The July/August issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine has an article on “The Best Way to Boil Green Beans.” The author talks about how he stumbled on a tip in the cookbook On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee that describes how heavily salted water speeds up the cooking of vegetables. According to him, the cookbook said the key was to cook your vegetables in water as salty as the sea which roughly translates to about 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. In typical Cook’s Illustrated fashion, the author proceeded to experiment, trying out different ratios of salt to water, to finally discover that the book was right and the heavily salted water produced tender, vibrantly green, deeply flavorful beans.
I decided to try the green bean salad recipe included in the article and serve it at Christmas dinner. The salad was a hit. I don’t have a copy of Harold McGee’s book so I don’t know if this secret works for other vegetables as well, but I’m definitely boiling green beans this way from now on.
GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND FETA CHEESE
1½ lbs. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
¼ cup salt
12 ozs. cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. each of salt and pepper
2 ozs. (½ cup) feta cheese, crumbled
Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan over high heat.
Add green beans and 1/4 cup salt, return to boil, and cook until green beans are bright green and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
While green beans cook, fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water.
Drain green beans in colander and immediately transfer to ice bath.
When green beans are no longer warm to the touch, drain in colander again, then transfer to salad spinner and spin to dry thoroughly.
Place green beans, tomatoes, oil, mint, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine.
Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with feta, and serve.
If you don’t own a salad spinner, you can lay the drained green beans on a clean kitchen towel after shocking them in the ice water, and pat them dry.
The green beans can be blanched, shocked, and dried, then stored in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days in advance.
I saw this recipe on foodnetwork.com and I thought it would be fun to make a different kind of guacamole for Cinco de Mayo. This guacamole recipe couldn’t be any more different from the traditional, but it was delicious! It had a slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor that went great with tortilla chips and was a perfect addition to our Cinco de Mayo dinner.
PEAR AND PISTACHIO GUACAMOLE
3 Hass avocados, halved, pitted and cubed
2 firm ripe Seckel pears or 1 large Anjou pear, cored and finely diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1½ – 2 fresh limes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, minced (if you want it less spicy, remove the seeds)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped roasted pistachios
lime wedges, for serving
blue corn tortilla chips, for serving
Toss together the avocados and pears in a medium bowl.
Stir in the cilantro, juice from 1½ limes, garlic, jalapeño, salt, and pepper.
Taste and adjust seasoning with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper if desired.
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle pistachios over top.
Serve with lime wedges and blue corn tortilla chips.
This dip has been a long time favorite in my family. It’s very, very easy to make because you just throw all the ingredients into a bowl and microwave it! It’s a great appetizer for a Cinco de Mayo party. I you want to make this meatless, you can omit the bacon. I think it’s fine without it, but my kids swear it tastes better with bacon. Either way, you’ve got to give this recipe a try. You won’t be sorry. Make sure you serve it warm!
WARM MEXICORN DIP
4 cans (11 ozs. each) Green Giant mexi-corn, drained well
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2/3 of a 16-oz. container sour cream
16 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese
3 or 4 green onion stalks, chopped (depends on how big they are)
salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled
Mix all the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish.
Microwave until hot and bubbly, stopping to stir halfway through (about 5 minutes).
I stumbled across this recipe on justapinch.com. They have some great recipes on their website and this one was no exception. This yummy, vegetarian appetizer is great to serve at a party or take to a potluck. You can substitute lowfat cream cheese if you want to cut down on the fat. These colorful rolls look so pretty arranged on a platter. And the best part is….. they’re super easy to make!
VEGGIE CREAM CHEESE ROLL-UPS
6 eight-inch flour tortillas (can use wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas)
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 envelope ranch dressing or dip mix
4 green onions, finely chopped
½ small can (4.25 oz.) chopped black olives
1 celery rib, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
Beat cream cheese and ranch mix together until smooth and well-blended.
Stir in chopped vegetables with a rubber spatula.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over tortillas.
Roll up tortillas into logs and wrap each log in plastic wrap.
Place tortilla logs in fridge to chill for at least 3 hours to set.
Slice tortillas into ½-inch rounds before serving.
Can be served with salsa as a dip.
I don’t like a lot of olives in these rolls so I only use half a small can. Feel free to use the whole can if you like.
This vegetarian dish looks like you spent all day making it but is actually very easy. Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy too. If you have a mandoline, use it. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it sure makes nice even eggplant slices. You can also make your own marinara sauce or just buy a jar, like I did. They have lots of healthy ones out there nowadays. This recipe makes a big 9×13-inch casserole. If you’re feeding less people, cut the recipe in half.
This vegetarian dish is popularly eaten in Peru. Besides being healthy and good for you, it’s also very easy to make. I think you could add other veggies to it if you wanted to, like carrots, mushrooms, kale, or peas, which makes it quite the versatile little dish. Just make sure you keep in the potato and corn which are what make it classically Peruvian. Oh and I forgot to sprinkle the cilantro over it before I took the photo above. Don’t do what I did. The cilantro adds a delicious pop of flavor so you don’t want to leave it out. This recipe serves 2 people, but could very easily be doubled or tripled to feed more.
