Posts Tagged ‘main dish’

I must confess, one of my favorite new ingredients is pearl barley. I can’t get enough of it! In salads, soups and bowls. But what about pearl barley and breakfast?

I was recently on a mission to find a breakfast dish I could incorporate my new favorite ingredient because (a) I love breakfast and (b) now I love pearl barley. So…it only makes sense to marry the two. And…I did! It was stellar! I’d like to share it with you. What you’ll like about this recipe is that it’s incredibly flexible…change the veggies, add or omit specific herbs and seasoning or add cheese! Imagine that. Yum!

One other thing you’ll like is that it’s full of fiber from the pearl barley and vegetables and contains protein from the eggs. You may be ready to run a marathon after a serving of this. No joke!

Nutritional perks –

    Pearl barley – A heart-smart choice! Full of dietary fiber, contains Vitamin B3 and B1 as well as iron, magnesium and zinc. It’s pretty much a nutritional super hero.
    Eggs – One egg contain 5.5 grams of low-cost protein. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is essential for brain function, the nervous system and heart-health. Apparently most Americans are choline-deficient; you can read more about choline here.

Pearl Barley Savory Breakfast Bake
Inspired and loosely adapted from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
– 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
– 1/2 cup zucchini, halved and sliced
– 1/2 cup onion, chopped
– 1 summer squash, halved and sliced
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1/2 tsp dried oregano
– sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pearl barley according to package. For me, it took about 40 minutes and I used water. When barley is tender and liquid absorbed, remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, zucchini, onion, mushroom and squash. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook the vegetables until lightly browned. Add the cooked barley and cook until barley begins to brown. Stir in the basil and oregano; add more sea salt and pepper if desired.

Gently spoon the mixture into a casserole dish. Crack the eggs over the barley mixture and make sure not to break the yolk. Feel free to add more eggs if you wish! Bake for 15 minutes or until eggs are set.

Enjoy it’s flavor and enjoy how good and good for you it is!


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During the warm months it’s difficult to oven-roast anything and everything or plop a dutch oven on the stove for a heart-warming stew. It’s just too damn hot, right?! But what if you need something comforting? Like comfort food without the house-warming properties. It’s practically summer. This is no time to be warming the house via oven or stove. Well…unless you’re baking something…like cookies!

Ok, back to comfort food.

Have you heard of “June Gloom?” Well, it’s a strange phenomenon Southern California experiences only in June. Gloomy mornings, a thick marine layer in the afternoon and maybe 2 to 3 hours of sunshine. This gloom evoked in me a desire for something comforting, but not something that would monopolize my oven for a lengthy period. I wasn’t in the mood to warm my house any more than it had to be. But low and behold I found a recipe for ragout! A ragout in less than one hour. I’m a fan!

I loosely adapted it from Shape Magazine. Rather than pairing the ragout with polenta, I paired it with pearled barley for the additional fiber and reduced the amount of olive oil used. Moreover, I decided to add more flavor with red wine, in place of vegetable broth. Let me tell you, the red wine addition? Bonus! Tasty!

Nutritional perks –

    Tomato – Contains an antioxidant called Lycopene, which is known to help flush out free radicals from the body and aid in the fight against cancer cell formation.
    Red wine – The antioxidant in red wine called Resveratrol, is known to reduce the risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, estrogen depletion and cardiovascular disease.
    Pearl barley – A heart-smart choice! Full of dietary fiber, contains Vitamin B3 and B1 as well as iron, magnesium and zinc. It’s pretty much a nutritional super hero.

Antioxidant Packed Ragout with Pearl Barley
Inspired from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
– 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 shallot, thinly sliced
– 1 tsp tomato paste
– 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced. Any type of mushroom can work in the dish.
– 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
– 1/2 cup red wine
– 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
– Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook pearl barley according to package. You may want to use vegetable broth rather than water. The choice is yours. I used water in my barley preparation for this recipe. When barley is finished cooking, season it with the dried rosemary and sea salt and pepper to taste.

In a pot or skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shallot. Cook for about two minutes. Add the tomato paste and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the red wine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the grape tomatoes and cook until sauce thickens. This took about 5 to 10 minutes for me. Remove from heat.

Combine the pearl barley and tomato and mushroom ragout and enjoy it’s comforting and healthy properties!

Guess what?! You’ve got comfort food without your house feeling 15 degrees hotter.

The original recipe suggests topping the dish with shaved parmesan, but I completely forgot to add on mine. Woopps!

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We’ve all been there. We’re hungry but not too hungry but hungry enough. What to eat? A mini-meal is definitely in order!

If you like eggs or runny egg yolks, then bookmark this page! Seriously, this small meal is fulfilling, flavorful, full of texture and simple to throw together.

This recipe is inspired by a display of quail eggs I strolled by at Surfas, in Culver City. One of my best friends, Jen, was there to witness it. I had to do a double-take! If you’ve read about my low maintenance one-pan sliders, you know that the sensation of inspiration ignites my fire to take action.

