September 2010 Archives
I am on a quest to serve healthy greens more frequently, and last week I was tempted by Chinese broccoli. Steve does not like the bitter flavor of most greens, and when he sees sliced chard or kale on the cutting board, he always asks why I would want to ruin dinner with something so unpleasant. However, broccoli rabe and its close relative Chinese broccoli are sweeter than most greens, and if I sneak them into soups, stews, and pasta dishes, Steve enjoys the meal.
This photo shows me creating the dish that convinced Steve greens can be tasty. It is a broccoli rabe and tofu stir-fry that is in my upcoming cookbook, Weeknight Fresh and Fast. Delicate broccoli rabe and creamy tofu are jazzed up with assertive Asian chile sauce and fragrant ginger, and then spooned over steaming, delicately scented brown jasmine rice.
For a super quick and tasty dinner, I mixed pasta with the eggplant, pepper, and tomato sauce leftover from a couple of nights before. Soft fresh goat cheese added creaminess, and to freshen it, a handful of fragrant herbs. We liked it every bit as much as the first meal, maybe even a little more.
Eggplant and peppers are abundant at the end of summer, and I indulge in them frequently before they are replaced by winter squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. I can’t resist experimenting with slender lavender eggplants, bulbous white ones, and magenta striped Italian versions. And it’s fun to compare the long red lipstick peppers, green smoky poblanos, and meaty pimientos. I often include peppers and eggplant in the same dish because the creamy richness of roasted eggplant balances the tangy sharp flavor or browned peppers.
I recently braised eggplants and sweet peppers in a tomato and white wine sauce, seasoned with capers and olives. I made a big batch of this colorful dish so I would have plenty of leftovers for a second meal. Chunks of albacore tuna simmered in the sauce turned it into a piquant fish stew to spoon over whole grain couscous on the first night. The extras became a hearty pasta dish a few days later.
During the summer, when I get home from my weekly visit to the farmers’ market, it always seems like I have purchased too many heirloom tomatoes. But every week we devour them all.
A few of my favorite preparations:
- a quick salad of large tomato wedges, sprinkled with salt and pepper, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and finished with a shower of fresh marjoram or basil
- to accompany grilled fish or chicken, sweet cherry tomatoes halved and sautéed with red onion and thyme
- for an intense cold soup, the ripest specimens pureed with extra-virgin olive oil, shallots, and breadcrumbs
- zesty panzanella salad made with chunks of extra juicy beauties tossed with cubes of grilled bread, olive oil, arugula and blue cheese
was excited about the pomegranate tart cherry juice
she discovered at Whole Foods. It is 100% fresh-pressed organic juice, not reconstituted from concentrate, no sugar added. However, the bottle she gave me sat on the kitchen counter for a week because I like eating fresh fruit more than drinking juice.
When I returned home after brunch with girlfriends on Sunday, I found the path leading to our house covered with trimmed branches from our rosemary bushes, and my beau Steve in the kitchen, stirring rosemary syrup into the pomegranate cherry juice.
Steve is not a cook; he provides takeout sushi on my yoga nights, and grills anything that I have readied for the fire. I create our meals, and this is my preference. For dinner parties, I like to serve make-ahead desserts, thus four summers ago I purchased an ice cream maker to churn old fashioned peach ice cream. Steve was intrigued. Sorbets and lime pops are his favorite sweets, and he wondered if the machine would freeze sorbets. With a lemon sorbetto recipe from my files, he launched into his first culinary project.