Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fiesta Black Bean Salad

Well, we've had a taste of summer..had a couple of days that were in the mid-80s, but nothing to write home about just yet.  Still, I'm gearing up for summer cooking, which means grilled meats and veggies, and lots, LOTS, of salads.  All kinds of salads- not just the tossed greens variety!  I've spent years experimenting with different types of salads, and while I'm always searching for new ideas, we definitely have our favorites here.  This one is my husband's favorite.  I have been making this for at least 10 years, possibly longer.  I remember bringing it to a 4th of July potluck when my daughter was just a baby, and she is almost 12 now!  In any case, it is delicious and stands the test of time.  Most importantly, it is very easy to put together, and pretty darned healthy too!  It's a great side for grilled meats, or alongside any Mexican-themed dinner.  This past weekend, we went camping, and I made it to accompany grilled chicken tacos.  Packed with beans, corn, and bold flavors, it stands well on its own as well.  I sometimes mix this with pasta if I need to stretch it to feed a crowd, but it is equally good and hearty without the pasta.  This is best if it has a few hours to marinate before serving.

Mexican Fiesta Bean Salad
Servings: at least 6

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can shoepeg corn, drained
about 1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa, either homemade or store-bought (such as Rojo's), drained of excess liquid
4 green onions, sliced thinly
about 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Mojito Lime seasoning (made by McCormick.  I am not affiliated with McCormick, I just like their grill seasonings.  If you can't fnd this, substitute a mixture of garlic powder, red pepper, and dried grated citrus peel.)
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt/pepper to taste

1.  Combine drained and rinsed black beans and corn in a large bowl.  Add  drained salsa, cilantro, and green onions and toss to mix.  Set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, seasonings, and vegetable oil.

3.  Pour dressing over bean salad and toss to incorporate.  Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Linguini With Prosciutto and Peas, For One

Life is so crazy busy these days, I barely have time to cook, let alone remember to snap pictures of what I do cook!  This has been another one of those weeks with more take-out than I would like.  My daughter has had extra dance rehearsals in preparation for their upcoming recital, and three nights in a row for 2 weeks is taking its toll!  Yesterday, I ended up getting take-out pizza for the kids, but didn't partake myself because I'm really trying to watch what I eat.  I did not even have time for dinner before we had to leave for dance class, so I was starving by the time we got home after 8pm.  I threw this dinner together for myself in about 15 minutes, and I can't decide what made it more delicious- the fresh peas I picked up from the farmer's market on Wednesday, or the fact that I was so danged hungry that ANYTHING would taste good!  Seriously, this is some great comfort food, and not *too* bad on the diet.  I looked for whole grain linguini in the grocery store, but could only find spaghetti, and really felt that a thicker noodle would be best in this one, so went with regular linguini here.  Seems like a trip to Trader Joe's is in order- I bet they have some variety of whole grain linguini!

Linguini with Prosciutto and Peas

I made one serving of this, and I didn't measure anything so for more, increase the ingredients.  It's ok, I trust you. ;)


- Dry linguini noodles, whole grain if you can find them.  I don't know how much.  Enough for one nice bowl.
- About 3/4 cup freshly shelled peas.  Use frozen if you can't get ahold of fresh.
- 2 slices prosciutto, fat from edges removed, chopped
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
- Olive oil- a drizzle or two
- Splash of half-n-half
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice from a small lemon wege3
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  However much you want.  Or however much you can get away with without feeling guilty, but still enough to make you feel like you are getting a treat after a very very long day.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of chopped parsley.  I didn't have any, but I was thinking how very lovely this dish would have been if I did.

1.  Heat salted water over high heat to boiling and add linguini.  Cook according to package directions.  Mine took about 10 minutes to al dente.

2.  In the last minute of cooking, throw the peas into the water with the noodles.  Cook 1 minute, then remove from heat and strain noodles and peas.

3.  Return pot to burner and reduce heat to medium.  Drizzle a little olive oil and add prosciutto.  Stir and cook a minute or  two, just until it gets a little color on it.

4.  Add noodles and peas back to pot, along with half and half.  Heat until a little bubbly, then add salt, pepper, and cheese, reserving a little for garnish.  Add green onions, toss to incorporate.

5.  Serve with additional cheese on top.  And parsley if you have it.  Enjoy with a glass of wine as you think about how 3 days in a row of dance class really is too much, and maybe you've lost your mind since you already signed your daughter up for more of it for the entire summer.

UPDATE 5/20/12: Pictures!  I made this dish again today, this time with some whole-grain linguini I found at another grocery store, and I also added a little squeeze of lemon juice, which really brightened up the flavors!  I've added that onto the ingredients listed in the recipe.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Slow-Cooker Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna

As I learned from one of my favorite authors, Susan Mallery awhile back, you can make lasagna in the Crock Pot!  Well, who knew??  Not me- until I saw the recipe on Susan's blog.  I have made her recipe a few times, and it is fantastic!  This weekend, while pondering the contents of my refrigerator, seeing all of the veggies that were about to go bad unless they were used NOW, I devised a plan for a vegetable lasagna, based on my experience with making Susan's recipe.  I had a package of ground turkey breast too, so decided to use that as well.  The result is a very robust, yet light, healthy lasagna that takes just a few hours in the slow cooker.  Disclaimer: yes, it does take some prep time.  You do have to sautee the turkey and vegetables, but after that it is very easy to put together, and then you can forget about it until dinner time!

I used the veggies that were hanging around in my fridge at the time, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  The important thing is that you sautee them really well, because any water that they retain is going to stay in the slow cooker when they are cooking in there.  No one likes a watery lasagna!  I would stick to veggies that sautee well, and stay away from the hardy winter veggies like turnips and the like.  I used broccoli, carrots, onions, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach in mine, and  I used a 6-quart oval slow cooker for this dish.

Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna
Serves: At least 8.  This is a dish you can make for a crowd, or in anticipation of leftovers

1 package (1.25 lbs) ground turkey breast
1/2 of a large onion, diced
3  tbsp olive oil, divided
Chopped vegetables- about 3-4 cups total, chopped small and uniform in size (I used carrots, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms
1 bag baby spinach, chopped
2 jars store-bought spagetti sauce
10 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
About 1 lb ricotta cheese
1/2  box no-boil lasagna noodles

1.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add onion.  Stir and cook until tender, then add turkey.  Cook, breaking up meat with a spatula, until cooked through.  Drain and set aside.

2. Clean out pan and heat the other 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, sautee for 3 minutes, then add broccoli and asparagus and sautee 3 more minutes or until barely tender.  Add zucchini and mushrooms and sautee 3 more minutes.  Add spinach and sautee 1 minute until spinach has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Set aside.  Note: cooking times approximate.  Use your own judgement when sauteeing the vegggies!

3.  In slow cooker, spread about 1/4 cup spagetti sauce in the bottom of the crock.  Add lasgna noodles, breaking up to fill in uncovered spots.  Spread with more sauce to cover.

4.  Add 1/2 of the turkey and onions, then 1/2 of the vegetables, distributing evenly.  Spoon 1/2 of the ricotta cheese onto the vegetable mixture, spreading over the vegetables as you go.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella cheese.

5.  Place another layer of lasagna noodles over cheese and repeat with sauce, the rest of the turkey, vegetables, ricotta, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.

6.  Top with final layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce.  Place lid and cook on LOW for about 4 hours or until noodles are cooked through and sauce is bubbly.

7.  Sprinkle remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese on top, replace lid and cook 20 minutes more.

8.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.