Vegetarian Entree

Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad


Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad

2 T olive oil

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 t balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1 T balsamic vinegar

head of romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmering. Add chickpeas and sauté until they begin to brown, about ten minutes. Pour in 1 teaspoon of balsamic and stir vigorously as vinegar evaporates. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Chop romaine and then toss with dressing. Sprinkle lettuce with a little salt. Top with warm chickpeas and garnish with sliced tomatoes.     

Printable version here.

Notes: Caroline and Edward like the garbanzo beans but lettuce baffles them. Patrick likes the lettuce but feels garbanzo beans are the devil's legume. I can eat almost all of this for lunch, personally, but I would say it actually serves four.

Fried Rice


Fried Rice 

2 T peanut or canola oil


3/4 c carrots, small dice

3/4 c red pepper, small dice

3/4 c broccoli, cut into tiny florets and stems trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 T minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

4 c cooked rice, cold

3/4 c edamame 

1/2 c baby spinach cut into strips

2 eggs, beaten

3 T soy sauce

Optional: 3/4 c chopped Canadian bacon or chopped cooked shrimp

In a large nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high until it is shimmering hot. Add broccoli, red pepper and carrots and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, green onions and ginger and cook one more minute. Add rice, edamame and spinach. Stir and then leave it alone for two minutes. If you are using Canadian bacon or cooked shrimp add it here. Stir again, then make a well in the center of the rice mixture. Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until they are scrambled. Distribute eggs through rice and remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and serve.

Printable version here

Notes: Total leftover dinner. A few days prior I made extra rice that I intended to freeze because someone here mentioned that rice can be frozen but I had never tried it. Then I had a whats-for-dinner crisis with not really enough of anything to be useful (the refrigerated rice, a little broccoli, half a pepper, some almost empty bags of frozen stuff.) I remembered that Fine Cooking had done a fried rice at some point but I couldn't find the actual issue (I have since looked it up: Fine Cooking issue 97) so I winged it.       

PS I have been having major problems with my internet provider trying to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay in getting things up here; I have a backlog of recipes to post so check back.

Couscous Cakes


It is hard not to like couscous. Each serving packs 5 grams of protein and it can go from sitting in the pantry to filling up your mouth in less than seven minutes. However, as my friend Julie observed the other day, feeding couscous to a child is like putting a sequoia through a wood-chipper in the middle of your dining room. Archeologists will sift through the ruins of your home one day and theorize as to the purpose of all those tiny pellets... .

So I was excited to see a recipe for couscous cakes in Fine Cooking (issue 99, May/June 2009.) All the joy of couscous (albeit slightly more slowly; true) but with a much lower potential for carnage.  

This is a version I came up with the other night:

Couscous Cakes with Sundried Tomatoes & Feta

1 c couscous
1 c water
1 t salt

1 garlic clove
1/2 c chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T fresh basil, chopped

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta

2 T olive oil for frying, divided

In a saucepan bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate grains.

In the bowl of a food processor (I used my Cuisinart mini-prep which I got for $25) chop garlic. Then add chickpeas and basil and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and add couscous. Then add eggs and stir until well blended. Add tomatoes and feta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, press mixture into cup. Then invert over a plate and release cake. It sounds like it would get stuck in there but it does slide out prettily easily. You should have eight cakes.

In a ten inch skillet (or two if you are feeling efficient) heat 1 T of olive oil until it is very hot but not smoking. Put four cakes into oil and press down gently on each one to flatten slightly. Cover skillet with lid and cook for about four minutes. Flip cakes and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Notes: I made this to augment some skimpy pork chops. The chops were terrible but the couscous cakes are something I could eat every week. They would be great as an entree with a salad. I had both feta and sundried tomatoes on hand (and basil. lordy I have basil coming out of my ears this year) so that is what I used but the possibilities as to what you can add are endless.

In the spirit of full disclosure I should admit that the raison d'etre's for making couscous more complicated - namely Caroline and Edward and, to a lesser degree, Patrick - all refused to eat these. Patrick on sight, Caroline after a thoughtful lick-and-spit, and Edward after about six bites. I'll try again, though, because I LOVED them.