Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas

Shakshuka Polenta

My morning oatmeal habit single-handedly turned breakfast into the most beloved of all meals,  so it was only a matter of time before I became enamored with polenta, a creamy cornmeal dish from northern Italy (similar to grits).

While this recipe started as an empty-pantry-desperation-dinner (requiring just a few canned goods and some eggs), it has quickly become one of my most dependable weeknight suppers, eliciting frequent cravings, roommate food envy, and a new tendency to stockpile canned tomatoes. The Eggs Shakshuka from the Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square inspired this unlikely pairing, as they serve the traditional, North African tomato dish over a creamy puddle of warm polenta.

Taking recipes to a more porridge-like level is always a winning strategy in my kitchen, so it is no surprise that this Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas is heavy on rotation at my place this season. In fact, it just might be better than having oatmeal for dinner. I’ll let you be the judge.

Shakshuka Polenta

Shakshuka Polenta with Chickpeas

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons harissa sauce (you can also substitute 1 roasted red bell pepper, finely chopped, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, or you can omit altogether)
  • 1 cup milk (I use nonfat organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup corn grits/cornmeal (preferably whole grain)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
  • optional: zatar seasoning 

Method:

  1. To make the sauce, put the tomatoes and harissa in a small pot and heat on medium low, stirring occasionally. When the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, reduce heat to low, and let stay warm on the stove.
  2. In a small pot, add the milk, water, and corn grits and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook covered, stirring frequently. Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until mixture reaches desired creaminess.
  3. To prepare the eggs, crack the eggs into two individual small bowls or ramekins.
  4. In a medium to large pot, bring water to a simmer, where the edges are bubbling but it’s not quite a full boil.
  5. Add a few teaspoons of vinegar, and swirl the water in one direction .
  6. Gently pour one of the eggs from the bowl into the water, and let cook until the white becomes opaque, and egg reaches desired level of doneness.
  7. With a slotted spoon, gently remove the poached egg and set on a paper towel. Repeat with the next egg.
  8. To serve, divide the polenta between two bowls. Top each bowl with tomato sauce, chickpeas, and a poached egg. Garnish with zatar or freshly cracked black pepper.

Shakshuka Polenta

Nutrition per Serving: 420 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 67g carbohydrates (11g fiber, 20g sugar), 22g protein, 190mg cholesterol, 460mg sodium, 43% Vitamin A, 49% Vitamin C, 25% Calcium, 36% Iron

– Kelly

Advertisements

Summer Harvest Linguine with Cannellini Beans

Whole Grain Linguine with Wheat Beans and Summer Vegetables

A somewhat unlikely duo, beans and pasta are an odd sounding but much loved combination in my repertoire. The beans contribute protein to an otherwise carb-heavy meal, offering a delightful change in texture, and a rich, hearty flavor. This Italian inspired dish uses creamy cannellini beans and whole wheat linguine as a canvas for sautéed summer vegetables (heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and Tuscan kale). Grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil round out the meal.

Late Summer Farmers Market Vegetables

^^ Fresh from the farmers market! Pro tip: Pick up your eggplants and tomatoes now, before they retire for the season

Sauteed Summer Vegetables

Whole Grain Linguine with Tuscan Vegetables

^^ This recipe is great for entertaining, and was the first meal I served on my new roof patio

Summer Harvest Linguine with Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium to large eggplant, chopped
  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans (or other white bean), drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut or torn into ribbons

Method:

  1. Cook linguine according to package instructions. After draining, toss the pasta with one teaspoon olive oil (to prevent noodles from sticking) and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and eggplant.
  3. While the onion and eggplant are softening, chop the tomatoes.
  4. Once the tomatoes are chopped, add them to the skillet (the eggplant will have absorbed all of the oil by this point, so the pan will need the liquid from the tomatoes).
  5. Add the garlic, salt, oregano, and cannellini beans, stirring occasionally.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the kale leaves from their stems and tear or chop into bite sized pieces.
  7. Add the kale to the skillet, stirring until kale is wilted.
  8. Dive the pasta among four plates, then top each plate with the vegetable mixture. Garnish each plate with one tablespoon each parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Summer Vegetables

Nutrition per Serving: 510 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat). 23g protein, 86g carbohydrates (20g fiber, 15g sugar*), 4mg cholesterol, 435mg sodium, 233% Vitamin A, 250% Vitamin C, 31% Calcium, 37% Iron

*none are added sugars

– Kelly

Ingredient to Master: Radishes

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.01.04 PM

^^ Goal: To be drawn to radishes for reasons other than the vibrant pink color

I make a serious effort to try foods that I’m not really crazy about, because I know that it can take multiple exposures to a new food before one begins to acquire a taste for it. And life is just so more enjoyable when you aren’t picking around your plate, and can appreciate the subtle complexities of a varied diet. The current ingredient that I’m learning to love like tolerate is radishes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.02.24 PM

^^ First attempt: Radishes + Buttered Toast (when in doubt, start with butter)

