Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

I remembered that I promised I would blog about an Indian dish that I mentioned back in August, so here you go!

Rava dosas are savory crepes made with semolina and rice flours. You can buy just the amount you need of these flours in bulk if you don't cook with them very often. The filling is a hearty mixture of potatoes, onion, peas, chickpeas, and lots of delicious spices. I didn't change a thing about this recipe.

This will be my last post until after Christmas. Thank you for reading my blog and I wish you all a very happy holiday season, however you choose to celebrate it!

We bought Sid some festive holiday attire - he was not amused:

Pinterest, you little devil of a website, continually giving me new ideas! Take your wedding invitation, cut it up into ribbons, curl them around a pencil, then stuff them into an ornament. Fun memory!

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala
adapted from Gourmet - November 2009
serves 4

Notes: The masala filling, without the coconut and cilantro, can be made up to 6 hours ahead of time and chilled. Reheat before stirring in coconut and cilantro.

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeno, coarsely chopped, including seeds (or not, if you want it to be less spicy)
1 (2 1/2-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 (15 to 19 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the Rava Dosas:
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Vegetable oil for brushing

Put the potatoes into a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside.

In a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, toast the coconut, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until toasted. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out the skillet. Now toast the cumin seeds in the same skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, for about 30 seconds, so that they are just a shade darker. Transfer to another small bowl and set aside. Reserve skillet.

In a blender or small food processor, puree the jalapeno, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 of the water, and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth. Transfer this puree to the skillet you were using earlier and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, then add them to the onion mixture, along with the toasted cumin seeds, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are barely tender.

Add the chickpeas and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Heat the mixture up to a brisk simmer and cover. Cook for another 16-20 minutes more, or until the potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes cook, make the dosas. Whisk together the flours, cumin seeds, salt, and water in a bowl. Generously brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet, swirling the pan until it evenly coats the bottom. Cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, until the dosa is set and the edges are golden brown. Using a rubber spatula, flip the dosa and let the other side cook for about a minute, so that the underside becomes golden in spots. Transfer to a plate. Continue making dosas with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the skillet each time. Stack the dosas on a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

When the potatoes are tender, add the peas and cook until just tender, another 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in the toasted coconut and cilantro.

To serve, spoon masala filling into dosas. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Really. Good. Sandwich.

This past fall I made apple butter using the recipe from Canning for a New Generation. The author was kind enough to include a side note with many thoughtful suggestions on how to use it, besides the obvious method of just spreading it onto a biscuit or toast. Apple butter can be used instead of apple sauce in baking, it can be added to oatmeal, and yes, it can be used on sandwiches.

This sandwich may be simple but it's big on flavor. Ingredients: Good rye bread. Black forest ham. Sharp cheddar cheese. A generous slathering of apple butter. Done. You could grill it if you wish, but we just ate it cold. I loved how the savory flavors in the rye bread mingled with the sweet apple butter. It was amazing.

Try it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Harvest Baked Apples, CSA Wrap-up

I don't make desserts like this often, but we had been getting all these great apples in the CSA that I wanted to finally do something really special with them. I used a ton of substitutions and it still tasted great. Raisins for currents, apple juice for apple cider, spiced rum for dark rum - I even substituted white vinegar for lemon juice! Did you know you can do that? It wouldn't work in all situations obviously, but in this case we didn't even notice.

This is the last CSA of the season! This was our first year doing a full CSA box all on our own, and overall we were very pleased with the quality of Denison's produce. Very, very little was wasted. Even though it was challenging at times, I was almost always able to plan meals that used up everything. During the weeks when I had more time I tried to plan new and interesting meals (things that would be fun to blog about), and during busier weeks I froze things for later, made vegetable soup, roasted a huge pan of mixed veggies, etc.

Behold, a photo collage displaying all 26 weeks of yummy CSA goodness:

Now, back to my regular recap of the box....

CSA Week 26:

In the box: 1 celery, 1 bunch beets, 2 leeks, 1/2 pound Jimmy Nardelo peppers, 1 bunch kale, 2 Delicata squash, 1 1/2 pounds baby sweet potatoes, 2 pounds Butterball potatoes, 2 pounds Braeburn apples

Beets were used last week on the salad. We also roasted those baby sweet potatoes to go with it.

A quick note about beets...I like to chop the greens off the beets right away and store them wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag in the fridge. If you leave the greens attached they will wilt very quickly.

I made Bittman's recipe for leek and potato soup using up all the leeks and most of the Butterball potatoes.

The peppers, beet greens, and most of the kale, as I already mentioned, were used last week alongside some delicious elk steak. The sweet red peppers saute really well and made a great side dish just as they are. Now that's it's officially winter and fresh peppers are growing scarce in the store I miss them dearly.

I made Rick Bayless' tortilla soup recipe and I threw in a bunch of leftover shredded turkey from Thanksgiving and a handful of thinly sliced kale. Traditional? No way. Tasty? Mmmmmm yes.

If you want an excellent go-to dish for winter squash, look no further than Bittman's Braised and Glazed Butternut Squash recipe. We used Delicata squash. So amazing and will go with lots of different main courses. We baked up a couple of Cousin Jack's Pastys to go with it this time. 

