Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grilled Escarole and Radicchio

Grilled greens seem to be popping up everywhere this winter.  So, I decided to give it a go myself.  They make an exciting and healthy side dish or can even take center stage as a main dish.  The hot vinegar bath is an idea I got from a recipe by April Bloomfield, one of my favorite chefs, on one of my favorite websites.  The recipe is simple and grilling the greens gives a great flavor. I decided to add radicchio, not only for the added health benefits, but for its flavor, texture and color. I used radicchio trevisano rather than regular radicchio because it has a more structured leaf, similar to endive, and grills nicely.  Mostly, I really enjoy the purple color so if you only have regular radicchio it will work just as well- just be sure not to over grill it.

Grilled Escarole and Radicchio with Parmesan and Sunflower Seeds

1 head of endive
1 head of Radicchio Trevisano
2 cups of white vinegar
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Sunflower Seeds

Cut the bottoms off the escarole and radicchio, separate the leaves and rinse well.  Remove additional stems and place them in separate bowls.  Boil 2 cups of vinegar and pour one cup over each bowl.  Toss the leaves in each bowl until they wilt slightly then pour off the excess vinegar.  Heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Add the leaves to the grill pan and allow them to sear on both sides for a few seconds.  Remove from the grill pan.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt to taste, parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds.  Serve and enjoy!

What makes this bite better?
Escarole and radicchio are both power house vegetables that are not common in most people's diets.  Variety itself is a benefit!  In addition, escarole is high in Vitamins A, C and K and radicchio is packed with antioxidants and essential minerals like magnesium.  If you are like me, you often pass right over these veggies while shopping because you have no idea what to do with them.  This is a great way to try new foods and gain the health benefits!  Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E and B as well as polyunsaturated oils to keep you fuller longer and help lower cholesterol.  I sprinkle these little guys on a dish whenever I get the chance to add texture and the health benefits!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cabbage Salad with Carrots, Apples and Peanuts

A reposting of a winter favorite from February 18th 2011! My how the time flies...
Nothing makes me yearn for spring more than walking through a Farmer's market this time of year.  Right now, the pickins' are pretty slim and I'm over the weekly temptation to buy every type of potato known to man. However, next to the plethora of potatoes linger a few other winter staples- carrots, cabbage, apples- these I can work with.  This salad creation cures my itch for fresh veggies and provides sweet, crunchy hope that spring is right around the corner.

In addition to helping me fight my winter vegetable blues, this salad is also incredibly easy, insanely inexpensive and can feed the masses.  I made this salad twice before and I was not able to get any pictures because my friends and I ate it so quickly.  Any asian style dressing will work for this salad.  I used an organic sesame ginger.  You can also add grilled chicken to the salad to up the protein but the vegetarian version is just as delicious.

Cabbage Salad with Carrots, Apples and Peanuts

1 head green cabbage
3 apples (any kind you prefer)
3 carrots, shredded
1 cup of roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh chopped scallion
Sesame ginger salad dressing
Grilled chicken (optional)

Clean the cabbage and cut it into quarters.  Slice each quarter into thin shreds, removing any large or very hard pieces.  Place the sliced cabbage in a very large bowl.  Shred the carrots using a mandolin or hand grater.  Clean and cut the apples into bite size pieces.  Chop the peanuts.  Clean and chop the scallion discarding the white ends.  Add all the ingredients to the large bowl.  If using chicken, chop into bite size pieces and add to the bowl as well.  Add 5-6 tablespoons of dressing and toss to coat.  Mix very well before adding more dressing.  This salad takes a bit of work to mix!  Add more dressing if necessary and salt to taste.  Toss again and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve and enjoy!

