Fava and Garbanzo Bean Spread

Fava beans, garbanzo beans, appetizer, bean spreadIs it normal to walk in to the grocery store and see an abundance of seasonal produce–peas, fava beans, asparagus, and zucchini (making an early appearance)–and be overcome by excitement and stand in front of said produce racking your brain to come up with ideas just so you can buy it and cook it? Ok, so maybe just me.

It felt really good to get back in the kitchen. This was a really busy week of god knows what, and somehow the time just seemed to get away from me. It is very grounding for me to get back to cooking. (Side note: If you told me I would say that 5 years ago, I would have laughed in your face.) If you ask a man what they’re thinking about and they say “Nothing” they mean just that, literally NOT ONE THING. I don’t know how that’s physically possible. When a woman says they’re thinking about Nothing they generally mean the exact opposite. I live in a constant state of “kangaroo brain”– boing, boing, boing from one thought to another. But when I’m chopping vegetables, or cooking pasta, or rolling up enchiladas, it’s an escape from thinking about picking up the dry cleaning, or the bathrooms should really be cleaned, etc. It’s like yoga, only not at all.

I can’t really say what inspired me specifically to make this, but seeing as cocktail hour is my favorite time of the day, I thought I’d make myself something to enjoy with my cocktail, and gain a little mental piece of mind at the same time.

  • 1 cup fresh fava beans
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • French baguette, cut in to 1” slices and toasted

For directions on how to remove the pods from the fresh fava beans, click here.

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. When you reach a rolling boil, blanch the fava beans for 3-5 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain in to a colander and rinse with cold water.

Combine the fava beans, garbanzo beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, garlic cloves, and smoked paprika in a food processor and pureé until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil until you get a not-quite-pesto-like consistency. Season with salt to taste.

Spoon a large dollop of spread over your toasted baguette slices and enjoy!

Romesco 3 Ways

First of all, I have to send love out to Boston. Miguel and I traveled there for our friends’ wedding almost 4 years ago and developed such an affinity for that city that has lasted since, probably because our very close friend, the bride, grew up there. Attending a Red Sox Yankees game and singing “Sweet Caroline” is probably top 10 in life highlights. Miguel still brags he ate 17 different types of sea creatures there. I hate that these tragedies keep happening. And while I don’t know why, I know that they do remind us all of what is important in life and bring us all together, if just for a little while. Now on to the post…

Romesco sauce has become a Saturday night tradition in the Diaz household. It all Romescostarted a few years ago when Miguel was sitting in the “husband chairs” at Anthropologie and picked up a cookbook about Spain. That day it was him, not me, buying something from Anthropologie–the irony. For some reason, he chose to make romesco sauce from the cookbook, which is a red pepper and nut-based sauce from Spain that is traditionally served with seafood. The food that we have with romesco, usually grilled chicken and potatoes, has just become a vehicle for the romesco. And what’s great is that romesco tastes amazing on pretty much anything, hence the title of my post. Romesco does take a bit of work to put together, but the reward is well worth it and it lasts in the fridge for at least a week. Also, no, I did not have a bet with someone about how many times I can use the word “romesco” in a pharagraph. Wow. If you’re counting, it was 7.

We started off Saturday night with the usual: grilled chicken, potatoes and salad. Saturday morning: scrambled egg tacos (they also make a delicious and quick worknight meal). Saturday night: chicken enchiladas. All smothered in romesco. That makes 8 now.

(In the name of full disclosure, I have never made this myself but I have had a few requests for this recipe, and Miguel has been dying to be a “guest blogger”.)

Romesco sauce:

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 15 oz. jar of roasted red bell peppers
  • 2 small roma tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled, wrapped in aluminum foil pouch
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp smoked paprika (It can have a bit of a bite to it, so add 1 tbsp if you’re sensitive to heat.)

Preheat the oven to 400˚. On a parchment lined baking sheet, roast the fresh red bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic for about 15-20 minutes, until the skins of the bell peppers are starting to blacken. Allow the bell peppers and tomatoes to cool slightly and then remove as much of the skins as possible (I’ve found the easiest way to do this is place them in a brown paper bag and allow them to steam for a few minutes, the skins will come right off). Remove the skins from the garlic once they have cooled.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. When you reach a rolling boil, blanch the hazelnuts for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Combine jarred red bell peppers, freshly roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a food processor. Pureé until smooth. If necessary, with the motor running, drizzle in more olive oil until you reach a pesto-like consistency.

