“Green Goddess” Mac & Cheese

The term green goddess seems to be everywhere these days. I’m not particularly fond of it, since it seems to be one of those terms that can be appropriated for everything from smoothies to face masks, but I’ve left it in the title because it sounds better than ‘healthier mac and cheese’ or ‘mac and cheese with kale, basil, and spinach.’

I’ll get straight to it: this was a real winner for us. I added in curly kale in addition to the basil and spinach. It’s fairly easy to make — pureeing the greens just takes a bit of extra time. There’s still lots of cheese, but you do feel a bit better eating this knowing that there is some healthy bits! It was absolutely delicious and will become a part of my regular rotation of meals.

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Zucchini & Basil Pasta Salad

Since we’re heading into summer, zucchini and pasta seem to be everywhere these days. It’s a good and dependable combination (see two previous dishes I’ve made — both excellent — here and here). As I was making this I was asking myself how many zucchini pasta dishes one needs in their repertoire. Not many I don’t think.

This dish looks easy by appearances, but is a bit of a faff (how’s that for a nice English word). My tolerance for faff is quite high if the outcome is good, although I realize more and more that time is becoming an increasing pressure — I’ll never have as much time to dedicate to cooking as I did when I was in Germany, until maybe I’m retired. In this case, I’m not sure the effort was worth it.

Preparing this is a four-step process: frying the zucchini, making the basil “sauce,” cooking the noodles, and then throwing the dish together. None of it is difficult, but it’s a bit more effort than one would normally go to for weeknight pasta I’d say. I followed Ottolenghi’s recipe closely except I substituted the edamame for peas. Never again. I just don’t like peas in pasta.

I’d rate this a 5/10 — it didn’t pack nearly enough punch as I thought it would — although H. thought it should be given a much higher score! I’d been planning on saving some of it for today but he ate it all. I guess I had high expectations for this combination and it wasn’t a winning one for me unfortunately.

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The Humble Egg

I started writing this post around Father’s Day, with the intention of being slightly more timely and dedicating it to my dad. However good my intentions, it obviously didn’t happen. So, while I may be a few weeks late, I’m still dedicating it to him. 🙂

My dad is THE healthiest person I know. He is very strict when it comes to diet and exercise and I really look up to him for that. He is a huge champion of (in his words) “the humble egg.” Whenever I am pondering out loud what to cook one night, he invariably suggests eggs! I think it’s a good reminder, because it’s easy to over-complicate things when actually a simple and delicious meal can often be staring you right in the face.

In the spirit of that I’m sharing a couple of egg-based recipes. The first is this chorizo, chickpea, & spinach frittata. We were lucky to still have some chorizo from our recent trip to Spain. Both H. & I enjoyed this — the varying textures really make it. I didn’t include the roasted red pepper but I bet it would be even better with it.

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Padova 096

 

The second one is my own creation, another frittata, spinach, basil, & pesto. This was born out of the need to use things up before we go away, but the combination worked!

I have not yet managed to learn the art of perfect eggs. I almost always overcook them. It’s a matter of seconds too. I usually start frittatas on the stove and then put them into the oven. But as you can see the picture below doesn’t look very frittata-like and I still managed to overcook it slightly.

Looking a little hash-like....oops.
Looking a little hash-like….oops.

 

More of my posts featuring eggs: zucchini + tomato frittata, quiche, shakshuka part 1, shakshuka part 2, baked mushrooms + eggs, & spicy baked beans with an egg on top.

Lunches part 3

Part 3 in my lunch series has been a long time coming — it’s been almost a year (!) since I posted Part 2 (Part 1 here). To give a quick summary, this series is about lunch items that can be prepared quickly and that take the dullness out of what is often for a lot of people a ‘throwaway’ meal.

7. Leftover vegetarian chili
Yes, it may seem a bit odd to includes leftovers in this feature, but this really makes the best lunch, especially on a winter’s day. You can make the chili the night before or even freeze it in advance (it’s easy to throw together and once assembled you can leave to simmer for as long as you like). The way I make it would perhaps be considered by some as a ‘loose’ version of chili, but I’ll share my method regardless: sautee garlic (and onion, if you wish) in a bit of olive oil. Add 2 (400g) cans of chopped tomatoes, followed by whatever veg you like (I like carrots, peppers, and some tomatoes). Add 2 cans of red kidney beans, + spices (I used a little cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and my personal favourite to add to a chili, a little cinnamon). Simmer (the longer the better). Best with a bit of grated cheddar, chopped fresh coriander, & a dollop of sour cream on top! This makes enough for 2 meals for 2; adjust as necessary.

