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TIP OF THE DAY: Sustainable Eating Helps All Of Us

Black Bean Burger

Sustainable Seafood

Malaysian Palm Oil

Organic Cayenne McCormick

[1] Black bean burger: Add your favorite condiments garnishes and you’ll love it (here’s the recipe Urban Accents). [2] “Trash fish” look and taste just as good as the big-name fish—for as fraction of the price (photo courtesy Chef Barton Seaver, author of this sustainable fish cookbook). [3] Hello, Malaysian palm oil; buh-bye, canola oil (photo courtesy Food Navigator). [4] Buy the 4-5 spices you use most often in organic versions (photo courtesy McCormick).

 

You may have successfully conquered the first week of “good eating” in the new year. Congrats!

Now, can we twist your arm abut eating more sustainably?

Here are recommendations from Chef Gerard Viverito, Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas.
 
HOW TO EAT MORE SUSTAINABLY

1. Eat Less Meat & More Beans.

Beans, lentils and other legumes are called “nitrogen “fixers.” They convert inert gas from the atmosphere into the type of ammonia needed for plant food, reducing the need to use as much synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

Livestock is a major driver of deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Livestock requires about 3.9 billion hectares of land for grazing and to produce animal feed. That’s an area that’s five times larger than Australia.

Deforestation means fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Livestock emissions, including manure and digestive gas, contribute more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than automobile emissions.

Meatless Mondays is an idea that should evolve into Vegan Mondays. If you’re eating cheese and ice cream, it’s still part of the problem.

With all the delicious vegan choices—including hearty vegetable stews, pasta, pizza and vegetarian chili—you won’t suffer one day a week. You may even discover new favorite dishes!

Check out 16 main course bean dishes from Saveur.
 
2. Buy wild-caught U.S. seafood.

Yes, it can be more costly than other options, but American fisheries have some of the most stringent ecological rules in the world (and, might we add, health rules—no melamine in your shrimp).

If we ate what the oceans were sustainably supplying instead of insisting on only a few well-known fish species, we would further cut down on over-fishing our waters.

Be open to sampling different fish species. The new trend among top chefs is trash fish, a.k.a. rough fish.

What are trash fish?

Trash fish are those that travel in schools with more desirable fish, and are often landed as by-catch. Because they don’t have the marketing demand of other fish and thus only command a fraction of the price, fishermen would toss them overboard (trash them) as not worth the effort of processing.

There is no standard list of trash fish. A fish that is considered trash in one region may be treasure in another. For example, the common carp is considered undesirable in the U.S. and Australia, but is the premier game fish of Europe and the most valuable food fish across most of Asia. Ask your fishmonger what’s available in your area.

Just because you haven’t heard of something or it sounds weird, don’t pass it by. Dogfish travel in schools with flounder, hake and pollock, three of which have marketing value while the other is in the doghouse.

In the U.S., 91% of all seafood consumed comes from outside the country. More than two-thirds of all seafood we eat comprises shrimp, salmon, tilapia (almost all farm-raised under dubious conditions) or canned tuna. The oceans offer a wealth of tasty fish, and we only eat four of them.

Don’t walk away from banded rudderfish, barrel fish, bearded brotula, lionfish, southern stingray, squirrelfish and other strange names. If they didn’t taste good, they wouldn’t be for sale. Here’s more about trash fish.

There’s even a sustainable fish cookbook—the first of many, no doubt.

 
3. Use a sustainable cooking oil.

It doesn’t make sense to buy healthy, sustainable foods and then cook them with oils made from genetically modified plants.

Try the buttery Malaysian palm oil, which is natural and sustainably produced. Because it has a high smoke point, Malaysian palm oil can be used for grilling, baking and frying without burning and making food taste bad.

All palm oil is non-GMO, which may be why it’s more affordable than the popular but non-GMO canola oil.

Note: Be sure it’s Malaysian palm oil. The Malaysian government has commented to growing and processing.

 

4. Upgrade your favorite spices to organic.

The use of chemical fertilizers and plant pesticides is a growing concern in the spice industry. But organic spices and herbs can be pricey, so invest in organic only for those that you use all the time.

