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This year, since I was home alone with nowhere to go (my own choice, I swear!), I treated myself to a scallop dinner. Since I’ve been eating like a pig queen lately, I made it clean and healthy, using this recipe from Food & Wine, Scallops with Blood Orange, Fennel, and Pistachios.

1 medium bulb fennel
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 navel orange
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Scallops (I splurged on dry sea scallops, so I only bought three; this recipe could accommodate about eight large scallops)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp capers
1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

1. Halve the fennel lengthwise and thinly slice on a mandolin. Place on a large platter and drizzle with olive oil.
2. Remove skin and white pith from the orange and thinly slice into rounds. Layer on top of the fennel.
3. Scatter olives on top of the salad.
4. Sprinkle scallops with a little bit of salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, because the olives and capers provide most of the seasoning).
5. Heat a saute pan over high heat. Add butter and as soon as it melts, place scallops in the pan.
6. Add thyme sprig to the pan and sear the scallops, about 1 minute on the first side, 30 seconds on the flip side. Using a spoon, baste the scallops with the thyme-infused butter while they cook.
7. Remove the scallops from the pan and place directly on top of the salad.
8. Add capers to the pan and fry in the butter just until the first one pops open, about 30 seconds. Spoon on top of the salad.
9. Sprinkle the platter with pumpkin seeds and serve!

This is a great healthy entree or first course. Feel free to omit the scallops and make the salad alone; it would be a great side dish, or a perfect component of a big brunch spread.

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3/4 cup polenta, prepared according to package’s instructions
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, small dice
5 cloves garlic, divided, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28-oz can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

Make the polenta:
1. Pour the prepared polenta into a square or rectangular pan. Cool and then invert onto a cutting board.
2. Cut the polenta into triangles, or whichever shape you prefer.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sear each triangle until crisp and golden brown, about 3-5 minutes each side, depending on the thickness.

Make the sauce:
1. Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil over medium heat in a medium pot.
2. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sweat until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and juice to the pot. Stir and simmer over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the flavors have melded but remain bright.

Spoon the tomato sauce onto a plate. Top with seared polenta. Serve with wilted baby spinach.

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I must admit, I had never heard of this scramble until I read the 150th issue of Saveur, which highlighted 150 classic recipes. After whipping it up for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, I realize why it should be a mainstay in all homes.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, small dice
kosher salt and black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 94/6, but aim for at least 90/10)
8 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
8 eggs
Sourdough bread, for serving

1. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic to the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
4. Add beef to the pan and cook until it is no longer pink; break apart the meat with the back of a spoon to bite-size pieces or smaller.
5. Stir in the spinach and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. Whisk the eggs and then pour into the pan, stirring until cooked through and moisture evaporates.
7. Serve with sliced or torn sourdough bread.

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Okay, so I know that it’s not the season for corn and tomato, but this dish just had to happen. Curried tomatoes are set in an Italianesque environment. Hull-less barley has crunchy, al dente consistency, and balances well with sweet, creamy corn puree. Curried tomatoes round out the experience, bringing a sweet, deep richness to the dish.

Make it.

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1 cup hull-less barley
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, medium dice
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 t rosemary
1 large bay leaf
1 cup milk, cream or half and half
1 batch curried oven-dried tomatoes, julienne
Parmesan cheese, to taste

1. Cook the barley according to the package’s directions.
2. While the barley is cooking, heat the butter and oil and sweat the onion over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the corn, rosemary, bay and milk and simmer on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaves and puree the corn mixture until fairly smooth. Adjust seasoning.
5. Stir the corn puree into the cooked barley.
6. Add curried tomatoes and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning.
7. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.