Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but its culinary use is very much like a fruit. Traditional rhubarb has thick, green stalks while hothouse rhubarb has thinner stalks with bright red and pink colors. The brighter the color, the more tart the flavor seems to be. If you’ve ever wondered why rhubarb seems to be paired with strawberries all the time, it’s because the sweetness of the strawberries helps to balance out rhubarb’s tart flavor.
Rhubarb comes into season in April, peaks in April and May, and is available through summer. When choosing rhubarb, look for firm, crisp stalks, and shiny skins. Avoid stalks that are limp with blemishes and split ends. Look for small leaves, which indicate a younger plant, but don’t eat them — the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic.
Remove the leaves from the rhubarb stalks before you store them. Don’t cut the stalks until you are ready to use them, or the rhubarb will dry out. Uncut stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week when sealed in a plastic bag. If you want to cut the stalks in advance, you can freeze them in an airtight bag or container.
Cut the stalks into whatever size pieces you need for a recipe. For desserts, this is usually between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch. Avoid cooking rhubarb in aluminum, iron, or copper pans because the acidity of the rhubarb will react with these metals, leading to discoloration of your cookware. Instead, choose pans that are made of enameled cast iron, anodized aluminum, non-stick coated aluminum, or glass.
Rhubarb is good in pies, crisps, and cobblers. We also like it mixed with strawberries.
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Makes 16 servings
I like baking bar recipes in a 7×11 glass baking dish because bars seem to cook more evenly. You may also use a 9-inch or an 8-inch baking pan and adjust the baking time. This recipe is easy to adapt to special diets.
2 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, cornstarch or 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 cups finely ground almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut sugar, a sugar substitute for baking or regular granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced
Make the filling first by combining the rhubarb, strawberries, water, lemon juice, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture boils. Cook until the fruit is very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and sprinkle with the xanthan gum and whisk quickly to combine. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator while you make the crust.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 7×11 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Make the filling by combining the almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is cut into tiny pieces. Press half of the mixture (about 1 ½ cups) onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish and bake 15 minutes, or until the edges turn crispy and golden.
Spread the cooled filling over the baked bottom crust and sprinkle with the remaining almond flour mixture.
Press down lightly with the bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the topping is crispy and the filling is bubbly. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled before cutting into bars.
The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Libya. This series continues with the country of Tunisia.
Tunisian cuisine is a combination of French, Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Seafood is eaten in the coastal communities and features recipes like fettuccine with fresh seafood and a green harissa dressing, grilled mullet with lemon and celery salad, and fricassee salad with grilled cedar plank salmon. The spicy paste harissa is a staple side to every Tunisian meal. It’s made from chilies, garlic, lemon and a combination of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds. Tunisian sweets are also impressive. Their doughnuts, called “yo-yos”, are soaked in honey, lemon syrup and orange blossom water.
The diverse blend of flavors in Tunisian cuisine is representative of the country’s past and location. While the cuisine varies by region, Tunisian food usually combines French and African flavors with spicy seasonings. Couscous, the main staple in Tunisian dishes, is often topped with fresh seafood or hearty lamb depending on local availability. A melting pot of cultures, Tunisia doesn’t just feature local food but all types of international cuisine can be found in the country’s larger cities.
Though the country’s Mediterranean climate and rich soil make it an ideal location for wine production, it’s often overlooked as a wine region. But Tunisia has a rich wine history and a modern cultivation of numerous grape varietals. Tunisians first began producing wine over 2,000 years ago, but Arab control in the eighth century nearly eliminated the practice. French colonization brought winemaking back to Tunisia in the late 1800s.
The Foods of Tunisia
Couscous is derived from semolina and is present on nearly every dinner table in Tunisia. Couscous is prepared in endless ways across the country. In coastal regions, cooks prefer to serve it with fish, while interior regions opt for lamb and dried fruit. A local favorite, Sfax Couscous, is named for Tunisia’s second largest city, which is filled with freshly caught seafood.
Briks are another staple and can be found in little shops throughout the country. Similar to a samosa, a brik is made from wrapping pastry dough around a variety of fillings, including potatoes, eggs, or tuna. The packets are then fried in grapeseed oil and served piping hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
A thick, spicy paste made from hot chili peppers and garlic, harissa is a condiment for grilled meats and fish or stirred into soups and stews for added flavor. It is often served as a dipping sauce alongside bread. Harissa’s heat level varies depending on the number and type of chili peppers used. The peppers are typically smoked to add a complex, deep flavor.
While typically a breakfast dish, ojja is often considered fast-food by Tunisian standards. Traditional ojja combine eggs and merguez, a spicy lamb sausage, in a savory tomato sauce for a hearty, filling meal. Ojja is served with a side of grilled bread in place of a spoon or fork.
