Category Archives: Vegetarian Main

Baguette Guilt and Fried Bread Frittata

So the story goes: I had a half-baguette lingering on top of the microwave, sad and pitiful in a crinkly foil collar that was wrapped around it to help keep bread rigor mortis at bay. It stared me down whenever I checked the time or went to grab Nutella from the pantry (which happens all too often in my house). This weekend has been all about greedy excess: warm chocolate chip cookies on a gray afternoon, hot dogs and cheese fries, fresh-fried donuts, an easy dinner of good bread and triple creme cheese. Why not turn that leftover half-loaf into a frittata crowned with olive oil and butter-fried bread? Keep the good times going, yes, why stop the fry party just because it’s Sunday?

With some beautiful eggs from a local farm, I made a frittata. The eggs were fresh and perky (old eggs lose their tightness; the raw whites slouch like a teenager); I lightly beat them with some salt and cream. After frying the bread cubes in olive oil, butter and salt, I turned them onto a plate and used the hot pan to charm some garlic–egg mixture went back into the pan along with a cup of chopped roasted broccoli, a crumbled knob of goat cheese and a good handful of Parm. I sprinkled the olive oil and butter-fried bread cubes over the top and placed the skillet under the broiler. A few minutes later, there she was, a frittata suitable for breakfast or dinner, and crowned with butter and olive oil-toasted jewels. It was like eggs and toast yet so much more magnificent. Smiling, I brought the skillet to the table, happy with my discovery and knowing that a new era of frittatas for dinner had commenced.

Fried Bread Frittata

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or crème frâiche (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Four 1/2-inch thick baguette slices (day-old or fresh), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, green beans. fennel, artichokes–the list is endless)
  • 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) cheese, crumbled (such as goat cheese, blue cheese, cheddar, fresh mozzarella)
  • 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, or 3 tablespoons chopped chives

1. Whisk the eggs and heavy cream together with a good pinch of salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the baguette cubes and a generous pinch of salt, toss, and cook, turning often, until golden-brown and crunchy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan along with the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring often, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the vegetable(s) and pour the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the frittata followed by 2 tablespoons of Parm, then the croutons and lastly the final tablespoon of Parm. Cook until the edges of the frittata are set, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and turn the broiler on to high.

4. Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil over the frittata and place it in the oven. Broil until the eggs are set, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.

Woah, It’s Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4

Works great with cauliflower too.

  • 1 head broccoli, ends trimmed, stalks peeled and thinly sliced on a bias, crowns divided into florets
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°. Place the broccoli stems and florets in a large baking dish. Toss with the oil and a good few pinches of salt and roast until the florets are browned and frizzled, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Serve sprinkled with Parm.

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, eggs, Quick Food, Recipe, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

15 Minute, Healthy, Kid-Friendly Meal: Sesame Soba Noodles

Every Tuesday it’s my turn to make lunch for all of the kids at my son’s homeschooling cooperative. It’s tricky—while I want to make a lunch that all the kids will find tasty, I also want to use the opportunity to challenge their palates and open them up to new flavors. This is easy because A) there is a “courtesy portion” rule meaning that every kid has to try at least a bite or two before refusing to eat it and B) I know that there is sliced bread and some type of nut butter available as an emergency sandwich backup.

The most reliable way that I have found to get kids into new flavors is by introducing them via a familiar package. Some of the past lunches were lamb meatballs with the new flavor being lamb, and the familiar being the meatball-and-sauce package. Or, instead of rice and black beans, I made rice and lentils (mujadara).

Yesterday (Tuesday) I found myself quite flustered in the morning. You see, I’m used to working on pretty intense deadlines and I just made it through a wild twelve-week cookbook project that required I be at top game and also be hyper-organized. I turned the manuscript into my editor at Clarkson Potter on Monday afternoon, meaning that by Tuesday morning I was moving at zombie-speed. I tend to unravel a bit after a deadline, I’m loose and forgetful, I’m hazy, I’m sleepy. It subsides after a week or so. But I acknowledge that, yes, I get a bit dippy after a deadline (a huge sorry to the effervescent and ridiculously talented Melissa Clark who I interviewed one day post-deadline while I was at my floppiest).

