Spring Veggie Fiesta Frittata

IMG_4007

Serve with arugula salad dressed with jalapeno, chili and lime vinaigrette for a healthy spring “South of the Border” inspired meal.

Asparagus or local fiddleheads are tender greens that shoot out of the ground in spring. Combined with leafy greens …such as the first pick of spinach planted in late fall … local ramps or native wild onions, along with chives (one of the first herbs in spring), this is one dish bursting with all the flavors of the new season.

Add red peppers, grape tomatoes, lightly sprinkled cheese (I used chevre “goat” cheese) and a sprouted grain tortilla “crust” to give this dish a healthy Mexican theme worthy of a fiesta! Serve with salsa on the side.

9 eggs
2 cups baby spinach, lightly packed
6 asparagus spears or 1/2 cup fiddleheads
1/2 cup wild or green onions such as ramps or scallions, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
4 ounces crumbled or shredded cheese of choice
parsley and cilantro to taste, chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 sprouted grain tortilla round
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium pot, boil water and blanch asparagus (ends cut off) or fiddleheads for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and immerse in an ice bath to retain their green color. Chop in large pieces and set aside. In a saute pan with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, saute onions and garlic on medium heat for approximately two minutes till just softened. Add tomatoes and saute for one more minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, nutmeg, half of chopped chives, salt and pepper.

Brush a deep dish pie plate with olive oil and place tortilla round on bottom. Add spinach and sprinkle with the rest of chives and herbs, tomato/onion mixture, asparagus or ramps and cheese. Add eggs and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until middle is just firm and slightly puffed.

 

Roasted Chicken with Maple-Chipotle Glaze and Rosemary

securedownload

Maple sweetness is a winning combination with spicy chipotle, garlic and rosemary. Photo by White Point Imaging.

Roasted Chicken
1 organic chicken, 1.2 to 2 lbs
1 lemon, sliced in wedges
1 bunch mixed herbs (parsley and rosemary)
5-6 garlic cloves, slivered
water or chicken broth
sea salt and pepper to taste

Maple Chipotle Glaze
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon fresh or dried rosemary, plus more for gravy
1 -2 Tablespoon Chipotle Oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the chicken and rub olive oil, salt and pepper on the outside skin and inside the cavity. Stuff the cavity with 2 slivered garlic cloves, herbs and lemon. Tie the legs with chicken string.

Place chicken on a roasting rack inside a heavy roasting pan. Add water or chicken broth 1/2 inch up the pan. Add garlic slivers to the broth. Tent chicken with tin foil and roast for 25 minutes. Baste chicken and lower heat to 350 degrees. Continue basting chicken every 20 minutes with broth and drippings for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the bird.

Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients together, adding oil last until thoroughly incorporated.  Thirty minutes before the chicken is done, remove foil tent and brush on half of the glaze. Roast for 15 more minutes. Brush on remaining glaze and roast until 185 degrees registers on a meat thermometer and chicken is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes before carving.

For a simple gravy, first degrease the pan drippings. Add tapioca starch or cornstarch paste (mix 3 Tablespoons water to 1 Tablespoon starch) to the pan and heat while whisking to thicken the juices into a gravy. Add more rosemary and maple syrup if desired. Briskly whisk in more paste if thicker gravy is desired. Salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Maple-Chile Farm Pork Chops

securedownload

Take a break from burgers and serve these sweet and spiced up chops at your next barbecue!

Fortunately for me, Maple Breeze Farm in Westbrook CT is close by for farm fresh ingredients. Bonnie and Bill Hall run the farm and set aside some juicy loin chops for this recipe, along with their first batch of maple syrup tapped this spring.

Adapted from Bonnie’s Maple Syrup Pork Chop recipe,  I chose to soak the meat overnight in a cider brine…. so no one will ever say I serve dry pork chops. Brush on the maple chile glaze, grill till just pink, and serve with my Cucumber-Pineapple Salad.

Note – if you can’t find pork chops at a farmer’s market or near-by farm, select the freshest loin chops you can find, preferably bone-in.

