Friday, November 21, 2014

Cheese tortellini with watercress and pistachio pesto

Watercress in a wonderful mildly peppery green typically used in salads or sandwiches. You might have seen them in a egg salad sandwich on multigrain bread (great combination). Made into a pesto with green peas and pistachio, it makes a great sauce for a pasta. The peas balances the peppery taste of the the watercress and the pistachio gives it great body and a little crunch. Since I am using cheese tortellini, I haven't added Parmesan to the pesto, but you could definitely add it if you were using the pesto for a plain pasta. I add fresh lemon juice at the end to perk up the dish.

Tortellini with watercress and pistachio pesto

 For the pesto
3 oz watercress
1 scant cup petite frozen peas (organic preferred)
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachio
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
  1. Blanch  the frozen peas in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and add it to all the ingredients for the pesto in the food processor. Blitz till the mixture forms a paste.
Makes about 1 cup

For the Tortellini
4 cups cheese tortellini
  1. Boil as per the instructions on the package. When done, drain and apportion them in individual serving bowls.
  2. Add the pesto to the warm pasta. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Serves 4

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Duck Egg Vindaloo (Sweet and Sour Duck Eggs)

If you haven't tried duck eggs, they are worth a try. They are much larger than hen eggs, richer in taste and have more nutrients. Due to their low moisture content they tend to become rubbery if overcooked while boiling. The cooked whites are whiter than hen eggs and the yolk is not yellow but orange. But if you are apprehensive to try duck eggs, feel free to make this dish with hen eggs.

Now about the vindaloo part of the recipe - vindaloo is a traditional recipe from the Western coast of India. It is a spicy and tangy dish made with a few spices, a healthy dose of vinegar and some sugar to balance the tartness.

Duck egg vindaloo

4 duck eggs - boiled and peeled and halved
1 ½ cups sliced white onion
1 one inch stick of cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic - grated or crushed to a paste
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ - ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon garam masala
  1. Heat a medium sized skillet with canola oil. Add the cinnamon and the onions and saute over medium heat till the onions get soft about 8 to 10 minutes. 
  2. Now add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cayenne, paprika, cumin, brown sugar, salt and vinegar and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and place the eggs nestled in the onion mixture in a single layer, the yolk facing upwards. Add 1 cup water, raise the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue  to cook till the mixture becomes saucy. Add the garam masala. Stir gently so as not to break up the eggs. Remove from the heat and serve.
Serving suggestions:
Serve with rice or parathas.

Serves 4.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spiced spinach and red lentil pate

Quick, simple and delicious is how I would describe this dish. The cumin adds a smokiness to the dish and a light sprinkle of cayenne powder gives it that kick. I used a coarsely ground cayenne pepper since I like the pretty flecks of red against the yellow of the lentils and green of the spinach. If you don't have coarsely ground red pepper, you could use dried red chili flakes as a substitute or even regular ground cayenne pepper.
I serve it over bruschetta, as a dip for pita triangles or crudites. For a party finish, drizzle some high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Spiced spinach and red lentil pate

2 cups chopped fresh spinach (I used organic spinach)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground cayenne pepper
1/8th teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
3/4th cup water
  1. Wash and soak the red lentils for 15 minutes
  2. Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. When heated, add olive oil and the cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds pop, add the spinach and quickly saute for a minute or two. Now add the soaked and drained lentils to the spinach, Add the salt, ground cayenne and the turmeric if using. Mix well. Add 3/4th cup water and cover the pan and cook for 7 - 10 minutes until the lentils are cooked but still have some shape. If the mixture is too dry add a couple more tablespoons of water. 
  3. The final product should be spreadable but not saucy.
Serves 3 to 4