So I found myself on Tuesday morning not knowing what to make for the kids. I nearly made (gasp!) pasta with butter and cheese. Shame on me, I thought. I opened the cupboards, rooted around, and came out triumphantly grasping a baton of soba noodles and a bottle of soy sauce. Kids love soy sauce and they certainly love spaghetti, so they’d surely love sesame soba noodles. Add ribboned carrots and chopped snow peas plus a dab of peanut butter and ginger for crunch, color, depth, and brightness and I had an easy-to-love meal that took (thankfully) barely a brain cell to make.

**I’m trying out a new recipe style below. Do you find it easier to follow? It seems that traditional recipe format doesn’t necessarily translate so well to blog-recipes, so am tinkering with recipe presentation. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sesame Soba Noodles with Carrots and Snow Peas

Serves 4 to 6

This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. The sauce, noodles, and cooked snow peas can happily sit out at room temperature for hours without being compromised—keep the sauce separate from the noodles and wait to toss just before serving.

1. In a medium bowl whisk together:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey

Use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off of a:

  • 1-inch piece gingerroot

Grate the ginger into the bowl with the soy mixture, stir, and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add:

  • 2 bundles soba noodles (about 6 ounces)

Once the noodles have about 1 minute left to cook (when you bite into a strand, it will have a slightly opaque center), add to the pot:

  • 1 snow peas, thinly sliced on a bias

Boil the soba and snow peas for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until both are tender and the snow peas are bright green. Drain through a sieve and then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and prevent the noodles from sticking together. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl stir in:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave:

  • 2 medium peeled carrots

Once the carrots are completely ribboned, roughly chop the ribbons into confetti-like bits. Add the carrots and the sauce to the noodles and stir to combine. Serve with:

  • Fresh cilantro

 

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Filed under Dinner, Recipe, Salad, Side dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

Side Dish or Center Plate? You decide: Broccoli-Brown Rice Pilaf with Garlic, Lemon, and Spiced Almonds

This is the first post in a weekly series on interesting, delicious, healthy side dishes. The side dish is often the forgotten component of a meal—it’s the rice, roasted potatoes, or simply buttered green beans. Sides, however, can be just as interesting and delicious as the main plus they present an incredible opportunity to get creative, try out new flavors, and figure out fun ways to get healthy and wholesome whole grains and veggies onto plates. Additionally, sides are often cheap to make and easy to turn into a vegetarian main dish (whether you’re vegetarian or not, it’s nice to add a meatless Monday or two into your week to lessen your family’s dependence on animal proteins which in turn helps the environment and your bottom line).

In this hearty pilaf, the rice and broccoli elements are easy to love, with familiar flavors like garlic and lemon. The slivered almonds are fried in olive oil until they’re golden and crunchy, and then get sprinkled with spices and salt. They’re little flavor grenades that absolutely explode when bitten into! And the cool part is that kids and adults can sprinkle them over their own portion as they wish. For some reason I love Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian spices with the nuts, but something more mellow, like a cumin mixed with paprika or chipotle chile powder with dried rosemary would be nice.

Broccoli-Brown Rice Pilaf with Garlic, Lemon, and Spiced Almonds

Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main

Once the spices hit the sizzling-hot almonds, the essential oils in the spices are released giving the nuts an even deeper, toastier flavor. These are fantastic added to salads, too. If using white rice instead of brown, reduce the cooking time for the rice by fifteen to twenty minutes.

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon full-flavored ground spice blend (such as ras el hanout, garam masala, za’atar)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • 3 cups finely chopped broccoli florets (from 2 medium stalks)
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or finely minced
  • 1/4 lemon, for serving (optional)

 

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook until golden brown, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula or slotted spoon to transfer the almonds to a plate (use tongs to help you get all the almond bits out of the pan—the pan gets reused for cooking the broccoli and you don’t want leftover almond pieces to burn); turn off the heat and set the pan aside. While hot, season with the spices and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are soft and browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring often, until it smelly toasty, about 2 minutes. Pour in 1 1/4 cups of water and the chicken broth (if using water instead of broth, add 3 1/4 cups total). Give the rice 1 stir, bring it to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. To test the rice, quickly remove a few grains using a fork—once it’s cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and let the rice steam for 5 minutes.

