Cauliflower Green Olive Salad

Last month I made a dish and this recipe appeared on the next page of the cookbook. I dismissed it until my husband said he thought it sounded interesting. I’ll give anything a try once so even though it seemed like an odd combination I gave it a try.

The result was garlicky, crunchy and colorful. Give it a try sometime.

Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (plus resting time)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4″ x 2″ strips
  • 1 cup 1/4″ bias-cut celery
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water and set it over high heat. While it heats you can make the dressing by combining the first 4 ingredients with a pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Set the dressing aside and prep the other ingredients.
  2. When the water has reached a boil add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Allow it to return to steady boil and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until a piece is just tender to the bite. Add the pepper strips and cook for 1 more minute. Drain or use a sieve to capture all of the cauliflower and peppers. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl and allow to drain for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove the paper towel, add the celery and olives, and stir until well mixed. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Serve at room temperature; toss a couple of times before serving to redistribute any dressing that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.

Notes:
The original recipe, from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, included raw red onion, which I find too sharp so I left them out. Next time I might try giving the onion a quick soak in ice water; it is reported to mellow the sharp flavor I don’t like.

Advertisements

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Puffs

The name may sound fancy (c’mon, cheese puffs sounds highfalutin to me) however they are simple to make and can be created in many variations. I first had a similar creation, made with fake crab meat, 20 years ago.

One of the best parts is that you can make them well in advance and store them in the freezer for up to a month before using. Great when you there are unexpected guests or you are prepping for a big party.

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Puffs
Servings: 12-18 (72 pieces total)
Prep time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour in the freezer
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers, skins and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped black olives
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced (optional)
  • 1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 English muffins, split in half

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl until fully combined.
  2. Place about 2 Tbsp. of mixture on each English muffin half. Spead into an even layer over the muffin.
  3. Cut each muffin into 6 wedges. Place wedges on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour.
  4. When ready to arrange the oven rack 4-5″ from the broiler. Preheat broiler (use 450°F if you need to enter a temp like I do) for 5 minutes. Transfer half the cheese puff wedges to a separate baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes, rotating sheet once for even browning. Serve immediately.

Notes:
I used jarred roasted red peppers for this as I had them on hand. I removed 2 from the jar and placed them on paper towels to dry them a bit. You certainly can use home-prepared roasted red peppers if you have the time and inclination.

If you want to store these rather than bake them off right away then transfer the frozen wedges to a zip top bag after the hour freeze in step 3. They’ll keep for a month (or longer).

While these work test with an hour in the freezer you can bake them right after making. They’ll cook up in 1-2 minutes so keep an eye on them lest they burn.

Puttanesca-style Chicken

This came out pretty well with a nicely browned chicken thigh surrounded by a flavorful sauce of tomatoes, olives and capers. It had a minimum of prep work and, despite the number of ingredients, came together in less time than it takes for the pizza guy to get here.

Other recipes like this I’ve seen used chicken breast. I like the flavor of chicken thighs and that they are more forgiving when overcooked.

Puttanesca-style Chicken
Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, perhaps a bit more
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1 bell pepper (red or yellow, not green), medium dice
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend (or see note)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/4 c Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tbs capers, drained, rinsed, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. green peppercorns, drained, rinsed, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. basil paste (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pat dry the chicken thighs and trim any excess fat. Sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place thighs skin side down in the skillet. Cook for ~5 minutes until evenly browned. Sprinkle upward facing side with salt and pepper, flip thighs and cook another 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. If less than a tablespoon of oil remains in the pan supplement with additional oil. Add the onions and pepper, sprinkle with salt and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth and scrap up any brown bits created by browning the chicken. Cook until the broth is mostly evaporated.
  4. Add garlic, spice blend, red pepper and anchovy paste. Stir to incorporate. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes and juice, olives, capers and peppercorns. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and settle it into the sauce. Reduce temp to low and cook at a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add basil and parsley to the sauce and taste. Adjust salt & pepper accordingly. Serve with white rice or pasta.

Notes:
If you don’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend you can mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 1 teaspoon of that and save the rest.

Once the farm stands shutdown and our kitchen garden succumbs to frost it is difficult to find decent fresh basil. The grocery store will sell you a plastic box of it for $2.99 with half wilted leaves lacking aroma. I found basil paste in a tube and gave it a try. It’s OK, though certainly not the same as just picked fresh basil. I’d use it again.

This recipe was inspired by several sources including Home Sweet Jones, Epicurious and Cooking Light.