Tag Archives: easy

Mediterranean Smoked Sausage, Tomato and Chickpeas

TasteFood-Title-Mediterranean

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Who knew when I packed my bags to move to Paris to study French cooking I would become a sausage fanatic? Considering that at the time I ate little meat, the thought of embracing all manners of sausages and charcuterie was an unlikely possibility. Yet, following my cooking program and culinary immersion in French cuisine (charcuterie is a French word, after all), a subsequent move to Switzerland (where sausage vies for popularity with chocolate) and meeting my Danish husband (who comes from a land where sausage carts are more prolific than Starbucks) my view of sausages understandably – and happily – shifted.

Now, years later, sausage has worked its way into my cooking repertoire. It’s a staple ingredient in my kitchen and a hands down family favorite. Packed with protein and spice, sausages are a handy and flavorful addition to pastas, soups, stews and casseroles – when we are not gobbling them up straight off the grill. And to think that all it took was a trip to France.

Smoked Sausage, Tomato and Chickpeas

This recipe is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. The seasoned sausage infuses the dish with smoky spiced flavor, requiring little additional seasoning, and since the sausage is pre-cooked, the entire dish may be prepared in 15 minutes. The ragout is delicious as is or spooned over couscous for a Mediterranean inspired meal.

Start to Finish: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-ounce) package Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage, sliced on the diagonal, ½-inch thick
1 pound grape tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups cooked couscous

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on both sides, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer with tongs or a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to collapse, 5 more minutes. Return the sausages to the skillet and add the cilantro. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over couscous.

Cooks Tip:
For extra heat, add ½ teaspoon cayenne when adding the chickpeas.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Hillshire Farm sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, the opinions and thoughts are my own.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pasta tf

Are you looking for ways to get your family to eat brussels sprouts? This recipe may do the trick – with a little help from bacon. Fresh yet hearty, full of healthy crucifers and dotted with crispy bacon, this simple dinner is perfect for an autumn weeknight.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Cauliflower or broccoli may be substituted for the brussels sprouts.

Serves 4.

1 pound orrechiette or conchiglie pasta

1/2 pound bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved (quartered if large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet. Add the brussels sprouts and saute until they are crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the chicken stock. Continue to cook until the brussels sprouts are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened to a sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper and check for seasoning.
Add the brussels sprouts, bacon and cheese to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with extra cheese on the side.

Smoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

chicken chickpeas tastefood

~Smoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Chickpeas, Grape Tomatoes, Cilantro~

Sometimes you know a recipe is a keeper. The minute I saw this chicken recipe in Bon Appétit I knew it would be great. Normally I change recipes up quite a bit, but in this case I only made a few minor tweaks – and ended up with a simple and flavorful dinner that I will be making again (and again). The ingredients are straightforward and likely already in your kitchen, and the whole dish may be prepared in less than 45 minutes – perfect for the weeknight. So file this one – you won’t regret it!

Smoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Cilantro

Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves 4 to 5.

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
4 large chicken breasts with skin, de-boned, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, divided (or Italian parsley)

Heat oven to 450°F.

Whisk oil, garlic, paprikas, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the oil to another bowl and whisk in the yogurt. Set aside until serving.

Place chicken, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub all over and between skin and meat with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Place tomatoes, chickpeas and half of the cilantro in a bowl. Add remaining oil and stir to coat. Pour onto the baking sheet around the chicken. Turn to coat the chicken with any extra oil. Be sure to keep the skin side up for roasting. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

Roast chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving plates or a platter and spoon the beans and tomatoes over. Garnish with cilantro and serve with yogurt sauce.

If you like this, you might enjoy these chicken recipes from TasteFood:
Spicy Chipotle Chicken and Couscous Salad
Roasted Chicken, Asparagus, Farro and Parsley Coulis
Chicken and Vegetable Curry

 

Weeknight Dinners: Spicy Chipotle Chicken and Couscous Salad

Chipotle Chicken TasteFood~ Spicy Chipotle Chicken, Herbed Couscous Salad, Hummus ~

Are you having the weeknight dinner doldrums? Are you hungry and craving something exciting, yet stumped for time and inspiration? Look no further than this easy recipe, packed with spice and chipotle heat. It’s a cinch to make: Begin to marinate the chicken the night or morning before roasting. Then go about your daily whirlwind of work and activities. 30 minutes before dinner, pop the chicken in the oven (or on the grill), and before you know it you’ll have a zingy dish that will shake up any ho hum dinner routine. Serve with salad, rice or couscous. I had some hummus sitting in the fridge, which I served as an accompaniment. A squeeze bottle of Sriracha will stand in nicely.

chipotle chicken tastefood

Spicy Chipotle Chicken and Couscous Salad

Serves 4 to 5

Marinade:
1/4 cup chipotles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
Bamboo skewers, pre-soaked at least 30 minutes

Couscous Salad:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced, finely diced
1 small jalapeno seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:
Process all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Place the chicken in a bowl. Add marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven broiler or prepare grill. Thread chicken on skewers. Discard marinade. Broil or grill over direct medium heat until brown and thoroughly cooked through, turning once or twice, about 10 minutes.

