespoon more oil to the pan along with the garlic and scallions and cook stirring the chicken for another minute. ( if pan still has enough oil you can omit this 1/2 Tablespoon of Oil)

Add the rest of the chicken and vegetables to the pan along with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook until chicken and vegetables are cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick about a minute or two depending on the size of your chicken chunks. Stir in the nuts — I keep them whole. Taste and adjust seasonings but I thought it was just perfect. The sauce will thicken as it sits so if necessary put a few tablespoons of water if too thick.

I served over rice and we ate it right away so sauce was just perfect. If you prepare early the sauce may thicken.

Loved this recipe and will definitely add to my rotation . It seems like a lot of work but honestly it came together rather quickly.

 

Potatoes , Peppers and Onions

What a perfect side dish — goes with any meats , fish etc. I served it alongside humble turkey burgers and it was really delicious! I used whatever color peppers I had in the house and I used Yukon gold potatoes because that’s what I had on  hand. Perfect with some sausage as well. Did I mention super easy???? and all on one pan?

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

app. 2 lbs Potatoes — I happen to have on hand Yukon Gold Potatoes but Russet Potatoes work well as well– any potatoes will work out — cut potatoes into app. 1″ chunks

1 medium yellow onion– cut into 1″ chunks

2 peppers — any color you like — I had orange and yellow on hand– cut into 1 ” chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher Salt — app. 2 teaspoons

Freshly Ground Black Pepper– app. 1 teaspoon

Garlic Powder — 1 teaspoon — if you prefer fresh garlic — use 2 garlic cloves minced

Directions:

*important to cut chunks of vegetables fairly uniformly so they cook the same

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl toss potatoes, onion and peppers with oil, salt , pepper and garlic

 Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet — I spray my baking sheet with cooking spray for an easy cleanup

Roast for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown, I stirred halfway through cooking.

That’s it — super easy and super delicious.

* Rosemary would also be good — use fresh or dry — if using dry app. 1 tsp if using fresh app. 2 teaspoons minced

*Oregano — I would use dry oregano as well app. 1 tsp. 

Potatoes , Peppers and Onions

What a perfect side dish — goes with any meats , fish etc. I served it alongside humble turkey burgers and it was really delicious! I used whatever color peppers I had in the house and I used Yukon gold potatoes because that’s what I had on  hand. Perfect with some sausage as well. Did I mention super easy???? and all on one pan?

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

app. 2 lbs Potatoes — I happen to have on hand Yukon Gold Potatoes but Russet Potatoes work well as well– any potatoes will work out — cut potatoes into app. 1″ chunks

1 medium yellow onion– cut into 1″ chunks

2 peppers — any color you like — I had orange and yellow on hand– cut into 1 ” chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher Salt — app. 2 teaspoons

Freshly Ground Black Pepper– app. 1 teaspoon

Garlic Powder — 1 teaspoon — if you prefer fresh garlic — use 2 garlic cloves minced

Directions:

*important to cut chunks of vegetables fairly uniformly so they cook the same

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl toss potatoes, onion and peppers with oil, salt , pepper and garlic

 Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet — I spray my baking sheet with cooking spray for an easy cleanup –spread out so peppers onions and potatoes have room to cook — don’t overcrowd as they will just stem not slow roast

Roast for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown, I stirred halfway through cooking.

That’s it — super easy and super delicious.

* Rosemary would also be good — use fresh or dry — if using dry app. 1 tsp if using fresh app. 2 teaspoons minced

*Oregano — I would use dry oregano as well app. 1 tsp. 

Farro Salad

I made this last night combining my recipe which is on my blog “Summer Salad-Farm Fresh Farro” and Charlie Bird’s Famous Farro Salad. My blog post was from a few years ago long before I ever saw Charlie Birds version.  Please feel free to add veggies at your own discretion. It’s a loose recipe but this is what I did. This would make a great addition to any BBQ or any meal for that matter.

