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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetables’

Recent research shows that psychological well-being peaks at 7 portions of vegetables per day. This relationship is documented in three datasets, covering approximately 80,000 randomly selected British people,  for seven measures of well-being (life satisfaction, WEMWBS mental well-being, GHQ mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and feeling low). Original paper here.

In honor of this new finding, we’re sharing here a broccoli rabe recipe created by the one, the fabulous Megan. This is a girl who wants her wedding bouquet to comprise a stalk of brussel sprouts and some cruciferous florets, and I’m sure she’ll be tickled to know that a plate of broccoli rabe she made for us back in August is now finally featured here.

Be forewarned, broccoli rabe has a very strong flavor. Few greens are as hearty and bitter, but like any other sturdy green, these are extremely healthy. It comes packed with Vitamins K, A, and C and has a high percentage of folate, iron, and calcium as well.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic 
1-1.5 lbs broccoli rabe
several cloves garlic
olive oil
shaved parmesan or romano
salt and pepper, and red pepper optional

In large sauté pan heat a few tablespoons olive oil, then add chopped garlic.  Add sprigs of broccoli rabe enough to fill the pan but not to over crowd.  Add a little water and salt and cooked covered for about 3-5 minutes, turning part way.  (Adding some lemon juice may also be desirable as a way to cut the bitterness.) Broccoli will still be crisp when done, but the flowers will have wilted.  Add pepper, remove from pan, and repeat with remaining broccoli rabe.  Top with shaved cheese at the end.

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We wouldn’t have guessed it until this weekend, but Labor Day marks the completion of quite a year.  Okay, I suppose it’s a little bit arbitrary where we start counting (like, maybe our wedding day is slightly more appropriate) but Labor Day coincides well, too.

One year ago this weekend we had our first housewarming party as a couple, in our very own apartment, our very own home together.  It was somewhat of an eclectic soiree, combining a number of our old New York, yuppy (“young urban professional”–with no judgment attached) friends and a number of our new New Haven friends (decidedly less yuppy).  We made black beans and arepas (back in the pre-grill days) and four (or five?) desserts (can’t blame this one on not having a grill).

It was also the first time all of us met Andy.  In this last year, Andy and his now wife Marcella have been featured guests at many meals; they also received a homemade wedding cake from us in May.  Then, he was a stranger from a foreign land–Mozambique to be exact.  Now, he’s off to England for studies, leaving a gaping hole stateside.  New Haven has suffered quite a bit this summer: First an earthquake, then a hurricane, and now Andy leaving.

Well, enough maudlin rehashing of developments in our relationship and our friends’.  What says summer better than a backyard barbecue with potato salad?  We had grilled burgers with fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions, and goat cheese (and the burgers were so thick they nearly passed for meatballs), a grilled corn salad with red pepper, celery, and sun dried tomatoes, and a bit of a twist on a potato salad.  Enjoy the recipes, and the extra day of rest (we sure did).

Grilled Burgers

Use 1/4 lb of meat for each burger, but do not make them as thin as you get them at the store.  Sprinkle with spices–Montreal Steak seasoning is a good mix–then roll into a ball, indent dimples in the center on both sides and maybe flatten just slightly.  The reason to keep them thick is so that you can have burgers that are medium (or more, or less) on the inside while also developing a good sear on the outside.  Too thin, and there will be no char by the time the burgers are cooked all the way through–or worse, you’ll get the char and dried out hockey pucks for burgers.

Cook over a high flame, flipping only once.  5 minutes per side should do it.  Do not fiddle around!  Fiddling keeps the burgers from developing a nice crust, which ensures an easy flip and a sturdy burger.  Top to your delight.

Mostly Green Potato Salad

2 lb potatoes (red-skinned fingerlings would be beautiful, though we used Idahos)
1 heaping T of capers
2 scallions, pickled (soaked in vinegar, salt, sugar)
1/2 cup peas
feta cheese, crumbled/chopped to taste

Cube potatoes and boil until tender (a fork should go in and out easily).  Drain.  Combine all ingredients with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Enjoy. And don’t use mayo.

Grilled Corn Salad

6 ears of corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
10 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 stalks diced celery
1 T ground cumin
lemon juice, salt, and olive oil to taste

As has been stated, there are a million ways to grill corn.  The easies and quickest: husk the corn and grill directly over the fire, flipping every few minutes.  Cut kernels off of corn.  Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Of course, you could do this sans grill using frozen corn or oven roasted corn.  And a microwave is a great way to cook corn–one of us thinks so.

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Over two months into the season now, it finally feels like summer. With school in New York two nights a week and countless weddings and wedding festivities through June and July, this past weekend was our first free weekend since May. And boy does it feel like summer! This weekend was full of my favorite summer activities — free outdoor movie on the New Haven Green, a full day at the beach, and an afternoon outing to the orchard.

As far as beach food goes, you’ll see in an above photo that some beach-goers prefer freshly caught fish. We, on the other hand, significantly less confident in our fishing prowess, packed ourselves a hefty portion of cut vegetables and hummus, some thyme-infused earl gray iced tea, a big bag of tortilla chips, and homemade peach tomato salsa. The salsa was born out of a gift of a peach from a lovely office-mate, and a quick trip to Edge of the Woods provided the remainder of the ingredients. (Another bonus feature of summer — bountiful produce!!

Peach-Tomato Salsa

1 very ripe peach
4 or 5 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 jalapeno pepper
small bunch cilantro
lemon juice, splash
olive oil, splash

Chop peach, onion, and tomatoes very small. (Helpful hint: a freshly sharpened chef’s knife or serrated knife does wonders on the tomatoes.) Chop cilantro and jalapeno.

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lime, or salt as needed. Let sit for at least another half hour so that the flavors meld.

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Pizza Romana

Our kids are going to be very confused.  Are they Chinese? Are they white? Are they hispanic? What language should they speak? And why does everybody else think pizza has lots of cheese and tomato sauce?

Yes, if our kids learn what pizza is from the pizzas we cook at home, they are going to be very confused when they go into the world and are served take-out–or anything else for that matter.  Not that there is anything wrong with a standard red sauce with cheese and toppings pie, it’s just not our go-to choice.

Furthermore, doing pizza this way is much more convenient and exciting.  Pizza, like pasta, can be the vehicle for combining whatever ingredients into a perfectly appetizing meal.  And if you are lucky enough to have potato, zucchini, and onion in your fridge, you can make an “authentic” Roman pizza.

As we’ve mentioned, Rome does great pizza.  The crust is paper thin and crunchy without tasting like a cracker–it maintains just enough chewiness.  This is the last pizza we had on our honeymoon in Rome.  Saute vegetables, top very generously over dough, cook on as high a heat you can.  That’s it.  Making sure your kids know what pizza really is–well, I think we’ve just accomplished that.  Dealing with questions of ethnic identity–that’ll be for another day.

Some general directions: First, it’s hard to do this wrong.  If you want to make your own dough (see recipe here), you really should; it’s hard to compete with the price and simplicity–unless you can get top-notch dough from somewhere like Modern Apizza.  Stretch it out and drizzle olive oil over the top.  If you are using a pizza stone, we suggest topping the pizza after you slide the dough onto the already-hot stone because sliding a topped pizza is tricky business.  Top with sauteed vegetables of your choice–or with raw vegetables, too, since they’ll (mostly, depending on the veggie) cook in the oven.  Bake at 450-500F.  Pizza’s done when dough is golden and crusty, somewhere near 10 minutes.

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