Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexican Chicken Salad

This recipe is from my boyfriend – inspired by a salad he saw in Dean and DeLuca. The Mexican moniker refers to the black beans which are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants. Also known as turtle beans, these legumes are widely eaten in Latin America and are key ingredients in the Costa Rican national dish gallo pinto and the Brazilian national dish feijoada. This chicken salad is fairly healthy – low in carbohydrates and high in flavor, especially when served with salsa or the yogurt sauce featured in this posting. It’s part of our monthly dinner rotation and holds up pretty well for up to five days.

Serves 8-10 as a side dish and 4-6 as a main dish

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic paste or 4 cloves minced garlic
1 lb fresh chicken cutlets or breasts (preferably thin slice), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add chicken pieces and cook on both sides until the outside of the pieces are cooked. Cut a couple of thicker pieces to make sure they are no longer pink inside. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl mix black beans, artichoke, bell pepper and chicken.
3. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, parsley, oregano, basil and cayenne. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Best made a day before serving so the flavors can mingle.
5. Can be served with salsa or yogurt sauce.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Soup

Many of you have been experiencing an Arctic cold front this week. My recommendation is homemade soup. This recipe, adapted from the Moosewood cookbook, is delicious served with buttermilk cornbread.

Serves 8 as a starter, 4-6 as a main dish

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1 large carrot, sliced
2 medium sweet potatoes, coarsely chopped
4 cups water
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3 green onions, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large pot and sauté onions until translucent. Add cayenne, ginger and carrots and sauté for 3 minutes.
2. Add sweet potatoes and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Cool for a few minutes.
3. Add the tomato juice and peanut butter and puree in a blender or use an immersion blender.
4. Return to the pot and reheat gently.
5. Serve garnished with green onions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nicoise Pasta Salad

This recipe is an adaptation of a classic from the French Mediterranean city of Nice (hence Niçoise). It is typically served as a combination of tuna, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, olives and hard-boiled eggs. Some versions also include anchovies, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and broad beans. When served on a baguette, it is known as pan-bagnat which means ‘wet bread’ in the regional dialect of Occitan (a language spoken in Southern France that is a close relative of Catalan). By adding pasta, this salad is transformed into a light dinner.

Pasta Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound green beans, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces penne pasta, cooked and cooled
2 x 6- to 7-ounce can tuna, drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (optional)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Over medium heat, sauté green beans and bell pepper in olive oil for 2 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix all of the pasta salad ingredients.
3. In a small jar, add all of the vinaigrette ingredients and shake well. Pour over pasta salad and mix well.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.