Tag Archives: #vegetarian

Healthy Diplomat: Vegetarian Quinoto-stuffed peppers

Tired of boring old quinoa? Need new ideas for healthy entrees – vegetarian or not, or just an impressive side dish for guests? Try this Peruvian inspired delicious bell pepper stuffed with a goat cheese quinoa risotto, also known as quinoto. It is rich, yet light – typically under 300 calories per serving and a great alternative to traditional risotto.

At the end of my first trip to Peru a few years ago, I tried quinoto for the first time. The creamy quinoa dish was Peru’s answer to Italian risotto. It was velvety, nutty, and very heavy. 

  
Determined to make it at home, I transformed my typical quinoa pilaf into a lighter version with the addition of a few ounces of tangy chèvre. A small amount goes a long way and makes it taste far more decadent than it actually is. Lest you think it too light, the high protein, high fiber content in the quinoa, along with a full, sweet bell pepper gives it enough substance to really satisfy you – or your guests.

Tips: I prefer to use chicken broth if cooking for carnivores, but vegetable broth adds plenty of flavor and depth for vegetarians. 

  
Also, quinoa can be very messy. When rinsing (which removes the bitterness from the husks surrounding the seeds), F you don’t have a fine sieve, I like to line a sieve or colander with paper towel to ensure the seeds don’t escape, and then scrape the seeds off the paper towel. You’ll certainly lose a few, but fewer of them!

  
Not a fan of goat cheese? Try parmesan or cotija cheese for a similar texture – and different flavor.

The quinoto can be made in advance. Stuff the peppers, then tightly wrap and refrigerate overnight before baking.

  

Quinoto stuffed bell peppers


Servings=4
Difficulty=Easy

  • 4 large red, orange, or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine, optional
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. Sun-dried tomatoes, julienned finely
  • 1/2 small red onion or 1/4 large red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 1/2 c. Crimini or button mushrooms, washed and diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 2 oz. chèvre cheese, plus additional for topping

Place the broth and quinoa in a 2 quart (medium) saucepan and bring to a boil over the stovetop. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring every two minutes or so. Meanwhile, remove the caps, ribs, and seeds from each bell pepper. Set aside.

  
While the quinoa cooks, sautée the vegetables: Over medium heat, place about 1 Tbsp olive oil into a nonstick or cast iron skillet. Once the oil is hot, sautée the garlic and minced onion for about 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add in the tomatoes and mushrooms. Sautée another 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms have reduced in volume by about half. 

  
Remove from heat and set aside.
When the quinoa has absorbed all but a small amount of liquid, add in the wine if using and allow it to heat and evaporate. Next, stir in the vegetables until fully incorporated, over medium low heat. 

  
Fold the goat cheese into the quinoa mixture. Remove from heat. If serving immediately, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  
Stuff each pepper with roughly one cup of the quinoto, leveling off. Spread a few teaspoons of goat cheese atop the quinoto. Wrap each pepper in aluminum foil. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until approximately 45 minutes before serving; preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  
On a baking sheet – or placing the peppers upright in a large muffin tin – bake the peppers (covered) for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet/tin from the oven. Unwrap peppers and return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a garnish of roasted red pepper coulis and basil for drama! Disfrute!

San Francisco’s Greens: A fine dining experience to excite vegetarians and surprise carnivores

Vegetarians are accustomed to limited options at fine restaurants. Yet San Francisco’s Greens has given generations of vegetarians (and their carnivorous friends!) living or visiting the Bay Area meatless, international farm to table experiences since 1979.

If you are a vegetarian in the Americas or Europe, your restaurant dining options typically force you to choose between casual restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans, mainstream restaurants with a few veg-friendly options, or the fine restaurants with one vegetarian main course (if that). If you want a truly memorable meal and want to get a bit dressed up, you might find yourself reading through sample menu after sample menu on restaurant websites in search of something you can eat.

