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Cauliflower and Sausage Casserole This casserole is healthy, filling, and surprisingly delicious for a dish with cauliflower as a main ingredient. Sausage, tomatoes, and the aforementioned cauliflower make for a warm and comforting casserole that is even better as leftovers the next day. 1 medium head cauliflower, about 2 pounds
1 teaspoon fine table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound uncooked herbed chicken sausage OR spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 medium onion, about 1/2 pound, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 stems fresh thyme, leaves only
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved
1 can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Cut the cauliflower head in quarters. Slice away the leaves and stem, and with an angled cut cut away the core from each quarter of the cauliflower head. Chop cauliflower roughly into bite-sized florets, each about 1-inch across.

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the salt. Add the cauliflower florets and boil for 2 minutes. Drain into a colander set in the sink. Run cold water over the florets to stop the cooking process and shake the colander to drain any excess water. Return the cauliflower to the cooking pot and set aside.

Place a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then, when the pan is quite hot, add the sausage. Use a spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and beginning to get crispy. If using chicken sausage there should not be a great deal of fat in the pan, but if using Italian sausage, drain all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat.

Turn the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, and thyme to the pan with the sausage. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Scrape up any brown bits as you sauté. Crush the tomatoes, and add them to the sausage. Stir thoroughly, then add the reserved tomato sauce and cook for about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the sauce with the cauliflower in the cooking pot. Spread the cauliflower and sausage mix in the prepared baking dish and distribute evenly. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle them evenly over the cauliflower. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until breadcrumbs have browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

original recipe

Green salad with Dates, Smoked Almonds, and Goat Cheese This salad has a lot of ingredients, but it is well worth the work. Smoked almonds and chopped dates add strong smoky/salty/sweet flavors to the crunchy lettuce, cabbage, and celery mix. Beans, chickpeas, and shredded precooked chicken provide protein, and crumbled goat cheese acts as a creamy accent. A simple red wine vinaigrette is included in the recipe, but feel free to improvise - just about any vinaigrette will do. Made ahead of time on Sunday, it makes for a easy, healthy work lunch and will last for nearly a week properly stored in the fridge. For a vegetarian version, just omit the chicken. Salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 head leaf lettuce, shredded
1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded very fine
3-4 stalks celery, chopped

Toppings:

Cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped in quarters
1/2 cup smoked salted almonds, roughly chopped
1 12-ounce can chickpeas and/or 1 12-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and well drained
4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Optional: 6 shallots OR 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Avocado

Dressing:

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. mustard
1/2 Tbs. honey or fruit jam
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs. olive oil


To make ahead: Mix the salad ingredients (washed and thoroughly dried) together. Store in large plastic containers lined with paper towels. Top with the finely chopped shallots or red onion, dates, almonds, and legumes.

Per serving: Toss with the goat cheese, top with chicken and/or avocado, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add dressing to taste

Whisk the jam/honey, mustard, and seasoning together. Add vinegar, stir well, and slowly add oil while whisking until emulsified.

Original Recipe

roasted_salsa_mexican_casserole.jpgThis is definitely best Mexican casserole I have ever had. Fresh summer corn, zucchini, and red pepper are sauteed in green enchilada sauce with precooked shredded chicken, layered with corn tortillas and homemade smoky tomato salsa, then topped with a mix of cheeses and baked until the flavors meld. It is, however, also a lot of work - and although the casserole is well worth the effort, but I do advise planning ahead before tackling it. I think we ate at around 9:30pm the night I decided to make it. But it makes a ton - would be great for feeding a crowd, and has so many veggies that it doesn't leave you feeling greasy like most cheese and sour cream casseroles.

Salsa:
8  plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
3  garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1  small onion, peeled and chopped
1  seeded jalapeño pepper, quartered
Cooking spray
1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
Casserole:
1  cup  chopped onion
1  cup  fresh or frozen corn kernels
1  cup  diced zucchini
1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
3  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast
1  tablespoon  minced garlic
2  teaspoons  chili powder
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  (10-ounce) can green chile enchilada sauce
1  (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
12  (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/2  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1/2  cup  (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco

Preheat broiler.

To prepare salsa, combine first 4 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 20 minutes or until charred, stirring once. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Place tomato mixture in a food processor; add cilantro, lime juice, and pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 cup onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients (through green chiles); sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.

Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with 3/4 cup salsa. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas. Finally, sprinkle the cheeses on top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly

Original recipe

kale_brown_rice_gratin.jpgI upped the greens and added chicken to this warming casserole to make it a one-dish meal, but you can of course omit the chicken and use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. The flavors are simple but delicious - a little dijon and hint of nutmeg add interest, but the main focus is the creamy texture of the rice and greens.

