Archive for ‘Dinner’

August 2, 2011

Orange and Swiss Chard Saute

by Jen

I don’t like recipes that ask you to use the Swiss chard leaves and “save the stems” for another purpose.  It is the beautiful contrast of leaves and stems that beckons me in the grocery store — red chard, rainbow chard, even green chard!

So here is a dish I made for dinner tonight with both leaves and stems.  It is a mix of vegetables and chickpeas in a fragrant garlic-and-orange juice broth, and would work best served with a cooked grain to enjoy the extra liquid.

This is how I cut up Swiss chard:



First, I cut out the stem; second, I chop the stem; third, I roll up the leaves into a cylinder; and fourth, I slice the cylinder into ribbons.  Usually I do this with several leaves at once, so it’s not quite as fussy as it sounds, but it’s still pretty fussy.  Is this the best way of chopping Swiss chard?


  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • zest and juice of two oranges
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • a pinch of chile pepper flakes
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic!)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped, with leaves and stems separated
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped up a bit
  • salt to taste
  • First, boil some water, and add about 1/4 cup to a little bowl with the raisins and the orange zest in it.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, throw in: chile pepper flakes, garlic, bell pepper, and the stems of the chard.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the stems and bell pepper are crisp-tender.
  • Add the chickpeas; the raisins and orange zest along with the water they are in; orange juice; mustard; and walnuts.  Stir and cook until the leaves wilt and the juice is heated through.  Taste and add salt.  (I added quite a bit of salt.)  Serve!
July 26, 2011

Yia Yia Vegetables

by Alexa

This is possibly my favorite food of all time.  When I was younger I used to help my grandmother make these vegetables for family parties,  and while a visit to a Greek restaurant has led me to believe that this dish is technically called “briam”, in my family we have always called them “yia yia vegetables” in her honor.  This is definitely a summer dish, and can be adapted to take advantage of different fresh vegetables you have–the “classic” version in my household included zucchini, green beans, eggplant, and potatoes, but summer squash, okra*, and carrots can also make there way in there.  When it all cooks up, it is something like a ratatouille, with the vegetables cooked until they are soft and swimming in this miraculous tomato/olive oil sauce infused with oregano. In true grandmother style, my yia yia never used a recipe, but just added ingredients intuitively and ended up with something awesome.  One day I tried to write down everything she did…here is what that looked like:


Now that she is no longer able to cook, I’m glad I have these notes to follow–I’ve transcribed the recipe below and fleshed out the instructions a little and the versions I’ve made in the past few years have turned out very well.  But hers will always be better.

*A digression about okra…As a kid, I was not a fan.  But I was an extremely polite child and would never dream of hurting Yia Yia’s feelings, so I always pretended to like it. My father knew about this predicament and thought it would be hilarious to tell my grandmother that okra was my favorite thing ever.  Being the sweet person she is, she responded to this information by cooking me special okra dishes–there would literally be a mixed vegetable dish for the family, and then a separate all-okra dish for me.  This went on for years.  The good news is that I eventually grew to love okra, and now it makes me feel all nostalgic.



  • About 1 1/2 lbs green beans. Wash and trim ends; put them in a bowl of cold water with a little salt
  • 4 zucchinis.  Wash and cut up into medium pieces (1 inch by 2 inches maybe) Soak in cold water.
  • 5 potatoes. Wash peel, chop and soak in water. (I don’t know what this soaking step is for, exactly, but she always did it, so I include it)
  • 2 large eggplants, cubed. Soak in salted water.
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes in puree
  • olive oil
  • bunch of scallions, cleaned and chopped
  • several cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • dried oregano
  • vegetable bouillon
  • vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
  • salt
  • pepper


Put a large pot on the stove over medium heat (you can use 2 medium pots, if you like–it can make stirring easier) Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil. Put the onions in first, and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the beans and a little bit of water.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes (if you wanted to add carrots, I would put them in now, too.)

While this is happening, prepare some vegetable bouillon; 3 cubes dissolved in about 3 cups of boiling water

Add all of the vegetables–scallions, potatoes, zucchini, eggplants, and garlic. Add the bouillon and the canned tomatoes and stir well. (I’ve also sometimes added a small can of tomato paste at tgis point for a richer tomato flavor)

Add a couple good glugs of olive oil. Don’t skimp on this–it’s a Greek recipe!  Add a couple splashes of vinegar, and a generous portion of dried oregano, crushing it between your hands to release all the flavor. (Yia Yia: “If Yia Yia no use oregano, not cooking!”)  Season with salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, uncovered, until it’s done.  This should take about an hour–some of the liquid should cook of, leaving you with a delightful orange sauce, the vegetables should be a bit mushy, and your potatoes should be cooked through but not disintegrating.  At the very end of the cooking process, give it a taste–add a bit more vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano if you desire.

