Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prosciutto-Wrapped Walnuts with Goat Cheese and Pear

Fancy enough for a dinner party, but easy enough to make just because. Or so the husband says. I just eat them when they're put in front of me.*

6 candied walnuts or pecans
1 oz soft goat cheese, divided into 6 slices
Bosc pear—cut 6 rectangular slices about 1/2" by 1"or a bit longer
3 slices Prosciutto di Parma, halved lengthwise
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, simmered over low heat until reduced by half

Layer, in order from bottom to top: Walnut, goat cheese, pear. Wrap in prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve with toothpicks.

Serves 3-6.

*The term "in front" here is meant broadly, as in, within a three block radius of my current location.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chickpeas and Chorizo with Kale

Big on flavor, low on hassle. All you need is one pan. And a bowl, if you're feeling fancy. And maybe a glass of Rioja.

Olive oil
1 spicy chorizo sausage (fresh, not cured)
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1-2 cups chopped dino kale (remove thick part of stems first; or sub chopped spinach)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
About 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
Toasted whole grain bread (optional)

Heat a wide nonstick pan over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Cut the chorizo from its casing and place the meat in the pan, cutting into 4 to 5 pieces with the spatula. Let brown on one side.

Turn the chorizo, push to the side of the pan, and add the garlic to the other. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds, till it starts to soften, then add half the chickpeas and half the kale. Stir to combine. Wait a minute for the kale to wilt, then add the rest of the chickpeas and kale.

Continue stirring occasionally until all the kale has completely wilted, then use the spatula to break apart the chorizo into smaller pieces. Sprinkle in cumin, paprika, and salt to taste, and stir well.

Cover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and continue cooking for about 7 minutes until the kale is tender, adding a tablespoon of water if the pan starts to get dry. Remove from heat and let sit another couple minutes.

Serve hot, drizzled with a little olive oil, and garnished with a toast or two if desired.

Serves 2.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mostly Plants in a Hurry: One-Pot Pasta with Arugula and Lemon

Lately, work has been similar in sensation to a whirpool caught inside a vortex trapped beneath a swamp. Cooking, let alone cleaning up afterward, starts to seem like an insurmountably effortful undertaking when viewed from the tail end of a 14-hour day.

Enter the one-pot, quick-and-easy dinner menu. It may not result the sort of a swooning state of culinary bliss or eye-catching aesthetic that you would seek when planning a dinner party. But it's tempting enough to remind you that you're hungry, envegetabled* enough to keep you healthy, and most importantly, barely more work than nuking a pre-made, over-processed microwave meal.

Here's one, for next time you're feeling underwater.


1 - 1 1/2 cups whole wheat corkscrew pasta
1/3 can chickpeas (optional, but a good way to sneak in a bit more protein)
2-3 handfuls baby arugula
Good quality olive oil
A little Stilton, crumbled (or sub your favorite blue cheese or grated Parmesan)
Meyer lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the pasta in salted water per package directions, until al dente. If you have a smaller pot with a lid that drains, it will boil faster and make draining the pasta that much easier.

Add the chickpeas, then drain with the pasta. Return to pot. Drizzle with olive oil, toss with the arugula, and wait a minute for the arugula to wilt. Stir in the cheese (enough to impart a hint of flavor to each bite). Squeeze lemon liberally, and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Re-energizes 1.

*is too a word.