Cilantro Pesto

Often, when I don’t know what to cook, I open up my Rebar cookbook.  I’ve tried a lot of the recipes, loved a lot of them, but only blogged a few.  This pesto is a nice change from the usual, with cilantro, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and jalapeno peppers.  I served it tossed with some baked spaghetti squash, but it would also be great on regular pasta. This recipe is half the original, and makes about 2/3 cup of pesto, plenty for a few people.

What you need:

1 bunch clean cilantro, stems chopped off

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons grated parmesan or asiago cheese

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

What you do:

1.  Toast the pumpkin seeds slightly in a dry frying pan.  They toast really fast, so just turn the heat to medium-low and shake them around every half a minute or so.

2.  Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor.  I just have a little handheld one, and that works fine. Puree until everything is chopped to little bits.

3.  Pour in the olive oil, a little at a time, until it is combined.

Ready to go!

Lemony Kale with Onions, Garlic and Pine Nuts

Another quick, easy and delicious way to serve up the super-food kale!  Kale is one of the few things I can harvest from my garden year-round, so it’s always good to find some new ways to cook it up.

What you need:

1-2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

olive oil

1/4 of a red onion, sliced

1-2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped

1/2 a lemon

salt, to taste

What you do:

1.  Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the sliced onions and cook until they are browned.

2.  Add the garlic, cooking briefly, then add the chopped kale.  Toss the kale with tongs a few times until it is wilted and the onions and garlic are distributed throughout.

3.  Squeeze on a little lemon, a little salt too, and then toss the pine nuts in.

Serve it right away!

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers: Turkey and Chorizo with lots of Veggies

Stuffed peppers look so pretty, and this recipe is pretty healthy too, stuffed with lots of veggies and quinoa.  I like to make dishes that have it all – lots of healthy veg, some protein and a complex carbohydrate.  So I put together some of my favourite ingredients, and this is what I came up with.

You can prepare the filling ahead of time, even stuff the peppers and pop them in the fridge.  Throw them in the oven just before serving, make a little green salad on the side and you’re ready to go!

What you need:

sweet peppers (a dozen mini or half a dozen regular sized)

200 grams ground turkey

1 chorizo sausage, removed from casing

1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked

1 sweet onion, diced

4 mushrooms, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 sweet red pepper (for filling), diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 tablespoons dried currants

salt and lots of pepper

olive oil

What you do:

1. Before cooking the quinoa rinse it, then put it in a pot with about a cup of water.  Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and put a lid on it, cooking for 15 minutes.  If the water doesn’t all get absorbed in this time, put it back on the heat for a few minutes, stirring until the liquid is gone.

2. Cook the chorizo, removed from its casing, along with the turkey meat.  Drain the fat off and set the meat aside.

3.  In a little olive oil cook the onions on medium-low heat until they start to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.  The onions will  begin to get quite brown, which is exactly what you want, because a lot of the flavour in the dish is coming from the nicely browned onions.

4.  Add the garlic and the rest of the veggies, stirring and cooking until they begin to soften.

5.  Mix the meats, quinoa, currants and veggies together, adding salt and quite a bit of pepper to taste.

6. Cut the tops off the peppers, the  fill each pepper and put the tops back on.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

7.  Arrange them in a baking dish as you fill them, then pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes!

Garlic Pea Shoots

Here’s another attempt to recreate a dish I tried and loved, this one from Legendary Noodle on Main Street in Vancouver.  So quick and easy, so addictively good.

If you’re in Vancouver, you can find pea shoots at East West Market on Main at King Edward St.

What you need:

pea shoots

sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced

soy sauce

water

What you do:

1.  Heat a frying pan on medium heat and pour in a teaspoon or so of sesame oil.

2.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and then the pea shoots to the pan.

3. Add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce and toss the shoots a little.

4.  Add a tablespoon or two of water, then cover the pan and let it cook for about a minute.

Done!  Ready to eat!

Spaghetti Squash with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives

I love the idea of spaghetti squash, but I find it doesn’t have quite enough flavour on its own.  As my friend Meredyth says, sundried tomatoes make everything better.  I feel the same way about olives.  This easy recipe isn’t shy on taste, and it is super healthy and all-vegetable.  And  nut.  Okay, and olives are actually a fruit . . . but you get the point.

What you need:

1 spaghetti squash

6 sundried tomatoes

1 lemon, juice and zest

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped basil

1/2 clove garlic, finely diced

about a dozen kalamata olives

1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

What you do:

1.  Cut the squash in half, scoop the seeds out and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for about 40 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking toast the pine nuts.

3.  When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle.

4.  Combine the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, basil, sundried tomatoes, olives, garlic and basil.

5.  Remove the squash from the shells by scraping with a fork.  Add the other ingredients to the squash.

Ready, easy and yummy!