McCormick sells more than 22 organic herbs and spices—just about anything you need regularly, including vanilla extract.

Here’s another money-saving tip: Whole ginger root is a fraction of the price of powdered. Buy a root and cut into 1-inch cubes then toss them into the freezer. Grate a cube whenever a recipe calls for this fragrant spice.
 
5. Eat more leafy greens, and find more fun preparations.

Kale, spinach and other leafy greens grow quickly in most climates. This means they have a lower impact on our environment and may require less fertilizer than slower growing veggies.

Up the kid-friendliness of these greens by making tasty oven-fried veggie chips. Drizzle oil (Malaysian sustainable palm oil, of course) over the greens, sprinkle with salt or other seasonings and then bake in a 350°F oven until slightly brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Eat the crispy veggies for snacks, as pizza and pasta toppings, add to omelets, etc.

This great microwave tray from Mastrad lets you make chips in two minutes! We stack them 3-4 trays high for the most chips in the shortest time.

And of course, there are many, many luscious recipes for leafy greens. All you need to do is look online.
 
6. Look for “grass-fed,” “organic” or “pasture-raised” beef.

To come full circle from the first tip, raising livestock takes a big toll on our environment. It uses more than 70% of our agricultural land and is the largest driver of deforestation (which enables greenhouse gases) in the world.

 

Bake-Fry Spinach Leaves

[5] Eat more leafy greens: They grow more quickly (photo courtesy Hungry Couple). [6] Enjoy meat, but in smaller portions.

 
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up meat if you want to eat sustainably. Just choose quality over quantity. When cooking, combine meat with healthy plant-based foods. Throw some black beans into ground beef when making tacos or combine chicken with quinoa when making a casserole.

Eat as they do in the rest of the world: smaller portions of meat, larger portions of grains and vegetables.
 

THANKS FOR HELPING

Adopting even one of these six ideas will make an impact.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Delicious Ways To Eat More Grains & Legumes

Grilled Vegetables On Bean Puree

Poached Egg On A Bed Of Beans

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Top: Bean purée topped with grilled vegetables and aged balsamic, as a starter or vegetarian main (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine). Center: Try poached or fried eggs on a bed of beans or lentils; here, kidney beans and diced sweet potato (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Ham with black-eyed peas and collards (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

 

Head to any fine-casual dining spot and the menu is sure to include quinoa, other whole grains (barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farrow) and often, bean and lentil dishes.

While consumers increasingly respond to these healthful alternatives when dining out, many of us still aren’t in the groove of serving them at home. Some people do their best to put nutritious meals on the table, while others have to default to convenience.

But with some easy planning, you can have both deliciousness and healthfulness: Just about every grain and legume can be prepared in an hour or two on the weekend, and heated up as needed.

Grains and legumes have also been turned into convenience. You can buy them frozen or in boil bags, and boil or microwave them. As with the frozen vegetables, enjoy the same nutrition.

And all of us should now know how to season better with herbs and spices, instead of the salt and pepper shakers of yore.
 
WHY DON’T WE EAT MORE OF THEM?

Since the dawn of personal wealth, meat has been a sign of prosperity. Diets of mostly grains, beans and vegetables were fare for the less prosperous.

Whereas in other cultures meat—especially beef—remains a luxury, the U.S. has always had enough grazing land to produce large quantities of it. Quantity drove down prices, and a result, people ate more meat. In fact, many families could eat it at every meal, starting with breakfast meats.

As a result, the grains and legumes that still comprise a major part of other cuisines were passed over in favor of meat-and-starch diet: bacon or sausage at breakfast, a ham or roast beef sandwich for lunch, beef, chicken or pork for dinner.

Our eating habits grew out of balance. Case in point:

Spaghetti and [large] meatballs that are a signature “Italian” dish are actually Italian-American. It doesn’t exist in classic Italian cuisine. Few people in the old country could afford large amounts of meat on a regular basis—but working-class immigrants to the U.S. could.
 
HOW TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM

Americans eat too much processed food (and too much meat) and not nearly enough whole food. This is one reason why we have growing rates of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and gastrointestinal disorders like constipation.

