Oh boy, this leftover salad was delicious! With so many flavors going on, it’s a feast of a salad. Let’s see: A savory sautéed chicken breast. A sweet and aromatic roasted rutabaga and carrots with currants, maple syrup and ras el hanout (a mild, fragrant North African curry powder). A reliable bed of lettuce, baby kale, grape tomatoes and scallion. Then everything gets a coat of bright, earthy, garlicky lime garlic tahini dressing. The combination was 100% spot-on and satisfying.
I made the salad using the curry-spiced rutabaga and carrots that I already had roasted, but you can of course start from roasting the root vegetables. Recipe for roasting is right here. You can save time by using pre-sauteed (or even better, pre-grilled) chicken breast as well. Then it’ll be a matter of assembling everything–perfect for a weeknight DASH diet dinner.
DASH diet considerations: This curry roasted root vegetable salad with lime garlic tahini dressing is an all-A student of the DASH diet realm. It packs about 4 servings of different vegetables (full of fiber and potassium); tahini helps it go light on oil while providing an incredibly earthy depth to the dressing; and simply cooked chicken breast provides lean protein.
The wide range of flavors, from bright, earthy tahini dressing to sweetly aromatic curry roasted vegetables, as well as the different textures really jazzes up the salad without a lot of sodium or oil. Give it a try! We skipped grains, but a pita would go perfectly with this Middle Eastern-inspired salad.
DASH diet servings:
4 vegetables & fruits
2 meats & fish
½ fat & oil
¼ nuts & beans
In a saute pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil on medium high and add the chicken breast. Saute until the chicken is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes, flipping once to brown both sides. Set aside in a wam place.
While the chicken breast cooks, make the dressing. Mix the tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and grated garlic in a bowl large enough to toss the lettuce and kale comfortably. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, to thin the dressing to a pourable consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
To the bowl of the dressing, add the lettuce, baby kale, grape tomatoes and scallion. Toss to coat evenly.
Slice the chicken breast into strips.
Place the lettuce-kale mixture in two plates or bowls. Top with the roasted rutabaga and carrots, as well as the chicken breast strips.
Sprinkle some za’atar on top, if you like, before serving.
It’s winter, and winter calls for a chowder. Which is awesome, because I love chowder. With miso soup, chowder is tied at the absolute top of my favorite soup list.
Sunday evening, after spending a few hours wandering around on a windswept beach with beautiful golden grass and elegant sand dunes, I needed something warm and hearty but not too heavy. The temperature was in the upper 40s at the beach, but fog was rolling in. The dampness cut through, and I needed to warm up. Chowder to the rescue! I had Ecuadorian chorizo and a couple of poblano chiles on hand, so I decided to make a vaguely Latin American chowder using those. Instead of regular potatoes, I used sweet potatoes. It was a choice based entirely on convenience, but added an interesting bit of sweetness to the hearty, otherwise savory chowder.
I roasted the poblano chiles in the toaster oven. This extra step does add a smoky, roasty flavor to the chowder, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Unless you can roast the poblano chiles on a charcoal grill, that is–if you have access to that luxury (an envy of all NYC apartment dwellers, let me tell you :P), definitely roast the chiles. They’ll take on the flame-grilled awesomeness and add another dimension to the chowder.
Poblano chiles can be a Russian roulette. I roasted three chiles, and tasted each before adding them to the pot. One was super-duper spicy, way too hot to put the entire thing in the chowder. The other two were completely mild. I set the spicy one aside for another use and used the two milder ones in the chowder. You might want to taste yours and decide how much to put in, depending on how spicy you like your chowder to be.
Sweet Potato, Chorizo, Roasted Poblano & Kale Chowder
DASH diet considerations: The sweet potato, chorizo, roasted poblano and kale chowder is a hearty winter soup with zesty Latin American flavors. A tiny bit of chorizo per serving (about one DASH diet serving of meat) is enough to give the soup a savory, faintly spicy backbone. Both sweet potatoes and kale are a good source of potassium; overall, it’s a veggie-filled soup of 3 vegetable servings.
As is the case with many soups, it can be on the high side for sodium. I used Better Than Bouillon for chicken stock, and with that option, this chowder has about 460 mg of sodium (from the soup base, salt and chorizo). For a complete DASH diet meal, pair it with a crusty whole wheat bread.
3 vegetables & fruits
1 meats & fish
¼ fat & oil
460 mg sodium
While the peppers roast, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until the onions are slightly translucent and soft.
Add the chorizo and break it up into small chunks with a spoon or a spatula. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chorizo pieces start to brown, for about 3 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes and cook briefly, stirring to coat everything in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock to the pot. Cover and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
Remove the poblano chiles from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, remove the stem and seeds, then dice. Set aside. (You might want to check the spiciness level of the chiles here and adjust how much of the diced poblano chiles you add to the soup.)
When the sweet potatoes can be pierced easily through, add the kale and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the kale is wilted.
Add the milk, sour cream and roasted poblano chilies. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until everything is heated and the flavors are melded together.
