sundried tomato

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

My default winter squash is either kabocha or butternut. I rarely buy acorn but they were so fresh when I spotted them last week at the Alemany Farmers Market that I couldn’t resist. Plus it was a bargain: organically grown and it cost me less than a couple of bucks!

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

I borrowed the idea of baking and stuffing it with rice from Martha, though stuffed acorn squash is really a classic. You can check out her recipe here.

Because acorn squash is already a bit sweet I altered the way I made the rice stuffing so it would be more on the savory side with a bit of heat. For that I used sundried tomatoes, black pepper and cumin.

basmati and wild rice stuffed acorn squash

1 medium sized skin on acorn squash, halved and cleaned
½ cup wild rice, rinsed
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 tsp tellicherry peppercorns
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup chopped white onion
3 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt to taste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Set oven temperature to 350F.

Sprinkle some salt over inner part of acorn squash halves. Rub one tablespoon olive oil over skin and flesh. Place acorn squash in a shallow baking tray flesh side down. Wrap aluminum foil around it and bake for about one hour. Test for doneness via piercing the skin with a fork. It should slide in easily otherwise bake it for a little longer.

Place wild rice in a pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water and a sprinkle of salt, cover the pan and cook on high temperature until it starts whistling. Once it does, turn temperature down to medium and cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let the pan rest until pressure is gone. Drain rice if any water remains in the pan. Alternatively you can just cook it on the stove top. That will take about an hour or so. Watch while it cooks because water evaporates very fast.

In large sauce pan add two tablespoons of olive oil followed by chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add cumin, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. Stir around for a minute, just long enough for the garlic to cook and the spices to release their flavors. Add basmati rice, salt, and 1¾ cups water. Toss to combine. Bring temperature to high, and when rice starts to boil, reduce temperature to low and cook covered for about 15-20 minutes until water has been absorbed. Add cooked wild rice, sundried tomato and finish it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes for flavors to marry.

Remove squash halves from the oven. Slice off a bit of the bottom of each half so they lay flat on a plate. Sprinkle the inside of each acorn half with a bit of salt and pepper. Fill each with the rice mix and serve decorated with some rosemary.

{ 6 comments }

This recipe suggestion comes from Faith at An Edible Mosaic. I’ve only recently stumbled across her blog but have become a huge fan already. She made savory muffins with caramelized onions, feta and rosemary the other day. These looked really good! She also suggested some variations, like savory muffins with sharp cheddar, dried cranberries and orange zest; or alternatively, provolone, sundried tomatoes and basil. That last one hit my tastebuds right off the screen, so I had to try to make them myself.

savory sundried tomato, basil, provolone and mozzarella mini-cakes

savory sundried tomato, basil, provolone and mozzarella mini-cakes

Here I changed canola oil for olive, used soy milk instead of cows (that’s what we had on hand) and added more cheese than in Faith’s recipe. The aroma wafting from the oven was like margarita pizza. Instead of butter, we drizzled a bit of olive oil on them and gobbled up several right away, they were that good.

Thanks for the excellent idea, Faith!

savory sundried tomato, basil, provolone and mozzarella mini-cakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ¼ cups soy milk
¾ cup shredded provolone and/or mozzarella
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
black olives for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Mix flours, baking powder, salt and black pepper together in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat eggs, olive oil and soy milk together. Fold in cheeses, sundried tomatoes, and basil. Gently fold flour mixture into wet ingredients.

Since I used disposable wax paper baking molds, I didn’t need to grease and flour the pans. If you aren’t then Faith recommends that you do that to prevent sticking.

Fill baking molds about two thirds full. Garnish with olive slices. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 35 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

If your mini-cake is too dry, then just add more olive oil, like these dudes:

bustour#4 – gladyatörs from markus dassel on Vimeo.

Oil-wrestling in the near of Antalya. the field is crowded with simultaneous matches in eleven divisions, ranging from school kids to forty-year-old masters. There are few forbidden holds, and grabbing of trunks is not off limits.
shot with canon 7D, canon 50mm/f1,4, tokina 11-16mm/f2,8, vario ND

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My original idea for this recipe wasn’t Southwest at all. I was reading this cool food blog, bitchin’Camero, and got super excited by Mel’s recipe for smoked salmon, goat cheese and spinach empanadas.

