The Seasonal Chef

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Guilt-free carbs just might be the answer to wintertime cravings.

For one example, consider this week’s first recipe, for whole wheat pasta with mushrooms. Whole wheat pasta contains more fiber than regular pasta, and therefore one can feel more satisfied with a small serving. Wild and cultivated mushrooms add texture and flavor, yet without many calories, and the addition of truffle oil elevates the dish to top drawer. Serve a green salad topped with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds to complete the meal.

Age-old grains are high on the satisfy-your-appetite list. This week’s toasted quinoa with roasted chicken entrée offers a double dose of protein and is a good source of magnesium, which helps the body lower tension. Present the hot quinoa and chicken on a bed of vitamin A- and C-packed fresh arugula and parsley leaves for a well-balanced, one-dish main course.

Spaghetti squash is well suited for those who can’t digest gluten or those who are simply seeking a healthy substitute for spaghetti.

Remember: it takes about one hour to bake a whole spaghetti squash, and don’t forget to poke it with a sharp knife in several places so it won’t explode in the oven. While the squash cooks you will have plenty of time to prep and pan roast the vegetables for the sauce.

Serve hot crusty bread with olive oil and complete the meal with cheese and fruit. Bon healthy appétit!

Whole Wheat Pasta 
with Mushrooms

(Serves 6)1 pound whole wheat pasta (your favorite shape)2 tablespoons olive oil1 shallot, sliced1 clove garlic minced1½ pounds fresh mushrooms: shiitake, cremini, trumpet, baby portobello, button, sliced1 teaspoon sea saltFreshly ground black pepper, to tasteAbout 2 tablespoons truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheeseAbout 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsleyTo prepare:

Bring a large pot of water with about one tablespoon of salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta to the water and cook until

al dente

, about 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the side of the package.

Meanwhile, coat with olive oil the bottom of a large nonstick skillet over high heat.

Add the shallot and garlic and sauté briefly until they begin to soften, stirring constantly.

Add all the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give up their juices and then brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Drain the pasta and shake off excess moisture.

Toss the pasta in a large bowl with the mushroom mixture. Drizzle with truffle oil until the pasta glistens. Taste and correct the seasonings.

Toss gently and transfer to warmed soup plates, top with Parmesan and parsley. Serve at once.

Toasted Quinoa with 
Roasted Chicken Breast

(Serves 4)2 medium size organic, skinless, boneless chicken breasts1 tablespoon olive oilAbout 2 teaspoons herbes de ProvenceSea salt to tasteFreshly ground black pepper to taste2 cups quinoa4 cups chicken broth, boilingZest and juice of 2 lemons1 teaspoon honey or more to tasteExtra virgin olive oil to tasteAbout 3 cups baby arugula, washed1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leavesTo prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375. Coat the bottom of a shallow baking dish with olive oil.

Arrange the chicken breasts in one layer in the dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, half the lemon zest and juice, herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered until the juices run clear when poked with a two-pronged fork and the chicken is golden on top, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a dry skillet over medium high heat, toast the quinoa, shaking the pan constantly, until browned and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a strainer and rinse under cold water.

Bring chicken broth to a boil, add quinoa, and bring back to a boil.

Cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk together the remaining lemon juice and zest with olive oil, taste and sweeten with honey and season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir the warm juices accumulated in the bottom of the baking pan into the dressing.

To serve:

Toss the arugula and parsley leaves together and divide the greens among four dinner plates, drizzle a little oil/lemon juice “dressing” on the greens.

Place a large spoonful of quinoa in the center and top with one piece of chicken. Drizzle dressing over the chicken and serve at once.

Spaghetti Squash 
with Medley of 
Pan Roasted Vegetables

(Serves 6)1 large spaghetti squashAbout 1/3 cup olive oil1 onion, sliced3 cloves garlic, sliced4 to 5 medium/small zucchini, scrubbed and sliced1 red bell pepper, sliced1 yellow bell pepper, slicedSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to tastePinch or two red pepper flakes or more to tasteAbout 1/2 to 2/3 cup chicken stockChopped fresh herbs of personal preferenceAbout 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheeseTo prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Wash the squash and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp paring knife, pierce the squash several times before placing it on a foil-lined baking sheet and baking until tender, about 1 hour.

While the squash bakes, cut all the vegetables into even slices.

Coat with olive oil the bottom of a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften.

Add sliced garlic, reduce the heat and continue sautéing until garlic slices are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add bell peppers and sauté until the vegetables are crunch tender, about 3 minutes.

Add zucchini and herbs, salt, black and red pepper, and chicken stock and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and correct the seasonings. Keep warm.

When the squash is tender, cut in half. Scoop out seeds and excess pulp.

Holding the squash with a heavy potholder, use a table fork to separate the strands of spaghetti directly into a serving bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Quickly reheat the vegetables, then add them along with their juices to the spaghetti.

Toss to mix well, sprinkle with fresh herbs, and serve at once. Pass the Parmesan cheese at the table.

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