 

3. While the rice cooks, make the broccoli. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the remaining oil in the pan from the almonds and set it over medium-high heat. Let the oil get hot for 1 to 2 minutes and then add the broccoli. Let the broccoli brown in the pan without stirring until it turns bright green and has browned edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and toss to combine. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, stirring often, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the broccoli to a large bowl. Cover with the rice, squeeze the lemon over the top, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds just before serving. Taste and add more salt if needed.

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Filed under Dinner, Grains, Recipe, Side dish, Vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

Better Off Veg: Veggie Bahn Mi

There are some dishes in which meat seems superfluous at best. Like nachos. I mean with all that cheese, the sour cream, the salsa, the guac, the beans—is meat piled on top really necessary? Same goes for the McDonald’s cheeseburger—get it without the meat and I swear you’ll be thanking me. Bahn mi falls into this category too. I mean, don’t get me wrong—I love pâté. Like with toast points and cornichon and seedy mustard. But with the sweet-tang of the marinated carrots and daikon, the heat of the jalapeño, the citrus-herb kapow of cilantro, and the hot hit of Sriracha, porky pâté just kind of gets in the way, you know?

Which is why I started ordering it without. Oh, I got a few hairy raised brows—no meat? Did I want sautéed mushrooms instead (no.)? Tofu (no.)? Chicken (no.)? I got tired of justifying my no-meat bahn mi, so I decided to make it mi self (sorry, couldn’t resist).

For satiety’s sake, I make a killer spread-y sauce out of silken tofu, cilantro, jalapeños, and a spoonful of mayo (vegans can use vegan mayo, of course). This spread is so good you’ll be making it for tailgating and baby showers instead of onion dip, I swear (it’s also great made into bite-sized bahn-mi bruschetta). Next, I quickly dunk ribbons of carrots and daikon in a fish sauce-rice vinegar marinade (again, vegans can do a lime juice-sugar-tomato paste combo as a decent stand-in). I pile it all on a warm, crisp baguette (preferably a pillowy supermarket-style baguette and not a super crusty artisanal one—more times than not they’re just too tough) with a smear of sriracha, fresh cilantro, and chopped jalapeños. It’s a sandwich that’s all about getting it right, not trying to make do without.

Veggie Bahn Mi

Makes 4 sandwiches

1 12-ounce brick silken tofu

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and roughly chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 jalapeños, 1 finely chopped, 1 roughly chopped (seeded for less heat)

4 6-inch long Italian rolls or 2 small baguettes, ends trimmed, each loaf divided into two pieces

8 ounces daikon, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or shaved on a mandolin

3 carrots, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or shaved on a mandolin

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch thick rounds

1 cup fresh whole cilantro leaves

Sriracha chili sauce

Place the tofu, mayonnaise, ginger, the roughly chopped jalapeño, and the salt in a small food processor and purée. Transfer the sauce into a small bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the sandwiches (it will thicken a little as it chills).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set the rolls on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven until warm and the crust crackles when squeezed, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the rolls on a cutting board. Slice the rolls open leaving them connected at one side and set aside.

Place the daikon, carrots, fish sauce, and rice vinegar in a medium bowl and toss to combine.

Smear some of the tofu spread on the top half of each warm roll. Sprinkle the finely chopped jalapeños (if using) over the spread. Divide the carrot and daikon mixture between the rolls and top with a layer of cucumbers. Place some cilantro on top and then squeeze a few dots of Sriracha over the cilantro. Use the back of a spoon to push all of the ingredients toward the center of the roll. Press the roll closed and eat!

For Vegans: Use tofu-based mayonnaise in place of regular mayonnaise and substitute 3 tablespoons of lime juice whisked with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of tomato paste for the fish sauce. Check the label of the hot sauce to make sure there isn’t fish sauce in it.

Make Ahead: The tofu sauce can be made up to three days in advance. It makes a great dipping sauce for raw veggies, too.

Bahn Mi Bruschetta: Slice a baguette crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices. Toast the slices in a 350°F oven just until dry and no longer spongy, but not truly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then spread each slice with some tofu spread and then a few dots of Sriracha. Top with some diced jalapeños, a cucumber slice, some dressed carrots and daikon, and cilantro leaves. Serve.

