Category Archives: Healthy

Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I love spinach artichoke dip and I love grilled cheese sandwiches.  So this recipe instantly got me salivating and ready to go.  It’s a great quick lunch or dinner and is pretty healthy especially if you use low fat cheese and yogurt in place of the sour cream.  It’s also really, really good.  REALLY good.  The key is getting the bread golden brown and crispy while allowing the cheese time to melt so that the inside is a creamy, gooey melty mix.  Could it be any easier to put together a crowd pleasing dinner?  After making this last minute for a couple friends and getting really good feedback, I think the answer is no.  Make this (frequently!) and enjoy.

Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (adapted from A Couple Cooks)

Makes 2 sandwiches (scale up according to how many you need)
Fresh spinach – enough for about 3 cups chopped
Canned artichoke hearts – about 3 (around 6 ounces)
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used mozarella, use any blend you like)
4 pieces bread (I used a white crusty bread, I think sourdough would work great)
Kosher salt
Butter or more olive oil

1  Dice the 2 cloves garlic. Chop the artichokes. Wash and stem the
spinach, then chop it coarsely.

2  Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and
saute for 30 seconds. Then add the spinach and a pinch of kosher salt,
and saute for a few minutes until just limp. Add the artichokes and
red pepper flakes (if you want a tiny bit of spiciness) and saute for
another minute or so, until heated through. Drain off any liquid from
the pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons sour cream and another pinch of kosher salt.

4  Spread butter (or olive oil) on one side of each of the 4 bread
pieces. Heat a griddle pan to medium high heat. Place 2 pieces of
bread on the griddle, buttered side down. On each piece, spread some
shredded cheese, the spinach artichoke filling, some more cheese (1/2
cup cheese per sandwich), and the other piece of bread. When the
bottom bread is browned, flip the sandwich and cook until the bread is
toasted and the cheese is melted.  Or, if you have a panini maker,
just assemble the sandwiches, butter or oil the maker on both sides
and toast the sandwiches in the maker until golden brown and cheese
looks enticingly melty.

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Filed under Cooking for Two, Healthy, Main Meals, Sandwiches, Vegetarian

Grilled Eggplant and Pepper Rocca Salad

As you can probably tell by the recipes on this blog, I really like roasted/grilled eggplants.  It just so happens we got a crate of fresh eggplants just waiting for me to use them up in delicious recipes.  I wanted to make a hearty and filling salad that was also really healthy and tasty.  This is what came to mind!  The combination of the grilled sweet peppers and the smokey eggplant with the saltiness of the feta cheese and the bite that comes from the rocca resulted in one of my favorite salads that I’ve made or tried.  Use whatever ingredients you have, experiment, and enjoy!
Grilled Eggplant and Pepper Rocca Salad (everylittlecrumb original)

Ingredients:

3 large eggplants

2 each of red, yellow, and green bell peppers

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

3 cups rocca (jarjeer)

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.  Quarter all of the bell peppers, or cut them into 1/8ths if you want a less chunky salad.  Toss all the above vegetables with the olive oil in a bowl, salt and pepper then using a large grill pan, grill eggplants first about 8 minutes each side or until golden brown and grilled throughout.  Repeat with the bell peppers in batches until all the vegetables are grilled.  As an alternative, you can roast all the vegetables on a baking tray in the oven at 400 degrees F (200 C) until golden brown and roasted, about 15 minutes a side.  When grilled/roasted vegetables have cooled, put all the washed rocca in the salad bowl you’ll be serving in, then scatter the vegetables on top.  Crumble the feta cheese on top, and top with the toasted pine nuts.  To make the dressing, add the olive oil gradually to the vinegar while whisking.  Whisk in the honey, and season with salt and pepper.  Top the salad with the dressing and toss to distribute.

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Filed under everylittlecrumb original, Healthy, Main Meals, Salads

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

I love Ottolenghi.  It was one of my favorite food experiences in London, and I had AMAZING food experiences there.  The way the chefs manipulate vegetables and make healthy dishes taste so enticing and complex is masterful.  Whenever I see an Ottolenghi recipe, I know it’s something my family and I will love, especially when we are trying to eat a little healthier.  I also love my dad’s cooking…the man knows what he’s doing.  He throws in whatever strikes his whimsy, disregards a recipe more often then not and the end result is always something interesting and delectable.  So, this was the perfect combination-an Ottolenghi recipe as cooked by my dad.  This dish impressed us with its simple fresh flavors, and its ease in coming together.  For those of you who don’t know, orzo is a type of tiny pasta reminiscent of risotto, that absorbs flavors wonderfully.  This is a great autumn dish, filled with hearty vegetables like celery, eggplant, carrots and tomatoes.  It would work well with modifications, cube and sautee any vegetable you want to add and you can experiment.  We had some leftover ground beef and toasted pine nuts, and my dad threw them in.  Try adding feta cheese in addition to the mozarella with sundried tomatoes and olives.  Pumpkins and zucchini would work wonderfully, and this would habe been great with mushrooms.  This was  devoured and will definitely be repeated, probably with different ingredients each time.

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe

Serves 4

1 large  eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (225 grams) orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) tomato paste (we upped this to a tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable stock (if you don’t have, use water, we ended up adding an extra 1/2-1 cup of water)
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (We used dried)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice (we used shredded)
1 1/2 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup or 45 grams) parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced

*My dad added 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced to the onions and garlic while cooking.  This gave it a great spicy flavor, omit if you like your food mild

Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I used this time to get the rest of my ingredients ready. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175 C). Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.

Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Filed under Healthy, Italian, Main Meals, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Guacamole Salad

 

If you saw the earlier post, you know I made this salad to go along with the Chili Pie.  A great pairing, and this salad would work equally well with many dishes.  It would even be a great light main dish, you could grill some chicken and add it in if you’re the type who needs some form of meat in your salad to call it lunch.  This recipe is really easy, really light and tasty.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Ina Garten

Guacamole Salad:

Ingredients

  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup small diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

Directions

Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

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Curried Couscous

This worked amazingly well with the tagine I posted earlier, but I’ve had it so many times as a side for various protein sources, or even alone for a light lunch and it’s one of the recipes I keep coming back to.  Especially for dinner parties, I know it takes virtually no time and it is always a crowd pleaser.  Bookmark this recipe! Now go make it.

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups couscous (I use medium grain)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (I used white vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small-diced carrots (I prefer shredding the carrot)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (Try dried cranberries instead! Yum!)
  • 1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts) (I ended up using around 1 1/2 green onions)
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Directions

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions(green onions), and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature. Any leftovers will keep well in the fridge. See how easy that was! And visually beautiful… thanks Ina for another stunning recipe.

P.S. the salad barely needs a recipe, but I’ll post one soon.  It’s a refreshingly simple side with a mediterranean influence that counterbalances nicely with heavy dishes.

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Filed under Healthy, Main Meals, Vegetarian

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

I wanted to have a few friends over, and I wanted to try something new.  I’ve always loved tagine, a meat dish (or chicken) with sweet elements, traditionally stewed plums, or dates, or raisins.  The combination of sweet and savoury and the depth of spices make this a comforting yet challenging dish for your palate.  I don’t have a tagine pot, and I didn’t have hours to slow cook the recipe, but I looked around and found this conveniently simple, and relatively fast recipe.  This is also really healthy, especially if you use lean meat.  The added apricots give it a lot of fiber, click on the original recipe link to see nutritional information.  I made it with a good friends help and it turned out to be a recipe that will definitely be repeated many times.  Make, expand your culinary expertise and enjoy!

Prep 15 mins

Cook 1 hr 30 mins

    Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g lean diced lamb
  • 1 large onion , roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots , quartered lengthways and cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ras-el-hanout spice mix (see tip, below)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas , rinsed and drained
  • 200g dried apricots (I also added around 150 g of squishy dates, gave it more of a pronounced sweet flavor)
  • 600ml chicken stock

Spice mix

Ras el hanout, a North African spice mix, contains cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and black pepper. Find it in larger supermarkets, or use a mix of the spices above.

TO SERVE

  • 120g pack pomegranate seeds
  • 2 large handfuls coriander , roughly chopped

*Note, I doubled the recipe as I was cooking for a crowd, but for most purposes the original recipe should provide more than enough.  I didn’t find the ras el hanout mix, so I made my own by just randomly measuring out the spices listed in the spice mix until I came up with around the 2 tablespoon mark.  Turned out great!

Method
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Heat the oil in a casserole and brown the lamb on all sides. Scoop the lamb out onto a plate, then add the onion and carrots and cook for 2-3 mins until golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Stir in the spices and tomatoes, and season. Tip the lamb back in with the chickpeas and apricots (and dates if using). Pour over the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 1 hr.  If, at 5-10 minutes before removing from oven the sauce still seems overly liquidy, you want a more thick stew like sauce, add a slurry of cornstarch (equal parts cornstarch mixed with equal parts cold water, start with 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 1 tablespoon water) and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes more. *NOTE, I did all the stovetop work like sauteeing the vegetables and meat and simmering the broth in a nonstick metal pan, then transferred everything to a pyrex deep dish container when it came time to put it in the oven.  I wasn’t sure how well my pyrex would do on a stovetop so I didn’t want to risk a kitchen disaster!
  2. If the lamb is still a little tough, give it 20 mins more until tender. When ready, leave it to rest so it’s not piping hot, then serve scattered with pomegranate and herbs, with couscous or rice alongside.

*Serve with this curried couscous.  It is the perfect accompaniment and takes just a few minutes to prepare…you might find the couscous is even more popular than the tagine!

 

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Filed under Healthy, Main Meals, Meat

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

I love eggplant parmesan.  I love anything breaded served with tomato sauce.  Most eggplant parmesan’s tend to be fried which transforms eggplan from a healthy, great
non-meat substitute to a sponge that soaks up all the oil it’s fried in.  This recipe caught my eye because not only does baking the eggplant result in less work, it also results in way less calories.  I bake almost everything that is more traditionally fried, like french fries, sambosas, etc, and I honestly can say that when sprinkled with a little oil they come out with the same golden crispy deliciousness.  I also liked this as a vegetarian dish, we try to cook meat free once a week just to take a break.  I went with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe because they have a reputation for delivering consistently delicious results.  The recipe was a hit, and a must repeat, but quantities were a little off.  Making it the original way led to a big surplus of breadcrumbs and a shortage on sauce.  Below, you’ll find my adaptation on the recipe:
Baked Eggplant Parmesan, loosely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and as seen on Smells like Home
 For the Eggplant:
2-3 medium eggplants (about 1-1.5 kgs) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 30 grams)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian seasoning (optional, my own add in)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Tomato Sauce:

3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes or pureed or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground pepper

For Baking:
200 grams whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 30 grams)
10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

To make the eggplant:

In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. You are basically draining the salted eggplant in the sink.  Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 220 degrees C.
In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper and a dash of italian seasoning if using in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.

 
Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.

To make the sauce:
While eggplant bakes, process 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step). If you don’t want too much texture, also puree the 3rd can, otherwise you’ll be adding this diced to the sauce.
Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.

To assemble:
Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.  I made some spaghetti pasta, and served with the tomato sauce and eggplant.  A little time consuming, but an absolutely delicious recipe.

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Filed under Healthy, Italian, Vegetarian