Weekly winner:  Cool, Crunchy, Curried, Kohlrabi … Noodles

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for a good peanut sauce. I love it on anything, but particularly on noodles.  And these are cold noodles which made them the perfect side dish to grilled pork chops – no added heat in the kitchen!

I’ve only recently discovered kohlrabi and I’m definitely hooked!  I’m not even sure if there are any recipes that call for it cooked as I’ve only tried it raw and love it.   Crunchy and clean tasting – like broccoli’s sweeter sister.  Add to that the creaminess of the edamame and the crispness of the red pepper which all just mixes beautifully with the heat of the green curry paste and luscious-ness of the peanut butter.  Have I waxed poetically enough about this dish???  Probably.  The only thing I’ve changed in this recipe is that it called for whole wheat spaghetti. Yeah, that’s not going to happen…. not in this kitchen.

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and if you make this, you will definitely be eating well. Very Well.

Thai Peanut Curry Noodles

Ingredients:

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons Thai green, red or yellow curry paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 cup matchstick-cut peeled kohlrabi

Preparation:

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water.

Whisk the reserved pasta water, peanut butter, shallot, curry paste, ginger, soy sauce, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the pasta, edamame, bell pepper and kohlrabi; toss well to coat.

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Weekly Winner:  My New Go-To Dinner Salad

Summer means salads.  And while I am a big fan of salads for lunch or as a side for dinner, I generally do not consider them “Dinner-Worthy”all by themselves. That is, until now.

Dinners to me need to be a bit more substantial, and regardless of how hot and humid the weather, I feel something in the dinner actually needs to be cooked – and therefore hot (or at least warm).

Enter the Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing that we thoroughly enjoyed (read “devoured”) last night.  This salad has a ton going for it.  First off: roasted veggies.  In my book, there is not a vegetable in the world that can’t be improved upon by roasting.  The recipe calls for broiling them but I’m a roaster. You do what you feel comfortable with.  Secondly, a creamy dressing.  I am a fan of mayonnaise or yogurt based dressings and this one is sweet and spicy all at the same time.  Thirdly, steak!!  If I’m not going to be adding bacon (my protein of choice) to a salad, then it better be steak.  The recipe calls for flank steak which would have been fine, but I happened to have some fabulous skirt steak in the freezer so we went with that.  Last but not least, French fried onions.  Yep, you heard me.  In my mind those are the only redeeming ingredient in green bean casserole and definitely made up for the lack of bacon.  The recipe comes from Southern Living, and if I had to find fault with anything about this recipe it would be that it didn’t have any cheese.  Honestly though, it didn’t need it.  I usually feel the need to add cheese to dang-near anything, but the fact that I didn’t even notice the lack of cheese until this morning while writing this tells me it definitely was not needed.  Although a few blue cheese crumbles??  Just sayin’.  Maybe next time.

Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Asian chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 (2-lb.) flank steak (or skirt steak, in my case)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 pound broccoli florets

1 pound cauliflower florets

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups loosely packed gourmet lettuce (such as arugula, baby kale, or baby spinach)

French fried onions

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper over steak. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Brush steak with olive oil, using rosemary sprigs as a basting brush. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Toss together broccoli, next 2 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Spread broccoli mixture in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan, and broil 3 to 5 minutes or until charred and tender. Transfer to large bowl.

4. Toss together broccoli mixture and lettuce. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips. Arrange steak on a serving platter; top with broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with fried onions, and serve with dressing.

Weekly Winner:  In a Real Pickle With Pepper-Brined Chicken

This recipe just sounded too weird not to try.  First off, I’m a big fan of brining, be in wet or dry.  Then there’s the fact that I love any skin-on, bone-in chicken. Add to that hubby’s love and adoration of any kind of peppers, but pickled peppers in particular (say that three times fast!) and you have a recipe that was begging me to try it.

At first I was concerned that the chicken would taste a bit too tangy.  That concern turned out to be totally unfounded.  The only slightly disconcerting thing was the neon yellowish hue the chicken took on as it brined.  Luckily the browning and subsequent baking transformed the yellow into a lovely golden brown.

In the end – beginning color aside –  the chicken was fabulous.  Moist and succulent with very crispy skin and just the slightest hint of the pickled brine.  But the sauce?  Oh my!  Garlicky-buttery goodness.  The combination made for one easy, lovely Sunday Supper.

The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home magazine.  It is amazingly simple but tastes like you slaved away all day. The perfect pickle predicament to find oneself in.

Pepper-Brined Chicken with Honey-Garlic Sauce

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken hindquarters
  • Liquid from 1 16-oz jar of banana pepper rings
  • Black pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed

Procedure:

Submerge chicken in liquid from banana peppers jar in a large bowl; cover and chill, turning occasionally, 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Remove chicken from liquid and pat dry with paper towels; season with black pepper. Combine flour and thyme; dredge chicken in flour mixture.

Sauté chicken in oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides, 8-10 minutes total.

Transfer pan to oven and roast chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh or leg registers 170F. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil. Carefully place pan on stove top over medium high heat.

Deglaze pan with broth, scraping up any brown bits. Add garlic and honey; simmer until broth reduces to about ¼ cup, 3-5 minutes.

Off heat, whisk butter into sauce a few cubes at a time until all butter is incorporated and sauce thickens. Serve sauce with chicken.

 

Weekly Winner:  Hip, Hip, Harissa!

 Last night’s dinner was not just my Weekly Winner — this was easily the best thing I’ve made in the past six months!    The amazing thing about that statement is that this dish did not contain a bit of bacon, a portion of pork, or an ounce of cheese (sorry, I could not think of a word beginning with “ch” to describe a smidgen). Imagine that — chicken and vegetables won out over any pasta, pork or gooey casserole I’ve made in half a year!

This amazing dish was Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas and it comes from Sunset Magazine. Besides being crazy good, and amazingly healthy…it’s a one-pot wonder!

Because you marinade the chicken in a mixture of yogurt and harissa, it stays incredibly moist and tender.  I can see why the chicken turns out so tasty.  What is truly incredible about this dish is how delectable the vegetables are!  There is absolutely nothing on them but some salt and pepper.  Roasting the chicken on top imparts a great flavor.  This is truly a remarkable dish.  Please make it!

Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain whole-milk greek-style yogurt

1/3 cup coarse harissa

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Pepper

6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 lbs. total)

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moons

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal about 1/4 in. thick

Preparation:

1. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, harissa, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, and several grinds of pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat. Chill, covered, 4 to 8 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425° with a rack set in upper third. In a bowl, combine chickpeas, onion, and carrots. Season lightly with salt and toss to blend. Make a bed of the vegetables in a 9- by 13-in. baking dish. With a rubber spatula, redistribute marinade so it evenly covers both sides of chicken. Set chicken on vegetables, skin side up. Bake until chicken is deeply browned, about 45 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to a plate. Stir vegetables and add a splash of water if they look dry. Bake until carrots are tender, 10 minutes longer.