Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip & Pita Chips

Need an appetizer idea for Superbowl Sunday? This smooth Lemon Garlic White Bean dip whips up quickly in the food processor (or blender) and packs a whollop of flavor due to the soft cannelli beans, the garlic and lemon, and of course the hot peppers.

Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip

White bean dip flavored with garlic, lemon, and a kick from pimientos (or jalapenos)

You can serve the dip with chips or crackers, but I prefer to use pita crisps, which you can make easily and for far less than the cost of a bag of chips. Just cut pitas into wedges, brush with a bit of oil, and season with your choice of flavors. Bake for a few minutes. That’s it! Easy peasy.

Oh, one more tidbit about the dip: it tastes fantastic spread onto toast and suffices quite nicely as a quick snack between meals.

Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannelli beans, drained and rinsed (cannelli beans also go by Northern Beans or white beans)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest (from one medium-large lemon)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento (I used 1/2 of a pickled jalapeno instead, finely diced + 1/2 tsp. of the jalapeno pickling juice)
  • 2 tbsp. minced parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan Pink salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, zest, lemon juice, and oil; blend until very smooth.
  2. Place in a small bowl, then stir in pimientos, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  3. Serve at room temperature with pita crisps, tortilla chips, or crackers.

SOURCE: 200 Appetizers by Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes

Pita Chips

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package pita bread (about 8 pitas), white or wheat
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Stir to thoroughly  mix. Using pastry brush, spread mixture onto both sides of each pita.
  2. Stack pita bread, then use a large knife to cut pitas into 6-8 wedges. Arrange wedges in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, though!

Pesto Perfection–A Magical Basic Pesto Recipe with Tips to Ensure Success

In my youth, my mom never cooked with pesto, so it was totally unfamiliar to me. In my twenties, I watched my hippie-like roommate scooping green gunk out of a jar and mixing it with her pasta. “Ugh,” I thought. I didn’t know what she was eating, but it didn’t look appealing at all. When I asked about it, she told me it was pesto. Well, it wasn’t something I had an urge to try.

Pesto remained nonexistent in my life until I married a few years ago, a couple decades after my first observation about the green stuff. My hubby purchased a jar of Classico brand pesto on one of our grocery trips and ended up slathering it all over a piece of fish prior to baking; we LOVED it. We’ve since baked wahoo, yellowtail, and albacore with it.

In my pursuit to make as much homemade, fresh food as possible, I’ve attempted pesto several times. Hubby always said the jarred stuff was better. I persevered, though, determined to make pesto from scratch that surpassed the storebought stuff.

And now I’ve hit the jackpot! Woo hoo!!

I found the Cave Woman Cafe post about pesto, aptly titled “Pesto Magic.” Indeed, her method has transformed my creations into something magical, something I could eat an entire jar of, spoonful by spoonful. Yep, it’s that good.

So, for those not in the know, what is pesto? It’s an Italian sauce traditionally made with crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The name originated from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound, to crush. You see, the original method of making pesto involved crushing the ingredients using a mortar and pestle. Nowadays, the food processor makes quick and easy work of mixing up a batch of this green sauce.

Pesto, however, involves many variations. Just swap the basil for another herb…or swap the pine nuts for another nut…or try out different cheeses. Experiment to your heart’s content. Since my basil is overflowing in the garden, I’ve only tried the basil pesto. And since I can purchase the outrageously expensive pine nuts in small quantities from the bulk bins at Sprouts or Whole Foods, the cost doesn’t break my bank. I love the lightness of the pine nuts.

Some day, I will test out other herbs and nuts, spreading my wings beyond basil and pine nuts. For now, I’m hooked on basil and pine nut pesto.

Let me now present to you the simple and brief list of magical secrets I learned from Cave Woman Cafe that transformed my pesto success:

Pesto Magic Secrets

  1. Use a light olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil. When mixed in the food processor, the bitter-tasting polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil come out in full force, leaving a bitter aftertaste in the pesto. This ingredient created the turning point in my pesto journey!
  2. Coarsely chop everything before processing.
  3. If using basil, add equal parts parsley and basil to the pesto. This will keep the sauce bright green as it ages. Otherwise, the pesto turns an unappealing army-green color. I’ve read, too, that blanching basil in lightly salted water for 10-15 seconds followed by dunking it in ice water keeps the pesto a vibrant green.
  4. Lightly toast the nuts helps to maximize flavor. Either toast in a pan on the stovetop or roast in the oven for a few minutes at 350 degrees F. With either method, keep an eye on the nuts so they don’t burn. (However, I read an article in the New York Times about a small company called Buddhapesto that has had great success in selling homemade pesto. The owner uses raw pine nuts, no toasting, to allow its flavor to shine.)

