Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Farro Salad

The warm weather has finally arrived. To celebrate I tossed up this chicken salad with farro. It keeps good in the refrigerator and is best eaten just warm or cold, which is perfect for this time of year. It's also great to pack in my lunch. This chicken is marinated and the salad is tossed in my Greek dressing, but you could also use your favorite bottled dressing in place of mine.

Chicken Farro Salad
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 1/3 cup Greek salad dressing
1 cup semipearled farro
1/4 cup moist dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

Marinate the chicken in 1 cup of Greek dressing for at least two hours. Grill chicken and cut into bit size pieces. Chop dried tomatoes and mix in bowl with almonds, garlic, pepper, seasonings, lemon zest and chicken. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring two cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil and add farro. Cover and turn down to low to simmer for about 20 minutes. Farro should be chewy when done. Drain excess water if any, and toss into chicken mixture. Add 1/3 cup Greek dressing and chopped Romaine lettuce. Serve warm. Garnish with feta cheese.

Greek Dressing
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Turkish oregano

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake thoroughly. Allow the dressing to sit at least a day before using.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Curry Fried Rice

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks, Chinese Rice and Noodles from the Wei-Chuan cooking school in Taiwan. I have made it a bit lighter, and switched out some ingredients for a yummy bowl of rice. This recipe makes one large bowl of rice as a meal, or can serve two smaller side portions.

Curry Fried Rice
3/4 cup cooked leftover cold long grain brown rice
6 ounces lean ground pork
1 cup diced onion
1 small diced carrot
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Splenda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Saute pork in a non-stick skillet and drain when cooked through. Wipe away all but a tiny bit of oil and saute onions and carrots until just barely tender. Return meat to pan and mix. Add rice and heat through, adding curry powder, salt and Splenda. Mix and serve. You can also add additional vegetables depending on what you have on hand.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Light Barbecue Sauce

I was born in the wrong part of the country. Around here, good barbecue is hard to find. But down south - that's where the good stuff is abundant. Nothing beats the pulled pork at Jack's Bar-B-Que in Nashville, TN. As I sit here eating the sandwich below I am wearing my Jack's T-shirt from the memorable visit I took with my family in 2008. The smoke clung to the brick walls and the Tennessee Original sauce was exquisite.

And then there is Nanny's in Petersburg VA. This was a favorite pork stop on our road trip in 2010, with a vinegar based sauce. I can't even come close to these places, so no point in trying. But I did decide to create my own pulled pork - something that was delicious and light on fat and sugar and tickles the memory of those sweet 'cue joints.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Light Barbecue Sauce
2 pounds of pork shoulder, trimmed of fat (also called pork butt)
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (hickory)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 packet Splenda

Cook trimmed pork roast in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. Be sure that you are using pork shoulder or butt, as this is the cut that loves to sit for hours in slow low heat. A loin roast will only get tough and dry. Pork shoulder will become meltingly tender after long cooking. While cooking, combine remaining ingredients for the sauce and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry. The sauce can keep for up to a week if you wish to make it in advance. When pork is done and fork tender, remove from pot and drain all liquid. Return pork to the pot and shred with two forks. Pour on sauce and allow to warm in the slow cooker. Serve alone or on buns. Yum!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Sausage and Pasta

With warmer weather coming I am anxious to get some fresh veggies and lighter dishes on the table. This is a perfect warm weather pasta dish that is both easy and good for you.

Chicken Sausage and Pasta
1 - 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian chicken sausage
8 ounces hot cooked whole wheat rotini pasta
1 large sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes with no added salt, drained
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
fresh ground black pepper to taste
grated Parmagiano Reggiano (optional)

Boil or grill sausage until done and slice into disks. Set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, saute onion in olive oil until just transluscent. Add garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, seasonings and Sriracha, stirring to mix together. Add baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Pour over the pasta and toss together. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste and garnish with Parmegiano.