Taco Salad Night

(Clockwise from front center) Tomatillo and Corn Salsa, Tomatoes, Onion, Cheese, Cilantro, Green Onion, Black Olives, Lime Wedges, Lettuce

Taco Salad can consist of whatever you like. And if you’re also doing the CheeseShare, then it’s a tasty way to use some of that cheese! The ingredients below are suggested components – just prep what you think you’ll use. Note: I highly recommend using Whole Grain Milling, Co.’s (Welcome, MN) Tortilla Chips; they’re sold at local co-ops and some local grocery stores.

Suggested Components
Tortilla Chips (Whole Grain Milling, Co. recommended)
Taco meat or protein of choice (Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning recommended – directions on jar)
Tomatillo and Corn Salsa
Onions, diced
Lettuce, shredded
Tomatoes, diced
Cheese, shredded
Green onions, sliced or chopped (greens included)
Black olives, chopped or sliced
Lime wedges
Cilantro, coarse or finely chopped

Suggested Condiments
Salsa
Sour Cream
Hot Sauce

Directions
Once all of your selected components are prepped, then just take a plate and layer some tortilla chips on the bottom, top with taco meat, and add the rest of the fixings on top.
Finish with suggested condiments: salsa, dollops of sour cream, and hot sauce.

Pasta Norma

I thank the Italians for this delicious dish featuring eggplant. I also thank Jamie Oliver for his delicious version, but I highly recommend including the optional Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes because they give the dish that *wow* factor that makes you want to eat the leftovers for breakfast, unable to wait all those hours until lunchtime. This recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes, but if you are ambitious you can make your use peeled, seeded, and diced fresh tomatoes (I haven’t tried this so the cooking times may need to be adjusted).

Ingredients
2 large, firm eggplants
1 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
Red chili flakes (optional)
4 to 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thin
A large bunch of fresh basil: finely chop stems and cut leaves into ribbons; put in separate prep bowls
1 teaspoon good herb or white wine vinegar
1 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (I like to use Muir Glen Organic’s fire-roasted and garlic & onion)
Oven roasted cherry tomatoes (optional – use as many as you like up to 6 ounces)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti
6 ounces your favorite Italian-food-appropriate cheese for topping at the end (ricotta, pecorino, parmesan, etc.)

Directions

Eggplants
Cut eggplants lengthwise into quarters; if there are seedy, fluffy centers then gently use a spoon to remove.
Cut eggplant quarters into finger-sized pieces.
Heat a large, non-stick pan on medium-high and add a little oil.
Fry the eggplants in two batches, tossing to coat them with the oil and sprinkling each batch with some of the dried oregano; add more oil if needed.
Using a tongs, you’ll turn the eggplant until golden on all sides and place the 1st batch on a plate and begin the 2nd.
Once all eggplant is cooked, add the 1st batch back to the pan with the 2nd batch.

Norma Sauce
Add red chili flakes to the pan (optional)
Turn down the heat to medium and add a little oil, and stir in the garlic and basil stems.
Add a swig of your chosen vinegar and the cans of tomatoes (you can chop or food process them if they are too chunky for your taste).
Stir in the oven roasted cherry tomatoes (if using)
Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, lowering the heat if needed and adjusting the seasonings.

Spaghetti and putting it all together
While the sauce is cooking prepare your spaghetti according to package directions and heavily salting the water once it’s boiling.
When the spaghetti is cooked al dente then reserve about a cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta into a colander, place the pan back on the stove, and pour hot spaghetti from colander into the hot pot.
Add the Norma sauce to the pot and use reserved cooking water if needed to bring dish to desired consistency.
Toss together on the heat until heated through.

Serve sprinkled with the basil ribbons and freshly grated cheese (or bits of cheese if using a softer cheese such as ricotta).

Serves 4

White Beans and Cabbage

White Beans and Cabbage topped with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This is a recipe I modified from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cook book. I highly recommend making the Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes to add at the end. They add a lot of flavor to the dish. I recommend using bacon ends as they’re cheaper. I’ve used pinto beans, but really any bean you favor will likely be good in this recipe.

