Tag Archives: easy

Bay Scallops with Broccolini and Fried Garlic

23 May

When I go home, my mom usually cooks and I watch (while consuming a lot of wine). This time, I had the pleasure of cooking for my family. I was happy to return the favor after all these years. I wanted to make something they’d both enjoy, and showcased different cooking techniques and ingredients. Oh and of course, was healthy. 🙂

My mom prefers Asian flavors and already had plans for a cluster of frozen bay scallops. Yes, frozen. As they thawed, I pictured bay scallops steaming in soy sauce and wine. I’d wished they were fresh sea scallops but hey, who am I to judge. Frozen fish is tricky. It can be difficult to fully remove all the water. In order to get a good sear, it needs to be dry. Whether it’s chicken, meat, fish, tofu, or tempeh, if it’s wet, all it’s going to do is steam in the pan. I offered to lend a hand and see if we could do something special with these little frozen morsels.

I was feeling a bit out of my element. I hadn’t selected the ingredients, was in a kitchen with no idea where anything was, and didn’t have the typical tools of the trade (like my lovely knives). I’m a big baby, aren’t I? Well, I love a challenge. I imagined I was in a Quick Fire challenge on Top Chef and had at it.

Thanks to some paper towels, high heat, and oil, the scallops browned beautifully and had a crispy, carmelized exterior. And it took about a half hour to make! This is a perfect weeknight dinner that comes together quickly, but tastes like it took hours to make. If you can, use fresh wild caught fish whenever possible for best results (and optimal quality fish/nutritional benefits). Next time, I’m making fresh sea scallops for them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of wild fish over farm-raised, check out this article. Click here.

Bay Scallops with Broccolini and Fried Garlic

Note: I served this over a bed of mixed rice using (50% brown sticky rice, 25% red rice, 25% wild rice). You can use any rice, quinoa, or even pasta drizzled with olive oil if desired. 

2 T olive oil

1 lb bay scallops (or sea scallops if you prefer, patted dry between paper towels)

2 large bunches broccolini, chopped into bite-size chunks

3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced horizontally

salt & pepper

1. With either frozen or fresh fish, be sure to gently pat the fish between layers of paper towels to ensure surface is dry. Season with salt and pepper right before cooking.

2. Make garlic oil. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sliced garlic and cook until golden brown. Remove from pan and reserve for later use.

3. In the same pan, using the garlic flavored oil, get the pan hot over medium-high. Add scallops being careful not to crowd the pan.

4. Sear on one side until they easily release from pan, then flip to sear the other side. Be careful not to burn anything that sticks to the pan as this will contribute to the sauce at the end. Remove from pan and reserve on plate.

5. Add broccolini to the pan, saute around over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup red wine. Deglaze the pan until all sucs on the bottom are removed. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the broccolini are tender.

6. Plate broccolini over a bed of rice. Top with scallops and garnish with fried garlic.

Bay Scallops with Broccolini

Quick & Easy Black Bean Burrito

16 Mar

I walked by a taco truck yesterday and was tempted to stop, but Mexican food can be loaded with hidden calories and fat. Even seemingly healthy options like beans and fish can be smothered in butter and salt.

Ever since I walked by that damn taco truck, I haven’t been able to shake the burrito hankering. So for lunch, I whipped up a black bean burrito in literally 33 minutes (including time for pictures). Not bad, right? Cooking at home gives you control, so you can make a healthy and delicious mexican meal. This recipe works as a healthy, filling, inexpensive, quick, weeknight dinner too. It’s kind of a cross between a fajita and a burrito… a bajita? or a furrito? It’s easy to adjust with any bean you like (pinto would also be great). Get creative and use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. If you’re not into beans, try tofu or grilled shrimp!

How do you like your bajita/furrito?

Black Bean Burrito with Sautéed Veggies

Serves approx. 4 ppl

Start to finish: Approx 30 minutes

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 small chipotle & 1 tsp adobo sauce, seeds removed, minced

4 brown rice or whole grain tortillas

Optional Toppings:

1-2 ripe avocados

4 romaine heart leaves

dairy-free or regular shredded cheese

tabasco/hot sauce

lime

handful cilantro, chopped

1. Add 1 T canola oil to large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions, season with salt and pepper. Saute until carmelized about 4 minutes.