Pesto Uses

Lastly, I’ve thought about various uses for pesto, especially since I intend to make and freeze batches and batches of it to use up the various herbs voraciously sprouting in my garden:

  • mix it with pasta
  • slather it on fish before baking
  • spread it on a sandwich (especially yummy with panini)
  • stir some into minestrone or other soups
  • smear it all over an omelet
  • daub it on scallops
  • dip apple slices into it
  • layer it with cheese on bread
  • rub it on grilled chicken or turkey
  • mingle it into ricotta when you make lasagna(or try the recipe at Italian Dish)
  • use it in pasta salad
  • add it in salad dressing
  • toss it with veggies or potatoes
  • dunk baked potato wedges into it
  • coat pizza dough with it instead of tomato sauce, then add cheese and chicken
  • combine it with tuna for tuna fish sandwiches

Basic Pesto Recipe

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of lightly toasted nuts, coarsely chopped (pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds,  macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • 2 cups of leafy, packed fresh herbs or greens, coarsely chopped (basil, parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary, spinach, arugula, mint, chives, scallions, garlic scapes, etc.)
  • 2-5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly minced
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of grated dry aged cheese (parmesan, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino romano, asagio)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup light olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt or more to taste (I prefer using Himalayan Pink Salt, which I bought at Sprouts)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In your food processor or blender, frothify the herbs, garlic, and lemon juice.
  2. Add the nuts and keep the contraption mixing as you toss in the cheese.
  3. With the machine still humming away, slowly add the olive oil and process until the desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Sprinkle in the salt; mix. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  5. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Can also be frozen for several months (try freezing in ice cube trays, then storing cubes in a freezer bag).

SOURCES: adapted from Cave Woman Cafe (she offers several variations on her  post); see The Kitchn for another pesto recipe

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

I have mega folders in my computer filled with recipes, all very neatly organized. In the “Sides” folder, each veggie has its own file. However, the “Kale” folder was empty when I began searching for a new recipe to cook up the abundance of kale growing in my garden. I use kale regularly in green smoothies and in my favorite salad, the Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad. I needed something new, though. So off to the internet to search for inspiration.

A garlicky mushrooms and kale recipe sounded appetizing, but I wanted a fuller meal. Hence, I mixed this with some pasta and voilà, a main dish was born, one that is pungent with garlic and earthy with mushrooms, yet the pasta mellows it all out.

By the way, the “kale” file in the veggies folder is still empty since I turned this into a main dish, but I did accomplish the goal of finding a new use for kale.

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter, unsalted
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 ounces Cremini or button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound kale, coarse stems removed, leaves sliced or torn into pieces
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat water to boiling. Add a tbsp. of salt, then add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside while veggies cook.
  2. In a large skillet, add oil, butter, and garlic. Turn heat on to medium and sauté garlic for about 2 minutes, until it begins to sizzle and smell fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Let them cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are lightly browned.
  4. Add the kale and pepper, and sauté for about 10 more minutes. (Cover pan with lid if the kale needs some help cooking down.) Add splashes of water if the pan seems dry. OR, as an alternative, you can blanch the kale for a few seconds, perhaps 10-20, and that will retain the bright green color while tenderizing the greens a bit.
  5. Mix pasta with veggies and serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Serious Eats

Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

We arrived home after a 10-day trip to find 25 cucumbers had ripened on our vines!! And that’s not counting the 25+ picked prior to the trip, most of which we gave away. Next year we know to plant less cucumber seeds :  )

For now, though, I need to find ways to use these up, and one of my tastiest involves grating the cucumber to mix with yogurt and garlic and lemon juice for tzatziki sauce.

I used to think tzatziki was made from mayonnaise, one of my least-liked foods, so I avoided it like the plague. Then one day I found courage to taste it when I learned it was made from yogurt. And I loved it! So light and refreshing yet with the slight lemon zing offset by the bite of garlic.

