August 25, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Zucchini MuffinsYou could almost proclaim these chocolate zucchini muffins cupcakes, they are so full of honey and chocolate. Except they don’t have the creamy swirl on top. Without frosting—it’s a muffin; with frosting it’s a cupcake, do you agree? Continue Reading…

August 19, 2014

Escarole and White Beans

Mangia bene! Escarole and white beans–an Italian classic. They certainly make a hearty meal-in-a-bowl that will warm you on a dreary rainy day.

Escarole and White Beans

This recipe for delicious fragrant escarole and white beans soup comes from the Garafalo family. John Garafalo grows escarole for Ranui Gardens, our CSA, this summer the natacha varietal. His mother Diane, sent me the recipe. (I substitute vegetable broth for her low-fat chicken broth.)

A search on Pinterest will lead you to more pairings of escarole and white beans than you can ever possibly make. Many of the recipes include meat—like sausage, meatballs, or bacon/procuitto. There’s at least one that calls for sardines. Not to worry, the list is long and the photos are many–there are enough vegetarian escarole and white bean combos on Pinterest to keep us happy for a long time.

Is your menu meatless but sometimes you just hanker for sausage? When that happens to me, I bring out the soysage. Generally, I don’t go for meat substitutes, but sometimes…this vegetarian likes to pretend, so I add Gimme Lean “sausage” to my escarole and white beans.

Escarole and White Beans

Escarole belongs to the characteristically bitter endive family, but escarole leaves are more broad, lettuce-like. Like other leafy greens, escarole is full of anti-oxidant benefits and vitamins, especially vitamins A and K. When simmered in a broth, escarole turns juicy, wilty and mild–all good reasons to make this stewy soup.

Diane Garafalo says serve with crusty Italian bread–and mangia bene!

Escarole and White Beans

Note: You will be amazed at the difference when you cook your own beans instead of opening a can. Plus the broth is sooooo much more flavorful! (You want to drain off the liquid from the can.) Start with 1 cup of beans and soak them overnight. Cook the beans with 2 cloves of garlic for 9 minutes in the pressure cooker, remove from the heat, and let the pressure come down naturally.

More Escarole Recipes:

If you like interesting vegetarian recipes and healthy desserts, sign up in the green box on the upper right, below my mugshot—I’ll send you recipes every week.

I’m grateful for rainy days every so often. What are you grateful for? Write me in the comment section below.

This is an updated post with newer photos. The older soup photo at the bottom, below the recipe, was made with canned beans and vegetable stock. The updated photos show beans cooked from scratch and soup using the broth.

Escarole and White Beans

Yield: Serves 6.

Escarole and White Beans

This robust soup will warm you up on a cold and rainy day. Serve with a large green salad and something chocolate-y for dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of escarole
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic or more to taste, chopped
  • 2 (15-oz) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
  • Or 3 cups white beans cooked from scratch
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (see note)
  • Real Salt, to taste (see note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut off the bottoms of the escarole, wash the leaves thoroughly, but do not dry. Roughly tear or chop them into pieces.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 15 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown.
  3. Toss the wet escarole into the pot with the garlic (enjoy the sizzle), and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add a few pinches of salt, grind in some pepper, and give it a pinch or two of crushed red pepper.
  5. Stir in the beans, the cheese, and the broth.
  6. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings.
  7. Let simmer until escarole is tender and beans are soft, about 20 minutes. If you wish, add more broth for a soupier consistency.
  8. Serve in individual bowls. Drizzle each serving with a splash of olive oil.
  9. Let guests add more grated cheese, if desired.

Notes

  • To cook beans from scratch: Start with 1 cup of beans and soak them overnight. Cook the beans with 2 cloves of garlic for 9 minutes in the pressure cooker, remove from the heat, and let the pressure come down naturally.
  • If using broth from beans cooked from scratch, you may not need additional vegetable broth. Taste before adding purchased stock.
  • Taste for salt after adding the cheese because the cheese is quite salty.

