Sweet Potato Rounds with Cilantro Pesto

Use fairly skinny sweet potatoes that are pretty even to avoid rounds of different dimensions and to keep the appetizers bite-sized. This recipe comes from the farmer’s market at St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond VA.  If you’re ever in the area on a Saturday morning, it’s well worth stopping in and checking it out. Adrienne demoed tghe recipe for our Holiday Buffet extravaganza at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD December 2015.

2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 T olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pesto:
2 bunches cilantro
¾ C unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ C shelled pistachios
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeño or Thai, optional
1 lemon, juiced
¼ C olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 450°F. Slice the sweet potatoes in rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, flip and roast five more minutes until just tender and slightly browned.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the pesto. Roughly chop the cilantro and blend both leaves and stems with the coconut, pistachios, garlic, hot pepper (if using), and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and blend until smooth. Add the rest, if desired. Taste and add salt (or more garlic, or more acid) until satisfied. If desired, thin the pesto with water to make it spreadable.


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

tahini

 

 

This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.


Chicken Enchilada Casserole

enchiladasWhole-wheat tortillas, lean chicken, black beans, a flavorful sauce and low-fat shredded cheese come together for a healthy, low-calorie casserole that’s going to wow your guests. The enchilada sauce, which comes from the blog Skinnytaste, is what makes this recipe sing. The adobo chilies, available in the International aisle of your supermarket, in the enchilada sauce are a must – they give the whole dish a smoky, addictive flavor that shouts Mexican. You can go heavier on the chilies for more of a kick – this version is mildly spicy. You’ll have enough enchilada sauce to make a second casserole. Adrienne demoed this at Brookside and Us Botanic garden in February 2015 for our “Hearty Casseroles” series. Thanks to Skinnytaste for the basic recipe, with some adaptations by The Cook Sisters.

For the enchilada sauce:
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 T chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, pureed chipotle
3 C plain tomato sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 C chicken or vegetable broth
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken:
1 t olive oil
1 C diced onion
2 large clove garlic, minced
9 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
½ – 1 whole can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1/4 C cilantro
kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 t dried oregano
1 t chili powder
1/3 C chicken broth
1/2 C plain tomato sauce
8 (7-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas, cut into half-moons
1½ – 2 C enchilada sauce
1 C shredded low fat Mexican cheese
½ C chopped scallions or cilantro for topping

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, black beans, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 13×9 inch casserole dish, spread about ½ C enchilada sauce; dip six tortilla halves into the enchilada sauce so they are well coated and arrange on top of sauce in casserole dish; spread half the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas; sprinkle with ½ C shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas (you may us only six of the eight tortillas), chicken and cheese. Cover eith aluminum foil and bake in 400 degree over 15 minutes; remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with scallions and serve with sour cream.


Corn Saute with Ginger, Lime and Cilantro

corn sauteThis is a great example of the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s difficult to put into words just how good this little saute is – the combination of sweet corn with the ginger and garlic – don’t skimp on these – and the heat of the serrano – you can go heavier on that if you wish – and the little bit of lime come together in an almost transcendent way. You can serve this with tortilla chips, combine it with a couple of spoonfuls of Mexican crema, or use it as a kind of salsa, on top of grilled rockfish or sword, which is how Adrienne served it last week. As delicious as the fish was, the saute was far and away the star of the show. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Adrienne will demo this at US Botanic Garden Friday August 15, 2014. Read More


Corn, Edamame and Bell Pepper Salad

corn

What I love about this salad is the colors – green and orange and yellow – so summery, so fresh, so appetizing. They are colors you want to wear all summer to stay cool and feel beautiful. With the zing of lime and a touch of herbs – use mint if you don’t like cilantro, or add basil if that’s what you’ve got too much of – it’s about the most refreshing thing you’ll eat. Serve with a rose or better yet a margarita, if, like me, you think a really good drink adds to the right meal. I like this with toasted naan.  Oh, and if you have to have protein, try something grilled, but keep it simple.  This salad doesn’t want crowding. You can find cooked, slightly salted edamame beans in 8 oz plastic tubs in the produce aisle of your supermarket. Or use frozen and cook it yourself. Adrienne demoed this for Brookside June 17, 2014, and again at USBG June 18, 2014. Serves two as a light main course, four sides. Read More


Asian Salad with Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes

 

This favorite summer salad is so flavorful you’ll be going back to it again and again. I use the least expensive salmon I can find – as long as it is fresh and sweet. I’ve never tried this with canned salmon – I fear that would be too salty.  But good farm-raised salmon can be had for about $6/pound on sale and a pound makes a dozen cakes, enough for six servings. The salad itself combines mesclun or baby greens with fresh herbs for a summery, intensely flavored final result. Adrienne demoed this recipe for a class at Brookside June 17, 2014. Adapted from Cuisine at Home. Read More


Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole

tex mex

A great way to use up the proliferation of squash that arrives each summer.  Feel free to play around with this make-ahead casserole by adding scallions, jalapenos, black olives or garnish it with avocado and chopped onions.

1½ lbs. summer squash or zucchini, or a combination of all summer squash
1 small onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, mild
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
¼ C all-purpose flour
¾ C salsa of your choice- mild, spicy, green, red
Chopped cilantro and chopped red onion, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F.
Wash and trim the ends off of the squash, then quarter each lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add the chopped onion, chiles and ¾ of the cheese. Sprinkle with flour, toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 9×9″ baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until the casserole is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Uncover, spoon the salsa over the casserole, add the remaining cheese and continue baking, uncovered, until golden brown and bubbly, another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and chopped red onion. Serves 6-8. (Equally good served hot, warm or room temperature.)