Tag Archives: Arugula

Nori Wraps

22 Jan

Instead of using tortillas to make a wrap, I experimented with using sheets of nori, typically used for sushi.  The contents of this wrap could be almost anything, but here I went with a red bean hummus, avocado, arugula, some basil leaves, and sliced red onion.  First, the hummus.  I love making my own hummus.  Store-bought hummus is usually pretty fake tasting, and whipping up a batch is pretty easy given you have a device suitable for pureeing.  A blender would work, but is more difficult.  If you have a food processor, making your own hummus is a breeze.  I really like traditional, chickpea-based hummus, but I made it with red beans and added some cilantro this time for variety.  Here is the recipe and the process:

Ingredients

1 can red beans

3 T tahini

Juice of one lemon

3 T olive oil

Pinch or two of salt

1 clove garlic

2/3 cup fresh cilantro

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth.

Next,  prepare the wraps.  Put a sheet of nori on a plate, and spread some hummus in the middle. Then, add some basil leaves (optional) and some avocado slices.

Then, add the red onion, and top with argula. (I forgot to take a picture with the arugula on top, but I used about a cup.)

Finally, roll up the nori into a wrap/burrito-like shape, and cut in half for easier eating.

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Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes with Lentils, Arugula, and Goat Cheese

1 Nov

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I may be about to expand your definition of a salad.  This one contains lentils, vegetables, and arugula, and has no dressing.  A vinaigrette dressing would be good here, but I didn’t find it necessary at all–the salad has plenty of flavor without a dressing.  I like to experiment with salads combining lentils or beans, a type of grain, an herb or green leafy vegetable like spinach, and vegetables or fruit.  For example, I recently made a salad with millet (an underused grain a lot of people are unfamiliar with except as it applies to bird seed), black beans, cilantro, mango, and a red wine vinaigrette dressing.  Yum!

Salads that contain legumes, grains, veggies, fruits, and the like are great for a main dish, unlike a salad composed of mostly lettuce.  The legumes, in this case the lentils, are very satisfying and keep you full for a while.  It’s really a great lunch dish–easy to pack and you don’t even have to heat it up if you don’t want to.

It’s getting colder, and this time of year root vegetables come in season.  Root vegetables include beets, sweet potatoes,  potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, and others.  In this salad, I used beets and sweet potatoes because I happened to have sweet potato and because I am trying to find more ways to eat beets.  However, you can use any one root vegetable or a combination of 2 or more.  I like the beets and sweet potatoes in this salad, because they are sweet and pair nicely with the hearty lentils.  Lentils are easier to cook than other types of beans–no need to pre-soak, and they take less than 30 minutes to cook.

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Lentils are charming.  I really think I like them better than just about any other legume.  For this recipe, I used green lentils, aka standard lentils.  There are other varieties you can use as well, but don’t use red lentils.  They are smaller, thinner, and lose their shape in a hurry.  They literally turn to mush after 30 minutes in a boiling pot of water, and are much better suited to making a soup, like Indian daal.

So, for the ingredients and amounts:

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium beets

Or…a combination of other roots to equal about the same weight (2 lbs, give or take a little) Carrots and blue potatoes would be a fun combo for a salad like this too.

1 cup dried green lentils

About 4 cups of water for cooking the lentils

Salt and pepper to taste

3 big handfuls of fresh arugula (baby spinach is a good substitute)

2 oz. goat cheese

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Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil, toss in the lentils, turn the heat down to medium, and cook covered for about 30 minutes.  Do not salt the lentils until after they cook.  Salt hardens beans and they take much longer to cook if they are salted.   You may make the lentils ahead of time if you like.  Once cooked, uncover and remove lentils from heat to cool. Then, drain the liquid using a strainer.  Add salt to taste.

Peel and chop the beets and sweet potatoes.  Mostly uniform pieces are important here–if you have giant pieces and small pieces together, the big pieces will take much longer to cook.  Exactness is unimportant, but basic uniformity is your goal.  Check out the sweet potatoes:

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Wear an apron and know that your cutting board will be stained when you handle the beets.  I love beets, but they stain everything.  A photo of beet surgery:

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Once your vegetables are chopped, place them in a medium mixing bowl and toss with a few pinches of salt, pepper, and the olive oil.