Just before Gothamist was shut down (boo!), I saw a post about a lunch spot in Downtown Brooklyn that serves something that had me drooling instantly: Grain bowls made with (very green) scallion rice. The author practically gushed over the scallion rice. I wanted to try it. Being me, I decided to try making it myself, without ever tasting the original. 😛
The original scallion rice was actually a scallion fried rice. However, I decided to make a non-fried version to cut down on the fat content. I was fairly certain that the fragrances of the scallion, ginger and a small dash of sesame oil would be enough to elevate a plain bowl of jasmine rice to a next level–and I was right!
I wanted a quick but well-balanced, DASH-compatible dinner with a couple of different flavors going on, so I went with a grain bowl format. Aside from the teriyaki chicken and roasted pumpkin, this easy bowl gets a bright vinegar boost from a quick and crunchy cucumber pickle, and toasty goodness from a (also quick) carrot salad with sesame seeds. Don’t be scared by the long-looking ingredient list. As long as you have roasted pumpkin ready to go, this teriyaki chicken bowl with scallion rice comes together in about 20 minutes. I say it’s a pretty good DASH diet dinner for weeknights!
Teriyaki Chicken Bowl with Scallion Rice & Roasted Pumpkin
DASH diet considerations: The teriyaki chicken bowl with scallion rice and roasted pumpkin is a quick one-bowl meal that's well balanced on both flavor and nutrition departments. Just a small drizzle of sesame oil in the scallion rice gives it a nice nutty fragrance without weighing it down. Teriyaki chicken is sweet and savory; the two salads bring brightness and crunch, and roasted pumpkin adds a starchy texture and natural sweetness.
Mix the soy sauce, honey, sake and garlic in a small bowl. Add the chicken thighs and let sit to marinate.
Cook the jasmine rice in a small pot.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook, flipping occasionally to get a nice browning going. When the chicken is cooked through, pour the marinade into the skillet. Cook it down until it thickens and coats the chicken nicely. Transfer to a plate and keep in a warm place.
While the chicken cooks, sprinkle the cucumber and carrot with a small pinch of salt in separate bowls. Toss to combine and let sit for a few minutes. This will draw out the moisture from the veggies, preventing them from getting soggy later.
Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the cucumber and carrot.
Add the sushi vinegar to the cucumber and toss to combine.
Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds to the carrot. Toss to combine.
When the rice is cooked, fluff, and mix in the ginger, scallion, sesame oil and a small pinch of salt.
Divide the scallion rice between two serving bowls. Arrange the teriyaki chicken, roasted pumpkin and two salads on top.
We sprinkled some shichimi, a Japanese spice mix, over top. The citrusy, fragrant spice mix adds another dimension to the teriyaki chicken bowl, but it’s not a necessity. Sambal oelek, sriracha or other spicy sauce might be a fun addition on the side, too.
How’s your new year’s healthy eating resolution going–if you made one? Mid-January might be when a lot of people start feeling the January doldrums, whether they have a resolution or not. (I’m in the latter camp, but totally feeling the doldrums!) This salad might be just the booster you need if you are in a DASH diet rut.
I made this salad for lunch the day after we had a pretty indulgent dinner of Korean fried chicken and kimchi fried rice, which followed a fun weekend of lots of good (but not-so-DASH-compliant) food with my SIL. My DASH diet radar graph pretty clearly showed that I needed a meal that’s high on veggies and low on meats, fat and sugar to balance out the feasts, but I also wanted something that’d satisfy me and keep me going till I got back home to cook dinner. Otherwise I’d end up being either hangry or snacky–or both, lol.
This crunchy salad of cabbage, cucumber and other flavor-packed vegetables was just the thing I needed. The salad gets a “Thai” boost from a creamy peanut dressing spiked with ginger, garlic and lime juice. Smoked tofu adds a layer of savoriness and the much-needed protein without adding to the meat servings. Crushed peanuts are fun, and the fiber and fat in the peanuts helped me stay full.
Crunchy Thai cabbage salad with smoked tofu and peanut dressing
DASH considerations: Crunchy vegetables and savory smoked tofu make this salad quite satisfying, despite the lack of meat, chicken or egg. The peanut dressing, similar to the peanut sauce served with Thai-style chicken satay, is creamy and aromatic, tying all the salad ingredients together. Go easy on the dressing, and this salad is a good “reset” lunch after meat- and/or fat-heavy dinner.
Mix all the dressing ingredients except for the water in a small bowl.
Add and mix in water thoroughly, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dressing is at a desired consistency. (You want the dressing to be pourable enough to coat the salad easily.)
Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl large enough to toss the salad.
Spoon about 1/3 of the peanut dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing gradually if needed.
I brought the salad to work for lunch. To prevent the vegetables from getting soggy if you aren’t eating it right away, it’s a good idea to keep the dressing in a separate container and toss the salad just before eating.
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.
Make this hearty chowder when you end up with a giant head of cauliflower that doesn’t fit in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with, like I did. Cauliflower replaces the potatoes that typically show up in chowders, and it does a surprisingly good job of substituting them. Garlic, thyme and just one strip of bacon give the cod chowder the savory, aromatic backbone it needs. I skipped making the bechamel and left the chowder more on the soupy side, but you can add that at the end if you prefer a thicker chowder.