I’ve actually made this a few times in the past few months but haven’t managed to get a decent picture worth posting until now. Sometimes I’ve followed the chicken marinade from this recipe; sometimes I’ve just baked it with seasonings sprinkled on it. It’s the tzatziki that gives the gyros the ultimate flavor, in my opinion.

I’ve tried a variety of pitas for this: homemade (time consuming and labor intensive), Trader Joe’s, and the local Farmer’s Market. All of them have broken when folded and fall apart. I’m still searching for a pita that will be soft and pliable like the one from Athen’s West, a local Greek fast food joint. Or maybe I need to learn how to heat these so they become pliable, though I’ve tried wrapping them in foil and sticking in the oven for a few minutes. I’ll keep searching for both a pita and a heating method that work.

However, in the meantime, I find just the leftover chicken pieces dipped into the tzatziki sauce quite yummy for next-day’s lunch, so the pita can be left out altogether–but then you wouldn’t actually have gyros…just a dipping sauce for chicken. Delicious either way!

Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

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INGREDIENTS

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt, water drained out for at least 2 hours…or use Greek yogurt, which requires no draining (save 2 heaping tbsp. for chicken marinade)
  • 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill, minced (I haven’t actually included dill when I’ve made it but have seen it in other recipes)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice (then use rest of juice for chicken marinade)
  • extra virgin olive oil

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 1/4 lbs. chicken (I use two boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Other

  • pita bread
  • 1-2 tomatoes, diced
  • lettuce (or cucumbers)
  • red onion, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Tzatziki Sauce

  1. If using plain yogurt, strain the yogurt using a sieve placed over a bowl; cover with foil and let drain for at least 2 hours up to overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Shred the peeled and seeded cucumber. Wrap in cheesecloth or a sturdy paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  3. Mix cucumber, yogurt, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, salt and pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Note: the sauce can be made at least a day in advance.

Chicken

  1. Mix the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the chicken breasts; mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.
  3. Cook the chicken, either in a skillet or under the broiler. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into strips.

Assembly

  1. Heat pitas: either spray with olive oil and pop in toaster oven for a few minutes or wrap in foil and heat for 5-10 minutes in oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.

SOURCE: adapted from Annie’s Eats who adapted from Elly Says Opa!

Chopped Salad with Tuna (and a way to use up cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes from garden abundance)

When I had a wedding shower five years ago, I received The South Beach Diet book from a dear friend. Looking up in puzzlement after I opened it, for I was slim and trim back then and in need of no diet, she laughed and announced, “I didn’t buy it for you to diet. I thought you would like some of the recipes in it.”

Well, this dear friend is my summer scrapbooking buddy, and a couple of summers ago we decided to serve our scrapbooking-day lunches solely from the South Beach books since we both owned them. It forced us to explore some of the recipes, and we found quite a few that we continue to make.

One such dish is this Chopped Salad with Tuna. Not only is it loaded with healthy veggies and protein from the tuna, but the dressing adds quite a punch of flavor for it includes tangy lime juice, pungent garlic, and spicy pepper.

Although the recipe calls for lime juice, I often use lemon instead simply because it’s more accessible to me since we have a lemon tree in the backyard. I have begun buying limes, though, and freezing the juice in ice-cube trays then storing them in Ziploc baggies after frozen–very handy and useful for the variety of recipes I come across that call for lime juice.

And rather than layer all the chopped items as the recipe states, I mix it all up, including dressing.

I highly recommend trying this salad. It’s easy, healthy, and delish.

Chopped Salad with Tuna

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Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 1 can (6 oz.) water-packed tuna
  • 1/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/3 cup chopped avocado
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped radishes
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

Dressing

  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Salad

Layer the tuna, cucumber, tomato, avocado, celery, radishes, and lettuce in a decorative glass bowl.

Dressing

Mix the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and pepper. Drizzle over the salad.

SOURCE: The South Beach Diet (page 140)

Garlic Knots–Pillowy Soft Clouds of Heaven

If you could take a bite of a cloud, it would taste like these bread rolls: soft, light, and airy.

Oh so soft. Oh so light. Oh so airy.

And oh so heavenly.

And oh so hard to eat only one. Not possible. Sorry tummy–can’t help myself.

These aren’t hard to make. You just need time for the dough to rise once, then again after actually tying the dough ropes into knots.