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Then, spread on a cookie sheet.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  The beets won’t be as tender as the sweet potatoes, but will still be easy to pierce with a fork.  Then, mix the vegetables with the lentils.  Stir in the arugula and top with the goat cheese.  Taste and add salt if necessary.

Sauceless Pasta!

17 Sep

My friend Michelle often gives me what she calls “challenges.”  She gives me an ingredient or a general idea of something she wants to make, and tasks me with coming up with a dish given those parameters.  This recipe is a result of one of her challenges.  She told me she wanted to make something with shrimp, and this dish is what I came up with.  This is a sauceless pasta, with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, arugula, kalamata olives, garlic, and cremini mushrooms tossed with angel hair pasta.

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The elements of this dish are, as with most recipes, very flexible, and depend entirely on your own personal taste.  For example, you could use fresh spinach instead of argula, or fresh tomatoes instead of sun dried, white button mushrooms instead of cremini.  You can exchange ingredients or eliminate certain ones altogether.  Don’t like shrimp?  Don’t use it.

The idea of sauceless pastas is one I’ve fully embraced.  Once I figured out that you don’t need a red sauce, or a white sauce for that matter, to eat pasta, pasta became a lot more interesting.  Pasta is something that can be combined with a multitude of ingredients and yield tasty results.  My pasta dishes usually involve vegetables, some kind of cheese, and often I toss in some nuts.  Walnuts are especially good in pasta.  The simplest combinations are often the best.  Tomatoes, basil, and olive oil are a favorite of mine.

Ingredients for 2-3  main dish servings

4-6 oz. angel hair pasta (about a third of a 1-lb package)

8 oz. shrimp

2 cloves garlic

8 0z. whole or chopped cremini mushrooms (you will usually find them in the same place as you find the standard white mushroom, in the same type of packaging)

2 T olive oil

1/4-1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

3 or 4 big handfuls of fresh arugula

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot of over high heat to bring to a boil for the pasta.  Toss in some salt, about 1 teaspoon or so.  It’s important to salt pasta water; adding salt after the cooking process is not the same–the salt must go in the water in order to get the most flavorful pasta.

As you wait for the water to boil, prepare your shrimp and mushrooms.  I bought frozen, deveined shrimp.  I had to peel my shrimp, but this doesn’t take that long to do.  You can buy shrimp already peeled if you like.  I ran water over the shrimp to thaw them quickly, and then peeled them:

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Once your water is boiling, add the pasta.  Angel hair takes about 5 minutes to cook, but read the package directions if you’re using a different kind of pasta.  Once the pasta is done, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the burner, and let it sit until you’ve completed the other steps.

Set the shrimp aside in a bowl, and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat while you prepare the mushrooms.  I usually clean my mushrooms using a damp paper towel.  It’s harder, in my opinion, to get the dirt off if you run water over them.  After washing, chop your mushrooms into pieces like this:

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Once you chop the mushrooms, the pan should be hot enough to start cooking them.  Stir the mushrooms every few minutes to make sure they cook more or less evenly.  Once you toss the mushrooms into the pan, chop the garlic.  After about 5 minutes of cooking, add the shrimp to the mushrooms, along with the garlic.  Add a few pinches of salt.

Shrimp and garlic take very little time to cook.  Be sure to stir every few minutes.  The shrimp is done when the color turns from gray to pink.  It’s important not to cook this too long, because the garlic could burn and the shrimp could dry out and get tough.  Just before your shrimp/garlic/mushroom mixture is done cooking, add the sun dried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes more.  Once it’s done, taste to see if more salt is needed.  If so, add more.  Below is a picture right after adding the shrimp and garlic, and below that a picture when it’s done.

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Chop the olives, if they came whole.

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Assemble the dish.  Place the arugula in the bottom of a bowl and mix with the drained pasta.  The heat from the pasta will wilt the arugula slightly.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Add pepper.  Taste.  Add salt if needed.

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