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Posts Tagged ‘Cilantro’

Mexican Bake | Relishing ItSo, what are you planning to do with all of those delicious turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving?  Sandwiches?  Really?  I like a good cold-turkey sandwich as much as anyone, but today I have a recipe that is a great alternative.  And to be honest, even if you don’t have turkey leftovers you should make this dish.  It’s wonderful, and so versatile that you can make it with turkey, chicken, ground beef or even just beans, for a vegetarian option.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You’ve probably noticed that I’m into making ‘bakes’ a lot this year.  I’ve been having fun incorporating legumes, grains, and quinoa (technically a seed) into meals.  Aside from being so easy to throw together, they’re incredibly satisfying and a healthy option.  A big bowl of hot food is just what we all need as we gather around the dinner table together while it snows outside.  This particular bake has a Mexican flare. I’ve made it a number of ways depending on what we have in the house. I’ve been challenging myself this year to make meals out of food that we have, rather than running to the store every time an idea enters my brain. Aside from a smaller grocery bill, it cuts down on wasting otherwise-usable food, so that makes me happy.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

This dish is fabulous with shredded chicken or turkey, but it’s also equally tasty using ground beef (or shredded beef, if you happen to have that).  Substituting beef broth for the chicken broth is an easy swap.  Of course, going completely vegetarian is a no-brainer, too.  Just add more beans and use vegetable broth, or even water.  Just amp up the spices a bit more to compensate. Whatever protein you decide to use, it will pair wonderfully with the brown rice, corn, and beans.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You all know that I pretty much can all of my tomatoes that I need to get me through the winter.  However, Red Gold Tomatoes generously sent me some different varieties of canned tomatoes to try (thanks, guys!).   So, I incorporated them in this dish and they were fantastic! I used the the lime juice and cilantro variety.  Of course, you can use any type of canned tomato that you have on hand, but these added a nice zesty flavor to the dish.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

Load the bake up with as much cheese as you would like– that’s a personal preference.  Before serving, squeeze on some fresh lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, slice up some jalapeños, and dollop on the sour cream.  Serve it with tortilla chips or plain tortillas and you are set.  You’re going to love this dish!

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

The Recipe: Mexican Bake

(serves 4)

olive oil

about 1 pound (or a bit more) of cooked shredded chicken, turkey, ground or shredded beef (see note)

1 small red or white onion, diced

about 4 garlic cloves, minced

about 14-15 ounces of cooked beans, drained and rinsed (any kind– red, black, pinto, or even white) (when I forget to soak my own, I’ve really been enjoying Simply Balanced Organic Beans (found at Target) for both the texture and the flavor.)

1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed (any type of rice will work–if wanting to use white, just note that the cooking time will decrease)

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1-2 teaspoons ground coriander

kosher salt and cracked pepper

about 1 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 cups homemade chicken or beef broth heated (depending upon what protein you are using)

1 15-ounce can Red Gold diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (or anything similar)

shredded cheese, 1-2 cups  (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack are great options)

chopped fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeños, sour cream, fresh limes, hot sauce, tortilla chips, and/or fresh tortillas for serving

Note:  If wanting to use shredded chicken, simply sauté one pound (or a bit more) of chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in a skillet with olive oil.  They should take about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending upon how high your heat is.  Check for doneness, then shred with a fork.  Or use rotisserie!

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large Dutch oven add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until somewhat soft (you would brown the ground beef just prior to this, if using).  Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, about 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and cracked pepper to the pan.  Then add the canned tomatoes with juices, beans, rice, meat, corn, and heated broth and continue to cook for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until everything is hot.

Mix in the meat.  Flatten everything with a spatula so the rice can cook properly in the liquids.  Place in the preheated oven and bake covered for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and add the cheese.  Return to oven, covered, for about 5 more minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, hot sauce, tortilla chips and/or fresh tortillas.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving celebrating with your loved ones!  Peace to all.