I have a funny story about the remaining Butterball potatoes. Ever since I got the Julia Child cooking show DVDs last Christmas I've been wanting to make a recipe from her "Potato Show". Well, I finally got around to putting in on the menu. It's supposed to be a quiche-type dish, but without a crust: layers of sliced boiled potatoes, caramelized onions, sliced kielbasa sausage, with an egg/milk mixture poured over everything. Then it's topped with a few pats of butter and shredded cheese and baked until bubbly and brown on top. So, guess what crucial ingredient I accidentally left out? EGGS! You know, the thing that would have bound it all together and made it, um, a quiche?? Yeah, totally skipped that part, and I didn't notice until I took it out of the oven and tried to cut into it. But as Julia Child says, when something like that happens, "you haven't lost anything". Instead, what we had was a delicious, creamy, baked potato, sausage and onion soup. So there.

Harvest Baked Apples
adapted from Cuisine At Home - October 2007, Issue 65
makes 4 apples

4 Braeburn or Gala apples

For the filling: 
Chopped apple flesh (from the above apples)
1/3 cup dried currants (dried raisins or cranberries would work too)
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon (emergency substitute: a couple tablespoons white vinegar)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup apple cider, divided (apple juice, no sugar added, works too)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes

For the topping:
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Salt to taste

Optional additional topping:
1/4 cup plain yogurt, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lighly spray a 9 inch glass pie plate or square baking dish with cooking spray.

Get the apples ready for the filling using a melon baller. Scoop out the core and some of the flesh from each apple, being careful not to get carried away and make a hole in the side or the bottom (I did that on one of mine, but luckily I was able to fit the piece back in so nothing leaked out). You only need each apple to hold about 1/4 cup of filling. Chop the seedless flesh for the filling.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped apple, currants, almonds, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, lemon juice, and salt. Stuff the filling into the apples and place them in the prepared baking dish. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cider into each cavity. Top each apple with a cube of butter. Add the remaining cider and butter cubes to the baking dish.

In a small bowl, use your clean fingers to combine the oats, 2 tablespoons flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, almond extract, and salt to taste. Mix until crumbly. Top each apple with a generous tablespoon of the mixture onto each apple, pressing down to it stays put.

Bake the apples for 35-45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but not mushy (I thought mine were easily pierced at 35 minutes, but it was not as done in the middle as it could have been, so I would err on the latter end of the baking time if I were you).

Let apple cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before eating.

To serve, top with yogurt, if using, and drizzle with the pan juices. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Autumn Beet Salad with Toasted Caraway Vinaigrette

After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend where we got to enjoy delicious meals with both of our families, I was looking forward to getting back home and eating healthy again. We got a little behind on CSA boxes with the holiday so this salad uses cabbage from week 25 and the beets from week 26, aka, the future, which I hope to blog about soon.

Also, I'm only about 75% sure I actually used caraway seeds in this dressing. It may have been some other seed. When I checked to see if I had any, I found two plastic bags with slightly different looking seeds in each, unlabeled of course. They smelled the same to me, so I went with the darker one.

We ate this salad as a big side salad. To add some carbohydrates and protein to the meal, I roasted some sweet potatoes (not the ones from this week, but next week), and bought some really good spicy pork meatballs, hot and ready straight from the Co-op. Totally random assortment of food, but it works for us.

CSA Week 25:

In the box: 1 head cabbage, 3/4 pound broccoli, 1 pound tomatoes, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 onion, 2 bell peppers, 2 pounds sweet potatoes, 2 pounds red potatoes, 2 pounds Liberty apples

I tried a new recipe for sweet potato casserole from Skinnytaste. I was intrigued by the fact that it called for crushed pineapple and agave for sweeteners, and I liked the idea that it contained no butter whatsoever. The verdict? Good, but we didn't think it had enough "wow" factor to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner. Joe wasn't a fan of the raisins.  Overall it was very healthy and easy. It made a great weeknight meal. We baked some ham to go with it, rubbed with dry mustard and brown sugar and glazed with apricot jam (recipe from Taste of Home). We scaled the recipe way down for our "perfect for two" 1 1/2 pound ham from Niman Ranch and it was delicious.

The next morning we sauteed the bulk of the CSA veggies (bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, onion, and a bit of cilantro), plus the leftover ham to make some rocking breakfast burritos. We only had two eggs in the fridge so the addition of ham and a big pile of veggies bulked it up enough for two huge burritos.

Note to self: don't leave pans on the stove that smell like ham for days at a time - your cat will eventually take notice and help himself to a tasty - albeit two day old - snack. He did not seem phased at all when I caught him on the counter licking the pan, leading me to believe this is business as usual for him. I really need to be better about doing dishes in a timely manner.

I discovered a really low maintenance lunch this past week: layer leftover rice, beans (drained/rinsed canned, or in my case we happened to have leftover beer-glazed black beans), and chopped raw broccoli in a microwave-safe Tupperware container. The broccoli will steam itself while you heat up the rice and beans, and you will have a very filling and delicious lunch for work.  If the beans had been plain, I would have added Yumm! Sauce.

Another new recipe I tried was Dijon Roasted New Potatoes from Weight Watchers. We really liked these. They took a bit longer to cook than it said, but I also had 2 pounds of potatoes to cook rather than 1 1/2 pounds like it calls for. Very little oil and lots of mustard, herbs and spices. We were out of Dijon so I substituted Sierra Nevada Stout mustard. We had these potatoes with some elk steak and sauteed kale and red bell pepper (another preview of next week's CSA).

