Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hurry And Eat A Pomegranate Before They're Gone!

Every fall when pomegranates start showing up in the markets I get very excited about this historic jewel. We love to just quarter the ruby colored fruit, peel off chucks of arils, still clinging to the membrane, and bite into those juicy garnet nuggets of fiber and antioxidants.

The other day most of the pomegranates looked a little past ripe so we bought a couple to ensure we'd get a fresh one. This one was beginning to turn brown near the skin but turned out fine.

When using the seeds alone in a meal just loosen them by tapping the pomegranate with the back of spoon.

Here's another technique that I haven't tried but looks like an effective way to remove all the seeds and contain the pomegranate juice so it doesn't squirt and stain your clothes or make a mess.

Or, Whole Foods does it all for you and fresh seeds can be purchased in a container (but, it's not as much fun that way).

Sprinkle the seeds over fruit salads or salads that you like to make. Incorporate them into meals, garnish pancakes or waffles - their vibrant color will open up tired eyes!

Here's a refreshing and colorful salad I made:

Canteloupeproscuitto, chopped mint leaves, and pomegranate seeds. A powerful antioxidant meal, loaded with pure flavors. Use proscuitto or feta cheese for added protein - goes exceptionally well with canteloupe. But use a little if watching sodium levels or use walnuts instead. And I think grapes would be a nice addition to this salad.

A salad recipe I found that sounds tasty is a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, chickpeas, red onion, and feta, And I think slices of nectarines or oranges would taste good in a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds.

I even put pomegranate seeds in a rice side dish for a little added crunch and antioxidant punch:

Don't wait!  Eat a pomegranate before they're gone.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Summer Squash Ravioli and Broccolini

I finally used the ravioli I bought this fall at the local farmers' market. A representative from Fior D'Italia sells delicious pastas that are made in Manchester, Vermont. Tonight's ravioli contained zucchini, yellow squash, ricotta, tomatoes, romano, basil, salt and pepper. With all those wonderful ingredients, I really didn't need to do much other than boil it, drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve it.

But, I needed to use up a bulb of garlic that was getting old so I decided to roast the garlic to bring out its sweetness, which tastes delicious and makes it more tolerable for the kids to eat.

How I prepared this meal:
I sliced off the top of the entire garlic bulb, placed over foil, drizzled each clove with olive oil, wrapped and roasted the bulb at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until soft when squeezed. I stopped at 30 minutes because we were hungry but I think it should have cooked for about 40-45 minutes.

While the garlic was roasting, I boiled the ravioli and when they started to float I removed them with a slotted spoon and placed in a platter. I poured a little of the starchy water the ravioli cooked in over them so they wouldn't stick.

When garlic was done, I squeezed the soft cloves out of their skins and into a pan with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of butter (I used organic Earth Balance to reduce the amount of lactose in the meal). It sounds like a lot of butter but we had a lot of ravioli.

Then I heated the garlic through for about 3-5 minutes, added a little more pasta water, poured the sauce over the pasta through a strainer (so the garlic wouldn't overwhelm the dish and turn my kids away), letting just a few bits of sweet roasted garlic fall onto the ravioli.  This is where my son helped and did a great job!

For simplicity and speed, I steamed a bunch of broccolini in the microwave instead of boiling or sautéing (in hindsight, I should have boiled the broccolini first and then the ravioli in the same water and pot). To prepare, I trimmed off the bottom thicker part of the stems and rinsed in a strainer. The stems are tender and really don't need to be trimmed like broccoli but I know my kids won't eat that part (they can be used for something else like soup). Leaving water residue on them, I placed them in a small glass casserole dish, loosely covered, and heated them for 3 minutes.

For a beautiful finish, garnish the platter with the broccolini like in the first picture above.

Swiss Chard and Cannellini Beans, Light and Easy

After the holidays I needed a day off from meat and heavy foods.  This swiss chard, cannellini bean, shallot, and garlic dish was a nice change.

Swiss chard is nutritious, offering a good source of vitamins, like A, C and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and other minerals, and antioxidants.  It is high in sodium, however, so I didn't add salt when I made this.  Cannellini beans are a good source of fiber and protein and an excellent source of iron and more.

Chop up ingredients - 1 bunch swiss chard, 1 shallot and 1 garlic clove. I removed most of the stems for this dish.

Saute shallots first in olive oil.

Add the garlic next, just until heated through so it won't burn, then add about a 1/4 cup of chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version), the swiss chard and beans (1 can, rinsed).  Saute until the swiss chard looks tender like this (takes just a few minutes):

Can be eaten as its own meal or as a side dish.  Drizzle on a little fresh lemon for added brightness and fresh ground pepper.

I was really in the mood for fish that night (plus I didn't think the kids would like swiss chard and beans) so I broiled some swordfish (about 7 minutes each side from middle rack with a little olive oil and lemon).  We were in New Hampshire, Franconia Notch, where it's hard to find fresh fish but I found some fairly good swordfish in Littleton, frozen in a vacuum-sealed pack.  I made the rice side dish, again, in case the kids didn't like the swiss chard, but they did!

Before serving, I sprinkled some chopped fresh parsley on the fish.

About the rice.  We don't use pre-seasoned rice mixes because of the sodium.  This was a mixture of brown and wild rice that I cooked in a low-sodium chicken broth (I often use my own no-salt stock but I didn't have any on hand).