Laurie

 

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Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

I’ll get to the corn salsa in a minute– but first I want to talk about beer!  Admittedly, I’ve been drinking too darn much beer this summer.  Not at one time– nothing like that.  But this summer, more than any other, it’s just been so easy to sit outside with Radd in the evening and visit over a beer or two.  I suppose it’s partly to do with our mild weather– not too hot, not too humid.  It has been perfect, which is excellent for my happiness.  And while I probably don’t need those calories at the end of the day, instead of stressing, I’ve decided to embrace it.

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

So what have I been sipping on?  Mostly farmhouse ales and saisons.  Two that I love are Saison Dupont and a local farmhouse ale from Liftbridge called Farm Girl.  Speaking of local beer, I’ve also been enjoying a few others like Bent Paddle’s Paddle Break Blonde and Steel Toe’s Size 7 IPA.  Now before this post turns into an essay on local beer, let me just say this– our craft beer scene here in Minnesota is just incredible right now.  So many wonderful breweries and taprooms, and I’ve been testing them out like it’s my job.  I’m owning it, I don’t mind saying.  A few other great summer favorites (not local) are Leffe Blonde and Pyramid’s Apricot Ale.  There, that’s my beer confession.

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

So what goes smashingly well with summer beer?  Yup– chips and fresh corn salsa.  I love salsa of any variety– tomato, tomatillo… but, there’s something about fresh corn salsa that wins the salsa competition for me.  I would choose corn every time.  It’s fresh, slightly sweet, spicy, and loaded with that citrusy lime/cilantro flavor.  Not to mention, it is simple to make– so simple that it’s somewhat silly to even give a recipe.  But, I think the same can be said for most summer fare– fresh and simple and that’s just fine.  So, get out your chefs knife and start cutting up that corn.  Then pour yourself a glass of cold beer and soak up some summer fun.  Cheers!

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

The Recipe: Fresh Corn Salsa

6-8 ears of fresh corn, cut

1 large red onion, diced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds/ribs if heat is a factor)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

juice of one lime

kosher salt

In a medium-sized bowl mix all of the ingredients.  Add more lime juice to taste.  Season appropriately with salt.  You may need more salt than you are used to — corn needs a bit to bring out its wonderful flavor.  Let flavors meld for a bit before serving.  Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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I’m sitting here at my desk on this blustery Minnesota morning, reading about blizzard warnings and drinking a hot coffee.  I’m also thinking about this wonderful, warming soup.  I really wish I had a bowl waiting for me downstairs.  Last week I shared with you how to make your own homemade chicken broth and I promised  that a few delicious soup recipes would follow, so here’s number one.  This Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) has become one of our family favorites.  I love it because I’m partial to broth soups– they warm me up in such a perfect way.  I’m also a huge fan of citrus in my soups– I love to finish them with lemon, or in this case with lime.  It really brightens them up.  This soup comes together in no time at all if you’ve done a bit of prep work– i.e., made your broth ahead of time.

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) | Relishing It

Assuming you’ve made the broth ahead of time, make sure you reserved your chicken meat for this recipe.  This soup is so simple and doesn’t contain a lot of other major ingredients, so the broth really shines.  Honestly, the soup is basically just seasoned broth with chicken, a bit of tomato, puréed charred onion and a lot of fresh toppings.  And it’s amazing.  Traditionally, tortillas are deep-fried for the top of the soup, but even I take shortcuts sometimes.  I generally forego the deep-frying of the tortillas and instead opt to use good quality tortilla chips.  Having a large pot of hot oil on my stove is just a bit too much effort for me, with not enough reward– but, you can certainly choose to give it a go.

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) | Relishing It

I’ve found that I love the flavor of broiling the onions and garlic until they have a bit of char on them– not too much.  It really emphasizes the smokey flavor.  You’ll want to watch the garlic and most likely remove it from the oven before the onion is done.  Otherwise it may burn.  The toppings at the end are a personal choice, make it as spicy (with jalapeños and cayenne pepper) as you want.  Load it up with tortilla chips, aged white cheddar cheese, cilantro, more lime, and avocados.  I’m kicking myself for forgetting to put the avocados on the soup before I snapped the photos.  Rest assured I plopped some on it before I devoured the bowl.  They’re perfect here, so don’t forget the avocados.  Enjoy!

