Thursday, April 1, 2010

Canned eats

Photograph by Evan Sung for the New York Times

The Minimalist, as Mark Bittman is known in the New York Times, cooked out of his pantry this week, and his creation shows just how necessary a well-stocked pantry is for those times that you just can't go out to shop.

But why do all recipes have to serve 4-6 people? This one is easy to cut down for two or three people, and can serve four who are watching their weight, or who like big salads with their dinner.

Pasta With Sardines, Bread Crumbs and Capers
serves 2-4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs, ideally made from stale bread
1/2 onion, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound long pasta
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 cans sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put half the oil (1 tablespoon) in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, less than 5 minutes, and then remove. (Wipe out the pan so you don't get burned crumbs for the next step.) Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender; drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Turn the heat under the onions to medium-high and add the lemon zest, capers and sardines; cook, stirring occasionally, until just heated through, about 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sardine mixture and toss well to combine. Add the parsley, most of the bread crumbs and some reserved water, if necessary, to moisten. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnishing with more parsley and bread crumbs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

14 carrot gold salad

Roasted carrots are a true winter comfort food, but as spring rolls around, raw rules.

If you or a loved one don't particularly like the taste of raw carrots, here's a salad that practically shouts "Spring!" because it's so fresh tasting and easy to put together.

Spring carrot salad
Serves 12

14 medium carrots (don't use baby carrots; they will make the salad too wet)
1 cup loose flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 shallots
3 lemons
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
Kosher salt
1 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel carrots, cut off tops, and shred finely. Mince parsley. Mix together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Finely mince the shallots. Juice the lemons and put the juice in a small bowl or 16-ounce jar. Add a little salt, the shallots and the vinegar, and set aside for 15 minutes. Add the oil to the liquids, and mix well. Pour over the carrot/parsley mixure and toss well. Refrigerate until serving, and toss again before plating.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taco Bell rings in India

When I saw the item that Taco Bell had opened its first store in Bangalore earlier this month, I was wondering how a chain so dependent on ground beef was going to be able to make it in India, where cows are revered, not eaten.

But according to their press release, half of the menu at the Bangalore Taco Bell consists of vegetarian products crafted specially for Indian consumers. Items include crunchy potato tacos and burritos made with potatoes and paneer, a fresh, unripened cheese used to add protein to a wide range of Indian foods. The remainder of the menu is composed of spicier versions of Taco Bell’s signature foods, such as nachos, quesadillas and Crunchwraps.

I quit eating at Taco Bell shortly after working there in the late '70s, disgusted with having to ladle meat from the pans of ground beef swimming in grease into tacos, then topping them with a cheese-like product.

Heck, with options like the ones to be offered in India, I might reconsider my aversion.