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Escarole and White Beans

August 18, 2014

Jalapeño Orange Glazed Tofu with Red Onions and Fennel

Are you looking for a quick high protein meatless meal? Here’s one that fits the bill. It’s easy to make, packs plenty of flavor and low-fat muscle building protein. Plus, this grilled jalapeño orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel is so delicious it’s sure to please everybody.

jalapeno orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel

10 reasons why jalapeño orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel is my favorite new recipe:

  • It takes 35 minutes to make, from tying on the apron to sitting down at the table.
  • My local tofu tolerator says the grilled texture is—well, kind of like chicken.
  • I love oranges, grilled onions and (moderate) chile spice.
  • I don’t have to turn on the oven.
  • One serving (3.5 ounces) of tofu has almost 9 grams of protein.
  • Tofu is loaded with calcium and iron too.
  • OK. I love tofu. Especially when it’s grilled.
  • I get to cook with fennel, the aromatic Mediterranean vegetable that keeps calling my name.
  • Fennel came in our CSA box this week.
  • Robbie says make this recipe again.

It’s pretty safe to say that if a particular sauce goes well with chicken, it will also complement grilled tofu. Tandoori, barbeque, mole, curry, all ways to serve chicken, make flavorful sauces that wake up tofu as well. I was thinking tofu when I tore out the recipe for grilled chicken and fennel from July’s Sunset magazine, and tucked it away for safekeeping.

jalapeno orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel

I also had a sneaking suspicion CSA Farmer John was growing fennel in the Ranui gardens. Sure enough, last week three small tender bulbs with their long stalks and bright green feathery fronds came peaking out of our CSA boxes.

jalapeno orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel

This is my vegetarian version of that magazine recipe, made with tofu in lieu of chicken, and blood orange jalapeño marmalade for the orange glaze. The original recipe just calls for ‘marmalade’, but I think this sauce is extra tasty with a little spicy heat.

You can order specialty jalapeño jellies direct, from Pepperlane here in Utah. If you don’t have jalapeño marmalade, and you want to make this recipe right away, substitute orange marmalade. (see note) Mix in minced seeded jalapeño chile, or a pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste–you want just enough heat to make it interesting, but not so much that the spice overwhelms the sauce.

jalapeno orange glazed tofu with red onions and fennel

Mildly sweet fennel is quite common in Italian cooking, where it’s roasted and braised, grilled and sautéed. Fennel’s faint anise flavor goes in risotto, in salads and hello, sauce for chicken. Last summer I paired raw and thinly sliced fennel with orange slices in a green salad. Here’s another fennel recipe—an easy salad with basil and mint.

Look for the pale green bulb, with leaves that look a lot like dill, in both supermarkets and farmer’s markets. If you can’t find fennel, make this recipe anyway. You will love the way spiced up sweet orange goes with charred red onions, especially on tofu.

Let me know how you like it—write me in the comment section below this recipe.
If you like interesting vegetarian recipes and healthy desserts, sign up in the green box on the upper right, below my mugshot—I’ll send you recipes every week.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for even more vegetarian recipes.

The link in the recipe to vegetable grill pans is an Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting Letty’s Kitchen.

Jalapeño Orange Glazed Tofu with Red Onions and Fennel

Yield: Serves 4.

Jalapeño Orange Glazed Tofu with Red Onions and Fennel

Serve this flavorful tofu with a green salad and a side of quinoa, rice or couscous, the grain-like pasta that cooks in five minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) package organic firm tofu
  • 1 red onion, sliced into ¼-inch thick rings
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced about ¼-inch thick, plus ¼ cup fennel fronds
  • 3/4 teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño orange marmalade (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)

Instructions

  1. Place the tofu block on its narrower side. Cut into 8 rectangles about 3/8-inch thick.
  2. To press out excess water, place the rectangles on a towel-lined cutting board and cover with another clean towel. (Use tea towels—the ones without terrycloth nubs.)
  3. Place a 9 x 13-inch pan over the covered tofu. Place something heavy in the dish–I use my blender. After 5 minutes the tea towels will have absorbed excess water, and the tofu pieces will be easy to pick up.
  4. In a bowl, toss the onion rings and fennel slices with the first ¾ teaspoon salt and the first 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Place the pressed tofu pieces in the pan you used to weight the tofu. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and olive oil.
  6. Heat the grill to high (450°F.).
  7. Mix the marmalade, tamari, orange zest and juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Set aside.
  8. On a vegetable grill rack with holes narrow enough that the vegetables don’t fall through, grill the onion and fennel until they are soft and have char marks.
  9. Remove from the grill.
  10. Place the tofu on the same grill rack, or directly on the grill if you are sure they won’t fall through. Grill until the tofu is golden on both sides. In the last minutes, brush with some of the jalapeño orange sauce.
  11. To serve, spread the onions and fennel in a serving dish. Arrange the tofu on top and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with fennel fronds.
  12. Serve with couscous, quinoa or brown rice.

