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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Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup

On April 12, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love when I find something easy and new to make.  Pinterest has been a goldmine.  I ran across this easy to make lentil soup recipe last weekend before heading to the market. It only took about 40 minutes to make, making it a good recipe for a busy weekday meal after work.

You can add additional vegetables too. I went with a couple carrots I added some color and more flavor to the dish.

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The recipe has some kick that mostly comes from the crushed red pepper. So go easy on that if you want less punch.  The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward.  I found the flavors meld better over time as the soup tasted even better a day or two after I made it and used the leftovers for some lunches at work.

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Thanks to The Mediterranean Dish for the delicious recipe! I’ll definitely have to try some more from her blog.

Full Recipe: [Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup]

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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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One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils

On October 20, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Lentils are a personal favorite in my vegan and vegetarian cooking. I tend to save a lot of recipes that use them on my Pinterest Mostly Vegetarian board (you can follow me on Pinterest here.) A recent save is this lentil and spinach dish I made last week. It’s pretty easy to prepare and can be done after work, since it only takes about 30 minutes or less to prepare.

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I’d recommend serving it with some bread or a simple salad. It comes out more soup like depending on how much you cook down the liquid. I kept quite a bit of the liquid.

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The end result is fantastic and made for a very flavorful dish we are sure to have many more times to come.

Full Recipe: [One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils]

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Lentil and Feta Spinach Salad

On December 27, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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There are a few go to dishes I have when making a quick lunch or needing something for a picnic or potluck.  This dish is one of those go to options. It only take about 30 minutes to prepare and most important it tastes great.  The dijon vinaigrette adds a lot of flavor that adheres well to the lentils and cheese.

It’s also a great alternative to a pasta dish for weekday night dinners. Serve it with a side salad and some fresh bread to make a more complete meal.

You can substitute the feta with goat cheese or substitute the spinach with kale.  There are a lot of options here to fit what you may have available in your garden or fridge.

Lentil and Feta Kale Salad
Serves 4

1 cups lentils, dry
4 cups water

1 bunch spinach, rough chop
2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch cut
2 carrots, 1/4 inch cut
1 bell pepper, 1/4 inch cubed cuts
1/2 red onion, diced
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon vinegar
coarse ground black pepper

Cook lentils in a pot with 8 cups of water, or follow your package directions.  Heat to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 minutes.  You want them firm, not mushy. Drain and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to saute pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes then add the carrots, bell pepper. and celery. Cook for an additional 3 minutes and add chopped spinach cooking down the kale for about 2-4 minutes.

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In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Combine slowly the olive oil continuing to stir to keep the dressing thick. Add more olive oil if necessary.

Finally, in a large bowl combine the lentils and vegetable saute mixture.  Pour over the dressing and add half of the crumbled feta cheese.  Mix.  Finally, add the remaining feta to the top of the dish and serve.

 

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This recipe was inspired by a post from blogger Emily Levenson, Zucchini Patties with Tahini Sauce. The zucchini patties are quite versatile and can also be served in a pita with a yogurt sauce or done with tahini dipping sauce and a small side salad.

What I really like about this recipe is how quick and flavorful the patties are. They take about five minutes to make when using a food processor and only about 10 minutes to cook.

Spinach Salad with Zucchini Patties and Champagne Vinegar Dressing
Serves 4

1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 zucchinis
1 red onion
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp of salt

Baby Spinach
4 strawberries, thinly sliced

Champagne Dressing
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground pepper to taste

 

Mash chickpeas into a paste. Combine the rest of the first 6 ingredients into the mashed chickpea mixture.

Combine and then form patties.

Pan fry zucchini patties in saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter.

Prepare the Champagne vinegar and plate spinach and strawberries.  Add patties on top of salad and drizzle vinaigrette.

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Chicken, Potato, and Mustard Greens Hash

On May 10, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Chicken, Potato and Mustard Greens Hash

Serves 4

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts. diced into small chunks
1 bunch mustard greens, coarsely chopped
6 medium white potatoes or yukon gold, diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 spring fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon

In a small saucepan, heat some water and add potatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes after water comes to boil. Reduce to a gentle boil. Test to desired doneness.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in saute pan and add diced chicken to pan, fresh thyme, salt and pepper then saute for 10 minutes until done.

Remove chicken from saute pan, keeping any browning from chicken (do not rinse.) Add one tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and shallot. Saute for 1 minute, do not burn on medium heat. Add mustard greens and add some salt and pepper and a little more oil if necessary. Cook until gently wilted. Add drained cooked potatoes and cooked chicken to saute pan with greens. Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon into pan and combine all ingredients.

Serve immediately.

Note: You can substitute other greens for Mustard Greens. Spinach, chard or kale all would work fine.

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Gnocchi with Red Sauce

On September 7, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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You can make this recipe without the Italian sausage for a vegetarian version. Also, you can skip the whole oven process and just serve the pasta with the red sauce and pasta finished in a saute pan. If you make it without the oven steps, skip the bread crumbs but still use the mozzarella and parmesan cheese just cook them in the pan with the pasta and sauce until they mozzarella partially, but not fully, melts.

Gnocchi with Red Sauce
Serves 4

1 lb ricotta gnocchi
14 ounces of red sauce*
1/4 lb. italian sausage
1/3 lb. fresh mozzarella balls
1/2 cup of cooked spinach
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat water for gnocchi to boil, reduce heat to a gentle boil. Add a sprinkle of salt to the water and add gnocchi. Cook according to package directions. For fresh gnocchi, cook for about 2 minutes.

In a pan on medium-high heat, add italian sausage, sprinkle dried basil and oregano over sausage, and break it into smaller chunks with spoon. Cook until done, about 4 mintues. Mix often and set aside once cooked.

Heat olive oil in saucepan on medium heat. Add sliced garlic to pan and let it cook for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook spinach until done. You want to make a 1/2 cup of cook spinach. Set aside once done.

Heat red sauce in pan on medium heat. Reduce heat once it boils to remove boil. Add spinach with garlic and add cooked sausage. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute.

In a dutch oven or oven safe ceramic pan, add cooked gnocchi and red sauce mixture together. Tear mozzarella balls into pieces and mix in with gnocchi and sauce. Mix in parmesan cheese. Sprinkle top of pasta with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil to help brown bread crumbs in oven.

Place dutch oven in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Sauce should be bubbling and bread crumbs should be golden brown when finished. Plate with garlic bread or salad. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over pasta.

* For the red sauce , I use Mario Batali’s Basic Red Sauce recipe. The most important thing about this recipe is using the right canned whole peeled tomatoes. I highly recommend using ONLY Carmelina ‘e San Marzano. I make it according the recipe and freeze about 4 containers with enough sauce for making a pound of pasta. For this recipe you just need 1 container, approximately 14 ounces.

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