It is autumn and that means pomegranate time! I love pomegranates but I hate getting the arils (seeds) out of them. I pretty much have avoided them unless I was willing to shell out the cash to buy the arils in a package. Then to be honest they are often slimy and not so great. But lo and behold I discovered recently that cutting open a pomegranate doesn’t have to look like something was butchered in my kitchen! I can’t believe I didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago–how did I miss this? This would have saved my children and myself a lot of anxiety every autumn when they wanted my to buy whole pomegranates and I would try my best to avoid it or get really crazy with bibs and aprons and tons of paper towels to contain the flying red juice. Sorry kids! Click here for detailed instructions on how to accomplish this feat and keep your hands their natural color.
I got this recipe idea from the wonderful chef my husband hired for my birthday recently. She made this incredible little appetizer of crostini, grilled Haloumi cheese and pomegranate seeds. The flavors were so incredible and so autumn-like! So today I was trying to come up with an interesting salad with pomegranate seeds and then I thought about the warmed Haloumi cheese and voilà, this is what I came up with. Hope you all like it as much as we did!
Vibrant pomegranate, fennel, tomato, baby lettuce and Haloumi salad is full of wonderful autumn flavors .
Credit: adapted from Haloumi, Pomegranate and Rocket Salad on Taste.com.au
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
180 grams Haloumi Cheese, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
12 ounces of mixed baby lettuces
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, reserve some fronds for garnish
1 pomegranate, seeded (see this page for excellent instructions)
Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify it. Set dressing aside.
Place the greens and fennel slices in a large serving bowl.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pine nuts to the dry pan and toast for a few minutes. Careful they burn fast! Remove pine nuts and set aside.
Add a little cooking spray to pan and heat up again. Add the Haloumi slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Remove from pan and place on top of salad.
Heat up the tomato halves in the hot pan for just a couple of minutes, adding a little salt and pepper and spread them on top of the Haloumi on the salad. Add the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and serve with the dressing on the side (or toss if you prefer).
Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.
So easy and so delicious! I got the recipe from Feed Me Phoebe and I have made it several times. The first couple of times I used Great Northern beans instead of Garbanzo beans and I have also used marinated artichokes instead of water-packed artichokes, but I think it is healthier with the water-packed artichokes. I have also added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in the past, which I would have done today, but I am out of spinach! The hummus is great any of these ways. Below is the basic recipe, pretty much unchanged from Phoebe Lapine’s recipe.
I love, love, love Spanakopita, but I seldom make it because it is such a pain to deal with the phyllo dough. I made it today because I planned on making Fennel and Feta Salad with Bacon and the only cow’s milk feta I could find (my preferred feta) was giant-sized, so I decided to make some Spanakopita along with the salad to use up some of the feta. Unfortunately I still have a lot of feta left over. I usually make this the traditional way in rolled up triangles, but today I was going to make it easier and less fussy by putting it in a 8×8 baking dish and then cutting it into pieces. At the last minute I decided that it tastes so much better in individual packets, so I tried something different, muffin tins! You can see from the pictures that I am not going to win any awards for my presentation, they don’t look very uniform or very pretty, but they do taste incredible! So, I will probably not make them in muffin tins again, probably go back to rolling up triangles or trying the casserole approach. I based this off of a recipe from the Kosher Gourmet, adding mushrooms and herbs to the dish and only used 1 pound of spinach/baby kale/baby chard mix since I was adding a bunch of mushrooms.
Servings: 6-8 depending on whether it is a side dish or a main course
1 pound fresh spinach (today I actually used 2/3 spinach and 1/3 mixed spinach, baby chard and baby kale)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large cremini mushrooms, small dice
1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), minced
1/2 cup cottage cheese
~6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Phyllo Dough – either thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using or thaw on kitchen counter for two hours.
Place the cottage cheese in a strainer over a small bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Working in bowlful batches, fill a microwave proof bowl with the spinach or whatever greens you are using and microwave for two minutes. Place cooked spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside and repeat until all the spinach is cooked and squeezed out. Chop up the spinach and place in a large bowl.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and chopped herbs and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Mix together the pressed spinach, drained cottage cheese, cooked onion mixture, feta, lemon juice and nutmeg. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the eggs and stir them into the spinach mixture.
Lightly grease a 8″x 8″or 9″x 9″ casserole dish if making this the casserole method (highly recommended to save time!). Or if you are going to put in muffin tins grease those or if you are going to roll in triangles prepare a lightly oiled cookie sheet so the triangles have somewhere to land.
Unroll the thawed phyllo dough on a large work surface. If necessary, cut the pastry to 9- by 13-inch rectangles. Place plastic wrap over the phyllo dough with a damp dishcloth over the plastic at all times to prevent the thin sheets from drying out.
Casserole Method: Lay one sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush it or spray it with olive oil. Continue layering five more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry. Layer five more sheets of phyllo over the spinach, giving the top layer a final brush of olive oil. Lightly score the top layer of phyllo into eight squares with a paring knife. (This makes the pie easier to slice after baking.) …Or roll into traditional triangles or use the same layering technique in muffin tins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown and the top layers of phyllo are crisp. Allow the pie to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze. Leftovers will need to be reheated in the oven to regain their crispiness.
I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces. These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight. My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.
1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
½–1 teaspoon of honey
~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.
At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.
Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis
What a wonderfully warming and hearty Winter dish, that truly exceeded my expectations (and I think my husband’s as well)! I haven’t attempted risotto in years, but I came across a roasted butternut squash risotto recipe and decided that it would be a fun project to make today. Be warned, this takes time, but not the traditional standing over the pot and stirring for hours kind of time. For much of the time the dish was minding itself in the oven baking, which is not too bad for risotto! I based this off of a recipe by Cookie and Kate, but I made a few changes: I added a little more water, I added shiitake and cremini mushrooms in the risotto, added crispy mushrooms as a garnish and I skipped the butter. I also roasted the squash whole before cutting it because I really dislike cutting into hard squash – so worried about cutting off a limb! Risotto with only a cup of cheese and no butter, as well as brown rice for added nutrition! Pretty healthy and still so creamy and comforting.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
5 large cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (plus 2 more below for the garnish)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1 tablespoon thyme
Crispy Mushrooms and Crispy Sage
2 cremini mushrooms, paper thin slices (if you are short on time skip this, it will still be delicious)
20 sage leaves
freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place washed whole butternut squash on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until skin starts to brown and shrivel. Turn once or twice while baking. Let cool until you can touch it long enough to peel it.
While squash is baking, heat a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat with some olive oil. Add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes or until mushrooms begin to shrink and soften. Add some salt and pepper while cooking. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
Add 3 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the onion mix, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake in the 375 degree oven for 60 minutes. It may seem pretty dry when you remove the lid but don’t worry you will add more liquid soon!
While the risotto is baking peel the cooked squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into a small dice. Place the diced squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes or until the squash begins to brown around the sides. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
To make the crispy mushrooms and sage place the paper thin slices of mushroom and the sage leaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with olive oil and a little salt. Bake the sage for 5 minutes or less, you just want them a little crumbly. Bake the paper thin mushrooms for around 30 minutes, turning once, until they become crispy but not burned. Check them often. When crispy remove from oven and set aside.
Remove the risotto from the oven after one hour and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in the wine and stir for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of broth, thyme and parmesan and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Add more water if needed. You can keep it on low heat at this point if not ready to serve, adding water periodically to keep it from drying out and to keep the consistency creamy.
Serve in shallow bowls with a pinch of cheese, crispy mushrooms and sage. Tastes great with a dry chablis.
Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.
My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.
Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).
Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.
1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.
I have been eying this recipe for a while and I finally made it as a side dish to go with salmon as I wasn’t sure I could sell it to my family as an entree (my husband is not really a fan of eggplant, but I think it is because he hasn’t had really well-prepared eggplant, so I keep trying!). The recipe was a little time-consuming, but really very tasty and worth the work. I think if I made it again I might add either a portabello mushroom or some chicken to make it an entree.
