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Posts from the ‘Quick Dinner’ Category

Squash on Toast

Squash on Toast

Portland – with its very rainy reputation – surprised me this weekend with lovely, mostly sunny weather which just begged to be take advantage of.  So there were long walks, workouts, dinners out, and brunch at Sweedeedee with some absolutely fabulous salted honey pie (seriously, I’m already researching recipes so I can recreate it in my kitchen).  But with warm sun to soak up, I decided to forgo a big baking project this weekend and instead go for a quick and cozy savory meal.  This recipe comes from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via New York Times Cooking, via Smitten Kitchen.  It combines several flavors of fall – sweet squash with hints of maple and apple.  It also comes together in well under an hour.  I was particularly lazy and bought 2 pounds of pre-cut butternut squash chunks – not having to cut up a squash makes preparation a whole lot faster.


I was able to lighten the dish up quite a bit, mainly by cutting back on the olive oil.  I don’t think the oil was missed at all; the onions – caramelized with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar – add heaps of flavor.  Overall, it was a pleasant treat with perfectly melded flavors.  Don’t skip the fresh mint, it provides a refreshing finishing touch that makes this dish extra special.


Squash on Toast

Adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via NYTimes Cooking

Makes 4 main servings, or 8 appetizer servings

Total time: 45 minutes


1 2.5 to 3-pound kabocha or other yellow-fleshed squash (such as delicata, acorn or butternut; I used butternut)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes, more or less to taste
Coarse sea or kosher salt
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoon maple syrup
4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick
1/2 cup (4 ounces) ricotta, goat cheese, feta or mascarpone (I used part-skim ricotta)
4 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

1.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Line large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Cut squash into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and chile flakes until evenly coated.  Transfer mixture to prepared sheet and roast until tender and slightly colored, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the density of the squash you use), flipping once about 2/3 of the way through.   With my butternut squash, I roasted for 30 minutes.  Leave the roasted squash on the tray.

2.  While squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add vinegar and syrup and reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are jammy and broken down, another 10 to 15 minutes.

3.  Pile onions on top of roasted squash, still on their baking sheet. Use a fork to gently half-mash the mixture; it doesn’t have to be uniformly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

4.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil per slice of bread, and cook bread until just golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.  Tip: I just used a toaster and skipped the oil all together.  Spread cheese on toasts, heap with the squash-onion mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with mint.

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Happy New Year!  We may be 15 days into 2013, but better late than never, right?  I started 2013 off with moving into a new apartment and attempting to settle into a new – and much smaller – kitchen.  A lot of my baking and cooking pans are in piles in my living room or stacked on my book shelves.  I just have so much stuff, and it’s stuff I just can’t bear to part with.  It’s all still a work in progress, but it’s slowly getting better.  If anyone out there wants to help me install a hanging pot rack, please let me know.

The first post of 2013 is dedicated to all the meat-lovers out there.  My last six (!) posts were all baking all, all the time.  I unsurprisingly got no complaints, but I do occasionally like cook.  Lately all I’ve had the patience for while working in a half-unpacked kitchen is simple meals, and this one was a hit.  I like steak.  I like Brussels sprouts.  I put them together with some rosemary and garlic.  Done.

As you can see from the pictures, I overcooked my steak a bit.  It was still delicious, but try not to cook it more than medium!

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

One year ago: White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones, Nutella Oatmeal Cream Pies, and Greek New Year’s Cake (Vassilopita)
Two years ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins, Black-eyed Peas with Garlicky Black Pepper Shrimp, and Six Days in Rome: a Food Retrospective

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Recipe by Pâte à Chew

Makes 6 servings


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 2-pound flank steak

Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, rinsed and cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  For the steak: mix all ingredients except steak in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish, then add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2.  Prepare grill (medium-high heat) or preheat your broiler. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

3.  For the Brussels sprouts: While your steak is cooking, heat 1/4 olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and garlic, and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally to ensure the vegetables aren’t charring on the bottom.

Transfer steak to cutting board, and let stand 5 minutes to allow the meat to rest. Slice across grain into thin strips.

Three-Pea Chicken Salad

mayo-less chicken salad, no mayo chicken salad, chicken salad without mayo

It’s now officially Spring!  I may still have a few more Winter-y posts up my sleeve, but now that the official start of Spring has passed, I think we’re all in the mood to see some green.  This chicken salad just screams Spring – three types of bright green peas, and a naturally creamy but low-fat dressing.  It is both gorgeous and delicious.  And the best part?  No mayo!  You may recall my hatred of mayonnaise from my French Potato Salad post.  I hate the taste of mayo, and all the fat it brings to a dish, and this chicken salad avoids both those things!

One note – this recipe is heavy on fresh tarragon, which I despise, so I left it out.  With the chives, parsley, shallots, garlic, and my own additions of a little red wine vinegar and mustard, I didn’t think the salad needed any more herbs or flavoring.  But if you like tarragon, you should absolutely add some!

mayo-less chicken salad, no-mayo chicken salad, chicken salad without mayo

One year ago: Lemon Chicken + Roasted Asparagus

Three-Pea Chicken Salad

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4

Total time: 40 minutes


2 large shallots, 1 halved, 1 minced
3 garlic cloves, 2 smashed, 1 minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon or stone-ground mustard, or more to taste
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 pound thinly sliced stringed sugar snap peas
1 cup shelled fresh English (or frozen, thawed) peas
1/2 cup thinly sliced stringed snow peas
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
8 slices toasted whole grain bread and/or lettuce leaves

1.  Place halved shallot, smashed garlic cloves, and chicken in a medium saucepan.  Add water to cover by 1 inch and season with salt and pepper. Bring water to a boil; remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand until chicken is just cooked through, 15–25 minutes, depending on size of chicken breasts. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Shred or dice the chicken.

