I needed a quick but satisfying dinner one night. I had chicken breast I needed to use, and some Chinese broccoli, but not much else. Using some pantry staples, I threw together a surprisingly tasty, sophisticated-tasting sauce of lemon, capers and vermouth, for a simply sautéed chicken breasts. I paired them with roasted potatoes and a quick garlicky stir-fry of Chinese broccoli; regular broccoli or broccoli rabe would work just fine.
I like having a cooking liquor or two on hand, exactly for times like this. (And I make sure I do!) Dry vermouth, a fortified wine with aromatics, is a good choice; so is cream sherry or amontillado. They are a little sweeter (even when it’s called “dry”) and more complex than wine, and instantly adds a magically satisfying body to simple dishes. Since a little goes a long way, they aren’t necessarily expensive. The best part is that unlike wine, they don’t go bad, so I have no pressure to “use up” an open bottle.
Sautéed Chicken Breast with Lemon Caper Vermouth Sauce
DASH considerations: A simple sauteed chicken breast gets a tangy and subtly sweet upgrade from lemon juice and a dash of vermouth, while the occasional briny pop of the capers adds another dimension to this easy but surprisingly sophisticated-tasting dish. Pairing it with sauteed broccoli pushes up the meal’s fat content, so a salad might be a better idea for people following DASH diet closely.
For a quick weeknight dinner, I coupled a skirt steak wrap with a hearty and nutrient-packed roasted carrot and arugula salad, and made an earthy yet refreshingly bright lemon tahini dressing to complete the vaguely Middle Eastern feel of the menu. The hummus works so well as a sandwich or wrap spread–this wrap is otherwise pretty bland, but the cumin kick and creamy body of the hummus really make it into a satisfying meal.
Two regrets: I would have added toasted cumin to the lemon tahini dressing, if cumin wasn’t in the hummus-skirt steak wrap. Sprinkling the skirt steak with za’atar or sumac might have made the wrap even more interesting, with their floral zing. Next time!
Skirt Steak Wrap with Cumin Hummus & Roasted Carrot Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
DASH considerations: This skirt steak wrap and roasted carrot salad combo violates a few DASH meal guidelines. First, I used skirt steak, because that’s what I had on hand, but it’s not one of the leaner meat options. You could easily substitute it with grilled chicken breast to make the protein part leaner. Second, it has a higher fat/oil content than many DASH recipes on this site, about half the daily limit for that category. You can probably skip the extra virgin olive oil in the lemon tahini dressing and rely entirely on the sesame oil contained in the tahini paste. This would cut down the fat & oil amount a bit (by about 0.25 serving). Or, you could opt for lower-fat meals for the other meals of the day.
Oh my god, I had no idea homemade hummus was SO GOOD. I should have known this. Evidence abounds:
The hummus we get at restaurants are probably homemade, and they are leaps and bounds better than the store-bought ones.
My sister in law has been making her own hummus. She’s a cash-strapped grad student, so that must play a big role here, but she keeps making it. It’s got to be good.
Everyone who blogs about cooking seems to be singing the glory of homemade hummus and endless varieties thereof.
I’ve been curious about making hummus for a long time. The final straw was the amazing specimen we had at Bar Virage in Lower East Side a few months ago: It was the best hummus I’ve ever had, and I wanted it to appear way more often in my life than it conceivably would, given that the “Israeli gastropub” is outside of our normal stomping ground. Anyway, the stars were aligned one day (read: I had all the ingredients on hand), and I made hummus. And holy cow, it was amazing.
Homemade Hummus with Cumin
DASH benefits: Relatively low in fat, hummus is a good alternative to sugary snacks and a great source of non-meat protein. However, hummus can be high in sodium, especially if made with canned chickpeas (which is what I did). So, a few tricks on that front: 1) Use a low sodium version of canned chickpeas. 2) Eat the hummus with fresh veggies rather than pita chips that also contain salt.
In a small, dry skillet, toast the cumin and red chili flakes over medium heat, until fragrant. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices.
Grind the cumin and red chili flakes. You can use a mortar and pestle like I did, or use n electric spice grinder.
Put all the ingredients in a deep container and use an immersion blender to combine. Pulse until smooth.
Using Up Homemade Hummus
The first day, we just scooped it up with fresh veggies and made it a refreshing yet satisfying dinner. We had tomato, celery, cucumber and red pepper, and decided that celery and red pepper were the winners. The other two didn’t have enough of a crunch and a little too high in water content.
Hummus stays fresh in the fridge for 5 days or so. And it’s really not hard to use it all up because it’s so versatile, but it freezes and thaws well if necessary. I had a little bit added to my lunch salads a couple of times throughout the week, and used up the rest as a spread in a skirt steak wrap with grilled green pepper and cilantro. It’s amazing how much it adds to an otherwise nondescript wrap or a sandwich!