Chipotle Cider Brine
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 cup water
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup turbinado or coconut sugar
1 chipotle pepper

Place all brine ingredients in a blender and blend on medium high for 1 minute. Transfer to a shallow dish and place 2 pork  loin chops with bone-in in brine. If chops are not covered in liquid, double the brine recipe. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Maple Chile Glaze
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon chile powder or 1 chipotle pepper finely diced
salt and pepper to taste

Remove chops from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Brush glaze in a thin layer on both sides of the pork chops. Grill on both sides while continuing to mop on more glaze without charring the chops. Done when pink and juicy in the center. Optional sauce can be made with remaining glaze by adding 1/2 cup orange juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Sauce can be thickened with cornstarch or tapioca starch.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Kale and Chorizo

photo-28

Offer different versions at a buffet by omitting sausage for vegetarians and further omitting cheese for vegans.

Add color and taste to your Cinco de Mayo buffet with stuffed red, orange and yellow bell peppers.

The filling is mild ’cause chorizo spices up the dish and it’s gluten-free, using rice instead of breadcrumbs. Look for sausage with no fillers. In a pinch, use fully cooked, gluten-free, no nitrates or hormone links found in most supermarkets. If you can’t find chorizo, try the cooked versions of Andouille or chicken sausage with mango. For “cleaner” eating, I prefer less cheese.

6 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeded
3 – 5 chorizo sausage links, skins removed and chopped
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 celery stalks, minced
1 cup chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup loosely shredded kale
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small eggplant
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon wheat-free soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese  – optional (queso blanco, cheddar, Monterey Jack, goat cheese)
1 1/2 cups rice, cooked
1 cup red wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil and roast in the oven 45 minutes or until a knife goes easily through the flesh. When cool enough to handle scrape out flesh and chop with a spoon.  Set aside. In a heavy skillet, brown sausage and drain fat. Remove and set aside. In a stock pot, add olive oil, onion, celery, garlic and kale. Saute until the mixture is softened. Add plum tomatoes, 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, eggplant, soy sauce, parsley, basil, oregano and salt and pepper. Add rice and cheese. Stuff peppers and add extra cheese on top if desired

In an oven proof 9 x 13 inch glass dish, mix tomatoes with wine. Add salt and pepper and stir. Place peppers upright in dish and add pepper tops into the tomato mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Mexican Stack

photo-27

This Mexican lasagna is mild to go along with spicier dishes for Cinco de Mayo!

Try a stack instead of nachos. Use farm-fresh grass fed ground beef for a true farm-to-table dish loaded with taste. Substitute more beans for the beef if going vegetarian.

3 Tablespoons pextra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
27 oz chopped tomatoes
8 oz kidney or black beans
1/2 cup loosely pack cilantro, chopped
2 cups corn kernels
4 cups baby spinach
3 cups shredded queso blanco or mild cheddar
4 rice or sprouted grain tortilla

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray casserole pan with olive or canola oil. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat and add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, brown ground beef in another heavy skillet adding olive oil if necessary. Transfer beef to the onion mixture and add oregano, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon. Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn and cilantro and simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place 1 tortilla in the pan and sprinkle spinach on top. Spread enough beef mixture over spinach to coat and sprinkle on cheese. Place another tortilla on top and repeat until the last tortilla is used and cheese is sprinkled on top. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Bake uncovered for another few minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Let sit a few minutes to set. Cut into wedges and serve with guacamole, sour cream or yogurt, rice and salsas of your choice.

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

securedownload-19

The answer for what to do with left over quinoa.

Spiced up Mexican, black beans and quinoa make a tasty burger, cake or slider. The perfect vegan addition to any Cinco de Mayo buffet (if egg omitted).

Serve with a dollop of guacamole and a side of salsa.

3 Tablespoons olive oil plus 3 more Tablespoons
1 medium onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 ounces black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4  teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 egg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop onion and red pepper. Saute in skillet with olive oil with minced garlic until onions are translucent. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mash black beans and add oregano, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in onion-pepper mixture, cilantro and mustard. Add quinoa and egg and mix thoroughly. If omitting the egg, decrease quinoa amount by 1/2 to 1 cup or burgers will fall apart.  Form into burgers or sliders.

Heat remaining olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and add burgers. Turn after approximately 4 minutes or until browned and crisp, being careful to maintain their shape – especially if egg is not used. Brown on other side and pop in the oven for approximatley 15 minutes or heated thoroughly being careful not to dry them out. Serve.

Makes 6-8 burgers or 15-18 sliders.