Notes

Use a quality marmalade, one made without corn syrup.

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August 11, 2014

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita Sauce

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita

I’ve heard that, in Italy, Mama waits until the family is seated before dropping her pasta into the boiling water. I follow that strategy. Fresh homemade pasta cooks very quickly. When guests bite into this whole wheat cilantro pasta with goat cheese and pepita sauce, they understand why timing is everything.

Fresh homemade pasta is super easy when you use a food processor and pasta machine. And so worth it. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare the dough and no more than 20 minutes to crank it through the rollers. In very short time, you can be serving the most tender, ‘blow-your-guests-away’ silken pasta.

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita

Not ready to make your own noodles? You can savor this easy goat cheese sauce with cilantro and pepitas over quality purchased pasta. Mixing the sauce takes less time than it takes to boil water! Now that’s a quick and simple dinner.

My old pasta machine has been resurrected from years of neglect–I’m on a fresh pasta rediscovery kick. Recently I mixed rosemary pasta with caramelized onions and walnuts. It was awesome. I also made basic egg pasta without herbs and sauced it with roasted cherry tomatoes. My latest is this whole wheat cilantro pasta cut into broad ribbons, called pappardelle.

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita

Last month I went all out. I dressed cilantro pappardelle with roasted corn, slivers of poblano chiles, crumbled feta, pepitas and avocado. Our guests were just back from a wedding in Tuscany and gave me a very nice compliment. Ed, the father of the bride, said, “We ate pasta all over Italy, and came back to the best–made by a little lady in Park City.” That made my night.

Just as in an Italian farmhouse, make sure guests are seated before your fresh pasta goes into the pot.

Recipe details:

  • You can make fresh pasta weeks before cooking it. Freeze it soon after cutting, in a deep enough pan to protect the pasta from being broken or crushed.
  • These photos show whole wheat cilantro pasta cut with a pappardelle cutter, though I usually cut pasta ¼-inch noodle width. My pappardelle cutter is a separate attachment that cuts 1 ¾” ribbons with zigzag edges. Most hand crank machines come with a fettuccini noodle cutter and a very thin angel hair cutter.
  • My recipe instructions are for a pasta machine. To make, roll and cut pasta by hand, see this recipe, and or view this video detailing how.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting me.

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Whole Wheat Cilantro Pasta + Goat Cheese Pepita Sauce

Begin your exploration of fresh pasta with this surprisingly easy recipe. If you wish, skip the cilantro and make basic egg pasta. Kids gobble it up with just melted butter.

Ingredients

  • Pasta:
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 to 2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon Real Salt
  • 3 eggs
  • Unbleached flour, as needed for rolling and cutting
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese
  • About 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted (see note)

Instructions

  1. Make the pasta:
  2. Mince the cilantro leaves in a food processor by turning the machine off and on about 6 times.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the eggs, and process until the dough forms a ball. The dough should not be wet. If needed, add the remaining flour, about a tablespoon at a time, and process the dough until it comes together. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it briefly until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round disk. Wrap in plastic and let rest, 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Keep the unworked pieces covered.
  5. With a pasta machine or by hand, roll out the dough. (see note)
  6. Rolling the pasta:
  7. Set the rollers at the widest setting. Lightly dust flour on one piece of the dough and pass it through the rollers. Fold it into thirds, and put it through the rollers a second time. Repeat the folding and rolling a few more times until you have a smooth rectangle of dough. To prevent the dough from sticking to the machine, dust it lightly with flour as you roll it out—but don’t use more flour than necessary.
  8. Keep the rollers at the widest setting, and repeat that first roll with the remaining 7 portions of dough. (You can stack the rolled pieces on top of each other; just make sure they are dusted with enough flour to keep them from sticking together.)
  9. From this point on, roll the dough lengths without folding. Reset the rollers for the next thinner setting.
  10. Pass the dough through the rollers again until all 8 pieces are stretched as thin as possible. Again, you can stack the rolled pieces on top of each other, with enough flour to keep them from sticking together.
  11. Reset the rollers for the next thinner setting and roll the pieces out. If the lengths of dough stretch too long to manage, cut them in half before moving down to a thinner setting.
  12. Repeat the rolling process, using a thinner setting each round, until the dough is very thin, usually the last setting. (You want to be able to almost see the print of a magazine through the thin dough.)
  13. Cut the pasta with your choice of cutting attachment. When the cut strands come out the other end, catch them with your arm and/or a pasta rack stick. Let the pasta dry on the rack. Alternatively dry the pasta in loose nests on a tray, with ample flour to prevent sticking.
  14. To serve:
  15. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  16. In a large skillet, melt the butter on low flame. Add the goat cheese and water. Mix into a thin sauce, adding a bit more water if needed. Keep warm.
  17. When your guests are seated and waiting, drop the pasta into the boiling water. Cook it 30 seconds to a minute, or until it is firm to the bite (al dente.) Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the goat cheese. Add the chopped cilantro and roasted pumpkins seeds, tossing everything together gently. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Pepitas are pumpkin seeds—they’re medium dark green and delicious by either name.
  • I love the earthiness of whole wheat pasta and its healthier, whole grain aspect, but you can replace with a portion of, or all unbleached white flour.
  • These instructions are for a pasta machine. Check out this video detailing how to make, roll and cut pasta by hand.

