Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick Tahini Salad with Homemade Pita Chips

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Chips

One package Trader Joe's Brand whole wheat pita bread (6 pita breads)
Garlic-infused olive oil
Fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack to the center position.

Working with one pita bread at a time, lay the pita bread on a cutting board. Brush the first side with about 1/4 teaspoon garlic-infused olive oil (regular EVOO will work fine). Sprinkle with a pinch of fine sea salt. Turn pita bread over. Brush the second side with another 1/4 teaspoon garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of fine sea salt. Cut pita bread into 8 wedges. Repeat the same for the remainder five pita breads. Place as many pita bread wedges on an ungreased shallow-rimmed baking sheet pan in one layer, leaving some spaces between wedges. Bake for 15 minutes, until brown and crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to cool. Repeat baking with the remainder pita bread wedges. Store cooled pita chips in an airtight container for several weeks.

Tahini Salad

This is an easy and quick method to make a Middle Eastern style tomato and cucumber salad with Tahini Sauce. Tahini sauce is made from ground sesame seeds (tahini or sesame butter), garlic, lemon juice, water and salt. Tahini sauce is the sauce traditionally served with falafels and used as a dressing in falafel and schwarma wraps. Trader Joe's makes a great Tahini Sauce. Tahini sauce can easily be made from scratch, but if you don't have time to make your own, you can purchase it at Trader Joe's. This tahini salad is creamy, refreshing. delicious and healthy. With the addition of pita chips, it gives the salad a nice crunch.

One-half of an English cucumber, unpeeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces (about 8 ounces)
1 Roma tomato, diced into 1/4-inch pieces (about 4 ounces)
4 tablespoons Trader Joe's brand Tahini Sauce (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 pita chips, crumbled into bite-size pieces

Combined the cucumber and tomatoes in a medium-size bowl. Add the tahini sauce and sea salt. Toss together until combined. Add the crumbled pita chips and toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and ready to eat.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Curried Grain Salad

Curried Grain Salad

This grain salad is adapted from Cafe Flora Cookbook. This is one my favorite grain salad. It's easy and quick to make. It's nutty, it's chewy, it's delicious! You can serve this grain salad as a side dish or eaten on its own like a luncheon salad.

1 cup raw pistachios, (4 ounces)
3/4 cup quinoa (5 ounces)
1-1/2 cups spelt berries (9.9 ounces), soaked in water for at least 8 hours
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (0.3 ounce)
Juice of 1 lime (about 4 tablespoons or 1.3 ounces)
1 tablespoon honey (0.5 ounce)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (3.4 ounces)
1 cup dried cranberries (4 ounces)
5 to 6 slender green onions, white and green portion, thinly sliced (1.4 ounces)

Toast pistachios at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, tossing nuts half way of baking time. Cool completely. Roughly chop nuts and set aside.

Rinse quinoa well and drain. Bring 1-1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add quinoa and lower heat to low heat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Set aside.

Place spelt berries in a medium saucepan with 5 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Making the curry vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, Dijon mustard, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper. Using a small whisk. blend all ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Dribble in the olive oil, whisking constantly until mixture is thoroughly blended. Set aside.

In a very large bowl, combine the quinoa and spelt berries. Add the entire curry vinaigrette and toss together with the quinoa and spelt berries until well combined. Next, add the cranberries, pistachios and green onions. Toss until everything are thoroughly combined. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Yields 8 to 10 servings

Grilled Chicken Breast

Grilled Chicken Breast and
Brown Rice

I purchased a package of Safeway Eating Right brand all natural boneless skinless chicken breasts with rib meat ($1.99/pound on sale which ended yesterday). This package weighed a little over 3 pounds and there were 5 chicken breasts and 2 tenderloin pieces in the package. With each chicken breast, I horizontally split them in half as if I were to butterfly the breast, except I split them completely (each breast now becomes 2 pieces). I did it this way so I can choose to eat only half of a breast for dinner. With the 2 tenderloin pieces, I left them the way it was. After removing some visible fat (which was hardly any), I had a little under 3 pounds of chicken meat (2:15.6 pounds to be exact). I marinated the chicken meat with my Homemade Adobo Seasoning. I mixed 4 tablespoons of the seasonings with 6 tablespoons of olive oil (since I split each breast to two pieces, I now have more meat to distribute the seasonings). I place the marinated meat into a Ziploc bag and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Of course, you can marinate the chicken meat with any type of seasonings of your choice. The next night, we grilled the chicken on our gas grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Some pieces were thinner than others, so the thinner pieces were cooked for a total of 5 minutes and the thicker pieces were cooked for a total of 6 minutes. The two tenderloin pieces were cooked for a total of 5 minutes. I served the grilled chicken with a multi-grain rice blend (recipe posted below) cooked together and Steamed Spinach.

Brown Rice

2 cups medium-grain brown rice (13.2 ounces)
3 cups water (24 ounces or 1:8.0 pounds)

Wash rice and drain well. Place brown rice into a 2-1/2- to 3-quart saucepan which comes with a lid. Add the water. Bring rice to a boil on high heat. When the water reaches boiling point, turn heat down to the temperature between medium-low and low heat. Give a quick stir and cover with the lid. Continue to cook, covered and undisturbed, for 45 minutes. Can check rice occasionally by lifting cover to give a quick peep, but do not stir. When rice is done, water will be completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let rice rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff up rice and it's ready to eat.

Leftover rice stores well in an airtight container placed in the refrigerator for about 1 week. When reheating leftover rice, scoop rice into a bowl and place a cover over the rice or you can cover with microwavable plastic wrap. Place in microwave for 2 or more minutes, depending on the amount of rice you are reheating. If rice is not reheated to the desired temperature, just place back in the microwave for more time.

Brown and Black Rice Blend (as shown in photo above): 1-1/2 cups medium-grain brown rice (9.9 ounces) and 1/2 cup black rice (3.6 ounces - aka Forbidden rice) . Cook as directed above.

Brown and Red Rice Blend: 1-1/2 cups medium-grain brown rice (9.9 ounces) and 1/2 cup Thai Red Cargo Rice (3.2 ounces). Cook as directed above.