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Filed under Appetizer, Dinner, Recipe, Sandwich, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

So Long, Farewell: The Last Heirloom Tomato (Panzanella Gratin)

My dad is a suspicious guy. He’s also as sharp as a tack and has a fiery temper—I mean, it’s not just anyone who gets booted out of the Israeli army for punching an officer, kicked off of a kibbutz and then sues for labor and time invested, and has the ability to invoke an airline passenger revolt when the plane is stuck on the tarmac for no good reason (did I mention he exists on pint glasses of Turkish coffee and two-packs of Marlboro reds a day? Maybe that explains a lot, actually).

Ever since Matt and I had our two boys, my dad comes for a visit every six to eight weeks, usually over a weekend. Meaning dad comes with me to the Saturday farmers market. Initially, he was excited for our weekend ritual. The massive heirloom tomatoes that are so much better than the vine-ripened ones “that taste like nothing” from the Devon Avenue fruit stand in Chicago. The Concord grapes he can smell from a block away. The okra he’ll inevitably turn into a slimy and under-seasoned mess of bamia, a Romanian okra, tomato, and garlic sauté (we all choke it down anyway). Dad loved Saturday mornings at the market. Walking down DeKalb with a coffee. Whistling like a bird to the toddlers along the way. Stopping to pet all the dogs and explain why he is such a natural with dogs, kids, staying healthy, getting around the law, solving the problems of the world, etc. etc. And then he got suspicious.

“How do you know they’re”—the “they” in question being the sleepy-eyed farmers who get up at the crack of dawn to drive the produce to the city or the crunchy gen-Y hipster selling produce in a thin flannel shirt and cut offs with oxfords—“not buying this stuff at the grocery store and selling it at a 100% profit? How do you know they’re not buying this stuff dirt cheap and re-selling it to you here in Yuppietown?”

“Because dad, I know,” I say.

My dad flies in this Saturday for a visit. I scheduled his flight to arrive after I’m already done with my Saturday morning Dough (oh those cinnamon sugar yeast-raised sell-your-soul-for-one donuts!) and farmers market run. That way, he can walk in the door,  admire the produce, and eat a nice salad without having to get on the offensive.

The sad bit is that heirloom tomatoes are done. My dad’s last visit was in June (an unusually long time ago) before the season started—this is his first visit since. Anticipating his arrival, I set aside what I suspected were the last two heirloom tomatoes I’d get my hands on this year. Two days to go and the tomatoes were splitting, fruit flies were swarming, and I was getting anxious.  I knew that their time had come. I turned them into a layered panzanella gratin, fueled by an intensely garlicky vinaigrette, lots of basil, and fused with goat’s milk Gouda. The boys ate it like pizza. I did what I do best—pick at the best bits in the pie plate—the crisp and crusty edges, the cheesy nuggets in the bottom of the dish, little bits of tomato-juice soaked bread. We feasted. Rhys beckoned “more, more!” The lentils and kielbasa I made as a kid-friendly backup lingered on the table ignored.

Sorry dad. I tried. You’ll just have to save your theories and suspicions for next season.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Gratin

Serves 6

3/4 baguette, thinly sliced into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

12 large basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large and ripe heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound each), cored and sliced into 1-inch rounds

1/2 pound mild, meltable cheese (such as a young goat’s milk Gouda or sheep’s milk Manchego or a blend of a few cheeses—but don’t use mozzarella as it’s too wet and stringy), grated

Heat the oven to 375°F. Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Use 2 tablespoons of the oil to brush both sides of the bread and then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the salt over the top. Toast the bread until it’s golden-brown around the edges and the surface is dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Raise the oven temperature to 450°F.

Whisk 2 tablespoons of oil with the lemon juice, garlic, basil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper in a small bowl.

Place as many bread slices as will fit in a single layer in the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate or a 9-inch baking dish. Cover with an even layer of tomato slices and then top with half of the basil and oil mixture. Top with half of the grated cheese and then press down on top of it to compress the layers. Repeat with another layer of bread slices, the rest of the tomatoes, the remaining basil-oil mixture, and the remaining cheese. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and place in the oven. Cook until the cheese is browned and sizzling, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. It’s great warm or served at room temperature.

