Prosciutto Wrapped Roast Vegetables

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I enjoyed this meal a few weeks ago when I was looking for a dinner that felt fancy but wasn’t too difficult to make. Jake helped me wrap the veggies with the prosciutto, so it went pretty quickly and we were able to have an elegant dinner in about 45 minutes. I really enjoyed the balance of salty meat with the sweet roasted root vegetables over an earthy, tart bed of lentils. It was a tasty (and cheap!) French-inspired dinner.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 1/2 cup raw Puy (French) lentils
  • chicken stock
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • white wine
  • tarragon
  • white pepper, black pepper, salt

For the vegetables

  • 2 Parsnips
  • 4 Carrots
  • 1 cup sticks of peeled butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • parsley to top

Cook’s note: You may also use rutabaga, turnips, sunchokes, fennel, or other flavorful roots as substitutes for the parsnips, carrots, and butternut squash.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the lentils in a strainer and pick out any bad ones. Then, put into a pot and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then let the lentils simmer, about 40 minutes, until cooked. Keep an eye on them and stir occasionally. If they start to seem very dry, add a little more stock.

Meanwhile, peel the parsnips, carrots, and butternut squash and cut them into sticks about one half-inch thick. Crush one clove of garlic and mince the rosemary. Dress the vegetables with some olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast the vegetables for 20 minutes.

Start to prepare for the lentils. Dice the onion, celery, carrot, and two more cloves of garlic. Add to a large saute pan with a little bit of olive oil and cook over medium heat until the onions start to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Then pour over the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. When the lentils are done, drain them and add them to the pan. Mix all of the vegetables together and season to taste with tarragon, white pepper, black pepper, and salt. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm while you wait for the roasted vegetables.

Slice the prosciutto into strips about 1/2-inch thick. After the vegetable sticks have roasted for 20 minutes, take them out of the oven. Working until the prosciutto strips are gone, roll a strip of the meat around the width a vegetable stick and place back on the baking pan, seam side down. When you have used all the prosciutto, turn over remaining vegetables and place the pan back in the oven for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until the prosciutto is crispy and the vegetables are soft.

Serve the wrapped roasted vegetables over a bed of the lentils, topped with parsley. Accompany the meal with more wine and a good bread!

Dinner for Two

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I just had a wonderful opportunity to write (and eat!) a few recipes for dinner for two on Valentine’s Day for the Bay Weekly Newspaper! If you are looking for a romantic dinner for two, or two servings for one, check out my recipes for Lobster Bisque, Lamb over Pomegranate Couscous, Braised Artichokes, and Chocolate Mousse here!  You won’t be disappointed.

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Chickpea and Root Vegetable Tagine

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Tagine is a flexible North African stew that has many versions containing meat and vegetables. This recipe makes use of beans and winter roots, but feel free to add in or substitute cauliflower or other types of roots for carrots and potatoes. The spicing here is also flexible – if you don’t have an ingredient, just leave it out, and the stew won’t suffer. If you keep precooked beans around (I do in the freezer), or have cans, this stew can be incredibly easy. Chop some veggies, throw everything in a pot or slow cooker, and wait for a few hours while you do other things. I often chop up vegetables for a slow cooker stew the night before and leave the base in the fridge, then turn on the crockpot in the morning for a hot dinner when I get home from work. For a cold day, this was a wonderful warm stew of so many flavors!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 cup raw)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1″ piece fresh ginger
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes and pulp
  • 1/4 cup olives
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, diced very small
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, smoked paprika to taste
  • cilantro and parsley to top

Instructions 

  • Cook the chickpeas. Soak them in a bowl of water overnight or cook straightaway, covered with water with a teaspoon of baking soda. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the chickpeas until tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into large bite sized pieces. Add them to a casserole dish with a cover or a large dutch oven. Add the tomatoes (fresh or from a good brand of canned), olives, raisins, and lemon. Give everything a good sprinkle of salt and pepper, and add some spices – start with 1/4 teaspoon each of paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander seed. Wait to add more spice until you have added the stock in the next steps.
  • Peel the onion, ginger, and garlic and rinse the celery. Finely dice the onion, celery, garlic, and ginger, and combine in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Saute this base over medium heat until it is just starting to become translucent, then add to the casserole with the other vegetables.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F, or get out a slow cooker.
  • Drain the cooked chickpeas when they are done and add them to the casserole. Give all the vegetables a good stir until they are evenly distributed. Pour the stock over top to just cover the vegetables, and stir again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, but keep in mind not to add too much, as the spices will infuse more and become stronger when cooked into the broth.
  • Cover the casserole and bake for 2 hours, or turn on the slow cooker for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Right before the stew is done, chop some parsley and cilantro for a fresh topping. Serve the warm stew into bowls covered with herbs. You can also prepare some rice for the bowls or serve with a good bread!

