Category Archives: Main Course

Vegetarian Mole Chili

Vegetarian Mole ChiliI never gave that much thought to mole until this week when I heard a little NPR segment. The story goes that a bishop was planning to visit some nuns at a convent in central Mexico back in the 19th century. Continue reading Vegetarian Mole Chili

Butternut Squash Sauce Over Pasta

Truly — creamier, tastier and more satisfying than Fettuccine Alfredo. And what a wonderful thing to enjoy everything that there is to love about Alfredo sauce without a speck of the guilt that accompanies the stratospheric fat content. The inspiration for this dish sprung from one of my new favorite sites — Two Peas and Their Pod. I subscribed a little over a week ago and have been inundated with fabulous, ideas almost every day. I highly recommend this site. Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 12 oz. whole  grain spaghetti or fettuccini

Directions

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Peel, scrape out seeds and chop into 1 inch cubes. Add to a large saucepan along with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until squash is very soft. Retain the squash cooking water for cooking the pasta.

With a large, slotted spoon remove squash from hot water and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in a large bowl. Add half of the squash to the food processor and cover with 1 cup of stock. Puree squash in two separate batches with 1 cup of stock in each batch. Bring the squash cooking water back to a boil and add additional water if necessary.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in an extra large skillet. Add onions and garlic. Saute until tender (about 5 minutes.) Combine pureed squash, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to the sauteed onions and garlic. Stir gently and serve over drained pasta.

Top with parmesan cheese and sliced green onion.

Salmon Feta Burgers

Normally, canned wild-caught red sockeye salmon is my go-to for salmon burgers — mainly because a can of salmon on the shelf means that we’re never more than 15 minutes away from an easy and tasty dinner. But two nights ago, we had about six ounces of salmon leftover from the previous evening, and I took a stab at turning it into salmon burgers.

salmon burger in pan

The fact that five ingredients resulted in the best salmon burger ever should have been a good thing. Unfortunately, it rocked my world view on the virtues of canned salmon.Salmon Feta Basil Burger

My new position on the salmon-burger subject: when grilling, baking or poaching salmon filets, think big and anticipate a leftover portion that could be repurposed into a burger or two the next day.

Discovery No. 2 for the evening: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries are not only the same color as salmon burgers, they are an awesome combination.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. cooked salmon
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice whole grain toast or bread crumbled in a food processor or sliced very fine.
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salmon Burger Spread (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp. pesto
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Click here  for Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

Directions

  • Flake salmon with a fork and combine feta, basil, egg and bread crumbs. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Form into two patties and transfer to a heated skilled coated with olive oil. Cook on medium-low for 5 minutes, allowing the patties firm up a bit before flipping.
  • Flip very gently cook on the reverse side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve on a whole wheat bun or over a salad with the Pesto Mayo Lemon Sauce (recipe above) on the side.

Penne and Cheese with Spinach and Tomatoes

There’s nothing like a rainy Friday in the fall to spark a hankering for some genuine comfort food. Mac and Cheese, of course, is at the very top of the comfort food list, and over the years we’ve switched it up a bit with whole wheat penne, spinach and tomatoes — to the point that some real nutrition now trumps the fat and carbs.penne and cheese ingredients

And another beautiful thing about this dish: unlike say, a cake, where getting the proportions right matters, pasta is a completely open-ended proposition. Less of this and more of that tends to work just fine, or even lead to a great discovery. That’s a good thing on a Friday night when no stress and not bothering with a recipe are big goals.

Take tonight for instance: I had my heart set on this delicious combination only to discover a critical milk shortage. I gave serious thought to mixing in some almond milk, and then upon opening the can of diced tomatoes, I had a Eureka moment, realizing that the tomato juice in the can could stand in as a tasty — and fat free — liquid to extend the cheese sauce and maybe even add a tasty new dimension to mac and cheese. And it did. Combined with a simple side salad, life was good.penne and cheese on a plate with a salad

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk (or a mix of another liquid such as the juice canned tomatoes)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 14 1/2 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar, colby or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 oz. parmesan

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions — draining while it is still slightly al dente.
  • Melt butter in a heavy skillet and add flour, whisking vigorously. When flour is fully incorporated, add milk in a slow stream, continuing to whisk and ensure that no lumps have a chance to form. Mixture should thicken quickly. Add more milk if it appears too thick.
  • Add shredded cheese along with cream cheese, diced tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Stir until spinach wilts and cream cheese melts. Add pasta.
  • Coat baking dish with cooking spray and pour pasta mixture into prepared dish. Top with 2 oz. of shredded parmesan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Polenta Primavera

Whaddya say we take the most ordinary of pantry essential (cornmeal), add some water and salt. Simmer, stir, add in a little parmesan and butter and end up with a rather snazzy dish. Even though the ingredients could not possibly be more plain, polenta is delightfully off the beaten path and packed with all sorts of possibilities.

There are those who say that polenta and cornmeal are the same thing, and others who point out that polenta has a coarser grain than cornmeal, but is essentially the same thing. I prefer the coarse to the creamy, but either way, one part cornmeal to three parts water, a little salt and 25-30 minutes on the stovetop yields some tasty stuff that stands on its own or serves as a great base.

This Polenta Primavera creation is simply a variation on my version of Pasta Primavera, which tends to be a combination of whatever vegetables are on hand, sautéed in olive oil with a good dose of oregano and topped with lots of parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup of kale leaves, stems removed and sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Directions

  •  Slowly pour one cup of coarse cornmeal into 3 cups of boiling salted water, and whisk rapidly until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring.
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and add onion, red pepper and garlic. Stir polenta every few minutes while vegetables are cooking.
  • Peel and chop carrots. Add to vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes before adding chopped zucchini, tomatoes and kale. Continue stirring polenta.
  • Add oregano and pepper to vegetables.
  • As polenta begins to take on a solid consistency, add butter and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir vigorously as butter and cheese melts.
  • Spread polenta mixture into an 8 x 8 pan that has been coated with cooking spray.
  • Cut the nearly solid polenta into squares and cover with sauteed vegetables. Top with parmesan cheese.