Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet Breakfast Quinoa

Quinoa is naturally loaded with protein and fiber making it a perfect nutritious start to a productive day. It has a light fluffy texture and slight nutty flavor.  It is also gluten-free.
I have to admit I never tried quinoa before and am happy I did since it opens up a lot of possibilities.

1 c. red quinoa, rinsed
2 c. water
1 Tbsp. oil (I used walnut)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 c. dried apricots, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 c. golden raisins
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. quark (a ricotta substitute)

1. In a small saucepan, cover the quinoa with water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15-20 minutes. Lightly fluff with a fork and cover it again.
2. In a medium skillet heat oil and add almonds. Cook over medium stirring a few times, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add apricots, raisins, maple syrup, orange zest and cinnamon and stir until heated through.
3. Add quinoa to the skillet and stir gently to mix. Top each portion with a dollop of quark.

Serves 4
*all ingredients except maple syrup are available at the Green Barn

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roasted Pear-Spinach Salad

This salad is so pretty and tasty. The flavors blend very well together. I would suggest using a concorde pear (its vanilla-sweet flavor and firm texture holds up nicely when baked). Bartlett is also a good choice.

1 tsp. butter
2 firm-ripe pears
1 & 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. dried cranberries
8 slices ciabatta bread (I used a roll form)
3 oz. blue cheese

1/3 c. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
5 oz. baby spinach

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
Grease baking sheet with butter. Core pears and cut each into 8 wedges; toss with sugar and place on sides on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until soft and browned on undersides. Transfer to plate or wax paper to cool.
2. Place almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and toast 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in half of the cranberries and set aside.
3. Reduce oven to 400°F. Cut each slice of bread in half, brush each side with a little olive oil and toast on baking sheet for 3 minutes per side. Remove from oven and divide crumbled cheese among toasts. Return to oven and bake 4 minutes more.
4. Meanwhile, in blender combine remaining cranberries, vinegar, honey, and mustard. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With blender running, add 1/3 c. oil in a slow steady stream.
5. In bowl toss together the spinach, half the almond mixture and dressing to taste. Divide greens among tumblers or bowls; top with pears, toasts, and additional almond mixture.

makes 8-10 appetizer servings, or 6 regular servings

*All ingredients are available at the Green barn excepting the ciabatta bread and Dijon mustard.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Peppers

5 ounces baby spinach
2 slices bread, finely chopped (I have used white and wholegrain and have to say the white works better, but wholegrain still does the job and is a healthy alternative)
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 T. finely grated parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling on top if you would like)
2 T. pine nuts
2 T. chopped red onion
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed, and chopped
salt and pepper
4 bell peppers, halved and seeded
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4  jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or home made if you are the ambitious type)
1 cup chicken broth

1. In a large skillet, cook the spinach over high heat just until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain and press out all the water. Coarsely chop. Dry out the pan.
2. In a large bowl, knead chopped bread with the milk, egg, and cheese to form a paste. Knead in the pine nuts, onions, sausage, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among pepper halves and lightly pack it in.
3. In the skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering. (If you skillet isn't quite large enough, like mine, you can do 2 batches or use 2 skillets and divide sauce and broth between). Add the stuffed peppers, filling side down, and cook over high head until well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn peppers over and cook until the skins are browned and blistered, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and chicken broth, cover and simmer until the sausage filling is cooked through and the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired and serve right away.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

5 T. butter
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 t. dried tarragon
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 c. flour
1 cup dry white wine*
3 14.5 oz cans chicken stock (a bit less for a thicker soup)
salt to taste
1/4 t. white pepper
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 c. half & half (or milk for a lower fat version)
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese

1. Melt butter in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add leek, onion, garlic and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. 
2. Stir in tarragon and thyme and cook 1 minute longer. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and gradually stir in the wine and chicken stock. Season soup with salt and white pepper. Add cauliflower. Simmer the soup, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender. Let cool slightly
2.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return to pot. Stir in half & half. Gently reheat and stir in swiss cheese until melted. Serves 6

(For an alternate version: replace the wine with chicken stock, omit the thyme, tarragon and white pepper. After stirring in half & half add black pepper to taste, 1/8 t. nutmeg, and 1 T. dry sherry. I made both soups at the same time and was pleased with how each turned out. )

*I'm not exactly a wine expert. The way I usually choose wine is by price and by how pretty the label is. Here is a list of a few dry/medium dry wines:  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Gewurtztraminer, and Riesling (good thing the chardonnay we had on hand just happened to be on sale and look attractive when I went shopping last week!)