Saturday, April 24, 2010

Israeli Couscous with Ramps, Asparagus and Mushrooms

J is planning a spring wine dinner in a couple of weekends and we had been discussing an israeli couscous salad to serve with the main course.  As a result, I had israeli couscous on the brain and luckily it is sold in the bulk section of the co-op (aside: can you tell I love my co-op?  Love it.)  Sticking to a nice seasonal theme, a strong desire to buy some ramps and some leftover mushrooms from the mushroom pate I made for bookclub we came up with this side dish.

The dish was delicious.  I could eat it every day.  Unfortunately, I can only get ramps and decent asparagus for a short part of the year, so I'll eat my fill now and look forward to next spring.


1 cup israeli couscous
1 bunch asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 1 - 1 1/2 inch slices
4-5 large white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 bunch ramps (about 4-5) bulbs separated from the stems
olive oil
lemon juice
champagne vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan combine israeli couscous and 1 1/2cups water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liqiud is absorbed, slightly more than 10 minutes.

Slice the ramp bulbs and stems like you would a green onion.  Coarsely chop the greens and set aside.

In a sautee pan heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil.  Add the sliced ramp bulbs and stems and sautee for a couple of minutes, add a little salt and pepper.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms and continue to sautee, again adding a little salt and pepper.  Once softened, add the ramps greens and cook until they start to wilt.  Squeeze about a half of a lemon into the pan and add a splash of champange vinegar and continue cooking until the sharpness and acidity of the lemon and vinegar has mainly cooked off.

Mix the sauteed vegetables with the couscous and serve.

Asparagus Soup with Garbanzo Beans

I found this recipe through some internet searching on About.Com: Local Foods.  Kind of a strange place for me to be pulling recipes from but it was really good.  The chickpeas give it a creaminess without any actual cream or dairy.  And I happened to have hydrated some dried garbanzo beans earlier in the week and had leftovers that needed to be used.  I tweaked a couple of the ingredients slightly and added tabasco to my leftover portions for a little extra kick.

1 bunch asparagus
2 cloves garlic, minced and separated
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or a low sodium, organic prepared vegetable or chicken stock)
7 oz (about half a can) of garbanzo beans
1/2 cup parsley
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
fresh ground black pepper

Rinse the asparagus, snap off any tough ends and separate the tips and stalks

In a stock pot bring the chicken stock to a boil. 

Add the asparagus stalks, 1 clove minced garlic, the chickpeas, salt and simmer until asparagus is very tender, about 5-8 minutes and let cool for a couple of minutes

Meanwhile, mince the parsley and combine with the remaining garlic clove, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper and salt.  Set aside.

When the asparagus it tender, using an immersion blender, process the soup until smooth (if you don't have an immersion blender, process in a regular blender in batches and return to pot).  Return soup to a simmer, add the tips and cook about 3 minutes until the tips are tender.

Ladle into individual bowls and serve topped with the parlsey gremolata

Spring Menu: Asparagus Soup, Israeli Couscous and Grilled Chicken

A leisurely Saturday with no plans often results in a delicious home cooked meal for J and I.  Tonight I was craving a nice seasonal spring menu.  And since it was to be our activity for the evening, I wanted to make a few different dishes.  I had some leftover hydrated garbanzo beans that needed to be used, and some California asparagus (I couldn't resist).  After some discussion and a little research we came up with:

Asparagus Soup with Garbanzo Beans

Israeli Couscous with Ramps, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken with a Shallot and Mustard Sauce

It was delicious, the israeli couscous a particular hit, with leftovers for the next day or two.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tuna Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Vegetables

Variations on this dish are one of my favorite springtime dishes.  All winter the food I eat needs to be warm, but with the warmer weather my body and mind can finally handle some cool salads.  For this recipe I always use my only brand of tuna, Genova.  It's pricey but well worth it.

Dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed and cooked until tender, about 1 1/2 hours (I soaked more than I needed for this dish, and then used leftovers for hummus)
1 3oz can Genova tuna (or other tuna packed in oil)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1-2 stalks celery diced
1-2 radishes diced
1-2 tsp capers
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste (not much salt since the tuna I use is a little salty)
fresh parsley

Mix in a large bowl and enjoy!

Linguine with Spring Vegetables and Cream

Sunday J came up with a creative new dish with some ingredients we had around the house.  Although the title involves cream, it is a very, very light cream sauce, barely a coating.  We had it for a main course but it could also be served as a side dish to a larger meal.  The dish was really delicious and lovely for a leisurely lunch served with a glass of Roussette de Savoie called Altesse from Domaine Giachino.


1/2 lb linguine
1 Tbsp butter

dash olive oil (so butter doesn't burn, less than a Tbsp)
6 stalks asparagus chopped
1/4 red bell pepper diced
3 leftover grilled baby portabella mushrooms, diced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp rosemary garlic rub (rosemary, garlic powder, salt)
scant 1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup white wine
handful of shredded parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling water cook the linguine until al dente

In a sautee pan, heat oil and butter.  Sautee over high heat the asparagus, mushrooms and peppers and season with black pepper, red pepper flakes and rosemary garlic rub.