Easy Pesto

Here’s your basic pesto recipe.  You just need a food processor or mortar and pestle, some lovely fresh ingredients, and you’re set!

What you need:

1/4 cup very lightly toasted pine nuts

3/4 – 1 cup basil

1/2 clove of garlic

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (I use lactose-free l’Ancetre brand)

olive oil

salt

What you do:

1.  Toast your pine nuts very very lightly; you still want them to be creamy when you puree them.

2. Place the pine nuts, basil,  and garlic and a bit of salt in the food processor and add as much olive oil  as you need to make it smooth.  Then add the parmesan and give it one last whirl.

3.  That’s it – use it on some pasta, add it to hummous, make a lasagna, add it to eggs, whatever you want!

Easy Vegetable Stock

Making your own vegetable stock is easy to do, and will give your soups amazing flavour.  I usually make some when I’m making a soup, and try to make extra so I can put it in the freezer for another time.  I don’t salt my soup stock – I wait until I put it into a recipe, and adjust the salt in a way that suits that particular recipe.

What you need:

1 onion

1 celery stalk

1 carrot

a small chunk of ginger

a few garlic cloves

1 star anise

1 bay leaf

pepper corns

What you do:

1.  Put all the ingredients in a large pot, cover with cold water, then bring to a boil.

2.  Lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

3.  Strain and use right away, or freeze for later.

 

 

Lemony Kale

Easy, good for you.  Need I say more?  Oh yeah, it tastes great too!

You need:

garlic cloves, sliced

olive oil

kale

lemon juice, fresh squeezed

What you do:

1.  Slice 1-2 garlic cloves per person.  Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat.   Add garlic, and fry briefly.  It should not turn brown.

2.  Cut the leaves of the kale off the stems, and chop roughly.  Add kale and stir, adding a tablespoon or so or lemon juice.  The kale will begin to wilt, and it will be ready to go!  It should be bright green and fresh looking when it is, finished cooking, which only takes a few seconds.

3.  Eat it right now, while it is still warm and fresh!

Kale is an anti-oxidant, and is a good source of beta carotene (good for the eyes), vitamin C, lutein (also good for the eyes), calcium, and has cancer fighting properties.  It’s a superfood!  So eat up!

Honeyed Ginger Carrots

Here is an easy and tasty way to serve carrots.

What you need:

A bunch of carrots

1 tablespoon butter (olive oil for vegans)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, grated finely

1 tablespoon honey

salt

What you do:

1.  Scrub peel carrots and slice diagonally.

2.  Place carrots into a steamer basket and bring water to a boil.  Cook for about 5 minutes, making sure they don’t get overcooked.  They should still be a little firm.

3.  While the carrots are steaming, heat the butter in a frying pan, then add ginger and garlic, cooking for just a minute.  Add the honey.

4.  When the carrots are cooked add them to the pan with the ginger and garlic.  Stir until they are all coated.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Yum.

Oma’s Chicken Soup

There’s a tickle in the back of my throat and I’m doing my best to fight it off, so it’s time to turn to my Oma’s chicken soup for some healing.  At 98 years of age, she’s not making soup anymore, so I’ve gleaned her wisdom, and I’m doing my best to use the basic elements of her recipe.  Oma’s recipes are stored in her memory, not written down, so a recipe from her sounds like “a little of this, a bunch of that.”  Here’s how I make it, based on what my Oma has told me about how she makes her chicken soup:

Put the following into a stock pot:

chicken backs and necks and feet (yes, feet!)

carrot (I used one)

celery (I used one stalk)

onion ( I used one, skin removed)

garlic (I used two cloves, but only because I was running out)

ginger (this is a key ingredient for fighting illness – I used about 1/4 cup or more sliced)

bay leaves (I used two.  I keep them in the freezer because I think they taste better when I  buy them fresh & then freeze them)

star anise (I used two)

peppercorns (I used about 2 teaspoons)

this time I added some parsley stems because I had them on hand, but it’s an experiment

sometimes I add an apple or sun-dried tomatoes, depending on what kind of flavour I want to impart, and what I have on hand

enough water to cover it all up

I never add salt to the broth – I wait until I use it in a soup recipe

When it’s all in the pot:

Now bring to almost a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for hours – 4-5 if you’ve got the time.

To cool it I place the pot in a sink filled with cold water.

When it has cooled a bit I pour the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and store the liquid in canning jars.  Refrigerate it until the stock is cold, then skim off the fat.  (My relatives would have saved this to make soap.  I just throw it away.)

I store some of the broth in canning jars in the freezer, making sure to leave some space for it to expand as it freezes – if you don’t do this you end up with broken jars and wasted broth.

When refrigerated, the best chicken soup broth will become gelatinous – all the chicken stock makers in my family, Oma, Tante Katje, and Mom, say that it’s really good for you.  No reasons why, it’s just “good for you.”

Oma served this with her homemade noodles – something I’ll try after the soup has healed me!