We always think of braising meats to bring out lovely, slow-cooked flavors, but what about veggies? Just as vegetables are delicious barely cooked and raw, so too do they gain character from slow cooking. Think of the beauty of caramelized onions, roasted eggplant or smoky greens. This recipe takes advantage of the ability of fresh string beans to absorb savory, saucy goodness when slowly braised in the oven. The Greeks often cook their green beans in tomato sauce until tender – this recipe is a spicy variation on that tradition.
These green beans are great because there’s no work in making them – just throw them in the oven and let them do their thing. I like to make them with Pastitsio as a spicy side dish. You can start these green beans in the oven and then prep your pastitsio. By the time you put the pastitsio in the oven, both dishes will finish at the same time.
Greek-Style Oven Baked String Beans
1 lb. of fresh green beans, snipped of stems
3 small potatoes, sliced into thin half moons
4 cl. of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 c. of tomato sauce
1/3 c. of vegetable oil
1 c. of vegetable stock (can substitute chicken stock)
1 tsp. of oregano
1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 375°. Place all ingredients into a dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a lid. Stir. Bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and sauce is bubbly.
Poundin’ It Out
This recipe is a playful take on the humdrum grilled chicken salad. Rather than constructing the plate as a salad topped with pannéed chicken breast, arugula and sun-ripe tomatoes are piled atop the protein. The result is lovely and delicious, and the whole flip it around, “Alice in Wonderland” appeal is an approach that we should all take on a wider scale. God forbid we ever get boring or bored or both.
The dressing for the arugula is basically an Italian pico de gallo salsa – you macerate the tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and vinegar to form a fresh, bright sauce. If you feel like taking this recipe even further, you can tuck slices of buffalo mozzarella between the chicken breasts for a lovely chicken caprese salad. It’s the kind of dinner that will make you rue the day you settled for a boring salad. Continue reading Chicken Paillard with Arugula
You Feta Believe It!
I’ve always been iffy about potlucks – while you get a lot of really excellent homemade treats from fellow cheffies, you always run the risk of tasting something god awful (or more likely, something that’s passable that you know that you could make better). As such, I’m always juiced for recipes that are killers at parties – I won’t be subjecting others to questionable dishes, and if all is bad, I can just make a meal out of a little more of what I’ve brought. It’s also a good trick for those with dietary restrictions – if you can’t trust others to feed you properly, bring food that will fit the bill.
I like this pasta salad because it’s made from simple ingredients that most people love, and the flavors are bright and tasty. Nothing strange here – just crisp veggies and curly pasta sopping up lemony vinaigrette. The whole mess gets an added treat from crumbles of feta and salty olives. It’s so friggin’ simple, you’ll want to have some on hand in the fridge for an easy side dish on days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Continue reading Greek Pasta Salad
I’m hoping that by posting this recipe, I’ll be making my sister Lexi really, really, really inspired to start making this for herself. It’s her favorite – probably in the top five things that I make that she loves the most. And accomplished chef and baker she may be, she always cons me into making it for her. Maybe it’s like how I feel about a good grilled cheese – I can make it for myself, but it tastes so much better when someone else makes one for me. Come to think of it, Lexi makes my favorite grilled cheese of all time – Tilamook cheddar, feta cheese and a tomato on slices from a pullman loaf. Maybe we were meant to be sisters.
There are very few ingredients in this bruschetta, so you have to use the best ingredients possible. Fresh ripe tomatoes, leafy basil and fruity olive oil make all the difference. This topper is killer on toasted ciabatta, baguette rounds brushed with olive oil and baked, or even focaccia. If carbs aren’t your thing, try it atop chicken paillard (or a simply grilled chicken cutlet) and a handful of arugula. It’s a bistro meal without a ton of calories. You can also toss this bruschetta with boiled, cooled potatoes and blanched string beans for my absolute favorite salad of all time (similar to my Potatoes Vinaigrette).
This bruschetta doubles and triples easily – make enough for friends, but not enough for leftovers. It’s best eaten the same day before the tomatoes become soggy and too acidic. It’s a carpe diem kind of recipe, so tuck in post haste.
2 c. of chopped tomatoes
1 shallot, finely diced
3/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
5 tbs. of olive oil
2 tbs. of red wine vinegar
7 leaves of fresh basil, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced
toasted bread or crostini
Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, shallot and basil to a bowl. Toss with olive oil and vinegar. Taste for seasoning. Top crusty slices of bread with a few tablespoons of bruschetta and serve with sprigs of basil for garnish. Or put out the bread and bruschetta and let people assemble for themselves. For non-vegans, you can serve bruschetta topped with slices of buffala mozzarella as an added treat.
Summer, Summer, Summer Time! Oooooooh, Summertime!
Ok, maybe not summer yet, but I do like it when I can get produce to do my bidding at any given season and remind me of the joys of a fruitful harvest from the garden. This salad, based on one that I fell in love with at the restaurant The Smith, is a bright assortment of crisp and tart, sweet and salty flavors. It’ll make you want to sit in a hammock and sway on a warm summer night.
The salad calls for heirloom cherry tomatoes, but these little gems can be hard to come by out of season. As such, get the freshest ripest tomatoes you can find, regardless of size or color. In the middle of the summer, stores and markets offer what they sometimes call “ugly” tomatoes – these are actually heirlooms that are truly the tastiest tomatoes you can buy. Bumpy and abnormally shaped on the outside, they are bursting with juicy sweetness, reminding you of the joys of homegrown produce. My favorites are an heirloom variety that I used to grow back in the day called “Black Krim’s” – they were a sickly dark green on the outside and a gorgeous purple on the inside. I only gave them to people I liked, even when I had bumper crops of tomatoes hanging from the burdened vines. Continue reading String Bean & Heirloom Tomato Salad
Phoning It In Can Be Sexy
I seem to collect bolognese recipes like a bad habit – many are more complicated than this one and involve grinding your own meat and tomatoes, slow simmering for days, and babysitting the whole operation until it comes to a savory finish. “The Big Sauce” as my Vo calls it. And yet, this recipe manages to conjure up the same “cooked for days” taste with a whole lot less work.
The recipe calls for a few funny things – like baking the bolognese in the oven, simmering the sauce with parmesan rinds and then finishing the pasta off in the pan. All of these steps will help turn your sauce into something extraordinary. Continue reading Rigatoni Bolognese