Tuesday, April 17, 2012

3 recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow

I have not posted about food or recipes for a while so I think that tonight I will pay homage to Gwyneth Paltrow. For Christmas I received four different cookbooks, and the one I was most intimidated by but desired the most was Paltrow's My Father's Daughter. Needless to say, I love it.

At first I would pour over it's pages and have no idea what I wanted to make. Then, I sat down and began to actually read it. In fact there is a chapter called "How to use this book." In it, Paltrow lays out essentials for your pantry. [I am going to digress for just a moment and posit that keeping my pantry stocked has been one of my most challenging cooking chores. Living with my parents, the pantry held every spice possible, extra pasta and rice, canned tomatoes, etc. Now that I have an adequate kitchen and a husband to cook for, I am getting a bit better. I try to put items on my grocery list before I am almost out and a stock up on a few items every trip to the grocery store (although today I walked solo to the store and had to be able to carry everything back).] Needless to say, the lists are helpful.

Eventually, I dove in to the book. One of the first recipes I used was for a homemade chicken stock. I must admit, I felt like quite the chef when the product was successful and I had tender chicken to add to salads, or whatever else struck my fancy. One of the things that I admire most about this book are it's basics, like how to make and freeze your own chicken stock, how to make your own vegan mayo, or how to roast your own tomatoes. However, I don't always want to make the basics. Sometimes I want to throw everything together in 20 minutes. Herein lies Paltrow's niche, the basics meet simplicity and flavor.

For example, deli coleslaw. The trick to this recipe is my food processor. But here is Paltrow's recipe:

1/2 small green cabbage, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 carrot, peeled, coarsely grated (I do a whole carrot just because)
1/2 cup Veganaise (I use olive oil mayo)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sgar

Toss the cabbage with a healthy pinch of salt and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Let the coleslaw get to know itself for at least an hour or 2, but it is really best to let it sit over night.

I made this for the first time a week or so ago. I am not a huge fan of coleslaw, but it tasted wonderfully fresh. Tonight I made another batch for our our Cooking Light BBQ chicken sandwiches (thank god for rotisserie chicken and barely any cooking tomorrow!).

Last week I made Fried Zucchini Spaghetti - it is pretty much like it sounds. Fried zucchini and spaghetti. Believe it or not, it is a nice, light dinner.

3/4 pound spaghetti
coarse salt
3 zucchini very thinly slice (I used 2 b/c I misread)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-pupose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 T EVOO
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup pasta water to thin
Freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Boil spaghetti until just al dente. Meanwhile, toss the zucchini with the flour. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat and add as much zucchini as will fit in a single layer. Cook until well-browned and crispy (about 4 minutes). Repeat until all the zucchini is cooked.

Meanwhile, whisk the cheese together with the remaining 2 T of olive oil. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the past water. You can add more water if necessary. You want a creamy sauce. Drain the spaghetti and add to cheese mixture. Toss with salt and pepper and fold in 2/3 of the fried zucchini and all of the basil. Portion out the pasta and evenly distribute the rest of the zucchini on top.

This is a delicious dinner. Stephen and I had fun cooking it together. The only downside: it is not the best leftover because the zucchini does not stay crispy.

Tonight I made arugula and tomato pasta. The husband was at the Brewer game, so I did the grocery shopping, made dinner for myself (with extras for our lunches), made the coleslaw, and did my yoga practice. Yes, I am tired, but back to the recipe:

2 T EVOO
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed (I used my meat cleaver!)
3 14 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound spaghetti
3 ounces arugula (3 handfuls)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the EVOO in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, ad the garlic, chile flakes, and fennel, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until very fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and let the sauce cook on a low boil for 1 hour.

About 10 minutes before eating, boil the spaghetti in salted boiling water. A minute before it's al dente, add the arugula to the pasta pot. Drain the pasta and arugula and toss with the tomato sauce. Serve with plenty of Parmesan.

I did make a few errors with this recipe tonight. I didn't put in quite as many tomatoes as the recipe called for, I wanted to make a smaller batch. I forgot, however, and added more than the required pasta. I also used whole wheat penne, which made it a bit drier. But, even with those snafus, it was delicious. I will keep you posted on how the leftovers taste.

With the arugula and tomato pasta, I did not read the recipe correctly the first time and did not know that I would have to simmer the sauce for an hour. In the end, I was able to let the sauce simmer, make coleslaw, and do yoga. So overall, a terrific use of time.

So, there you have 3 healthy, basic, and simple recipes. Enjoy!