Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

25 01 2015

The style of cooking risotto can be applied to other similar “miniature pearl” starches, such as couscous. The technique is all about adding warm stock in stages to allow it to cook gradually and absorb the liquid. By using a large skillet like I do here, it will take less time too. Serve with quick cooking scallops and asparagus for a special meal that won’t take hours!

Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

The following serves 4 (adapted from The Italian Table):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken stock, warmed
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous or couscous medley with orzo, peas and lentils
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and 1/4 – 1/2 of the bunch cut into thirds
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next, add the couscous and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, a few minutes. Add the wine, stir well and cook until the wine evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a saucepan until warmed.

Add 1 cup of warmed chicken stock to the couscous and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the stock is absorbed. Add another cup of warmed stock and continue to cook, stirring often and until absorbed. Finally, add the remaining cup of stock and cook couscous, stirring until tender. This process will take about 15 minutes. Just be sure not to walk away and don’t forget to stir.

Fold in the chopped asparagus, butter and cheese, stirring constantly until butter is melted and everything is fully incorporated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the risotto is cooking, you can roast the rest of the asparagus and quickly sear scallops to round out the meal.

Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

10 05 2014

Gnocchi can make for a wonderfully quick homemade meal, especially when it’s dressed in a simple olive oil and butter sauce. When I make homemade gnocchi, I save some to freeze for when I need a fast supper option. You can do the same, or use store-bought. Extra bonus about this meal is that you can enjoy it on it’s own, or add a protein of your choice on the side – like grilled chicken. Now, where’s my fork? 🙂

Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

The following serves 3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought Gnocchi
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 bunch of thick asparagus, ends trimmed and diagonally cut into thirds
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Good pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter or butter substitute
  • 4-5 large leaves of basil, rolled up like a cigar and thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cut asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes until bright green and crisp. Remove immediately and run until cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Bring the water you used to blanch the asparagus back to a boil. Heads up, the water will be green from the asparagus, but no worries – that just adds flavor!

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm a few Tbsp of oil and add prosciutto. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp. Remove prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate. Lower heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for another minute to flavor the oil. Turn the heat down to low and season lightly with salt to taste. Add the butter, and swirl to melt – this will also help thicken the sauce slightly.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, cover and bring up to a rapid boil. Once the gnocchi float to the top, they’re done (this will only take a few minuets, they cook fast). If using store-bought gnocchi, be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the package instead. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and add right to the sauce. Don’t worry about some of the cooking water getting into the sauce, you want that!

Once all the gnocchi are in with the sauce, add the cooked asparagus to the sauce as well. Add half the basil, increase heat to medium and cook everything together, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Taste and season with a little more salt if needed.

Transfer gnocchi, asparagus and all of the sauce to a large serving platter. Garnish with the crisp prosciutto, the rest of the basil, fresh lemon zest and as much parmesean as you like. Serve family style, with more parmesean on the side.

My choice of wine with this dish: Chardonnay.

Chipotle-Mango Sauce With Cod And Asparagus

20 02 2014

Spotted this awesome chipotle-mango sauce that Guy Fieri used to make BBQ chicken, and thought it would be equally tasty on fish. I was right…this meal is deliciously balanced with both sweet and smokey flavors…and easy and healthy! I could go on an on about how awesome this dinner is, but you should probably just try it out for yourself! 😉

Chipotle-Mango Sauce With Cod And Asparagus

Chipotle-Mango Sauce With Cod And Asparagus

The following serves 2 (compliments of Guy Fieri and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, plus some of the sauce
  • 3/4 cup chopped mango (make sure to peel the mango first)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, either homemade or low-sodium
  • 2 skinless cod fillets, or other mild white fish
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into diagonal thirds

Preheat oven to 250.

In a food processor puree (until smooth) the chipotle, mango, cilantro, lemon juice, vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk about 2 Tbsp of the chipotle-mango sauce with the broth. Add the broth mixture to a medium oven-proof skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add cod filets and transfer skillet to the oven. Poach until fish flakes with a fork, about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer the rest of the chipotle-mango sauce to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large saute pan (couple turns of the pan) over medium heat. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper to taste and saute, stirring occasionally until tender-crisp, 5-7 minutes.

