Showing posts with label Monthly Mingle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monthly Mingle. Show all posts

Friday, February 06, 2009

Delicious Light Dinner with Peppers

The last time I tried a Martha Stewart recipe, it was a disaster. That doesn’t stop me from looking at the recipes in her magazine Martha Stewart Living.

In the February issue I was inspired by a stuffed pepper recipe. I loved the Italian flavor given it by the oregano, feta cheese and garlic. Since I have long ago decided not to follow one of her recipes as written, I just ran with the Italian flavors idea.

I added freshly chopped Italian parsley. There was a half of a tomato in the fridge, so I chopped that up and threw it in the stuffing bowl. About a half cup of diced zucchini added some more green. Since I didn’t have any on hand, I omitted the scallions that she used. Last, I toasted some pine nuts to sprinkle on top once the peppers were baked.

This is a healthy meal and vegetarian. If you take out the feta cheese, it could also be vegan. Still has some protein from the beans and pasta combo. The great thing is that it goes together fairly quickly, if you don’t mind a little time spent chopping. It smells wonderful before it is cooked and even better once cooked.
It is really pretty, too, with the colored peppers, red from the tomatoes, green from the zucchini and parsley, and pale beige from the beans. You can make this with whatever color bell pepper you have on hand. I suspect that replacing the couscous with cooked rice would taste great, too.

The key thing is to have fresh ingredients because you really taste them. I served them with some early asparagus, simply steamed. It made a nice, warm, easy meal for after work today.

Speaking of work, now that we are getting longer days, it is still a bit light when I leave. Today we had some very welcome rain overnight and it kept raining until early afternoon. As I was driving home I saw that there was ground fog from the moist earth and behind it a sunset.

In this photo that combination really sets off the dark gnarly bare old apple tree limbs.

This is a good dinner for an entry in Meeta's great Monthly Mingles event, this month highlighting Healthy Family Meals.

Italian Medley Stuffed Peppers
Inspired by a recipe in Marth Stewart's Living magazine Feb '09

4 large bell peppers, any color
1 can (15 oz.) cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1/2 large tomato diced
1/2 cup diced fresh zucchini
1/3 cup couscous
1 cup (4 oz.)feta, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup water
Slice off the tops of the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs. If needed, slice off some of the bottom of the peppers so they sit flat. Chop the pepper part of the tops, discarding the stems. Put that into a bowl.

To the bowl add the beans, garlic, oregano, parsley, tomato, zucchini, couscous, feta and salt and pepper. Stir to blend thoroughly. Stuff this mixture into the pepper shells.

Place stuffed peppers in a baking dish. Add 1 cup water. Cover tightly, using foil if the baking dish doesn't have a tight cover.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Serve garnished with 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts if desired.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Meeta!

One of the darlingest of the Daring Bakers, Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey is having a birthday in a couple of days. Since I'll be out of town and away from the computer, Happy Birthday Meeta!

Meeta hosts the Monthly Mingle and this month it's all about the birthday. Since I'm confident that there will be lots of birthday cake, I decided to make you an appetizer for early in the Mingle. Making good use of some more puff pastry left over after the Gateau, I decided to make flaky and savory salmon, mushroom and rice turnovers. I suppose this could also qualify for a leftovers event, but these are pretty swank leftovers. I used some other left over items, like rice and salmon that had been cooked the day before. This is a made-up recipe, but turned out well.

The pastry puffs and gets golden and flaky. The filling is a mellow combination of cooked salmon, sauteed mushrooms and green onions, cooked rice, thyme, and non-fat sour cream. A little egg white wash sticks the top and bottom pastry together and glazes the top for shine. Hot from the oven these make a great starter course, or, combined with salad or soup, a couple make a full meal. If you are going to have lots of cake and ice cream, you don't really need anything else...well, maybe some champagne!

Meeta's Birthday Turnovers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 green onions, sliced, including some of the green tops
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup - 1 cup cooked salmon, in small chunks, no skin
(I used left over grilled salmon, which worked well)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup non-fat sour cream
salt and pepper
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 egg white

In small skillet, sautee the mushrooms and onions over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add the thyme and stir in thoroughly.

Put the rice, salmon, sour cream, and mushroom mixture in a microwave safe bowl. Stir well to mix all the ingredients together. Heat on half power for one minute in the microwave. Taste. Adjust seasoning (add salt and/or pepper if needed) to your taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take one sheet of puff pastry and lay it out on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth. Cut it into nine square pieces. Place some of the filling, about the size of a walnut in it's shell, in the middle of one of the squares of puff pastry. Brush egg white around the sides of the square and place another square on top. Press down all the way around to seal. Then using the tines of a fork, press the edge of the packets all the way around. Place the turnover on a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper placed on a baking sheet. Repeat for the next three packets. Set aside the last square.

Take the next sheet of puff pastry and repeat as you did for the first sheet. The extra square will match up with the extra square from the first sheet to make another turnover. In all you will have 9 turnovers. If there is any filling left, save for another use (perhaps as an omlette filling?)

Place the baking sheet(s) into the preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes. They are done when the turnovers puff and are golden brown.

These can be made with half the filling and each square folded over the filling to make a triangle for hors d'oeuvres. Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spring is a Good Time to Mingle

My hands smell of lemon and I love it. I just finished zesting some lemon zest, thin yellow slivers floating down onto creamy yogurt. That can happen easily during the rest of the year, but what makes this memorable is that under the lemon zest and the tangy plain yogurt (well, I did mix a little honey into it) is a big fat bowl of fresh, regional strawberries, just bursting with spring flavor. The yogurt itself is a great ingredient to complement the berries, but the lemon zest takes it to another level. Mmmm.

These strawberries come from Watsonville, a couple of hours drive south of here. They are red all the way through, not white shouldered. They are juicy and fragrant and sweet without sugar. I bought a big container of them today. Bet they are all gone within a couple of days. Maybe even a few hours the way I've been snacking on them by themselves.

Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey is hosting a Monthly Mingle with the theme of Spring is in the Air. Think I'm going to bring this strawberry dish to the Mingle. Since the true strawberry season is fleeting, and this dish lets the strawberries shine through, I think it might be the ultimate spring dish.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Arabian Nights...and Days

There is something very wonderful about the food from the Mediterranean area, especially from the eastern part. The flavors usually are deep and complex with spices and the combinations of those spices are different from those I usually use. Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey has invited us to the Monthly Mingle with the theme this month of Arabian Nights. I considered a number of different recipes, but in the end went with simplicity.

Sometimes the best part of the food from the eastern Mediterranean is the freshness. Recently I ate at a Persian restaurant, Hatams in Marin, CA, with my blogging buddy Anna. After we indulged in those wonderfully robust and complicated foods, I purchased some items to take home from the small grocery/deli that is in front of the restaurant. One of those items was fresh feta cheese. I took it home and later had it the same way it had been served at Hatams; the feta was joined by pita bread triangles and fresh mint from my garden. It is a wonderful combination with the salty feta, the wheaten pita and the zing of mint joining forces in your mouth. It makes a great appetizer for an Arabian night...or day.