WW Dijon Roasted New Potatoes
I used half the cabbage, some tomatoes, plus carrots and celery from last week's CSA to make a big pot of Weight Watcher's Fresh Vegetable Soup. I also found a bag of frozen Romano beans from a previous CSA in the freezer so I threw those into the pot as well. I usually just use what I have on hand rather than all the vegetables it calls for, and I always add canned kidney beans for more protein. I ate this every single day for lunch during the week of Thanksgiving in hopes that it would offset the damage from two Thanksgiving dinners.

Speaking of offsetting damage from Thanksgiving, help yourself to this cleansing and refreshing salad!

Autumn Beet Salad
adapted from Cuisine At Home - October 2008, Issue 71
serves 2 generous side salads, or 4 small side salads

Note: A mixture of golden and red beets would be pretty, if you can find them. Our CSA newsletter said that because the beets they gave us were small and organic, we didn't need to peel them, so we just scrubbed them well under running water.

1/2 pound beets (about 5-6 small) peeled and halved or quartered if large so they are all about the same size
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple juice
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt to taste
4 cups savoy or green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shaved
handful fennel fronds, torn

Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water and place a steamer basket on top, making sure the water does not touch the steamer basket. Arrange the beets in the steamer basket. Cover and let them steam until tender, 35-45 minutes. Make sure the water doesn't evaporate completely. Remove the beets and let cool for a few minutes, then cut into wedges.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the oil, vinegar, juice concentrate, mustard, caraway seeds, and salt until combined.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, fennel, and fronds with about half of the vinaigrette until coated. In a second bowl, toss the beet wedges with the other half of the vinaigrette (mixing them separately keeps the beets from staining the entire salad).

To serve, divide the cabbage mixture among plates and top with the beets. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut squash, curry powder, and apples are a classic combination and this soup is perfect for a chilly fall day! I thought it paired nicely with grilled cheese.

An added bonus when making this recipe is that I got to use my new food mill! I thought sure this would be one of those kitchen purchases that would only see the light of day once a year to make apple butter, so I was super excited to find a use for it so soon. Don't have a food mill? Not to worry, you can use a food processor, an immersion blender, probably even a potato masher. You're not looking for a velvety smooth texture with this soup.

It's so delicious, even Forest wanted a taste.

But a moment later he became extremely interested in a deer who was foraging in the backyard. Lots of deer and wild turkeys up here.

And let's not forget the cat, Lucky. He's older than dirt but still wants nothing more than to snuggle with you all day long.

CSA Week 24:

In the box: One bunch radishes, one bunch carrots, one head celery, one head cauliflower, 3/4 pound broccoli, 1 pound Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 Delicata squash, 3 heads garlic, 1 basket strawberries, 2 pounds Jonagold apples

Same story as last week: still house/pet-sitting (see adorable animals above), so we split up the box again.

One night for dinner I cooked up some pasta and tossed it with a jar of my roasted summer tomatoes. I found a bag of fully-cooked, frozen meatballs in the freezer at the house where I'm staying, so I baked a few of those to go on top for protein. They were not good at all, but at least the pasta and sauce were delicious. I roasted the broccoli to go alongside, one of my favorite ways to eat broccoli. If I were smart I would have roasted the tomatoes we got this week for the sauce, because when I stopped in at home on my lunch break a few days later I noticed that they had gone bad. Darn! They must have been really ripe when we received them.Too bad I wasn't home to notice it.

I used some of the celery to make Yumm! Tuna Salad, which I ate two ways: on top of a big bed of salad greens, and on top of a toasted English muffin with cheese. I sliced a few stalks into short sticks for dipping in hummus as a snack. I gave the rest to Joe and hinted that maybe he could make a batch of beef stock this week.

Joe also got the cauliflower, delicata squash, and the carrots. He said he peeled and sliced the squash and then sauteed it in a pan with some oil until tender, and had it with rice. Apparently that the basic recipe from How to Cook Everything and there are a ton of variations. He says he's going use the cauliflower to make the Test Kitchen curried skillet cauliflower we made a few weeks ago. I haven't heard anything about the carrots.

Local strawberries in fall, whaaat? I was very surprised. Aside from being a little white in the middle, they were actually pretty sweet! They made a tasty snack just as they were.

I roasted the radishes in the oven while I baked a Cousin Jack's Pasty. They needed a little more time to cook than the pasty did though, and eventually I got impatient and took them out, even though they could have gone longer. I washed and chopped the radish greens and steamed them in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then tossed with salt and olive oil (no pepper because they are already pretty peppery).

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
adapted from Ina Garten
makes 3 1/2 quarts

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh or Jonagold (about 4)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
2 cups good apple cider or juice (not from concentrate, no sugar added)

Add the butter, oil, onions, and curry powder to a large stockpot. Cook over low heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the onions are tender, Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot as you do.

Meanwhile, peel and seed the squash. Cut into chunks (I cut mine into approx. 2 inch pieces). Peel and core the apples, then cut them into chunks of similar size.

Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade (or other method producing similar results, such as a potato masher, a few pulses in a food processor, or immersion blender).

Return the soup back to the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Barley and Beef Stew

It's officially cold and wintery. Bring on the soup! We really liked this recipe from Mark Bittman. Big chunks of veggies, hearty grains, and tender beef. So good.