To serve, dish some of the warmed chipotle-mango sauce on plates and top with cod and asparagus. Serve more sauce on top if desired, and a side salad.

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

31 01 2014

Get dinner on the table fast with this simple, fresh pasta dish. This spaghetti is bright and lemony, with a nice kick of heat. Serve it as a side along with a protein, or as a main dish like I have here with roasted asparagus. Delicious with a crisp white wine!

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp chili pepper paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425. Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, half the chopped garlic and kosher salt to taste. Roast 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and season liberally with salt. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions.

In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery, lower the heat and add the rest of the chopped garlic and chili paste, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. If you want it even spicier, add a pinch of red pepper flakes as well. Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt to taste.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then strain the cooked pasta and add it to the chili-lemon oil in the saute pan. Toss spaghetti in the sauce over low heat, adding some of the pasta water to bring the sauce together. Remove from heat and add the grated parmesan.

Divide pasta among plates and garnish with parsley and a few red pepper flakes. Top with asparagus spears and serve with more grated parmesan.

Spicy Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

4 01 2014

Usually you’ll find orange chicken battered and fried in restaurants…delicious, but not very healthy. This is a fast, better-for-you spin on the classic Chinese take-out. It’s extremely flavorful and offers a nice kick of heat, although as the cook, you can control the level of spice. Since the hubs and I enjoy spicy foods, I played around and added some Sriracha to the sauce which we really enjoyed. Will be making this meal again very soon!

Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

Spicy Orange Chicken with Asparagus and Brown Rice

The following serves 2 (adapted from fitnessmagazine.com):

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed or sliced into strips
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I use more because I like it spicy)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • Juice of two oranges, zest from one orange
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • Handful green onions, chopped

Cook rice according to package directions, but rather than using water to cook the rice I recommend using chicken or veggie stock. It helps add flavor to the rice. Season with salt to taste.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for a minute until fragrant, then add cubed or sliced chicken and saute about 8 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the asparagus and cook another 4-5 minutes.

In a bowl whisk the soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds, orange juice and the rest of the zest. This Girl’s Tip: If you want it a little spicier, add a squirt of Sriracha sauce. Add the mixture to the skillet with the chicken and cook for another few minutes until well combined and sauce thickens a bit. Taste and season with a little salt if needed.

Divide the rice among two plates and serve the chicken, asparagus and orange sauce over rice. Don’t worry if the sauce is a little thin, the rice will suck it right up! Garnish with green onions.

Turkey Tetrazzini with Orzo and Asparagus

2 01 2014

We’re coming down to the last of our holiday leftovers…it’s hard to believe we still have turkey after using it in several other meals, like soup. But I refuse to let it go to waste! Enter tetrazzini, the classic go-to for using up extra turkey. I didn’t have some of the usual suspects that go into a tetrazzini though, like peas or milk or cream (coincidentally making this a healthier version). So I rolled with what I had in the house, which is the beauty of casseroles! I don’t get tied down by a recipe, or force myself to go to the grocery store when I don’t have too. I just substitute. For instance, peas are a green veggie…so is asparagus. You get the gist 🙂

Turkey Tetrazzini with Orzo and Asparagus

Turkey Tetrazzini with Orzo and Asparagus

The following serves 4 with a side salad (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup dry whole wheat orzo
  • Olive oil
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • Couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • 1 cup asparagus, chopped
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400.

Cook the orzo according to package directions and drain.

While the orzo cooks, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and cook onion for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme and cook until the mushrooms have started to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste, then deglaze the pan with wine and cook another minute until the wine reduces by half. Add the flour and stir to combine. Next whisk in the chicken stock. Add a little grated nutmeg and bring to a simmer. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and continue stirring until sauce is thick. Remove from heat.

To the skillet with the sauce, add the chopped turkey, cooked orzo and chopped asparagus. Mix to combine and transfer to a 9 x 13 casserole dish coated lightly with non-stick spray.

Toss the breadcrumbs and rest of the cheese with a little olive oil, add to the top of the casserole.  Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Olive-Crusted Cod with Asparagus in Foil Packets

20 12 2013

Since cod is a mild-flavored fish, it can take on assertive flavors like briny olives. I love the simplicity of this recipe and of course, you can’t beat the easy clean-up! My photo didn’t come out quite as planned, but trust me this is a delicious dinner!

