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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Nuts

Stir-Fried Beef with Asparagus

I had enough Pork Fried Rice leftover to serve with this dish. See the recipe.

Ingredients

1 pound lean, tender beef steak (tenderloin, top sirloin, ribeye or strip steak) sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch green onions, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Combine beef and cornstarch in large bowl. Using hands, rub to coat well.
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add beef in single layer and cook, undisturbed, until the meat begins to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until the second side browns, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to large plate.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, green onions, garlic and ginger; sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to boil. Return beef to the skillet and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice or fried rice.

Asian Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut crosswise into half moons
1 teaspoon sea salt
One small red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

Garnish
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
¼ cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Dressing
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Mirin
1 scallion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions

Place sliced cucumbers into a fine-mesh strainer suspended inside a medium-sized bowl. Season with the 1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss thoroughly to combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight to drain the cucumbers of excess moisture.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar through the sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
Transfer the cucumbers to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry. Combine the cucumbers and red onions scallions to a medium-sized bowl. Add the dressing and toss. Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to develop, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When ready to serve, garnish with sesame seeds and peanuts.

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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, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. This series continues with the country of Morocco.

Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa and is slightly larger in area than California. The country has three different regions: the northern coast along the Mediterranean Sea is made up of fertile land that rises to elevations of about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), the Atlas Mountains run between the Atlantic coast in the southwest to the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast and the semiarid area in the south and east known as the Western Sahara .

Morocco has to deal with desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes barren and desert-like over time. It may be caused by a lack of rainfall or drought, the clearing away of trees for farming or allowing livestock to graze too long in an area. These practices leave no plants to hold the soil in place so wind and rain can carry away the fertile topsoil. Morocco also has a problem with water pollution from oil spills, poor sewage treatment practices, and the use of strong pesticides.

Nomads called Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients to prepare lamb and poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century A.D.

They introduced spices including cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cumin, and caraway. They also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians. Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain also influenced Moroccan cooking. The pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular pigeon pie in Morocco, was originally a Moorish dish. In modern times, the French and the British made contributions to Moroccan cuisine.

Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is the tagine or stew. Common ingredients may include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tagine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The tagine’s name is taken from the earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served in many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.

Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone’s hands are clean.

Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include bessara (dried fava beans stewed with cumin and paprika), baghrir (pancakes), and bread. Two breakfast favorites that may sound exotic to Westerners are lambs’ heads and calves’ feet. Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.

The sweetened mint tea that comes with every meal is served a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.

Morocco is famous for its street food that includes shish kebab, roasted chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold.

A favorite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.

Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan Mint Tea

Ingredients

1½ Tablespoons green tea (or 2 teabags of green tea)
Boiling water
3 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons of fresh or dried spearmint leaves

Directions

Put the tea in a 2-pint teapot and fill it with boiling water.
Let the tea steep (soak) for 2 minutes.
Add mint leaves and sugar to taste.

Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Prunes

Ingredients

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon powdered saffron
3 short cinnamon sticks
4 ounces butter
2 large onions
½ cup sugar
1 strip lemon peel
1 pound dried prunes
Blanched almonds
Fresh mint

Directions

Combine the oil and ground spices in a large bowl.
Cut the chicken into cubes and chop the onion finely. Put the chicken and onion into the bowl with the oil and spices. Combine well and let stand for 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken, searing (browning) them lightly on all sides.
Add any remaining marinade and enough water to cover. Simmer until chicken is tender (about 30 minutes).
While the chicken is cooking, put the prunes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring the water to a bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and let them stand for 20 minutes.
Drain the prunes, return them to the pan, and ladle a little liquid from the meat pan over the prunes. Simmer the prunes for 5 minutes.
Add the lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, saffron and half the sugar to the prunes.
Stir the remaining sugar into the meat.
Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Add the prunes to the meat, and pour the sauce from the prunes over the meat and prunes.
Boil the remaining liquid from the meat rapidly to reduce it by half and pour over the meat and prunes.
Melt a small amount of butter in a saucepan and brown the almonds lightly. Garnish the tajine with the almonds and mint.
Serve with rice or couscous.

Fried Baby Carrots

Ingredients

1 pound baby carrots
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
Sprigs of mint, to garnish

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the carrots in a single layer.
Add the carrots and cook gently 15 minutes, shaking frequently.
Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes more until the carrots are tender and spotted with brown.
Add the sugar and cook 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon rind and juice and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chopped mint and transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish with sprigs of mint.


Chickpea, Feta, and Olive Salad

Ingredients for salad

2 cans (15-ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
2 ounces pitted black olives
4 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Lettuce or other salad greens

Ingredients for dressing

5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt, to taste

Directions

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and add the feta cheese cubes.
Cut the tomatoes in half if necessary, to make them bite-sized.
Add tomatoes to the chickpeas and feta cheese mixture. Add the black olives, parsley, and lettuce.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Pour over chickpea mixture, toss gently, and chill. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Sautéed Grouper In Shrimp Cream Sauce

2 servings

Sauce
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup white wine
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup diced shrimp (about 6 large) (peeled and deveined)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 teaspoon each of white pepper and salt
5 or 6 leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Grouper
2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil for sautéing
1 grouper fillet or other white fish fillets, about 8 oz
Flour
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions

In a saucepan, sauté the diced shallot in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Add the wine, tomato, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil and let the broth simmer until reduced to about half. Add the shrimp and cream. Cook for about one minute or until the shrimp are barely done.