San Francisco’s notoriety for its progressive culture – as one of the first food-obsessed US cities, the Mecca for “granola” hippies (now, a new generation of hipsters), and a general health consciousness – led me to conclude I would find a host of great vegetarian and healthy restaurants when I relocated to thw city. Now, I am not a vegetarian, but I enjoy eating and cooking vegetarian food, and I am empathetic to my vegetarian friends. It came as a surprise that finding a great vegetarian menu in the Bay Area was more difficult than I expected.

Nourish café’s Bibimap salad – a fantastic detox meal

When I finally discovered Nourish, a tiny, casual vegan café, I was ecstatic. I had so many options to choose from, and the salad (photo above) I finally chose did not disappoint me. Nevertheless, Nourish is a stereotypical veg/vegan restaurant: It is tiny, cramped, and minimalist. It frequently has a long line out the door for its patrons, predominantly ordering takeout (as you wouldn’t have room or time to really sit and mingle). It’s also not open for dinner, and its Inner Richmond neighborhood location is not exactly accessible for many San Franciscans, not to mention tourists.

When a vegetarian friend introduced me to Greens, it defied most preconceptions I have for vegetarian restaurants. First, it occupies prime bayside real estate at the Fort Mason complex (former Army post), wedged between the North Beach and Marina neighborhoods and which hosts an exceedingly popular farmer’s market and one of food truck festival Off The Grid’s weekly events.

  
Now Greens’ decor admittedly has an earth-friendly late 1970s vibe, but in a sleek and airy, blond wood and high ceiling sort of way. An artful petrified redwood tree greets visitors upon entry, the restaurant’s only real indication of its roots in the “crunchy” 1970s California health food movement. Its large dining room is otherwise tasteful and timeless, with perhaps the city’s best restaurant view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the marina.

Greens’ menu is a study in internationally inspired fare, carefully prepared from local California produce, grains, and cheeses. As expected of a fine restaurant, the menu changes seasonally, but it retains a few staples, such as a spring roll appetizer, hummous, and grilled brochettes. Notes of India, east Asia, North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and the USA weave through the menu, offering the diner almost too many options.

  
The server was kind enough to let my friend and I split the special mushroom and barley soup as an appetizer. From the description, I expected a bisque but found what my friend described as a “lighter, vegetarian French onion soup” – well, with barley. It could have used more melted cheese than its delicate topping of grana padano, as well as crostini to make it even better, but I had no complaints.

  
We split the hummous platter, and as my friend is an understandably particular Arab, her endorsement spoke volumes of Greens’ quality. High quality olive oil and the right amount of tahini makes all the difference.

 

A meal so good, i forgot to take a photo until it was half gone!

 
Having eaten a heavy lunch, I had to pass up wonderful main courses such as a butternut squash and sweet potato gratin or spinach and chard filo pie. I chose a single vegetable brochette as my main course. My friend explained that one of this dish’s draws was its locally produced (Hodo) tofu. The skewer, which included unexpected chunks of refreshing fennel bulb, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, was grilled nicely without an overpowering marinade. It was served with couscous and a green herb puree reminiscent of a light, more subtle chimichurri. My friend chose a heaping portion of red curry with spring vegetables (pictured in the featured photo), which was delicious.

The dessert menu was extremely tempting. Alas, Greens’ healthy portions left us without room. A banana-chocolate cake particularly caught my eye. Next time!

So vegetarians, vegans: if you haven’t tried Greens, you are missing a true treat. Omnivores: Greens is for you. A wide variety of hearty but restrained options will leave your stomach full and tastebuds more than satisfied. Carnivores: Don’t turn your nose quite so quickly; you will find yourself pleasantly surprised to find your favorite international comfort foods never needed the meat in the first place!

Italian-Californian fusion: A hearty sauce Romanesca over roasted spaghetti squash

This classic, hearty Italian sauce adds some masculinity and depth to roasted spaghetti squash for a nutritious and satisfying low-carb, comfort meal. Customize by going meatless or pair it with your favorite pasta for a taste of Roman home cooking in your own kitchen.