This may be a weekend meal–it does take a fair amount of chopping, and the somewhat active cooking time is on the long side. The good news is that the chowder will be even better after it sits in the fridge overnight. I made a big pot and plan to eat the rest later in the week.
Serve it with some crusty bread. Go ahead and add an ale, too. (I did!)
Cauliflower Cod Chowder with Garlic and Thyme
DASH benefits: This filling chowder has loads of vegetables and lean protein without the fat and heaviness from the butter and heavy cream found in a lot of chowders.
Heat the olive oil in a big pot and add the bacon, onion, shallot and garlic. Turn the heat to medium.
Saute, stirring often to prevent the alliums from burning, for 6-7 minutes, or until they are fragrant and softened.
Strip the thyme leaves off the stem and add to the pot. Saute for another minute until the thyme starts releasing the aroma.
Add the celery, carrots and red pepper to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.
Turn the heat to high and add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Add the milk and bring the pot to just before a boil. (Try not to let it boil too vigorously, or you’ll get milk scum floating on top--which is not a problem for me, but some people find it unpalatable.) Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Keeping the pot at just below a boil, add the cod. Submerge the pieces gently and add the cauliflower pieces. Let the pot simmer until the cod chunks are cooked through and opaque, for 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the sour cream and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread.
The chowder should keep in the fridge for 5-6 days. (Just make sure to reheat it thoroughly every time.) It can also be frozen and reheated later. I turned this into a quick and tasty Jamaican curry soup a few days later and had it over basmati rice. Yum!
Oh man, I hit a jackpot with this one! Pairing fresh spinach with spinach gnocchi seemed a bit silly, but I went ahead anyway because I had a bunch of spinach that I needed to use up. It was a resounding success! The spinach gnocchi came out wonderfully spinachy (well, no surprise there) and much lighter than your typical creamy gnocchi dish. It’s almost as if the spinach act as a sauce–a spinach lover’s dream gnocchi!
It’s in a toasty brown butter sauce, but there isn’t a lot of butter, just a quarter tablespoon per serving. The rest of the oil is olive oil (and not a ton of that, either). Thyme, garlic and amontillado (a sweet, aged sherry) give it a satisfying depth without weighing it down like heavy cream would. Earthy shiitake mushrooms add even more complexity. Try this quick Italian meal when you have a big bunch of fresh, sturdy spinach. (You want the fully grown spinach for this recipe, not the baby ones. Baby spinach doesn’t have enough flavor and gets limp too fast.)
Very Spinachy Spinach Gnocchi with Shiitake & Thyme Brown Butter Sauce
DASH benefits: This spinach gnocchi in thyme butter sauce is a rare gnocchi dish that brings a lot of veggies (half a bunch of spinach in each serving) and not a lot of dairy or oil--relatively speaking. It can be made vegetarian easily, if you skip the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté on medium heat until softened and fragrant.
Add the shiitake and sauté until the shiitake takes on some brown color. Scrape the thyme leaves off the sprigs and add to the pan.
Add the butter to the pan and let it brown for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
Add the spinach to the pan. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid, and let it cook for a few minutes, until the spinach is deep green and cooked through.
Add the sherry and let its alcohol cook off, with the lid off.
While the spinach cooks, add a generous pinch of salt to the pot of boiling water and add the gnocchi.
Stir occasionally to prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pot (and to each other). Cook, according to the package instruction. (If using fresh gnocchi, it should be about 3-4 minutes.)
Add the gnocchi to the pan of spinach, along with a splash or two of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine. Add more of the gnocchi cooking liquid if the pan is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Like many other gnocchi and butter-based pasta dishes, this probably won't reheat well. I'd stick to making just enough to finish in one sitting, rather than try to make enough for leftovers.
With all that said… I do have a soft spot for gnocchi in cream sauce. This recipe from Salt & Lavender, which combines similar ingredients (spinach and mushroom) in a cream-based sauce spiked with Italian herbs, Dijon mustard and white wine, sounds loooovely. I might try this someday.
This coconut rice is so delicious it’s a little dangerous. I made 3 servings so we’ll each have a serving for dinner and I’ll have one for lunch later, and the lunch portion was severely threatened. We were both eyeing the rice in the pot after we polished off our portions! We managed to stop ourselves, but oh boy, the slightly nutty sweetness and richness of the coconut milk really pushes the rice from being a mere backdrop to a main event on the plate.
I used the coconut rice as a side for a jerk chicken dinner with quick-braised cabbage and carrots, but aside from Jamaican or Caribbean, it can also be a great side for Thai or Malaysian meals, like the classic gai yang (grilled chicken) and som tum (green papaya salad) combo.
Simple Coconut Rice
DASH benefits: Coconut rice is a good no-sodium grain base that can balance out salty main dishes. However, the fat content is high due to the coconut milk component, so it should be paired with grilled meat or fish to balance it out.
1 fat & oil
*I’m not super sure about this one, because I’m not sure how to account for coconut milk. It’s got a bunch of fat and naturally occurring sugar. If you need to be strict about fat and sugar, you might want to go to a more credible source!
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!