Yes, you actually make knots! I get such a kick out of this step. It’s so cool when they are baked to see the fancy shape and know I made them.

Here’s how:

1. Tie the rope of dough into a knot

2. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center

3. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center.

The dough requires some kneading, so if you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook, flex those muscles! Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic–that means until when you touch a finger to it, the dough doesn’t stick. However, each time I’ve mixed this, the dough sticks slightly to my finger. When I actually get to the knotting step, I just sprinkle some flour on my hands and on the rolling surface until it stops sticking.

The first time I made these, I followed the instructions, which said to make ten rolls. They came out HUGE. Like big enough to make sandwiches with the next day (and quite tasty ones with this bread, I might add). The second time I made twelve rolls. Better–but I still want cute little slightly-larger-than-bite-size rolls, so I’ll keep dividing the dough into more portions until I get the sizing just right.

Maybe I’m better off making them big, though. With smaller sizes I’ll just psyche myself into thinking I can eat more when I already stuff myself silly with these delicious bites of pillow-y softness. Oh, who am I kidding? These are so yummy I have no self control no matter what size they are!

 

I glaze before baking so garlic pieces come out crunchy; you can glaze afterward, too.

Garlic Knots

 

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Ingredients

For the dough

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast (FYI: this is not an entire pkg. of yeast)
  • 1¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water

For the glaze

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the olive oil, milk and water.  Mix until ingredients have formed a dough.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope and tie into a knot.  Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center.  Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center.  (Alternatively, you can roll the dough into a 10×12-inch square, then use a pizza dough cutter to cut the dough into twelve 10-inch strips–a lot less rolling this way but  oh-so-much more fun to roll the individual pieces of dough, in my opinion.)
  6. Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a baking sheet lined with a silpat.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
  7. To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic or press it through a garlic press.  Mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls.  Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving. (I’ve also seen a few blogs that brush the glaze on after the rolls have baked. I’ve even seen one blog in which the rolls are tossed in the glaze mixture. I like the slight crunchiness of the garlic, though, after it has baked in the oven.)

SOURCE:  Annie’s Eats

Heavenly Herb Bread

We don’t have bread very often with dinner; we just aren’t big bread people. However, I had some extra baguette leftover from the French Onion Soup I made and needed to use it up. How opportune, then, that I came across this recipe for Herb Bread around that same time. I love it when life works out so conveniently like that.

My parents are big bread eaters, mind you. Always a loaf of French Bread or a baguette lying around the kitchen. My mom used to slice the loaves in half lengthwise, slather with butter and garlic powder, wrap in foil, and bake until warm and crispy. Mmmmm, mmmmm good. So when I saw this recipe, it reminded me of that childhood warm-tummy yummy. And I had to make it. Immediately.

I love the fresh parsley and garlic mashed in with the butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, then slathered on the slices of bread. Oh heaven! I could make a meal just out of a loaf of bread with this spread. Instead, it accompanied a piping hot bowl of  Chicken Tortilla Soup; however, this bread would perfectly complement the Tortellini Soup recently posted, too.

Herb Bread

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fresh baguette
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. On a clean cutting board or in a bowl, use a fork to mash together softened butter, garlic, and chopped parsley.
  3. Once incorporated, drizzle olive oil over the butter mixture and work in the olive oil.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and blend with the fork.
  5. Slice baguette into thick slices, not slicing all the way through the loaf but keeping the slices connected.
  6. Spread butter mixture between bread slices.
  7. Wrap baguette in foil and bake for 10 minutes or until butter is melted and fragrant.
  8. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

SOURCE: Joy the Baker

Roasted Veggies with Caper Gremolata

Looking for an alternative to steamed veggies?

Looking for a light, fresh flavor?

Looking for easy?

Then I’ve got the recipe for you!

Tonight my body craved veggies. Veggies only. No protein. No starch. And no more sugar. I needed a cleansing from eating too big a slice of leftover Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake (to be posted soon), hence the veggie calling.

However, steamed veggies just sounded booooorrrrrrring! I feel like that’s all we ever do with veggies.

So into the mega notebook with clipped recipes yet-to-try…and VOILA! Roasted veggies. Yes, that would do. Simple list of ingredients, all on hand. Easy-on-the-tummy items, a necessity with all that cheesecake sitting in there. And quick. Love the quick ones.