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and sliced in 1/4″ thick rounds
4 large plum tomatoes, sliced in 1/4″ thick rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper and salt
1/3 cup chopped green olives
1 to 2 tablespoons red chili flakes
1/4 cup finely shredded basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
6 ounces Fontina Cheese (or mozzarella), shredded or thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the eggplant and tomato slices on two large baking sheets lightly greased with cooking spray. Lightly brush each slice of eggplant and tomato with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly charred. Turn once and check on them often as cooking times vary with ovens.
In a small bowl combine the olives, chilis, and shredded basil.
On a large rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper arrange half of the eggplant in a square, overlapping the slices slightly. Top with half of the tomatoes, olive mixture and Fontina. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese.
Reduce heat in oven to 425 degrees. Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve as a side dish or as an entree with crusty bread. Enjoy!
We are a family that celebrates both Christmas and Chanukah, so since they overlapped this year we decided at the last minute to add potato latkes to our dinner on Christmas Day. As this was not planned we used what we had on hand, which was two potatoes and a head of cauliflower, but only a small amount of onion. Since the latkes surprisingly tasted really good I decided to jot down the recipe and post it. I didn’t carefully measure this, just worked ad hoc, so the measurements are approximate. Give it a try and post comments if you like on how it can improve. Definitely a work-in-progress.
2 large baking potatoes, washed thoroughly and eyes removed. I leave the peel on.
1/4 head cauliflower, finely chopped
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup matzoh meal
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
mix of olive oil and canola oil
Shred the potato, chop the vegetables.
Mix the shredded potato, cauliflower, onion, and matzoh meal in a large bowl.
Mix the eggs, dill, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the potato mixture and stir well.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add a small amount of the oils to the pan. Heat the oil and form the pancakes with your hands into balls the size of your palm and gently flatten in the pan with a spatula.
Cook several minutes in the pan until crispy and slightly browned on each side. Put cooked latkes on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil. You can also keep them warm in an oven turned very low if desired.
Serve with applesauce or your favorite topping and enjoy!
I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday and I found some baby eggplants. So cute! I have never seen baby eggplants before so I decided I would buy some. My son was shopping with me (this is a rarity! He was really only there because he is a boy scout and had to sell wreaths at the market). Anyway, he suggested we stuff them. Wow, what a good idea, but with what??? Later I decided why not make it like eggplant parmesan, but stuffed. I think they came out pretty tasty on the inside, but I am not sure how to improve on the skin, it was sort-of chewy. I guess eating the skin can be optional.
NOTE: Use a very chunky tomato sauce with onions and garlic, since the recipe is relying on these being in the sauce and I didn’t include adding extra onions and garlic into the vegetable mixture. If you don’t have them in the sauce then add a 1/4 cup of chopped onions and 1 minced garlic clove to the vegetable mixture.
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1/4 cup of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chiffonade cut (thin strips)
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional garnish)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside flesh with a knife, leaving approximately 1/4 inch of flesh in the eggplant so it can serve as a cup for the vegetables. Chop the removed flesh into a small dice and put into a medium bowl.
Roast the eggplant shells in the oven for 15 minutes, or until softened.
Note:Some people say salt the eggplant for an hour before roasting to make it less bitter but I think that the baby eggplants are not bitter and I have also read that salting is a waste of time, eggplants have been bred to not have that bitterness, so I skip that.
Add the chopped mushrooms and spinach to the bowl. Add some salt and pepper the the vegetables. Microwave the vegetables for one to two minutes, until softened.
NOTE: You could also sauté them with some olive oil for a few minutes on the cooktop, I just wanted to save time and calories today.
Add the tomato sauce and half of the mozzarella and parmesan. Mix thoroughly.
Fill the eggplants with the vegetable mixture, top with remaining cheese and bake for 12 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with the basil and parsley. Enjoy!