Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pan Bagnat

I have wanted to post about this sandwich ever since I started Green and Lean back in January 2009! But for one reason or another I kept putting it off. Well, not any longer!

What is a Pan Bagnat you ask? Well, it's basically my favorite salad ever, the Nicoise, on a baguette. In a nutshell, this is the perfect picnic food.

Essential elements of a good Nicoise salad are: greens, hard boiled eggs, kalamata or nicoise olives, and a protein (usually tuna but chicken or white beans are a good substitute).

I blended my kalamata olives into a lovely tapenade with garlic, lemon juice, anchovy paste, and olive oil. Then I mixed up my tuna (actually sardines!) with some sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and capers.

Spread some tapenade on your baguette (I grilled mine for extra crunch). Layer spring greens, tuna mixture, sliced eggs, and more greens. Press the sandwich together or wrap in cling wrap to bind it all together.

The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend. It pairs wonderfully with a bottle of white or rose wine and some watermelon. As I said - perfect picnic food for summertime!

Pan Bagnat (aka French Nicoise Salad on a Baguette)
French crusty baguette, sliced lengthwise
Black olive tapenade, store bought or homemade
2 eggs, hard boiled
baby spring greens
1 can tuna or sardines (or cooked chicken or white beans), mixed with sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp capers

Optional - grill your bread. Spread a layer of tapenade on both sides of bread. Put a handful of greens on top of each layer of tapenade.

Scoop on tuna salad mixture, then put a layer of sliced eggs. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and put top of sandwich on top of eggs. Press together and wrap tightly in cling wrap or tinfoil. Tastes best after it sits for a few minutes to let flavors marry.

ONE YEAR AGO: Homemade Yogurt (a recipe I still make about every other weekend)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mini Frittatas

Remember those commercials for the "Incredible, Edible, Egg"? I do, and that slogan runs through my mind each time I crack one of those babies open.

I love eggs so much and I eat them more often for dinner than for breakfast. I have blogged several times about frittatas because they're a great way to use eggs paired with your favorite veggies. But maybe you want a more individual way to enjoy frittatas for groups who have different likes and dislikes? Maybe you need a hand held breakfast on the go? Maybe you have cute flower shaped muffin tins? If any of the above apply to you, this is the method for should use!

I'm having some house guests this weekend and it's supposed to be hot. That means, in my house, no oven or any unnecessary heat sources can be utilized. So I baked these cuties up in advance for easy nuking (or enjoyment at room temperature!) on Sunday morning.

The method for Mini-Frittatas is so simple and can be varied a million different ways. In fact, I think it would be so fun to have a variety of meat and veggies available at a brunch and let people make their own Mini Frittatas! If you can chop, dump, and pour, you can make Mini Frittatas.

I browned up some breakfast sausage (that's a whole other post in itself - gross!) and paired it with spinach and mozzarella for my guests. The inspiration was my friend Colin's favorite pizza - sausage and mozzarella (don't worry Colin, I made extra sausage and I'll make you a batch of these on Sunday night!). And I also made a meatless batch in the flower petal tin for the veg-heads.

If I had some, I would have added a spoonful of frozen hashbrowns in here as well for an extra-filling Mini Frittata - that's how my mom makes her egg bakes and they're fantastic! Really, you can add whatever you want (the only caveat is to avoid super watery stuff like tomatoes, they don't work the best). Your Mini Frittatas will be delicious because you got to add your favorite ingredients!

Mini Frittatas (makes 12)
12 eggs
1/2 cup water or milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Herbs of your choice such as chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc
Cooked meat or meat substitute (optional) such as bacon, sausage, pancetta, etc
Cooked or raw veggies such as onion, mushroom, spinach, zucchini, fresh peas (!), etc
Frozen hash browns or cooked potatoes (optional)
Cheese of your liking, shredded or crumbled

Grease your muffin tins and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Crack eggs into large bowl. Add water, salt, pepper, and herbs. Whisk vigorously to combine.

Begin layering your ingredients in the muffin tins: potatoes on bottom, then meat, then veggies.

