Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crunch, Crunch, Crunch

celery saladAfter weeks of soupy, stewy foods (recently: beef goulash, curried lentils, Asian vegetable soup, veggie chili), I had a craving for something crunchy. And green. And -- dare I say it -- springlike.

Celery Salad fit the criteria. You can find all manner of recipes for celery-based salads on the Internet, but one I like pairs sliced celery with shallots, Parmesan cheese, and a lemony vinaigrette. It has a nice bite along with the crunch.

Celery Salad
(from The Boston Globe)

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 pounds celery (about 9 large stalks), trimmed and thinly sliced; leaves reserved and finely chopped
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (divided use)
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

In a large bowl, mix lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

Add the celery slices and leaves, half of the cheese, and the parsley. Toss gently to coat.

Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Garnish with the remaining cheese and serve. Serves 6.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Ratatouille

On the subject of bowls, here's the recipe for last night's ratatouille. I think it's misnamed; it's full of what I would consider late summer/early autumn vegetables rather than dead-of-winter produce. Still, I was able to take advantage of my greengrocer's special on zucchini.

Winter Ratatouille
(Adapted from The Times of London)

Fat-free olive oil cooking spray
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes (petite diced)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
Rosemary leaves from 3 sprigs
Thyme leaves from 10 sprigs
3 parsnips, peeled and sliced (remove any woody cores)
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 large globe eggplant, cubed (or 3 slim Japanese eggplants, sliced)
2 to 3 zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 cup water
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Spray the bottom of a Dutch oven with cooking spray; heat. Saute the onions until soft, about five minutes.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and herbs, and cook for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes thicken slightly.

Add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and coated with the sauce. If the stew is too soupy, increase the heat and cook, uncovered, to reduce the liquid. (I did not have to do this).

Serve as is or over pasta. The ratatouille can be made ahead and reheated.

Super Bowls

We had friends over on Super Bowl Sunday, and between our families we have a nut allergy, a fat-restricted diet, a pepper-chili-cilantro aversion, a carbs-and-calories watcher, a couple of picky kids, and a kosher kitchen. Oh, what to do?


Then, make a bunch of food and let everyone mix and match. Our final line-up:

  • Crudites and herbed yogurt dip
  • Fat-free and regular hummus (homemade)
  • Pita bread, salsa, hard pretzels, and tortilla chips (store bought)
  • Baked macaroni and cheese
  • A winter ratatouille
  • Plain pasta
  • Salad greens with roasted squash and a maple vinaigrette
  • Undressed salad greens
  • A "gridiron" of brownies (with Hugs and Kisses for the X's and O's)
  • Jell-O footballs
  • Grapes
  • Plus our friends' contributions of spicy pickles, a big football-shaped fruit tart, and little football-shaped s'mores.
Turns out I had one major goof-up: I completely missed my friend's maple syrup allergy (smacks self in head!), so the dressed salad was a no-go for him. Fortunately, there were no Emergency Room trips, and, as far as I can tell, no one left hungry.

So, all in all, it was not your typical Super Bowl spread, but a lot of bowls were involved. Leftovers for dinner tonight!