Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Israeli Couscous with Eggplant and Basil
with thanks to Amy
3/4 cup Israeli couscous
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound small to medium, slender eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 shallots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn
In a small saucepan, combine couscous, 1 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add eggplant and shallots and stir to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are caramelized and eggplant is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
In a serving bowl, combine eggplant mixture and couscous. Stir in vinegar and basil and season with salt and pepper.
When Amy blogged about this, she joked about eating the whole thing herself, even though the original recipe from Martha Stewart says it serves 4. Well, I think you can let yourself off the hook, my dear, because by "4" I assume they meant 4 tiny-stomached people. This is a serving for 2, no question, and that's for lunch.
I adored this. Loads. So much so, I made it for lunch two days apart. For me, eggplant and basil go hand in hand, mostly because I am crazy about Thai eggplant stir fry, in which handfuls of holy basil are wilted in. So, of course I fell in love with this simple dish, as it lets the eggplant and basil really shine together. In that vein, I also added a heaping tablespoon of nam pla prik to the bowl as I was eating it. Couldn't help it. If you're a Thai fanatic like I am, I highly recommend it.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Toasted Quinoa Salad
courtesy of Ezra Pound Cake
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup diced (1/2 inch) cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup thin-sliced (1/4 inch) scallions (white and green parts)
For the dressing:
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper, plus more to taste
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
For the garnish:
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced (1/2 inch)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cold water for at least 45 seconds. Shake the strainer to remove as much water as possible.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, stirring, over medium heat until it is light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water to the quinoa, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent, 18 to 20 minutes.
Let stand, uncovered, until cool, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: sprinkle the cumin in a small skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. When the skillet is cool to the touch, add the oil, lime juice, jalapeno, garlic and salt. Transfer to a large bowl, and whisk to blend.
Add the cooled quinoa, corn, tomatoes and scallions to the dressing, and toss to blend.
Spoon the salad onto a large platter, and garnish with the avocado and cilantro.
Holy crap, people. Hoe. Lee. Crap.
This is the best salad I have ever had in my life. I knew when I spotted the recipe that it would be good, but this... this blew me away.
The nutty flavor of the quinoa blends with the sweetness of the corn, the acidity of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the avocado and then, THEN, you get hit with the jalapeno lime toasted cumin dressing. My god, the dressing. The smell of it in the bowl when you whisk it together is intoxicating, and I don't use that word lightly.
A "must make" before summer is over. Must.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds medium to large red potatoes
2 tablespoons + 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Scrub potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a large pot of cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 2 tablespoons Kosher salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, then return potatoes to pot.
In a small bowl, stir together oil, lemon juice, thyme, oregano, garlic, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.
Add the oil mixture to the pot and mash with a masher until well combined. Don't overdo it or the texture will become gummy.
I know I casually called my previous post an "accident," but that wasn't quite right. That was more like a creative/use what I have in the refrigerator sort of dish.
THIS. This was an accident. A happy, happy accident.
My intent was to make these lemon herbed potatoes from Krysta - for the second time, in fact, so you'd think everything would have been fine and dandy. Wrong.
I don't know if it was that I used red potatoes (less sturdy?) or I brought the water to a boil with the potatoes already in the pot (I can't remember what I did the first time), but after the indicated 8 to 10 minutes of cooking, the potatoes were so tender that when I tried to "toss them" with the olive oil and herbs, they simply fell apart.
I stared at the mess in the bowl, wondering how I was going to salvage the potatoes as a side dish for dinner, when a moment of inspiration struck. I had heard of olive oil mashed potatoes, hadn't I? Somewhere? I had no idea if that meant combining the potatoes with just the oil itself, with cream... whatever. I threw caution to the wind and started mashing, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to the bowl for good measure, since the original recipe had lemon squeezed on top...
And oh my goodness. So. Insanely. Good. Awesomely, astoundingly good. "I could eat these every week and I don't even much like mashed potatoes" good.
I never thought to try mashed potatoes this way before - and I bet neither have you - but I promise you will be amazed at the outstanding flavor and texture. They're even better if you have some pan sauce from chicken or pork chops to drizzle on top.
One cooking note: don't put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill. I tried that the second time and they were terrible. Interesting how much a texture change can affect a recipe, no? So just trust me and don't do it. These are potatoes that need a coarse mash.