Revuelto, a spring Migas of sorts

This week David Tannis, food writer for the New York Times reprised a recipe for Spanish Asparagus Revuelto from an article originally published in 2014 titled Asparagus, Spanish style.  The inter-web tells me that revuelto is Spanish for scrambled eggs.  So, Spanish asparagus and scrambled eggs.  Sounded good to me.

In reading through the recipe, it struck me that this revuelto sounds a lot like a variation on Migas, which we wrote about several years ago.  A comparison of that Migas to this Revuelto reveals a similar approach in preparation but with more vegetables, without the chickpeas and with eggs scrambled in rather than cooked separately and presented on top of the other ingredients.

I followed Mr. Tannis’ recipe but roughly cut it in half except I used 4 times the amount of pimentón that he called for and double the amount of chorizo.

The end result was very tasty but the eggs didn’t exactly scramble, rather they formed more of a sauce that coated the other ingredients.  I think the asparagus brought a lot more moisture to the dish than I had anticipated, making for the sauciness.  Yummy none the less.

Asparagus Migas

1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 peeled garlic cloves, whole, plus 1 small clove, minced
1 cup day old bread (baguette or ciabatta), torn into 1/2″ pieces
Salt and pepper
2 oz. Spanish chorizo, cut into matchstick pieces
3/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1″ – 2″ pieces
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Saute the whole garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, remove and discard.

Saute the bread in the oil until lightly browned and crispy.  Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt, some pepper and 1/2 tsp of pimentón.  Remove from the saute pan and allow to cool.

Saute the chorizo a minute or two to release some of its oil, add the asparagus and saute for several minutes until the asparagus is tender but still firm.  Add the green onions and saute an additional minute.

Beat the eggs with 1/2 tsp of pimentón and a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.  Add the eggs to the asparagus mix and cook, stirring until the eggs are just soften and creamy.

Divide the revuelto onto two plates, top with parsley and croutons.  Serve immediately.

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Clash of traditions: Birds or Beans?

cardinalWe have two traditions that clash with each other on New Year’s Day.

We’re birders and we keep a life list (all the birds we have ever seen in our lifetime) and a year list of all the birds we have seen in a calendar year. Obviously, the life list is on-going and cumulative. And obviously, the year list re-sets each year on January 1. It’s exciting to get up on New Year’s Day and see what birds are visiting our feeders. Of course, most are the same birds that were here yesterday but today it’s as if we haven’t seen them before. Every bird has the chance to be the first bird of the year, though, not all are contenders. Cardinals get up early and often are at the feeders before first light. They’re followed by the juncos, mourning doves and sparrows. Later in the morning, well out of contention for “first” honors come the various woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches and chickadees. We welcome them all but honor the first arrivals by naming each year the “Year of the ______” in our journals.

After breakfast we bundle up and head out for some field birding; usually along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Sheboygan, north to Manitowoc, east to the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay with field and forests along the way. Depending on the year, the weather and our aging eyes we may total 20-30 species for the day – not a championship tally but a respectable way to start off the birding year.

The Clash!

Beans and Ham Shank simmering

Our other tradition is to eat Red Beans and Rice, a traditional southern dish, to herald the New Year and which you can read more about here. The clash? Beans and Rice take a long time to cook – 3 to 4 hours. It’s hard to stay around the house cooking beans and rice when birds beckon outside.

The solution? Beans and Rice are even better the next day, so we cook up a batch of Beans and Rice on New Year’s Eve day and when we get back from birding on New Year’s Day all we have to do is reheat the beans and cook some fresh rice and enjoy.

We’ll let you know how things turned out.

Beans & Greens: Tabbouleh

The saga of Beans & Greens continues with Episode 5, a variation on Tabbouleh, that familiar Middle Eastern herb salad.

Mint

Tabbouleh doesn’t usually have any beans or other legumes in it. But a few years back Mark Bittman published a book called Food Matters.  I found it to be an interesting and maybe even inspiring read.  In the book he includes some recipes, although it isn’t really a cookbook as its subtitle, A Guide to Conscious Eating, suggests. One of the recipes he does include, however, is for what he called Tabbouleh My Way which gave me license to present this version.

Tabbouleh with pecan garnish

Now traditional tabbouleh varies considerably through out the Middle East but is basically a salad of parsley, mint, bulgur (cracked, par-boiled wheat berries), tomatoes and onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.  Some places go heavy on the bulgur, some more so on the parsley.  Some include ripe olives, radishes or cucumber.  In most cases, tabbouleh is served as a part of a meze, or a selection of small plates of food that can serve as a meal in their own right or as a beginning to a larger meal.

Claudia Roden, in her classic and recently updated book, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, comments on the ratio of bulgur to herbs in tabbouleh.  Ms. Roden’s family are from Syria via Egypt a hundred years ago so her recipe was heavy on the bulgur.  Many people commented that her version was old fashioned (being a hundred years old, I guess that was an accurate assessment) because it had too much bulgur and that it reflected a time when people needed to fill their stomachs.  The modern version in her revised cookbook, with a greater proportion of herbs, is lighter, presumably more elegant and not so much a “hard times”  or peasant dish.