Special thanks to Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad @nytimes cooking site by Melissa Clark

cooking@nytimes.com – one of the best cooking sites I know

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Ingredients:

1 cup Farro

1 cup apple cider

2 cups of water

2 teaspoons kosher salt, and more to your own liking

2 bay leaves

8 Tablespoons extra -virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice- I used 1 large lemon

app. 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan Cheese , I used a vegetable peeler but I do know you can buy Parmesan Cheese shaved this way ( time and mess saver)

app. 1/2 cup shelled Pistachios–I used salted pistachios and chopped them myself. You can use raw pistachios but they’re a tad tasteless.

app. 2 cups Arugula

app. 1 cup torn Basil Leaves

app. 1 cup Mint leaves-cut up into smaller pieces

2 large radishes sliced thinly or rough chopped

Directions:

Farro:

In a medium saucepan, bring farro,  apple cider , dash of kosher salt , 2 bay leaves and 2 cups of water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If farro is cooked but there is still water I put in a colander/strainer and leave it till it cools down. If on the other hand the water evaporates before the farro is done, you’ll have to add a little more water. You can always strain it so no worries–but don’t overcook. Let farro cool down and discard the 2 bay leaves.

Salad:

In a salad bowl (large enough to fold in arugula and mix) whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, I use a wire whisk, it’s an amazing kitchen tool. Add the cooled down farro, parmesan cheese and chopped pistachio nuts, mix well.

This salad base will sit for a few hours at room temperature. I made it that afternoon for that evening and never put it in fridge. Salad is always best at room temperature so if you do refrigerate, just bring to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving, fold in the arugula, herbs, radishes and taste for salt. If not salty enough sprinkle a little flaky sea salt or kosher salt. You’ll thank me for this recipe.IMG_1779IMG_1780

Cinco de Mayo Salad and Green Goddess Dressing

photo (2)photo (5)photo (2) photo Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! This salad is fresh and delicious and perfect for celebrating the day. If you’d like add a protein to it — chicken , shrimp or even tofu. May is here and it brings warm weather and beautiful flowers and springtime has finally arrived here .  This is a perfect way to bring a little Cinco de Mayo into your home in a pretty healthy way.

Any excuse to celebrate a holiday with a new recipe! Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone and here is a new salad and salad dressing to help celebrate with. While I am not a vegan and don’t always cook that way,  I tried this salad dressing which I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good”, and I have to say it is all good! All good ingredients. I am not talking diet food–just good, healthy food, that when eaten in moderation, yields very good results. I used * Vegenaise in making this and highly recommend it in the place of mayonnaise. You can also use yogurt in its place. This is low salt and low sugar. Delicious, fresh ingredients. I made it with the delicious salad listed below. I love love cilantro, and I have to say that if you don’t love cilantro, this one’s not for you. I used half of a jalapeno and it was not hot at all, next time I will use a little more.  I scraped the seeds out. Be very careful handling jalapenos and their seeds–make sure to wash your hands well afterwards and maybe wear gloves to prevent any problems.

*This dressing will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

*a little story about Vegenaise, which is lighter than mayonnaise and contains no eggs, milk or animal products. No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Mix it with Dijon for great flavor in the place of real mayo. Extra added bonus is a great jar to store future salad dressings in.

Stay Safe Guys and Enjoy the Day!

Be in control of your ingredients as much as possible.

Ingredients:

*this will be vegan if you use Vegenaise

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup of Vegenaise, yogurt, or mayonnaise

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)

1/2 green jalapeno, roughly chopped (you can use more or less, whatever level of heat you like)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

DRESSING DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a blender except for olive oil (I open the top and pour oil in after all other ingredients are combined.) It is a beautiful light green color with specks of dark green. Joel was definitely suspicious of the color but he really loved it! Gave it a big thumbs up!