8. Cheat’s tomato soup
I’m calling this a cheat’s soup because it’s not made with fresh ingredients which for some reason to me feels like cheating! However I’ve made this loads of times and enjoyed it each and every one. What is imperative for this recipe is the tomatoes — find ones that are good quality. I cannot stress this enough. To make, simply sautee a little garlic and/or onions in some oil, add 2 cans of diced tomatoes along with salt and pepper, and simmer for anywhere between 10-20 minutes. Then puree the soup and add in a dollop of cream or creme fraiche (you do not need a lot to create a bit of a ‘creamy’ feeling). My favourite garnish herb for this soup is dill, but lots of others would work too. Best served with crusty bread!

9. A version of Ottolenghi’s conchiglioni
I am even surprising myself that I’ve included an Ottolenghi dish in this series, however this is a great-tasting pasta and has to be one of the easier dishes in his repertoire! It’s also, in Ottolenghi’s words, comfort food at its finest. The recipe is from Jerusalem. I have made it several times with many substitutions and variations. The basic ingredients you need are pasta, plain Greek yogurt*, feta cheese, basil, chili flakes, and nuts. *When I first told H. that I was making pasta with yogurt he had a confused and disgusted look on his face. I promise that it works though! To make it, simply prepare the pasta as directed, and once cooked combine with a large dollop of yogurt, some basil leaves, chili flakes, feta, and nuts as desired (pine nuts work the best in my experience). You can also mix spinach leaves in which I’ve found to work really well.

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Quinoa Caprese Bake

I will get straight to the point: this dish was incredible. One of my favourites I’ve made in a while. I was even ready to interrupt my chronological order of posts that I’ve been doing since I got back from Canada to post this straight away!

I can’t remember how or where I cam across the recipe but it can be found here (warning: photo-heavy). I thought it looked intriguing and was eager to try quinoa in this form.

The only thing I changed was that I didn’t use quite as much cheese as you may be able to tell from the photographs. What I used was plenty. I like quinoa but I did not think it could be this creamy and delicious. This dish is gooey, tomato-y, cheesy goodness, and total autumn comfort food. I will make it over and over again!

Note: to make quinoa I like to toast it first, like the method outlined here.

A bit messy, but you get the idea
A bit messy, but you get the idea

Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

After our west coast adventures, H. and I spent a wonderful 2 1/2 weeks in Nova Scotia. I fully anticipated updating the blog as I went, as I’ve done in previous years. But this time the time sped by like I’ve never know it to before. I barely had a chance to check my email, let alone update the blog. That, I suppose, is a good thing; time away from the internet is always restorative, and this way, I can relive the many amazing meals I enjoyed while we were there!

For 12 days of the 2 1/2-week period, H. and I dog- and house-sat in Sandy Cove, which I’ve written from and about before. Our first night there we had the arduous (ha!) task of using up leftovers and left-behinds, which happened to include buffalo mozzarella and flank steak, among many other things. S. suggested Ottolenghi’s now-famous dish (which we’d actually had before at her house in Toronto) and of course H. and I were both immediately on board.

This is a delicious starter or accompanying salad and easy to make with the right good-quality ingredients as mentioned in the link below. We had ours with our meal (coming shortly) but it also works as a stand-alone starter.

buffalo mozza salad

Recipe available here.

“(There is still time) To go bird watching, beach combing or body surfing. To float down a river on an intertube or walk through a field of flowers. To wear your salty bathing suit to dinner. To shuck oysters and eat lobster. To sit on a giant rock, looking out at the great vast ocean, contemplating how small you are and how good it feels to be alive. (from Last Chance Summer on Design Tripper)

Strawberry Basil Scones

Strawberry season (any berry season really) in NS is one of my favourite times of year. It’s just coming to the end of it and we’ve been enjoying berries as much as possible. There are two containers of them sitting 3 feet away and I can smell them from here. I’ve had several scone recipes bookmarked since May, when I was searching for ones to make for Mothers’ Day brunch. I didn’t make these ones then as the strawberries weren’t local, and decided to save it for later in the summer.

No matter what the recipe, as I am mixing and/or kneading batter/dough, I have a sinking feeling that I’ve done something wrong almost every single time. I am not the most confident baker. These turned out alright though. I thought they would be too dry, but they were fine.

The scones are not overly sweet (only 1/4 cup of sugar – I didn’t make the glaze) and make a perfect breakfast item or snack. I took half of them to an off-site project I was working on one day and they went over very well.