Archive for the ‘main dish recipes’ Category

This is one of those ideas so good that I wish I’d had it myself: risotto with brie. It is lusciously creamy in a way that the hard cheese we usually use for risotto just can’t match. To stand up to that creaminess, this recipe uses bulgur wheat instead of rice, along with tender roasted asparagus and snappy sun-dried tomatoes.

asparagus bulgur risotto

Give this a try even if you don’t especially like the flavor of brie: it’s a relatively small amount and lends more creaminess than flavor. It comes together in about 40 minutes and reheats well in the microwave.

Asparagus Bulgur “Risotto”
Adapted from Serious Eats

4 to 6 c. broth or stock
1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 lb)
1 T. butter
3 T. olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
1 onion
1 1/2 c. bulgur wheat
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes*
3-4 oz. brie
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Snap the bottom of the stems off of the asparagus. Doing this by hand means that it will break where it becomes tender, which is perfect. Throw out or compost the bottoms and chop the tops into roughly two-inch segments.

Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet or in a 9×13 pan, making sure it’s spread in a single layer. Melt the butter and add 1 T. of olive oil. Drizzle over the asparagus and toss to coat, then sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Roast for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until the asparagus is tender and starting to brown.

While the asparagus is roasting, mince the onion. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into tiny pieces — try using kitchen shears if you have them — and set aside. Then remove the rind from the brie and cut it into cubes, and set that aside too.

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a saute or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. It’s a little prettier in the end if you don’t let it brown, but it tastes fine either way.

Then add the bulgur and stir to coat the grains with the oil. Cook for a couple of minutes to slightly toast it. Add one cup of the stock or broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it is mostly absorbed. Continue adding stock, half to one cup at a time, for about 15 minutes, or until you’ve used four cups of stock.

Then you need to start tasting. When cooked, the bulgur is more tender than al dente pasta; the texture is almost like brown rice. It could take up to half an hour and six cups of stock for it to get there — among other things, bulgur can be ground coarsely or finely, which changes the cooking time. Trust your tounge!

When the bulgur is done, add the asparagus, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the brie. Stir until the brie is largely melted, then remove from the heat. Season with black pepper, then taste and add more salt as desired.

Serves six.

*If you’re not using oil-packed tomatoes here, rehydrate them in boiling water until soft.


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I first encountered these non-traditional quesadillas at a tapas party, where slices were among the small plates on offer. They’re a brilliant combination — the mild sweet potato filling, sharp cheddar cheese, a crispy tortilla — and I pretty much went straight home and wrote an email to ask for the recipe.

sweet potato quesadillas

I like these as they are for a snack or light meal. If you want to make them more substantial, you can add black beans to the filling. You can also add goat cheese, which makes the filling creamy and rich-tasting, but do so in addition to the cheddar (which plays an important structural role), not instead of. I love leftovers reheated in a toaster oven, but people who aren’t as obsessed as I am with crispness have reportedly enjoyed them reheated in a microwave too.

sweet potato quesadilla filling

For folks with wheat or gluten issues, I did test these with corn tortillas, and it is possible, but a bit tricky. You need to heat the tortillas one batch at a time in the microwave, wrapped in a damp paper towel, and then work quickly to fill them and get them into the pan while they’re still at their most pliable. Some of mine still cracked, but they all held on to their filling. I recommend using small tortillas so you don’t have to try to cut them after cooking.

sweet potato shreds

Incidentally, there’s a lot of conflicting information on what a sweet potato is or isn’t, especially when compared with a yam. In this case, the important part is to get something that’s orange on the inside, not white.

(By the way, I’m trying putting all of the photos up at the top so you have the text of the recipe uninterrupted. Let me know what you think about this in the comments.)

Sweet potato quesadillas
I adapted this from a friend’s version, who in turn adapted it from what I believe to be the original in Moosewood Cooks at Home

1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes (one huge potato or two more reasonably-sized ones)
1 small onion
3-6 cloves of garlic (or 1-2 t. jarred crushed garlic)
2 T. canola oil plus extra for the pan
1 t. chili powder*
1/2 t. ground cumin
salt and pepper
8 flour tortillas (I usually use 10-inch ones)
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese**

Wash and grate the sweet potatoes, then peel and dice the onion. If you’re using fresh garlic, put it through a garlic press or mince. Add the canola oil to a large frying pan and heat over medium. Then add the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes.

Add the cumin and chili powder to the pan and stir for a minute until they’re well mixed in, then add the sweet potatoes. Keep stirring until the potatoes and spices are mixed, then cover the pan and cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring every five minutes. If the potatoes are sticking to the pan, add a bit more oil. After ten minutes, the potatoes should be cooked through; after fifteen, the filling should be easily squishable. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the filling from the heat and get out a frying pan. Heat it over medium and pour a bit of canola in the bottom. You can either fill the tortillas directly in the pan or fill them on the counter and then stick them in the pan. Either way, you want to smear half of the tortilla with the sweet potato mixture and then top it with a couple of tablespoons of the grated cheese. Cook one or two at a time in the skillet until the tortilla is browned and the cheese is melted, then turn over and brown on the other side before moving them to a wooden cutting board.

