Side dish

Orzo Pasta Salad

DSC_0056I spent the first 10 years of my life steadfastly avoiding beans because of that stupid rhyme from when we were all kids. I spent the next 15 avoiding beans because I genuinely couldn’t handle the texture. But I’ve learned that if I disguise it in enough other textures, I’m on board.

Dice 1/2 of a red onion and marinate in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. While that’s marinating, cook 1 cup of orzo according to package directions. Rinse. Add to red onion mixture. Drain and rinse two cans of pinto beans, then add to mixture. Add 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 peeled, seeded and diced English cucumber, 1/2 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes, the zest of one small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, and 1/2 cup of kalamata olives (optional). Mix all this together. Finally, fold in one cup of crumbled feta.

Serve over spinach and/or arugula if you need more green in this dish. Serve with shredded chicken if you don’t partake in Meatless Mondays!

 

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Crabby Fries

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Slice up two clean potatoes and toss lightly in a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Begin to air fry at 400 until crisp. This will depend in part on your frier. Move the fries about in the basket every so often to keep the air circulating around the fries and crisping them. If you don’t have an air frier, lay the oiled potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Bake at 400 for approximately 35 minutes. Check on them often as cooking time will vary.

In a blender, combine 1 room temperature egg with 1 tablespoon minced garlic. With the motor running, stream in 1 1/2 cups fruit olive oil then 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Once thoroughly combined, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 ground pepper and pulse for about ten seconds. Listen, we never registered for a blender because we already have a food processor and it seemed silly to have a large counter top appliance that does what our food processor does. I use our immersion blender to make this aoili and it works just as well.

In a small bowl, combine a drained can of crab meat with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few pinches Old Bay seasoning.

When your fries are cooked, squeeze garlic aoili over them, then scoop crab mixture over them. Top with finely chopped green onions. Eat hot.

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Blistered Carrots with Labneh

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Wash a bunch of carrots. I used rainbow carrots but regular orange ones are great. Don’t peel them. If you find that your carrots have a big size difference, consider slicing the largest ones in halves or in quarters. Preheat your oven to 450. Or, if you’re making three ingredient roast chicken, wait until the last fifteen minutes of your cook time to begin cooking your carrots.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, drop your carrots in and allow them to cook about a minute before flipping them and searing on the other side. Then, place skillet into the oven and cook at 450 for 20 minutes. If you’ve done the math and realized that this will take you past the time your chicken will be cooked, that’s on purpose. Your chicken needs time to rest before you carve it, giving you time to finish your carrots.

Remove your carrots from the oven and plate. Spread a quarter cup of labneh over them, and drizzle your favorite olive oil + herb sauce. For some of you, this will be pesto. I went with yogurt dip seasoning (dried basil, dried mint, taragon, garlic flakes, onion flakes, pepper and salt) rehydrated in a bit of olive oil. If you have a pine nut sensitivity, blend together 1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, two cloves of garlic and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt together and use that to top your labneh.

Serve hot. Serves two.

If you cant find labneh, you should know that it’s basically just strained Greek yogurt. You can use regular Greek yogurt or strain it yourself in some cheese cloth.

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Devilishly Delicious Eggs

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For every 6 halves, you’ll need 4 hard boiled eggs. I’ve found that steaming the eggs makes them a lot easier to peel than actually boiling them and they break a whole lot less often.

Peel the eggs and slice in half. Remove the yolks into a food processor or shallow bowl. Add your two weakest egg white halves, 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 1 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 2 teaspoon ranch powder and 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper.

If using a food processor, pulse to chop the eggs and combine all ingredients. Otherwise, use a fork to work all the ingredients together. Pipe into the egg white halves or spoon the filling on top of them. Top with a dash of smoked paprika.

Makes 6 halves.

 

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Pão de Queijo

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If you’re looking for a bread that’s lovely and melty and that you don’t have to let rise in a bowl for an hour, this has your name all over it. It comes together in a blender and uses a muffin tin. It also doesn’t require the use of yeast so it feels less intimidating as far as breads go.

In a blender (I use our trusty mini food processor) combine: 1 room temperature egg, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup water, 1 1/2 cup tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch, sold at Sprouts from Bob’s Mill), 1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used feta) and 1 teaspoon salt. That’s the basic recipe. I added 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne for some extra flavor. Change these according to whatever sort of cheese you use. Pulse until everything is combined into a batter.

Spoon into mini muffin tins (I like these from Wilton) greased lightly with olive oil. Fill the muffin tin to the brim. This recipe should make 16 full mini muffins.

Cook at 350 for 35 minutes. Cool briefly but serve warm.

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Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

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Wash and skin 2 medium sweet potatoes. Cut into 1/4″ matchsticks; soak in cool water for at least one hour.

Drain sweet potatoes, pat dry with paper towels. Add to large gallon sized ziploc with 2 tablespoons corn starch. Toss until evenly coated.

In a large bowl, combine corn starch coated matchsticks, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Do NOT add salt at this stage or you’ll have soggy fries. Them’s the breaks.

Spread matchsticks out on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet. You want to leave some space on the sheets so the potatoes can crisp up. Bake at 400 for approximately 40 minutes, until crisp. Some will blacken. They’re tasty nonetheless. Once removed from the oven, sprinkle with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Serve with sriracha ketchup if you’re bold.

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Brussels Sprouts

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You guys, I’ve checked out the only book the local library system has on food photography. That and I read a blog post about food styling, so only time will tell how much of it I’ve internalized.

These Brussels sprouts are pretty easy. And yes, it really is “Brussels” sprouts. Don’t make it weird.

Trim ends off 4 cups of Brussels sprouts. Quarter, then rinse clean. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Be sure to keep the loose leaves that spin off, they’ll be the best chips. Transfer all the green goodness to a large bowl. Sprinkle in 1 tsp. large grain kosher salt. Stir to coat. Let sit for 5 minutes to draw out some of the water.

Add 1 tsp. garlic powder, stir well to coat. Drizzle 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil over, mix gently. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. You want the sprouts to have a little room to breathe and in a single layer, so you may need a second pan.

Bake at 450 for about 25 minutes. Give the pan a good shake about half way through to move them around a bit. If using an air fryer, cook at 400 for approximately 12 minutes.

You can add finely sliced bacon to the sheet pan before cooking begins if you feel so inclined. Or if you’re making them for Graham. You can also use some fresh minced garlic in addition to the powder, but be advised it will burn.

Serve on its own or with a balsamic glaze drizzled over. Trader Joe’s makes a great glaze if you’re not about that reduction life.

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