Skillet Quinoa with Broccoli, Spinach and Parmesan

On May 3, 2017, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Simple vegetarian meals are always excellent options for weekday after work cooking. This dish is a great addition since it only takes about 20 minutes to make with most of the time spent just waiting for the quinoa to cook.

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If you want to save additional time and make this dish in about 10 minutes or less, pre cook your quinoa the night before and add it to the pan to reheat with the vegetables.

Full Recipe: Broccoli, Spinach, Quinoa Skillet.

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Fava Bean Spread

On May 2, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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The past two weekends I bought some fresh fava beans.  They’re hard to miss. Giant peapods with a rich green color usually next to a box of beans, fava beans are sure to catch your attention. The next thing to wonder is what to make with these colorful bean monstrosities. For me, there was an obvious answer – fava bean spread.

Last year, we were dining out and enjoyed some fava bean spread on toast at a local restaurant. I immediately came home and started to search the Internet for some recipes to try my own take on this wonderful, buttery bean spread.  Some recipes called for mixing in some goat cheese or Crème fraîche. I wanted to try something without the addition and then build from there.

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The recipe below is just that. A basic fava bean spread that you can use as a base to experiment. Maybe add a 1/3 cup of goat cheese to it. Perhaps some tablespoons of Crème fraîche until you get the texture and flavor you want. You could also add grated cheese.

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For now, this basic recipe will get you started and really it needs nothing. The flavor is great as is, but if you do experiment please leave me some comments on what you did to enhance or try. I would love to hear it.

Fava Bean Spread
Serves 6-8 slices

1 1/2 lb whole fava beans with pod
1/2 lemon, juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the whole fava beans in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove and let them cool for 5 minutes.  Start chucking the pods by removing the pod. Put beans aside in a separate bowl.  When all finished removing the pods, now remove the skin from each bean.  You’ll see a dingy green skin that you can peal off to reveal bright green peas. Place the bright green beans in a saute pan.

Heat the saute pan on medium heat and toss the beans with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add water to the pan.  Toss to coat everything and heat mixing the beans around for about 5 minutes to soften the beans.

Add the cooked beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor. Puree it until you have a thick paste.  Add more olive oil or lemon juice if you need to get it smoother or modify the flavor a bit.

Heat some bread slices brushing olive oil on top of each and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove the bread when done and spread on the paste. Shave some parmesan and drizzle a little olive oil to finish.

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Lasagna

On October 27, 2015, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Growing up with an Italian mother, well 3/4 Italian and 1/4 French, made for some pretty amazing meals that a young boy never could truly appreciate. However, there was one dish my mom was famous for: Lasagna. It was a staple of the holidays at our home. She definitely took a lot of pride making it for family and guests and people lavished their praise.

As I grew older and as my own taste matured too, I came to appreciate what a great lasagna takes to perfect. Many restaurants and home cooks try to make this classic dish and fail.  There is too much sauce, they use sub-par ingredients or there are too many extras spinach, mushrooms and meats that it all becomes too complex and loses the perfection of a simple lasagna.

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Mine is different than my mother’s, not because I think less of her’s; rather, I wanted to do my own take on this dish.  For me it is all about using the best ingredients.  Since moving to Los Angeles, that hasn’t been too easy with some failures in finding the key ingredient – fresh ricotta cheese.  Fortunately, I finally found a rich and creamy ricotta that is sold by Laurent Bonjour’s Cheese Corner found Saturdays at the La Canada Farmers’ Market.

I also make a homemade pasta sauce that I lightly blend with a hand mixer. You can use two jars of your favorite pasta sauce. I recommend Mario Batali’s marinara if you do not have time to make your own.

The sauce, ricotta, and a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano have the most impact in my opinion. I haven’t found much difference when it comes to the pasta noodle or even with the mozzarella you choose.

Lasagna
Serves 4-6

1 lb lasagna noodles
4 cups basic red pasta sauce
1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 Spicy Italian sausages, cooked and crumbled
or 1 bunch spinach, washed and rough chopped lightly sauteed)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven at 35o degrees.

Cook the noodles for about 6 minutes in boiling  water. Do not overcook. You want the noodles to be soft but still firm. Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley and the oregano.

Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 lasagna pan. Add a layer of noodles.  Spread ricotta cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle some crumbled cooked sausage (or chopped spinach) over ricotta cheese mixture. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Repeat this process two more times. Finally add one last layer of noodles and then add a layer of pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cover the lasagna with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove foil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more. Finally remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut and serve.

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Cavatelli with Vegetables and Olive Oil

On August 30, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Cavatelli is an often forgotten pasta. You probably don’t recall what it looks like when you see it on a menu, but when you see it you go “oh yes, I’ve had that before.”  It doesn’t have a familiar shape like bowtie, fusilli, or penne pasta. Cavatelli is great for sauces that are oil based, like this simple pasta dish that makes for a great lunch or quick dinner on any weekday.

Cavatelli with Vegetables and Olive Oil
Serves 4

1 lb Cavatelli pasta
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 bell pepper, small bite-size diced pieces
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

Parmigiano Reggiano, additional to add to pasta for serving

Cook the cavatelli pasta in a pot of boiling water.  If using fresh, cook for 2-3 minutes. If cooking dried, follow the instructions on the package. Drain pasta when finished.

Pour half of the olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add the red onion, garlic, and bell pepper cook for 3 minutes. Add the drained pasta to the saute pan, remaining olive oil, grape tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano then cook for a minute more.  Before serving add the Italian parsley and pepper.

Sprinkle each dish with Parmigiano Reggiano, if you desire, and serve with a piece of sourdough bread.

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Brown Rice, Broccoli and Cheese Bake

On May 23, 2014, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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While not the most appetizing looking dish, this bake had a wonderful flavor and made for a great weekday evening vegetarian main course.

The secret is to cook the brown rice the day before.  I use a rice cooker and brown rice take about a hour or so to cook. Fortunately it keeps well in the fridge for when you are ready to make this dish. There are some steamed carrots and broccoli too. The cheese sauce is quite simply to make with a couple cups of milk and some cheddar cheese and parmesan.

The dish finishes the last few minutes in the broiler where the top gets nice and crispy. It’s not a necessary step, but nice if you have the time. Our stove is an older turn of the century stove and has a small oven and small broiler next to it.  So this is fairly easy in our house. The crispy top is a nice touch to add some more texture to the dish.

Full Recipe: [Broccoli Cheddar Brown Rice Casserole from Oh My Veggies]

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This week’s Sunday Supper is all about the Skinny.  One thing that has helped keep our family less-thick was our move to more vegetarian meals. Most of our decision to go vegetarian 3-4 times a week came from Mark Bittman’s New York Times article “The Meat Guzzler.”  Besides the benefit of eating less meat and its more positive environmental impact and the fact that we changed to eating more expensive, local grass-fed meats to support local ranchers, we also benefitted from the smart at home vegetarian made meals.

One of my favorite vegetarian dishes is variations on potato pancakes.  Here I use broccoli, but you can use zucchini, squash, carrots and of course potatoes. It’s a fairly flexible recipe.  I really prefer the broccoli version though as it goes well with a champagne vinaigrette.

Broccoli Patties with Arugula and Champagne Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6

6 cups broccoli, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
olive oil for frying

arugula

1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the broccoli into bite-sized chunks then steam using a steamer or boil for 5 minutes.  After cooking, set aside to cool.

In a large bowl add eggs, flour and parmasen cheese. Mix together.  Add broccoli, bread crumbs, garlic, pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  Combine everything and then using a potato masher, combine everything so the broccoli is still noticeable, but not too big.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. When hot add the oil. Scoop out broccoli mixture into a large ball and then gently press the ball into a flat pancake while in the pan.  You should be able to fit 3-4 in a pan.  Heat and flip after about 4-5 minutes, making sure not to burn but still getting a nice crust on each side. Place finished patties on paper towel and continue making until mixture is finished.

To make the dressing, combine the vinegar and dijon mustard.  Season with salt and pepper then pour in the olive oil slowly combining constantly to keep the dressing thick. Whisk to finish combining and add more oil if vinegar is too strong.

Arrange arugula on a plate with two broccoli patties and then drizzle dressing over everything. Serve.

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For more Sunday Supper Skinny recipes checkout the inspiration below:

Sizzling Skinny Appetizers & Soups

Healthy Skinny Mains & Sides

Guilt Free Skinny Desserts & Snacks

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special skinnified recipes! Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite healthy recipes with us!

