For Cookbook Club this month, we’re cooking Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. I love Ottolenghi… he’s one of my favorite chefs to follow on social media and I find his recipes universally delicious! I was introduced to him several years back when my sister gave me the cookbook Jerusalem that he co-authored with Sami Tamimi. It remains one of my favorite cookbooks. The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are wonderful. While most of Ottolenghi recipes fall squarely into my comfort zone (mmmm… Middle Eastern food!), Plenty is a little bit outside it. The entire cookbook is vegetable-based! We love veggies here, but it’s rare that we eat truly vegetarian – especially our main dishes. I’m looking forward to embracing the challenge!
This first recipe caught my eye right off the bat, because the combination of ingredients seemed so unique to me. Who ever heard of combining mango and eggplant?? But as a thought about it, I figured it would probably be delicious. So here we are. And I was right – it IS a delicious combo. The dressing and the mango are sweet & sour, the eggplant is earthy, and the pepper and onions give it just a little bite! It’s also very easy to make – definitely doable on a weeknight or for a lunch.
Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles
(Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 lime, zested & juiced
1 cup oil (for frying)
1/2 of a large eggplant, chopped into bite-sized chunks
4 oz soba noodles
1 mango, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot, just for a minute or two, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Aleppo pepper, garlic, and sesame oil.
Once cool, add the onions, lime zest, and juice from about 1/2 the lime. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a tall-sided pan. Shallow fry the eggplant pieces in batches, removing when golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes. Place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow them to drain off excess oil and water.
Meanwhile cook the soba noodles in a pot of salted water, for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Once cooked, rinse under cold running water.
Once all the ingredients are cooled and dried, combine everything (dressing, eggplant, noodles, mango, and herbs) in a large bowl. Toss well. Serve cool.
Our first month of participating in the Kitchn’s Cookbook Club was a resounding success! We impressed ourselves by making several things out of September’s selection – Salt Fat Acid Heat. [See: Pasta with Clams & Sausage, Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, and Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce] For October, the book selected is Indian (-ish): Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family, by Priya Krishna. I’m super excited about this selection because this is exactly why we joined the cookbook club… this is not a book I probably would’ve picked up on my own. It’s apparently pretty popular though (or tons of people in this city are doing the cookbook club too), because all of the copies are checked out at my local libraries. Henrico County Public Library has NINETEEN holds ahead of me! Luckily, I’m in decent position on the e-book wait list. But until I get a hold of the actual book, we’re going to give some of the recipes from the book that are published on the internet a whirl.
This first choice turned out to be a good one. The marinade is easy to make, though with a one new-to-me ingredient (amchur powder). We loved the flavor and the method of cooking the chicken kept it moist. We made a few adjustments, but didn’t want to experiment too much since we’re not Indian cooking experts by any means!
Who doesn’t love spring? Flowers blooming, weather warming up, and March Madness! Ally loves March Madness every year, but this year was extra special. She, along with all the rest of the Cavalier faithful, had incredibly high hopes for redemption for this year’s team. And they DID IT! Monday night, way past our bedtime, the Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA men’s basketball title game!
Since Ally made/ate this pasta on game night, we definitely have to document it, so she can superstitiously eat it for years to come. I’ve had the idea of making a light sauce with melted Brie floating around in my head for awhile now and am pleased how this turned out. It’s simple enough for a weeknight (or while nervously pacing, waiting for a championship game to start…) and light enough to welcome spring, despite what you might assume from the ingredients. It’s also a great use for leftover ham! By thinning out the Brie, you end up just lightly coating the pasta, so it doesn’t eat like a heavy Mac n cheese or something similar.
Spring Pasta with Brie, Ham, & Peas
1 tsp neutral oil
8oz ham, chopped (leftover or otherwise already cooked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
1/2 cup chicken stock
4oz Brie cheese, rind removed
1/2 cup green peas
2 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper
Heat oil in a large pan over low-medium heat. (If you have some fatty pieces of ham, you may be able to skip this step.) Toss the ham and minced garlic into the pan and cook until ham is warmed and garlic is fragrant.
Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and cook pasta per instructions. Drain and set aside.
Remove ham to the side for the moment. Whisk the Brie and chicken stock together; lower heat if needed. Allow these two ingredients to come together over the low heat for the next approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the peas at this time as well.
Return the ham to the pan, along with the pasta. Toss together to coat the pasta with the Brie sauce. Top with pepper and salt as needed.
