Monday, December 17, 2012

Noodle salad fresh and festive

‘Tis the season to overindulge. Give this salad a try if you want something quick and fresh to balance out all the ridiculously rich goodies you’ve enjoyed at Christmas cocktail parties, family feasts and other holiday festivities. This recipe is similar to the Thai Beef Noodle Salad I made a couple summers back, and the ingredients taste just as great with shrimp as they do with flank steak.

Shrimp Noodle Salad
1 pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 6-ounce package mung bean noodles
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, torn
⅓ cup crushed unsalted peanuts

Make dressing by whisking 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 2 tablespoons garlic in a bowl with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, jalapeño and rice wine vinegar. Set aside. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain using a colander, and rinse in cold water before placing in a large bowl with bell pepper, carrot, cilantro and dressing. Heat remaining teaspoon sesame oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two, until aromatic, before adding shrimp. Cook shrimp for a couple minutes on each side until shrimp are fully cooked. Toss shrimp with noodles and vegetables. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Baked fish with plenty of fresh flavors

I need to cook fish on a more regular basis. Boneless chicken breasts, jumbo prawns and ground turkey are my constants when it comes to cooking animal proteins. However, there are plenty of other fish in the sea (ha) when it comes to menu planning, which is I created a recipe around cod, quite a mellow fellow as far as fishy flavor is concerned. I think the acidity of the tomatoes and the salt of the olives really complement the fish in this dish, which also gets some wonderful fresh flavors thanks to parsley and a little fresh lemon juice squeezed over the plate at the last second. This recipe yields four main-course servings.

Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Olives 
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
28-ounce can plum tomatoes in liquid, coarsely chopped or crushed by hand
¾ cup Spanish manzanilla olives
¼ cup dry white wine
1 pound cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
8 ounces pasta, cooked al dente (I used Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Pappardelle)

One lemon, cut into wedges Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat bottom of 9-inch-by-13-inch glass dish with one teaspoon of olive oil and set aside. Heat remaining teaspoon olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for just a minute or two, until aromatic, before adding tomatoes, wine and green olives. Let simmer over medium heat until sauce thickens a bit, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Place cod fillets in glass baking dish and pour tomato sauce over fillets. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, until fish registers 140 degrees with a meat thermometer and flakes easily with a fork. Divide pasta among plates, topping each plate with cod fillet and a spoonful or two of sauce. Garnish each plate with a lemon wedge and serve.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Going meatless? Go with mushrooms

It’s an odd day when there’s not a mushroom to be found in my kitchen. We go through them like they’re going out of style, and my ears always perk up when I come across recipes calling for any sort of fungi. Mushrooms are just so versatile, and have a wonderful flavor, no matter if you grill, stuff or sautée them. I find myself using them more as a substitute for meat -- grilled portobello caps make great burgers, and I like my fajitas with sliced creminis as much as I do chicken or steak.

I came up with this super-simple, meat-free dinner the other night in an attempt to use up the rest of my Thanksgiving-stuffing herbs. Sure enough, I also had a pound of white mushrooms in the fridge.

Farro with Mushrooms 
2 cups farro
6 cups water
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine farro and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until farro is tender. Drain farro and set aside. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and thyme and sautée, stirring occasionally, for 4 or 5 minutes. Add broth to pan with mushrooms and simmer for a few minutes. Lower heat and add cooked farro to pan, stirring to mix. Stir in the parsley and Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and serve.