Category Archives: Diet

Couscous, Spinach, and Fig Salad

Israeli Couscous, Fig, and Goat Cheese Salad

I’ve been spending too much money on lunch lately and was looking for a filling, delicious salad that I could make instead. I had figs, I had hazelnuts, I had Israeli Couscous. It was a start! What was it missing? Cheese! And I guess some sort of salady something to make it pretty and healthier. And so this salad was born:

Couscous, Spinach, and Fig Salad

It was really freaking delicious. My recipe was enough for four very satisfying lunches. I love it when I can eat a salad for lunch and actually feel full! If you’re wondering why I chose Israeli Couscous (other than the fact that I had it in my pantry) it’s because I thought it would work better in a salad than the regular, smaller couscous. It mixed in well with everything, and didn’t really sink to the bottom. I used a baby spinach based mix the first time I made this, and a regular baby greens mix the next time. I say you should just pick what you like!

Israeli Couscous, Figs, Goat cheese, spinach salad

I went home this past weekend, and thought it would be nice to make it for my family’s Memorial Day picnic. I chose to double the recipe, and it made for a very delightful picnic salad. Also it was super convenient because I was able to make it the day before. People seemed to like it, and I promised I would have the recipe on my website, and I never lie! I’d write a more fun story, but I have lots of homework to pretend to do now.

Here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

Israeli Couscous, Fig, and Goat Cheese Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
 
A perfect summer-time salad with a very simple lemon dressing.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup dried figs, quartered
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 5 oz baby greens mix (spinach, baby lettuce, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the couscous in lightly salted water according to the package instructions.
  2. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large bowl mix cooked couscous, figs, toasted hazelnuts, and olive oil. Cover and let cool in refrigerator at least 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, add goat cheese and salad.
  5. Toss with lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Keep chilled before serving.

If you aren’t sure how to toast hazelnuts, here’s how I do it:

On the stop top, spread the chopped hazelnuts out in an ungreased pan. Keep heat on medium/medium-low, stir hazelnuts frequently until they are lightly toasted. Make sure you watch them so they don’t burn! It should only take a few minutes. Remove them to a separate bowl once finished, so they don’t continue to cook in the hot pan!

Wine Poached Figs

Wine Poached Figs in Prosciutto Pie Bowls

Figs! For my Eat Write Retreat Culinary Apps Challenge I received a box of California Figs in the mail and had to come up with an amazing appetizer featuring them. I have never  cooked with figs before, so this was actually really exciting for me. Since I have no notion of what to do with them, I can just go crazy, right? Right! Luckily there was a handy information packet included in the box with the figs. For example, I didn’t realize that they are known to be a part of a Mediterranean diet. This is quite useful, because I wanted to try to eat a more Mediterranean style diet for the next few weeks so I can learn how to cook fish. Now I have all these figs that I should try to incorporate into this plan! Also, just 3-5 figs give you 5 grams of dietary fiber, so that’s pretty awesome too!

 

Wine Poached Figs

When I think of appetizers, I always think of some sort of something on some sort of bowl or plate made of food. Real specific, I know. So for this challenge I decided to go with a bowl shape. In my research, I found lots of recipes with figs being wrapped in other ingredients, like prosciutto. I figured this is a good chance to change things up a bit and rolled prosciutto, Pecorino Romano cheese, and dried basil into a pie crust, and used that as a bowl. And it worked!  Bonus: the pie bowls can be made the day before!

Look! Prosciutto, cheese, and basil!

Look! Prosciutto, cheese, and basil!

The majority were shaped with the prosciutto facing up, because I was worried the cheese might stick to the pan. The four that faced down didn’t stick at all, and looked really cool. Next time I’ll definitely make them all like that.

bottom

See, these look just fine, and didn’t stick at all!

I wanted to make sure I kept the figgyness of the figs figgy. I like the texture of them and wanted to use other ingredients to enhance their flavor. I still felt the need to alter them in some way, so I poached them in white wine, honey, and a bit of orange juice. I used Pinot Grigio, and it was fantastic.

with wine

And then I obviously had a glass of wine too

With the shipment of figs I also received some tools from OXO. They really came in handy. Especially that measuring cup that twists up! It was perfect for measuring the honey and getting it to actually pour out of the cup. The cheese grater worked really well too!

Tray

And, to make this all even better, I made it for Mother’s Day so my parents were able to be my test dummies!

Ok, is it recipe time yet?

Wine Poached Figs in Prosciutto Pie Bowls
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
Savory prosciutto pie bowls and a figs poached in a lightly sweet dressing
Ingredients
  • 1 pie crust, thawed
  • 1.5 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 6 dried figs, halved
  • 1 cup Spring Mix salad, loosely packed and ripped into smaller pieces
  • Optional Garnishes: grated Pecorino Romano, and orange zest
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 450.
  2. In a small pan, cook prosciutto until it's lightly crispy, and remove to a paper towel lined bowl and let cool.
  3. Roll out pie dough, and evenly sprinkle cheese, basil, and ¾ of the prosicutto. Press into dough, then use a rolling pin to lightly roll ingredients into the dough.
  4. Cut into small circles, and shape to fit into mini-muffin pan cups. Lightly prick each with a fork.
  5. Bake 6-9 minutes, or until lightly browned. If made the day before, store in an airtight container.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring wine, honey, and orange juice to a simmer. Add halved figs, and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove figs, and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  7. Toss salad with the remaining ¼ of prosciutto and 1 Tbsp of warm poaching liquid. Place leaves into pie bowls, and top each with a piece of fig. Garnish with orange zest and romano cheese.
White Wine Poached Figs
Lemony Farro Salad

Lemon Farro Salad

I had a lot of fun learning how to cook with farro and I wish I knew about this when I was a vegetarian because it is really easy to cook, super filling, and it seems to be very versatile. The reason I decided to try it this week is because I received free samples from the Eat Write Retreat Scholarship Challenge to win a ticket to their conference in Philly this year. The contest is being run by Tuscan Fields, who sent out samples of farro to all of the contestants.

