Friday, May 25, 2012

Edamame salad


Edamame salad
Edamame is very popular these days. Soy is the only plant based food that is a complete protein and therefore its considered one of the healthiest foods available. Edamame is fresh soy beans loaded with fiber, minerals and vitamins. They can be eaten on their own,  or can be tossed in a salad for a wonderful lunch dish or as a side dish for supper. 

Sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving

Ingredients: Serves 4-6
3 cups frozen Edamame Beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 large red bell pepper diced
1/2 cup diced water chestnuts
2 green onions thinly sliced
handful fresh coriander chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling on top
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey (use Maple syrup or Agave nectar as a vegan substitute)
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 inch ginger root minced
  1. Boil edamame beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes just until bright green. Drain rinse in cold water and place in a serving bowl.
  2. In a non-stick pan add 1/2 tsp oil and sauté corn  until just brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add Corn and everything else to edamame.
  4. Mix all ingredients for dressing and pour over salad. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  5. Its a great make ahead dish (a day), just freshen it up with fresh coriander just before serving.   

Recipe adapted from 'The Complete Light Kitchen' by Rose Reisman 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Long squash and split peas curry

Split peas (Source)
Split peas, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only can dried peas help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.They are also a good source of manganese, copper, protein, folate, phosphorus and potassium. (source)
This dish is a combination of split peas and long squash. This cylindrical-shape vegetable has a smooth light green skin and encases a creamy white flesh with petite seeds. When young the seeds are tender and edible. Long squash has a mild flavor with a firm texture. Long squash is low in calories and provides small amounts of vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins. It is also rich in fiber and is believed to help aid in healthy digestion.

Long squash and split peas curry (घिया और चना दाल)
Long Squash
1 small sized long squash
1/2 cup Bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch fresh ginger, julienne
1-2 green chilies chopped (optional)
3 large tomatoes, pureed
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander
Tempering (optional)
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
Pinch hing (asefoetida)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  1. Wash, peel and chop long squash. Should make about 4 cups. Keep aside.
  2. Drain chana dal and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the cumin seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Saute till they turn golden brown. 
  4. Add pureed tomatoes and all the dry spices and green chilies. Cook till the concoction leaves some oil in the pan, about 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Now add the chopped long squash and chana dal. Add 2 cups of water.
  6. Close the lid and pressure cook till the first whistle. Simmer and cook for 20 more minutes. 
  7. Remove from heat and wait for the pressure to release. Open the lid, mix well.
  8. If tempering - then heat ghee in a smell pan and add all other ingredients. Wait a few seconds to allow the cumin seeds to roast to a golden color. Pour over the cooked curry. 
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stuffed Shells

Tonight's Menu
Stuffed Conchiglione
with chicken, spinach, and ricotta cheese
Salad greens
Wine Pairing: Medium body Red and Rose wines

As children, I remember our visits to the seaside in Gujarat and the hunt for the perfect shells to carry back home. These were treasures to remember those lovely summer holidays by. Whenever I cook Conchiglione or giant pasta shells I am reminded of those gorgeous sunsets and long walks at the seashore. 

These cowrie like shells are definitely a 20th-century innovation since it would be difficult to mold these by hand and one only comes across the machine made shells in the stores. These are made thick walled and are tough enough to withstand the boiling, stuffing and baking processes. Other stuffed kinds of pasta include tufoli, manicotti, and lumache and throughout the provinces of southern Italy, one can find these stuffed with cheese, greens and meats, even potato.

This recipe is almost like making lasagna but you stuff the pasta instead of layering it. This recipe is a great hit with everyone. I used ground chicken, but sausage tastes great too. For a vegetarian version just omit the meat and increase the quantity of spinach and cheese.

Stuffed Shells Casserole
Ingredients: serves 4-5

300 gm jumbo pasta shells (40 shells)
1 finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 pound ground chicken
4 cups fresh spinach chopped fine
11/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups of plain tomato sauce (recipe)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a large casserole dish for baking. 
  2. Cook pasta shells in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse in cold water, sprinkle some olive oil so they don't stick with each other. Keep aside to cool.To prepare the stuffing - Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic and cook stirring for 4-5 minutes till they soften. 
  3. Add ground chicken and cook until its brown and fully cooked. Add the spinach and cook on high for 3-5 minutes till spinach wilts and most of the moisture evaporates. 
  4. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Cool for 5 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile combine ricotta cheese, egg and all the remaining herbs and spices. Mix the cheese and spinach mixture together. 
  6. Spoon the filling into each cooked pasta shell. 
  7. In the prepared casserole dish spread half the tomato sauce on the base. Place the filled shells on it. Pour the remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 
  8. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until bubbly. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spinach and ricotta pasta

Tonight's Menu
Brown rice penne pasta with
Spinach ricotta sauce
Grilled Fish
Wine Pairing: Chianti, Sauvignon Blanc

Brown rice penne with spinach and ricotta cheese
The awesome flavour of fresh ricotta cheese with spinach makes for a wonderful sauce to serve over any pasta. This combo goes very well with a hint of nutmeg which gives it that Mmmm... feeling. Very often I use the brown rice pasta, available in most health food stores. It gives a nutty flavour and a slight bite in the texture and holds upto any sauce creamy or tamotoee. Serve it by itself or alongside grilled fish with a fruity white wine. I don't see this being paired with a red. 

Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
1 lb. fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, and dried well
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup milk (can use light cream )
Pinch nutmeg (optional but recommended as it adds tonnes of flavour)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb. dried penne or fusilli pasta (I used brown rice penne)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
toasted pine nuts or almonds

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Shred the spinach in thin long strips. You should have about 8 packed cups of shredded spinach.
  3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Stir in the spinach into the pan. Cover and steam the spinach until it's wilted but still bright green, stirring as needed to cook the spinach evenly , about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the ricotta, milk, and nutmeg, until smooth. Add this into the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Cook the pasta as per package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  6. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. 
  7. Drain the pasta well and return it to its pot over low heat. Add the spinach mixture and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to make a sauce that lightly coats the pasta. Toss thoroughly. 
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Transfer the pasta to a warm serving platter or individual bowls, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.