We're finally nearing the end of our Bald Hill beef stash. It's taken us a little over a year, and in the process we've learned a lot about different cuts of beef and how to cook them. I've tried a lot of different cuts that I might not have ever tried otherwise. We've had some great classics, such as:

Salisbury steak (made with cube steak)
Beef sirloin tip roast
Beef stroganoff (made it twice, once with beef tenderloin and again with beef sirloin)
Braised short ribs
Roast beef (to make taquitos)
Flank steak

Other cuts I didn't blog about include oxtail (braised in tomato sauce - delicious), liver (with onions and pan sauce, visually appealing but disgusting), arm roast chopped up for beef stew, and many, many steak dinners.

We also got a ton of ground beef in this order. We ended up giving some away, and we also gave a large portion to my dad which he returned to us later in jerky form (he makes awesome jerky). My favorite recipes that we made with ground beef, besides the usual burgers, include:

Phyllo-wrapped ground beef and vegetable pastries
Thai-style ground beef
Sesame-soy meatballs
Stuffed bell peppers with rice and ground beef
Frito Chili Pie - from the Pioneer Woman - a simple recipe to throw together (almost no prep because most ingredients are canned) and it's absolutely delicious. Before now I would have never thought to put Fritos on chili. It's definitely going to become a staple recipe in our house I think. We've already made it twice in the last month.

We have a few cuts left that I haven't decided what to do with yet - London Broil and Rib Steak. Any suggestions???

CSA Week 23:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 1 bunch carrots, 1 bunch arugula, 1 basket grape tomatoes, 2 pounds sweet potatoes, 2 pounds Nicola potatoes, 1 Butternut squash, 3/4 pound Jimmy Nardelo peppers, 2 pounds Liberty apples.

We sauteed the peppers, along with some onions, and piled them on top of chicken andouille sausages from Costco. We even had hot dog buns in the freezer - bonus! I warmed them in the oven at 200 F and they tasted just like fresh ones.

Since I am house/pet-sitting for the next couple of weeks at a home on the outskirts of town (in the woods and on a mountain, no less), Joe and I split up the CSA. I took the arugula, some lettuce, grape tomatoes, half of the apples, and the other sweet potato, and gave him the rest.

I stopped over for dinner on Sunday and Joe had prepared an amazing beef stew using up the rest of the carrots and Nicola potatoes. He used the beef stew recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (if you don't have it, you should get it!). We had an huge arm roast in our beef stash so he cut that up into chunks, and saved the bone to make stock later. Note to self: arm roasts make great stew meat! Very tender and flavorful.

We still had some mascarpone leftover from when we made the tomato and tapenade tarts so I wanted to think of a way to combine that with the arugula, grape tomatoes, and maybe some pasta. I found this recipe from NPR. Basically you whisk together the mascarpone, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little of the hot pasta water, then toss it together with hot cooked corkscrew pasta and arugula. I sliced the grape tomatoes in half and threw those in too. The hot pasta wilts the greens nicely and their peppery flavor offsets the creaminess of the sauce. Next time I would double the sauce recipe; I like my pasta very "saucy".

We seem to be hording our winter squash for now. We now have a Delicata and this new Butternut in our collection.

Barley and Beef Stew
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
makes about 4 servings

Notes: Instead of barley, you could also use kasha, buckwheat grouts, millet, or cracked wheat. Instead of starting with a hunk of chuck or round, we just used a package of beef stew meat and cut it into smaller pieces.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound beef chuck or round, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups chicken or beef stock, or water
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium potatoes, preferably waxy, peeled and cut into about 1-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled (optional - but so good I wouldn't skip them)
2 cups sliced mushrooms, preferably an assortment (I used cremini and shiitake), OR 1 cup sliced button mushrooms and 1/2 cup dried porcini or other dried mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water to cover (but mushrooms in general are optional here)
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Chopped parsley or celery leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the stock (if you used dried mushrooms, include their strained liquid - just reduce the amount of stock accordingly). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and slowly simmer (should barely bubble) for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, barley and thyme. Bring back up to a boil, then lower the heat again, cover, and slowly simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

When all the vegetables are tender, the stew is done. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Kale, and Yumm! Sauce

This week's meal uses the Sunshine squash from last week's CSA. I thought it would be fun to experiment and see how Yumm! Sauce and winter squash would go together. As I expected, they go together quite nicely. If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know this girl likes her Yumm! (See examples of my obsession here, here, and here).

For this recipe, I baked the squash until tender, then scooped out the flesh and tossed it together with a mixture of cooked wild rice and sauteed veggies (kale, red bell pepper, shallot). I mixed in a generous portion of Yumm! Sauce, then stuffed this mixture back into the shell of the squash and baked it a little longer. Before serving I drizzled on a bit more sauce. Filling and delicious!

CSA Week 22:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 1.5 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 head cauliflower, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 1 Delicata squash, 1 bunch kale, 1 bunch fresh ginger, 1 pound grapes.

It's great having friends who hunt and are generous enough to share a small piece of their bounty with us. A friend from work gave us a couple packages of elk and venison steaks, and another friend brought over some venison from recent hunting trip and together we made Jacques Pepin's recipe for venison steaks in sweet-sour sauce. The sauce went perfectly with the steak. The recipe called for current or raspberry jam, but we substituted apricot because that's what we had. To go with, I roasted some miscellaneous veggies (one potato from a previous week's CSA, a couple remaining carrots from last week, and the broccoli from this week).

Tomatoes: we wanted to make that tart again, but they were starting to get pretty ripe and it didn't look like I would have time to fit it in, so I roasted and froze them for later. Looking forward to lots of pasta topped with chunky tomato sauce for dinner this winter.

