Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kale and Quinoa Salad


I've just returned from a wonderful and tasty trip to Hawaii. I had some of the best meals of my life! Lots of seafood, along with many very fresh salads. Here's my rendition of one of the salads I loved. Pineapple makes an appearance, of course, adding special sweetness to this salad.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup small chunk pineapple, fresh or canned
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups kale, large stems removed and chopped
1 Tbs. chopped chives or scallions
1/2 cup chopped cooked beets (about 2 beets)
1/4 cup citrus dressing

Directions:

Rinse the quinoa, then pour into a small saucepan with the cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until done. The quinoa will have absorbed all of the water when done, and will have a visible white "ring" around each grain. When done, remove from the heat, but keep the cover on for another minute or two.

While the quinoa cooks, prepare the remainder of the salad. Add the pineapple, cheese, spinach, and kale to a salad bowl. Mix together. Add the quinoa to the salad bowl, then pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top with the cooked beets.

Serves 4 as a side salad or 2 as a main dish



Stealthy Cooking Tip: Kale is a strong tasting green, and it's loaded with healthy antioxidants. Instead of using all kale in this recipe, I opted to use half kale and half spinach. Spinach is a very sweet, mild green. Mixing the two together makes the taste more palatable to those with tender taste buds. If you know you like the taste of kale, use 4 cups of kale in this recipe. It's delicious either way.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Whole Wheat Pappardelle with Spring Vegetables

 

This is one of those recipes that was forged out of desperation. I've been on a whole grain kick. Well, truth be told, I've been on that particular kick for several years. I can find lots of fresh whole wheat pastas in the market. However, if I want pappardelle, I usually substitute whole wheat spaghetti, as I can't find any fresh whole wheat pappardelle. I also couldn't find a recipe of whole wheat pappardelle on the internet. Arrgh, time to experiment! Here's the rather delicious result! Added to this pasta is a sauce made with the thin stalks of asparagus that come with early spring, along with early spring peas. The saucy topping was inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light, a frequent source of inspiration.

Ingredients:

for the pappardelle:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup "00" flour
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp water
2 large eggs
1 egg white

for the Spring Vegetables:

2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 cup peas
1 cup sliced leek
2 Tbs. chicken stock
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup soy creamer
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
several grinds of salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions: I used a food processor to make the pappardelle, but it can be made just as easily by hand. If using a food processor, add all of the ingredients to the bowl. Process until just mixed, about 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Process again for about another 30 seconds, until the ingredients form a ball. Remove the dough from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. If making by hand, add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Mix until the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Turn the ingredients onto a floured board. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigerating the dough allows it to rest, and will greatly improve the final flavor of the pasta as the ingredients meld, as well as the final mouth feel as the gluten relaxes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two balls. Divide each of these balls into three. Flatten the balls into oblong patties. You can either roll the dough patties by hand or by a pasta machine until very thin. Cut the pasta into about 1 inch wide lengths. Cover with a very clean towel, until ready to cook.

Set a large soup pot filled with water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil. Prepare the sauce while the water comes to a boil.

Make the pasta sauce by heating the olive oil in a non stick skillet. Add the asparagus, peas, and leek and cook for about 2 minutes, until the asparagus turns bright green and the leeks begin to soften. Use a small bowl to mix the chicken stock with the cornstarch. Add the cornstarch mixture to the skillet, along with the soy creamer. Cook for about 1 minute, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the bacon, Greek yogurt, thyme, and parsley. Remove from the heat. Taste, and add salt if needed.

Add the pasta to the boiling water. Fresh pasta cooks quickly! Begin testing the pasta for doneness after 2 minutes. Taste to test. The pasta will be al dente after 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta. Drain the pasta, saving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the vegetables, stirring to coat. If the sauce is too dry, add some of the cooking water to the pan. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 6

Stealthy Cooking Tip: This recipe takes some time and is perfect for those days when you want to spend some time in the kitchen. I made this on a rainy weekend, when all of our outdoor plans had been cancelled. It was a perfect way to spend the day! Whole wheat pastas take a little longer to cook than regular pasta, but they have more "tooth" to them when they're done. They have a subtle wheat taste that should add to your dish. Do taste the pasta for doneness, as it's the best way to determine if the pasta is cooked to the doneness that you prefer.