Add the wine and cook until alcohol is gone (you can smell this) but some liquid remains.

Reduce the heat and add the half and half and parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously and remove immediately from the heat.

Add the pasta to the sautee pan and toss together.

Steamed Vegetables, Brown Rice and Miso Dressing

A dish I've now made twice in the course of the last couple of weeks.  One cup brown rice, 1 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes.  In the meantime chop up vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, red bell peppers, some adorable little baby bok choy they had at the co-op last week) and steam them, adding the toughest vegetables first, the carrots, then the bell peppers and bok choy stems, then finally the bok choy leaves.  I also had half of a red onion which I sauteed and added to the mix.

So really, a simple rice and veggies dish.  But, the best part is a new miso dressing I made.  Delicious and perfect for a nice simple meal like this one.


1 Tbsp miso paste
3 Tbsp lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp red chili paste

whisk together and serve over you rice and veggies.  Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Much Ham Can One Woman Take?

Through a strange (and perhaps cruel) twist of fate, I found myself this week in possession of an 8 lb ham.  This, after eating ham on Easter and bringing home leftovers that we just finished.

However, I cannot bear to waste food and so last night I baked the ham, maple glaze and all.  I have a wedding to attend this weekend and am concerned about how bloated I will be after the consumption of this much pork and sodium.  I plan to bring a good portion of the ham to work to share!

Earlier in the day I had come across a recipe for Tabasco Quinoa on 101 cookbooks.  I figured a healthy dose of quinoa and veggies might help counteract the pork overdose.  The idea of adding butter to my nice healthy dish turned me off, so I adjusted the recipe a bit, using very little tabasco butter but ramping up the straight tabasco and adding roasted red peppers in with the asparagus.  The smokey flavor of the roasted peppers is a really nice compliment to the pork and helps add a new dimension to the quinoa itself!


4 Tbsp butter room temperature
Tabasco (start with 15 drops and move up from there)
1 tsp lemon juice
2-3 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup quinoa
1/2 lb asparagus cut into 1-2 in slices
2 red peppers
salt and pepper

For the Tabasco Butter:

Cut the butter into slices and blend in a food processor.  Add tabasco, the lemon juice and mustard and continue to blend.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Set aside.

Rinse the quinoa.  Combine the cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook until all the water has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes.

Set up a bowl with water and ice.  Steam the asparagus for just a minute or two, until the asparagus turns a beautiful, bright green.  Shock in the cold water bath to stop it from cooking.  Drain.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Turn the broiler on High and roast the two bell peppers, turning until the peppers are charred on every side.  Put the peppers into a covered bowl to steam which helps loosen the skin from the peppers.  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and remove the seeds.  Chop the peppers into thin slices approximately the same length as the asparagus.

Add a tablespoon of the tabasco butter, the asparagus, red peppers, salt and pepper to the quinoa and mix well.

Spring Bounty

The Co-op gets deliveries on Tuesdays and Fridays and I've quickly learned that those are the best days to shop, especially when looking for produce.

After months of pathetic looking veggies, my shopping experience yesterday was heartening!

There was rutabaga, skinny asparagus, that while not local, was at least grown in the USA, enormous shallots and greens that were not limp.

And so while today it might not exactly feel like spring (a high of 50 after being in the 70s???) it's only going to keep getting better.  After a long winter of roasted, sauteed or baked vegetables, I was able to buy some lettuce mix.  I'm craving a nice, raw salad.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring has Sprouted!

It's spring and lots of things are sprouting around my house.  First of all, I am starting mixed lettuces, arugula, basil, oregano and thyme all from seeds!

The arugula and lettuces are going crazy, the herbs are taking a little longer to start.

I have also sprouted lentils!  I have been wanting to try sprouting different legumes.  The lentils sounded easy and seemed like they would make a tasty snack.   To sprout, take your lentils, pick out any dead beans, and rinse well.  Put the lentils in a Ball jar and add water to cover the beans by about an inch.  Take a piece of cheese cloth, or honestly I just used a paper towel and screw the lid ring over it.  Place the lentils in a cabinet overnight.

The next day, pour off the liquid, rinse the beans a few times and then put back in the jar for another overnight in the cabinet.  After about a day or two you'll start to see sprouts starting.  Continue to rinse every day until eventually your sprouts are an inch or so long.  Then they're ready to eat!

I tossed some with a little salt and pepper as a snack.  They were even better added to a salad and are full of vitamins and minerals.

Easter Sunday 2010

We had a very nice, uncharacteristically mellow Easter Sunday!  J and I offered to help and created a delicious easter menu.




Recipes to follow soon!