After making Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad last week, we had some leftover mint. By “some leftover mint,” I really mean, “Did this package of mint grow exponentially more mint?” I feel like it’s pretty much impossible to use all the mint in a package and even more impossible to use all the mint that most people grow. We didn’t want to waste any of the fresh herbs, so I was exploring Pinterest this weekend for a dish that would put these ingredients to good use. After awhile I found this recipe that not only required minimal shopping, using up the mint and feta, but also a mostly hands-off and healthy dinner for tonight! We were really happy with how this turned out. It’s light, but filling and flavorful! Thanks Pinterest (and Live Eat Learn) 🙂
Gosh, it’s been awhile since we’ve made zoodles. For awhile there we were making, eating, and sharing zoodle recipes every week it seems like. We took a little bit of a hiatus it seems, but don’t worry – the zoodles are back! This time, they’re topped with a deliciously spicy sauce that makes you think you’re on the Mediterranean coast.
Even better news? This meal is simple to make – it only takes a few minutes of active preparation. Even more better news? This vegetarian dish is healthy and pretty darn low calorie. A great meal to sneak in to your weekly meal rotation.
If you’ve been watching the news recently, you know all about Hurricane Irma. I swear, that’s all we’ve been talking about for the past week or so. We live in South Carolina, which flipped in and out of the hurricane strike zone, through a week of changing predictions. Luckily for us, the worst of missed us here. Sadly, the pictures from the Caribbean, Florida, and the southeastern coast of Georgia and the Carolinas show that those areas weren’t so lucky. Hopefully, the worst was mitigated by the week plus of warning and preparation.
In our house, we were mostly worried about losing power and/or water. I filled water bottles and sinks with water, set out candles and flashlights, and most relevantly to this post – begin working on eating perishable things out of our fridge. Glancing around the kitchen while waiting for Irma’s arrival, I saw 2 aging ears of corn, a drawer full of cheese, and 2 pieces of naan. And voila, the charred corn flatbread was born. It’s a great dish, probably even more suited for a sunny summer evening than the clouds and wind of a hurricane! 🌪️ It’s very corn-centric, but think of it as a new alternative to your average side of corn.
Charred Corn Flatbread
2 ears of corn
3 tbsp smoked olive oil, divided (or regular olive oil if you don’t have smoked)
Salt & pepper
2 pieces of pre-made naan or other flatbread (we prefer Trader Joe’s naan)
2 clove garlic, minced
4 oz brie
Several leaves fresh basil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Peel the ears of corn and rub with 1 tbsp the smoked olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on all sides.
Set oven to broil. Place ears of corn under the broiler, rotating every 2-3 minutes, until all sides are charred. [Alternatively, grill in a grill pan or on an actual grill.]
Once charred, set corn aside until cool enough to handle and lower oven heat to 350 degrees.
Stir the minced garlic into the remaining 2 tbsp smoked olive oil. Brush over the two pieces of naan.
Top, evenly divided between two flatbreads, with chunks of brie, followed by corn, sliced off the ears. Sprinkle a pinch of crushed red pepper over each flatbread.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
After removing from the oven, top with torn fresh basil.
We eat massive salads for dinner many nights. We never share them, because usually they’re not all that organized – it’s usually a look in the fridge, pull out some vegetables, and top them with a protein kind of adventure. Since it’s Monday and the beginning of the week, we were a little more coordinated. Also, we accidentally created a gorgeous plate of colors! Nutritionists have been telling us to “eat our colors,” and we have you covered here! This salad, while not exactly low calorie, is healthy and filling. The way this is written makes two large salads, meant to be eaten as a stand-alone meal. Don’t worry – you’ll be so full, you even notice that you only ate salad for dinner.
Southwest Steak Chopped Salad
Mixed greens, ~1 1/2 cups per plate
1/2 cup carrots per plate
1 ear of corn, divided between plates
1 can of black beans, divided between plates
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder (substitute smoked paprika for less heat)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
3/4 lb steak
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt & a few turns of fresh black pepper
Optional additional toppings
Cook corn in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove to cool when complete.
(Heat black beans if you prefer. We just rinsed and ate them cold.)
Stir all steak seasoning together. Liberally coat both sides of the steak.
Prepare steak as you normally would – we like to broil it briefly on both sides, for a medium-rare finish – but we know many people prefer their steak on the grill.
Whisk together all of the salad dressing ingredients.
Assemble salad with a base of chopped greens and topped with chopped carrots, chopped bell peppers, black beans, and corn, sliced off the ear.
Add your dressing over the vegetables and top with your steak, sliced. Finish with any additional toppings you desire!