 

Seared Salmon with Dijon-Watercress Sauce

securedownload-11

If not wild, try organic Irish salmon which my fishmonger tells me has strict standards and therefore, more Omega 3’s

In salute of St. Patrick’s Day, why just have corned beef and cabbage? Instead reap the health benefits of wild salmon paired with a spring-fresh green watercress sauce.

Seared Salmon
1 pound salmon fillet, wild or organic
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

On medium-high heat, coat a skillet with olive oil and heat, but not smoking. Salt and pepper top of salmon. Add fish, skin side down, and sear until 1/4 thickness of the fish turns opaque. Carefully turn to the other side and sear until desired doneness. Set aside.

Dijon-Watercress Sauce
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup greek yogurt to taste
salt and white pepper to taste
1 bunch watercress

In a pot, boil water and blanch watercress for 30 seconds. Immerse in an ice bath to retain color. In a high speed blender, blend dijon and yogurt. Add watercress, salt and white pepper and blend until throughly blended and smooth. Serve alongside salmon.

Eggplant Stuffed Cabbage with Parsley-Cilantro Walnut Pesto

Cabbage

This vegetarian version of traditional “pigs-in-a-blanket” stuffed cabbage is a knockout when paired with the fresh flavors of parsley and cilantro.

The challenge? To make a vegetarian stuffed cabbage that’s absolutely delicious. Mission accomplished with the help of Chef Andrea Dante from Mad Gourmet in Guilford CT who inspired me to turn her vegetarian eggplant “meatless” meatball mix into the filling for this dish.

The pesto is the taste kicker which adds a punch of color cabbage dishes usually lack.  Make it vegan by omitting the egg, rolling the cabbage leaves a bit tighter to hold the filling. Enjoy!

Eggplant Stuffed Cabbage
2 eggplants, peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 egg, beaten
Pinch red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup gluten-free or panko breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1 head green cabbage

Peel and slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill 2-3 minutes on each side, until soft but not mushy, being careful not to over-char. Eggplant can be grilled in a grill pan instead.  In a food processor, pulse eggplant with garlic, tomato paste, shallot and egg. Put mixture in a mixing bowl and add cornstarch, rice and bread crumbs. Let rest for 20 minutes to allow the moisture to be soaked up.

Fill enough water in a stock pot to cover the whole cabbage and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel off outer cabbage leaves and core the cabbage to remove the middle stem. Immerse cabbage in boiling water for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the cabbage, or until leaves are tender but firm throughout.

Separate cabbage leaves and unfold flat. Place enough eggplant mixture to roll up in cabbage leaves being mindful not to overstuff. Continue rolling up eggplant mixture in each cabbage leaf. Place stuffed cabbage in pyrex dish with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of vegetable broth and cover. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is hot.

Parsley-Cilantro Walnut Pesto
1 cup walnuts
2 cups parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
3 gloves garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

Remove any thick stems from parsley and cilantro.  Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor pulsing until parsley and cilantro are blended but not finely chopped. With the food processor on, drizzle olive oil in a steady stream until desired consistency (I prefer this pesto to be coarsely pureed). Dollop parsley pesto on top of stuffed cabbage and serve.

Lemon Chicken with Prunes

wpid-Chic.1.jpg

Lemons, sweet prunes and herbs make this “not-just-another-chicken dish.”

Most everyone loves chicken and this is my go-to dish to please crowds. Herbs bring in the savory flavors while prunes soften in the broth adding mild sweetness to this dish. For optimal taste use farm fresh free range chicken and a Moraccan style tagine for meat that falls off the bone. Can be made with a whole chicken cut in pieces but I think thighs taste best with this recipe.

8 chicken thighs
2 medium onions chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to brown chicken
1 Tablespoons dried or fresh rosemary  (or a blend of herbs, such as bouquet garni)
1/4 cup water
Spelt flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup prunes or 1-2 prunes per person

Dredge chicken in flour and salt and pepper to taste. Coat fry pan with EVOO and brown chicken on both sides. Add 1/4 cup oil, onions and garlic in a terracotta tagine or Dutch oven over medium hight heat for 5 minutes. Add water and place chicken on top. Sprinkle with herbs and more salt and pepper if desired. Cover the tagine or pot and lower heat to medium, medium- low.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through.  Add prunes to the liquid and lemon slices on top. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes until lemon is softened and chicken is done. Ladle chicken and sauce over yellow rice and serve. Serves 7-8.