Thursday, June 30, 2011

Halibut with Tomatoes and Fennel

Next up in the this month's Grocery Bag series is Halibut with Tomatoes and Fennel! My boyfriend and I loved Food Networks recipe for Talapia with Tomatoes, Olives and Potato Hash so we figured we'd definitely like this... and we were right!

This was a super easy dish to make and only took 25 minutes. It even offers great substitute options. If you'd rather cook bass or salmon, substitute onions for the fennel.

We went with the original halibut recipe and were very pleased. The acidity in the tomatoes mixed very well with the freshness of the fish and the flavor from the fennel. This was my first experience cooking fennel and I was a little apprehensive since I know how powerful the flavor can be. Once paired with the couscous, you have a perfect bite of flavorful simplicity - no flavor over powering more than another!

1 cup couscous
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise, plus fronds for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large tomatoes, diced large
1 1/2 lbs halibut, skin removed, cut into at small fillets
salt and pepper

1) Cook couscous according to packaged instructions.
2) In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium. Add fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and release their juices, about 3 to 4 minutes. Nestle halibut in tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until fillets are opaque throughout, 8 minutes.
3) Fluff couscous with a fork. To serve, divide remaining couscous and halibut and tomato mixture among four shallow bowls and sprinkle with fennel fronds, if desired.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pasta Shells with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Tonight, dinner had to be quick. I was exhausted after a long day but I set out to complete my last recipes from the Everyday Food Grocery Bag series (well the 3 out of 5 I decided to make, anyway.) Luckily, I saved the easiest for last - Pasta Shells with no-cook Tomato Sauce.

I have to be honest, this recipe will not make my list of repeat recipes, but the notion of making a pasta without actually cooking a sauce will inspire me in future meals. (The acid in this dish did not sit well with me, but I did love topping my pasta with ricotta, which is not something I've ever done.

While I probably did not set this recipe up to be very promising, I would still suggest trying it. After 20-ish minutes in the kitchen, you'll have a full meal...and you may love it. To each their own, right?


2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (4 cups), any color
2 small red, yellow or orange bell peppers, medium diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
3/4 lbs medium pasta shells
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn if large
1/2 cup ricotta, for serving

1) In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes, peppers, oil, vinegar and garlic; season with salt ad pepper. Let sit at room temp, 20 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add pasta to sauce, tossing to combine. Add basil and toss. Divide pasta among four bowls and top each with ricotta.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brown Bag Lunch - Adult Style

It's time for another Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Grocery Bag section! The July/August issue of the mag was pretty decent. I was only interested in cooking 3 of the 5 recipes, but that was enough to get me going.

I figured I would start out with the easiest recipe to bring to work for lunch: Toasted Turkey Sandwich with Quick Cucumber Pickles.

I have to be honest and mention that I took a lot of short cuts on this recipe, but I was still happy with the outcome. (Since I'm sure you'll want to know what I did differently, I'll side note it below.)

- 1 country-style round bread loaf, sliced in 1/2 horizontally, insides scooped out. (I couldn't find this so I planned to use white bread but was pleasantly surprised when freshly baked whole grain breads came out of the oven at work the very same day.)
- 1/3 cup tapenade (I skipped this all together...couldn't find any at my grocery)
- 1/2 lb deli turkey, thinly sliced
- 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
- 4 oz provolone, thinly sliced
- 2 medium cucumbers, cut lengthwise into thin wedges
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of tapenade. Arrange turkey on bottom half of bread. Top with zucchini, tomato, and cheese. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly with foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 25 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss cucumbers with vinegar and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temp, 20 minutes.
3) Unwrap sandwich and cut into 4 wedges with a serrated knife. Serve with pickled cucumbers.

*Obviously, I couldn't follow the directions on this one since I was preparing it at work so the night before bringing to work, I grilled the zucchini and packaged all the ingredients in sandwich baggies. At work, I toasted my bread, assembled and enjoyed!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Foil Roasted Salmon with Kale Quinoa Pilaf

I absolutely love Italian food and could eat it every night but every once in a while I look down at my waist line and realize all the cheese and carbs are catching up to me! And let's be's Summer! NOT the time to gain weight. I thought about what I could make fairly effortlessly that would be light and healthy... My mind was blank!

After asking around the office for recipe ideas, someone mentioned checking out This is one of my new favorite recipe sites! It is full of different recipes, sure to please any palate. After about 30 seconds on the site, one recipe caught my eye: Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus! It sounded delish! I love salmon and always fall into the habit of baking it with Italian dressing and tomatoes. It's about time I switch things up.

If you're looking to mix things up and serve a meal packed full of flavor with out the gotta try this! And don't forget about a side dish. I whipped up a one-pot kale and quinoa pilaf, also from F00d52! (Click the link for the recipe.)

1 large leek
1 large shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove,thinly sliced
4-6 fresh tarragon or thyme stems
2 bay leaves
2-3 lbs of salmon filets
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Slice the leek in half, lengthwise beginning at white end but not cutting through green end. Rinse thoroughly under cold water separating leaves to remove trapped dirt. Cut green ends off of leek and reserve. Slice white and light green parts.
3) Select a baking sheet large enough to for the fillet. Lay out a long double length of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of the baking sheet across the shorter end of the sheet. Place another perpendicular to the first.
4) Lay out the leek greens on the foil to form a bed where your salmon can lay. Add half of the sliced leeks, shallots, garlic, herbs and bay leaves. Place the cleaned salmon on top of greens. Generously salt and pepper the both sides of the salmon. Drizzle all over with olive oil and rub to cover top and bottom. Lay tarragon or other herb stems across the top of the fish and cover the top with the rest of the sliced leeks.
5) Bring up the edges of the foil along both ends of the salmon. Add the wine. Seal the edges together to form a compact tent around the salmon (I would advise using a little less than 1 cup of wine, I thought it was a bit too strong tasting after cooking). Repeat with the second layer of foil. The salmon can rest until you are ready to roast.
6) Place in oven. Roast until internal temperature is 140 degrees. For a 2-3 lb salmon fillet this took about 25-30 minutes.
7) Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Unwrap and remove to serving platter. Discard green leek ends.Top exposed flesh with jus and vegetables.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A New Twist on Pizza Pie

Now I know this isn't the most beautiful looking pizza you've ever seen but once you take one bite, that thought will go right out the window. My first bite of Vodka pizza was at Prince Umberto's in Franklin Square, Long Island.Friends of mine ranted and raved about this pizza so I finally made a trip to the island to get a taste. I have been hooked ever since!

There is nothing better than biting down into a creamy white pie covered in and vodka sauce...not toppings; just cheese and vodka sauce. My version is not quite the same as Prince Umberto's, but it's great, none the less.

Your favorite pizza dough
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
4 oz mozzarella cheese
1.5 cups vodka sauce

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees
2) Roll out dough and drizzle olive oil then sprinkle cheese
3) Place pizza in oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted
4) Remove from oven and top with vodka sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes.
5) Let cool and enjoy!