Carmelizing Onions

2. Add sliced red peppers. Season. Cook until softened about 3 minutes.

Peppers and Onions

3. Add sliced mushrooms, season. Cook until mushrooms have browned, approx. 3 more minutes.

4. Add black beans, minced garlic, chipotle. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add 1-2 tsp purified water and scrape bottom of pan to get all the flavor.

Beans, Mushrooms, Peppers & Onions

5. Turn gas burner on low. Place a tortilla directly on the burner grates until it starts to brown and become pliable. Flip onto other side.

Flipping Tortilla

6. Remove bean/veggie mixture from heat. Stir in chopped cilantro.

7. Fill tortilla with shredded cheese (I used non-dairy) and bean/veggie mixture. Then fill with toppings of your choice. I used a piece of romaine heart, slices of avocado, squeeze of lemon, and hot sauce. You could also add salsa or chopped tomatoes, rice or quinoa, and sour cream if desired.

8. Fold and eat!

Black Bean Burrito

Spaghetti with sauteed grape tomatoes, baby spinach and cannelini beans

7 Jan

Day 5

I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner at an Italian restaurant last night, but sadly she got sick and had to bail. Perhaps the G*ds were looking down on me because I was stressing about WTH I was going to eat! After looking at the menu, I started wishing I had picked Japanese instead.

With Italian on the brain, I decided to cook up some pasta to satisfy the craving. I finally committed to buying some vegan cookbooks for inspiration.

1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson has lots of recipes (1,000 obviously) that have almost anything you could imagine including mac & cheese, fresh eggless pasta, lasagna, curries, carrot cake, cookies, coffee cakes, you name it!

After flipping through, I spotted Robin’s Penne with white beans, red chard, and grape tomatoes and thought MMMMmmmmm I can play around with that idea!  Below is my version. It’s a very basic, easy to make, one-pot dish. You can customize by changing the vegetables, switching out the pasta with linguine, rigatoni or any other pasta, and by mixing in cheese if you’re not vegan. Next time I’m thinking rigatoni, eggplant, tomato and black olives. If I ate cheese I’d use ricotta instead of olives. YUM.

Spicy Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Cannelini Beans and Spinach

1 pack (12 oz) gluten-free spaghetti (or any pasta you have)

2 T olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or use a garlic press

2 cups baby spinach

1 1/2 cups ripe grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 (15.5 ounce) can cannelini beans

1 tsp chilli pepper flakes (or more/less to desired heat)*

Basil or parsley for garnish

Directions:

1. Cover a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes. Season to taste. Cook, stirring until tomatoes begin to soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the beans stirring for about 1 minute until warmed.  Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Taste and season if necessary. Keep on low heat stirring occasionally.

3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

4. Add a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the bean/tomato/spinach sauce. Scrape the sucs off the bottom of the pan to get all the yummy garlic flavor into the sauce. Turn heat to medium for 1 minute just until the sauce thickens and becomes less watery and more “sauce-y”.There will not be much liquid so don’t worry, it’s not a super saucy dish. If you want a little more sauce you could reserve more pasta water and use the same method above, waiting until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

5. Pour the sauce over the pasta, garnish with chopped basil. (I only had parsley on hand so I used that instead, but basil would be ideal). If you’re not vegan, you can also garnish with ribbons or grated parmesan or pecorino and a few extra sprinkles of chilli pepper if desired.

Happy Veating, Ciao!

*”spicy” is very subjective so please be sure to taste along the way to see if you want to add more heat. if you’re sensitive to heat, you can replace chilli peppers with regular black pepper, or start with a very small amount of red chilli pepper (i.e. scant or 1/8 teaspoon) and work up from there. you can always add more but you can never take away what’s already done. I use the same philosophy when adding salt.

Adapted from 1,000 Vegan Recipes

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli and Tahini Dressing

5 Jan

Day 3: I’ve been Vegan for 3 days!

