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August 16, 2015

Basil ricotta bruschetta with pan-burst grapes {vegetarian}

Basil ricotta bruschetta with pan-burst grapes: appetizer or dessert.

Park a giant bowl of fruit salad on the dining table, and my husband Ted and I both go for the cantaloupe and honeydew chunks, and any odd things like kiwi. He'll take the mango; I'll claim the watermelon. And we never fight over the grapes. I could eat grapes all day, every day, in the way one might chomp on peanut M&Ms all day, every day, but cold grapes are not Ted's thing. However, set those grapes in a frying pan over low heat, shake-shake-shake the pan every now and then until the grapes burst and their sweet juices ooze out, and spoon them over some seasoned ricotta cheese, and Ted is there, all in. These warm grapes barely resemble the fresh grapes I eat like candy; they become a grape "sauce" once they've popped open, not as sweet as grape jelly but every bit as spreadable. We've enjoyed these bruschetta as a first course, and as dessert. You can toast the bread, and mix the cheese, ahead of time, and assemble at the last minute when the pan of grapes is ready. Use any variety of seedless grapes, or a mix of red, green and black.

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February 1, 2015

Thai pineapple fried rice {vegetarian}

Thai pineapple fried rice, with curry, cashews and raisins.

The continuing process of pantry downsizing and clean-out, in preparation for our move from country to city in a couple of weeks, has energized my cooking. Recently, my cleaning yielded a huge bag of jasmine rice (who knew?) and an almost equally large bag of curry powder, never opened. When a grocery delivery came with a free pineapple, I took it as a sign, and began to pull together the rest of the ingredients for this Thai fried rice. Although the dish typically contains fish sauce, I used soy sauce to keep it vegetarian. (For gluten-free, substitute tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.) If you have time, make the rice ahead, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight, or days in advance; you'll have a much less gluey fried rice. Canned pineapple (not in syrup) can swap in for fresh, and currants can stand in for raisins. Like all fried rice variations, this one is flexible; it's the combination of soy (or fish) sauce with curry powder that sets it apart.

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July 27, 2014

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad with honey-lime dressing {gluten-free}

Grilled chicken, zucchini and nectarine spinach salad, tossed with honey-lime dressing. #glutenfree

Our grill died. It was not a death with drama (no flames, no explosion); the poor thing just faded away, perhaps from working too hard, and because we're planning to move later this year, my husband Ted and I decided to face this summer without a grill. Instead, I've been using my panini press, and that's how I grilled the chicken, zucchini halves, and nectarine chunks for this salad. A cast iron stovetop grill pan would work just as well. First, cook the chicken breasts, and while they are resting, throw the zucchini and nectarine cut side down on the hot grill and sear them until you have nice grill marks, just about two or three minutes. Chop everything into same-size chunks, and tie it all together with honey-lime dressing you can make far in advance. The warm chicken and vegetables will help to wilt the spinach leaves a bit, without rendering them a soggy mess. Peaches make a fine substitute for nectarines, and yellow or patty pan squash can stand in for zucchini. You can use shrimp in place of chicken, too. This is a great salad for picnics or potlucks.

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August 29, 2013

Blueberry spinach smoothie recipe {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Blueberry spinach smoothie, perfect back-to-school breakfast.

My husband Ted, a.k.a. the Smoothie King, suggested we name this blueberry spinach smoothie Dark and Anti, thanks to its rich color and mega-dose of antioxidants. I love this smoothie, but think the name doesn't do it justice, so I've dubbed it Purple and Powerful. The spinach plays a supporting role, so what you have is a vibrant fruit smoothie with a bonus of dark leafy greens tucked inside, perfect for sending kids back to school with a serving of vegetables for breakfast. I tried on two different days to get a good photo of this amazing smoothie, and believe it or not, these photos are the best of the bunch. Purple and Powerful looks much better in real life than it does here. Alas, I don't seem to have the smoothie photography gene. You'll have to trust me, and taste for yourself.

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July 4, 2013

Green goodness smoothie recipe with banana and raisins {vegetarian}

Green goodness smoothie, with spinach, banana and raisins.

To be honest, I thought I'd be the last person ever to utter these words: "I like green smoothies!" Yet, when my husband Ted whipped up this green goodness smoothie, with baby spinach leaves providing the green, and bananas and raisins serving up the goodness, I fell in love with the whole green smoothie thing right then and there. Cold and refreshing for breakfast on a hot summer morning, this smoothie might be equally good with tender baby kale, and apple juice instead of the white grape juice, and dates in place of raisins, but it was pretty perfect just the way Ted made it.  After I finished this little glass, I had another, and another after that. What a great way to start the day, with a serving of dark leafy greens dressed up in something icy cold and sweet.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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