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Filed under Brunch, Dinner, Recipe, Side dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

Toeing the Line of Summer: Sweet Corn, Scallion, and Basil Farrotto

There gets to be a point in the summer when I start to crave cold weather. I want to be back in the kitchen turning out batches of tender-melty chocolate chip cookies, braising pork shoulders and lamb shanks, and heating the oven to 500°F. for three-cheese pizza. At the first sign of fall, usually when the mornings start to require a light hoodie for seven a.m. coffee on the deck, it feels okay to think about cooking something a little more substantial than my lunchtime addiction of tomato, cucumber, and sriracha-mayo sandwiches and at night, anything off the grill.

Here on the East Coast, sweet corn comes into its own sometime in August. Sure, you can get it before then and it’s okay. But it’s in August and September when the corn is candy sweet and ripping-juicy. I love corn on the cob. LOVE. I mean hey, I’m a Midwesterner after all. Matt and the kids, well, they have more refined East Coast palates. They like they’re corn civilized and nicey-nice, sliced off the cob and delivered to the table in a mess-free package.

When the corn is sweet enough to eat raw, and fresh enough for its juices to run as white as milk, I make corn farrotto. Farro is an ancient grain—while it looks like rice, it’s actually emmer wheat, and has been cultivated for thousands upon thousands of years. It’s toasty, nutty, chew is absolutely lovely paired with sweet corn (sliced off the cob, of course). I like to keep the flavors as pure and clean as possible. So instead of chicken broth or even vegetable broth I make a corn stock from the kernel-shaved cobs and a little salt. With some scallions, a shallot, a nod of Parm, and some basil just because, it satisfies my craving for something fall-like and hearty without completely cutting my summer ties.

Farrotto doesn’t require as much stirring as Arborio or Carnaroli rice, the two varieties most commonly associated with risotto. So don’t think you have to stand over the stove and stir endlessly. Plus, it doesn’t give off lots of starch like risotto rice either, meaning the window of perfection is cracked a little wider. Enjoy that open window while you can—cold days are just around the corner.

 

Sweet Corn, Scallion, and Basil Farrotto

Serves 4

4 ears sweet corn, husked

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 scallions

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 3/4 cups farro, rinsed

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (more if you like)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Set a box grater inside of a large, wide mixing bowl and grate the ears of corn on the medium-hole side of the grater. Set the corn pulp aside. Place the cobs in a large pot, add 8 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the broth tastes sweet and corny. Remove the cobs from the broth and set aside. Pour the broth into a large liquid measuring cup; you should have about 5 to 6 cups of corn broth. Set aside. (If you have less than 4 cups, squeeze and “milk” the cobs over a bowl to extract more liquid. Or add enough water to equal 5 cups).

Finely chop the white parts of the scallions and set aside. Finely chop the green parts of the scallions (except for the top 1 1/2 inches of the greens—these can be tough) and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chopped white scallions, the shallots, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soft and starting to get sticky (if they start to color, reduce the heat to medium-low), 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the farro and cook until smells toasty, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth and stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat another 4 times until you have added 5 cups of liquid and about 35 minutes have passed. Taste the farro. It should taste like it needs another 5 minutes to cook, meaning it is slightly too al dente (when cooked perfectly, farro should have some chew but not hardness at its core—it won’t become as soft or porridgey as risotto rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli), which is perfect for now. (Don’t be tempted to add salt—Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is quite salty, so taste the farrotto for salt after stirring it in later.)

Mix in the reserved corn pulp and the chopped green scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pulp starts to threaten to stick to the bottom of the pot and the farro tastes less raw at the center, about 5 minutes longer (you can add more corn stock if you think it needs it). Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and the basil. Taste for salt, adding more if needed, and serve hot.

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Filed under Dinner, Grains, Recipe, Side dish, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main

Nachos for Grownups: Pork Chop Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce and a Fried Egg

Before we got married, my husband Matt and I used to eat nachos all the time. There was a little dive Mexican joint in Somerville, Mass. called Taqueria La Mexicana. It was ugly and barebones, but they did a mean nachos: crisp and fresh-fried tortilla chips, a smooth and thin swipe of refried beans, rojo sauce, and a slick of molten cheese with a crust of golden-brown goodness that ringed the platter’s edges. It was super cheap and outrageously delicious.