The quail eggs were perfectly speckled, shapely and smooth. Moreover, I just love how earthy they looked, as if they were removed from the quail nest one hour before. I knew at the moment these gems would produce something quite tasty.

I didn’t know much about the marble-sized quail eggs, so to Google I went.

Nutritional perks –

    Quail eggs – nutritional value is 3-4 times higher than chicken eggs. Quail eggs contain 13% proteins, while chicken eggs contain 11% proteins. Strengthens the immune system, promotes good memory and contains the “good” (HDL) cholesterol

Fried Quail Egg on French Baguette

Print Recipe

– Quail eggs
– French baguette, cut into slices on the bias
– Soft goat cheese
– Balsamic vinaigrette
– Sea salt and pepper to taste
– A tasty side salad or soup

Toast the baguette slices in the broiler until toasty.

Spray non-stick cooking spray in a medium skillet. Carefully drop one to two quail eggs into the skillet. Remove the eggs before the bottoms of the whites brown too much.

Spread goat cheese on the baguette slice and lightly drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette on top. Slide the fried egg on top. The small fried egg fits perfectly on the slice, I just love that.

Season with salt and pepper. Pair with your favorite salad or soup. Enjoy and watch the egg yolk ooz-out. That’s the best part!

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I saw this purple cauliflower in the market and it called out to me. Seriously, how could I not pick it up, admire it’s color and reflect on it’s unique taste? I love cauliflower, but did purple cauliflower taste different than the milky white cauliflower we all know and love? Well…some of us love. I definitely love.

I grabbed it and went home. I didn’t steal it; I paid incase you were wondering! I was anticipating lightly covering it in olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasting it. Perhaps drizzling a reduced balsamic on top too. I thought about making a frittata or a savory tart. I thought these were all good options and all warm and enjoyable but I had an insatiable need to find a recipe that challenged me.


I’ve never made a souffle, not a chocolate souffle or cheese souffle. My first souffle? A purple cauliflower souffle. It was a good choice and I can only hope you think so as well!

The recipe for this purple cauliflower souffle is incredibly simple and works for many different vegetables. You could try zucchini, broccoli, carrot or green peas. I just loved how light the souffle was and how delightful the lemon zest scented the air. It would pair perfect with a salad; a good choice for lunch or dinner! Guaranteed.

Nutritional perks –

    Cauliflower – good source of riboflavin, protein and magnesium. a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, K and B6 and folate.
    Eggs – good source of riboflavin and Vitamin B12. a very good source of protein.

Purple Cauliflower Souffle
adapted from CookingLight Magazine, Dec. 2001 Issue

– 3/4 lb. purple cauliflower, finely chopped
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 1/2 low fat milk
– 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt or 2% Greek yogurt
– 1 Tbs grated lemon zest
– 3/4 tsp sea salt
– 3 large egg yolks
– 6 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook purple cauliflower in boiling water until tender. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature on a paper towel.

Combine flour and milk in a medium sauce pan and stir well. Bring to a boil and cook one minute, always stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in yogurt, lemon zest, salt and yolks. Cook one minute until thick. Pour into a large bowl and stir in cauliflower.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs whites with an electric mixture until stiff peaks form. Gently stir 1/3 egg white mixture into cauliflower mixture. Fold the remaining egg whites into the cauliflower mixture.

Gently spoon mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes.

out of the oven

Serve immediately and enjoy it’s toasty top, specks of purple cauliflower and lemon zest. You will find it’s light texture and flavor refreshing! So, does it taste similar to white cauliflower? I believe it does!

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Mama Mia! Va Bene! Salute! Ti Amo!

caprese loaf

I don’t speak Italian, but for some reason, when I made this loaf and tasted it the Italian in me sprouted. If you know me, you know that I don’t have an ounce of Italian in my lineage, but this loaf makes me feel like a resident of Rome. Italian speaking and all! Oh mama mia.

Not only does this loaf beam with the fresh flavors of Roma, Italy, it’s also not something to feel guilty about eating. You heard right! I used whole wheat flour, part-skim mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil, skim milk and extra virgin olive oil. I added white mushroom for flavor and texture; glad I did because it’s adds a layer of flavor that rounds out the whole loaf. Mmmm!

Nutritional perks –

    Tomato – good source of Vitamin E and B6, magnesium and copper. a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, C and K.
    Fresh basil – good source of protein, Vitamin E and riboflavin. a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, C, K, and B6, folate, calcium and iron. Damn! Basil, you rule!
    Mozzarella – good source of protein and Vitamin B12. a very good source of calcium.
    White mushroom – good source of dietary fiber, protein, Vitamin C and iron. a very good source of Vitamin D and B6, and riboflavin.

There aren’t many savory quick breads out there. We’re used to seeing quick breads like banana-nut bread, pumpkin bread, apple spice bread and others. So, when I stumbled upon a recipe for a roasted vegetable cake by Chef Wanabe, I took the method and added the flavors I like and created a quick bread. Sliceable, shareable, aromatic and enjoyable!