 
I believe that Italian food is the world’s comfort food. Whether you have a taste for Mediterranean calamari, pasta, pollo Milanese, Genovese pesto, northern risotto, or Neapolitan pizza, Italy serves flavors that transcend culture. So after a trying day of wine tasting in Sonoma County, California, my Italian friend’s home-cooked Roman meat sauce (similar to a Bolognese) served over rigatoni and paired with one of our favorite Sonoma Zinfandels, was the perfect ending to one of those days that makes you grateful to be alive and for those around you.

  
The dish was so straightforward, not the sort of slave-all-day complexity that surprises and delights. Mushrooms and beef are better together than separately. The tang of ripe tomatoes, with fresh basil and a subtle heat create a combination you couldn’t imagine any other way. 

Personified, this Roman-Bolognese is that friend you haven’t seen in years, but you pick up right back up as if you’d been in touch all along. In other words, make it and you have an instant go-to dish.

a hearty Bolognese/Roman sauce featuring beef, mushrooms, and tomatoes that can be made meatless

After watching my friend cook this pasta dish. I realized that I needed to recreate it, but with a California twist. After months of transient living, restaurant food and perhaps a bit much wine have taken their toll on my body, so of late, I’ve been looking for healthier options. My philosophy is not to fear carbs or be overly restrictive (as you’ll see on my Healthy Diplomat page), but to load up on vegetables, fruits, and limit processed foods.

West Coast cremini and chanterelle mushrooms

In Northern California, the abundance of fresh, local produce is one of the secrets to the area’s culinary notoriety. Quality ingredients make quality food. So I turned to spaghetti squash from a local farmer’s market to carry its weight with this hearty Roman version of a Bolognese (meat sauce).  

It is an easy way to lighten a heavier, food-coma inducing dish without sacrificing the experience and texture of al dente pasta. It also is friendly to those on gluten-free, paleo, or low-carb diets. Substitute crumbled seitan or texturized vegetable protein for the meat in the sauce (or double the amount of mushrooms) to make it vegetarian or vegan (without cheese). If you don’t have dietary restrictions, try making it different ways to see which one you prefer!

  
I used local and almost exclusively organic produce for the entire sauce, including canned San Marzano tomatoes for that “authentic” (a word I generally hate to use in food speak) Italian flavor. Feel free to substitute whatever varieties you can find in your area.

This dish isn’t at its best without wine (so long as you are of age!). A California Zinfandel’s subtle sweetness and fruitiness are a perfect pairing for this sauce, but I’ve also had it with a bold, jammy Cabernet Sauvignon. Whichever you choose, the wine and dish play together very nicely, only enhancing the flavor of each.

Start to finish, it can be made in about an hour and fifteen minutes, but simmering the sauce for a few extra hours will deepen the flavors.

When using pasta, rigatoni is ideal, since its tube shape and ridges carry the sauce easily, though spaghetti or angel hair would be appropriate substitutes. Whole-grain wheat, spelt, or quinoa pasta are wonderful, more nutritious alternatives to “white” pasta.

Sauce Romanesca over Roasted Spaghetti Squash 'Pasta'

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash OR 8 oz. (typically half of a bag/box) uncooked rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped (cremini and/or a mix of varieties)
  • 1 lb. (about 400 g to 1/2 kg) ground beef (ideally 15% fat) OR 3 cups of crumbled meat substitute
  • 1 cup fresh whole basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 28 or 32 oz. can of crushed or diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of cayenne or black pepper – to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), grated

Directions:

Squash
To roast/steam spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place whole squash in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ water. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove temporarily; cool for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. 

  
Using a fork, scrape and remove the loose innards and seeds (usually darker than the bright yellow, edible flesh beneath) and discard. Leave the remaining flesh intact and return to the roasting pan, cut sides up. Brush or drizzle with olive oil. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until inner flesh begins to brown slightly. Remove and cool.

Sauce
May be made in advance of spaghetti squash or simultaneously.

If preparing the sauce and squash simultaneously, begin the sauce after placing the whole squash into the oven for the initial bake.

In a medium pot or saucepan (ceramic is preferable), heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the crushed garlic. After about a minute, add the chopped onion. Close the lid and allow the onions and garlic to sweat and cook until tender (monitor constantly and stir as needed, especially with a steel or copper-bottomed pot).