Strawberry, Ginger, and Kefir Smoothie

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I don’t drink smoothies that often, but yesterday I was in the mood for something creamy and sweet! This smoothie was everything I wanted – creamy, fruity, sweet and a little tangy. It was great for my post – workout snack, and for breakfast this morning! This recipe makes 3 small servings, or 2 large servings.

Makes 3 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups milk kefir
  • 3 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 2 large carrots
  • leaves of 4 mint sprigs
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

Peel the ginger and the carrots and chop each into large chunks. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. In the beginning you may need to use the crush ice function to crunch the strawberries. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Fennel and Butternut Soup

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This soup has a tasty combination of roots for a satisfying winter soup. The strawberries might seem unusual, but they are an interesting complement to the sweetness of the squash. If you aren’t sure about them, try serving slices on the side and dipping them in!

Serves 4 – 5.

Ingredients

  • 1small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 turnips
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 6 cups (or to cover) vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Garnish

  • mint leaves
  • fennel leaves
  • strawberry slices (optional)

Instructions

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat. Chop the onion and saute in the butter until translucent.

Meanwhile, chop the fennel bulb, parsnips, and peel, deseed, and chop the butternut squash. Add these to the saute, stirring occasionally while you peel the garlic and ginger.

Peel the garlic and ginger and mince together. Add these to the pot and stir until the garlic and ginger are fragrant, about one minute or less. Then, just cover the vegetables with the stock. You may need up to six cups. Add 1 tsp salt, you may need more later. Add the coriander, allspice, and marjoram and stir in.

Simmer the vegetables with the lid on until they are soft, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and puree the soup either with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Return to the pot and add the cream. Bring the soup back to a simmer, and serve! Garnish with herbs and sliced strawberries, if desired.

Dill Pickle Soup

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I make a lot of dill pickles, but they don’t always turn out perfectly – sometimes they aren’t as crisp as I’d like when grown out of season, and so I have to find ways to repurpose them! While I do love a good bloody mary, pickle soup is another fantastic solution for ways to use any pickles! Make this soup on a cold winter night, it contains lots of flavor and hearty vegetables to warm you up.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 small russet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Quart sized jar brined dill pickles and their juice
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Spices including dill, Old Bay, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and salt to taste
  • grated cheese, celery leaves, and green onions for garnish

Instructions

Roughly chop the onion.  In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the onions and butter. Cook over medium heat until the onions are starting to become translucent, about five minutes. Peel, rinse, and chop the potatoes. Peel and mince the garlic, then add the potatoes and garlic to the pot. Stir for about two minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and potatoes are just starting to soften.

Pour in the stock, as well as approximately 2 cups of pickle juice. If you are using a full quart of brine pickles, pour in all of the juice in the jar. Bring to a low boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat, and using an immersion blender or working in batches in a blender, puree the soup until smooth. Turn the heat back on to low and bring the soup to a simmer. Now, whisk in the sour cream.

While the potatoes cook, dice the carrots, celery, and pickle spears to whatever size you’d like to eat. Add these to the soup after it has been pureed.

Taste the broth and add spices to your liking – if you are using brine pickles it’s unlikely you’ll need any more salt! I added 1/2 tsp Old Bay, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, and a few shakes of black pepper.

Garnish with celery leaves, green onion slices, and cheddar cheese (optional) and serve with a big wedge of good bread!

Loving Your Leftovers: Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

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Hello all – I haven’t been posting as much this month because I’ve been working on recipes that got published today in the Bay Weekly Newspaper! I’m so happy to have the opportunity to contribute to my great local paper, and to share recipes for the Thanksgiving aftermath. Check out my recipes for turkey pot pie, turkey tortilla soup, turkey bahn mi and grilled cheese, and sweet potato cookies! Melissa Clark, eat your heart out.

http://www.bayweekly.com/articles/food-and-drink/article/loving-your-leftovers

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Black Bean Burger with Kimchi and Cheddar

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I love a good black bean burger, and I have been tinkering with my recipe for the burger itself for a long time. Recently, I had dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill in Burlington, Vermont, and  I was inspired by how this burger described on their menu. Since I make my own kimchi and pickled jalepeno at home, I was decided to follow their example and try this topping combination! You can also buy both kimchi and pickled jalepeno easily at the grocery store. The result was everything that I hoped it could be – packed full of flavor and deliciousness. This is an interesting mixture of beans, pickled vegetables, sweet, and sour tastes that blend together well.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the black bean burger:

  • 2 cups/16 oz cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup/4 oz mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, about 4 oz/ 1/2 cup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil for cooking

For assembly:

Instructions

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the beans using a potato masher until they are broken down into a paste.