Bittman’s push in Food Matters is for us to increase the proportion of whole grains, legumes and vegetables in our diet.  Nothing radical there but he does present the notion in a way that seems almost common sense.  In his version of tabbouleh, which is traditionally rich in greens and grain,  he adds green peas as a way to up the vegetable ante – otherwise, his recipe is fairly orthodox.

Well, if you’ve been reading my ramblings on food long enough, you know that I can’t leave any recipe “unimproved”.  So I took my lead and license from Bittman and included peas but skipped the radishes and olives.  Instead, as a way to increase the crunch factor (crunchy bits in a salad always make it better, don’t you think?), I added toasted pecans.  And to fit it into the Beans & Greens theme I added some cooked lentils (although the peas also serve as a “bean” or at least a legume), also upping the protein factor.

Tabbouleh ingredients: (clock-wise from left) Parsley, Lentils, Green Onions, Tomatoes, Bulgur, (in center) Peas and Mint

Tabbouleh, Curt’s Way

2 Tbs. chopped or broken Pecans
1/4 C. dry Lentils, picked over to remove any stones
1/2 Tbs. Olive oil
1/4 C. Bulgur (Bulgur comes in fine, medium and coarse grind.  I can only find one type in my area and it’s not labeled as such but I think it’s coarse)  If you want to make this in a gluten free form you can substitute quinoa for the bulgur.  You could also substitute couscous for the bulgur if you wanted a less chewy version.
Hot water
1/2 Tbs. Olive oil
Juice of 1 Lemon, to taste
1/4 – 1/2 C. Olive oil, to taste
1 ripe Tomato, seeded and coarsely diced
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 C. Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
1/2 C. fresh Mint, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 C. Green Peas, fresh or frozen, defrosted if frozen

Toast the pecan pieces in a dry frying pan until they are lightly toasted.  Stir frequently and watch carefully to avoid burning.  Remove from the frying pan and reserve.

Cook the lentils in salted water.  Time will vary depending on which type of lentils you have.  The common brown lentils you’re likely to find in your grocery will take about 20 minutes.  Other varieties may take less time.  The French Gray or Puy variety I’ve used here are quite small and cook in only 10 minutes.  Once cooked, drain the lentils and dress with 1/2 Tbs. olive oil while they are still warm.

Soak the bulgur in several cups of hot (almost boiling) water for 20 minutes or until the bulgur is soften.   Drain well and add to the lentils.  If you use fine bulgur you can use cold water and the soaking time can be as little as 10  minutes.  Whichever grind of bulgur you use, you want to soak sufficiently to get a just slightly chewy texture.

Add the parsley, mint, tomato, peas, salt and pepper to the lentil/bulgur mix.  Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your taste.  I like it a bit lemony but some people don’t find the lemony tartness to their taste.  Garnish with toasted pecans and serve immediately.  Serves 2 for a substantial lunch or part of a dinner.  Serves 4 – 6 as a part of a meze spread.

Beans & Greens: Sprouts & Bacon

Episode 4 in the continuing Beans & Greens saga. Now, I know, that bacon isn’t a legume or even a vegetable. One might, however, view bacon as the glorious transmutation of plant material into noble porkiness.  But, not to worry, there are beans in here too!

At any rate, this recipe comes to me from our blog friend, Linda, at EACH LITTLE WORLD who forwarded it from another blogger at Mary Makes Dinner.  Thanks to both of you for a solid addition to the theme.

Of course, I couldn’t leave a recipe go un-tweaked.  I had some Guanciale (Italian cured, but not smoked, jowl bacon) in the fridge so I thought I would substitute some of that for a part of the bacon. The Guanciale brings a different sort of porky goodness to the table – more earthy than bacon.  I also swapped out crushed red pepper for the chili paste in the original recipe.  And I finished the pasta with a generous hit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese which, I think, really rounded out the dish.  And an added plus is that Brussels Sprouts are one of Jeanne’s favorite greens so I’m always happy to help her get her Sprouts fix.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Beans

1/2# Brussels Sprouts, finely shredded
2 oz. good  smoky bacon (I use Nueske’s bacon ends), coarsely chopped
2 oz. Guanciale, cut into 1/8″ lardons
1 can Cannellini Beans (aka White Kidney Beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste
1/2# dried pasta (something short like penne, rigatoni, fusilli, cellentani, or cavatappi)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan (I use a wok but a large skillet works too) cook the Guanciale over medium heat until it is crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

In the fat from the Guanciale, cook the bacon until it is crisp.  Remove and reserve with the Guanciale.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Crisped Bacon and Guanciale

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking start the sprouts.

In the fat from the bacon and Guanciale, sauté the sprouts for about 2 minutes, adding them in stages so that they wilt a bit between additions.  Add the crushed red pepper.  Cook 2 more minutes, turning frequently.  Don’t worry if they start to brown a little but DO NOT OVERCOOK!  The sprouts should keep much of their green color.