This is maybe best at room temperature, but is also good warm or even cold from the fridge.  The only real way to eat this is with some good bread, and some cubes of nice feta cheese–you get a little piece of feta with every bite and use the bread to sop up all the sauce…heaven, I tell you.

July 13, 2011

Stormy Summer Strawberry Salad

by Jen

I just bought a basket for my bike!  It is really nice — there’s a brace that I’ve attached to the front of my bike, and the basket itself attaches to the brace, so I can take it off, carry it around, fill it, and re-attach it.  This afternoon I carried home a carton of milk and 2 lb. of strawberries, and it seemed quite stable.  And it was definitely better than biking home with bags dangling from my handlebars!

Future plans: Bake cupcakes, deliver them to my friends.  This plan is dimly inspired by this guy, though soup sounds too heavy.

It was sunny and hot when I conceived of this salad — quinoa, strawberries, and basil in a lemony dressing — and then started pouring as I was finishing preparing it.  It was tasty, and the juice from the strawberries turns the quinoa a pretty pink color.


  • Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water and 1/4 tsp salt.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  • Make dressing by whisking together: juice of 1 lemon, zest of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, and salt to taste.  Add to quinoa and stir to mix.
  • Add 2 lb. strawberries, chopped into bite-size pieces and 1 handful basil leaves, ripped apart.  Stir to mix.
  • Chill and eat!
July 11, 2011

Carrot-Onion Veggie Burgers

by Jen

I made the mix for these veggie burgers two days ago, but for some reason decided to wait until it was even hotter to fire up the oven and bake them!  I think they turned out well.  The work of mincing and grating and shredding was largely done by my food processor, so the mix was not much trouble to pull together.


  • Heat a little olive oil.  When hot, throw in 1 Tbsp black mustard seeds and some crushed red pepper.  When the mustard seeds pop, add in 1 medium onion, minced.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the onion softens.
  • Add 1 lb. carrot, grated.  Cook for another few minutes, until the carrot softens.  Add 4 cloves of garlic, minced.  Stir and cook for about a minute longer — try not to cook the garlic too long.
  • Take the mixture off heat, and stir in: 1 tsp dried thyme; 1 tsp dried basil; 1 can cannelini beans, mashed up a bit; 1 cup shredded cheese; 1/2 cup oats.  Stir and mash together.
  • Season with salt (in my experience, veggie burger mix should taste a little salty — the burgers come out better!) and add a little flour, as needed to make the mixture manageable.
  • Form into patties — I made 9.  I don’t think these would grill, but they would definitely be easy to pan fry — and I suspect they would be wonderful that way.  I baked them (on a greased pan, for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees), in part because it was so hot I didn’t want to stand over the stove.
July 5, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lime Dressing

by Jen

I love the way the germ separates from the kernel when quinoa cooks, making those little rings.

Today I wanted to make a salad with quinoa, bell peppers, basil, and black beans.  Then I saw some zucchini I couldn’t say no to, and here we are.

The frequency of the word “chopped” in the below makes me think of a conversation we had on the Fourth of July about whether it’s easier to cook vegetarian or with meat.  I argued “Of course vegetarian is easier” — I’ve only ever cooked vegetarian food, and find the buying of meat, the tidy preparation of meat, and the determination of when meat is “done” all slightly mysterious.  Others argued “Of course it’s easier to cook with meat” — claiming that apparently, once you have learned some basics about cooking meat, it can be much more straightforward to whip up chicken for dinner than to chop a bunch of vegetables and pull together a “simple” vegetarian main dish like this one.  Any thoughts?  Perhaps Ravi can post his boiled hot dog recipe and we can compare prep times…

Ingredients for the zucchini mixture:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 zucchini, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1 large bunch basil, chopped up a little
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • splash of olive oil

Other ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 box cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can black beans
  • salt


  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, add cumin seeds.  When they start to sizzle, add onion.  Saute for 5 minutes, until the onion softens.  Add zucchini, and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the zucchini softens.  Add garlic, and cook a minute or two more.  Put the zucchini mixture aside.
  • Cook the quinoa. (I did this in the same pot.)
  • Make the dressing by blending together the basil, lime juice, rice vinegar, and a splash of oil.  (I did this using our hand blender.)
  • Put the cooked quinoa in a large bowl, add the dressing, and mix until well-combined.  Salt to taste.  Add the zucchini mixture, and stir to mix.  Add the remaining ingredients — bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and black beans.  Taste, adding more salt if needed.
  • Eat hot, at room temperature, or cold!
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