The lettuce was used for side salads for lunch and dinner. Grapes for snacks.

We used up a whole mess of CSA veggies in one night with these two delicious dishes: Red Lentils and Kale with Coconut, Ginger, and Crispy shallots and Curried Skillet Cauliflower with Cilantro. I love recipes where I can just tick off the ingredients I want to use up right in the title. Both of these dishes were really good, you should check them out. I'm a little picky when it comes to cauliflower, so it's a good sign when I recommend a recipe that uses it.

Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Kale, and Yumm! Sauce
serves 2-4

Note: I chose a squash that looked like a small pumpkin so I only sliced off the very top to make a deep bowl and stuffed the squash that way. But if you have other shapes of squash it would work just as well to slice them in half lengthwise and fill them - it will be more open but just as delicious.

1 large (or a few small) winter squash (such as Sunshine, Delicata, Acorn, Butternut, etc.)
1 cup uncooked wild rice (or brown or white or whatever you have)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 cup Cafe Yumm! Sauce, more or less to taste, plus more for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Depending on you and your squash, you can either slice the top off and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh before baking, or bake it whole and do that step after it's tender. The first way is a little more difficult since you are trying to cut something that is very hard, but the second way involves working with a hot squash. Either way, place it in a baking dish and bake until tender and a fork pierces the skin easily, which could be 30 minutes, or it could be an hour, depending on the size of your squash.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions, which is probably something like 2 1/2 cups water or broth, plus 1 tablespoon oil or butter (optional), brought to a boil and then simmered, covered, for about 30 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, saute the shallot in the oil for a minute or so, then add the bell pepper and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add the kale, and cook until wilted. Add to the pot with the rice. Don't bother mixing it together, you are just moving it for now so you can use the skillet in the next step.

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. If you haven't already, slice off the top of the squash (or slice in half lengthwise if using an oval-shaped squash), and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Once you've done that, scoop out most of the remaining flesh, without compromising the stability of the shell, and place it in the skillet. Add a bit of oil and saute for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the veggies and rice to the skillet and toss to combine. Add a heaping portion of Yumm! Sauce (I did about 1/2 cup). Season with salt and pepper.

Scoop the rice mixture into the squash shell(s), packing it down and overflowing over the top a bit. Bake for about 20 more minutes.

Just before serving, drizzle with more Yumm! Sauce.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomato and Tapenade Tarts

These were fun little tarts to make with the late-season tomatoes we've been getting in our CSA. The ones in the box this week were so tiny and cute I thought they would be perfect for this.

Just cut puff pastry dough into rounds, spread on a thin layer of olive tapenade, and place a pile of tomatoes on top (cherries or small regular). As you do all this you leave a border around the edge, which puffs up when you bake it to create a rim around the tomatoes. Then you dot it with a little more tapenade and a dollop of marscapone cheese and bake it for a little longer, until the creamy cheese has melted into a delicious sauce spreading out over the tart. Yum!

Joe said he would have liked it with or without the cheese, and the more tapenade for him, the better. I personally liked how the creamy flavor of the cheese complimented the salty olive tapenade.

These can be made into small or large tarts. Ours were pretty good sized, kind of like a personal pan pizza. We also made roasted delicata squash in the shell, topped with butter and brown sugar. I ended up eating only half of my tart, and the other half reheated very well and made a great lunch the next day.

CSA Week 21:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 2 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 bunch French Breakfast Radishes, 2 pounds carrots, 1 leek, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 2 pounds red potatoes, 1 Sunshine squash, 4 Sweet Italian peppers, 2 pounds Liberty apples

The lettuce made great salads all week to go with dinner or lunches. Some of the tomatoes and carrots were used as toppings. We haven't had salad greens for a few weeks so it was a nice change of pace.

We ate the radishes with hummus (found some great single serving packages at Costco - very handy to take to work AND the hummus is actually quite tasty).

I stir-fried the red peppers, broccoli, and some of the carrots to go with potstickers (another great Costco buy). Super easy meal. 

Joe saw the leek in the box and immediately claimed it to make one of our favorite fall/winter meals: baked sweet potatoes with leeks and Gorgonzola (actually, the cheese I bought this time was a local one called "Oregonzola", haha).

I used the Liberty apples to finally make a batch of apple butter this year. I had been trying to make time to do it for weeks. I used the recipe from Canning for a New Generation. I love the flavor and texture of this batch compared to the one I made last year. The only disappointing thing is that even though I doubled the recipe (and thus making an already time consuming task even more so) for some reason I was only able to fill six half pint jars instead of twelve like I was expecting. I must have let it cook for too long at some point in the process so it reduced way too much. The directions in general were a little vague for me, a person who gets so freaking paranoid when it comes to preserving food that half the time I just scare myself out of doing it altogether. It sucks because I was hoping to have enough to give it to friends and family for the holidays. I don't know if I will have time to make another batch. Pity party for me. :-(

We didn't get to the Sunshine squash yet. They last a long time so I wanted to focus on using up the produce that would spoil sooner.

Tomato and Tapenade Tarts
adapted from Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Meals
serves 2-4

Notes: I bet this would also be good with basil pesto in place of the tapenade. Feta instead of marscapone would be good too, though it wouldn't be as creamy when it melts.