Some cutting recommendations: kitchen shears and a pizza wheel both work well for this, but I end up using my chef’s knife most of the time. Cutting into thirds is easier than quarters. Don’t sweat the messiness of the middle pieces; they still taste good.

I like these with salsa on top; I hear they’re also good with sour cream if you like that sort of thing.

*I used the Ancho chili powder from Penzey’s, which is flavorful but not hot. If you prefer heat, go for a hotter blend. Among grocery store brands, Cook’s Illustrated likes the Spice Island blend best. Chili powders vary tremendously, so finding one you like is an experiment that will serve you well in the future.
**I have made this with all kinds of cheeses and like sharp cheddar the best. I can buy grated Cabot “Seriously Sharp” cheddar at my grocery store; you could also grate this amount on a box grater without too much trouble. As usual, I recommend avoiding anything unnaturally orange.

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It’s been kind of non-stop sweets around here lately, so here are some vegetables in case any of you were thinking it wasn’t a good idea to have cupcakes for dinner (again). This is a bit time-intensive (it took me about 90 minutes), but if you’re going to make it, I strongly recommend doubling, because it is also awesomeness-intensive.

squash-onion galette slice

The crust for this is the truly amazing part: it’s easy to work with and reliably creates a crust that’s both tasty and flaky. I encourage you to experiment with fillings, but I happen to love this one.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust:
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 stick butter, cold from the fridge (1/2 c., use unsalted if you have it)
1/4 c. sour cream
2 t. lemon juice (from a jar is fine!)
1/4 c. very cold water

For the filling:
1 butternut squash (1 to 1 1/2 lbs)
2 T. olive oil
Two pinches of salt
2 T. butter
1 onion
1/2 t. dried sage
1-2 oz. feta cheese
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

Make the crust:
Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Open the stick of butter and cut it into a dozen or so slices, then dump these all into the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until it has the texture of damp sand. (I usually start with a pastry blender or forks and end up using my hands.) Make a well in the center, and add the sour cream, lemon juice, and 2 T. of the water. Mix until the dough forms a ball, adding the rest of the water if needed. (If it’s very dry in your area, you might even need a bit more water.) Don’t overwork the dough here. When you have a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge.

Make the filling:
Peel your squash and cut off the ends. Then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. Cut the squash into half-inch chunks; it’s a good idea to really get them this small in this case so your filling is reasonably spreadable. Line your pan with foil (9×13 should work for one squash; you’ll probably need to use two or a jelly roll pan if you’re doubling) and add the squash chunks. Toss them with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for thirty minutes or until it can easily be pierced all the way through with a toothpick or fork.

squash-onion galette - squash

(Yes, I did not line my pan with foil. That’s because it is an awesome stoneware pan and is super-easy to clean, even when covered in caramelized squash sugars.)

While the squash is roasting, peel the onion and dice it. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re light golden brown, which will take about 20 minutes on the lowest heat that keeps them sizzling and about five on medium heat.

While they’re caramelizing, chop the feta into small (1/8-inch) pieces. I aimed for a generous quarter cup, but you could use more if you like the taste or have a milder cheese.

When the squash is ready, take it out of the oven and raise the oven temperature to 400. Mix the squash with the caramelized onions, feta, and sage in a bowl.

Take the galette dough out of the fridge. (It probably needs at least 45 minutes or so in there, in case your mad knife skills got you through the filling prep faster.) Lightly flour a Silpat or piece of parchment. If it’s less than twelve inches across (the diameter to which you’ll roll the dough), also flour the surrounding counter. Then roll the dough into a roughly twelve-inch circle and lift it on its parchment to the sheet you’ll bake it on. If needed, you can drape the extra dough over the sides of the sheet.

Spread the squash filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle with black pepper.

squash-onion galette - filling

Starting in one spot, fold in the edge, and then move around in one direction, folding the edge up, pleating it as you go to make it fit.

squash-onion galette - folded crust

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let it stand on the cookie sheet for five or ten minutes, then slide it (or lift using a couple of spatulas) on to a serving plate or board. Slice and serve.

squash-onion galette

If there are leftovers, some people like them room temperature, but I liked them best reheated briefly in the oven or toaster oven.

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I love a lot of things about being vegetarian, but one thing I don’t love is entrees. You know the drill: you go to a family dinner, and you eat six sides for dinner. Or worse yet, six sides plus Tofurkey. Yikes! Sure, they’re probably excellent sides, but when it comes to tasty entrees, we’re often stuck with the short end of the awesome stick.

This recipe is here to solve that problem for you.

strudel for freezing

Now, I need you all to take a deep breath, because this recipe contains an ingredient I have recently learned many people are afraid of. But don’t worry! I have an awesome method to save you from the dreaded food.

