Today sucked. I mean really and truly sucked.
But in other news, there’s water on Mars and the Blood Moon did not bring on the apocalypse and in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.
I have a bunch of nice vegetarian sides and main dishes piled up in my to post file, so I thought this week would be a good time to focus on a few. Farm stands are still going strong, the weather can’t decide if it’s grilling or soup weather, this seemed like a safe bet.
Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients, except oil, slowly whisk in oil to create vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- 1/2 head of red cabbage
- 1/2 head Savoy cabbage
- 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 Red Anjour pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup toasted walnut or almond pieces
Cut each cabbage in half to create two wedges, remove core and slice crosswise into thin shreds, toss with pears, grapes and nuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss thoroughly. Let set for 10 minutes and serve.
It’s been a rough week – mostly for people around me. I found myself retreating to the kitchen often to cook. Definitely helps clear my head and regroup. Soup season is in full swing as Autumn is fast approaching. We may actually blow off work tomorrow and head up to the mountains to see the colors.
Today I decided to make a big batch of one of my favorite soups. It did not disappoint. I ‘beefed’ it up because I had some ground beef that I needed to use up. I’ll do that again. Yum.
- 1 lb ground beef (or 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
- 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
- 24 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, cleaned
- 8 oz sliced carrots (I use frozen)
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup water, as needed
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for garnish
- spinach chiffonade for garnish
In saucepan, brown ground beef and onions. In a blender, blend together spinach and tomatoes, until smooth*. Add to beef mixture, along with vegetables and spices. Bring to low boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan and spinach chiffonade. Makes 4 generous servings.
*Blending the spinach, tomatoes together gives you a nice hearty tomato base for the soup. You can add some additional spinach leaves at the end if you like, letting them get limp but not overcooked.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had requests to pull together some of my recipes that go easy on the salt. I found quite a few and this week lemon made the biggest appearance, but tonight’s featured recipes bring in a whole host of other flavors that make it easier to go lighter on the salt.
Reducing salt with out losing flavor can be managed with several steps. First of all, try to use fresh foods whenever possible. If you begin to read labels you’ll see many packaged foods contain extra fat, salt & sugar that you wouldn’t add if you prepared it fresh. And good, fresh ingredients bring their own flavors to a dish.
When you need to buy something, such as canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables, go with the no-salt version whenever possible. Then you can be in control of the sodium.
Adding flavors that enhance a dish is the key to cutting back on salt. Wine vinegars (especially on potatoes and meats), lemon juice (great for fish, vegetables and chicken), limejuice, and different spice mixes, including peppers, garlic, basil, rosemary, celery seeds, dill, toasted sesame seeds and citrus zest – go wild, try something new, you might surprise yourself – can transform a dish. You can also buy prepackaged spice mixes to shake on, just make sure to read the label looking for sodium content.
With all that in mind, I went searching through my recipes to find ones that used a dash less salt.
I started the week with Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Chicken and Spinach, recipe here.
This week’s dinner menu (pictured at top) is Cranberry Chicken and Lemon Cheese Cauliflower, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.
JeffreyW makes a flavorful Shrimp,Ham and Kale in Garlic Lemon Sauce, recipe here.
And finally, click here for Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish.
For the pet lovers, lots of pictures of Bixby in the next Bixby Diaries installment here.
How about you, what do you use to spice up a dish? What’s on the menu this weekend?
Tonight I’m featuring a few recipes that bring in some sweet and spicy flavors. These beans and rice are a nice change-up from the standard Wash Day Beans and Rice I usually make.
Caribbean Jerk Beans & Rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- ½ green pepper, sliced
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 lb lean boneless pork, cubed in large pieces
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt to taste (this is a good recipe to substitute white wine vinegar for salt)
- pepper to taste
- ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 to 2 tsp Caribbean jerk spice (you can buy it or make your own, recipe below)
- ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (Italian parsley works well in this recipe if you aren’t a fan of cilantro)
- 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or substitute dry beans, soaked and cooked)
saucepan & skillet
Add water & rice to saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Heat oil in skillet, add pork and brown on all sides for 5 minutes, add onion, celery, pepper & garlic, sauté for additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & spices. Let simmer 15 minutes, add cilantro, black beans and simmer additional 5 minutes, until beans are heated through. Add cooked rice & mix thoroughly.
Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons crushed dry thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Blend together and store tightly covered (I keep old spice jars around for mixtures like this)
- 8 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1-1/2 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
- ½ medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine cabbage, mangoes, bell peppers, green onions and cilantro in large bowl; stir gently to mix. Add Orange-Mango Dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve, or store in refrigerator up to 1 day.
- ½ mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
- ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (not diluted with water)
- 3 tablespoons limejuice
- ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and rough chopped
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger if desired)
Place mango in food processor; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara
This is a great recipe and you can cook it on the grill or indoors in the oven. Add baked potatoes or rice and fresh greens from the garden for a nice summer meal. Serves 4.
Grilled Lemon Salmon:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 4 – 6 oz skinless salmon fillets
Add ingredients to bag and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Grill on a clean, oiled grill or use a well oiled grilling pan, or broil in oven in a heavy skillet or broiler. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily. Serve with relish.
Corn Pepper Relish:
- 1 cup cooked corn (or canned, drained)
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ½ green pepper chopped
- ½ red pepper chopped
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
Combine all ingredients and let marinate while salmon cooks. You can use the remaining peppers in a salad for your next dinner.
Someone asked me if I could post a few recipes that limited the amount of salt, so this week I thought I’d focus on that. I’ll start with lemon. It makes a great substitute for salt, it adds flavor, a bit of bite and enhances the flavors of many things like fish, chicken and pastas. In this recipe, both ricotta and Parmesan are salty enough that additional salt should not be necessary.
Lemon Ricotta Linguine with Chicken and Spinach
- 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
- 2 lemons
- 2 oz fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10-12 oz dry linguine pasta
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 6 oz baby spinach, washed
- 12 oz ricotta cheese
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan, additional for garnish
shallow dish, large pot, skillet
Place chicken between plastic wrap, pound flat and place in a single layer in a shallow dish. Zest lemons and then juice them. Reserve 2 tbsp of juice, mix the remaining juice with 1 tbsp of oil and basil leaves and pour over chicken, making sure it’s well coated. Cover and marinate for 30 to 60 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.
Cook pasta according to directions. While it is cooking, heat oil in skillet, remove chicken from the marinade (toss the marinade) and cook chicken breasts over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove from heat, cover and let rest. Alternately you can grill the chicken.
When pasta is al dente, remove 1 cup of water and then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Over low heat, add lemon juice, ricotta, lemon zest, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and toss. Slowly add a 1/2 cup of pasta water, tossing to make a sauce, until the pasta is coated evenly. Add more water as needed. Slice chicken into strips and add to pasta mixture, then add spinach leaves and toss. Add pepper as desired and serve immediately with more shredded Parmesan. Serves 6
p.s. Schedule is still crazy this week, so time for recipes, but not photos. I may update later with pix as time allows. ;-)