What makes this bite better?
During the winter months it is often difficult to get your daily filling of veggies, especially if you are a locavore.  This salad is a great way to up your fruit and veggie intake for the day while still being low in fat.  Also, cabbage is an under appreciated veggie loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kale Salad with Pecans and Ricotta

My best friend Erika's New Year's resolution was to become a better cook.  Boy, have I been reaping the benefits of that!  I have a sous chef whenever I need one and she has been mustering up all sorts of creative things as she gets her feet wet in the kitchen.  Her latest concoction was an amazing kale salad.  Not only was it delicious but I loved the idea of using raw kale as a substitute for lettuce.  During this time of year I can not get enough kale.  However, preparing it raw is even more exciting than all the sautéing and braising I've been doing.  I took the idea and ran with it.  Since the original kale salad, we have prepared a few-but this one tops my list.
Aside from being delicious, this recipe is super easy and can be made in under 10 minutes!  You can portion it into smaller servings and have it for multiple meals during the week.  I used ricotta salata for this recipe because I love its dry, salty texture.  Normal ricotta cheese is not firm enough but any other crumbly cheese, such as feta, would work just as well.

Kale Salad with Pecans and Ricotta
1 bunch of fresh kale
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and dry the kale.  Chop into thin pieces and place into a large bowl.  Add the chopped pecans.  Use a knife to crumble the ricotta salata and add it to the salad as well.  Add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss well to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the salad to sit for about 10 minutes, tossing once or twice to let the flavors mix.  Serve and enjoy :)

What makes this bite better?
Any time you can enjoy a vegetable in its raw form, the more nutrient dense it is sure to be.  Kale is very high in nutrients, particularly Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K and it is also known to have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.  There is much debate about which cooking methods preserves these beneficial components, but if we are eating it raw we can be sure that we are reaping all the health benefits its has to offer.  Chomp away!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings with Cauliflower Puree

My sister came up to NYC to visit and in exchange for taking her to some amazing restaurants, she agreed to help me cook something for my blog.  Now I have to tell you that in addition to my mother, my sister is the reason I love to cook.  She falls asleep with the food network on and is always sending me new cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and great ideas.  When we were little she insisted our puppy's middle name be "molto" because  her obsession with Mario Batali.  She was 9.

It was her idea to create a dish using chicken.  Apparently, I don't use it enough.  In addition, we decided to recreate one of our mom's favorite- dumplings.  What does that leave you with but chicken and dumplings?!

In attempt to make this bite better, we decided to use cauliflower puree instead of butter, flour and cream-or whatever you use to make chicken and dumplings.  It's the perfect creation since cauliflower is in season and adds a delicious flavor while maintaining an ideal texture and color.  Not to mention, I got an immersion blender for christmas and I've been dying to make something other than smoothies.

 Chicken and Dumplings with Cauliflower Puree

Cauliflower Puree

1 head of Cauliflower
1 cup of water
1 cup of 1% milk
1/2 cup of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Clean cauliflower and cut into small pieces.  Add 1 cup of water and about 3/4 of the cauliflower to a pot and bring to a boil.  Set remaining cauliflower aside.  Boil for about 5 minutes or until pieces are tender.  Add 1 cup of milk and puree using an immersion blender or food processor.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, blend until well mixed and add salt and pepper to taste.  The texture should be creamy and not too thick or too watery.  Set aside.

Whole Wheat Dumplings
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of regular flour
1 egg
1 cup of 1% milk

Bring a pot of water to a roaring boil.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Mixture should be think enough to maintain shape when scooped with a spoon.  Add a pinch of salt to the water.  Dip the spoon into the hot water then scoop a tablespoon amount of the mixture and dunk it into the hot water.  The mixture will fall off the spoon into the water on its own.  Add all the dumplings and allow them to boil until they rise to the top.  Strain and set aside.

Chicken and Dumplings
1 small onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 teaspoon of parsley, finely diced
2 teaspoons of rosemary, extra to finish
1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

In a pan gently saute the diced onion with a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery, rosemary and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes more.  In a glass dish, combine the sauteed mirepoix and spices with the chicken, dumplings and cauliflower puree.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and crumble the remaining cauliflower and rosemary on top.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the cauliflower has a nice golden finish. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

What makes this bite better?
Using the cauliflower incorporates seasonal ingredients, ups the nutritional value and cuts excess fat and carbohydrates from the dish.  The additional whole wheat in the dumplings not only add a unique nutty flavor but extra servings of whole grains!