Category Archives: Recipe Remix

Food Food & Entertaining Health Recipe Remix

Recipe Remix: Warm Asparagus & Coconut Rice Salad with Spinach & Mint Pistou

I’m an avid believer that the key to success in any situation is to be inspired by your surroundings, to be able to think on your feet and to improvise. Hence my tendency to look at a recipe as more of a convenient advice column rather than a concrete instruction manual. I hardly ever follow a recipe to a tee because as a businesswoman and working professional, for the sake of time, I tend to substitute certain ingredients and cook with what I have on hand rather than make specific trips to the market just for one particular ingredient.

So when I came across this perfect recipe for a light and fresh Spring meal from Sprouted Kitchen, but failed to have at least half the ingredients within a fifty foot radius, I decided to improvise and freewheel it. And to my surprise, I turned something utterly French into something deliciously Thai inspired and beyond satisfying. Sometimes the most successful dishes are the accidentally inspired ones.

WARM ASPARAGUS & COCONUT RICE SALAD WITH SPINACH & MINT PISTOU

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

I used coconut rice instead of the suggested brown rice to give it some extra fragrance, richness and depth to the citrus. Any variety of rice and beans are fine. Cooking times will vary. To save yourself time, you may purchase pre cooked frozen rice or at your local Chinese or Thai takeout. Also, the beans provide enough protein that this dish can be served as either a main or a side dish.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked jasmine coconut rice (easy recipe at She Simmers)
1 ¼ cup cooked cannellini beans (or any other bean you’d prefer: lentils, chickpeas, edamame, etc.)
1 lb. asparagus
½ cup roughly chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley

SPINACH & MINT PISTOU

4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup raw walnut pieces
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

1. In a food processor or blender (preferably a VitaMix), add all pistou ingredients and pulse a few times until everything is coarsely combined. Don’t over do it or else you’ll be left with a thick paste rather than a chunky pistou.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the asparagus spears on a diagonal, about one inch pieces. Add them to the boiling water for about 1.5 minutes. Prepare another bowl of ice water. Remove and add the asparagus to the ice water bath to set their color. After a few minutes, drain completely.
3. Prepare the coconut rice and cannellini beans according to instructions. If using canned cannellini beans, be sure to rinse with cold water. While rice is warm, mix them together in a large bowl. Add the asparagus and a few big dollops of the pistou (amount based on personal preference), and fold gently to coat everything in the sauce. Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley and mint.

Food Food & Entertaining Health Recipe Remix

Recipe Remix: Spring Vegetable and Buffalo Ragù Pasta with Pecorino Cheese + My Inner Little Old Italian Lady

My mom and I have what many typical mothers and daughters have, a love hate relationship. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom to death and admire her to the ends of the earth. She is the strongest woman that I know. Correction. That I will ever know. I take her and my dad to dinner every week and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for that woman, nor her for me. But there are some days when I just wish she would tone down the ancient Chinese tradition of tough love, better known to her as “putting your children down so they can grow thicker skin and build themselves back up.” Interpreted by her children as “Mom, why do you hate me so much!”

So as a child (and intermittently as an adult), I always had this fantasy of having an overly affectionate and sensitive June Cleaver-type mom who would bake cookies for me after school and tell me she loved me at the end of every sing-songy conversation we had. Or even better yet, a nice plump little Italian mama who would cook pasta and sauce from scratch and overfeed me every Sunday afternoon, while incessantly cupping my face and kissing my forehead while telling me how bellissima I was…even when I wasn’t. I wanted my mom to be all of those things but unfortunately for me, she wasn’t. And for a long time, I struggled with this.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was casually catching up with a psychologist friend of mine over the requisite vino with a side of relationship recap that she tapped into my insides from a Freudian obtuse angle, and let me have it in the most nonchalant of ways that only a professional could. Leaning back in her leather smokers chair at the bar with her arm draped across the back, she told me from across the table that my infinite quest to find my soul mate of epic proportions would never materialize because the kind of love that I was looking for, was the kind that…get this…only a mother could give.

Say what?” I thought. “You crazy!

She then continued to explain to me that it was the kind of love that was one hundred percent selfless, unconditionally supportive and infinitely without end.

Yea? And? What’s wrong with wanting that?

And even though it was the kind of love that could only come from a mother, even the most perfect of moms aren’t always able to meet such high requirements, let alone a man of the hour/week/month/fill in the blank.

Ohhh…” That was a tough one to digest. My heart sank. “So what then? Do we just give up on love?

No was the short answer. The long of it, as morbid as it sounds, was that we have to mourn the loss of the mother and the love we wish we had, just as we would mourn the loss of a loved one. (Woh…talk about deep for weeknight cocktails). Appreciate the fact that most moms are barely treading water, and that they love their children as best as, and at times, the only way they know how. Probably the way their mothers loved them. Because at the end of the day, the only other person who could possibly love you that selflessly, unconditionally and infinitely is you. The day you accept that and start giving to yourself what you’ve been searching for from everyone and everything else around you is the day you can stop looking…for whatever it is that you’ve been looking for.

What was supposed to be a light happy hour of Pinot and calamari had turned into quite the heavy emotional meal of food for thought. But she spoke the truth. And to this day, that conversation has stuck to my ribs real good. They’ve stuck to my ribs like…well…a good sauce. So this past Sunday when I was feeling a bit under the weather, rather than pining about how I wished someone would come and take care of me, I dug deep, took some pain killers and channeled my own inner little old Italian lady to soothe and take care of me. I whipped up a hearty, healthy and comforting pot of Pasta with Spring Vegetable and Buffalo Ragù with Pecorino. And as the rustic delicious aromas of the old world filled the kitchen, I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Bellissima…”

SPRING VEGETABLE AND BUFFALO RAGU PASTA WITH PECORINO CHEESE

 

INGREDIENTS

Feel free to be creative in your vegetable choice to include anything from broccolini to cauliflower to asparagus. 

serves 7

  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Italian squash or zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • basil
  • 1 lb ground buffalo or lean beef
  • 16 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • handful of flat leaf Italian parsley
  • grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 box of dried pasta of choice (I used Barilla Whole Grain Medium Shells for the added fiber)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon Spike’s seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • oregano
  • thyme

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Dice tomatoes, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion and zucchini into small ¼” pieces
  2. Peel and pulse garlic in blender to create a chunky paste. This will extract the juices of the garlic that you don’t get when you mince them.
  3. Heat olive oil in wok or large pan over high heat. Add ground buffalo. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the ground buffalo until it’s thoroughly cooked. Set meat aside. (I like to use a wok because 1) it conducts heat evenly 2) its high walls prevent ingredients from overflowing which also allows it to be used as a pot for the sauce 3) I’m Asian)
  4. In same pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and chilli flakes and cook for 3 minutes. Add all the carrots, celery, zucchini, oregano, thyme and 2/3 of the red bell peppers. Cook vegetables down for 10 minutes or until somewhat browned and tender.
  5. Add garlic. Cook for 10 minutes
  6. Add tomato paste. Cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Add roma tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes. Once it starts to boil, add ground buffalo, smoked sea salt, chicken bouillon and Spike seasoning. Stir. Turn the heat down. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add half the chopped flat leaf parsley and half the chopped basil.
  9. Boil large pot of water. Add generous amount of sea salt. When it comes to a roiling boil, add dry pasta. Refer to box for cooking time until al dente.
  10. Drain pasta. Rinse with cold water.
  11. Spoon pasta onto plate. Spoon sauce over pasta. Top with chopped parsley, basil, red bell peppers and freshly shaved pecorino cheese. Serve hot.