Weekly Winner: Lovely, Luscious Lo Mein

shrimp lo meinI never met a noodle I didn’t like.  I don’t care what it’s made of – what’s more important to me is what is served with it. (Although I am not above making some spaghetti and butter and calling it dinner… or lunch… or, heck, breakfast if you scramble and egg in it!)  But I digress.

Shrimp Lo Mein is a tasty version of a classic take out or delivery dish.  This version is quicker than delivery and a way-healthier option thanks to the shrimp and loads of veggies included.  The recipe comes from Real Simple and is honestly, just that.

Shrimp Lo Mein

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces lo mein noodles or spaghetti
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-in. piece), divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, halved lengthwise, quartered if large
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves [in my house, just for hubby]

Procedure:

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain
  2. Whisk soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, sriracha, 1 teaspoon ginger, a third of the garlic, and 2 tablespoons oil,
  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, scallions, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger and two-thirds garlic; cook, stirring often until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add shrimp to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bok choy and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.  Add soy sauce mixture and noodles and toss to coat.
  5. Top with sesame seeds [and cilantro, if you must].
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Weekly Winner: Mean, Green, Middle Eastern Turkey Patties

turkey pattiesI am a fan of anything that you can put in, on or wrapped by a pita.  Because of that, I’m always looking for new, interesting Middle-Eastern meals.  As a result of said search, I’ve come to really like the Moroccan seasoning called ras el hanout.

So, when flipping through Food Network Magazine, and came across this recipe for Middle Eastern Turkey Patties, served with pita and drizzled with yogurt, I knew I’d like it.  But… why were they green???  The answer? Chopped frozen spinach mixed right into the turkey mixture.  Brilliant!!  The spinach gives the patties a ton of moisture which sometimes turkey lacks and gives it a glorious mean, green health boost on top of it!

Since everything for the patties is mixed in a food processor, this comes together super quick and with minimal mess.  As any of you who stop by this blog regularly will know and notice, I’ve deleted the cilantro and replaced it with the first cutting of my home-grown mint.  The patties have tons of unique flavor and the fresh, orange-scented carrots make a great side dish.

Middle Eastern Turkey Patties

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 6-inch pitas, quartered

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1-1/4 pounds ground turkey

1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 tsp ras el hanout

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 pound carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for topping [I used my mint, but you do you]

Juice of 1/2 orange

1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, stirred

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the broiler.  Process 2 pita quarters in a food processor to make coarse crumbs.  Add red onion andpulse until finely chopped.  Add the turkey, spinach, ras el hanout, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper; pulse until combined. Form the mixture into twelve 4-inch-long, 1/2-inch-thick oval patties on a baking sheet. Brush the patties with 1 Tbsp olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil until lightly golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, crush the coriander seeds with the flat side of a knife.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the carrots and coriander and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro (or mint) and orange juice; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the turkey patties, carrots and the remaining pita quarters among plates.  Top the patties with the yogurt and sprinkle the dish with more cilantro (or mint)

 

Weekly Winner: Another Pork Pasta Palooza!

pork pastaYou know you’re doing something right when your husband equates a Friday night dinner with “some of the best pastas I’ve had in any restaurant”. Boo-ya, Spatula-drop!

Admittedly, it’s hard to go wrong with pork shoulder, cheese, and pasta — not just any pasta either but egg pappardelle.  Pappardelle is definitely my “favorite” pasta (if it’s possible to have a favorite) and I truly believe that one can save the world with a pork shoulder.

Pork, Fennel and Lemon Ragu with Pappardelle comes from Cook’s Illustrated.  It is definitely not a quick meal to make, but it is relatively “hands-off”.  The trick is to let the oven work it’s magic on that pork shoulder, breaking it down and making it luscious.  The lemon really freshens up the ragu so that it seems lighter but who are we kidding, this is definitely not diet food, but it is supremely delicious, satisfying, apparently “restaurant-quality” food.  That’s good enough for me!