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August 6, 2014

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

If you invite a friend who’s a master gardener to dinner and she asks what to bring–ask back, “What’s in your garden?”

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

That’s how this recipe happened. Our friends surprised us with vivid bloodshot beets, just picked, washed and trimmed. All I added was a little olive oil—and whole garlic cloves. Packaged in a big sheet of aluminum foil–onto the grill they went for succulent grill roasted beets and garlic.

We sat on the deck enjoying our park-like yard, drinking wine and telling tales. Whenever Robbie warned that the grill thermometer was pegged all the way to 600 degrees, I got up, opened the grill to cool it down, and moved the packet of beets around. Casual. No worries. After about 45 minutes I poked into the packet and declared them done.

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

Wow! The beets were caramelized on the bottom from the high heat, and subtly infused with roasted garlic flavor. What a brilliant side for our veggie burgers!

We didn’t need condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup or fry sauce. We mashed the buttery spreadable roasted garlic on the grill-toasted buns. Wow again!

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

Glamping, shorthand for glamorous camping, that’s how we live in the Columbia River Gorge. With a hot shower, comfortable bed, and an outdoor grill for roasted beets and garlic. We hide from the rain in our vintage trailer, but mostly we live outside at our Pacific Northwest camp. Electricity, water and septic, we’ve got it. The tame neighborhood deer and bunny rabbits think it’s their camp, except when our dog Carlos is in residence.

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

It seems as if everyone in the Gorge has a vegetable garden. We are grateful to share the garden harvest with neighbors and friends. Especially when it includes beets and garlic.

The salt and pepper shakers came from my sister Mary. We call them Sister Salty Mary and Sister Mary Pepper, and remember our elementary school teachers.

The Weber grill link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting me.

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 1 beet per person, 3 cloves garlic per person

Grill Roasted Beets and Garlic

Cook outdoors. Grill roasted beets and garlic make it easy to stay out of the kitchen in the heat of summer.

Ingredients

  • 1 beet per person, more or less (see note)
  • 3 unpeeled garlic cloves per person
  • Olive oil
  • Real Salt

Instructions

  1. Scrub the beets well. Trim and peel, then cut them in quarters. Alternatively, roast the scrubbed beets with the skin on--rub it away when the beets are cool enough to handle. (see note)
  2. Heat the grill to high. Toss the beets and garlic cloves with just enough oil to coat them lightly. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Place the beets and garlic on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Fold the foil up over the vegetables, wrapping the edges together. Place the packet on the grill.
  4. Roast, grill closed, 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beet pieces. Monitor the heat, keeping it medium high. Move the packet around on the grill—from hot spot to cooler spot—every 10 minutes.
  5. When the beets are tender to the fork, open the packet and serve. The garlic will be soft and spreadable, for crackers or burger buns.

Notes

  • Dark red beets are my favorites for grilling. I was gifted a mixture of striped chioggas and vivid reds—which I roasted for the photos. The chioggas have a more delicate flavor and bleed when cooked, particularly when peeled and cut beforehand.
  • When oven roasting beets, I peel after roasting. When glamping and grill roasting, I peel beforehand so the beets are ready to enjoy when the packet comes off the grill.

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