PERUVIAN QUINOA VEGETABLE STEW [Serves 2]
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. paprika
¾ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ cup water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red potato (6 ozs.), unpeeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
⅓ cup quinoa, rinsed well
⅓ cup fresh, canned or frozen corn kernels
1 small zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced
queso fresco, crumbled
1 lime, cut into wedges
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, paprika, coriander and cumin.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened and spices are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Stir in water, scraping up any browned bits.
Stir in broth and potato, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in quinoa and simmer for 8 minutes.
Stir in corn and zucchini and continue to simmer until quinoa and vegetables are just tender, 6-8 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide stew into 2 bowls.
Top each with a sprinkling of cilantro, a little avocado, some crumbled queso fresco, and 2 or 3 lime wedges for your guests to squeeze into the stew before eating.
I’m sick as a dog. I caught that terrible flu that’s been going around. I had a fever of 103° and felt pretty darn miserable. Finally got rid of the flu, but my doctor says I now have bronchitis, not to mention I’m wheezing like an old asthmatic. Sigh….. Anyway, since I’ve been laid up in bed, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the blog and post some of my recipes that have been sitting in draft form waiting for a little tweaking or something before being published, so don’t be surprised to see several posts come out all at once.
Salade Niçoise (pronounced ni swaz) is one of my all-time favorite salads. I believe it originated in France and my understanding is the original is made with anchovies, but neverhavingbeen to Nice, I can’t say for sure. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been made with tuna and my family likes it that way so I just keep it up — though personally, I wouldn’t mind anchovies. Hey! I happen to like the little guys! Anyway, classic niçoise salad typically has boiled potatoes, green beans, and niçoise olives, but there again from my readings it seems that boiled veggies are frowned upon in some areas of France. Whatever. I happen to think the boiled potatoes and green beans are the best part of this salad! Anyway, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!
(Makes 4 servings)
12 ozs. boston, bibb, or butter lettuce
16 baby yellow potatoes
4 large eggs
10 ozs. haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
2 cans (5½ oz. each) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup niçoise or Kalamata olives, cut in half
Fill a bowl with ice and water and set it aside. You may have to replenish the ice and/or water as needed.
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to the ice water bath to stop cooking.
When potatoes are cool, remove from ice water, cut in half, and set aside.
Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Let cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are hard boiled.
Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
When eggs are cool, remove from ice water, peel, and set aside.
Add fresh water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again.
Add the green beans and blanch till they’re bright green, about 1 minute.
Remove green beans with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
Once green beans are cool, remove from ice water, and set aside.
Divide the lettuce equally into 4 salad bowls.
Top each with 4 potatoes cut in half, 1/4 of the green beans, 5 tomatoes cut in half, 1 egg cut into 4 wedges, 1/4 of the olives, and half a can of tuna.
Drizzle lemon-thyme dressing over each salad.
zest of 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
Dressing will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE:We like our dressing with a touch of sweetness, but if you want the dressing to be less sweet, feel free to cut the sugar in half or omit it altogether.
This is a play on a recipe I got years ago from a package of Jiffy corn muffin mix. It’s yummy! Corn casserole makes a great side dish to serve with your Thanksgiving meal or any time of year, actually. It’s wonderful with barbecued meat or chicken. It’s really easy to make and tastes oh-so-delicious! When I take it to potlucks, it gets gobbled up pretty quick. You could also add ½ to ¾ cup of sugar for a sweet corn casserole. The kids love it that way!
JIFFY CORN CASSEROLE
1 box (8.5 oz.) Jiffy corn muffin mix
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cans (15 oz. each) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14 oz.) cream-style corn
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 11×7-inch casserole dish.
In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, corn kernels, creamed corn, sour cream, eggs, and corn muffin mix.
Pour into prepared casserole dish.
Bake for 45 minutes or until center is firm.
Remove from oven and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
You can omit the eggs if you like. The eggs make the dish a little lighter but it turns out perfectly fine without them.
This casserole can be made a day ahead. Prepare the recipe up to Step 3, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, take the casserole out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to bring it closer to room temperature, then continue with Step 4.
I’ve had this recipe for years but hadn’t made it in a long time. One day, my daughter, Tissi, decided she wanted to make herself some quiche. She’s a veggie eater and she loves quiche so I dug up my recipe for her. The problem was when I wrote it out for her, I said it only needed one pie crust. Needless to say, she ended up with a ton of extra filling. It wasn’t until a couple of attempts later that I realized my recipe was actually for TWO pies! Poor Tis. She couldn’t figure out why the recipe wasn’t working for her. LOL! If you want to make just one pie, cut the recipe in half. Otherwise, make sure you have two pie crusts ready.
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name. It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.
1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
¼ – ½ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.
TOPPING VARIATIONS: Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.