Making every bite count

07 July 2007

Back, after an Internet diet

Finally, my computer is fixed (thanks, Dad!) so I'm back online with renewed energy and a slew of new recipes and favorite ingredients. I awoke early last Saturday and drove to Findlay Market to find something to make for a work barbecue. I planned on getting some feta and tomatoes for a pasta salad, but instead I retirned home with two paper bags bursting with produce and local goods: tomatoes, yes, but also shallots, garlic scapes (see below), massive zucchini, lemons, fennel, local honey and organic eggs, plus a whole-grain multigrain boule from Shadeau Bakery.

I get so excited for breakfast on the weekends. I love big brunches or breakfasts, especially frittatas and omelets. Since I no longer eat meat, a lot of the traditional dishes are out, but it opens up such a world of delicious flavor combinations. Eggs -- always vegetarian, free-range, certified organic for me -- are a great blank slate. They're full of protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids. I sauteed half a large zucchini with garlic and olive oil, then chopped tomato and some red onion. With Fred and a really good cup of strong coffee and the multigrain bread, it made for a perfect weekend morning. The only thing missing was a newspaper.

What I love about omelets is how versatile they are. They're fabulous for breakfast, obviously, but also with salad for lunch or dinner. Just about any vegetable goes well in them.
On Fourth of July, I threw together broccoli kale, rainbow chard, garlic and tomatoes with organic cheddar. Yum! Other favorites are spinach and tomato with feta, potatoes with Dijon mustard and kale.

One Friday night in early June, actually the night that my computer died, Fred and I came home starving and pressed for time. I'd seen a recipe for chickpea pasta -- spaghetti alla ceci -- and played around with it. It turned out to be a really easy, tasty dinner. With white wine, a sprinkling of parmesan and fried garlic, oh, rich and simple!
Pasta alla ceci
1/2 package whole-wheat pasta (cook according to package)
1/2 c white wine
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 t red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper
3 T olive oil
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Heat oil over medium-high heat in large saute pan, then add the garlic and cook until brown and toasted. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Next, add the chili flakes and chickpeas. Turn heat to high and saute chickpeas for 2 minutes, shaking pan frequently. Add white wine, reduce heat and stir. Mash a few chickpeas to create a sauce.
Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pasta. Thin with reserved cooking water, if necessary. Sprinkle with parmesan and the fried garlic. The garlic gets sweet and crunchy. And it's only friend in a bit of olive oil, so it's not that bad for you.
I am mentoring a 13-year-old girl through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and last month I taught her how to cook. Well, we made dinner together. It wasn't really a cooking lesson. She was more interested in watching Disney Channel than cooking. Who can blame her? She's 13! She's a meat-eater, so I made this Rachael Ray chicken recipe, modified a bit.
We went to the grocery store and picked out things for dinner. I let her choose which vegetables we ate. She tried for the first time mushrooms and broccoli.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 T dried tarragon (I didn't have any rosemary! Now I grow a pot of it!)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 package button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, chopped
1 T flour
1/2 cup soymilk
Heat iron skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in skillet. Cook five minutes each side.
In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then add garlic and shallots. Cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add flour and tarragon and cook one minute. Flour should be browned and coating the mushrooms. Add broth and soymilk and turn up heat to medium-high. Cook until sauce has thickened, about five minutes.
Serve with rice, steamed broccoli and the chicken. I ate mine over a veggie burger; Tabitha had chicken.

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