This should serve 4 nicely as a salad but adjust quantities based on how many people you are feeding.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

About two hearts of romaine Lettuce, shredded

1/2 can of yellow corn (or 2 fresh ears of corn, shucked)

1/2 can black beans (I use organic canned beans and rinse and drain them)

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks

approx. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I used delicious cherry tomatoes, halved)

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Green Goddess Dressing (see above)

If you’re using fresh corn, you’ll have to cook it first. I used the canned version this time. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and dress it with about 1/4 cup of the dressing, just so it’s nicely coated. I then added beans, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, cilantro and corn. Add a little more salad dressing, and serve immediately. Joel likes a lot more dressing on his salad so I served with dressing on the side. And no he didn’t eat all that stuff in the salad; he just ate lettuce and tomatoes…he really doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset–Apple/Walnut

DSCN2703This is my easiest Charoset and maybe this year we just have a little bit of this on the table for tradition sake.  It’s traditional in the sense that it’s an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. I add a little brown sugar instead of white sugar and it gives it just a bit more character. Remember, while a reminder of the mortar used in making bricks for Pharaoh, charoset is really just a sweet condiment of apples and wine!

Again try and have a Sweet Passover I know how difficult this year is. If you do nothing more than have a piece of Matzoh with charoset or Matzoh with butter for breakfast.

Stay Safe and Keep on Cooking at Home.

Ingredients:

3 medium Fuji apples (or any other kind you like), peeled, cored and finely diced (use processor to make your life simpler) I usually use whatever is in the house, but on Passover I go through so many apples, so buy what you like (I always like Granny Smith because they are nice and tart)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (buy them pre-chopped)

1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga or just Concord Grape is fine

*20 pitted dates, chopped; or 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

*for a bit of extra added flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (optional)

Directions:

After chopping apples, stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in refrigerator ’til ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. You can also pulse everything together in processor, just be very careful not to over-process. I often do this to save time. You don’t want it too fine, so just go gently with the processor if you go that route. I do it in the processor, and I know exactly how I like it to come out, so go easy with the chopping.  If it’s a little dry or too thick, you can always add more wine. I find this always tastes better after it sits and allows the wine  to really soak and ripen for 24 hours. Before serving, check for consistency and add a little more wine, if necessary.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Garlic and Oil)

It’s been a challenge these days even for someone like me who loves to cook. Cooking every night is one thing but coming up with ideas of what to cook is quite another. Hopefully I have helped you with this a little. Everyone needs a little inspiration now and then and this is definitely one of those times.

This is a super easy recipe with very few ingredients . Hopefully you’re all getting what you need from the supermarkets. Add along these easy ingredients and you’ll have a delicious meal.

Stay Safe and Keep Cooking at Home along with me.

 

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

INGREDIENTS:

1 box spaghetti (16 oz.)

1/3 cup olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

Kosher salt

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Save about 2 cups of the pasta water before you drain the pasta.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot (large enough to hold the pasta; a large sauté pan is perfect.) Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently without burning the garlic (be careful!). Add the red pepper flakes. Add the reserved cooking water from pasta to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 tsp kosher salt and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until liquid is reduced by about a third.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water and set aside in the event you’ll need some liquid for the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and give it a good toss. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and parmesan and toss to coat well. Allow the pasta to sit for a few minutes or until the sauce is absorbed. Taste for seasonings and serve with additional parmesan cheese on the side. If pasta looks dry add a little of the pasta water and mix well till pasta absorbs the water.

*If I use shrimp in this, which I sometimes do, I just sauté the shrimp in garlic and oil and skip the parmesan cheese. (About 1/4 lb shrimp per person.) For me and Joel, I use approx 1/2 lb raw shrimp. For 4 people, I use a pound. You can also add broccoli and keep it vegetarian.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (no cream)

This is by far one of my most favorite recipes ever! Super Easy and Super Delicious and did I mention Super Easy? I realize in these trying times we all can’t get to the supermarket or corner fruit stand but if you can manage to get some cut up butternut squash I highly recommend making this recipe. I use an immersion stick blender but a regular blender will do done in batches and please wait for soup to cool off before blending.