While selling the general public on whole grains and legumes as “healthful” isn’t the best marketing approach for many consumers, “delicious” usually works. And truth to tell, it is easy to make these foods taste delicious.

There’s an easy solution below. But first…

 
WHAT ARE WHOLE GRAINS?

Whole grain are cereals with that have their germ, endosperm and bran intact, in contrast to refined grains which retain only the endosperm, and thus tend to retain little nutritional value after being processed.
 
Whole grains contain far more fiber than heavily-processed grains. They also provide protein, iron and other minerals, even some trace minerals (chromium, copper, molybdenum, selenium, etc). Their valuable phytonutrients (antioxidants) are removed in the refining process.

There’s overwhelming evidence that a diet including a sufficient quantity of whole grains can result in a healthier, and therefore better, life. The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains per day. It doesn’t matter if the grains are cooked ass is or ground into flour: Corn on the cob is a whole grain food, as are cornbread and polenta, made from cornmeal (corn flour).

The choice boils down to this: Eat refined white flour and white rice, or switch to better-for-you whole grains from the chart below. You can snack on potato chips, or switch to whole grain snacks like popcorn and whole-grain pretzels. (Note: “multigrain” is not “whole grain”: It can indicate a combination of two or more refined grains.)

Here’s more about whole grains.

List Of Whole Grains

 

WHAT ARE LEGUMES?

Legumes are plants that contain their fruits in pods. They are generally low in fat, high in protein and full of fiber and other nutrients (calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, etc.).

Examples include all forms of dried seeds, beans and peas, such as chickpeas, navy beans, soybeans, black beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas.

Among other things, legumes can help prevent blood sugar spikes. They help to lower cholesterol and contribute to gastrointestinal well-being. The USDA recommends that individuals consume three servings of whole grains each day—about half of your total grain intake—and about half a cup of legumes daily.

They can be easily substituted for pasta, white rice and potatoes.

14 WAYS TO EAT MORE WHOLE GRAINS & LEGUMES, AND LOVE THEM!

In our youth, one of the women’s magazines our mother bought had a meal calendar for the month: literally, a monthly calendar page with a suggested dinner menu for every day.

The meals were very varied—beyond the meat and potatoes that were popular at the time—and the dishes easy to make. As kids, we delighted in selecting which Birdseye frozen vegetables would be served at dinner.

But the point is the planning. If you take one of the wall calendars you picked up at the bank, you can write in a whole grain and/or legume for every day of the month. Then, implementing is easy.

Here are just a few ideas that can be incorporated into your everyday meals:

  • Burgers: There are delicious veggie burgers made with beans. Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them—and serve them on whole grain buns.
  • Bread: Buy whole wheat bread or oatmeal bread, including bagels.
  • Eggs: Add beans to an omelet or a scramble, or serve a side of well-seasoned beans with the eggs.
  • Hummus: In addition to dipping and snacking, use hummus or bean purée as a bread spread instead of butter, and as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise.
  • Meat loaf: Make your meat loaf with a 3:1 ratio of ground meat to cooked whole grains or legumes. (We love Lentil Meat Loaf.)
  • Mexican/Tex-Mex: Use corn tortillas instead of white flour tortillas. The same goes for wrap sandwiches. Serve brown rice and puréed beans as rice-and-beans sides with non-Mexican mains.
  •  

    Barley Side

    Bean Tostada

    Red Rice Thai Croquettes

    Top: A side of barley, sugar snap peas and sundries tomatoes (All-Clad pot from Williams-Sonoma). Center: Make bean tostadas for lunch or snacks (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Red Rice Thai Croquettes (photo courtesy Blogspot.PhilosophersSpoon.com).