Tunisians take dessert seriously and they are routinely served after a large evening meal and accompanied with mint tea. Some local desserts include sweet cakes, fried almond pastries, and ice cream. But the Tunisian doughnuts, YoYos, are the favorite.
The melding of many cultures and flavors is apparent in Tunisia’s most popular drink, sweet mint tea. Served hot or over ice, this beverage is topped with pine nuts, a twist of flavor and texture, especially for those not accustomed to nuts in their tea.
Tunisia has seven distinct controlled designation-of-origin regions known locally as AOCs (for their French name, appellation d’origine controlee). The naming of wine regions is modeled after the French, with whom Tunisia shares many of the same grape varietals, such as Muscat.
Sidi Saad is a wine blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Produced using traditional methods in the Gran Cru Mornag region, Sidi Saad is corked in a distinctively shaped bottle.
Gris de Tunisie
Gris de Tunisie, or grey Tunisian wine, is the country’s most famous and unique wine. The wine is a dusky rose in color and tastes like a fruity rosé. It is best served on hot days paired with a spicy seafood dish.
Chateau Mornag Rosé
Chateau Mornag Rosé is the country’s most popular. Produced in the Mornag area in Northern Tunisia, it is light, crisp and tastes best with the region’s Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.
Make Some Tunisian Recipes At Home
100 g dried long red chilies, seeded
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Soaking time 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Place chilies in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Place a small plate directly on top of chilies to keep them submerged then set aside for 1½ hours or until very soft. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat, add the spices and fry, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Finely grind spices in an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Combine the drained chilies, spices, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the remaining ingredients in a small food processor. Process to a smooth paste, occasionally scraping down the sides. Push mixture through a food mill, extracting as much purée as possible; the solids should be dry. Transfer mixture to a sterilized jar and seal. Harissa will keep for up to 1 year stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)
Tunisian breakfast. Capers, chopped almonds, chopped olives, yogurt and some mint can all be added at the end, and the soup is commonly served ladled over cubes of day old bread. Tuna is often added also.
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Large pinch saffron
1 tablespoon harissa
2 liters (8 cups) chicken stock
4 (400g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tomatoes, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4-6 eggs (depending on the number of servings)
Large handful coriander leaves
Slices of baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges, to serve
2 tbsp baby capers, drained
2 tbsp chopped blanched almonds
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until softened. Add the cumin and coriander and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes. Stir in the harissa then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan then cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and add the vinegar. Crack each egg into a saucer then add them, one at a time, to the simmering water. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Carefully remove each using a slotted spoon to a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain excess water.
Divide the hot soup among large bowls. Place an egg in each bowl. Scatter over the coriander, capers, and almonds. Serve with the baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges to the side.
Broiled Red Mullet with Celery Salad
4 red mullets, cleaned (each 340 g net)
12 g mixed fresh bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt
Lemon and Celery Salad
4 long, thin green capsicum (peppers), or 1 regular green capsicum (pepper) (140 g gross)
50 ml olive oil
1 lemon, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice (35 g net)
3 tender celery stalks, cut into 1 cm dice (120 g net)
10 g tender celery leaves, finely chopped
15 g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
30 g black olives, pitted
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac
To make the salad, place the capsicum in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil and roast in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes ( or longer for regular capsicum), or until the skin is blistered and the flesh is soft. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel, cut into 1 cm dice and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, the lemon, celery, and leaves, parsley, garlic, olives, chili flakes, and salt. Stir well and set aside.
Score the red mullet 2–3 times on each side in parallel lines at a 45-degree angle to the fish. Slice the bay leaves into fine strips and stuff into the incisions, followed by each of the other herbs. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with foil. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, olive oil and salt. Drizzle or brush this over the fish.
Preheat a broiler on high. Once hot, place the fish underneath and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is firm and cooked through. Serve the fish with the salad on the side, garnished with sumac.
Tunisian Doughnuts (yo-yos)
7 g sachet dried yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
60 ml (¼ cup) orange juice
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, to deep-fry
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
110 g (½ cup) white sugar
360 g (1 cup) honey
2 teaspoons orange blossom water, optional
Place yeast, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Add orange juice, zest, and 2 tablespoons oil, and stir to combine. Place flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture into the well and stir until combined.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
To make the honey syrup, place the lemon juice, sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add honey and orange blossom water, if using, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook the mixture for 35 minutes or until the consistency of a runny honey; watch syrup to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
Fill a deep-fryer or large pan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Working in batches, tear off a piece of dough about the size of a plum and flatten slightly with your hand. Tear a hole in the middle and stretch the dough to make a 12–15cm ring. Gently drop the dough into the oil and deep-fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until crisp, golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Using a skewer, pierce yo-yos on both sides, then soak in honey syrup for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.
I recently discovered black soybeans. What are they, you ask?
Black soybeans are very similar to regular yellow soybeans—free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the number of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of cooked black soybeans has 1 gram net carb plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein, and 120 calories.