Saturday Morning Egg Tacos (Serves 2 people who eat a lot)

  • 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 6 tortillas
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Romesco sauce!

Whisk the whole eggs, egg whites, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt together in aEggs, tacos, romesco, breakfast small bowl. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the eggs when the pan is good and warm. Gently bring the cooked eggs from the outside of the pan towards the middle of the pan, allowing the uncooked egg to spread out to the edges, which will allow the eggs to cook evenly.

While your eggs cook, bring a small saute pan to medium heat. Crisp the tortillas for about 2-3 minutes per side, until starting to brown slightly.

Evenly divide eggs between the tortillas, top with a bit of minced shallot, a few avocado slices, a few arugula leaves, and of course a very generous dollop of romesco sauce!

Sunday night: Chicken enchiladas with, you guessed it!, romesco sauce! For this recipe, I used my previous recipe, black bean, cauliflower & pickled red onion enchiladas, but substituted 6 oz of shredded jack cheese for the goat cheese, and added left over shredded chicken from Saturday night. I also left the pickled red onions out of the enchilada filling, instead using them as just a topping. And, of course, I used romesco as the enchilada sauce. I had about 2 cups of romesco left over, to which I added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to thin it out and cover the enchiladas. I then covered the enchiladas with another 2 oz of jack cheese and baked for 20 minutes in a 400 oven until the cheese was melted and golden.

Quinoa and Kale Salad

My birthday is coming up next week. I’m turning 31 and starting to wonder how I became a “grown up”. Besides the year I got married, this was probably the biggest year of my life. Since my last birthday my husband and I bought a house, and did a mini-renovation in less than two weeks (they were carpeting our stairs as we moved in), an experience which probably took a couple years off our lives. I never knew I’d want to know so much about the differences between hardwood floors. We traveled to Paris, a city I found hard to leave at the end of our stay, where we fell in love with the architecture, culture and food. We experienced a handful of different regions in Italy, learning that loving food and eating local is the norm and a way of life there. I learned that jury duty–6 weeks of it to be exact–is not as exciting as movies make it out to be. And our new puppy (read starter baby) was born on March 21st, and we bring him or her home on May 18th! We figure if we don’t screw up a puppy, we’re safe not screwing up a human baby. What a year! This time last year I had no idea that these experiences were ahead of me and it’s exciting to sit here wondering what I new things I will learn between now and my next birthday.Kale, quinoa

Now for how this relates to my post: my aunt took me out to celebrate my birthday at a new restaurant near my house yesterday, Fast Food Français, and since we were celebrating, some day drinking and dessert seemed appropriate. So I was ready for something light and healthy for dinner. And since eight out of ten times when I ask Miguel what he wants for dinner he says “salad”, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make him salad for dinner. This recipe serves 6 as a side, 3 as a main dish. Unlike other types of greens that get mushy, kale salad holds up very well for leftovers.

  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, large stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, diagonally sliced into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa (makes 2.5 cups of cooked quinoa)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, slices
  • Crumbled feta (optional)

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup Tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground finely in a mortar & pestle
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Bring a small saucepan to medium heat. When the pan is warm, add your dry quinoa and toast for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, about every minute or so. After your quinoa has been evenly toasted, add water to the pan. Be careful, I’ve found when I’m adding water to a pan after toasting quinoa, the hot water has a tendency to sputter. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until you can see the white germ around the quinoa, telling you that it’s done cooking. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes when it’s done cooking.

Bring a pot of water to boil in a large saucepan. When you reach a rolling boil, blanch your asparagus slices for 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain in to a colander and rinse will cool water to stop them from overcooking.

Put your sliced kale in a very large bowl. Mix the ingredients for your dressing together in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour about half of the dressing over the kale. Get in there with your clean hands and literally massage the dressing in to the kale. I know it sounds crazy and weird, but trust me, the kale will better absorb your dressing this way. Reserve the other half of your dressing.

Add your chopped fennel bulb, minced shallots, blanched asparagus, cooled quinoa, toasted almonds, and a couple tablespoons of sesame seeds to the sliced kale. Use the reserved dressing to dress the rest of your salad. Toss to coat. Top with a few avocado slices and some crumbled feta if you’d like. Enjoy!