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Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes with Arugula Side Salad

On August 13, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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“So how do they taste?” I ask my wife as I sit down at the table.

“Zucchini-y,” she responds. “They’re good. Just lots of zucchini.”

Well these cakes, patties, fritters do have quite a bit of zucchini in them.  I do recommend patting the shredded zucchini with some paper towel to remove the moister so they will hold a bit better.  I also added twice the amount of the whole wheat flour to help with hold.

The cakes go great with a simple side side. Tonight I had some local organic arugula left over from the South Pasadena Farmers’ Market.  I also sliced some cherry tomatoes and added a bit of grated parmesan cheese then topping the salad with a simple dijon mustard vinaigrette.

The recipe made 7 cakes, so plan for about 6-8 depending on the size you make them.  Also I found the cooking time to be a bit longer, about 4-5 minutes each side, since you don’t want the pan on high, but rather medium-high heat and turning often so not to burn.

Full Recipe: Zucchini Fritters. 

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Linguini with Pancetta and Golden Beets

On July 26, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Pasta dishes are a great option for hotel cooking. They require only a couple pans and Extended Stay America’s kitchen came with a rather large strainer, showing someone thought a simple pasta makes sense for small kitchen cooking.

Last night I modified a recipe I usually make with Pancetta and Parsnips and Taglietti noodles. I had picked up some beautiful golden beets at the La Canada Farmers’ Market and needed to use them before they went bad.  A quick stop at Gelson’s Market in Pasadena for some Pancetta the day before completed what I need for this simple recipe.

Linguini with Pancetta and Golden Beets
Serves 2

1/2 lb linguini noodles
2 small golden beets, diced into small cubes
1/4 lb Pancetta, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the pasta noodles in boiling water per package directions or for 3 minutes if fresh.

While the water for the noodles is getting to a boil, sauté the Pancetta for 10 minutes turning frequently to brown but not burn the meat.  Add the beets and butter and continue cooking with the Pancetta for another 6 minutes adding some salt and pepper.

When the noodles are done, add them to the pan with the chopped parsley. Toss the noodles with the butter, Pancetta, and beets then serve on plates shaving some Parmesan cheese on top and a little more parsley, if desired.

 

Bistro Macaroni Gratin

On November 28, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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A couple weeks back I made Provencale Beef Stew from a French Bistro Cooking course I took over 15 years ago. There is a part two to this recipe.  The stew makes a flavorful broth that is used to make a macaroni gratin dish. I have never made the gratin without the two cups of stew broth from the other recipe. I suppose you can make this gratin with another beef stew broth, just make sure you strain the broth so you don’t mix in any vegetables or other ingredients; though, I suppose that wouldn’t be a terrible thing to have happen.

La Macaronade
(Macaroni Gratin)

2 lbs.    elbow macaroni
2 cups  liquid reserved from stew*
2 cups  grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the broiler.  Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender.  Drain.  Spoon half the noodles into two 2-quart gratin dishes.  Moisten with the liquid.  Sprinkle with half the cheese.  Add the remaining noodles, liquid and cheese.  Place under the broiler and broil just until the cheese is lightly browned and sizzling.

*see Provencale Beef Stew recipe.  Or use liquid from a stew.

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Orecchiette with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

On August 6, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is a very simple dish and a great way to put some fresh kale to use. It’s likely even people who do not normally like kale will find it enjoyable in this dish.

Best part this dish takes less than 15 minutes including preparation.

Orecchiette with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4

1 lb Orecchiette pasta
1/2 bunch of kale, cut into large pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter
4 leaves of fresh sage

Cook pasta according to directions, most likely around 8-9 minutes.

Add garlic and a about a table of olive oil to a saute pan. Cook garlic for about 2-3 minutes making sure not to burn on medium heat. Add butter and hand tear small pieces of fresh sage into pan. Cook for about 1 minute then add kale. Cook kale for about 4 minutes turning frequently. Remove everything from the pan to a small bowl. Do not rinse saute pan.

Pasta should be done. Drain. Once pasta is finished, add remaining olive oil to saute pan. Add kale mixture and tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes then add pasta. Stir everything together and add Parmesan Reggiano mixing it so everything is coated.

Serve with a chunk of bread.

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