For the couscous:
Place couscous in a large bowl. Add water, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt. Stir once. Cover and let stand until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Add remaining ingredients. Gently mix to thoroughly combine. Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Pasta with Quick Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula

Tomato Pasta TasteFood

~ Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula, Breadcrumbs, Thyme, Parmigiano, Gemelli ~

Things are heating up in our kitchen. All sorts of treats and sweets are baking for the holidays – plus I am busy with a cookbook project. I’ve been hired to write all of the recipes for a cookbook that will be published in early 2014 (yes, that is how the world of publishing works). More details will follow on that soon, but for now suffice to say that my kitchen is a recipe test center cyclone. With all of the cooking, you would think that a nightly dinner would be a sure thing, but frankly after a long day of developing and writing, I don’t have the where-with-all to whip up anything too complicated – which is something we can all relate to during the holidays.

So, here is an easy, low-budget recipe that uses simple ingredients and may be prepared in 30 minutes with delicious results. It also makes use of those grape tomatoes you can’t resist buying in the middle of the winter when you know better. It’s not the fault of the tomato, of course. They do look irresistable, but looks can be deceiving for out of season tomatoes, even when they are shiny and oh-so-red. This recipe will remedy any buyer’s remorse. A little slow roasting will coax out any hibernating tomato-ness, releasing juices and sugars, and deflating the impossibly pert tomatoes to a more relaxed version of themselves. You can save your buyer’s remorse for bigger things this holiday season.

Tomato Pasta Plate x

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula
Serves 4.

1 pound grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of thyme sprigs
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound pasta of your choice (I used gemelli)
2 large handfuls of arugula, about 3 cups

Heat oven to 400 F. Scatter the tomatoes and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes. Roast in oven 25 minutes. Remove and reduce oven heat to 350 F.  Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a large serving bowl. Discard the thyme. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the same baking sheet and stir to coat in the olive oil.  Briefly return to the oven and cook until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes (they will brown quickly so carefully watch them). Remove and immediately transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl to stop them from further cooking. Cool slightly, then stir in 2 tablespoons cheese.

While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tomatoes, along with the arugula and 1/3 cup cheese. Toss to combine. Drizzle with a little more olive oil as desired, and taste for salt. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Sweet Potato
Pappardelle with Pork Ragu
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

~ Spicy Butternut Squash Soup ~

One of my favorite ways to eat butternut squash is roasted then pureed in a soup. When the squash roasts, its flesh morphs into a squidgy paste, intensifying its nutty flavor and coaxing out its natural sugars. I pair it with fall fruit such as apple, pear or quince and balance the sweetness with a savory stock and a kick of spice and heat. While the soup is thick, it’s light in ingredients with no added cream, relying on the squash for body. This recipe includes apples and chicken stock, and for spice I’ve added a little southwestern flair with cumin, cayenne and cilantro. It’s a vibrant start to any meal, including Thanksgiving dinner. If you are entertaining a crowd, consider small servings in little cups or demi-tasse as an hors d’oeuvre.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting the squash coaxes out its natural sugars and gives the best flavor to the soup. Serves 4 to 6.

1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Lightly brush the exposed flesh with olive oil. Place, cut-side-down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until squash is fork tender, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add apple, cumin, coriander and cayenne.  Cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 minute. Add squash and chicken stock. (There should be just enough stock to cover the squash and apples. Add additional stock as necessary). Simmer, covered, until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Carefully puree soup in batches in a food processor (or with an immersion blender). Return to pot. The soup should be thick. Thin it to desired consistency with apple cider. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat and taste for seasoning. Serve warm with fresh cilantro leaves.

More holiday appetizer recipes from TasteFood:
Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta
Pork Rillettes and Apple Plum Chutney
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Weeknight Dinners: Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

It may be fall, but summer’s tomatoes are not finished. The days are warm and gentle, and our tomato plants are hanging in there, kicking back and relaxing on the vine in the golden California sunshine. We pass by and pop them in our mouths, or pick a bunch and pile them in bowls for a snack. But they still accumulate. When I have too much (is that really possible?) I look for other uses, and there are many.

This is one of my favorite ways to cook with an abundance of cherry tomatoes. It coincides perfectly with the beginning of the school year, when we are crazy busy and running in 4 directions. The family dinner becomes elusive and suddenly time specific. Yet it’s even more important now, providing a great moment to sit together and connect after our busy day. This recipe is the perfect antidote. It may be prepared in almost no time, it’s healthy and economical, and it usually pleases the fussiest of eaters. Which is good, because they need to eat and get to their homework.


Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Serves 4, unless you have a teen-aged boy. Then it serves 1.

For the Breadcrumb Gremolata:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and/or basil
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes

Prepare the gremolata:
Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet until light golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Prepare the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling bowl. Add linguine and cook until al dente; drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, but don’t completely dissolve, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Add linguine to skillet and toss to coat. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with the gremolata. Serve immediately.