Set aside while you prepare the fish.

Put the butter and oil in a skillet large enough to cook the grouper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour.

When the butter sizzles, add the fish and cook on each side until cooked through and golden. Pour the shrimp cream sauce over the fish and garnish with basil.

Serve immediately.

Broccoli Sauté

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
Zest and juice of one orange
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons toasted, slivered almonds

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest, orange juice and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.


Chocolate Covered Maple Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups finely ground almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line two cookie sheets or rimmed baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Be sure all the clumps are gone from the almond flour. Switch to a silicone spatula and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Mix until a sticky dough forms and holds together.

With a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop up the dough and form it into a ball. Form the ball into a small rectangle about 2 inches long and a ¼ inch thick. Place the cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Place the cookies in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, switching the cookie sheets on the oven racks at the halfway point. The cookies are ready when the edges are golden brown.
Transfer the cookies on the parchment paper onto a wire rack, and let them cool completely.

Place the chocolate in a small deep glass mixing bowl and place the bowl in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, and place back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is completely dissolved.

Place another piece of parchment paper on a kitchen counter. When the cookies are completely cooled, dip one half of each cookie onto the chocolate. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheet. Repeat until finished. Leave at room temperature until the chocolate hardens. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator or place in a freezer container for up to 6 weeks.

Maple Walnut Biscotti

Makes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon water
2 oz. dark chocolate chips
1 oz finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, and salt. Be sure all the clumps are gone in the almond flour.
Add the maple syrup, the vanilla and orange extracts, and water.
Stir well to combine.
Fold the chocolate chips and nuts into the batter. On a cutting board, form the batter into a rectangular log, 2 inches wide by 8 inches long and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
Reheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Cut the log into thin slices with a very sharp knife and place them cut side down on the same parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake 10 minutes more, watching carefully to make sure they do not burn.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely before serving.


 

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.

Filling
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

Crumb Crust
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

Directions

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.

 


Italian Hazelnut Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake is tops in our family and I have shared several versions with you over the years. This version is especially suited for a holiday or for when you have guests. It makes a beautiful presentation. It can also be adjusted for special diets.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or equivalent sugar substitute for baking
3 tablespoons all-purpose or low carb or gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Strawberry Sauce, recipe below

Directions

For the crust:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of an 8-inch springform pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Coat the inside of the springform pan with cooking spray.
Process the hazelnuts until finely ground in a food processor. Combine the hazelnut flour, butter, and cinnamon in the processor until the mixture is crumbly.
Pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, 10-12 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

For the cheesecake:

In the food processor fitted with a metal blade, process ricotta until very smooth. Add cream cheese; process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, processing until incorporated. Add sugar or sugar substitute, flour, and hazelnut syrup. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour filling into cooled crust; smooth top.

Place the pan in a larger pan and add water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the turned off oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil and cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate. When well chilled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, cut into wedges and serve with the Strawberry Sauce.

Quick Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon hazelnut flavored syrup

Directions

Combine the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve a little of the sauce over slices of the ricotta cheesecake.

Polish Easter Nut Bread

My mother-in-law made this bread every year for the holidays. I remember what it tasted like and that it took her several days to make this traditional bread. She also made about 8 loaves to share with the family. The recipe was in her head and never written down. I looked at a number of Polish recipes for Easter Nut Bread but none of them seemed to be like hers. Her version was round, not long like most photos I saw on the internet. So I created a version of this bread that tastes like hers but with a lot less work.

Dough Ingredients

This dough is very tender and delicious, not at all heavy or dense.

3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few turns to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the butter cut into cubes and the egg, water, and cream. Mix until combined and the dough begins to stick together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 7 minutes. It should be smooth and soft.

Put the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.

While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling:

Ingredients

10 ounces walnuts
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the walnut filling:

Put the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.

By hand or in a mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Stir in one egg, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the ground walnuts and mix until incorporated. Set aside.

To make the pastry:

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.

Spread the walnut filling evenly over the dough. From the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends to the sides to seal it. Pull the dough to a length of 25 inches and twist the roll into a circle. Place it on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it on the dough. Bake the walnut roll for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is a dark golden brown color and registers 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Let the walnut roll cool for 15 minutes and then slice it yo serve it warm. The pastry can also be reheated in a 350 degree F oven.


So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.

Stuffed Artichokes

Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.

Artichokes

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large artichokes, trimmed
Lemon juice
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Boiling water

Directions

Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.

Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.

Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.

Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.

Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.

Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.

Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.

Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.

Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.

Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.

Spring Asparagus Salad

Serves 2

Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups

Directions

Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.

Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.

Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.

Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.

Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.

Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.

Easy Strawberry Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.

Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad

Ingredients

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt

Directions

In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.

Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.

Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano

Serves 3

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional

Directions

Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.

In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.

Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.

Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.



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