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup)| Relishing It

The Recipe:  Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup)

(Serves 4)

2 quarts chicken broth (preferably homemade using this recipe)

About 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (use chicken from stock that you previously made OR boil or bake some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs– then shred)

1 medium white onion, sliced

about 1 1/2 garlic bulbs, peeled (not just the cloves– the entire bulb!)

1 cup puréed or crushed canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 4-inch cinnamon stick

1 dried bay leaf

freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

zest from two organic limes

1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Toppings: tortilla chips, cilantro, jalapeños, ground cayenne pepper, lime slices, aged white cheddar cheese (or monterey jack), and avocados

Place the sliced onion and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet.  Place in the oven and broil until color begins to develop, flipping once.  You may need to remove the garlic before the onion is done, so it does not burn.  Keep a watchful eye while broiling.

Begin the broth.  In a large Dutch oven or kettle, add the chicken broth, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, cumin, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaf, lime zest, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and let cook for about 20-25  minutes.

Meanwhile, place the charred onion and garlic in a blender and add a bit of broth.  Blend until somewhat smooth.  Add the mixture to the soup.  Continue to cook the soup until you reach the 20-25 minute mark.  Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon.   Add the lime juice and taste.  Season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.

You can choose to add the chicken directly into the soup, but I generally heat in up in the microwave and portion it out among the bowls and ladle the hot soup over it.  Then add the final toppings– the tortilla chips, cheese, cilantro, jalapeños, lime slice, cayenne, and avocados.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

xo

Laurie

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Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItBaby, it’s cold outside!  Or at least it is here in Minnesota.  There is definitely that ‘winter-is-coming’ chill in the air.  And this is just the start.  Wind chills will eventually plummet to -50 degrees F, snow will pile up on the sidewalks.  Ugh.  I always complain as autumn comes to a close, knowing that we face the long slog to April.  My body just isn’t acclimated to the cold for the first month or so.  Ah well, I guess there’s also the comforting expectation of snuggling into a warm blanket and a good book while the kids head out to play in the snow.  There is that to look forward to…

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Homemade Taco Seasoning | Relishing It

Vegetarian Lenti; Taco Soup | Relishing It

As soon as the weather turns, I start thinking about soup.  This particular one is a beauty.  It’s substantial– more like a cross between a soup and a stew.  It’s loaded with healthy protein from lentils and beans, though my favorite ingredient this time around is most definitely the corn.  It makes so many soups better.  It adds a nice flavor and a bit of texture, as well.  Not to mention, it pairs beautifully with the Mexican flavors.

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing It

Let’s talk about those flavors, shall we?  Years ago I began making my own taco mix.  To be honest, it happened a bit by accident.  I ran out of my usual purchased taco seasoning, so I had to improvise.  Luckily, I keep a well stocked spice cabinet (Penzys really should send me a thank you note).  In looking at the recipe, don’t let the length of the list scare you.  I realize that not everyone has all of the spices on hand.  As long as you have the main ones (chili, paprika, garlic, onion, and cumin powder), you will be just fine.  But, if you do happen to have the others, even better.  Try this seasoning the next time you make traditional tacos– you’ll love it!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup | Relishing ItThe soup is wonderful served with the usual taco accompaniments– sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and of course some tortilla chips. However, I also discovered another way that I like to eat the leftovers.  Since the legumes continue to soak up more broth overnight, the soup becomes a bit thicker.  I love to serve it atop baked spaghetti squash.  It’s delicious and makes a great gluten-free, paleo, and even vegan meal! So– perfect to serve to friends or family that might be trying to eat that particular way.  Stay warm, friends!

