Mar 20, 2012

Stir-Fried Brown Rice with Salad Greens

In my ongoing efforts to like salad, I started thinking about other ways I could use salad greens. Everyone always has them raw, but what if I tried cooking them? There are many salad greens that do double-duty as cooked greens and raw greens (spinach, arugula, escarole and radicchio all come to mind) so why stop there? I've heard of wilted lettuce before so I decided to turn my spring salad mix into a stir-fry.

This was honestly one of the easiest and most successful dishes I've ever made. A (mostly) vegetarian friend stopped by last night and, since I can't resist feeding people, he happily stayed for dinner. And he couldn't stop raving about the stir-fry! The vegetarian's only complaint? That I didn't make enough. So, if you're feeding more than two, make extra!

To preserve the "salad" feel of the greens, I stir-fried them in olive oil along with 4 cloves of garlic (to add some heat). Make sure you have everything prepped and your rice cooked and cooled (you can even be lazy and buy already-cooked brown rice) before you start. We enjoyed it with Mixed Green Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, as well as a bottle of Vinho Verde. Bon appetit!

Stir-Fried Brown Rice with Salad Greens
adapted from
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

Heat wok over high heat until smoking. Swirl in olive oil. Add greens and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Remove greens and garlic to a bowl. Without cleaning out the wok (or removing it from the heat), add vinho verde, celery and mushrooms. Stir-fry 3 minutes.

Add rice, green onions and greens and garlic. Stir-fry until everything is heated through, breaking up the rice with your spatula if it's clumping together. Drizzle with soy sauce. Serve immediately.

Links to other salad green delicacies:

Mar 9, 2012

Bruschetta with Escarole, Capers and Mozzarella

I don't like salad. There, I said it. It's not that I don't like greens; to the contrary, I absolutely adore them. Especially when the weather's warm and springlike. But raw greens (or vegetables of any kind, for that matter) are just not my cup of tea. Flash-cooked, yes. But raw? No thank you.

That's not to say I don't like the individual components that make up a salad. I find various kinds of salad greens very tasty, especially escarole, a less bitter form of endive that, at least to my naive eyes, is difficult to distinguish from lettuce. But just bite into a leaf and -- yum yum! It's bitter and refreshing. I love it braised with onion but many people have it as a salad. And, since it's been delightfully warm out I started thinking about how to make a salad I'd like.

This bruschetta is like a deconstructed salad. There's greens, cheese and croutons but, instead of the lettuce being on the bottom, the croutons are. (This also means you can eat it with your hands -- a major plus in my book.)

Trying to see if anyone else had a similar idea, I stumbled upon Kait's recipe for Curly Endive, Prosciutto & Mozzarella on Bruschetta. I started thinking about the prosciutto in her bruschetta. What does prosciutto add? Saltiness. So I added some capers instead, which also brought in some pungent sour notes. Because of the sourness of the capers, I toned down that flavor in the vinaigrette (because every good salad needs a dressing) by adding in some cream. Kosher salt kept the vinaigrette savory and black pepper made it hot and pungent. Enjoy with a Smoky Mushroom Calzone and Chianti. Bon appetit!

Bruschetta with Escarole, Capers and Mozzarella
inspired by I Can Cook That

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 18 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 18 leaves escarole, thick stalks separated
  • 1 large ball mozzarella, cut into 18 slices
  • 3 teaspoons capers, pickled in brine, drained
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange bread pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes, until crispy.

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette. Whisk together (I do this in a liquids measuring cup) vinegar, cream, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking after each addition. When bread is done, place an escarole leaf, a slice mozzarella and several capers on top of each slice. Drizzle everything with vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.

Links to other escarole delicacies:

Mar 4, 2012

Bruschetta with Broccoli Rabe

This time of year is always the hardest for me, cooking and eating-wise. The calendar says March, my body starts craving green vegetables but the temperature and available produce are still stuck in winter. In the past, I would just buy some tomatoes completely out of season and, while complaining about their lack of taste, find some way to disguise them and make them palatable.

But that's not how I like to cook anymore. First of all, I'd rather find good, seasonal food that I have to do very little to. Second of all, particularly when I'm just cooking for the vegetarian and me, I really prefer cooking simple food. So no tomatoes.

Broccoli Rabe, a bitter leafy green vegetable is a cold-weather green that I love and the vegetarian tolerates. I should say -- he likes the taste but not the texture of the stalks. A while ago I had bookmarked a recipe for Sauteed Chinese broccoli and fresh ricotta bruschetta at the hungry bambinoI decided to put my broccoli rabe on some bruschetta with grated Parmesan CheeseAlongside Tofu (for the vegetarian) and Rib-Eye Steak (for the omnivore) in Lemon Juice and Herb Marinade and (several) glasses of Tocai Friulano (from the Long Island winery Channing Daughters, with whom we have a CSA), it was a perfect meal. Bon appetit!

Bruschetta with Broccoli Rabe
adapted from the hungry bambino

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut bread in half lengthwise and then into smaller pieces (about 5 inches in length). Place on baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, until crispy.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high flame. When it swirls like water in the pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook very briefly, moving around constantly, just until they release their aroma (but careful not to burn them!). Add broccoli rabe stalks and saute 1 minute. Next add leaves and saute, tossing to coat with flavored oil, for 5 minutes.

Remove bread from oven and sprinkle each piece with Parmesan. Place 1-3 pieces of broccoli rabe on top. Drizzle with lemon garlic olive oil. Bon appetit!

Links to other broccoli rabe delicacies:

Mar 1, 2012

Chunky Banana Bran Muffins

Without a doubt, February has been the banana month. I think it's something about the weather (not that it's been particularly wintry this month but bear with me): when it's cold, I crave sweets. Not sugar so much but definitely fruits. And heavier foods. And spices (especially cinnamon). All of these lead me to baking, hence the influx of muffins.

So when the end of the month rolled around and it was time for our Monthly Cooking Adventure, I knew I wanted to make something with bananas. I was inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home. I wanted to make the flavor more complex, however, so I added a sour undertone with creme fraiche and lemongrass. Not wanting the sour to be overpowering, in went some sweet cinnamon and nutmeg. That led us to "theme" the evening "Breakfast for dinner" so some Beet Pancakes with Pomegranate Syrup came along for the ride. To round it all out, we drank the vegetarian's Pomegranate Mimosas. Bon appetit!

Chunky Banana Bran Muffins
inspired by Barefoot Contessa at Home

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, fill muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together wheat bran and buttermilk. Set aside. In a food processor, cream together butter and sugar for 5 minutes.

Add creme fraiche, eggs, molasses, orange zest, vanilla extract, lemongrass and safflower oil, pulsing 1-4 times and then scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the bran-buttermilk mixture and pulse another 4 times. In a clean large bowl, stir together cinnamon, flour, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg. Add to food processor in three stages, pulsing 5 times and scraping down the sides after each addition. Don't overmix! Fold in raisins, bananas and walnuts. Fill muffin pans full with batter and bake 25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

Links to other banana cinnamon delicacies: