Avocado Chimichurri

IMG_9163Dear human beings,

You NEED this in your life. Fasting or not, you have got to make this, and I can’t believe I haven’t put it on this blog until now, because it’s a big favorite around here.

But no worries. I’m here now. To change lives.

Avocados are nice. Guacamole is good. Chimichurri is better. We like to eat ours on top of toasted sourdough bread, but you could dip it with chips, or heck, eat it by the spoonful. You won’t be sad.

Avocado Chimichurri

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cubed

Whisk it all together, except for the avocados. Fold those in at the end. Eat it on bread or with chips or all by itself.

(I often omit the cilantro because I have weirdos in my house. It’s excellent that way, too.)

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Fudgy Brownies

fudgy brownieeeeeeMany boxed cake and brownie mixes are free of milk and egg products. Find a brownie mix that is, and instead of adding an egg or two as directed, use this great substitute:

1 tablespoon freshly ground flax seed
3 tablespoons water

Stir together and let sit for a minute or two, then add to the batter as you would the egg. Cook according to package directions, and voila! Quick, easy, delicious brownies. I think this might be my new go to lenten birthday/name day treat.

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Fried Rice

One of the fasting staples around here is fried rice. We use it as a main dish at least once a week. I love it because it’s so easy to whip up in a short amount of time, it’s a great way to use up leftover rice, and it’s quite versatile: use white or brown rice, use any kind of vegetables, go heavier or lighter on them, substitute any oil you prefer for the coconut oil–but you really need the sesame oil, or it won’t taste right. 

This is especially great if not everyone in your home is fasting, because you can easily add meat and/or eggs to it for those who aren’t, and leave the rest lenten-style for those who are. Here’s a basic version, but keep in mind that all measurements are very much approximate; it’s really just to taste.

Fried Rice
Serves 2-4

4 cups rice, cooked
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1-2 bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables* or about 2 cups of vegetables of your choice, chopped
1/2 cup beansprouts (optional)
1 cup shrimp, cooked (optional)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pan or wok, heat the oils over medium heat and cook the onions till tender. Add the veggies and cook till they are as soft as you like. Add the rice and soy sauce, stir until well combined. Then add the cooked shrimp, if using. Stir fry until hot. Season with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately. This also reheats quite well, of course.

*If you use the frozen veggies, you may want to cook them ahead of time to make sure all the liquid is gone.

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Black Bean & Edamame Salad

It’s easy, it’s yummy, it’s healthy, it’s lenten. It’s obviously not soy-free, but I’ll post it anyway, because fresh, organic edamame is okay with me in moderation. Many thanks to my good friend, Missy, for this great recipe, which is adapted from Clean Eating Imagemagazine.
 

Black Bean & Edamame Salad

1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced red onion

Combine these ingredients together in medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing which is:

1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Drizzle over top of bean salad and toss to combine.

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Baba ghanoush

There is no end to my love for baba ghanoush: good for you, easy to make, and hard to resist. I almost think it shouldn’t qualify as lenten…but it does.

This recipe is from Desert Candy.


Baba Ghanoush

2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs), pricked all over with a fork
2 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon sea salt 
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini

Preheat oven to 450 F and roast the eggplants for 40-45 minutes, until the skins are black and the flesh is soft and collapsed. 

Meanwhile, smash the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle until paste-like. (In lieu of a mortar and pestle–although I keep telling myself I need to get one!–I have used a small food processor for this step.) In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and tahini until thick and lighter in color. Add the garlic paste.

When the roast eggplants are cool enough to handle, split them in half and scoop out the soft flesh. Puree the eggplant flesh in a food processor until smooth.

Add the eggplant puree to the garlic/tahini mixture. Taste for seasoning. Allow to rest until cool.

To serve, spread in a platter and drizzle with olive oil and any of your desired toppings. 

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Clam Pasta (aka the Best Friend Maker)

This is for Katarina. I’m her best friend because of this dish, which is awesome. She even kissed me in an effort to convince me to come to her house and make more for her, but in lieu of that, I shall share the recipe.

I often bring this to the pot luck dinners we have at my parish on Wednesday nights during Lent, after the Presanctified Liturgy. People are constantly asking me how to make it, and I have to admit: it comes from a can.

Seriously, all you need is a can of Progresso’s White Clam Sauce, poured over linguine–but last night I spiced it up a little bit and I liked it even better that way, and the additions provided some extra nutrition. Here’s what you need:

2 cans Progresso White Clam Sauce*
1 can (10 oz.) baby clams, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
Oil
1 package (16 oz.) linguine

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and cook the garlic for a minute or so. Then add the spinach, mushrooms, and baby clams. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the spinach wilted. Add the clam sauce, simmer for a few minutes, and serve over linguine. (For the pot luck, I just let it sit in a crock pot on the “warm” setting until it’s time to eat.)

By the way, I usually just get the clam sauce from Kroger or Walmart, but I found a deal at Amazon that is a lot better. Check it out.

Thanks, Progresso!

* I’ve tried another brand, DeLallo, but I didn’t like it nearly as much.

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Melomakarona

Melomakarona is a dense, very sweet traditional Greek cookie. I have sometimes heard it called simply “makaron”. Some people find they are too sweet for their liking; however, I have such a sweet tooth, it’s never a problem for me! But because not everyone is so afflicted, I prefer to make these cookies on the smaller side, just enough for a bite or two each.

 
Melomakarona

3 cups coconut oil*
1 cup orange juice, divided
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, blend the oil and 1/2 cup of the orange juice in a large bowl. Mix the sugar and spices together in another bowl, then add them to the oil mixture. Put the baking soda in the remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice, dissolving it and letting it fizz, then add it to the oil mixture.

Mix together the flour and baking powder, then add that to the oil mixture until it forms a soft dough. Add in the nuts.

Form the cookies from about one tablespoon of dough. You can make log shapes, balls, crescents, etc. Place them a couple of inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes. While the cookies are baking, make the honey syrup.


Honey Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup water

Stir all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture simmers. Remove from heat.

Dip the completely cooled cookies into the syrup and place on a rack to drip. If they’re not completely cooled, they’ll fall apart! Be careful. Immediately sprinkle them with more chopped nuts if you like. I really think they are best this way.

* It’s probably not traditional to use coconut oil but I try to avoid vegetable oil. My coconut oil has a slight coconut taste to it, which I personally like, but “deodorized” oil is available, too, or you can just use vegetable oil.

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