Tag Archives: Roasted

Fresh Roasted Pepper and Olive Bruschetta

There are some flavor combinations I never tire of regardless of what time of the year it is.  The classic flavors of basil and tomato with a sprinkle of minced red onion, squirt of lemon, and drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil will always entice me. Equally delicious are chopped fresh tomatos, green onions, cilantro, and jalapenos with lime juice — a combination so perfect, I can easily skip the tortilla chips and head right for a spoon to enjoy the salty-tart-spicy flavor that would never be the same without cilantro.  I think I love cilantro even more than basil.

But another combination has come close to pushing both of the others aside as being tops in my mind — or my mouth:  roasted peppers, capers, and briny olives. Ironically, the flavors in this combination would work quite well with many of the others I’ve mentioned, but I enjoy them in a mix like this one — assertively delicious with the unexpected addition of anchovies.

Anchovies?  Those little fish in the can with the curly lid that when I’m ordering a pizza to go topped with “the works” I always politely decline?  The little salty things whose absence would leave a Caesar’s salad an unappetizing plate of flavorless lettuce, and pasta puttanesca without anything to be sassy about beyond a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes.

Do any of us ever really say we like anchovies?  Probably not, but the key to learning to stop avoiding them is to see them as an ingredient to be mixed with others instead of sitting on top of a pizza.  If the anchovies were mixed into the tomato sauce instead, it would intensify the flavor leaving us to wonder what made it so good.

Think about it.  How many other ingredients which enhance one another when mixed together are basically unpleasant when eaten alone?  Capers.  I’ve tasted them just to see, and they’re quite bitter.  Or in most recipes which call for capers, the directions will advise rinsing them first.  For years, I did just that, and to make sure I understood why, I tasted the brine.  Not pleasant.  But when it’s mixed into many other ingredients, it’s quite fabulous.  Soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar — all are less than pleasant when tasted alone.

Freshly roasted peppers, on the other hand, are perfect alone sprinkled lightly with salt, but they’re truly delicious in this mix. It’s perfect tossed with pasta for a salad when you don’t feel like cooking, or spooned over grilled meat or fish.  It’s helps make an omelet interesting and is especially excellent spread over a piece of crusty bread slathered with goat cheese.

It’s the best party food even if you’re the only one at the party, because then you don’t have to share.

Be brave.  Don’t forget the anchovies.

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So Cal Sarnie: Roasted Veggies & Goat’s Cheese with Arugula on Ciabatta

Several factors have led to my interest in cooking.  Interest was first.  I’ve always been drawn to cookbooks and loved to look at the only one we had in the house.  Yes, I mention it all the time — that old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I still have.  It was the photos.  They opened up a world I would have not been privy to with the staples my mother created.  It’s where I first wondered what popovers tasted like, what Baked Alaska was, and how those flames could be on that “Peach Jubilee Dessert.”

Noticeably missing was a section with photos of sandwiches.  Maybe no one really thought it was necessary.  After all, sandwiches were something made with leftovers, or jam and peanutbutter from a jar, right?

Today, a good sandwich constitutes a whole meal as far as I’m concerned, and we do have them for dinner.  Although I’ll look at a recipe occasionally if the ingredients are unusual, it’s fun to just figure it all out.  I’m not just talking about roast beef and cheddar with a bit o’ mustard, here.  I’m talking about knowing which combinations of flavors you like, and that compliment one another to make a really great sandwich.    Mmmm…do I have a sandwich for you.  Or is it a sarnie?  Well, in this case, it must be a sarnie, because it’s my entry into “Show Us Your Sarnie!” being hosted by Marie at A Year From Oak Cottage.  What a great idea!

A perfect combination of flavors is roasted peppers, sauteed portobellos, and grilled onions.  The sweetness of the peppers, rich caramel of the onions, and earthiness of the mushrooms really works.  In fact, the combination is excellent for a pasta dish or a salad as well.  But to really get my heart singing, two more important ingredients are necessary….goat cheese, and arugula.  You have to try it.  But don’t get fussy about quantities, because that’s not how this works.  You have to be adventuresome.

Although my sandwich is meatless — yes, and it’s excellent — this combination would work very well with beef or chicken.  It just isn’t necessary with these gorgeous mushrooms.

So Cal Sarnie:  Roasted Veggies and Goat’s Cheese with Arugula on Ciabatta

Ingredients:  Crusty bread such as a whole ciabatta, two very large portobellos, three bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), goat’s cheese, dijon, fresh arugula, sweet white onion, olive oil, salt, pepper.
To begin:  roast the peppers. You can do this on the open burner of your stove whether gas or electric.  Just lay them on there until they’re black and blistered.  Make sure to turn on the fan because their fragrance is quite strong and will hover in your house…not something you want to smell in the middle of the night.  Next, place the peppers in a paper bag or closed container and let them sit for at least 15 minutes.  Remove them, and with you fingers, remove the blackened skin, the membranes, stem and seeds.  DO NOT RINSE OFF THE PEPPERS.  Sorry for yelling, but you want to retain the lovely oils and flavor from the roasting.  Set aside.

Next: While the peppers are sitting, cut thick slices of onion.  Keep the slices together, and place in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat checking occasionally to see how they’re browning.  Flip them over after they’ve browned to your liking.  Remove them from the pan until you are ready to use them.  You can break them up if you wish from the beginning and really cook them down to caramelized rings — quite tasty as well — but it’s your choice.  Keeping the rings together provides more of a bite on this particular sandwich er, um sarnie

Now: Slice a couple of very large portobello mushrooms.  Mince some garlic as well.  Put a few splashes of olive oil in another skillet (the onions are in the other) and add the garlic when the oil is hot.  After a minute, place the mushroom slices in the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on one side to brown, then turn to brown the other side.  This takes longer than you would think.  You may need to add another spash of olive oil to get the brown you want.  But avoid soaking the mushrooms in oil.  You don’t want an oily mess.

