For the past five years, I’ve been on a crusade. Not of a violent nature but one a little more serene – incorporating a wider variety of vegetables onto my daily plate. I say crusade since, at the beginning, it was a forceful act. Like many Americans, eating vegetables didn’t always come naturally to me. My parents were (and continue to be) explorers of new food, so when I was kid we grew tomatoes, made yogurt and sprouted mung beans at our house. It wasn’t always pretty – think scrambled eggs with bean sprouts which remain truly disgusting to me – but they instilled a hunger for novel fare. When I became a chef, that exploration continued but I confess my personal veggie repertoire remained fairly limited. It wasn’t until I had to change my diet to fit into my clothes that I truly started traveling the greener side of the protein. And so it began. The bi-weekly co-op veggie box nudged me to beets, bok choy, Swiss chard and the humble cauliflower. I loathed this white wonder every time Mom dropped it in front of me. I stayed for an hour at the table, pushing it around in the hopes that I might appear as if I’d snacked on tidbits. In rare instances I had but Mom usually caved when I whined enough. I was a pain in the ass. If I could take it back…
Read more: Vegetable Recipe: Curry scented roasted cauliflower
When fall weather hits, there’s nothing more satisfying than a warm bowl of hearty soup. This corn chowder recipe, in addition to banishing the chill, offers a sliver of summer any time of the year. No frill ingredients like corn, shrimp and bacon come together in 30 minutes or less. This is an easy, go-to, weeknight recipe.
Read more: Quick bacon corn chowder with shrimp recipe: Summer flavor any time of the year
I’m a quinoa lover. Although I love my animal protein, this savory, high protein grain is a savior to many vegetarians. Quinoa originated in the Andes mountains and is super versatile, has a uniquely nutty flavor and substitutes for practically any nutritionally neutral grain (think white rice or pasta). I featured a mushroom and quinoa risotto on my site late last year, but this recipe — recently enjoyed at a wine luncheon — sadly puts it to shame in the flavor department. The host chef, Ruth Van Warebeek, works for Concha y Toro in Chile and she paired this delectable recipe with a 2011 Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere (CAR min YARE), a grape originally from France now happily residing in Chile’s welcoming climes and soils. Marques de Casa Concha created a soft, silky yet robust Carmenere that cozies up to food in a friendly way.
Read more: The beauty of wine and food pairings: Carmenere meets quinoa mushroom risotto
The other day, I met someone who doesn’t like green beans. Once I picked my jaw off the ground — generally, this vegetable is beloved by most Americans — I asked her why she thought this was so. Turns out, her mom force fed her canned green beans as a child and she hasn’t recovered from the taste trauma. Such a shame since fresh green beans are simply magical and so versatile… roasted with a bit of olive oil and garlic salt or in a quasi salad like this recipe tossed with tomato garlic vinaigrette. Perhaps it could change her mind?
Read more: Healthy veggie recipe: Green beans with tomato garlic vinaigrette
I’ve become a strident evangelist for the oddest thing: a little, leafy vegetable called kale. It has become a darling of many a yuppie (if that word still exists) and added depth to many a “green” drink. But its mere humbleness is what makes it endearing. A few years ago, kale wasn’t nearing the top of the veggie pile but things have turned in the garden. And I’m following this trend like a Miley Cyrus groupie (post twerking). Two or three years ago, kale arrived into my life through my Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) box. When strange vegetables are thrust upon me, I have to cook them… my sense of waste takes over like a wave of guilt. And so it began.
Read more: Best potato chip substitute ever: Roasted Kale Recipe
During the summer in northern California, I try to maximize any and all time outdoors. Cooking food on the grill gives me an excuse to sit outside, sip wine, eat snacks and chill while the deliciousness finishes grilling. This recipe for grilled chicken takes about 45 minutes to marinate and an hour to cook so it lends itself more to weekend fare rather than weekday. Unless it’s vacation, and that’s even better. The marinade, since it contains acid from the lemon juice to penetrate the chicken’s meaty fibers, really soaks in, so the flavor seeps all the way through. If you skip the long marinade time, it will lose some of that flavor so stick with the recipe. Best if you use bone in chicken but if you choose boneless, reduce the marinade time to 30 minutes.
Read more: Low and slow recipe: Lemon and herb marinated grilled chicken
I know… meatloaf ain’t sexy. But this hunk of ground beef, cooked to-juicy-perfection comfort food wins any and all races to the heart. Nestle it next to a fluffy scoop of mashed potatoes and green beans and you experience a little piece of heaven. And there have been some technological advances in the heavenly art of meatloaf making. This recipe is on the plate within 20 minutes because it makes use of a machine we normally use for reheating leftovers — the microwave. In 40 minutes faster than the traditional oven.
Read more: Recipe: Easy meatloaf, comfort food goodness in 20 minutes
Pork tenderloin, the other white meat, can be as bland as the first, official white meat, chicken. But like chicken or especially tofu, it absorbs spices like it’s begging for them. Szechuan cuisine (aka Sichuan or Szechwan) is a type of spicy cooking developed in southwestern China. Unlike Americanized moo goo gai pan or wonton soup, Chinese Szechuan dishes offer super bold flavors calmed by the addition of peanuts or sesame (tahini pastes sometimes) and punctuated by hot peppers and pungent ginger. It’s Chinese food with a kick.
Read more: Recipe for quick yet super tasty pork: Chinese Szechuan Pork
Sure, bottled salad dressings are quicker and more convenient. But homemade salad dressing tastes SO much better and fresher. This one takes 5 minutes to assemble, uses heart healthy condiments most people have on hand, and isn’t full of the scary preservatives found lurking in most bottles. This tart, lemony vinaigrette keeps for about a week in the refrigerator and can be tossed with salad greens, drizzled over steamed green beans, or even used as a marinade for meat.
Read more: Easy salad dressing recipe: Garlicky Lemony Vinaigrette
Dark meat chicken gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s a tiny bit higher in calories but chicken thighs and drumsticks boast more flavor and juicy, savory goodness. Plus, they’re not going to set me back as many shekels. In this jerk chicken recipe, the Caribbean seasoning rub includes the earthier scents of nutmeg and allspice, which melds well with this fattier meat. This super fast, super flavorful recipe takes about 5 minutes to prep and 1o minutes to cook, so feel free to whip it up for a weeknight meal.
Read more: Recipe: Quick, delicious thighs, Caribbean Jerk Chicken of course