Apparently, I have overestimated the rapid malleability of my taste buds. Because despite my numerous attempts to appreciate the distinctly peppery bite of this gorgeous, spring hued vegetable, I can’t seem to get past a meager acceptance of the flavor.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.00.04 PM

^^ Second attempt: Radishes + PB (because PB improves everything)

It’s time to change my approach. Rather than letting the radishes steal the show, I’m seeking out recipes where radishes play more of a supporting role, or have their sharp flavor mellowed through the oven. Below I’ve rounded up a few recipes from across the web (thank you, Pinterest) that look like a good place to start…

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.38.00 PM

Spring Rotisserie Sandwiches with Radishes, Avocado, and Buttermilk Dressing from Whole Foods Market

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.39.13 PM

Lentil Tacos with Tomato Radish Salsa from Chez Us

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.38.55 PM

Watermelon Radish, Cara Cara Orange, and Goat Cheese Salad from Alexandra’s Kitchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.38.36 PM

Radish Toasts with Edamame Spread from Vanilla & Spice

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.38.19 PM

Roasted Radishes with Rosemary from Olive and Herb

What is your favorite way to enjoy radishes?

– Kelly

Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Turkey Breast with Roasted Broccolini (image via Bon Appétit)

As a staunch proponent of whole, unprocessed foods and balanced meals, I’m certainly not a “cleanse” girl. But a two-week cleanse filled with foodie favorites like pork tenderloin, chia pudding, and chocolate bark? Now I’m listening!

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Morning Barley with Squash, Date, and Lemon Compote (image via Bon Appétit)

The Food Lover’s Cleanse, dreamed up by the folks at at Bon Appétit, isn’t really a cleanse so much as a boot camp for cooking regularly and getting familiar with some of the lesser-known “superfoods”. Now in it’s fifth year, this creative meal plan demonstrates the growing overlap between nutritious and delicious. I only can’t believe that I’m just now learning about it (thanks to Emily, and her intriguing healthy lunches)!

Even though the 2015 Food Lover’s Cleanse wrapped up in mid-January, you can still access all of the delicious recipes online. Here is a one-page overview of the menu for all two weeks, a printable PDF of all this year’s recipes, and printable shopping list. Prefer to do kitchen prep ahead of time? This is a link to big-batch recipes that are used throughout the cleanse.

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

 images via Bon Appétit

While your grocery bill might suffer (superfoods don’t come cheap these days), it really does make sense to follow the menu plan to it’s fullest, as many ingredients are repurposed throughout the cleanse. For example, barley makes an appearance in a dinner pilaf with leeks and lemon, and then is prepared for breakfast the next morning with squash, date, and lemon compote. Similarly, chevre cheese is served alongside a sliced pear as a snack one day, and then shows up in an egg scramble with caramelized onions the next morning. With quality ingredients like these, the attention to waste reduction is much appreciated!

That being said,  if you’re simply looking for nuggets of inspiration to escape your culinary comfort zone, the recipes can also stand alone. Seeing as my grocery budget is pretty maxed out at 2-3 recipes per week, I probably won’t follow the cleanse to a T (at least not this year). However, browsing the menu plan certainly gave me ideas for recipes that I want to make and foods that I want to cook with. Have you tried any recipes from the Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse? Do tell!

– Kelly

Homemade Date Paste: A Healthy, Natural Fruit Sweetener

DSC01590

As a dietitian, I try to keep my consumption of added sugars as low as possible. And I’m not just talking about table sugar here. I’m talking about brown sugar, agave, maple syrup, and yes, even honey. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day for adult women, and no more than 9 teaspoons for adult men. If you are looking to keep added sugars to a minimum, dates and mashed bananas become your best friend.

DSC01589

First, a little primer on dates. Dates are kind of like giant raisins, but much more sticky and much more sweet. They are about 20 calories each. I usually buy pitted medjool dates in the bulk section at whole foods (surprise, surprise). However, on a particularly desperate grocery outing,  I was able to find dates at the little international market next to my apartment building. Score!

Some of my favorite recipes call for chopped dates as a sweetener, but because the dates are chopped, I find that the sweetness doesn’t distribute evenly throughout the final product. This leaves me with unsweetened food with chunks of date… not quite what I was looking for. Plus, who wants to meticulously chop up a sticky fruit every morning? Not me! Which brings me to date paste.

DSC01588

Date paste is a simple idea really. Just soak dates overnight, blend the softened dates (I used a knock off Magic Bullet) with a bit of the soaking water, and voila… you have a sweetener that distributes much more evenly throughout. (For a more descriptive recipe, see here).

I usually substitute 1 tablespoon of date paste for every teaspoon of table sugar that I would have used. I mostly only use date paste in my morning oatmeal, but it also works great to sweeten muffins and other treats. 1 tablespoon of date paste has approximately 25 calories, 6g sugar, and 0.5g fiber. Compare that to the 16 calories, 4g of sugar, and 0g fiber in only 1 teaspoon of table sugar. Not bad!

Have you made date paste? What are your favorite healthy sweeteners?

– Kelly