  • Oats beyond porridge: Add rolled oats to muffins, pie crusts and cookies. Instead of conventional chocolate chip cookies, make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Pan-fry leftover oatmeal and serve it plain like polenta (with maple syrup or grated cheese), or with eggs. You can also whip up a large batch of oatmeal on the weekend and heat up your daily breakfast.
  • Pasta: Use whole wheat pasta instead of refined white flour pasta. If you don’t like the more pronounced flavor, combine half whole wheat pasta and half white flour pasta.
  • Pizza: Use chickpea flour (gluten free) or whole wheat flour instead of white flour—or buy whole grain pizza dough—for homemade pizza crusts. Purée white beans—cannellini, great northern or navy beans—as a pizza topping instead of tomato sauce, and top with roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese.
  • Potatoes: Instead of potatoes on most nights, cut back to four nights a week and serve whole grains or legumes on the other nights. You may find yourself happily planning more nights of the better-for-you options.
  • Rice: Beyond brown rice, there are other good-for-you whole ready-to-heat-and-eat grains on the store shelves and in the freezer case. If you’ve never had wild rice, what a treat-well worth the extra time (and higher cost) to prepare it.
  • Salads: Add barley, beans (including edamame) or wheatberries to green salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Snacks: Substitute popcorn or roasted chickpeas for potato chips and other “empty calorie” snack foods. Buy bags of frozen edamame in the pods, microwave them and serve as them with a sprinkle of coarse salt for a yummy snack (it’s fun to squeeze the beans from the pods). And for a sophisticated snack, make bruschetta or crostini with cooked beans and/or bean purée and a garnish of fresh herbs.
  • Soups: Enjoy more bean or lentil soup, and add beans, lentils or whole grains to other soups.
  •  
    We know you’ll have even more ideas!
     
    This article was inspired by one in the Sysco.com health newsletter.

      

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    RECIPE: Chickpea Salad

    You can round out the Moroccan Chicken recipe we just published with a green salad, and you can also add another cold salad.

    We’re not sure how this Chickpea Salad recipe came to us. Easy and tasty, it’s from Meaghann McGoun of Love With Food. Thanks, Meghann.

    We especially like this as a spring and summer side with anything Mediterranean-inspired, including simple grilled proteins. Chickpeas themselves, which are seeds of the plant, are also high in protein.
     
    RECIPE: EASY CHICKPEA SALAD

    The recipe can be made a day in advance. Prep time is 30 minutes.

    You can add more veggies to the salad: carrot and, celery, for starters.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion (better for the color) or 1 bunch green onions (scallions)
  • 1 bell pepper (color of choice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Optional: fresh jalapeño chile
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar (we omit it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN and rinse the chickpeas.

    2. CHOP the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and pepper to bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the jalapeño and cilantro. Combine the chickpeas and vegetables in a large bowl.

    3. WHISK together the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and and cilantro. Add to the bowl and mix until the salad is coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to blend.
     
    HISTORY OF CHICKPEAS

    The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 print reference to chickpeas (“Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue.” But the bean has been eaten since long before recorded history.

     

    Chickpea Salad Recipe

    Dried Chickpeas

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Top: A nutritious and toothsome Chickpea Salad (photo courtesy Meaghann McGoun | LoveWithFood.com. Center: Dried chickpeas from Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans. Bottom: Fresh chickpeas from Melissas.com.

     
    Chickpeas were among the first crops cultivated by man, known as the eight founder crops of the Fertile Crescent. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

    (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae family, known variously as the legume, pea, or bean family. You may have seen some of its other names: ceci or cece (Italian), chana or Kabuli chana (Northern India), Egyptian pea, garbanzo or garbanzo bean (Spanish), gram or Bengal gram (British India).
     
    The Evolution Of The Name

    The word chickpea in English came from the French chich, found in print in English in 1388. “Chick-pea” is found in print in the mid-18th century.

    The name evolved from traces through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for chickpea. Fun fact: The Roman cognomen Cicero came from cicer. Yes, the great orator Roman Marcus Tullius Cicero—also a consul, constitutionalist, lawyer, philosopher, political theorist and politician—was a member of the Chickpea family.

    More seriously, a cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome—the hereditary name that we call a surname, which passed from father to children. The second name—the family name or clan name—identified a particular branch within a family, or family within a clan.
     
    IS THE CHICKPEA A BEAN OR A PEA?