Third day and I’m sitting pretty! Ok, not pretty exactly, but I feel good. Haven’t had any cravings which totally surprises me. Energy is still up. And drumroll please… no alcohol since New Year’s. That part wasn’t planned, but I have been eating well and working out so much I haven’t felt like tainting it by drinking. Ha-ha I said “taint”. I even had a double ass-kicking session today comprised of Power Pilates then Bar Method. This was my 2nd Bar Method class this week and literally 5 minutes in, my thighs and legs were shaking uncontrollably. You know what’s worse than fat thighs? SHAKING fat thighs. However, it’s motivating to feel that jiggle and know I’m working the areas that need it. I’m going back tomorrow so hopefully will be a little stronger each time. I digress. Now that I’ve completely grossed you out, onto the food…

I need to go grocery shopping, but until then I had to whip up whatever was on hand. I’m “queen of the whip-up” thanks to a well-stocked pantry. I always keep canned no-salt beans (chickpeas, black, cannelini & red kidney beans from Whole Foods), quinoa (keen-wah), olives, frozen fruit & vegetables, tempeh, tofu and scallions. I’m asian, I require scallions and ginger at all times.

I was perusing 101Cookbooks and saw a Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad that inspired me so below is an adaptation based on what I had available. I highly recommend the Tahini dressing and made it almost exactly as listed on their site. I will try it on salads, rice, and maybe noodles. Their site is an amazing resource, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. This recipe is a template you can use for an easy lunch or dinner. Simply substitute with any combination of vegetables, red onion or shallot instead of scallions, any beans, or try tempeh or tofu, take your pick. You could also toast pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts. If you’re not vegan, this would rock with feta or goat cheese. Trust me, I was thinking that when I made it. I also recommend dousing with hot sauce simply because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beauty of this type of cooking is it’s not scientific. Don’t stress about how you’re cutting the vegetables, or the exact temperature of the oven. Just keep a close eye on your food and TASTE, TASTE, TASTE! If you taste along the way, the end result will be great. If you wait until the end, it’s often too late to make any adjustments. Many people always ask me, how long do I cook it for? How much do I put in? I often don’t have an answer because I do everything by taste. I put guidelines here, but if you are feeling ballsy, put your 5 senses to work to judge how things are going. What’s the worst that can happen? Take out? Have fun!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Tahini Sauce

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup water

1 can garbanzo beans (rinse before using), or dried equivalent

1/2 cup parsley, chopped (couple sprigs w/leaves picked off)

1/4 cup mint (8-10 mint leaves)

2 scallions, chopped (use white and greens)

1 head broccoli chopped into bite size florets

4 carrots peeled with ends cut off

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

Tahini Dressing:

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped

1/4 cup tahini

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon depending on size and juiciness)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons hot water (just heat a little filtered water up in the microwave)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Set the oven to 375.

Peel the carrots. Cut the thin part horizontally into bite size pieces. I usually split the fatter ends of the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut them in half crosswise to make 1/2  moon shapes. Try to have them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Put the cut carrots onto the sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper then shake them around so they’re evenly covered. Make sure they are not too crowded. Crowding=steaming not browning. Same principle applies in pan cooking like sauteing.

Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon of oil on a separate baking sheet. Spread the broccoli florets on it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and shake on the pan until all florets are coated. Pop both the carrot and broccoli sheet pans in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown and are tender. Be sure to check frequently, rotate the pans and flip the vegetables so they get even color. Taste, taste, taste! If it tastes the way you want to eat it…it’s done!

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, but keep the quinoa covered for another 5-10 minutes to rest and absorb the remaining steam. Try not to pick up the cover during the cooking process because you’ll let that valuable steam escape.

While the vegetables cook, make the dressing. I put all the ingredients in a blender to really emulsify and make the dressing creamy. You can also use a mini food processor or go old-school and whisk it. You could probably use a full size 7c food processor, but I’d recommend doubling the recipe or you may not have enough quantity to blend.

Consider reserving 1/2c of quinoa for breakfast tomorrow (mix it with dried fruit, nuts & soymilk as an oatmeal replacement). Toss the remaining cooked quinoa, beans, carrots, broccoli, parsley, mint, scallions, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to TASTE. Either reserve the dressing for a salad tomorrow, or if you feel it needs it, use the whole thing. Serve garnished with a bit of parsley and lemon zest.

Source: Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Recommended brands: Eden Organic Quinoa Whole Grain available at Whole Foods

Deconstructed Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli & Tahini Dressing

And...constructed!

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