Southwest inspired homemade empanadas

My folks had just gone on an Alaskan cruise and brought us some smoked salmon as a gift. Perfect! I made the dish more-or-less the way described, but I tried to be ambitious and make my own dough. I should have read between the lines when Mel gave hints on buying pre-made empanada shells at a local grocer or even on-line. Will I ever learn? The filling for the salmon etc. empanada (I made one large pie instead of hand-held ones) tasted great. The crust, not so good: sort of brick-like.

this smoked salmon, goat cheese and spinach empanada looks great but the dough didn't work

Not to be deterred by such a minor setback, I tried again: this time with a different crust recipe and a new filling. I’d already used up the salmon so improvised here with a Mediterranean-meets-Southwest style stuffing. The empanada dough recipe comes from about.com. The dough was easy to make and turned out very well. I ended up sprinkling some sea salt on the finished empanadas before popping them into the oven, which might have been overkill. Otherwise, this was fantastic.

some key ingredients for Southwest inspired homemade empanadas

Southwest inspired homemade empanadas

For the filling:

½ cup olives, pitted (I used kalamata and stuffed Spanish)
3 fillets anchovy
4 sundried tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
12 small dried mild chiles (I used chile puya)
2 small onions, peeled and cut in halves
¼ cup pepitas, briefly dry pan roasted
8 spring onions, chopped
Goat cheese to taste
Salt to taste

For dough:

Follow the link above or take Mel’s excellent advice and try frozen shells. Making the dough yourself brings a real sense of satisfaction if it comes out right. Plus the empanadas can take on irregular and exciting shapes, which make them seem more unique and fun.

To prepare the filling:

Using a cast iron pan on high heat, roast the garlic and onion until blackened a bit. At the same time, roast the chile peppers for about 20 to 30 seconds on each side. Immediately toss them into a small pot of boiling water. Boil, covered, for five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest, covered, for another fifteen minutes. (This is the same preparation that I used for smoky ancho salsa but with a different chili pepper.) Remove chiles from water. Carefully remove and discard stems, seeds and inner ribs. Place peppers in food processor.

Add olives, roasted garlic and onion, sundried tomatoes and anchovies to chiles. Pulse until a thick paste is formed. Transfer to a bowl.

Mix pepitas and spring onions with blended chile filling.

Southwest inspired homemade empanada close up

To stuff empanadas:

Place a large spoon of filling in the center of each piece of dough. Top with a chunk of goat cheese. Close dough per recipe directions and bake. Allow to cool on wire racks and serve. These would be great for a picnic to wine country!

{ 4 comments }

I’ve always struggled with chipotle in adobo simply because even if you use a tiny can, there are far more peppers than can easily fit in a single recipe. Since we don’t really think about it much, in the past, the remaining peppers have gone to waste. But that’s not a green practice, and we’re trying to be more Earth-conscious, so here we are.

spaghetti with tomato, chipotle in adobo, mushroom sauce

This is a variation of Roman style tomato pasta sauce using chipotle in adobo instead of dried red pepperoncini. The chipotle gives the dish more of a smoky sweet flavor which I really enjoy. This sauce sort of reminds me of linguine with harissa, chick pea, mushroom and spinach. The heat is different though.

Frankly, we’ve been experimenting with chipotle in adobo. The other day, Hegui made an amazing black bean soup and we’ve tried it in some less successful ways lately, too, which we didn’t bother to publish here. If you have any favorite recipes with chipotle in adobo, get in touch!

key ingredients for tomato, chipotle in adobo, mushroom sauce

Spaghetti with Tomato, Chipotle in Adobo, Mushroom Sauce

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, cut to bite sized pieces
2 bay leaves
2 chipotle in adobo, minced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced in thin strips
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb. package spaghetti or similar
Soft goat cheese (or feta) as garnish
Finishing olive oil for garnish

Begin boiling a large pot of water to cook pasta before starting sauce.

Sauté mushrooms in 2 tbsp olive oil with a pinch of salt in a deep skillet until they have browned and released some of their juice. Set aside.

In same skillet, add remaining olive oil, garlic and chipotle in abodo. Sauté for a minute or so until garlic becomes fragrant. Add diced tomato, sun dried tomato, bay leaves, oregano and salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and bring to boil then lower to simmer while pasta is cooking.

Just before tossing with pasta, remove garlic cloves and bay leaves from sauce. Add cooked mushrooms to sauce and stir. Toss cooked spaghetti in sauce. Pour into a serving bowl. Garnish with cheese and finishing oil. Enjoy!

{ 2 comments }

quinoa love

by Heguiberto on July 25, 2009

it's always a party with quinoa love!

it's always a party with quinoa love!

