Posts Tagged ‘main dish’

After a disastrous Monday evening that included cooking a vegetable lasagna that gagged me, I wasn’t anxious to run out and spend more money on food, but knew that I would need something filling to get me by for the next couple of days. Chicken wasn’t an option, since Suzana and I ate my remaining chicken breast with some homemade Caesar salad dressing and lettuce. But I did have a jar of dried chickpeas, begging to be turned into something more creative than hummus. And the new mint plant I bought at the market this week was calling out to me as well. And surely there had to be another use for the cheesecloth I spent the better part of Monday afternoon trying to locate (three stores, two bus fares, and a pharmacy later, I had the cheesecloth needed to make ricotta cheese). So from these inspirations, this recipe was born. And the best part: not only did I not gag on it, but I actually really enjoyed it, and would definitely make it again. It was filling, tasty, and cheap. And it was assembled in just a few minutes!

Minted Pea Salad

1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small carton solid yogurt or Greek yogurt
zest of one lemon
1 scallion, chopped
5 mint leaves, chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste

Place yogurt in cheesecloth, put in a sieve over a bowl, and let drain for 15 minutes. Toss in remaining ingredients, season to taste, and enjoy.

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I cut this recipe in half, and it was perfect for me to eat for dinner for a few days. It doesn’t seem like it will be very filling, but it really was. I left out the fennel seeds, used regular onions instead of shallots, and used far less olive oil than the recipe called for, and it was just fine. The firm, nutty garbanzo beans paired with the savory wilted chard, along with pungent roasted garlic, creates a delightful juxtaposition of textures and flavors.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Garlic with Swiss Chard
From Epicurious.com

Servings: 6


Garbanzo Beans:
2 15.5-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (about 3 cups)
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large shallots
3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 shallots, sliced
2 bunches Swiss chard, center stems cut out, leaves coarsely torn
2 cups low-salt chicken broth


Garbanzo beans:Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 5 ingredients in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour oil over; cover dish with foil (*I simply tossed the beans in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and they came out great. No need for more than about 1/4 cup max.*). Roast until garlic is tender, about 45 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, bay leaves, and shallots. Cover; cook until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Uncover; add half of chard. Toss until chard wilts and volume is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add remaining chard. Toss until chard wilts, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Cover and cook until chard is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season chard with salt and pepper. Transfer chard mixture to large sieve set over bowl and drain.
DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Drain garbanzos and reserve oil; discard bay leaves. Combine garbanzos and chard in large skillet. Add 2 tablespoons oil reserved from garbanzos. Toss over medium heat until warmed through, moistening with more oil by tablespoonfuls if needed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Mom’s Lasagna

Here is the recipe for my mom’s mouth-watering lasagna. I may be impartial, but I think it’s the best lasagna in the world!

Mom’s Lasagna

1 lb. (450 g) Italian sausage or hamburger (or a mixture of the two)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 c.)
1 clove garlic, pressed

Cook and stir above ingredients till meat is cooked. Drain.


1 can (16oz./450g) whole tomatoes (I like to pulverize them)
1 can (15oz./425g) tomato sauce
2 T. parsley flakes (dried)
1 t. sugar
1 t. dried basil leaves
1/2 t. salt

Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered until mixture is consistency of thick spaghetti sauce, about 1 hr.

9 uncooked lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Drain.

1 16 oz. (450g) carton of ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. dried parsley
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. dried oregano leaves

Measure out :
2 c. mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz./225g)

Layer a small amt. of sauce on bottom of 9 X13 baking dish (greased). Then layer 1/3 each of noodles, sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella. Repeat 2 times, ending up with a little reserved sauce on top (about 1/2 c.). Top with 1/4 c. parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350F/180C degrees for 45 min. (uncovered).

Let stand 10-15 min. before cutting.
Serves 8-10.

Happy eating!

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One of my recent cooking goals has been to learn to make a great risotto, and my first attempt, thanks to this recipe, was successful. The layers of flavor and texture – sweet caramelized onions, creamy rice, tangy balsamic vinegar, and a subtle splash of white wine – leave your palate highly satisfied. Granted, it took forever, but it was completely worth it, especially since there was very little chopping, cutting, peeling, etc. And I love that this recipe has chicken in it, so it’s a complete meal. A side of roasted veggies would be a delightful compliment to the dish.

A few notes on the preparation and the ingredients I used:
– The original recipe didn’t call for garlic, but I love it, so I added it in at the end of the caramelization of the onions. Adding it before this will result in the garlic burning and drying up.
– I used homemade chicken stock, which resulted in the dish needing to be salted a bit more than I had anticipated, but I fear that using chicken boullion cubes would be too salty. If you have homemade broth or boxed broth, that would be preferable. One of the secrets to risotto is to make sure the broth is hot when you add it to the rice. This keeps the cooking process on track and keeps the rice from sticking together.
– I used just one b/s chicken breast to make it more inexpensive. I put it on a pan, salted, peppered, and sprinkled garlic powder on it, and baked it for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Then I let it cool and chopped it into small pieces.
– The white wine doesn’t have to be good quality. I’m pretty sure the wine I bought was one of the poorest quality wines ever sold (it was only $2 for a large bottle). But because it cooked for so long, the flavor was diffused and the dish tasted wonderful.
– The recipe instructs the onions to be caramelized first, and then set aside while the rice cooks. I did this the first time I made it, but upon further reflection I think a multi-tasking cook would easily be able to caramelize the onions while stirring the rice, which would really cut down on the cooking time a lot.

I saw a cute idea in a magazine for a dinner party where everyone gets to take turns stirring the risotto while munching on appetizers and talking, with music playing in the background. And because it smells so wonderful while cooking, your guests will be anticipating a mouth-watering epicurean delight, and when you serve this meal, perhaps garnished with some fresh herbs, they will not be disappointed!

Roasted Chicken with Carmelized Onion Risotto
From http://www.allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 MinutesCook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 MinutesYields: 4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped cooked
chicken breast
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and saute for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are a dark golden brown. Remove from heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the rice and mix well. Let heat for about 2 minutes, then pour in the wine. Reduce heat to medium low and start pouring in the broth about 1 cup at a time. Add more broth as each cup is absorbed. Continue in this manner until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the reserved onion mixture and allow to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish each serving with fresh thyme.

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