    Peas and beans are both legumes and seeds, both members of the Fabaceae botanical family. Chickpea, also called garbanzo bean, is actually a bean. Some key differences:

  • Pea plants (genus/species Pisum sativum) have hollow stems. Beans (genus/species Cicer arietinum) have solid stems.
  • Peas have leaf tendrils which they use to twine. In general, beans lack tendrils.
  • The taller varieties both peas and beans need trellises to support them as they grow. Most beans just twine themselves over their supports while peas use their tendrils to climb. At each node along their stems, they generate two or three one-inch-long tendrils, which grab and then wind themselves around something a narrow trellis.
  •  
    Read the full article on DifferenceBetween.net.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Farro, The Original Wheat & A Moroccan Chicken Recipe

    With all the focus on quinoa as the “it” grain, don’t hold yourself back from trying other ancient grains.

    Farro, an early, very tasty wheat subspecies, is also known as emmer wheat. Some people also confuse it with spelt (more about that below).

    But it shouldn’t keep you from seeking it out at better supermarkets, specialty food stores, natural foods stores or online. If you don’t like the flavor of quinoa but want more nutrition, this is a must-try.
     
    WHAT IS FARRO?

    An unhybridized ancestor of modern wheat, farro was one of the first grains cultivated by man in the Fertile Crescent, also known as The Cradle Of Civilization.

    Here’s more on the earliest cultivated crops.

    Farro was a mainstay of the daily diet in ancient Rome, and it sustained the Roman legions as they conquered Europe. It was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times.

  • Farro has a mild, nutty flavor, is high in fiber content and nutrients.
  • It can be tolerated by lightly wheat-sensitive people because it has less gluten and the glutenis more easily digested (check with your healthcare provider).
  • It has slightly more protein than modern wheat: 7 grams per 1/4 cup uncooked farrow.
  • Farro cooks like rice and other grains: Rinse, add to a pot with water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  •  
    So Why Did Farrow “Go Away?”

    Because the yields aren’t as high as with other wheat species.

    Over the millennia, the tastier and more nutritious strains of many crops were abandoned in favor of strains and hybrids that produced greater yields and were less resistant to weather fluctuations, diseases and pests. Farro ceased to be cultivated, except in a few remote areas.

    (This selective breeding process was also conducted with animal species, both food animals, work animals and companion animals.)

    The growing interest in better-for-you foods has brought farro back.

       

    Farro

    Farro

    Top: A field of farrow (photo courtesy Institute For Plant Sciences | Zurich. Bottom: Farro from Anson Mills.

     
    FOOD 101: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPELT & FARRO

    It’s easy to confuse farrow and spelt. Farro looks rather like spelt, another early species of wheat; but they are not the same. Farro is emmer wheat, the original wheat. The botanical name for farro and emmer wheat is Triticum dicoccum; spelt is Triticum spelta; the most common modern wheat is Triticum aestivum.

  • Farro must be soaked (except for quick-cook brands), whereas spelt can be cooked directly from the package.
  • Cooked farro is firm and chewy; spelt is soft and becomes mushy when overcooked.
  •  
    But note: To be sure you’re getting whole grain farro, look for “whole” or “whole grain” on the label. “Pearled” or semi-pearled farrow, which is quicker cooking, is not whole grain and lacks the fiber and nutrition from the germ and bran of whole grains.

    Pearling removes the inedible hull that surrounds the grain, but the process also scours off part (semi-pearled) or all (pearled) of the nutritious germ and bran. Whole-grain farro is hulled using a gentler process that leaves the germ and bran intact.

     
    WAYS TO SERVE FARRO

    Today’s demands for better foods are bringing back some of the oldies. You can find:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro at Whole Foods.
  • 10 Minute Farro at Trader Joe’s (see note below re pearled farro).
  • Fargo adds heft and, mouth feel and “chew” to recipes, or as a standalone side. You can serve it hot or cold, as a substitute for rice, quinoa, pasta, or other grain or starch.