Chop up a few items. Mix. Sprinkle. Done. And yum.

Oh, and what is gremolata? I was wondering the same thing, so here is what I learned: it’s a condiment made of chopped herbs, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley, and it usually accompanies braised veal. Tasted pretty good on veggies in my opinion.

Roasted Veggies with Caper Gremolata

 

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INGREDIENTS

Gremolata

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

 

Veggies

  • 7 cups chopped veggies (I used broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, squash, zucchini; original recipe calls for pattypan squash, halved lengthwise and baby zucchini, trimmed)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Gremolata

  1. Combine gremolata ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Veggies

  1. Combine veggies and 2 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 475 degrees F for 15 minutes or until veggies are tender and lightly browned, stirring after 7 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle gremolata over veggies. Serve immediately.

Serves 8 (1/4 cup serving size)

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine, Summer 2010

Bruschetta with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

When I think of bruschetta, I think of garlic, chopped tomatoes, and basil spooned onto a slice of toasted baguette. Cooks Illustrated magazine taught me differently, though. I learned that this appetizer is from Italy and originally consisted of a piece of toasted country bread rubbed with garlic and oil. The spread on top can be much more than our typical U.S. version of tomato chunks, however.

The cooks at America’s Test Kitchen offer three flavor combos, but I’m only going to share one because thus far it is the only one I’ve tried…several times since I got the Sept/Oct 2010 issue, actually. It’s so scrumptious that I keep returning to it instead of trying the other bruschettas, too.

I now keep cans of artichoke hearts on hand so when the desire for this appetizer strikes, I can easily whip it up. And easy it is. Just place the ingredients in a food processor, pulse, and it’s ready to go!

I love how the magazine calls the recipes “smart flavor combinations” and “punchy, concentrated flavors.” Indeed this recipe has concentrated flavors that meld for a taste bud sensation: the sharp tang of cheese, the slight punch of lemon, and the sweet nutty flavor of the artichoke. And of course the pop of pepper. Ah, how I love food.

So, serve this as an appetizer to be the hit of the party, or just make a meal out of it by substituting this for dinner :  )

Bruschetta with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 2 tbsp. finely shredded fresh basil leaves
  • table salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, 1 oz. finely grated (about 1/4 cup), 1 oz. shaved into strips with vegetable peeler
  • 3/4-inch slices of baguette, toasted and lightly rubbed with peeled garlic clove

DIRECTIONS

Toasted Bread

  1. Turn on broiler. Adjust oven rack so it is about 4 inches from heating element.
  2. Slice baguette into 3/4-inch crosswise slices, and place on foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. When artichoke mixture is done and right before ready to serve, broil baguette slices until bread is golden, about 1-2 minutes per side (keep your eye on them so they don’t burn!).
  4. Lightly rub one side of bread slices with garlic clove and brush with extra-virgin olive oil.
  5. Pulse artichoke hearts, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in food processor until coarse puree forms, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing.
  6. Add grated Parmesan and pulse to combine, about two 1-second pulses.
  7. Divide artichoke mixture among toasts and spread to edges.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan.
  9. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

SOURCE: Cooks Illustrated magazine, Sept/Oct 2010 issue

Garlic-Lemon Green Beans

I used these green beans as the side to accompany our scallops and rice dinner one night. It was a flavorful change of pace compared to the plain ol’ steamed green beans we usually make. The combo of butter, garlic, red pepper, thyme, broth, and lemon created quite a sensation for the taste buds. None of the ingredients overpowered any of the others; rather, they melded together to create an almost creamy texture with a slight hint of kick from the pepper and a slight tang from the lemon. Finally, the sprinkling of pan-fried bread crumbs added a crunchy texture with the savoriness of the Parmesan enhancing the dish overall.

I do offer one bit of advice, though: Do not make these if the main dish requires too much time and attention, for the green beans need time and attention as well. I said I made these with a scallop dish, and both had me going nuts at the stove because they each needed my careful monitoring.

Garlic-Lemon Green Beans

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices high-quality sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters (I used bread crumbs instead)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Process bread in food processor to even, fine crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when melted, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and the cheese; set aside.
  4. Wipe out skillet. Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in green beans. Add chicken broth and cook until beans are partly tender but still crisp at center, about 4 minutes.
  6. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs, and serve.

SOURCE: The New Recipe Book, page 136