Dice the mushrooms and onions very finely into about 1/4″ dice. Add these to a large skillet with about 1 tbsp. olive oil and cook over high heat until they have lost a lot of their water. The mushrooms should look wilted and starting to crisp up and the onions should be translucent. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the beans. If there is any liquid from the mushrooms in the skillet, don’t add the liquid to the mixing bowl.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to break up the yolks. Then add the eggs and all of the other burger ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir together to evenly distribute. For a vegan burger, omit the eggs. Instead of making four patties, form five smaller ones.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the large skillet over medium high heat. Rotate the pan to spread the oil around.

Divide the mixture up in to four patties. Form patties by holding part of the mix in your hand and shaping the mix into a ball. Flatten it slightly in your palms and then place it in the skillet. Fry until the bottom is crispy and the patty is starting to firm up – slide a spatula under to check. Then, flip the burger over and cook until crispy on the other side. As soon as you flip the burger, place a slice of cheese on top (optional) so that it will melt while the burger cooks.

Remove the burgers from heat and assemble the sandwiches! Start with your burger, topped with cheese and one quarter of the kimchi, jalepeno, and cilantro. Finish with barbecue sauce and enjoy!

Campfire Pork and Sauerkraut Stew

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I always love an opportunity to go outside and have a simple campfire meal on a brisk fall day! I made this while I was camping recently – I packed the ingredients in a cooler and then all that was left to do was build a fire, put everything in the pot, and wait for goodness! This is a hearty dish for a day after hiking or just a cool fall evening. I enjoyed making this over a campfire in a dutch oven, but you could easily make this on the stove over high heat. The flavors of this might seem strange together, but trust me, they blend together incredibly well to make a delicious one pot meal.

Serves 3 – 4 or two hungry hikers.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork loin
  • oil for cooking
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can of sauerkraut (or, I used about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 12 oz. of lager style beer, nothing good
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Italian spice blend
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Place a large dutch oven on a grill over hot banked coals. Wash and dice your potatoes, carrots, and onions into bite size pieces. Add these to the dutch oven along with about 1 tbsp of oil. Stir occasionally, and let the vegetables cook until the potatoes are starting to get tender, about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the meat into bite size pieces. When the veggies are starting to get soft, add the meat to the pot. Sprinkle it with about 1/2 tsp. of salt, and stir frequently until the meat is cooked all the way through. It will turn from pink to a whitish – brown. Use a knife or spatula to test the doneness of the insides.

Now, add the Italian spice, brown sugar, beer, and sauerkraut with all of its liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and stir to incorporate the meat, vegetables, and sugar together. Cover the pot and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy a beer while you wait, then uncover the pot and enjoy the stew by itself or with a good thick bread. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Thanksgiving Bacon and Apple Stuffing

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Hello all! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, especially because it often overlaps with my birthday! Anyway, I am always excited to start thinking about Thanksgiving foods, like bread stuffing. This stuffing recipe is intended as a side dish all its own, as it uses added liquid and it’s baked separately. However, you could use this to stuff your turkey, omitting the liquid and baking time and simply adding the dry ingredients to your bird instead. Either way, this stuffing is packed full of fall flavors. Use this recipe as a guide – adapt the stuffing for flavors you have or want to include.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of bread
  • 3 – 4 pieces of bacon (optional)
  • 1 small onion (about 1/3 cup, diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 oz mushrooms (about 6 button mushrooms)
  • 1/2 tsp each fennel seed and coriander seed
  • 3 dried red chilis (optional)
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs, a mixture of rosemary, sage, and / or parsley
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the bacon pieces to a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until it is starting to get very crispy. If you are omitting the bacon, use 1 tbsp. olive oil for the following cooking steps that use bacon fat.

Meanwhile, dice the onion and celery. Dice the mushrooms separately. Cut all of these into the size pieces you prefer – I like a large dice, where the vegetables are about 1/2″ square. Remove the bacon when it is crispy, and crumble it into a large mixing bowl. Add the onions and celery to the pan where you were cooking the bacon, and cook in the bacon fat until the onions are starting to get translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the onions and celery and add them to the mixing bowl.

Add the mushrooms to the pan with the leftover bacon fat, and cook them until they are just beginning to shed their water and wilt – about another five minutes. Then, remove from heat and add the mushrooms to the bowl.

While you wait, cube the bread into about 1/2″ inch cubes (or smaller if you like) and add these to the mixing bowl. Cube the apple and add along with the cranberries, apple cider vinegar, stock, pepper, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir to mix.

In a dry skillet, toast the fennel seed, coriander seed, and dry chilis for about 30 seconds over high heat, or until they are fragrant. Remove from heat and grind these in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Turn out into the mixing bowl.

Mix everything together and spread into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, then remove and check that the bread has absorbed a lot of the liquid and is crispy enough to your liking. I like my stuffing a little moist, so I stopped here – if you’d like it drier, bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve, or keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.