Monday, November 11, 2013

Steamed spinach with a lemon sesame dressing

Quick, healthy and delicious is how I would describe this dish. The most time is required to ensure the spinach is devoid of any dirt. If you want to skip the washing and make this dish even quicker, you can use pre-washed baby spinach leaves. The spinach leaves in this recipe are simply blanched and a flavorful dressing of lemon juice, soy sauce and chili oil makes it ultra delicious. A healthy sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds give it a little crunch. It is a perfect side with a tofu main course dish.

Steamed spinach with a lemon sesame dressing
2 bunches organic spinach, trimmed and washed thoroughly
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 teaspoons chili oil
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds [toast in a dry skillet over medium heat, till light brown]

  1. Blanch  the spinach in salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with tongs and drain in a colander.
  2. For the dressing, whisk the lemon juice, oils, soy sauce and salt. 
  3. Transfer the blanched drained spinach to a serving bowl - make sure there is no water as that will dilute the dressing. Pour the dressing over the spinach and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Serves 3 to 4

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pizza with roasted kabocha squash, kale and goat cheese

Kabocha squash is a popular winter squash - commonly used in Japan was actually introduced by the Portuguese to Japan. It is intensely sweet and has a dense texture. Roasted it mashes very well and works as a great base for the pizza. I combine it with the slight bitterness of Tuscan kale and the tanginess of fresh goat cheese to make the perfect fall topping for my pizza. The surprise elements are bits of chopped toasted and salted pecans.

Pizza dough for two individual pies (store bought or home made)
2 cups peeled and chopped kabocha squash
One medium bunch of Tuscan kale (about 8 large leaves)
1/4 cup roasted salted pecans
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Dried chili flakes or freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. 
  2. Toss the squash cubes with about a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and spread on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 30 minutes till they are soft enough to mash. When cool, mash with a fork and set aside.
  3. Now raise the temperature of the oven to 500 F. Place the pizza stone in the middle rack when the oven temperature reaches 500 and preheat for 20 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, remove the ribs from the kale leaves and blanch them in boiling hot salted water for 4 minutes. Drain well and chop roughly and set aside.
  5. Spread the pizza dough by hand or roll it on a lightly floured surface till it is about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is bouncing back, let it rest for 5 minutes and continue to roll. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and start assembling the pizza. Spread the mashed kabocha squash on the spread out dough. Top with the chopped kale, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped pecans. If you like your pizza spicy, sprinkle a pinch of dried chili flakes otherwise some freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Transfer the parchment paper with the assembled pizza to the pizza stone using a peel. If you don't have a peel, slide the parchment on to a large cutting board or a crisper and gently slide the pizza to the hot stone. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 F. Bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Remove the pizza with the parchment to a cutting board. Slice and serve.
Makes two individual pies.