Add meat or meat substitute and brown thoroughly. Roughly chop about 1/2 cup of the basil leaves and add them to the mixture. Next, stir in the mushrooms. Cook while covered, for about five more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and peppers, stir continuously for a few minutes. Cover. 

  
Allow sauce to come to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add most of the remainder of the basil, reserving some for garnish. If you have time, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

If using pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, and drain again. Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine.

If serving with squash instead of pasta, top with sauce during – not before – serving.

Top with reserved basil and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, or if staying dairy-free or vegan, nutritional yeast.

DC’s best sandwich: The new American cuisine of Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers

Stop by Washington, D.C.’s Farmers Fishers and Bakers for the best (vegetarian) sandwich in the city. It is a meal, much like many of its fellow menu items, that is emblematic of the city’s wholly American integration of its multicultural influences.

If I had to pick a restaurant that truly represents Washington, D.C. and the America of its residents, I would pick Founding Farmers and its sister restaurant, Farmers Fishers Bakers (FFB). Their similar menus’ fusion cuisine – influenced by a wide range of inherently pan ‘American,’ European, and African styles – exemplifies Washington’s cosmopolitan, educated melting pot of transplants from both across and outside of the USA. Washingtonians may see themselves and their adopted city – well-groomed and presentation-conscious, traditional yet adaptive, diverse and transient, working to be. I mean this in the most loving sense of the description.

Whether you, reader, have scoped out Washington’s restaurant scene as a resident or visitor, Founding Farmers is likely to have popped up on your list. With its broad appeal and the packed tables to prove it, these four restaurants have lost some of the buzz the brand garnered a few years ago, but each of the Founding Farmers iterations are worth a visit – or a few.

Farmers Fishers and Bakers is my top choice of the bunch. FFB is located in the ‘horseshoe’ Washington Harbor complex at the Georgetown Waterfront. From its outdoor tables and looking out through its large, wall-to-wall windows, one can people watch groups passing through the complex, skating on its winter rink, playing in its summer fountains, or watching you from the popular outdoor bars of neighboring Sequoia and Tony and Joe’s. But the people watching quickly takes a backseat when their fun, internationally-inspired-yet-truly-American cocktails and food arrives.

 

purple kale salad

 
From sashimi to mussels, meatloaf to vegetarian cauliflower steak, and southern ham hock with succotash to purple kale salad, its expansive menu offers something for every taste. For such breadth, FFB delivers well.

But for all the fanfare, my favorite menu item is its vegetarian sandwich. It would be easy to miss it on the menu, as its title and description cannot do it justice and relegate it to the token sandwich for vegetarians. I urge you, reader, to consider it, should you venture to FFB. It is the best vegetarian sandwich – dare I say best of any sandwich, meat or not – I’ve ever had. It starts with a sweet, thick raisin-walnut bread that pulls its own weight, paired with a salty brie, roasted red peppers, avocado, sprouts, and tomato. It needs no dressing, sauce, or spread. It pairs well with a light, tangy peanut cabbage slaw as a choice of included side dish. In its simplicity, its sweet-salty-earthy contrast, Washington meets California with the best of both coasts in this meal (pictured above).

This is my love letter to Washington, D.C., the city that has inspired and written my own story for over a decade of my life.

Keeping cool and carrying on with chilled cucumber-avocado soup

Sometimes, salads get to be a bit mundane in the middle of a summer heat wave. That’s when a chilled gazpacho or other cold soup variant is a nice change of pace.

My adaptation of a Martha Stewart Living recipe is a summer must-try: Summer-fresh English cucumbers add lightness and volume to the richness and velvety textures of avocado and Greek yogurt.  Lest these mellow flavors put your taste buds to sleep, citrus and jalapeño kick up the soup, while green onion and dill round it out with earthy sophistication. A food processor or blender and a vegetable peeler make preparation of this no-cook soup as easy as soups get!

