Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Something a little different, a little like everything else

It's rare for us to go out to eat Italian food. We did the other day when were randomly in Capitol Hill with J's dad. We stopped by one of his old haunts in his old hood, Palermo, which i have just discovered is in Ballard as well (cool!). Palermo serves pretty basic but reliable Italian fare and has better than average pizza. They also serve vegetarian dish that seems to make J happy. He ordered it the other day and it occurred to me that not only could I easily make it, I wouldn't mind eating it. I took my best guess at the recipe and this is what I came up with. Not exactly what you get there, but J seemed to like it just fine.

Vegetable Parmesan

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 cups lowfat ricotta cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
4-6 slices fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium eggplant, sliced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper

Slice eggplant and spread out on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes or more. This will drawn out some of the moisture as well as get rid of some of the eggplant's bitterness.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil till just soft. Add spices and cook for 2 minutes to release flavor. Add tomatoes and vinegar, cover and let simmer over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl combine Ricotta cheese, spices and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a 8"x 8" baking dish spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2" deep.

Using your broiler, roast the zucchini and the bell pepper by spreading them out on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and place under a broiler for 5 -10 minutes. Allow them to brown but do not cook thoroughly (they will cook more in the casserole). Rinse the eggplant. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and brown eggplant on each side. Lay pan fried eggplant out in the dish. Spread ricotta cheese over the eggplant. Layer zucchini and red pepper over the cheese. Cover with marinara sauce and top with mozzarella slices. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Salmon Goodness

So I made this meal a few weekends ago and it turned out really well. It took some time and planning but it was certainly worth it in the end. Each piece is easy to assemble and most can be made ahead of time if desired. Its a wonderful use of medium grade salmon (such as the Alaskan sockeye available frozen at Trader Joe's). Enjoy for a special, but laid back, occasion.

Asian Style Salmon burgers with Wasabi Mayonnaise, Pickled Cucumbers and Sesame Soy Dressing
Pickled Cucumbers
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Slice cucumber into very thin slices. In a bowl toss cucumber with vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Wasabi Ginger Mayonnaise
1/4 cup light canola mayonnaise
2 tsp wasabi (to taste)
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
In a small bowl whisk together. Cover and refrigerate.
Sesame Soy Dressing
1/2 small red pepper, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sesame oil
1 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
In a bowl whisk together soy sauce, oil, garlic and ginger. Place red pepper slices in sauce and let marinate for 1-2 hours.
Salmon Burgers
1 pound salmon fillet, skin discarded and fish cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup panko style bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, minced
1/2 small red pepper, minced
4 Ciabatta Rolls
In a bowl mash the salmon cubes with a fork into a paste. Add egg, soy sauce, and garlic until combined well. Add bread crumbs, scallions and red pepper. Stir mixture to combine and if too wet add additional bread crumbs. Form into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.
In a large non-stick skillet cook patties until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Cover and cook over moderate heat until just cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Assemble each burger with a healthy dose of Wasabi Ginger Mayonnaise, a few Pickled Cucumbers, and a few slices of the marinated red peppers. Serve with salad greens drizzled with Seasame Soy dressing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A friend of my requested this recipe from me a few weeks ago to prepare for a dinner party at her apartment. It reminded me how much I love the meal so I made it again last night for my hungry boyfriend and his father, tired after a day of building a tool and garden shed in our backyard. I originally started making this recipe years ago when I was an undergrad living in Foley House - a cooking cooperative at Dartmouth College. There, I lived in a house of 10 people who took turns cooking nightly meals. I learned two things living and cooking at foley: how to cook for a large group (I still have difficulty cooking for two), and how to cook for vegetarians. It was really this experience that has forever influenced my almost vegetarianism (and having a non meat eating partner). Foley House also introduced me to the Moosewood Cookbook series by Mollie Katzen. This is a wonderful and so far unmatched resource for vegetarian recipes named for a restaurant to which I have never been in upstate New York. This recipe is in her Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook , and I have modified it slightly. You can serve this at any party without anyone complaining about the lack of meat. There are a few variations I have employed, such adding Soyrizo or some other meat substitute, adding black beans, or cooking as a casserole instead of actually rolling them. I alternate between using traditional corn tortillas or flour, which seem to be a crowd-pleaser. There has been great debate regarding the flour/corn dilemma; I will throw my hat in with corn, and let you, the chef, decide what you prefer.

Enchiladas de Foley

1 - 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper
2 tsp salt
8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder (if desired)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Let cool and run through a food processor or a blender to make smooth.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese + 1/2 cup for top

16 corn tortillas (10-12 flour if you prefer)

Heat oil in a deep skillet. cook onions and garlic over medium high heat 8 minutes, or until soft. Add bell pepper, zucchini and spices and cook another 8-10 minutes until zucchini is just soft. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1-2 cup cheese. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.


If using corn tortillas you will need to soften them. There are many ways to soften (frying, soaking, etc) but I prefer to simply steam them. Wrap them in a towel and use a steamer tray (or the like) and set in boiling water for 2-5 minutes. They can continue to steam as you work. If using flour tortillas, not need for a steam...

Pour half the sauce in a 9"x13" baking dish. Roll the enchiladas (spoonful of filling, roll) and lay out tightly in the tray. After the tray is full pour the remaining sauce over and sprinkle cheese. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. I like to remove the foil and throw under the broiler for the last few minutes to give the cheese some crispness.

Enjoy with something light, like a green salad sprinkled with pepitas.