Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Savory, rich, and full flavored chicken thighs simmered with a few key ingredients — just what I wanted on a rainy evening.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Fresh garlic and diced red tomatoes combine with warm herbes de Provence and Parmesan rind to create the perfect simmer sauce for chicken thighs.  Parmesan rinds are just that — the hard outer edge of my wedges of Parmesan cheese.  I save them in bags in the freezer and bring out pieces to add wonderful umami to broth or simmer sauces.

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and Herbes de Provence

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and herbes de Provence

I consider this a pantry dish, as the ingredients are either shelf stable, or in my freezer.  Serve this warming dish with crusty bread or polenta.  Enjoy!

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence
(serves 4)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 TB olive oil
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Parmesean rind piece
Sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, more if needed)

Heat covered sauté pan over medium heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and sauté just for a few seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  Check toward the end of the simmer time to be sure the sauce isn’t getting too dry.  Add a bit of white wine or water to add moisture if needed.

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini dressing

Crunchy, subtly sweet, mild, savory, and a tasty nutrient powerhouse.  I’m talking about cabbage, of course!  This stalwart vegetable deserves some love, especially in the winter when quality salad greens can be scarce.  But cabbage — it’s there for you!

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I paired mine with a zingy, savory tahini dressing and added roasted garbanzos and pepitas for awesome crunch and a punch of protein.  The spicy tahini dressing is really creamy and zingy — but relatively low in fat, for a dressing.  The secret?  Tahini — which is just finely ground roasted sesame seeds.  Water, an unusual ingredient in most dressings, is important for proper texture in this dressing.

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Using an immersion blender makes the Spicy Tahini dressing super easy to make — but you can use a whisk or regular blender if that’s what you have.  (Consider purchasing an immersion blender.  I use mine regularly for puréed soups and dressings)

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Roasting canned garbanzos transforms these tasty beans into crunchy/chewy nuggets. This is a vegan main dish, full flavored, and easy on the budget.  And I consider it a pantry meal — because cabbage is such a long keeper in the fridge and the other ingredients are pantry basics.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini Dressing

for the Spicy Tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 TB olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blend until creamy.  May add more or less cayenne as desired.  The amount I included makes a mildly spicy dressing.

for the Roasted Garbanzos
1 can garbanzos
1 TB olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain garbanzos, and pat dry with paper towel.  Drizzle with oil and toss lightly, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the oven, until they are browned and crunchy.

To serve the salad:
Cabbage, finely shredded
Roasted Garbanzos (see above)
Spicy Tahini Dressing (see above)Pepitas
cherry tomato quarters

Quantity of cabbage, pepitas and cherry tomatoes depends on number of servings desired.  The dressing and garbanzo recipes double easily for more servings.  Toss the all ingredients together, and enjoy!

Teff Porridge with dates and walnuts

Here’s a great addition to your breakfast repertoire:  warm, gentle, nourishing teff porridge.

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Teff Porridge with dates and walnuts

I topped this bowl with diced medjool dates and walnuts.  Add a dusting of cinnamon to make it even better.

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Medjool dates, walnuts, and tiny uncooked Teff grains

Simple to make, powerfully nutritious, and delicious – this may be a new go-to breakfast for your winter mornings.  Enjoy!

Teff Porridge
(serves two)

1/2 cup Teff grains
2 cups water
dash salt
4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts
cinnamon for dusting
1 cup milk or milk alternative

Heat water in a small sauce pan to boiling. Stir in the teff grains and salt.  simmer, while stirring, until the porridge thickens — this will take about 15 minutes.  Divide into two bowls, top each with portions of the dates, walnuts, milk, and cinnamon.

If you’re cooking for one, just divine the cooked Teff into two bowls, and refrigerate the second portion.  It heats up in the microwave nicely for day two of a fabulous breakfast or snack.

Peanut Ginger Soup

When I want a deeply savory, easy to make soup for a cold, gray day – this spicy, gingery, garlicy soup is the one.

Peanut Ginger Soup

Peanut Ginger Soup

Stunningly flavorful, this vegan soup is simple to make with almost all pantry staples.  The base of this soup relies on the powerful trinity of garlic, ginger, and chili flakes.
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Peanut butter and tomatoes adds richness, body, and tangy umami.  Top with chopped peanuts for texture and cilantro for freshness. Enjoy!

Peanut Ginger Soup

1 1/2 LB ripe, red tomatoes, chopped or 1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic
fresh ginger, 2 inch chunk, peeled
2 tsp. red chili flakes
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 – 6 cups water
sea salt
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, rough chop – for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro – for garnish

Using a food processor or blender, puree the ginger, garlic, and chili flakes with 1/2 cup water until pretty smooth.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed covered soup pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, water, garlic/ginger/chili flakes mixture, peanut butter, and 2 tsp. salt.  Stir together until the peanut butter is incorporated into the liquid.  Bring to a light boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes or so.  Stir the soup, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.

Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Adjust salt and chili flakes to taste.  If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water.  If the soup is too thin, add another TB peanut butter and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves.  This is a deeply flavored, richly nutritious soup – so keep the serving size modest.  This soup is delicious with levain bread.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

When it’s snowy-cold outside and you need a comforting meal, Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta hits the spot.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

This is an easy, brilliant red and richly flavored pasta sauce that is made from ingredients straight out of the pantry/freezer.  The zip of red pepper flakes adds warmth to the savory flavor of pork sausage and roasted red peppers.

roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes

roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes

I love to pair this hearty sauce with homemade pappardelle — but any large scale pasta such as rigatoni will do nicely.  This perfectly red sauce is a great choice for a cozy meal on Valentine’s Day.  Enjoy!

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

1.5 LB bulk Italian sausage
28 oz can whole tomatoes
16 oz jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1 small can tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup red or white wine (optional)
sea salt
water
12 oz dry or 1 LB fresh pasta

Heat a medium covered sauce pan over high, then add the sausage.   Saute sausage for about 8 minutes, breaking up sausage as you stir.  Add the tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, tomato paste, garlic, and wine.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients.  Add a bit of water if the sauce seems too thick.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about an hour.  Stir and check for moisture occasionally during the simmering time.

Prepare the pasta.  When the pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining.  Drain pasta, then return it to the hot empty pot used to cook pasta.  Add the sauce and stir to blend with the cooked pasta.  Allow the pasta and sauce to marry for 5 minutes or so.  (It’s good to let the happy couple have a little honeymoon in the pot before you dig in – the dish becomes one beautiful whole).

Serve with a drizzle of your best olive oil and perhaps some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Black and Brown Pilaf

This flavorful, savory dish was inspired by some jet-black tiny lentils I got in a quarterly box from Trade As One.

wild rice, onion, brown rice, and black lentils

wild rice, onion, brown rice, and black lentils

I am a fan of lentils, as they are tasty and fabulously nutritious. I also happened to have some wild rice and brown rice on hand, and one last pinch of fragrant saffron.  This dish is the result.

Black and Tan Pilaf

Black and Brown Pilaf

It’s a great side dish, is easy to make ahead, and doubles as a main dish for the vegetarians and vegans in our midst.  (option provided)  As cooler Fall weather comes in, warming hearty dishes such as Black and Brown Pilaf will satisfy the appetite.  Enjoy!

Black and Brown Pilaf

1 yellow onion, fine dice
1 TB olive oil and 3 TB butter (4TB olive oil for vegans)
2/3 cup black lentils
2/3 cup wild rice
2/3 cup brown rice
5 cups water
sea salt
generous pinch saffron
fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Heat a covered medium saucepan on medium until warm.  Add olive oil, then butter (or all olive oil).  Add diced onion and saute until beginning to become translucent.  Add the lentils, wild rice, brown rice, water, saffron and 1 tsp. sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice in that time.

Check for tenderness of the grains.  You want them to still have some texture, but not be too chewy.  Taste for salt, adding more if needed.  If the pilaf is not quite done, and looks dry, you may add a bit more water and simmer for a little longer.  Finish with fresh ground black pepper if desired.

Salmon, Rice and Snap peas – One Pot Meal

Here’s a tasty, fast and nutritious one pot meal using all fresh ingredients.  I think this one may even be faster that take out, and with some substitutions can be made entirely with ingredients in your pantry or freezer.
Salmon Rice Snappeas plated Salmon Rice Snappeas panThe basic concept is that you’re steaming salmon and snap peas on top of the rice, then adding a simple flavoring sauce toward the end.  Enjoy!

Salmon, Rice and Snap peas – One Pot Meal
serves two, and is easily doubled for leftovers

8 oz salmon fillet, skin off (frozen is fine)
12 oz fresh sugar snap peas (substitution: frozen petite green peas)
1 cup short grain white rice (see note below if using brown rice)
1 1/2 cups water
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB mirin
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
optional garnish: furikake, sesame oil

Put the water and rice in a medium sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.  (This is the one pan you’ll be using, so just be sure that is big enough to hold the rice, salmon and peas.)

After 5 minutes, put the salmon fillet and then the snap peas on top of the cooking rice.  Cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes.  While this is cooking, mix together the mirin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

After the 10 minutes is up, pour the soy sauce mixture over the peas, salmon and rice.  Use this opportunity to take a peek at the salmon — is it still raw looking in the middle, or is it lighter pink and beginning to flake?  It’s done when it is lighter pink and beginning to flake.  If it needs more cooking time, just put the cover back on and let it simmer.  If it looks done, then your meal is done!

Serve with a shake of furikake or sesame seeds on top, and a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavor.

Note:  If you would prefer to use short grain brown rice, just increase the first simmer time with just the rice and water to 20 minutes.  All the rest of the cooking remains the same.