This is the best time of the year for locally grown produce: Summer! Last Sunday we went to the farmers market at the UN plaza and found beautiful vegetables on sale for cheap! In fact vegetables are always cheap at this market. Many times they are organically grown or at least grown free of pesticides which is a good thing. This week the organically grown collard greens were on sale: 3 large bunches for only 2 bucks. The dry farmed cherry tomatoes were just a dollar a pound. You really can’t beat that anywhere else in San Francisco. Dry framed tomatoes may not be the cutest but I think that they’re especially flavorful due to the stress the plant goes through receiving only rain water. Don’t be afraid of vegetables that don’t appear classically shaped or colored. In the case of tomatoes, for example, the oddly shaped and colored ones tend to be more packed with flavor that the more conventional round, plump red ones. I almost wonder why they still even produce the flavorless tennis-ball varieties anymore.

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

fresh collard greens from the farmers market

The same day that we went to the farmer’s market we were also invited to our friend, John’s house for dinner, sort of last minute. I was already preparing Quinoa Love, so we offered to bring it over. Amazingly, John was thinking of making the same dish himself that very night! It was kismet, no?

How could we decline having a meal with friends? The food always tastes even better and more company makes the conversation more lively. Plus Clarence, our bulldog, was invited. He really enjoys visiting John’s. So it was a win-win situation all around.

This recipe is simple though it requires several steps to make. It is a complete meal packing everything you need including lots of protein coming from the tofu and quinoa. The meal is ultra healthy and light and tasty. This is not one of those old-fashioned hippie vegetarian recipes with no flavor that makes you run to the loo the whole next day, so don’t worry! It has tons of flavor, interesting textures and is a real crowd pleaser every time. I’ve served this to people who’ve never had quinoa and to regular meat eaters and never had any complaints. Actually they ask for more most of the time.

A note on quinoa, I thought that quinoa was a cereal much like rice or corn, but I was wrong about that. It’s what they call a “pseudo-cereal.” Apparently it’s related to beets and spinach. Even so, you can cook quinoa much the same way you would when making rice. In the taste department I would say it is nutty and smells a bit like oatmeal. Quinoa is another exquisite and nutritious contribution from the Americas to world cuisine.

Quinoa Love

TJ's quinoa

TJ's quinoa

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of dry quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed, stems* removed with leaves cut in thin strips 2-3 inches long
1 ½ lbs. cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp sugar
5 ears of fresh sweet corn
½ bunch of Italian parsley chopped
1 block of tofu cut into 5 squares
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
½ cup pesto American Style
½ jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
¾ cup pumpkin seeds

*Collard green stems tastes like broccoli, don’t discard them just steam them and add to salads, soup, rice, etc

How to:

Cut tomatoes in halves. Toss with sugar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place tomato halves on a cooking pan cut side up and bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes at approximately 380F.

Add quinoa to a pan with 2 cups of water and salt, heat to boiling then turn temperature to low. Simmer covered for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 5 min.

chopping collard greens

chopping collard greens

Lay tofu squares on a dish, sprinkle salt, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast over it on both sides. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pan and sauté tofu squares about 5 min per side. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over them. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, add two tbsp of olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Sauté till fragrant. Add collard greens. Toss to coat with olive oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes until collard greens have wilted to about half of the original volume and the color is bright green. Remove from pan and set aside. Using the same pan, heat 4 tbsp olive oil and the remaining garlic. Sauté till fragrant then add corn, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook corn for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring. Add parsley to corn about half way through cooking. Remove from pan and set aside.

To assemble the dish mix the quinoa, corn, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes together in a large bowl. Stir in pesto. Place mix in a large serving dish. Cut tofu squares diagonally into triangles and lay them on top of the quinoa mix. Top with baked tomatoes, along with their juices. This dish makes about ten to twelve servings. It tastes great the next day too.

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grilled sweet corn

grilled sweet corn

Corn is one of my favorite cereals. From grits to polenta to simply boiled sweet corn I can’t think of any dish made with this grain that I don’t enjoy. Many countries have their own versions of a national dish made with corn, but it is here in the Americas that I think people are the most creative. Think of tamales and tortillas from Mexico, angú and pamonha from Brazil, and bourbon from the United States. It is made into all sorts of cakes, breakfast cereals, and of course it comes popped at movie theatres. I’m not even talking about non edible products made with corn: plastics, explosives, and batteries!

I thank those Pre-Colombian Mexicans who developed and nurtured this grass!

