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Delish and Snazzy Side: Avocado & Basil Salad

January 12, 2011

Oh, hello crushed almonds! Didn’t you recently appear in my kale and feta dish?

Crushed almonds: Yep! I was left over and sitting in the cupboard so I thought, why not?

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As Larry David would say, this little salad side dish looks prettyyy, prettyyyy,  pretty good. As Chandler Bing would say, could it be any healthier? Maybe. Either way, give it a shot.

Avocado & Basil Salad With White Wine Dressing

– One ripe avocado (you’ll know it’s ripe when it’s a bit soft to the touch)

– Fresh basil leaves

– Crushed almonds

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil

– White Wine Vinegar

This dish makes enough for a small side for two people. I gently washed about 5 large basil leaves per person, dried them and laid them on each plate. Be careful with the rinsing because if you beat up basil leaves they get bruised. Seriously, they look bruised.

Cut the avocado. This can be difficult if you are inexperienced in avocado cutting, as I once was. I urge you to watch this video showing you how to slice an avocado. This video is where I learned that the word “avocado” comes from a word that once meant “testicle.”

Back to the salad. Place the avocado slices over the basil leaves, then sprinkle some almonds over the top.

For the dressing: You’ll only need a tiny bit because white wine vinegar is strong. Mix 2 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar. Add a pinch of salt to the dressing, then drizzle lightly over each salad.

Done!

It’s Now Possible To Crave Kale!

January 12, 2011

I’ve always eaten kale, and although I never hated it I never thought, “You know what sounds good right now? Kale.”

That is, until I had some kind of divine intervention when I was preparing Christmas dinner and turned an almost disaster into a new favorite dish.

I got a recipe for roasted kale off a food website. Big mistake. It turned out dry and crappy, so I ended up making my own recipe that was only mildly related to the disaster I pulled off the Internet.

(in case you didn’t know, kale is ultra healthy)

Kale With Feta, Almonds and Balsamic

– Bag of small kale leaves

– Chopped almonds

– Feta cheese

– Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Boil the kale according to directions, about 10 minutes. I used about half the bag as a side dish for three people. While cooking chop the feta into smallish pieces. I just roughly chop it until I like the size. I chopped about a handful of feta for the kale.

Drain the kale and place in a serving dish.

Toss in some almonds, however many you want. Toss in the feta. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar – you don’t need too much. Mix it all together once or twice and it’s ready to serve!

Both times I’ve made this it’s been gone before I was able to have seconds, and I think most people would be surprised to hear that about a kale-based dish!

Roasted Vegetable Wraps

January 9, 2011

I like to make these as an easy weeknight meal and also when I have a bunch of random vegetables left over from other meals.

I spread olive and roasted tomato hummus on the tortilla wraps for some extra flavor, then added spinach and a tiny bit of ranch dressing at the end. Everything’s better with ranch, right?

The below recipe is just what I used because it’s what I happened to have on hand. You can use anything you like – all vegetables are good!

Roasted Vegetable Wraps With Hummus and Ranch

– Sweet potatoes (3 small)

– Red Onion

– White Onion

– Tomatoes (3 small)

– Zucchini

– Bell Peppers (1 red, 1 yellow)

– Fresh spinach

– Ranch dressing

– Tortilla wraps

– Hummus (any flavor would work)

– Olive oil to drizzle

– Sea salt

– Pepper

The beauty of roasted vegetables is that all you do is chop everything roughly, throw it in a pan, drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper then put it in the oven. I heated it at around 180 C, which is around 350 F I think, for 20 minutes.

Scoop some of the veg out, top with fresh spinach and add a little ranch. Wrap and gobble gobble!

Introducing the Foochebag

January 4, 2011

Foodie + Douchebag = Foochebag

http://www.thefeast.com/newyork/restaurants/Vocabulary-Lesson-Foochebag-101665608.html

Sara’s (Gordon Ramsay’s) Turkey (Chicken) Burgers

January 2, 2011

I never made burgers before for three reasons.

1) I thought it was too complicated

2) I don’t have a grill

3) I was grossed out by raw meat

When I saw Gordon Ramsay’s Chicken Burgers recipe in his Healthy Appetite book I got a tickle in my stomach when I realized I might be able to finally consume a burger that wasn’t made by my dad or a fast food chain.

Ol’ Gordon made these with chicken, but for some reason I couldn’t find mince chicken so I went with minced turkey. I’m fairly confident the result on your taste buds will be pretty similar. I was delighted. Positively delighted. 

So easy.  Seriously.

For Gordon’s chicken burgers all you need:

– 3 tbsp olive oil

– 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed

– sea salt and black pepper

– 350 g of minced skinless, boneless chicken breasts

– 1 large egg

– handful of herbs, such as flat leaf parsley and chives, chopped

I used chives and skipped the parsley, and as I stated above I used minced turkey instead of chicken. I really love chives, which you can find in the section that sells spinach and lettuce, because they have a light onion flavor that’s really nice but not too strong. Onions are delicious. Onion breath is disgusting.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan on medium heat and cook the onion and garlic with the seasoning for about 5 minutes until they are soft but not brown. Tip into a large bowl and leave it to cool completely.

Add the chicken, egg, seasoning and chopped herbs, and mix until evenly distributed. Cover with cling film and chill for an hour to allow mixture to firm.