1 package puff pastry, thawed if frozen (I used Pepperidge Farm brand, one package was 1.1 pounds)
1/4 cup black or green olive tapenade
1 1/4 pound small or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Light oil a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with water.

Lightly flour a clean counter top and roll out the puff pastry. Cut out rounds of dough, using a bowl or plate as a guide. I found it was easiest to make two tarts using an 8-inch plate as my guide. The original recipe suggests making four 6 1/2 inch rounds, but their package of puff pastry was larger than mine (1 1/4 pounds, or 500 grams). I am not experienced enough with puff pastry to know if it would work to take the extra scraps and just form them into another tart.

Transfer the pastry rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Using the tip of a knife, mark a shallow cut 1/2 an inch in from the edge of each pastry round to form a rim (Basically you are drawing a smaller circle inside the round that will mark the area you will place the filling. The border will puff up as the tart bakes).

Reserve half of the tapenade for a later step. Divide the rest evenly among your tarts and spread it out into a thin layer, staying inside the marked rim.

Slice about half of the tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on how large they are. Cherry tomatoes just need to be sliced in half. Pile all the tomatoes, whole and halved, on the pastry, again keeping them inside the marked border. Season with salt.

Bake for about 20 minutes. The pastry should be well risen and golden. Divide the remaining tapenade among the tarts, doting it randomly over the tomatoes, Spoon a dollop of mascarpone onto the center. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the mascarpone has melted into a sauce.

Serve warm. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gorgonzola Ravioli with Hazelnut Cream Sauce and Radicchio

I had a coupon for this good brand of ravioli so I picked up a package to try. While I've made my own ravioli before, convenience foods are nice sometimes too. I wanted to make some sort of sauce to go with it. After floating the idea of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, I realized that might be too much cheese. I decided liked the idea of a hazelnut cream sauce, so I went with that. The bitter radicchio and the creamy pasta and sauce make a great combination.

This was very quick to make and we loved it! I was meeting a friend for Zumba later that evening and I was able to cook, photograph, and eat with time to spare before I had to leave.

CSA Week 20:

In the box: 1 radicchio, 2 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 2 pounds carrots, 1 bunch beets, 1 pound yellow onions, 2 pounds Sierra Rose potatoes, 1 Delicata squash, 2 Sweet Italian peppers, 1 pound Canadice grapes, 2 pounds Winter Banana apples

One night we made a simple pasta dish - a recipe that Joe found somewhere on the web years ago. We make it quite a bit, just going from memory now, and varying it based on what we have around. It's basically sauteed onions, garlic, capers, yellow or red bell peppers, and kalamata olives, tossed with cooked farfalle and topped with Parmesan. We used the sweet peppers in place of the bell peppers, and added beet greens. I forgot that even the beet greens turn everything pink, but it still tasted great. I roasted some of the tomatoes to go on the side.

The rest of the tomatoes and onions were used to make delicious poached mahi mahi in ravigote sauce, recipe by Jacques Pepin. His recipe calls for salmon, which would have been wonderful, but I had some mahi mahi in the freezer that I decided to use instead.The sauce is so easy. You just chop and add everything to a bowl, stir it together, and that's it, no cooking required. Since poached fish is pretty plain, you definitely want a topping with a lot of punch like this to give it flavor.

Next, we made a recipe I saw over on Chef Dennis' blog: Apple Beet Compote with Fennel and Candied Walnuts. This recipe materialized when he was trying to use what he had on hand one night. I had apples (the Rome apples from last week) and beets from this week, so I decided to make it too. I didn't have fennel, but that was ok. I followed his directions exactly. I served my compote over bulgur wheat. He suggested adding crumbled gorgonzola, and I loved that idea so I bought some...but then I totally forgot to use it! Arg! Oh well, it was still delicious, and after dinner we quickly found ourselves back in the kitchen, running our fingers around the skillet to soak up the sugary-butter mixture from the candied walnuts. Mmmmm. Yep, we have no self-control when it comes to butter.

I made a potato soup in the slow cooker using some of the carrots, some potatoes from last week and most of the ones from this week. I used this recipe. It is a very filling and satisfying soup, especially because I used regular instead of fat-free half-n-half.

We haven't eaten the Delicata squash just yet.

I was a little nervous about eating an apple with the word 'banana' in the name, but I assure you, they don't taste like bananas. It must refer to the color. They are nice and sweet. The grapes were petite but  had a nice tartness to them. I have been eating the rest of the carrots with hummus for snacks.

Gorgonzola Ravioli with Hazelnut Cream Sauce and Radicchio
Inspiration for the hazelnut cream sauce was found here
serves 2

Notes: We used Rising Moon Organics Garlic Gorgonzola Ravioli made with Spinach Pasta, but there are a number of different flavors of ravioli that would complement a hazelnut cream sauce. I think butternut squash or pumpkin would be awesome.

1 (8 ounce) package ravioli (such as gorgonzola, pumpkin, butternut squash, etc)
1 head Radicchio
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cream sauce:
1/3 cup dry roasted hazelnuts
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

Garnish with: 
Crumbled Gorgonzola
Chopped hazelnuts
Chopped fresh herbs such as sage, basil, or parsley

Preheat the broiler.

Slice the radicchio in quarters lengthwise and place cut side up on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook the ravioli according to package directions.

Meanwhile, start the cream sauce. It will make a prettier sauce if you can remove the papery skins from the hazelnuts. I used this tool which worked really well, but it would probably also work to wrap them up in a kitchen towel and roll them along the counter.