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup Over Spaghetti Squash | Relishing It

The Recipe: Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup

(serves 4-6 comfortably)

2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed

2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)

1 heaping cup frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of one lime

scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To begin: soak and cook your red and black beans separately following standard directions to cook beans.  Honestly, I usually have extras in my freezer that I pull out to throw into this soup.  Beans freeze incredibly well, so feel free to make extras for that purpose. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans, and 1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans.  Or simple choose to use one can of each, rinsed.

Mix all of the taco seasoning ingredients together in small bowl, set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.   Begin to saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until somewhat soft.  Add the taco seasoning to the onion mixture.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetables stock, cooked red and black beans, and the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but have not fallen apart.  Stirring a couple of times along the way.  Make sure not to overcook the lentils, or they will turn to mush.  When the soup is done, add the frozen corn, cilantro, and juice of one lime.  Reseason with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, and more lime.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Roasted Potatoes with a Curry Dipping Sauce | Relishing It

Sometimes you make mistakes.  Sometimes, you have to admit when you’ve simply been wrong.  Now don’t get too excited– this isn’t some juicy confession.  I’m talking about my misguided idea that potatoes should be avoided.  That they aren’t “good for you.”  I ate them sparingly for years, but then it occured to me, they’re a whole food.  Nature makes them all on it’s own.  Come on!  They’re potatoes.  Why did I think this was a bad thing?  Yes, they’re a carbohydrate, but I’m cool with that.  I need carbs in this body.  They give me energy.  I know I shouldn’t go crazy and pile starches onto my plate every meal, but, the same can be said about almost every food.  Well, maybe not broccoli…or kale…but you get the point.

Roasted Potatoes with a Curry Dipping Sauce | Relishing It

I’m glad I’ve rediscovered my love of potatoes.  I’ve probably mentioned here in the past that my Mom has always had an amazing garden.  When I was a little girl, we lived on a farm where there was plenty of space for her to grow almost anything.  Even so, rather than restrict them to the garden, the potatoes had a special HUGE section in a field near the house.  My grandparents would come over and we’d have potato-planting parties out in that field.  True story.  My favorite part was when, after a few months, we’d all head back out to the field and dig ’em up.  I can still see my Dad, with the salt shaker that he’d bring out into the field (seriously), shining up a few potatoes to crunch-away on while we dug.

Crispy roasted potatoes are amazing.  Here I’ve paired them with a delicious coconut curry dipping sauce.  The most important thing to keep in mind when making roasted potatoes is that you simply can’t cut them up and put them in the oven.  You need to cook them a fair amount beforehand.  Some people choose to boil them slightly, I always steam my potatoes.  I find that they don’t get saturated and fall apart this way.  It also keeps them from losing some of their nutrients.  For convenience, you can steam up a big batch of potatoes in the beginning of the week and leave them sit in your fridge– that way they’re ready to use whenever you need them.  You’d be surprised how many ways you can find to use them.

Roasted Potatoes with a Curry Dipping Sauce | Relishing It

The curry sauce here is delicious.  It’s simple and not overly fancy.  You should have most of these ingredients on hand already.  With the crispy potatoes, it makes a brilliant combination.  I hope you give these a try!

The Recipe:  Roasted Potatoes with a Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce

(serves 4)

1 pound small, yellow potatoes

1/3 cup finely chopped white onion

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons sweet curry powder (I love Penzys’ version)

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

pinch of sugar, to taste

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, (1 tablespoon reserved)