The ingredient is filo dough, which is used here to wrap the herbed mushrooms into their adorable little parcels, and I promise, it will be fine even if you tear most sheets. I know, because I did!

cooking mushrooms

Mushroom Strudel
Originally from The Complete Mushroom Book, via Leite’s Culinaria and Smitten Kitchen

1 pound mushrooms (my favorite mix is portabella plus shitake, but don’t forget to take the stems off the latter!)
1 onion*
3 T. butter
pinch of nutmeg
1 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. dried thyme (or sage, or use fresh if you have it, about 1 1/2 t.)
4-6 T. grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

18 sheets frozen filo dough, defrosted (this should be about one package; leave it on the counter for an hour or so to defrost)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Put the butter in a large skillet to melt over medium heat and mince the onion. When you’ve finished, throw the onion in with the melted butter.

Wash or wipe the mushrooms if needed to remove grit, and chop into smallish pieces, about 3/4 of an inch across. (Don’t forget to stir the onion occasionally while you’re doing this.)

Once the onion is soft, add the mushrooms and nutmeg, and turn the heat up a bit. The mushrooms will suck up all of the butter like little mushroom vacuums. Then they’ll start to soften and give off liquid. Keep cooking! It’s important to stir every few minutes here, especially if your mushrooms are more than one layer deep.

When they’ve released all of their liquid, it will start to evaporate. When most of the liquid is gone, stir in the flour, herbs, and salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. (If you stop here, you’ll still have amazing mushrooms. I ate my leftover filling on toast!)

If you’re going to cook these immediately, preheat your oven to 400 F. (If not, you can freeze them on a baking sheet and then pop them in a freezer bag once they’re frozen solid.)

Now you need some serious counter space: enough room for a sheet of filo. Lay out your filo, egg wash, and Parmesan. Melt the stick of butter in the microwave or a saucepan. You’ll also want a damp dish towel.

Put a sheet of filo in front of you, covering the rest of them with the dish towel so they don’t dry out. Starting at a long edge, brush half the sheet with butter, and then fold it lengthwise so the butter is sandwiched inside. Repeat this process, brushing half of your long rectangle with butter and then folding it over. Now you have one long, skinny piece rectangle! If there are wrinkles, try smoothing them out, but it doesn’t really matter. If there are tears, you can ignore them, because you have four layers of filo to keep things together! Hooray!

Put a spoonful of mushroom filling on one end, and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan.


Fold the top corner over so the mushroom filling is inside a triangle. Continue to fold flag-style, flipping it over the edge closest to the bottom, until you get to the very end of the dough. (It takes a few folds before the mushrooms are fully encased; before that stage, they should be considered an escape risk.) You may need to trim off uneven ends of your dough with scissors.

Place the package seam-side down on the baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with more Parmesan.

To serve immediately, bake for 15 minutes. If you’re freezing, bake them for more like 22 minutes at 375 so you can get the centers warm without scorching the crust.

*There is pretty much no case in which I don’t believe that the best available onion for your purposes is a sweet one, but here you’ll never see it, so you could use purple ones (which taste fine but are ugly when cooked), white, yellow, or even leeks.

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I love fall vegetables.  A lot.

roasted squash

So when I came across this recipe for a warm salad (warm!) with chickpeas, butternut squash, and tahini dressing, I was pretty much instantly sold. It’s lovely as soon as it’s done, and it’s still lovely zapped in the microwave for lunch a day or two later.

Warm chickpea and butternut squash salad
Adapted from Orangette

For the salad:
1 medium butternut squash (two or three pounds)
2 t. crushed garlic*
½ t. ground allspice
2 T. olive oil
2 cups of chickpeas (or one 15-oz can, drained and rinsed)
1/4 of a red onion

For tahini sauce:
1 t. crushed garlic
3 T. lemon juice
3 T. tahini (be sure to stir before measuring!)
2 T. water
4 T. good olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Peel the squash, then slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop it into cubes that are about 3/4 of an inch across. It’s a good idea to keep the size as uniform as you can here — otherwise the little chunks dissolve into mush before the big ones are cooked through!

In a big bowl, combine the squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a good pinch or two of salt. Toss with a spoon or your hands until the squash pieces are evenly coated. Turn them out into a rimmed baking sheet or pan, spreading into a single layer. (Mine all fit in a 9×13 baking dish, but it’s fine to use two pans if needed.) Bake for 20ish minutes, stirring once halfway through, until it’s easy to get a toothpick all the way through the squash pieces.

Meanwhile, take the onion and cut it up into really, really tiny pieces, and make the tahini sauce. For the sauce, put the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and water in a bowl, and mix with a whisk or a fork. Then add 2-3 T of olive oil, and taste. If it tastes bitter — sometimes tahini does! — add a bit more oil and another pinch of salt. (This is also really good as a salad dressing, so don’t hesitate to make extra if you have more tahini around.)

To assemble the salad, mix the roasted squash with the chickpeas and onion in a big bowl, and add tahini sauce until it’s all coated lightly. (This won’t be all the sauce

*I use the stuff in a jar from Trader Joe’s all the time — not to be confused with the chopped garlic you can get at the grocery store, which is horrible! — but you can also put fresh garlic through a press.

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