Saturday, July 31, 2010

White Bean Pasta with Chermoula

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If you look up vegetarian recipes, you'll find lots of side dishes, appetizers, salads and soups. But not as many entrees. It's hard to turn vegetables into a meal, generally because a protein component is often missing. So in order to turn vegetables into an entree, I often add bread, pasta or rice to turn something that would otherwise be considered as a side dish into a main course. This recipe is a perfect example.

I found this white bean with pesto recipe in the New York Times and thought it would be an interesting dish to try. But being (generally) capable of only serving one dish a meal, this had to be the main course. So I tweaked the recipe by adding pasta and other components. It turned out to be a somewhat unconventional pasta dish, but delicious nevertheless.

You'll need:
  • 2 cups of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, diced small
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 pound of pasta (I used fusilli)
  • lemon wedges for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Start by mixing cumin, coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper. You can gently toast it on the stove for a couple of minutes if you want. Otherwise set aside. Add parsley, cilantro and garlic into a food processor. Pulse until the herbs are chopped fine. Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. Set aside.

Begin boiling a large pot of water for the pasta. Once the water reaches boiling point, season with salt. Add pasta and cook to just short of al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water. Drain.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large skillet and turn to medium high heat. Saute onion until softened. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Add white wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add cannellini beans and 3 tablespoons chermoula pesto. Cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the reserved cup of pasta water and toss together with cooked pasta. Add the remaining chermoula pesto. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

This is a very earthy and rustic dish full of body and flavor. The key is to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top. The acidity really brightens the dish and brings out the spices. 

You can find the original recipe for white bean with pesto here and the recipe for chermoula here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Panzanella

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Californians are absolutely spoiled rotten. While the rest of the country sweat it out in record heat waves, we've been enjoying temperate and comfortable weather all summer long. It's 76 and fabulous every day here. Another great thing about California is the quality and abundance of fresh produce. Since moving back to the Peninsula, we've been reunited with my favorite local grocery store -- the Milk Pail in Mountain View. It is always well-stocked with the freshest local produce and some exotic finds as well.

(Now if we can just do something about the horrible traffic, high cost of living and state budget shortfalls...)

When you have access to amazing produce, dinner practically cooks itself. I made this super simple panzanella with the freshest seasonal vegetables and added some canned ingredients. This dish offers so many different textures and tastes -- each bite has a different combination of the sweet tomato, crunchy cucumber, tangy lemon vinaigrette, creamy cannellini beans and fragrant basil.

For this recipe, you'll need:
  • 1 15-ounce can of white navy beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 medium/large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 4 or 5 medium cucumbers, cut into half-inch slices with skin on
  • 1/2 cup of basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup of Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of capers, drained
  • half a loaf of crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes and toasted
  • juice from two lemons
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 spring of fresh thyme, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Whisk to combine lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the lemon vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Adjust seasoning. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for half an hour before serving.


So easy and so delicious. And no stove required.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Late Summer Food Projects

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VB has taken a keen interest in pickling, possibly to compensate for our epic FAIL on homemade sauerkraut. So despite having a ton of stuff to do at home, we still managed to get two food projects off the ground. This one came with a big assist from VB's mom, who mailed some pickling salt and spices to us. We found some large quart sized wide mouth jars and added sliced cucumbers, carrots, onions, zucchinis and radishes. They look so pretty in those jars! This is a quick pickling process and only requires five to seven days of refrigeration. So we will be enjoying them very very soon.

The other project is equally delicious but we have to wait a bit longer before we can enjoy it. We're planting tomatoes and peppers! It's a bit late in the season considering most tomato plants should be bearing fruit by now, but we're hoping to have some tomatoes by late summer/early fall.

As for the peppers, we already have some baby jalapenos and Anaheim peppers (can you spot them?). I can hardly wait!

Totally unrelated, here's a picture of Tangerine living the good life -- lying in the sun with a full belly. All she needs is a pillow and a drink with a tiny umbrella in it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Public Service Announcement

Pin It I urge everyone out there reading this blog (all THREE of you) to go home and spend a few hours organizing your pantry. No, it doesn't sound exciting or fun or sexy. Yes, you probably have a lot to do already and that's probably at the bottom of your to-do list (if it's even on the list). But one day soon, you will thank me for this.

Because you never know when your significant other will decide to make pasta from scratch using the flour contained in a jar labeled "all-purpose flour." And s/he will not know that you had dumped rice flour into the jar because you ran out of containers and couldn't be bothered to change the label. Then s/he will seriously wonder why the dough has the density and elasticity of a damp rag. And then as s/he stands in the kitchen scratching his/her head as to what happened ("but I followed the recipe exactly!!...."), you'll have to sheepishly admit that you screwed up, thank him/her for valiant effort and apologize profusely.

No fresh pasta for you! And you're out of rice flour. All because you couldn't be bothered to find a sharpie and a label when you had to.


Well, at least it's not rat poison.

The more you know... *Rainbow*

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mini Farm House Veggie Burger

Pin It Recently I ran into a college friend while riding the train. It was surreal since we haven't seen each other in close to ten years and we've not managed to meet up even though we have both lived in the Bay Area for years. It was great to see her. It turns out she likes food competition shows as much as I do and hates Sandra Lee as much as I do.

I wonder how she feels about the new show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." In some ways, it's just a vehicle to showcase Food Network regulars' best (fake?) food-gasm faces with all that wooing, ahhing, sighing and gasping. I mean, really, the food can't be that good.

Or can it?

I made this farm house burger featured in the Burgers episode. I have to admit, it looks pretty darn tasty. The patty is made of eggplant, bread crumbs, soy cheddar, scallions, parsley and garlic. Then I topped it with a slice of soy cheddar, tomato and baby greens.

I do have to say it's pretty delicious. But is it so awesome that I close my eyes, lick my lips, and drool a little just thinking about it? Probably not. I thought the patty was dry and a bit crumbly.

It's dinner worthy, but not food-gasm worthy. I'm not even going to bother faking it.

You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We're back! + Turd Dogs + Spicy Quinoa

Pin It Moving is hard.

Never mind the weeks living out of a dozen of opened and half full boxes, the weeks of starting every other sentence with "where is __blank__?", and the weeks of cleaning, lining shelves, washing dishes, along with the other gazillion things that remain on the ever expanding to-do list, the absolute worst part about moving is eating takeout everyday. Last week, our pizza came with pepperoni instead of pineapple. So I had to eat an entire pie by myself over the course of four days. Nothing kills one's appetite for pizza quite like having to eat it over and over day after day. I hate overpriced Whole Foods salad bar... next thing you know, I won't want Indian buffet either. Then we're really shit out of luck here in Silicon Valley.

Now that our kitchen is in decent shape (with only a two more boxes to unpack), I'm ready to start cooking again. Of course, the perfect recipe for such an occasion is -- turd dogs?!?!

They say you can't polish a turd. But, it turns out you can make turd dogs look sort of like sausages. I tried putting them in buns and dressing them with condiments, but they still look like... well, shit. I wish our homemade sauerkraut had survived the move so at least we can cover this shit up. But our sauerkraut became a moldy, smelly, and generally vomit-inducing mess from heat and neglect. So here we are, looking at semi-naked turd dogs.

Incidentally, the post containing the recipe has a picture of turd dogs that strongly resemble something you'd find on a sidewalk or at a gas station restroom. VB, being generally fascinated with all things poop-y, was disappointed that my turd dogs did not look like they were freshly fished out of a toilet and plopped onto a plate.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Spicy quinoa is tasty. And it doesn't look like poop. There's nothing wrong with that.