Healthy Diplomat approved:
The second best aspect of this refreshing soup is how healthy it is. Not only is it raw* (shh!) and vegetarian-friendly, its blend of veggies and yogurt promotes good health. Now, before you run screaming at the mention of “raw” food as a trendy, Goop-like fad that normal people shouldn’t bother to try, think about the last time you ate a salad. Hello! Raw, whole food is more ” normal”than most of the processed foods we gravitate towards.

Anyhow, the only fat in the dish comes from predominantly monounsaturated fats in the avocado. Don’t leave it out! It is high in fiber, Vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium, too. The jalapeño, though small, is densely packed with Vitamin C and capsaicin, the latter of which is an anti-inflammatory and vasodilator. Google its purported benefits – you might be surprised! Greek yogurt not only adds texture, but it offers protein to power muscles and probiotic compounds to aid in digestion. I could go on about the rest of the ingredients’ value, but I won’t bore you further.

If I haven’t convinced you to step out of your summer salad comfort zone and try this elegant soup, take a moment and pledge to try it! It might not be your typical summer dish, but that is exactly why you should try it. Refreshingly complex, delicious, and also nutritious, it’s a sophisticated summer first course or light meal you won’t forget!

*Technically, it’s not completely raw when using pasteurized dairy (yogurt). Technically.

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and quartered or diced
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice (juice of one lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime Zest (optional)
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. scallion, chopped (dark green parts excluded)
  • 2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Note: Only use the white and light green parts of the scallions; set the dark green parts aside for garnish. The avocado need not be chopped prior to adding it to the food processor; simply halve and scoop the flesh with a spoon directly from the skin.

Place all ingredients, excluding water, in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Gradually add in water to desired consistency. Transfer to serving containers and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. The flavors meld well overnight, as well; the heat from the jalapeño builds as it rests.

Garnish with diced green onion (the dark green parts set aside) and/or plantain chips.

The CD is entertained: Home-cooked South Indian food in the USA

A special night of home-cooked dishes from southern India brought back memories of a past trip to Karnataka.  If you’ve never traveled to India, you likely have eaten more dishes from northern India than from its south.  But Indian is so much more than what most of us know. Take a culinary jaunt to the state of Karnataka without leaving home.

With over 50 states and greater than 1/7 of the world’s population – that’s over 1.2 BILLION people out of over 7, India’s people and cuisine are quite diverse.  If you thought your neighborhood Indian restaurant’s menu was lengthy, that’s nothing! Outside of India, the most popular Indian dishes come from North India, and often from Punjab. If you love the rich cream, cashew, and tomato-based curries of your local Indian restaurant, then you’re probably less familiar with the rice and vegetable dishes of its southern states and regions. That’s not to say that people in the south don’t cook traditionally “northern” dishes or vice versa – think of it as a Californian making grits or chicken-fried steak, or a German cooking Italian. Yet with so many states and subcultures, food is a powerful source of community and family identity in India.

I was introduced to southern Indian cuisine a few years ago during a trip through the southern state of Karnataka and which also took me to the northern cities of Delhi (busy) and Agra (not a fan).  I was lucky enough to experience a home-cooked dinner and breakfast in Bangalore.  The food was magnificent and spicy, and most memorable was a spicy noodle breakfast dish made with rice vermicelli (semiya upma) and tossed with cashews, onions, chilis, curry leaf, and the distinctive flavor of whole mustard seeds.

So I was ecstatic when one of my good friends invited me over for her mother’s home cooking. I knew I would leave fat and happy, but it was more so than I expected.


The meal began  with hors d’oeurves of panipuri and mushroom cutlets.  Panipuris are deep-fried puffs stuffed with several fresh ingredients: channa (chickpeas), cooked potato, diced tomatoes, red onion, herbs, and familiar chutneys – brown, sweet tamarind, and green chile, mint, and coriander.  The single bite snack packs a spectacular burst of flavors – savory, sweet, spicy, earthy. I commented that they were so addictive that I would just as soon eat these at a Super Bowl party as Seven Layer Dip. The breaded mushroom cutlets were the night’s only store-bought course, but they were delicious comfort food with a surprisingly spicy kick.
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Our main course was the family’s own recipe for lemon chicken;  Tender drumsticks braised with greens, spices, and lemongrass are the family’s most demanded dish during family gatherings. The meal’s centerpiece was a fragrant lemon rice dish, called Chitranna in Kannada, the local language in Karnataka. Colored bright yellow with turmeric and seasoned with cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves, peanuts, and, of course, lemon juice, it needs no heavy sauce.
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A delicious stewed eggplant side and another of greens and white beans rounded out the bold, flavorful meal and my quota of vegetables. In Karnataka, a small serving of plain yogurt follows the meal to aid in digestion, and we followed suit this evening.

