Tag Archives: light meal

Recipe: Chickpea Curry (Indian Sour Chickpeas)

30 May

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are the basis for many delicious things, from hummus to brownie bites — all made much more easily (and quickly) by using canned chickpeas. This recipe, adapted from Madhur’s Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, is one of our favorites–a light curry sprinkled with onions marinated in lemon juice and ginger (hence the lovely “sour” element).

Serve with rice and other curries for a crowd, or with a simple raita (made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and a pinch of mint) for a one-dish meal.

Indian Sour Chickpeas
Serves 6

2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, undrained
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. ground)
4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3-4 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. garam masala
cayenne pepper (if desired)

Preparation

1. Put 3 tbsp. of the chopped onion and the ginger and lemon juice into a small cup. Mix well and set aside.
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat and add remaining onions. Fry until slightly brown at the edges, then add the tomatoes. Cook another 5-6 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the back of slotted spoon.
3. Add the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas and their liquid, the garam masala, and the cayenne (if desired). Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cook gently, covered, for about 20 minutes. Before serving, add onion/ginger/lemon mixture. Stir to combine.

Recipe: Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom Pastry Puffs

6 Mar

Puff pastry is a magical ingredient. If you have some in the freezer, you will be able to pull together a savory meal or a sweet dessert in barely more time than it takes to cook the pastry once it has thawed. If you are someone who makes puff pastry from scratch, my hat is off to you. I may get there one day, but for now I am happy to rely on the prepared kind. In this recipe, the onion and fennel almost melt together, adding a subtle layer of flavor to the sausage and mushroom. And crisp, flaky pastry makes everything better.

Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom Pastry Puffs
Yield: 12 puffs

1 pkg. puff pastry (about 17.5 oz. = 2 sheets), almost thawed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, cored, and finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
sprinkle red chili flakes
salt & pepper
6 links sweet Italian turkey sausage (1.5 lb.), casings removed
6 tbsp. grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
chopped parsley (optional)

Preparation

1. Let puff pastry thaw while you make the filling — but before the pastry comes to room temperature, unfold it and slice each sheet vertically into three sections along the fold lines (each sheet is folded like a letter), then cut each section in half. After cutting up both sheets, you will have 12 small rectangles of pastry. It is easier to cut the pastry, and to maintain the rectangular shapes, when the dough is still a tiny bit frozen. Set the pastry rectangles to one side in a single layer (if they are touching each other, they may stick together).

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add onions and fennel. Cook until onion is soft; add chili flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms to the onion/fennel mixture and cook until liquid is released and mixture is relatively dry. Add the sausage, and cook until all liquid has evaporated, breaking up sausage as much as possible. Check seasonings, then let mixture cool for a few minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Place one pastry rectangle into each muffin cup; the edges will drape over, which is fine–the end result will be somewhat free form. Distribute the filling among the muffin cups, sprinkle parsley (if using) and about 1/2 tbsp. Parmesan/Romano on top of each puff, and bring the pastry edges over the filling to loosely cover.

4. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

22 Jan

Eggs are a miracle food in many ways, but what I most appreciate about them is that they make for a quick, nutritious meal any time of the day. These scrambled eggs are great for breakfast, brunch,  lunch, and even as an after-school snack for ravenous teenagers. And if I am ever on my own for dinner, these scrambled eggs often make an appearance.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta
Serves 2

4 eggs
pinch salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach
1/4 c. crumbled feta

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper.
2. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onions, and cook over high heat until soft and beginning to turn golden at the edges.
3. Reduce heat to medium and layer the spinach on top of the onions. Pour in the eggs, top with the crumbled feta, and gently scramble until set.
4. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

2 Nov

When it is cold, wet, and blustery outside, my thoughts turn to soups and stews–hearty, satisfying dishes that lift any spirits. And when a delicious soup can be made with only four ingredients (ground pepper doesn’t count…), what’s not to love?

This recipe came about by accident. Most potato leek soup recipes call for cream. But I forgot to add it once, and have never added it since–and no one has ever missed it. As an added bonus, this accident made the soup vegan friendly, too, and I like having delicious vegan dishes that everyone loves in my repertoire.

After experimenting with various toppings, fried onions were the clear winner. The crispy texture not only balances the smooth soup, but also adds another layer of onion flavor. My favorite places to buy the fried onions are 1) by the bag at Indian grocery stores, or 2) in small round cartons in the grocery section at IKEA (Swedish fried onions are very nice!). I like both those versions much better than the ones at our chain grocery store, but have used those in a pinch, too.

Potato Leek Soup
12 servings

4-6 leeks, ends trimmed, white and palest green parts only (use 4 leeks if they are large with long white sections; 6 otherwise)
2-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 lb. potatoes, peeled  and cut into chunks (Yukon Gold imparts a nice color)
10 c.  vegetable broth (or 10 c. water + sufficient vegetable bouillon cubes; Knorr brand is nice)
ground pepper

Preparation
1. Cut each leek in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into 1″-thick half circles. Put in a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove any dirt that may have gotten trapped between the layers. Drain and shake dry; I sometimes pat the leeks dry with paper towels (as much as possible without stressing over it).

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch Oven (enameled cast iron pot, or any other heavy bottom pot), add the leeks and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the broth (or water and bouillon cubes) and the potatoes, and stir once or twice.