Can we call corn natural anymore? Has it ever been? I understand that it’s continually being hybridized in labs even today and that it needs human intervention to reproduce. On its own, it would cease to exist. When the seed is ready someone has to break the ears off the plant, peel the husk back and remove the seed from the cob. Only then can it be sown in the ground to germinate into a new plant. Incredible, isn’t it? We’re eating a handicapped plant!

Today’s dish is inspired by to other corn recipes that I had before. The first was roasted corn on cob with Indian spices that we had last summer at our friends Suma and Tom’s country house in Sonoma. How lucky to be invited for the weekend by friends who have a country house! Tom grilled the corn to perfection then liberally flavored it with olive oil, salt, lime juice and a magical spice mix made by Suma’s mom. I could tell that the mix had a lot of hot chilies. It was fabulous! Give me salty, sour and hot flavors any time and I will be the happiest! My other corn inspiration comes from another friend, David. He invited us for BBQ and prepared roasted corn with sundried tomatoes. It was delicious. I am going to ask them for their original recipes to publish them here sometime.

So here is my inspired corn dish:

finished roasted sweet corn salad with sundried tomatoes

finished roasted sweet corn salad with sundried tomatoes

Roasted Sweet Corn Salad with Sundried Tomatoes


5 ears of sweet corn, husks removed
10 sundried tomato halves, oil packed, cut into strips
Juice from 3 limes
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (for heat)
¼ tsp ancho pepper (for smokiness)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for greasing corn cobs
Salt and black pepper to taste

How to:

Pre-heat the grill to high (400-500F). Grease sweet corn with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, grill for about 10-15 min turning a few times to roast evenly. Remove from grill. Let cool a bit, but not completely. Using a paring knife cut kernels off the cob. Discard cobs. Toss the rest of the above ingredients with the corn while still warm, adjust flavors and serve. This dish goes well with barbequed foods.

Please note that cayenne pepper can be very powerful depending on how old it is. As it gets older the flavor will mellow out a bit. New, it can be very spicy, so be careful. The dish is best with a little spicy kick. Enjoy it!

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Arroz vermelho com galinha velha

brown rice, black-eyed peas and collard greens

brown rice, black-eyed peas and collard greens

Arroz vermelho com galinha velha is a classic Brazilian country dish made from brown rice, the “arroz vermelho,” and the flesh of an old hen (a chicken), a “galinha velha,” that can no longer lay so has lost its usefulness. Really, it’s a tragic story, no? I prefer to think that at least those hens led decent lives roaming about the property, eating the grain we fed them, and savoring wild grasses and succulent bugs, as opposed to the bionic chicken we get in the meat sections of our supermarkets. The bird was always tough and gamey, but it matched perfectly well with brown rice because both require long simmering. It was always a complete success at the family dinner table and made everyone happy. Though the dish is very good, it’s not what I’m describing here.

soaking dried black-eyed peas

soaking dried black-eyed peas

I stopped eating chicken years ago but sometimes I miss the texture of that particular dish. It was sort of like Italian risotto so I recently tried it with black eyed peas instead of old hen. It came out very tasty.
Brown rice and black-eyed peas are often neglected by people. I wonder why? Is it the time it takes to prepare them? Or, maybe prejudice towards the ingredients? Yet they are delicious and packed with good stuff like B vitamins and protein.

Brown Rice and Black-Eyed Pea Risotto

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown rice
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
Salt
Pepper
2 medium carrots cut into tiny cubes
10 Spanish olives cut into rounds
5 tbsp of chopped parsley
8 halves of sundried tomatoes (cured in oil) cut into strips
1 tbsp of raisins
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

How to:

fresh parsley, carrots and sun dried tomatoes for the peas

fresh parsley, carrots and sun dried tomatoes for the peas

Soak dried black-eyed peas in water for three hours.
Heat oil in a pan on medium. Sweat celery and onion for few minutes till onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and sauté for further 2 minutes.
Add rice and black-eyed peas to onion mixture. Stir. Add about 3 cups of hot water, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 35-40 minutes
Remove from heat. Add carrot, raisins, parsley, olives, vinegar and sundried tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a side of sauté collard greens.

To prepare collard greens:

2 bunches collard greens (or kale), carefully cleaned, stems removed and leaves chopped into fine strips. Reserve stems for steaming and using in salads or as a vegetable side. They taste like broccoli.
3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

preparing collard greens

preparing collard greens

Using a skillet sauté garlic in olive oil for a minute or so, add collard greens, stir and cook till fully wilted: about 3 minutes. Serve with black-eyed peas as above.

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