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

salt and pepper

fresh cilantro for serving

In a large sauce pan, place a steamer basket (or you can choose to simply boil them) and fill with the potatoes and a bit of water.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam until the potatoes are tender when tested.  I steam my small potatoes whole, but if you only have large ones– just cut them up before steaming.  Make sure to not over-steam them, as they will fall apart.  I’m not going to give an exact time, as it will depend upon the size of your potato.  It’s best to just test them.  When they feel as if they’re nearly done.  Remove from heat and let them sit covered for a few minutes to finish cooking and then let cool.  At this point you can either put them in the refrigerator to use at a later time, or continue with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Quarter the potatoes and place on a large baking sheet that has been coated with a thin layer of olive oil.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top of them and toss.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Keep in mind that potatoes tend to need a lot of salt.  Don’t be too shy.  Roast for about 15 minutes, then carefully flip the potatoes.  Yes, I do this individually, because I really enjoy crispy potatoes and I want all the sides to be properly golden browned.   It doesn’t take that long.  Roast for another 15 minutes.  Give another toss and test them.  Roast longer if necessary (again, much will depend upon how big your potatoes were cut).  Mine are usually done after 30 minutes.  Taste.  re-season, if necessary.

While your potatoes are roasting, begin the curry.  In a medium-sized skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes until somewhat tender.  Add the curry powder, turmeric, and garam masala and toast for abut 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth (sans 1 tablespoon), tomato paste and coconut milk and a pinch of sugar.  Whisk together until smooth.  Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes,  stirring frequently.  Taste as you go, add more salt or sugar, if necessary.  In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon chicken broth until it’s smooth.  Whisk mixture into the skillet and cook for about another 10 minutes until the mixture is somewhat thickened.  Reseason, if necessary.

Immediately sprinkle chopped cilantro on the hot, crispy potatoes when removed from the oven and serve along side the curry sauce.  The potatoes are best eaten immediately.  Enjoy!

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Last week was a busy one.  Along with the excitement of Halloween and indulging in far too much candy, our precious girl turned five!  You add so much happiness and joy to our lives, Aria.  We love you so much– Happy birthday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota!  And by Spring, I mean it officially reached 80 degrees here yesterday.  Last night we grilled for the first time this season, and it was wonderful.  My husband is one of those guys that would be happy eating cereal for dinner several nights a week if I let him, yet he considers the grilling of a steak a sacred process.  He’s a master, and the New York strip that he grilled-up last night was heavenly.  I mean this now, I’d put it up against any fancy restaurant’s offering.  Anyway, I know we’ll be doing a lot more grilling now that the weather has turned, so I came up with this carrot salad that is a fantastic side dish.  It’s also perfect if you’re in the mood for a light lunch.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

It seems as though carrots are often just an afterthought in most dishes.  Need a little color in some soup, throw a carrot in!  (Well, except in this soup– one of my favorites– where they’re the star.)  I happen to love carrots.  They have that nice slightly-sweet flavor, a wonderful crunch, and amazing longevity.  In this salad they take center stage.  The flavors are bright, yet there is a nice, complex, smokiness to give it depth.  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made that homemade Harissa?  It is brilliant combined with these ingredients.  The ricotta salata cheese lends a bit of saltiness to this dish.  If you can’t find ricotta salata, feta is a good substitute.  Personally, I prefer ricotta salata for most salads, because its subtlety allows the other flavors to be more pronounced.  And the creaminess is a welcome addition to most any salad.  The cilantro and lime add that little zing of acidity that compliments the harissa and carrots wonderfully.  If your Harissa is a little on the thick side, feel free to thin it out with a few drops of water or olive oil.  Don’t overdo it though, since there is a squeeze of lime juice at the end that loosens everything up.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro

(serves 1)

2 carrots, peeled, then thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

1/2 cup long ribbons of red cabbage

handful of cilantro

1 tablespoon Homemade Harissa or store bought

lime wedges

2 tablespoons of crumbled ricotta salata cheese

sea salt, to taste

This is more of an idea, than a recipe.  Make as much or as little as you want.  This amount will serve one beautifully.  Cut the carrot anyway that you want, though I prefer long beautiful ribbons made by using a vegetable peeler.  They’re just so pretty that way!  Toss all of the ingredients, except the ricotta salata and lime into a large bowl.  Using tongs, gently incorporate the Harissa onto the vegetables.  Add more if you like.  If your Harissa is a bit on the thick side, add a bit of water or olive oil to thin it out.  Plate your salad and top with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a couple squeezes of lime juice.  Add a sprinkle of salt, if necessary.  Enjoy!

Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

xo

Laurie

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Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

I woke up to the welcoming rumble of thunder this morning.  Now that may not seem too interesting, but with a quick glance out the window, I saw heavy snowflakes falling everywhere and blanketing the ground.  Thunder and snow– brilliant!  I know I may be the last person in Minnesota (aside from my husband) who isn’t quite ready to let Winter go yet.  Yes, I know it has been a long season this year, but the prospect of one last snowstorm made for a lovely start to my day.  And this has to be the last one of the year right?  Right?

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

This lovely dish will keep you warm while you wait for the snow to melt.  It’s a delicious Moroccan lamb tagine, which is technically a “Spring” dish.  So, even if you’re not able to frolick in the fresh Minnesota snow, you can enjoy this delightful meal.  What is a tagine?  It’s a North African “stew” that is simmered in a special pot.  The pot itself is called a tagine.  It’s an interesting vessel with a conical lid which allows for less steam loss.  Less steam loss means you don’t have to add as much liquid in the first place, which concentrates the flavors.   The stew itself consists of a meat, paired with fruits and nuts.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

As it turns out, you don’t actually have to use a tagine.  I don’t have one, so I turned to my trusty Dutch oven with it’s tight fitting lid.  It worked wonderfully.  We’ve made this tagine several times, and it’s become a favorite in our house. Lamb pairs beautifully with dried fruits.   It’s full of dried plums, cilantro, turmeric, and pearl onions.  The dried plums disintegrate to form a splendid, slightly sweet sauce that coats the lamb perfectly.  The pearl onions add a nice contrast.  The dish can be served with whole wheat couscous or even quinoa and topped with chopped almonds for a bit of crunch.  Add more cilantro or fresh mint  for a burst of freshness.  Traditionally preserved lemons or Harissa (recipe coming soon!) can be served along side, so feel free to experiment.  One pound of lamb feeds our family of four perfectly, since this is a rich dish– you don’t need a pile on your plate.  We serve it with a nice salad or a vegetable on the side.   However, if you have more people, or are wanting leftovers (highly encouraged), feel free to double the recipe.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Lamb Tagine via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Lamb Tagine

(Serves 3-4 people)

olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 pound lamb stew meat, cubed

10 saffron threads (optional) broken with a mortar and pestle or with your fingertips   *See note

2 tablespoons honey

1 3/4 – 2 cups beef broth, or more

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

1-inch piece of whole cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon ground

pinch of nutmeg or mace

3/4 cup dried plums (prunes)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

15 frozen (or fresh) pearl onions

fresh mint or more chopped cilantro,  and chopped toasted almonds to garnish

Note: Saffron is a wonderful spice that is used often in Moroccan dishes.  However, it is quite expensive.  This tagine is delicious with or without it–so, you decide.

If you are fortunate enough to have a real tagine, of course use that for this dish.  If you don’t have one, a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid is a wonderful alternative.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Always use a paper towel to pat your meat dry  before browning it– you will get a wonderful color this way.  Season the lamb with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper.  Brown your meat in two batches, so the pan does not get overcrowded.   Make sure to let the meat develop a nice dark color.   Add more olive oil, as needed.

Remove the meat from the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan, (and even a splash of beef broth, if there is a lot of color on the bottom) and brown the chopped onion.  Scrape up all of the brown bits, as they have a ton of flavor.  After a few minutes, add the lamb, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, cilantro, prunes, and honey.  Saute for 30 seconds, then add the beef broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and place in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Check during the baking time to see if you need to add more broth.  The consistency is your choice, so add as much or as little as you want.  It will thicken near the end.  When it seems done, add the pearl onions and return to oven so they heat through, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro or mint and chopped almonds.  It’s delicious served with whole wheat couscous or even quinoa.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine’s Special Soups & Stews Issue 2010

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Laurie

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