Apricot Brûlée: Roasted and Caramelized Apricots with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

This apricot dessert has a few secrets. Not only is it sublime, it’s healthy and relatively low-fat. Its secret ingredient, once again, is Greek yogurt – a wondrous whole milk product which is richly thick, creamy and tart. Its secret technique is to use ingredients which are simple, fresh and in season – which isn’t really a secret, but a golden rule for cooking. Freshness and simplicity showcase great natural flavor and preclude the need to over-fuss ingredients.

The sumptuous results belie the ease and healthiness of these brûléed apricots. A little sugar is sprinkled over each apricot half, which are broiled until the sugar dissolves and begins to caramelize. As this happens, the fruit softens and breaks down, virtually melting into itself, held together by its soft skin with a puddle of caramelized sugar pooled in the center. Whisked Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened and brightened with lemon, is spooned over the top or to the side of the fruit – you decide – serving as a cool complement to the apricot’s warmth. It’s a luscious and fresh end to any meal. Your guests will be licking their plates.

Apricot Brûlée

Serves 4

6 ripe but not too mushy apricots, halved
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, plus extra for garnish

1/2 cup Greek style whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest, plus extra for garnish

Heat the oven broiler. (If using a grill, heat a cast iron skillet over direct medium heat for 10 minutes.)

Mix sugars together in a small bowl.

Slice the apricots in half, top to bottom. Discard pits. If broiling, arrange fruit, skin-side up, in an oven-proof skillet or on a baking sheet. If grilling, arrange the apricots skin side up in the cast iron skillet. Broil or grill until light golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven or grill and turn the apricots over. Sprinkle sugar evenly over each apricot half. Broil or grill with the lid closed, until centers are bubbly and beginning to caramelize, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide apricots between serving plates.

Whisk yogurt, sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest together in a small bowl. Spoon a little yogurt over each apricot half (or spoon on the side of the plate). Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and extra lemon zest for garnish.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Apricot Tart Tatin from TasteFood
Rhubarb Apricot Chutney for The Perfect Pantry
Fig and Raspberry Upside-down Cake from TasteFood
Blueberry Apricot Muffins from Baking Bites
Spiced Plum Crostata from TasteFood

Simple Strawberry Cake

I managed to save the strawberries in this cake before they were devoured au naturel. Fresh strawberries usually don’t last long enough in our house to be put to baking use, disappearing in a blink of an eye, before you can say “strawberry shortcake.” When I came home from the market today with an armload of ridiculously plump organic strawberries, I was prepared to defend my purchase. I knew that any unsupervised pints would quickly go missing from the kitchen counter, so I placed a few baskets in strategic locations as a diversion from the extra pound I stashed to bake this lovely cake.

Strawberries and spring sing simplicity to me – pardon the alliteration. It’s a time to celebrate fresh seasonal ingredients as naturally as possible, with little fuss and adornment. This simple cake is an adaptation of a recipe from Martha Stewart. It’s light, gently sweetened, and generously studded with more strawberries than you know what to do with. Actually, I don’t mean that – we all know what to do with strawberries. Just be sure to save some to make this cake.

Strawberry Cake

I halved my jumbo sized strawberries in the pictured cake, but recommend quartering them if very large, so they will begin to break down while baking, making a luscious juicy mess.  Adapted from Martha Stewart.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
1 pound strawberries, halved – or quartered if very large

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a 10 inch (25 cm)  pie or tart pan (I used a 9 inch extra-deep pie pan). Butter the pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Mix in egg, buttermilk, vanilla and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Add flour and mix to combine without over-mixing. Spread batter in the prepared dish. Arrange strawberries, cut-side down, on top of the batter, gently pressing to partially submerge. Squeeze in as many strawberries as possible. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake in oven until top is light golden and a knife inserted in the cake comes clean, about 1 hour. Cool in plate on a rack. Before serving, sprinkle 1 teaspoon lemon zest over the cake. Serve with whipped cream.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Coriander Spiced Poundcake with Strawberries
Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Strawberry Ricotta Bruschetta

Lentil Soup

With all of the business surrounding a house move, it’s easy to forget to eat, let alone cook. If there’s any cooking it involves using up items stored in the pantry or defrosted from the freezer, simply so they won’t be packed. The first time around it’s kind of fun – almost like a pantry food show: Here’s what you have, show us what you’ve got. I made this lentil soup for dinner one night before our move and deliberately froze extras for another meal once we settled in. It’s an extremely simple soup to make with minimal ingredients, yet consistently rewarding in comfort, flavor and heartiness – just the thing to fill up on before unpacking a mountain of moving boxes.

Lentil Soup

The brown sugar and Madeira add extra richness and depth to the soup. Serve with baguette slices and any cheese you may need to empty from the refrigerator. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and sorted through
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Madeira or Port wine

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and carrots; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, lentils, bay leaf, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Add sugar and port wine. Simmer another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.