We got engaged and moved to Brooklyn. I can’t recall eating nachos here. Maybe for us, nachos, like JP Licks and candlepin bowling, were a Boston thing. All I know is that I grew out of nachos and started ordering dishes like chicken and smoky mole enchiladas or grilled quail with red pipian. Nachos? I loved them, I left them.

Then I met chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are a Mexican breakfast dish of day-old tortilla chips, shredded cooked chicken, green or red sauce, grated cheese, raw onions, crema, and often times a fried egg to top it off. It’s one of those, “hey, I’m starved, what can I do with last night night’s leftovers” dishes born from frugality, common sense, and hunger. And they’re a heck of a lot like nachos.

Matt and I ate chilaquiles the day after we got married. The day we got married, Hurricane Ivan tore threw Brooklyn (I have now survived a hurricane—okay tropical depression—a tornado, AND an earthquake in Brooklyn). The rain came down in angry sheets. Our plans for a little garden party and movie screening in our backyard were kaput. We got married under a canopy of heavy clouds, but during and after the ceremony the sky didn’t shed a tear. It was cool and lovely with a stunning Brooklyn Bridge sunset that made up for the earlier turmoil.

Most East Coasters can tell you that the day after a hurricane is a stellar one. Shockingly blue skies, piercing sun, a calm and civilized breeze. That was how it was the day after our wedding. Matt and I walked down the street to Moe’s, a little bar in Fort Greene where there was a guy who made a mean bloody Mary. It was Sunday. Perhaps past noon. We ordered a round of drinks and took them outside. We ordered chilaquiles. We began.

Pork Chop Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce and a Fried Egg

Serves 4

To make this a vegetarian dish, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and lose the pork. Simmer the sauce uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. To gild the lily, sprinkle shredded mozzarella or Mexican melting cheese like Asadero, Oaxaca, or Chihuahua over the sauce-covered chips and broil to melt. Top with the egg before serving.

For the sauce

2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved

1 large red onion, halved and sliced into wedges

6 unpeeled garlic cloves

1 jalapeño

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon if your tortilla chips are heavily salted)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

For the chilaquiles

2 thick bone-in pork rib chops (8 to 10 ounces each)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cups (6 good handfuls) good-quality thick-cut yellow corn tortilla chips

4 large eggs

For the tomatillo sauce: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the tomatillos, red onions, garlic, and jalapeño in a large baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with the salt, and toss to combine. Roast until the tops of some of the tomatillos and onions are blistered and blackened, about 1 hour (there will be a nice amount of liquid in the pan).

Remove the pan from the oven. Use tongs to pull out the garlic cloves and jalapeño and, once cool enough to handle, slip the garlic out of their papery husks (gently press one end and they should pop right out) and split and seed the jalapeño (if you want a fiery sauce, skip this step and add use the jalapeño whole). Transfer everything to the bowl of a food processor and buzz until pretty smooth. Pour in the chicken broth and add the cilantro, and process until smooth. Set aside.

For the chilaquiles: Place the pork chops on a cutting board and use a paper towel to blot both sides dry. Mix the paprika, coriander, cumin, oregano, and salt in a small dish and use it to season both sides of the chops. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the pork chops on both sides until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Reduce the heat to low and pour in the tomatillo sauce. Use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, cover, and cook, gently scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, until the pork is very tender, for 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes, and shreds easily (test this by removing one chop and slicing off a piece of meat—if it shreds into thin-ish strands, it’s done). Turn off the heat. Use tongs to pull the chops out of the sauce and set aside on a plate. Once cool enough to handle, use your fingers to shred the pork. Set aside.

Add the chips to the pot and use tongs to turn them to coat in the sauce (if you use thick tortilla chips they won’t get soggy). Divide the chips between plates and top with some of the shredded pork.

Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook until the white is turning golden brown around the edges. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the white is cooked through and the yolk is still runny (or cover and cook to get a white film over the yolk if you like your eggs basted).  Use a spatula to slide an egg on top of each pile of tortillas and serve.

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, eggs, Pork, Recipe, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Main