Weekly Winner: Mystified by Miso-Mozzarella Mashup

pastaThere are combinations I honestly have never envisioned – miso and cheese is one of them.  I love both, but would never think of putting them together in the same dish.  Until now, that is.

Pasta with Miso Cream Sauce intrigued me from the word go.  I’ve added miso to my repertoire with meat and veggies, but never with pasta.  And certainly, never combined with cheese.  But why not?  This dish is super easy and in a word, luscious.  Very subtle but very addictive.   The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine and has me thinking what other strange combinations I will discover next.

Pasta with Miso Cream Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked casarecce, fusilli or penne pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. white miso
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups multicolored grape tomatoes (about 10 oz.)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 (6-oz.) pkg. baby spinach
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1/2 cup) and divided

Procedure:

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Place 1/2 cup milk in a bowl; whisk in flour and miso until smooth. In a saucepan, bring stock and remaining 1 cup milk to a boil over high. Whisk in flour mixture, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over high. Add tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly blistered and beginning to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add thyme and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add spinach; cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta, sauce, and half of cheese to skillet; toss to combine. Serve in shallow bowls, and top evenly with remaining cheese.

 

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Weekly Winner:  The Secret to Succulent Salmon? A board and a killer glaze

There is very little you can do to salmon that I wouldn’t like. Broiled, poached, sautéed, flaked … you name it, I’m a fan. One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is definitely on the grill. Grilling fish however, is fraught with peril. The delicate fish can break, stick or simply fall through the grates (or possibly all three!)

The answer is cedar-planking the fish.  It’s like a safety net for the fish!  In addition, it imparts more smokiness than simply throwing it on the grill.  Add an amazing glaze and you’ve got yourself a fabulous fish dish.  Plank-Grilled Miso Salmon from Eating Well magazine checks all the boxes and comes together in about a half hour (not counting the soaking of the plank).  

Plank-Grilled Miso Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp sake

1/4 cup white miso

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1-1/2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned or 4 boneless, skinless filets

4 scallions, trimmed

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 tsps black and/or white sesame seeds

Procedure:

  1. Heat sake and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat just until warm. Remove from heat and whisk in miso until smooth. Let cool for 1 minute, then whisk in mayonnaise and lemon zest.
  2. Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Build a medium-high heat fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
  3. Place the plank, smooth-side down, directly over the flame and grill until the bottom is charred and smoky, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Run your fingers over the salmon and remove any bones you find with tweezers. Place scallions on the charred side of the plank, leaving a little space between them. Place the salmon on the scallions and season with pepper. Spread the glaze on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Grill the fish on the plank over indirect heat until the glaze is bubbling and browned and the fish is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on the plank, if desired.

Weekly Winner:  Marvelously Mellow, Magical Miso

I find that I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of miso.  I realize this is in no way a new ingredient.  On the contrary it’s been around for almost as long as Japanese cuisine has existed.  And while I’ve certainly had miso in quite a few Asian dishes, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started making it a central part of sauces, marinades and toppings.  It’s unctuous, salty, earthy and incredibly mellow.  It just seems to disappear into whatever you put it in, while making everything else in the dish taste more cohesive. It’s magic!  It’s like the perfect party mixer – everything that’s around miso just seems brighter, more savory and, well, yummier.

Which brings me to this week’s winner:  Edamame and Salmon Stir-Fry with Miso Butter. The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and is incredibly easy and ridiculously healthy.  The result is one of those dishes that you just keep going back for one more bite of.  And why not?  With all this good stuff in it go ahead and gorge!

Edamame and Salmon Stir-Fry with Miso Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp white miso

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 lb salmon, skinned and cut into one inch pieces

1 cup sliced shallots (about 3 medium)

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

8 oz frozen edamame (about 1-1/2 cups), thawed

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

  1. Whisk miso, butter and water in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 14 inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Add salmon and cook, stirring gently, until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate
  3. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, shallots, zucchini and edamame to the pan; cook, stirring until the vegetables are almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the miso sauce until well coated. Gently stir in the salmon and basil

Serve over rice noodles or rice.