The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell. Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains the antioxidants.
You can buy them canned in most supermarkets but I prefer the taste of home cooked.
Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don’t taste soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for black beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and 4-Bean Salad.
I learned the secret of how to cook these beans successfully from the Very Well Fit Dieticians’ blog.
Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak the dried black soybeans overnight in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but be sure to add the salt. For one cup of dry black soybeans, soak in 4 cups of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt added.
When it’s time to cook the beans, use the same measurements you would normally, except salt the water. So if, for instance, you are using 1 cup of beans (which have been soaked overnight in salt water), add them to a pot with 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the beans to a boil uncovered, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. Add a clove of garlic and half a small onion, cover and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.
Use these cooked beans in a variety of dishes. I tried them in my baked bean recipe and it turned out quite delicious.
3 slices bacon
1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
4 cups cooked black soybeans
1 cup low sugar barbecue sauce, see recipe below for homemade
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced plus 1 teaspoon sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven or oven-ready, flame-proof casserole dish cook the bacon over medium heat until it just begins to crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-lined plate.
Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Continue cooking until the onion softens.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cut each piece of cooked bacon in half and place on top of the beans.
With a lid on, place the bean mixture in the oven. Cook for about 3-4 hours or the until beans are completely tender and the sauce has thickened.
Adjust the seasoning to your taste. They can be served immediately but are better if left to sit for the next day.
Makes 8-10 servings.
26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.
You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.
For each serving:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese
Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.
Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.
Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.
Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.
Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.
For the cooking the chicken
2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
Ingredients for making the salad
4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.
Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.
Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.
Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.
Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.
Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.
Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.
Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.
Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.
Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Look for compact heads of cabbage that are heavy for their size. Whether red or green, the leaves should be crisp and deeply colored. Check the stem to make sure it has no cracks around its base. Avoid discolored heads with wilted outer leaves.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage
1 lb cooked Italian hot (rope) sausage
8 savoy cabbage leaves
2 cups Marinara Sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Oil an 8×12 baking dish.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water or, as I do, freeze the leaves and then defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bottom part of the stem on each leaf. Place the leaves on a kitchen towel.
Cut the sausage into 8 equal pieces. Place one piece of sausage on each cabbage leaf. Roll up the leave into little packages. Spread some Marinara Sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and arrange the cabbage rolls in the dish. Cover the rolls with Marinara Sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours.
Garlic and Herb Rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, or tarragon, or a combination of many
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add hot broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Add herbs to the rice; fluff with a fork and serve with the cabbage rolls.
Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Adjust oven rack to uppermost position and heat broiler.
Mix the asparagus with the 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste, then lay the spears in a single layer on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Broil about 4 inches from the heat, shaking pan halfway through to turn spears, until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool the asparagus for 5 minutes and arrange them on a serving dish.
Whisk the shallot, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, mustard, and 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the asparagus and serve.
3 lb chuck beef roast
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef broth
1 large sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
In a small bowl combine the sea salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, and onion powder. Mix together. Rub seasoning mixture all over the roast.
Heat a large Dutch Oven over high and add the oil. Sear the roast on both sides until browned.
Pour the beef broth over the roast. Sprinkle minced garlic over the top and add the onions. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to low.
Cook for 60 minutes, turn the roast over and add the carrots and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours more or until the meat is falling apart tender.
Remove the carrots and roast from the pot and place on a serving platter. Cover with foil and let rest while you thicken the gravy.
In a small bowl combine: arrowroot powder and cold water. Stir until mixed.
Bring the sauce in the pot to a boil and pour in the arrowroot powder mixture. Boil and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn down the heat to very low.
Slice the roast and serve with the carrots and hot gravy.
Swiss Chard and Mashed Rutabaga
You may use two Yukon gold or one large baking potato instead of the rutabaga in this recipe.
For the Swiss Chard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
For the rutabaga
1 medium rutabaga
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions for the Swiss Chard
Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.
Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.
Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.
Add salt to taste and set aside.
Directions for the Rutabaga
Peel the rutabaga. Cut into ½ inch diced pieces. Place the rutabaga in a medium saucepan with a cover.
Add the chicken broth, garlic, and a little salt to taste. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until very soft, about 45 minutes.
Drain the rutabaga over a bowl and reserve the broth for soup. Return the cooked rutabaga to pan and mash with a potato masher. Add the olive oil.
To finish the dish
Stir the mashed rutabaga or potato into the Swiss chard. Heat the mixture over low heat, cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes until the chard is very tender. Serve with the pot roast.
Pork Marsala with Mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free or low carb flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound boneless pork loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 minced garlic clove
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Cut the pork chops in half lengthwise. Mix flour, salt, garlic powder, and oregano together in a medium bowl. Add pork and toss until well coated. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the pork cutlets in the skillet in a single layer, and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on both sides. Place the pork on a plate.