Shape the mixture into 6 small patties, with moist hands (I used gloves to get around my fear of touching raw meat. I can’t stand the thought of tiny chunks of raw meat living under my fingernails however short they are!).  Try not to compact the meat.

To cook the burgers heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan or griddle pan. When hot, add the patties and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and just cooked through. Don’t press them with a spatula as they cook or you’ll squeeze out the juices.

Toast the bun on both sides, and add condiments as you desire. I think they’d go great with a fresh avocado and some nice lettuce and fresh red onion!

Gordon’s recipe calls for serving the burgers with sweet potato wedges, which I adore. Sweet potatoes are amazing, and they are amazingly healthy. Just cut 3 medium sweet potatoes into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and some seasoning like sea salt and pepper. Heat the oven to about 375 F and cook for  15- 20 minutes until they are golden brown around the edges. He says you can drizzle with honey, but I think sweet potatoes are so good on their own it’s not worth it!

I promise you’ll feel super proud of yourself if you have also never made burgers before.

Blueberry Spinach Salad With Lemon Orzo

December 31, 2010

REGULATORRRS!!

OK. This blog post isn’t about Warren G. or regulating, but I’m really serious about my new lifestyle so it needed a powerful start. Also, cooking doesn’t need to be boring. Crank up the tunes. Do a little jig.

Ever since I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food I have been determined to cut fake food from my diet as much as possible.

Before I read the book I didn’t realize much of the food we eat is mostly imitation food or food-like substance.

He makes the very good point that ever since we industrialized food on a large scale and started worrying about nutrition we have been fatter and sicker than ever. Essentially he proposes eating what you want as long as you know what the ingredients are and where they came from.

This means a lot more time spent cooking and a lot less time at the drive-thru or by the microwave.

I love thinking outside the bun as much as the next person, but I also like being healthier than the next person so I have to cut that crap out.

This week for dinner I made a giant spinach salad with blueberries, crushed almonds, Greek feta cheese and a homemade balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing. Both nights this salad took up half the plate:

The first night I served it with orzo, which is a pasta that looks like rice, and grilled Halloumi cheese, which is a very tasty cheese made in Cyprus. While I realize orzo pasta isn’t whole wheat, I feel I’m definitely getting closer to eating all whole foods.

Blueberry Spinach Salad

– Bag of spinach or baby leaf spinach

– Fresh blueberries

– Small bag of crushed or sliced almonds (found in the baking section)

– Feta cheese (block of white cheese that’s pre-crumbled, or you can buy the block and roughly chop it)

– Balsamic vinegar (found in the dressings section of my store)

– Extra virgin olive oil

I’m making the salad for two people, so I use a quarter to half of the spinach, the whole pot of blueberries, and a quarter to half the block of feta, and then however many almonds looks good.

You have a lot of freedom with this, so you don’t have to worry about messing it up.

Wash the spinach. I lay it out on a big dish towel and pat it dry, otherwise the salad is too wet. I’m not going to lie. This part is a hassle and it sucks, but it’s worth it.

Wash the blueberries and shake off excess water. Roughly chop the feta cheese into smaller chunks. Throw all of this, including the almonds, in a big bowl.

For the dressing you don’t need a lot. Start out small because you can always add more. In a small pot mix 2/3 olive oil with 1/3 of balsamic vinegar. Because it’s oil and vinegar they want to separate, so mix it quickly with a fork until it’s all combined, then immediately pour it over the salad.

At this point you can jumble it all up and cover your plate. YUM!!

Simple orzo with peas and lemon

– Bag of orzo pasta (orzo looks like rice, but it’s pasta)

– Frozen peas

– Extra virgin olive oil

– Juice from 1/4 to 1/2 a fresh lemon

– Sea salt

– Pepper

– Dried basil (in the spices and herbs section)

All you need to do is boil the orzo and frozen peas together for about 8 minutes. In terms of how much to make, you’ll have to be the judge depending on how many you are cooking for. First times are always an experiment! Drain, and drizzle with a little olive oil and the lemon juice. I don’t really measure the herbs, so I’d suggest just sprinkling to taste.

Halloumi cheese

You can find this in the cheese section, and it comes in a small block. I don’t know if it’s as common in the US, but I know you can get it. Trust me when I say it’s worth the price. Slice about 1/4 to half an inch thick, and grill in a pan until each side is slightly browned. Maybe 2-3 slices per person. The cheese is pretty salty so it’s better in smaller amounts.

Smack your lips and wash it all down with a nice glass of red wine. Enjoy!

Cry-your-eyes-out Pizza

October 26, 2010

This pizza isn’t named as such for the newly-single-not-by-choice, aka dumped.

You’ll be crying your eyes out because of this (in case you didn’t notice the large amount of onions on the pizza above):

Is it worth the tears? Yes.

Will your house smell like onions? Yep.

Is it worth the smell? Absolut-o.

Ingredients:

Gruyère cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Fresh (not frozen) garlic pizza base

2 large red onions

Olive oil

Essentially all you need to do is cook the onions in some oil or butter until they are all wobbly and brownish, cover the pizza base with them then shred the cheese on top. Put as many onions or as much cheese as you like.

I love both, and I’ve been having some kind of mental love affair with Gruyère cheese lately, so I was generous.

My breath smells like onions.