1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if vegetarian)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast (optional)
2 large bunches kale
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
6-8 ounces of extremely sharp cheddar-style cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed 3.5 - 6 quart pan. Add shallot and saute until brown.

Add brown rice and saute with shallot for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get a little toasted.

Add milk, stock concentrate, spices and dijon. Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes - 1 hour. You can peek and stir occasionally without problem. Note: the milk will curdle here if you boil it very long, but this doesn't really affect the final product.

Preheat your oven to 350º.

At the end of the rice's cooking time, add in the finely chopped kale. Cook an additional 5 minutes of so to help soften the kale.

At this point it should be rather thick. If it is not, put two tablespoons flour in a small bowl and add some of the remaining liquid from the rice mix. Stir to make a roux and add back to pan to thicken. Once thick enough to be like a wet paste, spoon into 9×13 casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs (cheese first!) and put into preheated oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly.

Original recipe



eggplant_mushroombake_sm.jpgThis dish was a huge surprise. The ingredients seem simple, but the combination of broiled eggplant, browned mushrooms and onions, simple tomato sauce, and melted cheese is outstanding. It has all the great flavor of really good authentic Italian food, but without swimming in olive oil. As my one-and-only critic said, "I would go to a restaurant just to order this." Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the year. Serve over pasta.

1  peeled eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1  cup  chopped onion
1/2 tbs fresh oregano and 1/2 tsp dried basil or 1 tsp Italian seasoning
2  garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1  (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, divided
2/3  cup  (about 3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4  cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Pasta, cooked according to directions

Preheat broiler.

Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet coated with olive oil cooking spray, spray the tops as well and sprinkle lightly with coarse ground salt and pepper; broil 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat; add onion and next 4 ingredients (onion through mushrooms). Salt lightly. Cook until onions are browned, and mushrooms are turning golden, stirring mixture occasionally (about 10 minutes).

Spread half of mushroom mixture in bottom of a 1 1/2-quart round baking dish coated with cooking spray (I used a cake pan). Arrange half of eggplant slices over mushroom mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Spread remaining mushroom mixture over mozzarella; top with remaining eggplant slices. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper; top with remaining tomato sauce. Cover and bake at 375° for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.

yield: 4 servings
Per serving (not including pasta)
Calories:168 (30% from fat)
Fat: 5.6g (sat 3.2g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.5g)
Original recipe

farmer_sandwiches_sm.jpgFancy sandwiches with chicken, cheddar, apples, spicy mustard, and balsamic-apricot-onion jam. Best with a really sharp cheddar to balance the sweetness from the apples and onion jam: I like Vermont white cheddar, sliced fairly thick.

1 loaf crusty baguette or ciabatta
whole grain mustard
sharp cheddar cheese
deli chicken
butter lettuce
2 granny smith apples thinly sliced
2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
Onion Jam
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thin
1 yellow onion, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 cup chicken broth
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
2-3 heaping tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium to large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots & onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to get soft and the bottom of the pan begins to brown.

Add the 1/2 cup chicken broth to the shallots, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan while the broth reduces. Add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the apricot jam and stir to combine. The sauce will thicken but should still be easily stirred.

Sandwiches:
Slice the bread in half and spread a little whole grain mustard on top half. Smear a layer of onion jam on the bottom half. Toss the apple slices in a little lemon juice, and then add them to the sandwich. Add a few leaves of lettuce and then top with a layer of cheese. Add a layer of chicken. Press the sandwich closed and cut into desired number of pieces.

 Original recipe

crustlessquiches_sm.jpgRich, cheesy little quiches with gruyere, zucchini, and basil. The best thing about them - other than the taste - is they can be made ahead of time and either frozen or refrigerated until needed. A few minutes in the oven gets them toasty and ready for a party. 

1/4 c. cornstarch or 1/3 c. flour
1 1/4 c. milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 c. half and half
1/2 t. salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
oil for the pan

1 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 zucchini, grated
1/4 cup gruyere or parmesan, grated
fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, salt, and nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini, and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch grated cheese into each muffin cup, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and pinch of chopped fresh basil. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes.

makes ~48

Original recipe


chard_tart_sm.jpgAn elegant savory tart full of chard, onion and thyme held together by eggs and Parmesan on an oregano whole wheat crust. Perfect for a tea or brunch. Can made ahead and served warm or cold.

Crust:

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp dried oregano or thyme
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. cold water (I used less)

Makes enough to line a 28- to 30-cm (11- to 12-inch) tart pan.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease the pan lightly if it doesn't have a nonstick coating.