I’ve simplified the recipe along the way so that now it is just the way Joel and I like it. it’s pretty easy as long as you buy the squash pre – cut (available in every supermarket, and corner produce store). I always add a little butter to it, but you can totally leave it out. It tastes so creamy you’ll swear there’s cream in it, but really, there is none.  I love a little freshly grated nutmeg in it too, but you can certainly just sprinkle in a very little bit of already grated nutmeg.

*our daughter Kerri is a vegetarian and when making it for her family I swap out chicken broth for vegetable broth

*This can be made without cream so easily–but if you want a touch of richness you can add a little heavy cream into soup and mix in before serving. Totally not necessary but just saying.

And clearly this recipe can be cut in 1/2 for a smaller group but I always make more and freeze it. Upon defrosting you may want to add a little more broth and if you don’t have broth a little water won’t hurt it.

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Ingredients:

4 pkgs. (approx. 4 lbs.) butternut squash (it’s doesn’t have to be exact)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large spanish onion, chopped

8 – 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth–you may need more –I add sometimes before I blend

*1 -2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for this serving size, I use 2 but it’s totally optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*use whole nutmeg – you just grate a little in for flavor. I always tend to use whole, but grated will do. It’s just a touch of it–if I had to guess, I’d say 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon depending on your taste

*if you really want to top it off with a touch of cream you can . Just add a little heavy cream to the soup and blend it right in at the end. Honestly it’s not necessary but it def adds a a layer of richness!

Directions:

In a heavy Le Creuset (or any other ample size large pot), I heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and butter . When oil is heated, put in onion and about 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Sweat out the onions until they are translucent (approx. 5 – 8 minutes).  I then add all of the butternut squash and mix the onions, oil and butter as best I can all over the squash. Next, add enough broth to cover the squash (I used approx. 10 cups of chicken broth to cover). I keep the remaining half a box of broth in case I need it later. Return to a low boil, then bring to a simmer. I let it cook a very long time–at least an hour until soft–and then I turn off the heat and let it sit for a while. I like to make it early and let it sit for as long as possible, because the squash gets very soft. Then right before I am about to serve, I use an immersion blender and blend it into a beautiful smooth soup .  If you need more broth add it as you blend. This is also your salt, pepper and nutmeg moment. Season to taste and blend just until smooth. I leave it in the pot until I need it and then gently warm it up. This soup will keep in the fridge for a few days. It can be frozen as well. Upon defrosting you may need to add more broth. Sometimes I serve this soup with beautiful croutons if I can find them in specialty stores, but it is delicious and beautiful on its own, and very good for you! My family loves it , and I hope yours does too.

*should serve 10 – 12 as appetizer

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

Last night I made these absolutely delicious potatoes. We were eating the chicken from the other night and I had to spice up the leftovers. I made these potatoes and our favorite roasted brussels . Seriously these potatoes were kind of perfect. They hit the spot and after all what more can we get so excited about these days? Try them — the’re delicious. Instead of fairly boring baked potatoes I did this. I had all ingredients in the house including a bag of potatoes that I bought. The Parmesan is what makes it for sure but the paprika doesn’t hurt any either.

*Just a note I halved this recipe for the two of us.

Ingredients:

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes or any Potato really–diced into 1/2″ cubes

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Teaspoons Paprika

3 Teaspoons garlic powder

1 – 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt — I probably used 1 on the 2 Potatoes

3/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground black pepper

4 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese for the win

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Baking sheet should be large enough to hold potatoes without crowding. (see photo)

I placed the cubed potatoes in a large bowl and tossed with the olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, parmesan, kosher salt and pepper. I toss till the seasonings are evenly combined and that’s why I do it first in a bowl. I always do this even with my vegetables before roasting.

Pour out onto baking sheet.

Transfer the potatoes into pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes and then remove from the oven and toss the potatoes as best you can with tongs or spatula. Don’t worry about this if you don’t get every one. Put back in the oven and cook for another 20 minutes. I then tossed them one more time and placed back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so until they were golden crispy. All ovens vary. Total cook time anywhere between 50 and 60 minutes.

Remove from oven and my potatoes needed no extra salt or seasonings –they were perfection on a plate!

 

 

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