Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

I’ll admit the thought of a fish stew didn’t immediately grab me for a fun weeknight in the kitchen. But upon closer inspection of this recipe, the layers of Mediterranean flavors were very intriguing: garlic, artichoke hearts, capers, green olives, white wine and tomatoes. Wow.

Served over couscous, it didn’t disappoint.  Fresh lemon juice and chopped ginger, cumin and basil, crushed red pepper. So many flavors that intertwine to create a zesty, light — and healthy! — dish.  Tilapia was on sale at the market and it worked out perfectly here.  Give this one a try.

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‘Tis the season for soups and chilis! I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of new recipes this winter, and this one turned out great.  Lots of hearty “stuff” in here to make a big bowl a satisfying meal for lunch or light weeknight dinner. And, it’s super healthy.  The red pepper flakes give this a bit of a kick, so be sure to sprinkle those in to your taste.

Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 onion minced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 celery stalks, plus celery leaves, chopped

1 large carrot diced

1 cup each, diced yellow squash/diced zucchini

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon marjoram

dried red pepper flakes to taste

1 10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes

2 oz whole-wheat linguini broken into small pieces

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

(1) Saute onion, garlic, celery, carrot in the olive oil over medium heat  for 3-5 minutes; then, add zucchini and squash and cook until slightly softened.

(2) Add basil and marjoram plus the frozen mixed vegetables and cook until thawed, about 3 minutes.  Then add broth and bring to simmer.

(3) After 20 minutes, toss in linguine and beans and cook until al dente.


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Veal, or meat from a young calf, is not something I eat or cook with often, but when done right it’s amazingly tender and flavorful and much lower fat than other cuts of beef. The classic Italian veal preparations of piccata (with lemon and capers) and milanese (with arugula or basil and tomato salad) are my favorites.  Both start with a basic seasoned, breaded, pan-fried cutlet.

To make the perfect “schnitzel,” as the Austrians like to call it, you dredge your veal cutlet first in flour, then in egg wash, and then in seasoned bread crumbs.  Over medium-high heat, pan-fry in olive oil for just a couple of minutes on each side.  The key to a great piece of veal is not to overcook it, otherwise it will become tough and chewy.

Top off your schnitzel with a wonderful summery salad of diced tomato, cubed fresh mozzarella, and strips of fresh basil — all tossed in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. And on the side, add any steamed fresh vegetable that catches your eye in the produce section or your local farmers’ market.  Tonight the beans were looking fantastic, and they tasted even better.

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After a little hiatus from this space in March, I’m kicking off April — and capping a beautiful Easter Weekend — with this wonderful, simple shrimp and pasta dish. I find myself increasingly drawn to “simple” preparations, like this one, in which the flavors, colors, textures of the individual elements of a dish shine for what they are.   The vibrant colors of the fresh Roma tomatoes, crisp Italian parsley and wild caught shrimp play big when tossed lightly with spaghetti in an olive oil, white wine, onion, garlic sauce.  The juices from the shrimp give the sauce added depth and a couple pinches of dried red pepper flakes give it a little punch. The dish does not have a lot of ingredients and doesn’t take long to prepare, but it’s packed with flavor.  I really love how healthy and light this is, too. Perfect for a warm spring or summer evening meal with a tossed salad and crusty bread.

Spaghetti with Shrimp Sauce

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 pound ripe roma or plum tomatoes

3/4 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

Red pepper flakes, salt/pepper to taste

(1) Boil spaghetti, drain and set aside.

(2) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes over low heat in a large fry or saute pan.  Then add shrimp and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to overcook.

(2) Add the white wine and cook until liquid begins to evaporate, about 2-3 minutes. Then, add tomatoes and seasoning to taste, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

(4) Toss spaghetti in the pan with the sauce and shrimp, topping with the fresh chopped parsley.

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When I manage to cook during the work week, I want to prepare something flavorful and healthy, with lots of leftovers. Bobby Deen’s goulash recipe is one of those meals that fits the bill.  Although a goulash tends to be an autumn or winter dish, the balance of meat, vegetables and pasta — and the ease of reheating on a late work night — make this perfect even in the summer.  I love the heartiness and tastiness of the celery, green pepper, onion, tomatoes and garlic stewed with al dente pasta elbows and ground beef.