  • Farro has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, similar to barley.
  • It can be added to any soup or stew.
  • It can be substituted for rice salad or pasta salad.
  • It is more flavorful than pasta.
  • Whole grain farro is high in fiber plus magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E. It has less gluten than other varieties of wheat, making it easier to digest. As with other grains, it can be ground into flour to make bread and pasta.
  •  
    Farro For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

  • Breakfast: Use farro in place of your morning oatmeal. Top it with apples, maple syrup and cinnamon.
  • Leftovers: Add any type of leftovers to farro to create a new side or salad, as we did in the photo above.
  • Lunch Salad or Side: Combine cooked farro with olive oil, tomatoes, feta and olives for a Mediterranean-inspired salad. Or try this delicious farro and beet salad recipe.
  • Rice Substitute: Cook and serve as you would serve rice.
  • Soups & Stews: Use farro in soups and stews for a heartier, earthier flavor.
  • Soup Meal: Cook farro with vegetable or chicken stock and your favorite vegetables for a warming and delicious light meal.
  •  

    Moroccan Chicken Recipe

    Farro Salad

    Top: Fragrant and flavorful: Moroccan Chicken recipe from Good Eggs. Bottom: A farrow salad can be served hot or cold. Photo © Dreamtime.

     

    RECIPE: BRAISED MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH FARRO-CARROT SALAD

    This fork-tender braised chicken recipe from Good Eggs is packed with flavor and ready in an hour.

    Don’t be fooled by the number of ingredients: This dish is deceptively simple and easy to put together. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds whole chicken legs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Marash* chile flakes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems sliced into thin rounds and and kept apart from the leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 bunch carrots, one diced and the rest cut into matchsticks
  • 1 dried espelette chili pepper
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups farro
  • Handful of almonds, lightly toasted & roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 12 Castelvetrano olives, pitted
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  •  
    ____________________
    *Marash chile flakes are red pepper flakes from Turkey. They have a complex flavor—fruit and smoke—with moderate heat. Marash is both smokier and a bit hotter than Aleppo pepper, but you can use them interchangeably. The flakes can be blended with lemon juice and salt for a meat rub, or added to olive oil to make a vinaigrette, pasta or rice sauce. Blend the flakes with olive oil for a bread dipper, add to soups and stews, chili or any meat dish. See the different types of chiles and the different types of peppercorns.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Combine the spices—cumin, coriander, fennel, turmeric, cinnamon and Marash chile—in a small bowl and set aside. Pat the chicken legs dry and season with salt, pepper and about half of the spice mix.

    2. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if needed) to an oven-safe pan large enough to fit the chicken legs and all of the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium, and when the oil is hot add the diced onion, carrot, celery and cilantro stems (not the leaves). Add a pinch of salt, the remaining spice mix, the dried espelette chile and the bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are completely soft and the onion is a bit translucent.

    3. ADD half a can of crushed tomatoes and olives to the pan, then the chicken legs, skin-side up. Pour the chicken broth into the pan until the liquid is halfway up the chicken—you’ll want to leave some skin above the liquid so that it can crisp up in the oven.

    4. BRING the ingredients to a boil on the stovetop, then place the entire pan uncovered on the middle or bottom rack of the oven (to prevent burning) for about 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes to ensure that the skin is getting crispy but not burnt: The pan can be covered with aluminum foil or a lid if it is browning too quickly. If the chicken doesn’t seem to be browning at all, move it up a rack in the oven, but watch it closely.

    5. REMOVE the pan from the oven after 30 minutes and check for doneness using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165°F. If not, place the pan it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it’s done, set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. While the chicken is braising in the oven…

    6. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with 2 tablespoons of salt and add 2 cups of farro. Cook according to the package instructions until al dente, then drain and let cool. Toss with a bit of olive oil to help prevent clumping.

    7. COMBINE the carrots, cilantro leaves, farro, almonds, a generous squeeze of lemon and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a mixing bowl. Toss gently and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the farro salad alongside a chicken leg, with some braising liquid spooned over it.
     
    HERE’S ANOTHER FARRO SALAD RECIPE

    Try this Farro & Beet Salad Recipe.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Moros y Cristianos, Cuban Rice & Beans

    Disclaimer: This is a traditional recipe based on a historical event. It is not a commentary on any religion or ethnicity.

    Why the disclaimer? The recipe is Moros y Cristianos, a dish commemorating the Islamic Conquest of Spain by Moors in the early 8th century, the ongoing wars between the two sides and the subsequent Reconquista by Spanish Christians in the 15th century.
     