4. Simmer until potatoes are tender, then blend with an immersion blender (or carefully blend in a regular blender or food processor, in batches, then return to pot). If soup seems too thick, add more broth. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper, and serve with fried onions.


Note: When heating up leftover soup the next day, you may need to thin with a bit more broth, or even water. It is a soup that keeps on giving.

Recipe: Lamb Kafta Kabobs

8 Sep

In the United States, we tend to use cinnamon mostly in sweet dishes. But in other parts of the world, cinnamon has long been used in savory dishes, too, where it adds an extra layer of flavor and warmth. It is an ancient aromatic spice that was worth more than gold and was considered an appropriate gift for royalty.

These lamb kafta kabobs, which feature the traditional Lebanese flavor combination of cinnamon and allspice,  will make anyone who eats them feel like royalty, too. At our house, we put them in pita bread with hummus (and/or plain yogurt mixed with diced cucumber, garlic, and mint) and lettuce and tomatoes.  I usually make Tabouli as an accompaniment, and some of  us also add that to our pitas for a full flavor experience.

The traditional method of preparation involves shaping the kabobs around a skewer, but it is far easier (and faster) to make them without the skewer. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs.

Lamb Kafta Kabobs
Serves 4

1 lb. ground lamb (can use half lean ground beef if preferable)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped parsley
3/4-1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice

Preparation
1. Mix all ingredients well.
2. Take a small handful of the meat mixture and mold into a roughly 4 ” cylindrical shape around a skewer, or just mold into cylindrical shape without the skewer.
3. Grill and enjoy.

Source: Lebanese Cuisine by Madelain Farah

Recipe: Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce

20 Aug

This is the dish I was beginning to prepare yesterday when I got side-tracked by my daughter’s lovely Mediterranean Wrap.

I first tasted these satays at a friend’s house when we were living in Australia. I could not get enough of the peanut sauce and I could not get over that fact that our friend had made it from scratch. Even now, I’m happy to just have the sauce on rice after the satays have all disappeared, which they will do soon after making their initial appearance. I usually serve the satays with some diced cucumber sprinkled with seasoned rice vinegar and crushed red pepper.

If  threading satays and making sauce seems like too much, just marinate boneless chicken breasts (or thighs) in the marinade and throw on the grill for a delectable dinner; the chicken by itself is also fantastic.

This recipe is originally from an Australian Women’s  Weekly cookbook. Note the time needed to marinate the chicken.

Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce
Makes about 20+ satays

2 lb. chicken breast, cut in half horizontally, then cut into thin strips

Marinade
4 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
4 tbsp. canola oil
1.5 tsp. curry powder

Peanut Sauce
1-2 tbsp. canola oil
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
4 oz. low-sodium roasted peanuts, very finely chopped (or crushed with a mortar and pestle)
1/4-1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt or soy sauce
3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. fruit chutney (Major Grey, mango)
¾ c. lite coconut milk
1/8 c. sugar (can use brown sugar if preferred)**

Marinade: Combine marinade ingredients in large bowl with lid. Add chicken, coat well, cover, and marinate in refrigerator overnight (or at least for a few hours). If you will be using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking the chicken.

Sauce: Cook onion and garlic in oil until onion begins to turn golden. Add spices and peanuts, and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer slowly for 30 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Cover and keep warm.

After the chicken has marinated, thread the  strips onto skewers. Grill or broil chicken. Serve satays with peanut sauce (and cucumber salad if desired) as an appetizer, or add rice to make into a meal.

** [Note Feb. 2013: I recently made the sauce and forgot to add the sugar — and discovered it tasted great without it; use the sugar if you like the sauce to be a bit sweeter.]

Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken/Vegetable Wrap

19 Aug

This is a recipe you can adapt in countless ways to suit omnivorous or vegetarian tastes. It is an excellent way to use up leftovers, though pan frying or grilling the chicken/vegetables just beforehand works, too.  The overriding theme is a Mediterranean one. Our kids rummage through the fridge, take out whatever appeals to them at the moment, cook what they need, and make killer wraps out of it all.

The open wrap pictured here is courtesy of my daughter, who waited very patiently to eat her lunch today until after I had taken the photo. She used a tomato-basil wrap, hummus,  leftover grilled chicken and eggplant (both of which she reheated in a small cast-iron skillet), Kalamata olives, lettuce, and tomatoes. The one constant is the hummus. Other ingredients that make frequent appearances include feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, other grilled vegetables, etc.  Fresh oregano or basil from the garden and a drizzle of Italian dressing or vinaigrette add the finishing touches.

Mediterranean Chicken/Vegetable Wrap
Servings: Flexible

Possible Ingredients

Wraps or tortillas
Hummus
Grilled/pan-fried chicken breast (marinated in olive oil, garlic, oregano, other herbs of your choice, and salt and pepper, then sliced or chopped after cooking)
Grilled/pan-fried eggplant or other vegetables
Kalamata olives (chopped)
Fresh tomatoes (chopped)
Sun-dried tomatoes (drained if in oil and sliced)
Lettuce (shredded)
Feta cheese (crumbled)
Red onions (thinly sliced)
Fresh/dried herbs (oregano or basil)
Italian dressing, or a vinaigrette of your preference