You can take this recipe and add your favorite roasted vegetables to make it your own. Guaranteed, you’ll make something delish!

Italian Caprese Loaf
– 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
– 1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
– 3 1/2 slices of part-skim low moisture mozzarella cheese
– 1 1/2 Tbls fresh basil, chopped
– 3 eggs
– 6 Tbls skim milk
– 4 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
– 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 Tbls shredded parmesan cheese
– 1 Tbls baking soda
– Sea salt and pepper to taste

Making the oven roasted tomatoes and mushrooms for the loaf
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the tomatoes and mushroom on a baking sheet and toss in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

cherry tomatoes cut in half, ready for roasting!

Making the loaf
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk and olive oil and beat combine.

Add the roasted mushrooms (save a few for garnish), flour, Parmesan cheese, baking soda and salt and pepper. Fold in the chopped basil.

fresh chopped basil

Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Layer the mozzarella slices onto the batter. Add a layer of the roasted tomato (save a few for garnish) on top of the mozzarella slices. This is going to add a decadent layer of melty cheese when the loaf is finished being baked. You will enjoy, I promise!

sliced mozzarella

middle layer of mozzarella & roasted tomatoes

Add the last half of the batter on top of the mozzarella and roasted tomato layer. Top the loaf with the remaining roasted tomatoes and mushrooms.

Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the loaf on a wire rack. When you can touch the pan without oven-mits, remove the loaf from the pan.

Slice and savor!

want seconds?

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a hulk of lasagna

This lasagna is so good it makes me angry!…like the Hulk. Angry because in a perfect world eating this ooey-gooey veggie-packed lasagna everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner would be utopia. Not sure my stomach would like lasagna every day but my mouth and brain receptors would! The saying goes “To much of a good thing is bad”. Grrr! I’m angry!

I actually think the Hulk would like this lasagna. Yes, it’s scrumptious but it’s also green (like the Hulk) and full of nutrition, which the Hulk needs, right? Anyway, I digress. Enough Hulk talk. Lets talk lasagna!

Here’s the story…
A damp evening summons comfort food and that’s precisely what my best friend Caitlin had in mind! The plan: eat awesomeness lasagna and watch This is It. Indeed it was; this was it, Caitlin ditched her law books and grabbed a knife and grater! So, while I enjoyed wine and chatted it up with Megan and Jackie (whom I’ve known since nap time was part of daily routine), Caitlin made this hulk of lasagna! She loves us! It’s official.

I’ve never eaten such a lasagna; it didn’t have a sauce and it was green; not like dark-spinach-green but light green. Quite pretty actually. Each layer was packed with flavor and you may be thinking “oh, I don’t like peas!” but the beauty of this lasagna is that it didn’t taste like a load of peas and noodles in your mouth. Each bite is robust with the flavor and texture of artichoke and ricotta cheese, and the peas simply harmonize in the background. The mozzarella? Oh, the mozzarella! The mozzarella lends it’s cheesy-stringy goodness with each morsel.

Back to the sauce or lack there-of. Lasagnas I’ve consumed in the past and very much enjoyed, included a red sauce or a bechamel sauce. This lasagna didn’t have a sauce at all OR butter! Whaaat?? It’s all good, it was packed with pureed green peas, artichoke hearts and basil. AND of course cheese! This is definitely a good and good-for-you type of lasagna; the type of lasagna you make for people you care about.

To take a healthier spin on this recipe, use low fat whipping cream and low fat ricotta cheese.

Nutritional perks –

    Green peas – low in saturated fat and cholesterol, good source of protein, Vitamin A, niacin and B6. Great source of fiber.
    Artichokes – also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, good source of niacin and magnesium. Great source of fiber and Vitamin C.
    Basil – source of protein and Vitamins E, A, C, K and B6. A source of folate, calcium and iron. Wow! Basil? Who knew?

Sweet Pea & Artichoke Lasagna replicated from Bon Appetit
Makes 10 to 12 servings

– 2 8oz packages of frozen artichoke hearts thawed and coarsely chopped OR 2 cans of artichoke hearts coarsely chopped
– 1 1/2 cups whipping cream (divided)
– 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
– 2 15oz containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
– 1 16oz bag of frozen petite peas thawed
– 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 8-9oz package of no-boil lasagna noodles
– 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 13×9 glass baking dish with oil or spray with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup cream and basil. Place the remaining cream, petit peas, ricotta, Parmesan and 2 eggs into a food processor and puree baby!

Spread 1 cup of the ricotta mixture on the bottom of the glass baking dish. Arrange 4 noodles over the ricotta mixture. Spread half of the artichoke mixture over the noodles. Spread 2 1/2 cups ricotta mixture over the artichoke layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat with 4 noodles, artichoke mixture, 2 1/2 cups ricotta mixture and 1 cup mozzarella.

Top with 4 noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over, then sprinkle remaining 2 cups mozzarella over. Tent with foil, sealing edges.

Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until bubbling at edges and brown on top (about 25 minutes). Let stand 15 minutes.

Then devour!


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