Cover and simmer over medium heat until the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened for about 15 minutes. Add the cream, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Serve.
Zoodles or Pasta with Herbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs
4 oz thin spaghetti, cooked or zoodles (2 zucchini)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. Cook for one minute, add the cooked spaghetti or zucchini noodles and herbs.
Toss until hot. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Mini San Marzano Tomato Salad
2 cartons mini San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons Italian vinaigrette
Salt & pepper to taste
Your favorite herbs to taste ( I use a dried herb blend called Sunny Paris from Penzey’s that includes: shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.) Tastes so good on tomatoes.
Several hours before serving time.cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Leave the salad at room temperature to marinate until serving time.
Fresh asparagus stalks are firm, straight and smooth. They should be a rich green color with a small amount of white at the bottom of the spear. A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age. Also look for asparagus that stand up straight–the stalks should not be limp. The asparagus tips should be tightly closed and compact. If possible, buy asparagus that are standing in a shallow bin filled with a small amount of water which keeps the base of the stem from getting dry. There are endless ways to prepare asparagus and here is one of mine.
Asparagus and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halve, about 6 oz each
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 slices prosciutto
10 very thin asparagus spears, trimmed – divided
4 large, thin slices provolone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with a cover (or you may use foil) or use individual baking dishes.
Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet until very thin. Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place two slices of cheese on top of the chicken. Place a prosciutto slice on top of the cheese. Place 5 spears asparagus down the center of the chicken. Repeat with the other chicken breast and roll the chicken around the asparagus to make two compact rolls. Place the rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover the dish and return the baking dish to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken rolls with fresh chopped herbs before serving.
Sautéed Beet Greens
See Monday’s recipe for Marinated Beets. The beet greens from that recipe are used here.
2 bunches beet greens, stems removed and leaves cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Optional garnishes crumbled bacon or feta cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the greens and cook until tender. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and top with optional garnishes, if desired.
We really like veggie pizza. Fresh vegetables shine here. Many people consider pizza fast food and lump it together with all the burger and fries places. However, pizza has quite a few advantages over other fast foods and is one of the healthier choices you can make. And, if you make it at home, it is even healthier and more delicious. Veggie Pizza undoubtedly contains more nutrient-packed vegetables that can help contribute to your daily requirements. Add vegetables that are in season for even a better taste and you won’t miss the meat. Don’t forget the salad to go with your pizza.
1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced very thin, about 1 cup
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Dried oregano, salt, and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a large pizza pan.
Stretch the pizza dough until it covers the bottom of the pan. Distribute the mozzarella slices evenly over the dough. Spread the Marinara sauce over the cheese and arrange the vegetables on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Place the pan on a middle shelf in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.
Arugula Salad with Asiago Cheese
Arugula is also in season now and makes a delicious salad. Look for: arugula that is fresh, vibrant and green. Avoid leaves that are wilted, yellowing or slimy. When buying pre-packaged arugula, check the bag for excess water, as moisture can cause arugula go bad quickly. Storing the arugula in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel can help the greens stay dry. Kept dry and cool arugula can last up to two weeks.
3 cups washed and dried arugula leaves
1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
Freshly coarse cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the dressing
Pour all the ingredients into a jar with a screw top and shake until combined. Place the arugula in a salad bowl and shave the cheese over the salad.
Pour a little of the dressing over the salad and mix well. Add cracked black pepper and serve.
Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly. So, buy beets that have very crisp leaves attached. Save the leaves and cook them for a side dish, as I did in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls for later in the week. I will post that recipe on Friday.
Marinated Roasted Beet Salad
Two bunches (6) medium-sized beets
Freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ cup sliced red onions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Wash and trim the beets so the stems and roots are about ½-inch long.
Place the beets onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil on a baking sheet, sprinkle the beets with salt and pepper, add the garlic slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Close the package tightly and place in the oven for about an hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.
Cool the beets before peeling.
Cut the beets into thick slices and place in a serving bowl.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
Marinate the beets for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, before adding a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Pan Seared Fish Fillets with Tomato Bacon Sauce
4 (12 ounces) thin fish fillets
1 large Florida tomato, diced
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, grated
1 small shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Lightly season the fillets with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
Preheat a skillet just large enough to fit the fillets over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the seasoned fillets skin side up in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and place on a plate.
Add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. Quickly bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Return the fish to the skillet just to warm the fillets. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Sautéed Baby Zucchini
Scallions (green onions) are also in season in the spring. Look for crisp, bright-green stalks and a firm white base. Avoid stalks with any slimy, wet tops.
Young zucchini are in season where I live. If they are not available in your area, substitute another vegetable, such as green beans.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 young zucchini
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each in half crosswise to make 8 pieces.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and place the zucchini cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic and scallions over the zucchini. Let cook for 7- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve.