Monday, April 8, 2013

One Bold Flavor: Weekly Menu 4/8/13

Easier Simpler Better Weekly Menu: family friendly dinners with bold flavors

Hello friends! Were you away on a spring break trip recently like we were? While out of town, we ate out for every lunch and dinner, so by the time we came home, I was looking forward to home-cooked meals. But after eating a lot of restaurant meals, what comes out of your own kitchen can seem pretty bland by comparison.

This week's recipes have something in common - each dish features at least one BOLD flavor, such as pesto, balsamic vinegar or hoisin sauce. What do I mean by bold? Rich, complex, sweet, creamy, tart, bright... the kind of flavors that will wake you up for spring.

Need some other recipes with bold flavors? Try these past faves:


Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Pasta with Pestor Cream Sauce and Diced Tomatoes
 The original recipe called for homemade pesto sauce, but I substituted some awesome pesto from a local farmer's market and that really streamlined this dish. This was a huge hit in our house.

Sides: Simple green salad with a vinaigrette

  • Use high quality pre-grated Parmesan cheese
 Make Ahead Notes
  • Dice tomatoes and refigerate
  • Fill pot with water and place on stove for cooking pasta later
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup high quality prepared pesto sauce (use the amount based on your taste - you can add gradually to the cream-butter mixture to see how much you like)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 12 ounces dried pasta (a shape such as cavitappi, fusilli)
  • 2 whole tomatoes, diced
  • Cook pasta until al dente.
  • Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pesto and stir. 
  • Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour pesto cream over the top. Toss to combine. Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly. Serve immediately.
Adapted recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Soy-Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary

Soy Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary
Your kitchen will smell like heaven while this is cooking.

Sides: Couscous or mashed potatoes - something to soak up that sauce!

Make Ahead Notes
  • Mix first 5 ingredients (vinegar through pepper) in baking dish and set aside for later
  • Chop rosemary
  • Peel and chop shallots
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • black pepper
  • One 3.5- to 4-pound chicken, cut into pieces (cut breasts through bone in half horizontally)
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Heat oven to 425° F. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, rosemary, honey, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a 9-by-13-inch or another shallow 3-quart baking dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat, and place skin-side down.
  • Toss the shallots with the oil in a medium bowl and arrange on top of the chicken.
  • Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn the pieces skin-side up and continue to roast, basting occasionally, until the shallots are tender, the chicken is glazed, and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 165° F, 15 to 20 minutes more. (Tent the dish loosely with foil if the chicken browns too quickly.) 
  • OPTIONAL: Preheat the broiler. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up. Broil on the middle rack of the oven just until the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes.
Adapted recipe from Real Simple

Sesame Pork Wraps

Sesame Pork with Hoisin Sauce and Green Onions in Wraps with edamame
This is a go-to recipe in our house that's fun to eat and can be made spicier or saucier at the table, depending on your tastes. I always double this recipe.

Sides: Steamed edamame beans, pan-fried pot stickers

  • Use jarred, grated fresh ginger (usually found near jarred, minced garlic in grocery stores)
Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine oil, ginger, salt, pepper, and garlic in bag and add pork (already trimmed and cut into strips); marinate all day if needed
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 moo shu shells or flour tortillas
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • Sliced green onions
  • Trim fat from pork, and cut into thin strips. Combine pork and next 5 ingredients (pork through garlic) in a zip-top heavy-duty plastic bag; seal bag, and shake well to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes or longer as needed.
  • Heat moo shu shells or tortillas according to package directions.
  • Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray; and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork mixture; stir-fry 4 minutes or until done. Do not overcook the pork! It should still be slightly pink in the middle to keep it juicy.
  • Divide pork mixture evenly among warm moo shu shells or tortillas. Drizzle hoisin sauce over pork mixture, add green onions and roll up.
 Adapted recipe from Cooking Light

Extra Credit: Chickpea & Spring Green Salad

Chickpeas with Spring Green Salad and a Lemon Vinaigrette
This salad was so good, I made it twice in one week recently after trying it. It's a great side dish, but would also be perfect for lunch on its own or with soup.

Make Ahead Notes
  • Drain and rinse beans, allow to dry a bit
  • Slice green onions and radishes
  • Grate cheese
  • Combine vinaigrette ingredients
  • One 15-oz can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 3 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry (arugula is a good addition too)
  • 6 green onions thinly sliced, bulbs + greens included
  • 3 medium radishes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 oz semi-hard cheese, freshly grated, such as Asiago or Pecorino 
For vinaigrette
  • Zest & juice from one small lemon
  • 5 – 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Generous amounts salt (about 1/2 tsp) & freshly ground pepper (about 1 tsp)
  • In a large bowl combine chickpeas, spinach, green onions and radishes. Toss to mix.
  • In a small bowl, combine lemon zest & juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper. Whisk well to combine and emulsify the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, tossing as you go; stop adding when most of the spinach leaves are coated, but there is no dressing gathering at the bottom of the bowl (I used only about half the total amount of dressing). Reserve remaining dressing. Toss well and allow the spinach leaves to wilt slightly; add grated cheese and toss again. Cheese should dissolve into the dressing somewhat, making the dressing richer but without adding an overall cheese flavor. Taste and adjust amounts of vinaigrette, cheese, salt or pepper. Serve immediately.
Adapted recipe from Local Kitchen blog

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