Saturday, July 29, 2017

Spanish Salad

As many of you know, I travelled to southern France several months ago, and had a brief but intense love affair with all foods and flavors European. While I didn't visit Spain, upon my return to California, I saw a relative who lives in Barcelona. She made this fabulous salad. She told me that a bistro near her home in Barcelona serves this salad at lunch, where she enjoys it al fresco. What a wonderful way to enjoy the foods and flavors of Spain and enjoy an afternoon!

Ingredients:

2 slices Spanish ham or prosciutto, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans (I use canned)
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
1/4 cup dates (about 4) pitted and diced
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
large pinch of sea salt
several grinds of pepper

Directions:

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, just until the prosciutto begins to brown. Remove from the heat and add to a bowl. Rinse the garbanzo beans, then add them to the bowl with the prosciutto. Add the pine nuts, dates and arugula and toss. Mix the vinegar and oil together with the salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.

Serves 2

Stealthy Cooking Tip: This is the recipe to use your best balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can buy small bottles of better vinegars and oil, then save them for recipes where they shine. This is also a recipe that will benefit from a good tasting sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. I used salt I bought in France (though I've seen the same salt on the shelves to gourmet grocery stores right here in Sacramento!). However, don't worry if you don't have a "special" vinegar, oil, salt, or pepper. This recipe will still taste amazing with your everyday ingredients!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Red Beans and Rice

Travel and food always makes me think of New Orleans, where good food and music go hand in hand. Red beans and rice is one of those ubiquitous dishes of New Orleans, with flavors of French, Cajun, and Creole all rolled into one great dish. I've made this with Andouille sausage, but when I feel like going vegetarian, I simply omit the sausage and use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. 

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno
1 can pink beans, seasoned with peppers and celery, or red kidney beans
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp minced fresh sage leaves
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tbs sriracha sauce (optional)
1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions: 

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and celery and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until the onion turns translucent and the peppers begin to soften. Add the jalapeno, the can of beans, along with the herbs and stock. Cook until the beans are heated, then add the hot sauce, if using, and the rice. Cook until everything is hot. Serve.

Serves 4

Stealthy Cooking Tip: You may notice that I've been using pickled jalapenos in many of my recipes recently. That's because I can keep them in the refrigerator and always have them handy. Also, pickled jalapenos have an equal amount of heat throughout the jar. Some jalapenos may be very hot, and some may be very mild. With the pickling process, they are all the same! If you like mild heat, look for "tamed" jalapenos - they've had the seeds and capcacin producing veins removed.