Pork, Fennel and Lemon Ragu with Pappardelle

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

4 oz pancetta, chopped

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 large fennel bulb, 2 Tbsp fronds chopped, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp minced fresh thyme

1 tsp pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 (1-1/2 lb) boneless pork butt roast, well trimmed and cut in half across grain

1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (from 2 lemons)

12 oz pappardelle

2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1 cup), plus extra for serving

Procedure:

  1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 350F. Cook pancetta and 2/3 cup water in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and dark fond forms on bottom of pot, 8 to 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel bulb and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften and start to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2.  Stir in cream and 2 cups water, scraping up any browned bits.  Add pork and bring to boil over high heat.  Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until pork is tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Transfer pork to large plate and let cool for 15 minutes.  Cover pot so fond will steam and soften.  Using spatula, scrape browned bits from sides of pot and stir into sauce.  Stir in lemon zest and juice.
  4.  While pork cools, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Using 2 forks, shred por into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat or connective tissue.  Return pork and any juices to Dutch oven.  Cover and keep warm.
  5. Add pasta and 1 Tbsp salt to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Reserve 2 cups cooking water, then drain pasta and add it to Dutch oven.  Add Pecorino and 3/4 cup reserved cooking water and stir until sauce is slightly thickened and cheese is fully melted, 2 to 3 minutes.  If desired, stir in remaining reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, to adjust sauce consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with fennel fronds.  Serve immediately, passing extra Pecorino separately.

Weekly Winner: A New Take on Spaghetti & Meatballs – Thai-style

thai turkey meatballWho doesn’t love a bowl of noodles and meatballs?  Regardless of the particular ingredients it is approachable, familiar comfort food at its best.  But when you can take an old standard such as spaghetti and meatballs and not only lighten in up, but spice it up and put a Thai-style spin on it, sign me up!

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles comes from Epicurious and was the perfect dinner on a chilly, rainy spring evening. The original recipe calls for snap peas, but required such a small amount that I did not want to get them just for this recipe so I substituted frozen edamame.

There are a lot of separate steps in this dish, but it’s all easy and comes together quickly.  The only downside is dirtying up a few extra bowls but the coziness factor of this dish definitely makes up for it.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs and noodles:

  •  1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  •  6 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed [or frozen edamame]
  •  1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into 1/4″ thick strips
  • 4 oz dried rice noodles, such as pad Thai noodles
  • 2 tsp virgin coconut oil [insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil

For the broth:

  •  1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil [again, insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil
  •  2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
  •  1-1/2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  •  1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  •  2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  •  1 tsp soy sauce
  •  3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste [I used about 2/3 this much to control heat]
  •  Lime wedges, chopped peanuts, basil leaves for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet or 13×9 glass or metal baking dish with parchment.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl with a fork. Add turkey, panko, scallion, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir well to combine.  Using your hands, roll mixture into 1″ balls, packing firmly (you should have about 25).  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast meatballs, turning once halfway through, until firm and cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatball registers 165F, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook snap peas (or edamame) and bell pepper in a medium pot of boiling, well-salted water for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a colander with a spider, slotted spoon, or tongs, reserving water in pot.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Return water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain noodles , then transfer to a large bowl and toss with oil.
  5. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add coconut milk, curry paste, broth, lime juice, soy sauce and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Divide noodles among bowls, ladle broth over and top with meatballs and vegetables.

Weekly Winner: Solitary Stir-Fried Noodles

stir fry udonI’m flying solo this week which means I usually fall back on old favorites or make something that I know my hubby doesn’t care for.  But this past week I came across this super simple noodle dish, Better-Than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon, in Bon Appetit which has two of my favorite components:  Pork and big, fat chewy udon noodles. I had to try it.

I thought the cabbage was a strange add in this and honestly, I was very close to subbing in coleslaw mix rather than the big pieces of cabbage called for.  I’m really glad I didn’t.  Those big pieces were such a pleasant surprise.  The other surprise was how incredibly quickly this comes together since you use instant udon.  Leftovers, by the way… are fabulous the next day!