2.  Meanwhile, whisk yogurt, oil, minced shallot, minced garlic clove, mustard, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  Combine all peas in a medium bowl.  Add chicken, dressing, parsley, chives, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, if desired.  Serve over toasted bread and/or lettuce leaves.

Orecchiette with Spinach, Chickpeas, and Pimentón

March is a tough month.  It’s still winter up in New York City, and people start to go a little stir crazy.  Luckily, I just returned from a mini vacation to the Sunshine State.  And let me tell you, it is hard being back in New York.  Sure, we’ve been having a pretty mild winter here, but nothing beats 75 and sunny every day for 5 days straight!

Speaking of sun, while we might have a good month or two of cold weather ahead of us, bathing suit season will be here before you know it.  I made this dish a while ago, and it falls into the “quick and healthy dinner” category of recipes.  Whole wheat pasta (or plain if you prefer), chickpeas, and spinach – all combined with plenty of garlic and a fun spice called pimentón.  Pimentón is Spanish paprika, and has a sweet, smokey flavor and bright orange hue.  I bought pimentón some time ago and finally got around to trying it.  Thank you to Food & Style for the recipe, it turned out lovely.

This makes a lot of pasta (6 big servings), and I found that I liked the dish more after it had been sitting in the fridge a day or two!  If you can, definitely use the Manchengo cheese – it’s one of my favorites, and the nutty flavor goes perfectly with the smokey pimentón.

One year ago: Banana Daiquiris

Orecchiette with Spinach, Chickpeas, and Pimentón

Adapted from Food & Style

Makes 6 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


1 tablespoon sea salt for the pasta water
12 oz dried orecchiette pasta (I used whole wheat)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, skinned and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons pimentón dulce (Spanish smoked, sweet paprika)
2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15 oz canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) (I used canned)
12 oz baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry
1/3 cup cooking liquid from chickpeas or pasta water
1 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Manchengo, shredded, for garnish

1.  Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Once waters is boiling, add a few big pinches of kosher salt and the pasta.  Cook pasta until tender but still al dente. Drain well.

2.  While the orecchiette is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the olive oil and garlic.  Sauté for 30 seconds until the garlic begins to sizzle, stirring constantly and making sure it doesn’t brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Just before the pasta is ready, reheat the garlic oil over high heat. As soon as the garlic sizzles, add the cayenne, pimentón, chickpeas, and spinach. Toss the mixture together until the spinach starts to wilt, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Next, add the pasta, cooking liquid from chickpeas or pasta water, sea salt, and pepper. Toss quickly and remove from heat.

4.  Spoon orecchiette into bowls, and garnish with Manchego, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

Barley and Vegetable Risotto

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for a while, and I finally got around to both making and photographing it.  So here it is – my favorite kind of risotto.  Sure, risotto is normally made with Arborio rice, but you might be surprised to learn that pearl barley also makes a great risotto. 

Barley is incredibly healthy – besides being a whole grain, pearl barley has 8 grams of fiber per serving.  You can make cold salads out of it, but making it risotto-style is my favorite.  Why?  You can change up the recipe in an endless number of ways.  You can make it vegetarian by subbing vegetable stock for chicken stock; you can use red or white wine, or omit the wine all together; you can add any variety and combination of vegetables; you can add legumes, meat, or seafood (some Cannellini beans and/or pan-seared shrimp would be lovely here) to beef up the dish.  Long story short: if you have barley and some stock, you can dump whatever is in your fridge and pantry into your risotto and have a fantastic meal.

Pearl Barley, Barley

One year ago: Brisket + Easy Roasted Potato Wedges

Barley and Vegetable Risotto

Total time: 1 hours

Serves 3 to 4


6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
1/4 teaspoon thyme (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red or white wine (optional)
1 cup pearled barley
1 cup beans, canned or precooked
2 cups spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half (or whole if you prefer)
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over moderately high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

2.  In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallot and thyme, if using, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute.  Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add the wine, if using, and cook with the barley, stirring until absorbed, about one minute.

3.  Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each time, until nearly absorbed.  Risotto isn’t  hard to make, but it’s a little labor intensive – you need to stir it quite a bit while you go through the process of adding stock, because the stiring and working of the grain coaxes the starch out and gives the dish its creaminess.  Most barley risottos are done when the barley is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, and this takes me around 45 minutes.  You may not end up using all the stock, but I did – I like my barley risotto to have a little more of a sauce than risotto made with Arborio rice.  When you’re getting close to using up all the stock, add the asparagus to the simmering stock and let cook for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the stock and the asparagus to the risotto.  Add the tomatoes, and let simmer for a few minutes, then add spinach and let it wilt and then cook for an additional minute.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.


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