Add the beans and continue sautéing until the beans are heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the bacon, Guanciale and pasta water have brought some salt to the dish already.

About 1 minute before the pasta is finished, scoop it out of the water and add it to the pan with the sprouts and beans.  Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and stir to combine.  Continue cooking, adding a bit more pasta water if the mixture seems dry, for one more minute.  Add the reserved bacon and Guanciale.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Beans and Cellentani

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Serves two for a hearty dinner or four for a pasta course in a larger meal.

Beans & Greens: “Roman” Pasta

"Roman" Beans, Greens and Pasta

This is installment #3 in the series on Beans and Greens. I’m calling this recipe Roman Pasta because it’s based on a dish I had in a NYC restaurant that used Roman Beans in the preparation.  I don’t think it’s particularly Roman otherwise.

Roman Beans are also known as Cranberry Beans in the US and Borlotti in Italy and are a speckled heirloom variety often available in the US under those and other names. Actually, any sort of sturdy bean can be used in this dish, it’s just that the darker reddish ones make for a prettier presentation. So, feel free to use whatever bean you have on hand, such as the Red Kidneys that I’ve used here.

The recipe includes a mix of mild Italian sausage and Guanciale, an un-smoked cured Italian jowl bacon.  You could substitute salt pork or blanched smoked bacon for the Guanciale or leave all the meat out for a vegetarian version.  If you make a vegetarian version, add 2Tbs. olive oil in place of the Guanciale fat for sauteing the onions and other ingredients.

I’ve used a mix of curly endive and fresh basil for the greens.  You could substitute Swiss chard, escarole or other sturdy greens for the endive or a mix of various greens, and either leave out the basil or use a smaller amount of dried basil.

Kidney beans, Guanciale, curly endive and basil

“Roman” Pasta

1 mild Italian sausage
1 oz. Guanciale, cut into lardons
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 can (16 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. (about 1/2 of a large head) of curly endive, coarsely chopped, coarse stems removed
1 oz. fresh basil, stemmed and roughly chopped or torn
Black pepper, a generous grind
Crushed red pepper, pinch
4 oz. dry pasta, such as Cellentani, Rigatoni, Penne, Gemelli, etc.

Saute ingredients and add almost cooked pasta

Saute the Guanciale in a 4 qt. saute pan until just barely crisped.  Reserve the lardons.

Brown the sausage in the remaining fat from the Guanciale, set aside and roughly chop into bite sized pieces.  Don’t worry if the sausage is not fully cooked at this point, it will cook more later.

Put the pasta on to boil while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Cook the pasta until just slightly under done.

Saute the onion in the remaining oil in the pan until translucent.  About 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the beans, endive, basil, sausage, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Saute, turning frequently to mix the ingredients and work the less wilted greens down towards the bottom.  Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the saute pan to make it a little saucy.  Take care to not overcook the greens – you want them wilted, not crunchy and definitely not cooked to the point where they lose their fresh color; after you add the greens, about 5 minutes total.

Drain the pasta (reserve a cup of pasta cooking water) and add to the saute pan with the other ingredients.  Mix the ingredients and continue cooking a minute or two, adding pasta water as needed if the mix seems dry but not so much as to  make it soupy, just saucy.

Top each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves two for a generous supper or 4 to 6 as the pasta course of a larger meal.

Beans & Greens: Hummus

Continuing with the Beans & Greens theme, today I propose Hummus. This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s Humus bi Tahina found in her book The New Book of Middle Eastern Food which is an updated and enlarged version of her earlier Book of Middle Eastern Food.  Either edition is a great resource and I recommend them highly.

Hummus with pita and greens

You may be familiar with hummus, that ubiquitous spread/dip made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that can be found in most middle-Eastern cuisines and is probably one of the best known dishes outside of the middle-East.  On its home grounds, hummus is thought of as a salad puree but in the West it’s usually presented as a dip for pita bread or crudités.

Following up on it’s salad origins, and echoing the beans, bread and greens format of the Migas in the last Beans & Greens post, I’m treating it as both; a dip of sorts for pita, and as a “dressing” of sorts for sturdy greens, in this case Romaine lettuce although it would be equally good with Belgian Endive or any other green sturdy enough to be dipped into the hummus. Of course, you could use other vegetables of the sort found in crudité plates but I’m on a beans & greens theme and I’m sticking with it.

Hummus bi Tahina

1 can, 16 oz. chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
4 Tbs. Tahina (sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
salt

Romain or Belgian Endive, washed and dried and left as a whole leaf
Pita, lightly toasted

Blend all the ingredients except the lettuce and pita into a puree in a food processor.  Blend to whatever consistency you like, from very smooth to slightly chunky.  Pour the puree into a shallow serving dish and serve with pita and sturdy greens like Romaine or Endive for dipping, allowing the eater to tear off bite-sized chunks of either the pita or lettuce to dip into the hummus.  For a slightly “richer” presentation drizzle a bit of best quality olive oil over the top of the puree.  Serves 2 as a sturdy lunch or 6-8 an appetizer.