Archive | May, 2015

Avocado salad

26 May

avocado saladAvocadoes were on sale this week, so it was a good opportunity to make this yummy salad. I would say it’s very easy, but it’s kind of a pain cubing four avocados. It’s well worth the effort, though!

You can tell an avocado is ripe when the skin is very dark, almost black, and it has some “give” to it. But don’t wait till it’s too soft, or the flesh will be mushy and may even turn black.

It looks like there’s no red onion in this photo. If you don’t have red you can cheat and use a regular ol’ yellow onion. But red looks prettier.

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ripe avocados (the small “Hass” type)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 can hearts of palm, drained
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. salt or more to taste
black pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice each avocado lengthwise, and twist to open it. Remove the pit. (I do this by sticking a knife into the pit and pulling it out, probably not the safest method.)

Cut the avocado into cubes by slicing lengthwise and widthwise while it’s still in the skin; then use a tablespoon to scoop out the cubes into a large bowl. Scrape any avocado meat that remains into the bowl as well.

Cut each grape or cherry tomato in half, unless they are very small, and add to the bowl.

If your hearts of palm aren’t already sliced or in pieces, slice them and add to the bowl.

Add the chopped onion.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and add just enough mayonnaise to hold the ingredients together. The avocado is very moist and also full of oil, so you won’t need much mayo.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you serve on individual plates (rather than letter people help themslves), it looks nice on top of a lettuce leaf.

Serves 4 to 6

 

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Lasagna Florentine

19 May
I haven't made this in awhile so I don't have a photo. This one is by Andra Cristescu, via Flickr Creative Commons.

I haven’t made this in awhile so I don’t have a photo. This one is by Andra Cristescu, via Flickr Creative Commons.

Here’s a great dairy recipe just in time for Shavuot. This dates back to my days in the communications department at Sinai Hospital of Detroit, where the cafeteria regularly served  a white, not red, “vegetarian lasagna.” I suspect it was Stouffer’s frozen version, but it was pretty good. So when I found this recipe, I can’t remember where, I was sure to save it.

It’s a bit of a patchke to make, but it’s delicious and makes a good “company”  or potluck dish. You can prepare it ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. If you do that, bring it to room temperature before baking.

A lot of people make lasagna these days without boiling the noodles. I haven’t tried it with this recipe, but using uncooked noodles should be no problem.

Ingredients:

Cheese Sauce:
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup all-purpose flour
2¾ cups milk, divided
2¼ cups grated cheese – I prefer a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. hot pepper sauce
¼ tsp. salt

Vegetable Filling:

3 Tbs. vegetable oil
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh spinach, washed and trimmed, or 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups coarsely chopped or shredded fresh carrots
9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained

Directions:

Make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter; blend in the flour. Gradually add 2½ cups milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce boils and thickens. Add 2 cups of cheese and cook until mixture is smooth. Stir in the mustard, hot pepper sauce and salt. Set aside.

Make the filling: In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic until tender. Tear the spinach into bite-sized pieces. Add the spinach and carrots to the saucepan and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the spinach is tender. Drain the vegetables. Stir in 1½ cups of the cheese sauce into the spinach mixture. Add ¼ cup milk to the cheese sauce remaining in the pan.

Assemble the lasagna: Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Pour half the cheese sauce into the dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles in the dish over the sauce. Spread half the spinach mixture over the noodles. Repeat the layers.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup cheese over the top. Bake about 25 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Vegetarian Sausage, Bean and Tomato Ragout with Polenta

5 May

Vegetarian Italian sausage, bean and tomato ragoutI clipped this recipe from Cooking Light. It wasn’t meant to be vegetarian, but first of all, it’s hard to find kosher Italian sausage, and secondly, I preferred to make it veggie. Just know that the original recipe called for meat sausage. You could also use soy crumbles instead of veggie sausages, but the taste would be different; the Italian sausage has unique spices.

The original recipe called for instant polenta and plain yogurt, neither of which I had on hand, so I looked up another recipe. Polenta is really bland, so I added a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, making the entire dish dairy.

There are a lot of ingredients, but the recipe is easy. The ragout recipe says to cook for 8 minutes, but you can keep it simmering while you cook the polenta. (Or you could start the polenta and make the stew during the 30 minutes the polenta cooks over a low flame.)

When you serve the polenta straight from the stovetop, it will be creamy. If you have leftovers, put them in a flat-bottomed container. The polenta will harden. To reuse, you can cut it into slices and fry them up in a little olive oil or butter, or bake them in the oven topped with a sauce (or leftover ragout).

The Cooking Light recipe said it serves 4, but the two of us ate large servings and there was still enough left over for 4 more, so I’m saying it serves 6!

Ingredients:

For the ragout:
6 oz. bulk hot Italian sausage
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup vegetable stock
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Dash crushed red pepper
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 2/3 tsp. dried)

For the polenta:
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. fresh rosemary (optional)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 Tbs. butter (optional)

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you use real sausage, crumble it in the pan and cook for until browned; remove from pan. Add oil to pain, then saute onions for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add wine, cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen any browned bits. If you use vegetarian sausage, which is pre-cooked, crumble it into the pan now.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer 8 minutes or until slightly thickened. If you browned the sausage at the beginning, add it back in now and heat through.

For the polenta, bring the water and salt to a boil in a 2 or 3-quart saucepan. Add the cornmeal gradually, whisking vigorously as you do so no lumps form. Cook for about 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Lower the heat as low as possible and continue to cook for 20 or 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot when you stir, so the polenta doesn’t stick. Whisk in the rosemary, butter, cheese and rosemary (if you use dry rosemary — use 1/2 tsp. — add it when you put the cornmeal into the water).

Serves 6