Better-Than-Takeout Stir-Fired Udon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups very coarsely chopped green cabbage (from about ¼ medium head)
  • 2 7-ounce packages instant udon noodles, flavor packets discarded
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 5 scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ cup mirin
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

Procedure:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Cook cabbage, tossing often, until edges are browned, about 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat, set aside.
  2. Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with 6 cups boiling water.  Let sit then drain.  Transfer noodles back to bowl and toss with sesame oil.  Add reserved cabbage and wipe out skillet.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high and add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs.  Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is browned, about 3 minutes  Break up meat into smaller pieces and continue to cook, tossing, just until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chopped scallions (the white and pale green parts), ginger and red pepper flakes and cook, tossing often until scallions are softened and inside of skillet starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  5. Add noodle mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly and scraping up browned bits, until noodles are coated in sauce, about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and mix in sliced scallions (the dark green parts) and 1 Tbsp sesame seeds.
  6. Divide noodles among bowls and top with more sesame seeds.

Weekly Winner: A Healthy Hack and Veggie Fix Combined

buffalo cauliflowerFirst things first:  I am in no way saying that this recipe will trick you into thinking your tucking into a big basket of buffalo wings.  It won’t.  However, if like me, you are trying to lighten things and find more virtuous versions of your cold weather comfort foods, this does the trick.  At least it did for me.

I am a huge fan of cauliflower and all the ways you can transform it.  To me it’s a great “blank canvas” to take on different flavors and textures.  It can be pureed to thicken soups, it can be roasted to crunchy, golden deliciousness, and it can be minced up to mimic rice or couscous.  Now, apparently it can be “buffalo-ized” as well.  Buffalo Cauliflower Salad comes from Eating Well Magazine and has all the “requirements” of buffalo wings (OK, except for the actual “wing”).  It has the crunchy carrots and celery, the tangy blue cheese and the nice spicy kick of the buffalo sauce.  And you’re eating a salad!

Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets (1 medium head)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives and/or dill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • ½ cup julienned carrots
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss cauliflower with oil and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until it is starting to soften and brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, herbs, garlic powder, pepper and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Combine hot sauce, butter and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the roasted cauliflower and toss. Return the cauliflower to the baking sheet and drizzle with the sauce left in the bowl. Roast until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes more. Stir to coat the cauliflower completely.
  5. Add lettuce, carrot, celery and onion to the dressing in the large bowl; toss to coat. Serve the salad topped with the Buffalo cauliflower and blue cheese.

Weekly Winner: One-Pan Peanut-Poultry-Potato ‘Palooza!

peanut chile chickenPeanut butter and chicken are like that unlikely paired odd couple you know.  “What do they see in each other?”  “How does that work? They’re nothing alike”.  Perhaps the answer is as easy as: They simply bring out the best or unexpected in each other.  Such is the case with Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes.  While you maybe wouldn’t automatically think to combine spicy chiles, chicken, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts….once you do, you will understand the magic.

This unexpected recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It comes together fairly quickly and easily –everything cooks in the same pan (easy cleanup!) so is quite doable for a weekday meal but also different enough and presents nice enough for a company dish.

Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky
  • 2 Thai bird chiles, minced (keep the seeds from one of them)
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2-1/3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 6 cups), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 lb.)
  • 7 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) shelled roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Procedure:

  • Thoroughly combine the peanut butter, chiles, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the lemon juice, 2 tsp. of the garlic, and 3/4 tsp. salt in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Lightly sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt, and then add to the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour, massaging every 15 minutes.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 375°F. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, on medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, the remaining garlic, 2 Tbs. cilantro, and 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Cover the pan, and cook until the sweet potatoes just start to soften, stirring once, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Remove the lid from the skillet, and add the tomatoes. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and place smooth side up over the tomatoes, spooning marinade on top of each. Scatter the peanuts over the chicken, and then transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 30 minutes.
  • Heat the broiler on high, then cook until the top of the chicken and the peanuts turn light golden, 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely so that it doesn’t burn. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving, sprinkled with the remaining cilantro.

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