Archive | January 2014

Roasted Red Pepper, Black Olive & Fresh Tomato Flat Bread

Flat Bread

In line with my new year’s commitment to focus on weeknight meals with maximum flavour, but minimal effort, I put a flat bread on the menu.

There’s a local pub that we go to that has a selection of grill breads on its menu, including a vegetarian option, and I often order it. Though I enjoy it, it secretly irks me that I am paying for something that’s so easy to make. John reminds me that I’m paying for the convenience of not having to make it myself. It irks me nonetheless.

As difficult as it was, I resisted the urge to make my own dough. That being said, next time pizza is on the menu, I’ll definitely triple up on the dough for such occasions.

So, here it is. A quick weeknight meal that didn’t disappoint. Roasted red peppers and black olives pair beautifully and are robust flavours that stand up to each other. The tomatoes provide the perfect amount of freshness. It was really, really good and fast and easy!

The possibilities are endless, so don’t limit yourself. I’m thinking pesto, olive tapenade, sun-dried tomato pesto, artichoke spread, bean spread, even a nice garlic or herb infused olive oil. The only thing to consider is that the sauce should be precooked or good raw since the flat bread is already precooked, so the cooking time in the oven is minimal. The same holds true for the toppings.

Also, get creative with the bases: I’m thinking naan bread, tortillas, pizza dough, foccacia bread, puff pastry, even a nice crusty ciabatta halved.

Served with a side salad this is the next best thing to pizza. Happy mixing and matching!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Flat bread (of your choice)  500 – 550 g
 Sauce:
 Roasted Red Pepper Sauce/Paste  1 cup
 Garlic, cloves, minced  2
 Red pepper flakes  1/4 tsp
 Olive oil  2 tbsp
 Black pepper
 Toppings:
 Basil, leaves, fresh  8
 Provolone, cheese, shredded  10 oz
 Black pepper
 Onion, red, sliced  1/4
 Black olives, pit removed  1/2 cup
 Tomato, sliced thinly  2 small or 1 large
 Olive oil  For drizzling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients: roasted red pepper sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and black pepper.

3. Place flat bread on a baking sheet and spread roasted red pepper sauce over the flat bread until fully covered leaving a small edge.

4. Top with basil leaves, provolone, black pepper, onion, black olives, tomatoes, in this order. Lightly drizzle tomatoes with olive oil.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 -25 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

6. Remove from oven. Cut into 4 pieces and serve with a side salad.

BBQ Tofu Wrap

BBQ Tofu Wrap

You don’t hear me say this very often, but I love this tofu recipe.

Surprisingly, the BBQ sauce was not overly sweet and this particular brand (preservative-free) had just a hint of smokiness adding a whole other layer of flavour and it caramelized beautifully, just like the real thing. Paired with the arugula and mustard to balance the sweetness, the tofu was an operetta of smokey, sweet, and bitterness.

The marinade takes minutes to prepare and if you make it the night before (I highly recommend it the flavour is just better) then you can get this fast meal on the table in approximately 30 minutes.

Fast doesn’t have to taste rushed. The tofu was rich tasting with a depth in flavour that was reminiscent of a heartier meat dish, though not meat tasting.

Happy “bbqing”.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Tofu, firm 500 g
Naan 4
Oil, canola 2-3 tbsp (depending on the size of your pan)
Marinade:
BBQ sauce 1/2 cup
Tamari 1/2 cup
Garlic, cloves, minced 2
Onion, red, chopped 1/4
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Black pepper
Garnishes:
Arugula, baby
Coriander, sprigs, fresh
Onion, red, sliced
Mustard

1. Drain tofu and cut into cubes. Start by cutting tofu vertically into 5 even sections.Then cut each of the 5 tofu sections horizontally in 2 and then vertically into 6 cubes. You should end up with 30 cubes of tofu.

2. In a shallow square/rectangular baking dish, combine the ingredients for the marinade: bbq sauce, tamari, garlic, onion, olive oil, and black pepper. Marinade the tofu overnight. It’s not necessary, but if you have the time, flip the cubes of tofu over at some point, so both sides marinade evenly. I did this before I left for work the next morning.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium frying pan, heat over medium heat 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil (the pan should be lightly coated). Add tofu cubes and sear on both sides until nicely caramelized about 5-7 minutes. (In the summertime, you may grill tofu on skewers on the bbq instead.)

4. Remove tofu from pan and place on a baking sheet and then in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

5. To assemble, place arugula on naan and top with tofu, mustard, fresh coriander, and red onion slices. Fold naan and serve with a side salad.

Agnolotti in a Sage Garlic Cream Sauce

Sage Garlic Cream Sauce

I love pasta and anything creamy, but eat both sparingly, so much so that they are a treat on their own and a special occasion when eaten together.

As much as I love a good, rich, cream sauce, even when I do make it (not often enough), I can’t bring myself to use 35 percent cream. My experiment with creamed cabbage and fennel taught me I could achieve the same desired effect with the lower fat cream, with a little help, of course.

Note that on its own, light cream will not achieve the desired thickness, but with the help of a thickening agent (both corn starch and arrow root powder work), you won’t miss a thing!

This sauce is everything it should be: thick, creamy, and velvety luxurious. On top of that, you get the hit of garlic, intense sage, nutmeg, and asiago cheese, which I prefer in this sauce over parmigiano.

Cream sauce is so neutral that you can pair it with most filled pastas. Mine just happened to be pumpkin spice agnolotti.

So, go ahead. Enjoy everything that’s delicious about a cream sauce, but without the guilt.

This recipe is the first in a series of week night meals I am starting for the new year. Looking to create meals with maximum flavour and minimal effort. From start to finish, this meal takes approximately 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Agnolotti, pumpkin, fresh 2 lbs
Cream Sauce:
Cream, 10 % 4 cups
Garlic, cloves, crushed 4
Sage, leaves, fresh, chopped 30
Cheese, Asiago, grated 1 cup
Salt 1/2 tsp
Black pepper
Nutmeg
Arrowroot powder 5 tsp
Water 5 tbsp

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water (it should taste like the ocean). Add pasta, bring pot down to a medium simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of the pasta).

2. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, over medium heat, combine all cream ingredients except the arrow root powder and water.

3. Slowly heat the cream for 7-8 minutes allowing the flavours to intermingle, but do not bring it to a boil.

4. Remove from heat and using a hand blender, purée all the cream sauce ingredients. This allows the cheese to fully integrate with the cream. This step is not necessary with a full fat cream.

5. Return pan to heat. Heat again, but do not bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine water and arrowroot powder and add to cream sauce. Stir slowly and constantly until you achieve the desired thickness, approximately 5-10 minutes.

6. Remove cream sauce from heat. Drain pasta. Add cream to pasta and combine until fully coated.

This recipe makes enough cream sauce to accommodate 3 lbs of pasta, so there should be leftovers for use for other purposes during the week.