My samples were Farro Perlato (organic semi-pearled Emmer) and Farro ai Funghi (organic semi-pearled Farro with ‘Porcini’ mushrooms”.  Both were delicious. And obviously I had to make two different recipes with them so I could play around and see how awesome these little farro fellas are. I wanted to make one hot and one cold dish to see what temperature I prefer farro. I like both! I decided to keep the recipes simple because this is a learning experience for me. Now I need to buy more farro and try some crazy recipes with it! This recipe was my favorite of the two, so I chose it to be my entry to the contest. It was also my cousin’s favorite, so I have to make it for her again because it is the perfect salad to bring to work for lunch!

So what did the farro look like uncooked?

farro

Pretty, right?

So what did it look like cooked?

Lemony Farro Salad

 A couple side-notes before we get started: I used a rotisserie chicken and cut up all the white meat from it for this (I ate the rest of it in the meantime…this was after work and I was hungry!). Obviously you can just cook a couple pieces of chicken breast instead if you want. For cooking the farro, I pretty much just followed the directions on the back of the box. Also, I would go light overall with salt since the feta adds a lot of salty flavor at the end.

On to the recipe!!

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Farro al Funghi

Farro Fajitas

With my sample of Farro ai Funghi from Tuscan Fields for the Eat Write Retreat  contest for a ticket to a conference in Philly, I thought it would be fun to make vegetarian fajitas. Also I made this on Thursday, which is taco night, so why not? Also, alliteration is fun. I wanted to have more fun and make it Farro Fajita Pitas, but I couldn’t find pitas at the store :(

Since the farro has a lot of protein in it to begin with I didn’t feel the need for any other protein source, like meat or beans. Also, I just wanted to taste the flavor of the farro.I added mushrooms because 1) I like mushrooms a whole lot and 2) I think the texture of them makes for a great meat substitute. This is a really simple recipe, and was satisfyingly filling. Although next time I might try it with the Farro Perlato because the Farro al Funghi was so delicious on its own that it seemed almost criminal to mix it up with salsa and cheese. I still did it, and still enjoyed it, so overall it was a huge success.

Also, check out the beautiful onion I found at the grocery store! I couldn’t find onions this pretty even when it was my job to pick out beauty onions for the sets of Food Network shows! The peel wasn’t broken at all!

Veggies

Crazy, right? I almost didn’t want to cut it up!

Here’s the Farro al Funghi on its own so you can see how delightful it is.

Farro al Funghi

Seriously, that alone makes an amazing side dish. I might have to get some for Easter.

On to fajitas!

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See, thin but still appetizing!

Any Way You Like It Frittata

When I use recipes, unless they are for baked goods, I tend to use them simply as guidelines.  You can always substitute ingredients and play with recipes to make them your own. For example, when recipes call for mushrooms I frequently just use canned mushrooms instead of fresh because I’m cheap and lazy. And it works just fine. When I decided to try my hand at making a frittata recipe I thought it would be more fun to give you a frittata base and then some ideas for the filler.

The salad was made by my mom, she’s a good helper!

What’s a frittata? It’s an egg dish, like a fancy omelet or a crust-less quiche. It begins cooking on the stove on low heat, and finishes in the oven (at least that’s how I do it). You should make it in an oven-safe non-stick pan to make your life less stressful. My frittata is a bit on the thin side, but that’s only because of the size pan I used. I could have used a smaller pan, but this is the non-stick pan of glorious amazing fantastic non-stickiness (I used the 12 inch one because the 10 inch pan is still packed somewhere). It makes me happy.

See, thin but still appetizing!

I have the recipe for the egg base below, so for now I will share with you flavoring fun ideas. I like to work with 3-4cups worth of deliciousness. For the frittata in the pictures I chopped one onion, used one can of drained mushrooms, and added a bit from a bag of frozen  spinach and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. In total it came out to be about 3.5 cups of uncooked vegetables. This is just what I chose to do because I had these ingredients on hand.

This is all it takes to make awesomeness happen

What can you do? The same thing, or something different. Frittatas are fun because you can play with them. You can add cooked pasta, ham, any vegetable that strikes your fancy, beans, etc. You get the idea. In the summer I’ll probably make it with tomatoes from our garden and fresh herbs. See,  you can do whatever the hell you want! Ok, enough chatter, let’s check this out.

Printer Version

Any Way You Like It Frittata

 
3-4 cups filling (meat, veggies, cooked pasta, etc)
2 tsp. butter, melted
½ cup milk
4 egg whites (1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
3 eggs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup shredded cheese, optional (mozzarella, cheddar, etc.)
Cooking spray

 

Preheat oven to 450.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray and cook filling ingredients until everything is cooked through and excess moisture has evaporated. Drain if necessary. Remove from pan, and wipe the pan clean. Let mixture cool slightly.

My filling! Still a little frozen in this shot, but it has potential for greatness.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Add filling, and stir to combine.

Heat the pan over medium-low heat, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Add egg mixture.

I got bored waiting for the sides to set, so here’s a picture.

When the edges begin to set (about 4-6 minutes), gently lift edges of frittata and tip the pan letting uncooked egg touch sides of the pan. Go around the frittata doing this at least once. Continue cooking until almost set, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and wrap the handle with foil.

Bake at 450 for 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Let cool at least 5 minutes, and then with a spatula gently remove from pan. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.

I’m very proud of myself for not breaking it at all

 

Dinner time!