Pour egg mixture over your potatoes, meat, and veggies until about 1/4 inch remains on top. Sprinkle shredded or crumbled cheese on top.

Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

There are a million ways to enjoy Mini Frittatas! Here are a few I thought of off the top of my head!

Italian - sun dried tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella
Greek - spinach, kalamata olives, oregano, feta
Spanish - roasted red pepper, parsley, paprika, manchego
Tex-Mex - black beans, veggie chorizo, raw red bell pepper, pepper jack
Fancy - smoked salmon, chives, cream cheese
My Fave - sauteed mushrooms and onions, green veggie in season (asparagus, peas, zucchini), thyme, and goat cheese

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tofu McNuggets

I've really been enjoying all the meal ideas and pictures on the fabulous Food Snob blog. Catherine talks about the cookbooks Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance all the time so I checked them out from the library last week. I've been looking for new ways to use tofu and tempeh and these books are jam packed with ideas.

The first recipe that jumped out at me was the Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu from Veganomicon and I contemplated making it this weekend. Then I saw Catherine post the same recipe and she liked it so it shot straight to the top of my recipe to-do list.

I adapted the recipe a bit (by bumping up the spices and baking instead of frying) and I cut the tofu into chunks so I could throw them on top of a salad. Honestly, I was just trying to use up stuff from my fridge. I baked the crusted tofu cubes and they tasted like....Chicken McNuggets! Really!!! Or at least what I remember Chicken McNuggets tasting like.

I put my nuggets on top of a salad of broccoli slaw, grape tomatoes, sliced scallions, and chopped cilantro. The dressing was hot chili oil, olive oil, lime juice, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of honey. It was spicy, crunchy, and delicious.

However, these nuggets would also be fabulous with just some ketchup for dipping ala Mickey D’s (only a helluva lot better for you!).

Tofu McNuggets (adapted loosely from Veganomicon)

Super firm tofu, cut into chunks

1 cup warm water

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 cup cornmeal

3 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

½ tsp cayenne (or more if you can handle it!)

2 tsp salt

Zest of 1 lime

Mix water and cornstarch in a bowl.

Mix cornmeal and spices on a large plate.

Dip tofu cubes into cornstarch mixture, then into cornmeal mixture to coat. Place coated tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with olive oil to coat. Bake 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown and crispy (you could also pan fry in oil if you are feeling decadent).

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Tomato, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guiltless Caesar Salad Dressing

After 17 months of food blogging (and some gentle urging from a best friend), I have changed the look of the blog. Hope this is not too upsetting for those who are change-averse.

When I was visiting Cassandra (the aforementioned best friend) last month, she made me a gorgeous meal of Caesar salad with tempeh croutons. It was incredible, along with one or more bottles of bubbly, served out of French teacups.

I wanted to try to re-create that meal tonight for Alicia and Terrin in the backyard. But I substituted chicken for tempeh and made a homemade dressing that was super healthy.

I love this dressing, it is simple and yummy. However, I brought a little container of Guiltless Caesar Salad Dressing to work to eat with some carrots as a snack and a co-worker mentioned that my office reeked of garlic so I would advise caution if you want to eat this in public!

I also bucked tradition and added sliced carrots, radishes, and grape tomatoes to the salad for additional crunch and color. Also, instead of croutons on the salad, I grilled up slices of a French baguette that were then rubbed with the cut half of a fresh garlic clove to go on the side.

Guiltless Caesar Salad Dressing (adapted from Alton Brown)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated on your microplane
2 cloves garlic, grated on your microplane
2 Tbsp dijon mustard (I used whole-grain style)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 cup soft tofu
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp olive oil

Blend all ingredients in food processor until desired taste and consistency. You may need to add more liquid (lemon juice or olive oil).

Serve tossed with fresh romaine lettuce and chopped red onion, lots of freshly cracked pepper, more parmesan cheese, and a protein of your choice (chicken, shrimp, tempeh, tofu, white beans) and garlicky bread.

Also required - lots of bubbly wine.