Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Braised Kale with Spaghetti, Pecorino, and Bread Crumbs


This delicious and easy vegetarian kale dish made my entire family fall in love with kale. Braising kale brings out a wonderful sweetness and tenderness, a sharp contrast to raw kale.  Given the tremendous health benefits of kale, it's no wonder that we are all trying to eat more kale. Have you seen these adorable shirts, by the way?

Around the Plate and Pour kitchen we love love love pairing pasta with dark greens like spinach, broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, and arugula from our CSA. Each dish tastes completely different and is delicious, but hands down, our absolute favorite is this braised kale pasta.

This kale spaghetti dish tastes so good that you wouldn't believe that it is good for you, much less that it is made with kale. In fact these days I get regular requests to make this dish.

Previously I shared a recipe with you for a raw kale salad, and while the nutritional benefits of eating kale raw are unsurpassable, here I braise the kale until tender, which brings out a slightness sweetness in kale.

A little lemon juice, sliced onion, lots of thinly sliced garlic, and pecorino (or parmesan) cheese is all you need. And for a nice textural contrast, top with bread crumbs toasted in olive oil (or dry toasted).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Aloo Gobi :: Meatless Masala Monday


Cauliflower and potatoes, or aloo gobi, is one of my favorite Indian dishes. I love the fragrant roasted coriander and cumin, the tartness of the dried mango powder, the bright lemon juice, and the earthy fragrant garam masala. This way of preparing aloo gobi is dry, in that it doesn't have a liquid gravy, all of the liquid from the cooking process is cooked off so the spices become very concentrated.

Cooking vegetables Indian style is really straightforward, especially if you follow a few helpful tips. I used a head of cauliflower and beautiful red fingerling potatoes from my CSA box.

The first tip is to make sure you cut all of the vegetables to the same size so they cook evenly.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan or a very large saute pan with a lid. Add cumin seeds, cooking until start to sizzle. Add asofetida, ginger, garlic, and green chile, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. The next tip is to roast all of the spices in oil to release the flavor, except for the garam masala, until fragrant about 1 minute.

Boil the potatoes in salted water, and meanwhile cook the cauliflower in the spices until crisp tender. Add the cauliflower to the spices and cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, add 1/2 cup of water.  Then cover and continue cooking the cauliflower another 5 to 10 minutes, until desired doneness reached.

Then I halved the boiled potatoes, and tossed them with the cauliflower and spices. Add a little fresh lemon juice and dried mango powder and then finish with garam masala. Always add garam masla at the very end just before removing the pan from the skillet. Serve hot with roti and yogurt.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Butternut Squash Arugula Salad


I find it hard to eat salads regularly in the winter time, warm gratins and hearty stews are much more appealing on cold nights than a bowl of leafy greens. But when you combine roasted winter squash and spicy toasted pumpkin seeds on a bed of wild arugula, the result is a beautiful and hearty salad that begs to be eaten all winter long.

I used a red kuri squash from my CSA box, but any winter squash, including butternut squash, would be delicious in this winter squash arugula salad.

What makes this work so well is the contrasting flavors with sweet winter squash: tangy red wine vinegar, bright lemon juice, and earthy shallots combine with tangy crumbled feta and smokey paprika and roasted cumin coated toasted pumpkin seeds. All layered on a bed of wild arugula.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Best Dal Makhani Ever :: Meatless Masala Monday


We recently celebrated my father's 70th birthday. It was a gorgeous sun-soaked weekend in SF, perfect for taking in exquisite views all over the city: stunning vistas from the Golden Gate bridge, breathtaking strolls in oh-so-charming Sausalito, and incredible views while dining at Greens at Fort Mason and The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building. Have you tried the lychee cotton candy dessert at The Slanted Door? It is so, so much fun!

Over the weekend, I hosted a party to celebrate my father's birthday with family and friends. For the party, I made a mix of Gujarati and North Indian dishes, including my absolute favorite paneer makhani along with dal makhani, chole, and aloo gobi. It was a wonderful celebration full of laughter, love, and good memories. Happy 70th birthday, Daddy. I love you!

My choice of menu for the party isn't surprising given that, whenever I go to an Indian restaurant, I always order dal makhani and paneer makhani. Although delicious, I am a little afraid of all the cream and butter in the restaurant dishes.

