Tag Archives: vegetarian

Israeli Coucous Salad – getting out of a rut

I’ve been in a salad rut. Knowing it’s an easy way to incorporate veggies into my diet, I usually make a kale or an orzo pasta salad for packed lunches. Both delicious but after consuming it on a regular basis, my palate is bored.
I came across this recipe while browsing through the aisles of Trader Joe’s. I love Israeli couscous because of its chewy texture (although it’s still pasta like, made from semolina wheat). What piqued my interest in this recipe was the use of cinnamon. Such an earthy spice and very Middle Eastern. Here’s an extra nudge–you may actually have a lot of these ingredients in your fridge/pantry, so give this EASY recipe try 🙂
 couscous salad
Note: In the picture, I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend which includes orzo, red quinoa, Israeli couscous, and garbanzo beans or you can find a box of Israeli Couscous (see below). Use the one you like. Both are great. For the frozen beans, I found frozen mukimame beans at Ralphs (can find them at Target too) and they look like edamame beans. Adds a nutty flavor and protein to the salad.

food item
Israeli Coucous salad (adapted from Trader Joe’s box recipe)
Serves 4 (for lunch or as dinner side)
2 TB butter, divided
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 1/2 cup (8 oz) Israeli couscous (dried)
1 cinnamon stick
1 3/4 cup of water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mukimame beans (frozen; similar to edamame)
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
black pepper

Toast pine nuts over low heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. In a small pot, boil 2 cups of water. When water is boiling, add frozen beans and simmer until the color turns bright green (about a minute). Drain and set aside.
Melt 2 TB of butter in a small pot. Add couscous, cinnamon stick, and stir often until couscous slightly browns. Add water or broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley or cilantro, green onions, pine nuts, raisins, mukimame beans, lemon juice, and zest. Season with black pepper and more salt if needed. Add olive oil if necessary.

This salad works great for a packed lunch or for dinner coupled with grilled chicken or fish.
Hope you enjoy it!

hello spring! it’s frittata time

Spring is here! I love seeing the change at the farmers markets of asparagus, peas, berries. I started seeing beautiful bunches of asparagus and inspired me to make a frittata. They’re easy, nutritious and an unexpected brunch or lunch (or dinner) coupled with a bright salad (like this one) and a crisp white wine. There’s not a whole lot of cooking (or wait time for that matter!) so give this one a try and tell me what you think.

If you don’t have the exact veggies mentioned below, improvise and use what’s in your fridge. Onions, other green veggies (like spinach, kale, broccoli) would all work nicely. When I cook food, I like thinking about the flavor combinations but also the colors. Green, red, white (colors of Italy) always pair well together.

spring frittata instafood

spring frittata (adapted from Giada de Laurentis)

6 large eggs
1 TB milk
1/2 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
12 ounces asparagus (2/3 of a bunch), trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

handful of mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bella)
3 ounces Fontina, diced (or another type of cheese; I used Swiss)

Preheat the broiler. Whisk the eggs, milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and a pinch of salt and saute 3 minutes longer or when mushrooms are slightly browned.
Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn! Watch it closely.
Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate.

penne with zucchini and basil

I was contemplating how to best use the monster zucchini… zucchini bread? ratatouille? stir-fry? I came across this recipe in my cookbook by Eli Krieger (I’ve tried about three of her recipes from it and I give it my seal of approval. Only criticism is that the instructions can be a bit off but maybe because everyone’s stove and oven is a little bit different? Not sure). This is a great recipe for a summer weekend lunch/dinner – add a protein, light, filling, and has clean flavors. I made this dish using my farmer’s market finds and my friend’s backyard zucchini (still have a little left).

penne with zucchini and basil

¾ box (12 ounces) penne pasta
¼ cup olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini (1/2 lb each) sliced into ¼ inch thick half moons
1½ cups of grape or cherry tomatoes (I chose yellow)
2 TB lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1.    Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, set aside.
2.    Add 2 TB of olive oil to a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring until garlic is light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and 2 TB more olive oil. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 6 minutes.
3.    In the large pot used for boiling pasta, add the pasta with the garlic and zucchini. Add the seasonings: salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese, basil, the remaining olive oil and toss to combine.

Tip: when chopping the zucchini and garlic, make sure that they are sliced at a consistent thickness, otherwise, it won’t cook evenly. Also, if you don’t have a zester, use your peeler to peel some of the lemon skin off and thinly slice it.

curried cauliflower and a monster zucchini

I’ve been on a curry kick. It’s got a warmth and depth of flavor that I can’t quite describe except to say, it’s impossible to miss! I took some leftover cauliflower to work and warmed it up in the office microwave only to leave this distinct scent (I don’t know if my coworkers appreciated it or not). It’s easy to make, whisk, chop, mix, and stick it in the oven.

Curried Cauliflower

5 TB olive oil
2 TB fresh lemon juice
2 TB curry powder
1 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/4 inch thick florets
1/3 cup cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 450F. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, curry powder, and salt. Add cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread the veggies onto a single layer of a large baking pan.

2. Bake until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown. About 25-30 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle cilantro as a garnish.

My coworker/running buddy gave me this giant zucchini from her backyard garden. It’s monster big! I’m thinking about making some zucchini bread with it… otherwise, how will I finish it? I don’t want to waste her hard work and homegrown (monster) veggie.

Enjoying dessert at Urth Cafe in dtLA

…and taking time to smell the roses (as summer draws to an end soon)