Carrot and Beet Salad with Orange-Miso Dressing

When I was first starting to cook, I would spread out about 100 cookbooks around me, Beets, carrots, orange-miso dressinglooking for a recipe that interested me. And, inevitably, I would find some sort of side dish that sounded delicious, but wasn’t a complete meal in and of itself. Then I would spend more time trying to find a main dish that would go with this side dish I had gotten myself so set on. It would drive me crazy and usually got to be a very complicated process (if you can’t already tell).

So I wouldn’t want to post this side dish and have you all think, ‘This sounds great, but what do I do with it!!’ I’ve made this salad a number of times, and most times I’ve served it with quinoa patties or quinoa cakes from one of my favorite bloggers (and one of the nicest people ever), Marin Mama Cooks. For a lighter dinner or lunch, you could even throw in as much cooked quinoa as you’d like in to the salad itself. Or, if you’re not a big quinoa fan, a couple hard boiled eggs in the salad might work well for lunch or a light dinner too. Chicken cooked your favorite way would make this a complete meal, as would a simple pasta with store-bought pesto (or homemade if you’re feeling like it).

  • 1 bunch beets, peeled and chopped in to 1/2” pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped in to 1/2” slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground peppper
  • Arugula
  • Sesame seeds

Orange-miso dressing

  • Juice of 1/2 a navel orange
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey

Preheat your oven to 425˚. Make sure that your carrots and beets are roughly the same sizes so that they will cook evenly and be finished cooking at the same side.

In a 8 x 8 square baking dish, coat your vegetables with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake the vegetables for roughly 40 minutes, until they are crisp tender. Use a fork to test when your carrots and beets are done, the fork should need a bit of force to pierce the vegetables but it should go all the way through.

While the vegetables cook, combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk well with a fork. Put as much arugula as you’d like in a bowl, I used about 3 big handfuls of arugula and I still had a bit of dressing left over. When the vegetables are done cooking, set them aside for about 5 minutes to cool before putting them in the bowl with your arugula. Add about a tablespoon of sesame seeds over the top of your salad, and pour the dressing over. Toss to coat and enjoy!

Granola

I really love breakfast. No, I really love breakfast. Sometimes when I’m going to sleep at Healthy Granolanight, I’m excited to wake up the next morning so I can have breakfast. Did I really just admit that?

Lucky for me, I get to have a “second breakfast” when I’m at work. At mid-morning, when I take my first break of the day, that’s when I get to have my favorite meal all over again. I serve the granola over low-fat yogurt for added protein with either cut fresh berries if they’re in season or any variety of dried fruit. Most store-bought oatmeal has so much fat that I think even Julia Child would raise an eyebrow. But this oatmeal is very different. Look ma, no butter! And even better, the prep for this granola was quite literally 5 minutes. The possibilities for this granola are endless so feel free to experiment!

This makes a great breakfast, even if you’re only having one per day.

Recipe lightly adapted from Bon Appétit

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups of chopped nuts (I used pistachios & walnuts, but the possibilities are endless!)
  • 1.5 cups coconut shavings
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten with a fork

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Combine all your ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Spread out in a parchment lined 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, mixing about every 10 minutes to get your mixture evenly golden. The granola will last in an airtight container for at least a couple weeks.

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Happy Spring! Time for open windows, baseball on the television (Go Giants!), flowers blooming and brighter evenings.

This recipe came about because I couldn’t think of anything to make. I was driving to my hair appointment today, drowning myself in a vicious cycle of what-if-people-dont-like-my-posts, when it hit me, I need to like what I post if anyone else is going to like it. And I need to stop being so hard on myself. We women as a whole tend to over-analyze and torture ourselves, I think we all need to knock it off.

If you know me and read this, you’ll know I’m slightly A-type (I am an ICU nurse after all so it’s not my fault.) I strive for the illusion of “perfect”. My husband said something brilliant the other day while I was trying to pan fry some white fish and, as the white fish was dissolving in to half-cooked blobs and I was ready to throw myself on the ground/throw the fish against the wall, he said something along the lines of “You have to screw up to get to the good stuff.” And then I realized there is no “perfect”, you really do have to screw up to get to the good stuff. Pasta, pancetta, fava beans, asparagus

So in the name of spring when things start over again, I’m going to be a little less hard on myself. Ok, so maybe that will start tomorrow since I’ve spent the better part of the evening agonizing over this blog post, but I’m trying! How can you be hard on yourself while you’re writing about trying not to be hard on yourself? My brain hurts.