I like to add one whole green pepper and several stalks of celery, both chopped, even though Bobby doesn’t list them in his recipe.  Also, I prefer the whole wheat pasta elbows to the regular.  Adds a nutty and wholesome dimension… and whole grains are always healthier too. If you like it spicy, add a couple sprinkles of red pepper flakes for a kick.


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Summertime in the nation’s capitol and an excursion down Georgetown’s M street to Clyde’s (3236 M St.).  This local landmark turned regional chain is always packed for dinner which reflects the quality and value of the food. They’ve got a great concept — flavorful, simply-prepared American cuisine featuring fresh local ingredients like the jumbo lump Maryland crab cakes, Massachusetts rockfish and chili-lime hangar steak with roasted Virginia corn tomato salad.


As the chain has grown from its humble roots in the 1960s, my sense is that it’s lost a bit of it’s touch. Certainly, it has developed a bit of a “restaurant group” feel, from the decor to the menu offerings and service by the wait staff. You’ll also find a lot of tourists and families crowding in, too.  But from the handful of times I’ve dined here over the past six years, I’ve found the food to be reliable and reasonably priced for what it is. I give Clyde’s — and it’s sister restaurant and DC power-players haunt Old Ebbitt’s Grill — a thumbs up.


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I’m usually not a big fan of pasta once the warmer weather rolls around, but even when it was almost 90 degrees in New York City a couple weeks ago, this dish won me over. The cherry tomato, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella combo stands out among the ear-shaped pasta tossed in a light and simple olive oil/chicken broth “sauce.”


But it’s the mini chicken meatballs that put this dish over the top. They are tender and delicious!

Mix one pound of ground white meat chicken or turkey with:  1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 chopped parsley, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 3/4 cup grated romano cheese, and salt/pepper to taste. Brown the little balls in olive oil over high heat, 9-10 minutes.

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I’ve sampled many a slice of lasagna in my day, from mom’s kitchen to fine Italian restaurants and church potlucks. The best have been moist and flavorful, not over-baked; firm and well-set; and made with incredibly fresh ingredients of cheese and sauce.

This rendition of the Italian classic (Bon Appetit, March 1999) ranks right up there with the best, and the homemade spicy tomato sauce is what makes it special. I love the rich poultry flavor from the sausage with chopped spinach and cracked red pepper. So tasty!  In the preparation, I substituted mozzarella cheese for the provolone and used fresh, homemade riccotta. I also added one more layer of lasagna noodles than was called for.  It was a hit all-around.

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If I was the Slumdog Millionaire, I’d want to celebrate reuniting with my true love (and winning the millions) by enjoying a feast of Chicken Jalfrezi. This take on a traditional Indian curry is absolutely one of my top ten all-time favorite dishes.

The tomato-based curry is a taste explosion of grated fresh ginger, garlic, onion and cilantro. The tender chicken thighs are lightly dry-fried in olive oil, curry and chili powders before stewing with the tomatoes and spices until the meat just falls apart.


Unlike a traditional Jalfrezi, I’m told, this recipe lacks green peppers or green chillies. But in my opinion, the simplicity of this take is its strong suit: your taste buds can focus in on the intense medley of flavors. Served over basmati rice with a side of naan bread, this is a wonderful dish.

It’s first appearance on Peanutbuttermilk has the recipe.

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Why do I always seem to crave chicken soup when it’s freakishly cold outside? The hot, salty broth, savory vegetables, and tender chicken are so satisfying.   This soup was thrown together with whatever I had in the fridge: leftover chicken on the bone from Barbuto, a mix of fresh cut vegetables from a New Years party platter, and half a bag of organic frozen peas.

I started by browning onion and garlic in olive oil before adding a box of low-sodium chicken stock (about 4 cups) and the roasted chicken.  Those simmered over medium low heat for a couple hours to create a flavorful broth. Then I removed the chicken from the bone and tossed in a medley of raw veggies. I also added a half cup of rice for good measure. You can add spices, salt and pepper to taste.

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