Process nuts in a food processor until they become pretty fine crumbs. Toast in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat, then add the butter, stir until melted, then add the cream. Stir to combine, and cook until thickened, 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Broil the radicchio until the edges of the leaves look a bit charred. Remove from oven, when cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise.

To serve, pile some radicchio into the bottom of a rimmed soup bowl, then top with ravioli. Drizzle the cream sauce over the top. Garnish with crumbled Gorgonzola, chopped hazelnuts, and fresh herbs. Serve immediately. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Julia Child's Provencal Tomato Quiche

This is a different sort of quiche than I've made before. It doesn't use any milk or cream, and there aren't even very many eggs in it. The surprising ingredient is anchovy fillets. I still had some left in the jar from when I made the amazing anchovy butter so it was a good excuse to use them up. If you are hesitant about the anchovies, don't be. They just add a really nice salty flavor - not fishy at all.

You start with a pre-baked pie shell (I used a whole wheat store-bought one to keep things simple), then you layer it with mashed anchovies, a filling of sauteed onions and tomatoes mixed with egg, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then finally, sliced tomatoes. I thought the colorful heirloom tomatoes from our CSA would be great for this. This quiche was delicious - I wanted to devour the whole thing myself, and probably would have, if no one was looking.

CSA Week 19:

In the box: 1/2 pound spinach, 1.5 pounds heirloom tomatoes, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 2 pounds White Rose potatoes, 1 Acorn squash, 3 red bell peppers, 1 head garlic, 1 watermelon, 1 basket French Petite plums, 2 pounds Rome apples

Winter squash are here! We are so excited. Besides sweet potatoes, squash are one of our favorite winter vegetables. I'm sure there will be many times this winter where we will simply roast the squash and top it with nothing but butter and maybe a little brown sugar, but for our very first squash of the season I chose to make a soup. I used a recipe from one of my many Mark Bittman cookbooks: The Best Recipes in the World. It's a Laotian-style squash soup made with squash, onion, tomato, chickpeas, stock, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Pureed and topped with cilantro (and scallions if I had had any).

Whenever I see broccoli and potatoes together I immediately want to make one of my favorite meals: oven-roasted potatoes and broccoli topped with homemade mornay sauce. That's cheese sauce, people. I've blogged about it before. This time I used 2% milk and sharp cheddar. I roasted the potato wedges first, then when they were close to being done, I added chopped broccoli (florets and stems - peel stems first), since they don't take quite as much time as potatoes. Roasted broccoli is just amazing, right? It's got such a different flavor than when it's stir-fried or steamed. Amazing. Joe also bought some sweet Italian sausage links to add to the meal, so we cooked those first, in a skillet, then sliced and tossed with the roasted veggies. We didn't cook all the potatoes, so there are still a couple in the fridge for another time.

We made fajitas using the red bell peppers, along with a couple other colors of peppers and onions that we bought. They went into the grill basket in big pieces and then we thinly sliced them once they were done. We also grilled a huge piece of skirt steak that we marinated first in a mixture of garlic, Serrano chilis, oil, salt, and lots of lime juice.

We ate the watermelon and the plums for snacks. Garlic went into the stash.

For breakfast one morning, we had fried eggs over a mound of steamed spinach. It was healthy, but next time I think I would saute the spinach in a little oil or butter to add more flavor.

We still have a couple of potatoes, and we haven't done anything with the apples yet. Rome apples are good cooking apples.

Provencal Tomato Quiche
adapted from Julia Child - The Way to Cook
makes one 9-inch pie, serves 4-6

Note: Use fresh, in season tomatoes for this dish. Julia would have you peel the tomatoes, but I didn't bother and it was fine with us. For the seasonings, she doesn't give amounts, and I didn't measure, but I gave my best guess as to what I used, so at least it's a starting point. If you absolutely don't think you can stomach the anchovies, I think a good substitute would be kalamata olives, because they would provide a similar salty flavor.

2 cups sliced onions
about 1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, pureed
5 medium fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled if you want, seeded, extra juice squeezed out, and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 egg plus 3 yolks, lightly beaten
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and then mashed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
One 9-inch frozen pie shell
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
1 or 2 large tomatoes, sliced, for topping the quiche

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Unwrap frozen pie shell. Prick all over with a fork. Lay a piece of foil gently over the top, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat medium. When hot, add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add the garlic, the chopped tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook like that for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash the tomatoes with the back of the spoon a little bit if needed; the mixture should start to form a thick puree. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne, and tomato paste if needed, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a large glass bowl and let cool to tepid.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the eggs and parsley.

To assemble the quiche, start by spreading the mashed anchovies across the bottom of the pie shell. Next, pour the tomato/egg mixture into the shell, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across the surface, and then arrange the tomato slices on top. Salt lightly, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. When it's done, it will be lightly puffed, and the crust will be nice and brown. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tillamook Cheddar Apple Pie

Somehow I got it into my head that I really wanted to make a cheddar-apple pie. Once that thought appeared, there was no ignoring it. I chose this recipe because it looked easy, and since I don't like to bake, easy sounded pretty good.

A slice of this pie, warmed up, with a sprinkle of melted cheese on top, is divine.