Olive-Crusted Cod with Asparagus in Foil Packets

Olive-Crusted Cod with Asparagus in Foil Packets

The following serves 2 (adapted from Proud Italian Cook):

  • 4 boneless, skinless cod filets
  • 3/4 cup marinated olives (I used a mix of kalamata and green)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, reserve the oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A few stems of fresh chives
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Roughly chop the olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, chives and parsley in a food processor.

Use heavy-duty foil (or a double layer of regular foil) and cut it large enough to be able to enclose fish without leakage. Spray the bottom of the foil with a little non-stick spray. Then divide asparagus among foil. Drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper (don’t over salt as the olive crust will be salty). Place cod filets on top of asparagus, I did 2 per person. Next, spread the olive mixture all over the top of the filets.

Whisk together the juice of 1 lemon and the reserved oil from the sundried tomatoes and drizzle on top of the olive-crusted fish.

Make a foil packet, crimping or folding all sides of the foil to enclose the fish.

Place foil packets on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Asparagus and Ham Spears

4 03 2013

Since asparagus is available year-round, this is a great hors d’oeuvre option to serve in any season. These asparagus spears can be served at room temp or even cold – perfect to make in advance for parties!

Asparagus and Ham Spears

Asparagus and Ham Spears

The following serves 4 (compliments of the South Beach cookbook):

  • 1 bundle of asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced ham (avoid honey or glazed)
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately run asparagus under very cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry.

Cut ham slices lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Wrap ham strips around asparagus spears, beginning right below the tips. Place spears on a serving platter and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with zest and season with pepper. I also seasoned with just a little Kosher salt – be sure not to use too much because the ham will add some natural salt to the dish.

Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms and Spinach Over Roasted Lemon Asparagus

22 03 2012

This is a relatively quick and delicious supper packed with veggies! There’s several traditional ways of making chicken marsala. But I like to take the flavor up a notch by adding in spinach and using beef stock (instead of chicken stock) for depth.

Chicken marsala is rich and luscious; so the crisp, roasted asparagus is a great compliment. And now that spring is here, the veggie is quite abundant this time of year!

Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms and Spinach Over Roasted Lemon Asparagus

The following serves 2:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts made into cutlets
  • All-purpose flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 package baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, sliced fine
  • 2 good handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • Marsala wine (about 1/4 cup or so)
  • Beef stock (about a 1/2 cup)
  • About 1 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • Fresh, chopped parsley
  • Chopped scallions
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Toss asparagus on a baking sheet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the zest of half the lemon – you want enough seasoning to coat the asparagus all around, just eyeball it. Roast until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Flip around half-way through.

To make chicken cutlets, cut each chicken breast in half horizontally. Next, place the chicken between parchment paper and pound with a meat tenderizer / mallet (or the flat part of a skillet would work too) , and pound until thin, about 1/4-inch thick. Sometimes the chicken breasts I use aren’t that thick, so cutting them in half sometimes does the trick and I don’t even pound them. The goal is to get a thinly pounded piece of chicken to saute because it cooks quickly and will stay moist.

Heat a large skillet with some olive oil (a good few turns of the pan should be good) over medium-high heat.

Place some flour on a plate, then season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder and lightly dredge in the flour – shaking off the excess flour. Once the chicken is coated, drop them in the hot skillet. Saute the chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken when nice and browned and set aside.

Lower the skillet to medium and saute the mushrooms and shallot until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and the rest of the lemon zest  (other half of the lemon used for the asparagus). When the mushrooms are just about done, wilt in 2 good handfuls of baby spinach.

When the spinach has wilted down, deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine, be sure to scrape up all the browned bits in the pan (I used 1/4 cup and one more turn of the pan). Cook the wine down for about 30 seconds, then add beef stock and cook for another minute or so. Next, add in the cold butter and stir into the sauce until melted. Slide the chicken back in the mushroom pan sauce to reheat. Turn heat down to low and simmer for a few minutes until chicken is warmed through and sauce has thickened a bit. Be sure to flip the chicken as it reheats so it can soak up some of the sauce on both sides. Top with chopped parsley, chopped scallions and serve along with asparagus and toasted garlic bread (I like to use it to soak up all the yummy sauce on the plate).