Spring means asparagus, and I honestly have no idea why I chose to cook fava beans. Probably because I’ve never cooked them before and thought I’d give it a whirl. The best part of this recipe was that it cost $20, and would have fed 4 if Miguel hadn’t exercised literally 4 times in one day and could eat the contents of our refrigerator (that’s for another post). Prep to table this took 45 minutes, so I think this qualifies as “weeknight” material.

  • 1 lb. fava beans*
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus (Snap the hard-to-chew end off and slice on the diagonal in to 1/2” pieces)
  • 1 spring onion, white and light green parts only, sliced and finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb with fronds (Set fronds aside and cut the bulb in half and finely slice.)
  • 10 oz. pappardelle pasta (I used Community Grains whole wheat pasta again because I am obsessed with it.)
  • Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 oz. pancetta (If you’re getting your pancetta from the deli counter, make sure to ask them to slice it paper thin.)

* A note about fava beans: You will find fava beans in their pods, they look like overgrown sweet peas. They are sweeter with a smoother texture than most other beans. I found the easiest way to remove the beans from the pod was to snap one end off with my fingers, then peel the pod back in a circular motion, picking the beans out as you go. But really, there is no right way to do it. One pound of fava bean pods yielded slightly less than 1 cup of beans.

Preheat the oven to 400˚. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out your pancetta slices in one layer. Bake until the edges are golden and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. (Note: I use a convection oven, so in a non-convention oven, this might take a few minutes longer.) Chop the crisped pancetta into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to your serving bowl.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the olive oil. When the butter and olive oil are warm, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Be careful not to have the pan too warm or your garlic will burn–fast. Add your spring onion and allow to cook until soft and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Then add the chopped fennel to the pan, along with the fresh thyme and lemon zest and juice. Sauté until the fennel has softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel mixture to the bowl with the pancetta.

Bring a pot of water to boil in a medium saucepan. When you reach a rolling boil, add the fava beans and asparagus pieces. Blanch for 3 minutes, or until crisp tender, but be careful not to overcook. Drain in to a strainer and rinse with cool water. Add to the bowl with your fennel mixture and pancetta.

Refill your saucepan, add about 1 tsp of kosher salt and about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook your pasta according to package directions. When there is about 1 minute left on your timer, use a ladle to remove about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and add to your serving bowl. When the pasta is done, drain, and add to your vegetable and pancetta mixture. Toss well and serve.

Happy Spring!

Pozole-ish

If you’re reading this, I’m hoping the title of the post piqued your interest, or maybe you thought it was one giant typo. But it’s not.

My poor hubby has a cold, which in man world means that he is near death. He requested soup for dinner, and I immediately though of pozole, which is a traditional Mexican stew. Two of Miguel’s grandparents are from Mexico, and I would have thought pozole was a typo if not for his family.

Traditional pozole is made with pork and hominy. (In case you don’t know, hominy is a type Pozoleof corn, which has a firm texture and nutty taste. It is available in canned form in most major supermarkets.) The broth is made from dried ancho chiles. Traditional forms of pozole take upwards of 5 hours to put together plus a trip to a specialty market for dried chiles, never mind the less-than-lean cuts of pork. So I decided to put my own spin on this comforting stew, hence the name: pozole-ish. Instead of hours, this took 1 hour total from the moment I started prepping the ingredients to when we were sitting down to eat.

Pozole-ish (serves 4)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp adobo sauce (Look for chiles in adobo sauce carried in most major supermakets. Adobo sauce does have a bit ofa bite, so add as much or as little as you’d like.)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed

Toppings:

  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 avocados
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped fine
  • 4 tortillas (or store bought tortilla chips)

Preheat the oven to 400˚ for your tortilla chips before you start the stew.

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper. When the pan is good and hot, brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Set the chicken aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Leave the pan on medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, trying to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add both cans of diced tomatoes and return the chicken breasts to the pan. Cover with the 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cut 4 tortillas in to thin strips, toss with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and spead out in one layer on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake the tortillas until starting to brown and cripsy, about 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, you can buy store bought tortilla chips.

Remove the cooked chicken from the pan. Using two forks, shred both chicken breasts. UsePozole one fork to hold the chicken breast in place and use the other to pull the meat apart. Return the shredded chicken to the pan, and add the adobo sauce, bay leaf, oregano, and hominy. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

While the stew simmers, prep your toppings. When the stew is done, season with about a teaspoon of salt. Ladle portions of your stew in to bowls, and top with cabbage, avocado, tortilla chips and radish as you’d like.