Dal makhani is made mostly with whole black gram, or whole urad, which becomes so creamy as you cook it for a long time, eliminating the need for any cream. It is traditionally cooked for hours and hours, but these days a pressure cooker makes it even easier to make. Just be sure to soak the whole urad in hot water overnight and soak the rajma, or red kidney beans, in hot water for a full day, replacing the hot water midway. Then pressure cook the whole urad with kidney beans for 25 minutes, until tender.

I've shared a dal makhani recipe with you in the past, while it was a delicious, it wasn't quite perfect. After many, many experiments, I finally made the most incredible dal makhani and can't think of a better occasion to share it with you all.

Dal makhani is tasty and creamy with a perfect amount of tanginess from the tomato sauce. I like to use a little pat of butter for flavor, but you could easily just use canola or vegetable oil to make the dish vegan and lower in fat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Lemon and Pecorino


I don't have to tell you how good kale is for you. I'll just say it once, kale is really, really, good for you. We love cumin and red cayenne pepper spiced kale chips around here and are always looking for ways to eat more kale.

I first had a raw kale salad at a friend's wedding in Tahoe. The kale was simply tossed with lemon, olive oil, parmesan (or pecorino), a little garlic and crushed red pepper and the result was quite delicious. Hearing "raw kale salad" may not stir up enough excitement for you to actually want to try making a dish. That's really a shame because the raw kale salad is shockingly delicious!

Later in the summer, my dear friend Rachel visited from Chicago and made the most delicious raw kale salad for me based on what we could find at the farmer's market that day, including fresh ears of corn. We devoured the raw kale salad in minutes, not kidding.

I have been waiting and waiting for kale to come in my CSA box so that I can make this salad again. Since it is February, I didn't use fresh corn but definitely recommend adding it if you can find good fresh corn! You can add any veggies you like, but it is especially wonderful if you add sliced avocado.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bell Pepper sabzi with Chick pea flour (besan) :: Meatless Masala Monday


My mom used to make this Gujarati dish of peppers and crispy dry roasted chick pea flour. It is a great way use deliciously crunchy bell peppers in a tasty, flavorful Indian preparation. The key to this dish is to first dry roast the chick pea flour, or besan, for two minutes with red cayenne pepper and season lightly with salt. The chick pea flour becomes nutty and fragrant once roasted and adds a lovely texture to the dish.

I used a combination of yellow and red gypsy peppers and green bell peppers, but the dish would work just as well with only green bell pepper. Bell peppers are full of Vitamin C, A and B6 and a good amount of folate.

Heat canola oil, cumin seeds and add a pinch of asofetida. Once the seeds start to sizzle, add the sliced bell pepper, turmeric and salt. Stir and saute for a few minutes until cooked but still with a slight crunch.  All of the cooking liquid should be boiled off and then the dry roasted chick pea flour and red cayenne pepper mixture is stirred in to the peppers. Avoid covering the pot to keep the mixture dry and allow it to crispen. Continue cooking on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the chick pea flour is crispy.

Serve hot with roti and yogurt.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

46 Vegetarian Super Bowl XLVI Party Recipes


Whether you are watching the Super Bowl for the commercials or to cheer on your team, one thing is for sure, it's about the food. We have 46 irresistible game day recipes to make your Super Bowl XLVI party delicious and healthier!

...XLVI is 46 in case you are having trouble remembering Roman numerals

I love game day food. Maybe it's my Texan roots, but nothings gets me more excited than food for football games. When I was a kid, watching football in our house meant eating guacamole, 7 layer bean dip, and ... queso. As I embarrassingly admitted previously, the Super Bowl is the *only* time of year I crave Velveeta in the form of chile con queso (not to be confused with chili con queso). Folks from Texas have a very special place in our hearts for Velveeta, especially when it is melted with Rotel (canned diced tomatoes and green chiles).  No, chile con queso is not local. No, it's not good for you. No, it's probably not even natural. Yes, it is pretty darn delicious.

Even though the Niners lost, we will still be hosting a Super Bowl party and eating game day food. Of course I will be making my famous best guacamole ever and my two favorite "salsas": a cumin-and-chili-powder-scented black bean, corn, and avocado salad and a mango jalapeno salsa with red onion and cilantro. Try serving the southwestern black bean and corn salad with Terra Spiced Sweet Potato Chips; it's a nice mix up from the usual tortilla chips.

After much research I found a worthy vegetarian chili recipe from amateaur gourmet that will definitely make an appearance this year. Inspired by  the girl who ate everything I plan to serve my 7 layer dip in individual cups!

Aren't these truffled footballs from bakerella darling? 

As promised here are 46 Vegetarian and Vegan Super Bowl Recipes to make your Super Bowl XLVI party delicious and healthier!

guacamole- the best ever
roasted tomato salsa
southwestern black bean, corn, and avocado salad
mango, jalapeno, and lime salsa
cannellini bean "hummus" spread
eggplant caponata
tzatiki with pita chips
queso fundido with roasted poblano peppers and mushroom
baked ricotta with herbs
7 layer dip
williams-sonoma tried and true french onion dip

Things on toast 
leek ragu on crostini
feta salsa verde crostini
spicy chickpea bruschetta
pan-fried bruschetta (inspired by Julia & Julia)
roasted radishes on crostini

Finger foods
smoky fried chick peas
kale chips, spicy
truffled popcorn with parmigiano reggiano
oven-roasted tomatoes with goat cheese and basil
padron peppers with coarse salt
sweet potato wedges, spiced
monkey bread with dill, butter and sea salt
rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes with crème fraîche and chives
spanakopita triangles and caramelized onion goat cheese triangles
samosas with potato and pea
kachori with peas  
asparagus wrapped in phyllo

cherry tomato margherita pizza
mushroom truffled flatbread
broccoli rabe (spigarello) pizza with oil cured olives, garlic and fresh mozzarella
summer squash pizza with thyme

Tacos (and stuffed pepper)
black bean taco with avocado and radish and cilantro-lime salsa 
black bean and sweet potato tacos with smokey chipotle salsa
braised greens tacos with tomato chipotle salsa and queso fresco (or feta)
roasted poblano peppers, mushroom and roasted corn tacos
gypsy peppers stuffed with roasted corn, manchego and queso fresco

don't miss the meat vegetarian chili
Cookies and Brownies
cranberry, white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies
dulce de leche brownies
chewy chocolate chip cookies

Askim (mezcal)
Caipirinhas (cachaça)
Cinder (tequila and mezcal)
Jalapeno margarita (tequila)
Silver monk (tequila)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spicy Winter Squash with Penne


I see so many wonderful winter squash recipes out there, from risottos to soups, emphasizing the natural sweetness of winter squash. But let me share with you a new winter squash recipe that balances the sweet qualities of winter squash with spice and savory notes. 

It might sound weird to add butternut squash to pasta, but you love ravioli filled with butternut squash don't you? And you add zucchini to pasta, right? So of course it makes sense to try spicy winter squash pasta.

What works about this recipe is that the spicy crushed red pepper, earthy red onions, fragrant garlic and thyme, and salty pecorino balance the natural sweetness of winter squash. And the result is a deliciously satisfying dish that is a welcome change in the dead of winter.

I used red kuri squash from my CSA (Farm Fresh to You), which kind of looks like a pumpkin, in this dish but butternut squash would work equally well.

I began by quickly peeling and dicing the winter squash. The trick is to peeling a hard winter squash is to use a really good vegetable peeler. Once your squash is free of its tough skin, halve it, and grab a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the stringy mess inside.

Next dice the squash into 1/2" cubes. You are probably used to roasting winter squash in the oven, but this time you are going to try a different technique- pan roasting winter squash. Chop up some red onion and garlic into thin slices. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and toss in the sliced red onions, cooking until soft. Add the thinly sliced garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the diced winter squash and some fresh thyme; let it all cook for a few minutes over moderately high heat. Season well with sea salt and pepper. Then cover the skillet and cook over low heat, until the squash becomes tender.

Meanwhile you want to bring a pot of water to a boil, and once boiling, add salt and the pasta, cooking until al dente. This is important, you want to reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. When you add the pasta to the skillet with the squash you will also add some of the pasta cooking water. Toss in some freshly grated pecorino or parmesan. As you stir it all together, the pasta cooking water will work its magic, melding everything together into a fabulous, light, and spicy sauce. Serve immediately, passing extra pecorino or parmesan at the table.

The spicy red kuri pasta was a huge, huge hit in my house. And the leftovers made for a great lunch to take to work the next day!

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