Ingredients
8 oz. bacon ends, chopped
Oil leftover from making the oven roasted cherry tomatoes or olive oil
4 oz.  potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into tiny cubes
Kosher or sea salt
2 cloves minced garlic
Corn cut from 2 uncooked cobs of corn (optional)
1 large shallot (or onion) thinly sliced
2 cups cooked and cooled white beans or 1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups (8 oz.) finely shredded green cabbage
Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (optional but so very good!)
Parmesan cheese, for grating over the finished dish

Directions
Place a large pot over medium heat and cook the bacon ends (lower the heat if they are cooking to quickly/burning).
Once the bacon ends are cooked remove them from the pot and set aside.
Increase heat on pot to medium-high.
There should be no more than 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat in the pot, but if there is less than 2 tablespoons then add either some of the leftover juice/oil from making the oven roasted cherry tomatoes or some olive oil.
Add the potatoes to the pot and a pinch of salt and cook until cooked through (5 to 8 minutes), scraping the pan and tossing the potatoes once or twice to lightly brown all over.
After the potatoes have been cooking for approximately 3 minutes add the garlic.
Once potatoes are cooked stir in the corn (optional), shallot, and the beans.
Cook the beans in a single layer for a couple minutes allowing them to brown a bit, then scrape up and toss around and cook an additional couple of minutes.
Stir in the cabbage and cook for a minute or two, until the cabbage begins to wilt.
Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the optional cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

These tomatoes are so good you can eat them like candy, but they’re also perfect for adding to dishes that could use an extra burst of bright flavor, such as White Beans and Cabbage or a pasta dish. I found this recipe in Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day (highly recommended). I sometimes double the recipe and then store the extra in the fridge in a jar. Heidi claims they will keep for a week in the fridge, but good luck keeping them around that long; they’re delicious!

Ingredients
1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed and sliced in half
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (sugar can be substituted)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or fine to medium grain sea salt

Directions
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, and salt.
Pour this mixture over the tomatoes and gently stir around with your hands to coat.
Arrange the tomatoes cut side up and roast on an upper rack (top third) in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until tomatoes begin to shrink and the edges caramelize.

Makes about 1 cup or 6 ounces.

Oven Dried Tomato Toast

This recipe is yummy with soup.

  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick horizontally
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 12 slices of French baguette, sliced 1/3-inch thick.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Place sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 6 to 8 hours or until the tomatoes are dried. Set tomatoes aside.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over low heat.
Add garlic, remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.
Increase the heat in the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush the bread on both sides with the garlic oil.
Place a slice of tomato on each piece of bread.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper and the oregano.
Bake in the oven for 5 to10 minutes, until the bread is lightly golden brown.

Curried Chicken & Veggie Soup with Couscous

Back in college, I worked as a cook for a guy running shipwreck diving trips around Isle Royale. From him I learned some of the best meals are the ones where you “throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it cook awhile.” This recipe comes from A Good Day for Soup, by Jeannette Ferrary (Chronicle Books). You can adapt the vegetables and seasonings as it suits you. Does well as a vegetarian dish also (use veggie stock). All hail the lazy cooks!

Ingredients
4 tablespoons oil
2 onions – chopped
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 red bell pepper – seeded and diced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 carrots – sliced or chopped
1 small butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 parsnip – peeled and sliced
2 zucchini – sliced
1 cinnamon stick (about 1 to 2 inches long)
10 cups chicken stock (veggie if you don’t add meat)
2 pounds chicken meat – cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper
12 ounces couscous
1/4 cup fresh cilantro – chopped (for garnishing)

Directions
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, soup-sized pot.
Saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper until soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in curry, cumin and turmeric, and cook another minute or so.
Add tomatoes and cook until bubbly.
Stir in the rest of the vegetables and cinnamon stick; cook a few more minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes.
Add chicken and simmer another 8 minutes.
Remove cinnamon stick and taste the soup to see how much salt and pepper you want to add (if any).

Couscous
Bring 12 to 16 ounces of water to a boil in a pot. More water makes it more fluffy.
Put the couscous in the pot, put a lid on, and turn off the heat.
Let it sit about 5 minutes.

Place the cooked couscous into bowls and ladle the soup over it.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Other Information
Serves: 8
This is a good late summer/early autumn soup.

You can put 1 to 2 tablespoons of uncooked couscous in each bowl, and then pour the soup over it. By the time you get it to the table, it will be ready to eat. This is a great way to do leftovers.

Voula's Greek Salad

If you are looking for a traditional Greek salad this is it!  This recipe comes from a dear friend of our’s from California.  Voula was our neighbor and a native Grecian. 

Ingredients
2 medium Cucumbers – peeled and cut into wedges
4 medium Tomatoes – cut into wedges
1 medium Sweet Red Onion – sliced
1 8 oz package Feta Cheese – soaked in water
2 tablespoons Greek Oregano – whole leaves or chopped.  Fresh preferred.
½ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
Combine cucumbers, tomatoes and onion into a bowl. 
Crumble Feta Cheese over vegetables. 
Add fresh oregano.
Pour olive oil and vinegar over the mixture. 
Toss.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Test Recipe

This is a test of the recipe section.  Pay no attention…