Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Swiss chard with lentils (chana dal)

I like Swiss chard as a green and use them wherever I would reach for spinach. It is a little heartier than spinach and I particularly like the red Swiss chard since it gives a beautiful red hue to the dish. Chana dal are split garbonzo beans which have a toothsome texture if not overcooked and together with Swiss chard creates this wholesome dish to be eaten with rice or couscous.
I have used Indian spices to make this dish, but you could very easily take it Mediterranean and use a combination of oregano, thyme or basil with some garlic and chili flakes and come up with something similar but with a different flavor profile.

Swiss chard with lentils

½ cup chana dal soaked for 2 hours with warm water
1 ¼ cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bunch – about 6 large leaves of organic red Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon dry mango powder
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar

1. Separate the Swiss chard leaves from the stems and chop the stems into ¼ inch pieces. The leaves can be stacked, rolled and cut into julienne.
2. Heat a large sauté pan with canola oil. While the oil is coming to temperature, drain the chana dal. Add the cumin seeds to the hot oil – after 30 seconds, add the chana dal. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium high heat – the dal would have gotten a little golden around the edges.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook covered over medium heat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped Swiss chard stems with 2 cups warm water and coriander powder, cayenne and salt and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
5. Now add the julienned leaves and stir well. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes over medium heat. By now the chana dal should be cooked but still have a bite – we do not soft dal for this dish. If it is too hard, add another ¼ cup warm water and cook another 5 minutes or till the chana dal is cooked.
6. Finally add the dry mango powder and sugar. Stir and cook for another minute. The final dish should not be dry and nor like a soup – it should have a light gravy.
7. Serve with rice, couscous or even pita.
Serves 3

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Beet and Blood orange salad with pistachios

This is an absolutely stunning looking salad and tastes equally good. Blood oranges are in season and I have been using them as much as I can. They are a little tangy and paired with sweet beets are a lovely combination. The deep purple color of the beets, and the striking blood red of the oranges dolloped with the white yogurt dressing flecked with green pistachios is a very visually appealing dish.

The beets are roasted and dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper and topped with yogurt seasoned with balsamic crème and olive oil and garnished with roasted pistachios.

Beet and blood orange salad with pistachios

1 medium sized organic beet (I just like to use organic produce as much as possible)
1 blood orange
6 oz 0% fat Greek yogurt [I used Fage brand]
1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon roasted shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
A few squirts of balsamic crème
¼ - ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Trim the beet and place in a small oven proof dish with a little bit of water and cover with foil. Place in the middle rack of the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil to test if the beet is cook by piercing with a knife. If the knife does not go through, cover and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
2. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, which should come out very easily and cut the beet into thin wedges.
3. In the meantime, peel and remove the segments of the blood orange. Using a paring knife, cut off a slice from the top and bottom of the orange to expose the flesh. Set the orange on the cutting board and using the curve of the orange as your guide, peel the rind off the orange including the white pith from top to bottom. Then, working over a bowl to collect the juices, cut between the segments and remove the segments using your paring knife. Dress the beets and the oranges with ½ tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper and place in the bottom of the serving bowl.
4. In another bowl mix the yogurt with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Swirl in a few squirts of balsamic crème. [If you don’t have balsamic crème, reduce some balsamic vinegar till it turns syrupy and use that instead.]
5. Pour the yogurt over the beets and orange and garnish with the chopped pistachios.

Serves 2 to 3

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quinoa with Swiss chard and grape tomatoes

This colorful quinoa dish is a great way to start the New year. Quinoa is high in protein though not as high as beans or lentils. But it is a great go to when you are reaching out for that box of pasta. I like to use a mix of red, black and white quinoa, simply because I like the textural difference. Red and black quinoa are crunchier than white quinoa. These days you can get a pack of tri-color quinoa  or you can buy a pack of each and mixture or use only 1 color depending on your preference.
Today I have added roasted grape tomatoes (with harissa, molasses and balsamic vinegar) and sauteed red and green chard. Roasting concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes and the addition of harissa gives it a little bit of kick. Molasses helps to caramelize the tomatoes and enhance their sweet flavor.
I finally dress the dish with some extra virgin olive oil and some red wine vinegar for that mildly tangy finish.

Quinoa with Swiss chard and Grape tomatoes
1 bunch organic Swiss chard (mix of red and green)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
A pinch of dried red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

8 oz cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon unsulfered molasses or brown sugar
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup tri-color quinoa
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. Cut the grape tomatoes into half and toss them with the molasses or brown sugar, harissa paste, balsamic vinegar, ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the middle rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes till the tomatoes have started to shrivel and caramelize around the edges.
3. Wash the quinoa in a couple of changes of water to remove the bitter outer coating. In a 3 quart saucepan, add the 2 cups of water and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt to the quinoa and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork.
4. While the quinoa and tomatoes are cooking, separate the chard leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into ¼ inch pieces and chop the leaves into strips. (The best way is to roll the leaves into cigars and slice them.) In another sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over low heat and add the sliced garlic and the dried red chilis. Once the garlic is beginning to brown add the chopped chard stems and increase the heat to medium. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the leaves and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes till the leaves are all wilted and the stems are cooked.
5. Remove from the pan and add the cooked chard and roasted grape tomatoes to the warm quinoa. (Can be served cold a well). Toss lightly. Dress with the red wine vinegar and a drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 4