I don't think that this is the best recipe out there, but the end result made me happy. I think there could be some improvements though. For one thing, because you don't cook the apples beforehand, the filling cooks down, leaving a gap between the apples and the top of the crust. Not really a problem tastewise, but not as pretty to look at. I thought the dough was kind of hard to work with, but then again I'm not much of a baker so that might have had something to do with it. Joe had to come help me part-way through.

**Late night edit** I've just added a new "Recipes" tab at the top of the page: it takes you to a complete listing of all the recipes, categorized by type, with a link to each one. This took me FOREVER to put together, but it was really fun to go back through all the older recipes I have posted over the past couple of years. So please, go check it out!

Tillamook Cheddar Apple Pie
adapted from The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook
serves 4-6

Note: If you don't live in a place that sells Tillamook cheese, just buy the sharpest cheddar you can find.

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup grated Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese
5-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
5-6 firm, tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Cut the shortening into 1/2-inch cubes and place in the freezer.

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place in a large nonreactive bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients and set aside. Now the filling is ready to be combined once you have made the dough.

Place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Remove the chilled shortening from the freezer and scatter over the top of the bowl. Scatter the 1/2 cup cheese over the top as well. Cut in the shortening and the cheese until the mixture becomes crumbly, like coarse meal. Add the water slowly, while folding with a spatula, until the crumbled mixture holds together  and just starts to form a ball. Don't overwork the dough. Divide the dough in half and flour a clean board or counter top. Roll out half of the dough onto a the floured surface. Carefully place in a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out the remaining dough.

Mix all the filling ingredients together, and pile into the pie pan, mounding it up in the middle. Place the second crust on top. Prick a few holes in the top with the tines of a fork and seal the edges.

Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking for another 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

I think this is best served warm with a little melted cheese over the top. But you can also serve cold or room temperature without the extra cheese if you'd rather. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Southwestern Chili-Mac Salad

This was printed up in a Rachael Ray magazine as a "make-over" recipe for traditional chili-mac. Not that there is anything wrong with chili mac; I am a huge fan of it myself. But it's fun to change things up every once in awhile, and in the summer, or in this case early fall, the produce stands are stuffed to the rafters with fresh veggies, so rather than having a side salad next to your bowl of standard chili mac, why not put your salad IN the chili mac? This dish makes use of fresh seasonal veggies like tomatoes, corn, spinach (my addition), and red onion. The chili-spiced meat and beans are mixed in with the veggies and the whole thing is tossed with a zesty vinaigrette and topped with sharp cheddar.

CSA Week 18:

In the box: 1/2 pound spinach, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 pound Romano beans, 2 sweet Italian peppers, 8 ears corn, 2 pounds Nicola potatoes, 1 watermelon, 1 basket French petite plums, 2 pounds Gala apples.

We used the carrots from last week along with the Romano beans and sweet red peppers from this week to make a veggie stir fry. To go with that, we made beer-glazed black beans.

The corn, most of the spinach, and the cherry tomatoes were used in the chili mac.

We made home fries with the potatoes for breakfast on the weekend. My pan was too crowded though so they weren't as browned and crisp as I would have liked. Good to remember for next time.

Also noteworthy: apparently Nicola potatoes are reported to be lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes. We've been trying to cut out excessive carbs and sugars lately so every little bit helps. I just read Gary Taubes' book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About Itand it has given me a whole new perspective on carb and sugar consumption! Have you read it? What do you think? It pretty much contradicts everything I was told in Weight Watchers, but I find his arguments and interpretations of the research very convincing.

I used the rest of the spinach to go with this really awesome sun-dried tomato and chili walnut layered dip!

Check out the recipe over  at Leanne's blog, Healthful Pursuit. I followed her recipe almost exactly, except that I didn't have this one ingredient called Herbemare, but from what I could tell online it is a mixture of salt and dried spices so I improvised with sea salt, dried celery flakes, oregano, and thyme. I used lime juice instead of lemon juice, because that's all I had, but it seemed to work out fine. I didn't have a clear bowl to layer it in so I went with the platter instead, and topped with some sliced cherry tomatoes from our garden just for fun. We brought it to a going-away/board game night at a friend's house and it was a hit! I would definitely make this again.

We didn't do anything special with the fruit, just had it with breakfast and snacks. I loved those little plums!

Southwestern Chili-Mac Salad
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray - June/July 2008
Serves 6

Notes: My only changes to this recipe include using whole wheat pasta instead of regular, sharp cheddar instead of medium, and adding steamed spinach. I also didn't use cilantro this time, only because when I took it out of the fridge, I discovered that it had gone bad. If you have it, I suggest you use it. Oh, and I added coriander too, just for fun.

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups whole wheat elbow pasta
1 small red onion, half finely chopped, half thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander
1 pound lean ground beef
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges, or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Large bunch fresh spinach, big stems removed (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice and the cilantro. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for three minutes, it should be just tender. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Return the water back to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, drain and transfer to a large (serving) bowl. Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil over the pasta and toss so it doesn't stick together. Set aside.

Cut the corn kernels from the cob, add to the bowl with the pasta.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped red onion, chili powder, and coriander. Cook for about 2 minutes or so, until the onion has softened. Add the ground beef. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the meat is lightly browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat.

Wash the spinach, and put the damp leaves into a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for a 2 minutes. Put the spinach in a towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Chop the spinach and add to the pasta and corn.

Add the beef mixture to the pasta bowl. Toss to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add the kidney beans, spinach, tomatoes, sliced onion, and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Taste again and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Scoop into bowls, top with cheese, and serve.
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