For dessert, we went Western with pastries (I chose a mini-Napoleon) and bright orange mango. What could be better?

Answer:  Leftovers!  I was sent home with plenty of leftovers, which were every bit as good a few days later.

This meal brought back so many memories – and made new ones.  The food wouldn’t have been half as good without the wonderful company and hospitality of my hosts, as my friend’s mother regaled us with stories of her childhood. Her favorite dishes, her missions to fetch and blend her mother’s special coffee mix infused more love and life in her wonderful dishes.

 

Impress your friends with truffled red pepper coulis!

Have you ever experienced the smoky sweetness of a roasted red pepper coulis accenting a restaurant entree? Ever wondered what effort goes into producing this deliciousness? Refined restaurant flavors are easier to create in your own kitchen than you might think! This luxurious condiment is easy to make and versatile to use – not to mention compatible with almost any dietary restrictions.

Typically, we think the purpose of sauces are bring life to something like a vegetable – to make it palatable, or at least to add much needed flavor. We don’t often think of using the concentrated flavors of vegetables themselves as a way to make meats, grains, or legumes more palatable! That’s exactly what coulis do. Coulis are sauces made from pureed fruits or vegetables. Their thick, velvety consistencies and intense flavors make them a perfect garnish or compliment to main dishes or desserts.

Smoky, sweet roasted bell peppers, together with a hint of olive oil, black truffles, and fresh garlic are craving-worthy as coulis. Yet this recipe is so easy that I’m almost embarrassed to post it. Four ingredients, an oven, and a food processor or blender are all you need to create kitchen magic. A surprisingly small amount of oil with truffle essence adds so much flavor without empty calories or fat. Without peeling and straining the purée, the recipe can be made in 45 minutes start to finish (only about 10-15 minutes total active prep), so you won’t be a kitchen slave. image

It’s so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to devote an entire post to such a simple recipe on its own. Browse the Interwebs and you’ll see recipes are Blah Blah Blah with red pepper coulis or Bourgeois Dessert with Raspberry Coulis. Not just coulis. Roasted red pepper coulis, however, are too versatile to attach them to only one main dish.

So many uses, so little time…

Meat: It pairs particularly well with poultry and fish, but don’t underestimate it with beef. Vegetarian? It’s great with Portobello or cremoni mushrooms. Or with any of the remaining options…

Grains/legumes: It is equally amazing over a quinoa pilaf, lentils, or pasta (is it me, or did basil pesto meet its perfect foil?)

Vegetables: Add a bit of haute cuisine to asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, or summer squash/zucchini. I’ve used the coulis as a compliment to chicken breast, quinoa pilaf, and sautéed mushrooms (different styles). Each of these dishes earned rave reviews from my guests. Whether you foresee multiple uses or not, double this recipe, and keep some on hand to add a touch of class to your next meal.

Black Truffle Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, crushed, pressed, or minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Black truffle essence olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice peppers in half; remove stems and seeds. Place halves, skin side up, on a foil-lines baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until skins blister and begin to blacken (check the cut edges to prevent burning after about 20 min). Remove from oven and cool. I prefer to keep the skins intact in order to preserve the caramelized flavor of the blackened skin; if you are a purist, allow the peppers to cool and remove skins They should be fairly easy to peel by hand or with the aid of a paring knife.

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Transfer peppers to a food processor or blender. Add garlic, olive oil, and half of the salt. Purée until smooth. Gradually add additional salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in a small saucepan on low heat (simmer). Yield is approximately one cup. Servings vary depending on use (sauce vs. garnish).

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