Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower & Garbanzo Salad, Couscous with Dill & Chives, Garlic-Cumin Yogurt Sauce, and Warmed Pita

Poor Jeannene, when she saw tonight's supper listed on our chalkboard, said plaintively, "Is there any meat?" My response was that there wasn't & she'd better have a nice piece of meat at lunch. I like to have a vegetarian dinner at least once a week and this one is so hearty and delicious that is doesn't need meat. It could even be vegan, if you left off the yogurt sauce or subbed soy yogurt. The recipe is Rachael Ray's & I love it although I tweaked it very slightly). It seems that people are of two minds about her: either they appreciate her or they want to punch her in the throat. I fall into the former camp and cannot, for the life of me, figure out how she could possibly inspire the sort of vitriol I see spewed when her name is mentioned. If you hate Rachael Ray, feel free to stop reading now. But, if you are open-minded and only think you hate her, give this a try. Jeannene, by the way, was delighted with her food and didn't feel she needed meat, after all. Of course, that could be because I plied her with a Make-Your-Own-Caprese-Crostini set-up as soon as she got home.

For that, I cut some thin baguette slices, brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with garlic salt & pepper, and baked them about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into little rounds and set them & the crostini out with my basil plant, a bottle of olive oil, & a wee dish of Maldon salt. I also set out a dish of assorted olives and marinated garlic cloves.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Couscous & Yogurt Sauce
1 can garbanzos, rinsed & drained                           10 oz. box couscous
1/4 c. pine nuts                                                          1/4 c. finely-chopped dill
1 c. Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)*                           1/4 c. finely-chopped chives
2 finely chopped cloves garlic                                 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets & roasted**
1 tsp. cumin                                                             1 c. chopped parsley
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons                                              Salt & pepper
14 oz. can vegetable or chicken broth                    4 pitas, warmed
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast garbanzos & pine nuts about 5 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix yogurt, garlic, & cumin together. Add 1/3 of the lemon juice. Bring the broth to a boil with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. Remove from heat & add couscous, dill, and chives. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Mix garbanzos, pine nuts, cauliflower, & parsley. Dress with the rest of the lemon juice & olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Fluff couscous with a fork. Serve with salad, yogurt, & warmed pitas. The original recipe says to serve the salad over the couscous with the yogurt on the side. Do that, if you like, but I found I like my salad and couscous separate, with the yogurt sauce spooned over the couscous. Serves 4.

*Jeannene and I really love Greek Gods brand Greek yogurt above any other. Fage is also good & we used that until we were attending a retreat about a year and a half ago and were served Greek Gods Honey Vanilla yogurt at breakfast, with fruit & granola. We went home, searched it out, and have used it as our go-to yogurt ever since. 

**To roast cauliflower, wash it & cut it into florets (or buy them pre-cut, but they won't be as fresh). Drizzle with olive oil and bake on a rimmed sheet for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees. This is best done in a very clean oven. If you want to use it as a side all by itself, you might squirt it with a lemon and sprinkle on some salt & pepper before roasting. It's one of my favorite things to eat!

Oh, by the way, I think some golden raisins tossed in there at the end would really be good in this salad, too. I plan to try that next time. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Light Salad Supper

Ah, the delight of being back in the kitchen after a long while away! I've been quite the road tripper this summer, starting June 25th with a trip to Pittsburgh for my BFF's birthday. The day after I got back, I drove to my auntie's house in SW Ohio to hit the road the 29th for Disney with her and my cousin's oldest boy. We stopped in Charleston, SC, on the way down (oh, did I wish I had time for a week at the beach, too!) to drop off the next-oldest with his Papou & YiaYia for the week. On the way home, we got to celebrate my cousin Jessie's 25th birthday with her outside of Atlanta. Once home, I had a day & 2 nights to regroup before hitting the road again, this time for work. I overnighted with my friends, Claire & Susan, & their wee ones in Chicago on my way to Wisconsin for a youth event at which I was leading small groups and presenting workshops on Playful Sabbath. Whew! It makes me tired just to write it all out like that!

I really adore traveling, but I miss cooking when I'm gone, almost as much as I miss my wife. I am one of those people who just truly loves puttering around in the kitchen. Combined with all the easy, fast food I ate on my trip, it was the perfect moment for creating a big ol' chicken Caesar salad for my first post-trip supper. With a loaf of Italian bread and a mini-colander of Rainier cherries, it was just exactly right. I hope it might be for you, as well. 

Chicken Caesar Salad
3 tbsp. buttermilk (lowfat, for me)                          1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. mayonnaise (I used the canola sort)           1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper
Juice of half a small lemon                                     2 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan 
1 tbsp. good quality olive oil                                  Hearts of romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. Dijon mustard                                               Garlic croutons (fat-free, if you like)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce                                    Rotisserie chicken, in bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste                                            Shaved parmesan

Purée everything but the romaine, croutons, chicken, and shaved parmesan until smooth. Divide lettuce among plates. Top with croutons, chicken, and a drizzle of dressing. Finish with shaved parmesan. The dressing is about enough for 2 or 3 dinner-sized salads.