    WHAT IS “MOROS Y CRISTIANOS?”

    Moros y Cristianos means “Moors and Christians” and refers to the popular white rice and black beans dish of Cuba. It was inspired by historic events that are commemorated annually with battle re-enactments across the southern coast of Spain.

    Platillo Moros y Cristianos is a staple served at virtually every Cuban restaurant and home. It is the Cuban version of the rice and beans dishes that are consumed throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, and in the southern United States. It can be simply called arroz moro, moros, moro or congrí.

    The black beans, or Moros, represent the darker-skinned Moors; the rice, Cristianos, represents the lighter-skinned Spaniards. They are simmered together or separately with herbs and vegetables: a sofrito* of bay leaf, bell pepper, garlic, onions and oregano. Bacon can also be added.

    This nicely seasoned side is often served with grilled or roasted meat, poultry and seafood. It’s a good party dish, too: It can be made well in advance and be served at room temperature.
     
    MOROS VS. CONGRÍ: THE DIFFERENCE

    In the traditionally preparation, the Moros and Cristianos are prepared separately; they don’t meet up until they’re placed side by side on the plate. In the variation called Congrí, the rice and beans are cooked together†.

    These days, many cooks make the rice and beans together Congrí-style, but call it Moros y Cristianos.

    There’s no need to split hairs. Both methods work fine, although Steve Sando, the proprietor of Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans who has cooked bean dishes in every way possible, prefers “the sharper, more distinct flavors the old-fashioned technique delivers.”

    We’ll start with his recipe, and follow with a very quick version from Kraft.
     
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    *Sofrito is the Spanish version of mirepoix, a chopped vegetable mix that is cooked in oil or butter to add flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stocks. Similar flavor bases include the Italian soffritto and the Portuguese refogado. Depending on the country, ingredients can include bell peppers, carrots, celeriac, celery, onions, and seasonings; refogado includes tomatoes. Cajun and Creole cuisines use what is called the “holy trinity”: onions, celery and bell peppers.

    †The beans are first boiled in water; the rice is cooked in another pot with some of the water from the beans. The cooked ingredients are combined with a flavorful sofrito (see footnote above).

       

    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Top photo of Moros y Cristianos courtesy Savoir Faire Los Placeres Del Paladar. Center: Side-by-side Moros y Cristianos from HeartOfWisdom.com. Bottom: A creative side-by-side from Fictionique.com.

     
    RECIPE: MOROS Y CRISTIANOS (MOORS & CHRISTIANS RICE & BEANS)

    This traditional recipe from Rancho Gordo adds another layer of flavor from bacon. Visit RanchoGordo.com for an exquisite selection of heirloom beans, spices and dazzling bean recipes.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 4 slices lean bacon, chopped
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder (see note‡)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups cooked black beans in their broth
  • Salt
  • 1½ cups hot cooked white rice
  •  
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    ‡You can buy New Mexican Red Chile Powder from Rancho Gordo as well as from McCormick. New Mexican Red Chile Powder, also simply called red chile powder, is made from hot red chiles that have been dried and ground. It should not be confused with chili powder, a mixed spice for making chili. If you don’t have red chile powder, substitute cayenne pepper or the milder paprika.

     

    Moros y Cristianos Recipe

    Easy Moros y Cristianos from Kraft. It saves time by using canned beans. The recipe is below.

     

    Preparation

    1. GENTLY COOK the bacon in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked through, about 10 minutes. You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. If there is less, add olive oil as needed until you have 2 tablespoons of fat.

    2. ADD the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook gently, stirring occasionally until the bell pepper is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the red chile powder and oregano and stir until incorporated. Add the beans and their broth and stir gently until mixed.

    3. COOK over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.

    4. TO SERVE: Spoon some of the rice and the beans alongside each other on each individual plate. Serve immediately.
     

     

    RECIPE: QUICK MOROS Y CRISTIANOS

    This quick recipe, from Kraft, uses canned black beans. You can save even more time by using precooked frozen rice.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, total time 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon, onions and garlic in large skillet on medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp.

    2. STIR in the rice, the beans with their liquid, and the oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil.

    3. REDUCE the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      

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