Okay: After you’ve removed the onions, wipe out the pan (or whip out your still new Panini pan that you got for your birthday) and place the ciabatta sections face down to brown them just a bit.  Then spread a bit of dijon on one piece, and softened goat’s cheese on both

Ready? Place several mushroom slices on one piece, topped with roasted peppers, then onions.  On the other slice, load the arugula.  Carefully slap the two pieces together, then place in the panini pan.  Make sure the lid has been sitting in the pan while it’s heating so that it’s hot, too.  Place the lid over the sarnie and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  If you’re brave, turn it over and let it sit for another minute.

No panini pan? Using a cast iron skillet works just fine.  Sit something heavy on the sarnie and then turn it over and do the same thing.

No cast iron skillet? You’re kidding, right?  No comment, but, wrap the sarnie in foil and pop the whole thing in a preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes.  The arugula will be wilted, but that will be just fine.

Some variations:

  • Use fresh mozzarella if you want a more mild tasting cheese that will melt a bit.
  • Use any kind of pesto you enjoy and spread that on instead of the dijon.
  • Use blue cheese instead of goat’s cheese and skip the peppers, but add tomato and switch the arugula with fresh spinach.

 

Have fun and enjoy experimenting with my version of a sarnie!  Oh, and chop up the leftovers and saute them with some pappardelle the next day.  It’s even better.

Roast Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Green Olives

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I enjoy the flavor combination of lots of garlic, olives, and lemon — especially with chicken.  I believe the first place I saw a recipe with this particular combination was in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.  Well, maybe not, because I’m sure I’ve tagged quite a few in my epicurious recipe box.  Since finding out I lusted after those flavors, each time I see a recipe that includes them, I try it.  Chicken Piccata sort of falls into this category, but lacks the olives.  And I’ve tried a few that include artichoke hearts, but not with the olives.  Clearly it’s lust.

I’ve had to wait a bit for this particular recipe, however.  The grocery store I shop at the most decided to get rid of the green olives I used to count on.  They weren’t anything special, they just came in handy. Plus, the olives were pitted.  The last time I bent over to pick up a can, horror of all horrors, they were gone.  One meezly can’s width of space on a shelf and they have to get rid of it?  Of course they had umpteen gazillion cans of black olives (basic black American variety good for inserting fingers into at Thanksgiving when you’re completely bored with the conversation at the table) and an unbelievable number of those nasty Spanish olives with the pimento stuck in them which would so not work for this recipe).  What is wrong with having a bit of variety?  Huh?  It drives me nuts, because then I have to find a different store.  Or spend more on something that shouldn’t cost as much as it does.  I ended up conceding to a jar of gigantic green "Greek" olives that had seeds.  But at least I had green olives, even if they did set me back about six bucks.

So the latest recipe I’ve found that includes garlic, olives, and lemons is from seriously simple:  Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks by Diane Rossen WorthingtonAnd she’s right.  This is a very simple recipe.  Yesterday I didn’t quite have my ducks in a row (read:  blogging, more blogging, car pool, late afternoon grocery shopping, and more blogging…) and a miscalculation on timing to get chicken tandoori on the table (which will be tonight instead).  Anyhoo, I grabbed this cookbook, turned to the page I marked, started cooking at 7PM, and sat down to eat about about 8:15.  Not bad for something that has to be in the oven for 40 minutes, right?  What, you thought I was going to say this took 15 minutes?  Uh, no.

If you love garlic, this recipe is totally for you.  Goodness, it’s amazing.

Roast Lemon-garlic Chicken with Green Olives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1 T finely chopped lemon zest
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 c. plus 2 T finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, and/or oregano
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 3-1/2 lb. fryer chicken, cut up
25 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. pitted French green olives, rinsed

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1.  Combine lemon zest, juice, olive oil, 1/4 c. herbs, salt and pepper.  Stir.
2.  Arrange chicken pieces in a roasting pan that can be brought to the table and pour lemon-herb mix over the top.  Arrange garlic cloves around chicken, stirring them to coat with the mix. 
3.  Roast about 40 minutes, or until chicken is nicely browned and opaque throughout.
4.  Remove chicken from oven.  Add broth to pan, and place on stove top over med-high heat.  Stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan.  Add olives and stir.  Cook a few minutes longer to heat them through.
5.  Garnish with the remaining 2 T herbs and serve from the pan, or transfer to a platter.

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Look at all that broth!

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This turned out to be a very healthy meal.  Very little fat, and lots of flavor which was extremely satisfying. 

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The sliced olives provided a nice touch of color.

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The garlic roasted on the chicken was beautiful and delicious.

Notes: 

  • I used a convection setting, and did not wait for the oven to completely heat up to put the chicken in. 
  • I used three rather hefty boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken.
  • I used  fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, and green onions for my herb mixture.
  • I sliced the large green "Greek" (not French) olives I had on hand — about 6-8 of them.
  • I used an odd new type of garlic I bought at Trader Joe’s (see above) that is a round head-type single clove I cut into 8 smaller pieces — each of which was the size of a large regular clove.
  • At 30 minutes, I added the olives and broth, then continued to bake for the remaining 10 minutes.
  • There weren’t any brown bits to scrape up and there was quite a bit of broth in the bottom of the pan that would have been great thickened.
  • I served with brown rice, pouring a bit of the broth over all and sprinkling the remaining herbs.
  • Great dish with an excellent roasted garlic flavor and that is lemony without the pungent taste lemons roasted with peelings on can have
  • I’ll keep this one tagged to play around with.