Combine the flour, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork. Add the water, mix with the fork until it is absorbed, then knead lightly (with just one hand, in the bowl) until the dough comes together into a ball.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little flour on the ball of dough and on the rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Turn the dough by 45 degrees (a quarter of a circle) every time you roll the pin and back, adding a little more flour underneath and on the dough when it seems on the verge of becoming sticky. The trick is to do this in quick, assertive gestures to avoid overworking the dough.

Transfer the dough carefully into the prepared pan and line it neatly. Trim the excess dough (re-roll it and cut into decorative shapes to top the tart), and place the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

You can then blind-bake the crust (prick with a fork first, cover with foil, and cook at 400°F for 12 minutes), or garnish it straight away, depending on the filling. Either way, it will take 20 to 25 minutes at 200°C (400°F) to bake thoroughly.

Filling:

1 bunch of rainbow chard, stems and leaves chopped
1 onion, diced
1 big garlic clove minced
4 large eggs
2 Tb. half and half or milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan
aged balsamic vinegar for garnish

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the chard stems (you will add the leaves later) and thyme. Cook for 7-10 minutes until the stems are tender. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add the chard leaves. Cook until the leaves are wilted and soft and any liquid has evaporated, 7-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Beat together the eggs and season with salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the chard mixture and parmesan. Mix well and scrape the filling into the prepared shell.

Bake for 10-20 minutes, or until set. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and serve warm with a drizzle of balsamic.

Original recipe (filling)

Original recipe (crust)


asian_pizza_sm.jpgAn Asian pizza sounds like a strange idea, but this combination of tangy peanut sauced chicken, Swiss & mozzarella cheeses and a crispy crust was outstanding. Plus, if you have one person make the crust and another make the chicken, it comes together remarkably quickly for a weeknight meal.

3/4  cup  rice vinegar
1/4  cup  firmly packed brown sugar
1/4  cup  low-sodium soy sauce
3  tablespoons  water
1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger (optional)
2  tablespoons  chunky peanut butter
1/2  to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4  garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
1/2  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat, reduced-sodium Swiss cheese (such as Alpine Lace)
1/4  cup  (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4  cup  chopped green onions
Pizza crust

Preheat oven to 500°.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add chicken, and sauté 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Pour rice vinegar mixture into pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook mixture 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until chicken is done. (Mixture will be consistency of thick syrup.)

Sprinkle cheeses over prepared crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and top with chicken mixture. Bake at 500° for 12 minutes on bottom rack in oven (or according to pizza crust directions). Sprinkle with green onions. Place pizza on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes.

6 servings (really only feeds 2-3 people)
Calories: 293 (22% from fat)
Fat: 7.3g (sat 2.9g,mono 2.6g,poly 1.2g)
Original recipe

olivepasta_sm.jpgPenne pasta with rich Italian flavors of kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Fresh herbs and lemon juice brighten the flavors, and crispy garlic breadcrumbs add crunch and flavor. Easy roasted chickpeas add protein for a full one dish meal.

2 T olive oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced (~2T)
1 T minced anchovy fillets (4-6 fillets)
1 T tomato paste
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinse, patted dry, and cut into thin strips
1 c. pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 lg. slices sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. pasta (we used penne)
1/2-1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 T chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Optional: Oven Roasted Chickpeas
1 15 ounce can organic chickpeas

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon chunky sea salt

Heat the oven 400°F. Pour the chickpeas into a colander and drain and rinse very well under running water. Pat dry.

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread out on a large cookie sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until brown and crispy. Turn and stir every ten minutes so they don't burn. Take out and toss to taste with salt and spices.


Combine 1 T olive oil, 1 T garlic, anchovies, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives in medium bowl. Set aside.

Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 16 1-second pulses. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook and stir until garlic is fragrant and bread crumbs are dark golden brown, 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer to plate to cool. Wipe out skillet with paper towels.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat. Add rigatoni and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. salt. While pasta is cooking, return now-empty skillet to medium heat and add olive mixture. Cook until olive mixture is aromatic and oil has turned rusty red, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove 3/4 c. pasta cooking water from pot and add to skillet. Bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat while pasta finishes cooking. When pasta is just shy of al dente, drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c. cooking water. Transfer back to pot, add olive mixture and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs most of liquid, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 c. Parmesan. Remove pot from heat and stir in parsley and basil, adjust seasoning with pepper. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, serve with lemon wedges and extra cheese.

From Cooks Illustrated, July & August 2008 
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