One Pot Mediterranean Quinoa Recipe

I LOVE a one pot meal! If you haven’t tried any of my one pot barley or farro recipes, you must! I know many people need to avoid gluten grains, so I thought I would make a version with quinoa. Quinoa is a light, fluffy seed that feels like a grain. It’s technically a pseudo-cereal, so many people who can’t tolerate grains, do well with quinoa. You know I’ll add vegetables anywhere I can, and this recipe is so easy and so flexible. Quinoa needs flavor boosters, so I love the olives here, as well as the dried herbs. If you dislike olives, use half the amount of capers. If you dislike capers too, add some feta or another salty cheese before serving. This is a great meal prep recipe and is awesome in school lunch boxes or to bring to the office. If you decide to swap in some stock for some or all of the water, adjust the added salt in case the stock has salt. Remember, be conservative – you can always add more salt later.

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Fish in Parchment with Fennel, Citrus and Olives Recipe

Some of the biggest challenges home cooks face are lack of time and accommodating different dietary preferences.  I am right there with you!  And this new fish in parchment recipe I am sharing is a dream come true.  It is not only healthful and delicious, but it’s quick to prepare, quick to cook and customizable.  You can use different fish, omit the vegetables or substitute other ones, add a spicy element, or keep it super plain for the choosier eaters.Continue reading

Roasted Lemon-Sumac Chicken Recipe

roasted lemon sumac chicken

ingredients for roasted lemon sumac chicken

Chicken is still the most popular protein in my classes, so I am always trying to come up with new flavor profiles for this versatile meat.  The seasonings I use for this roasted lemon sumac chicken are Middle Eastern and I love the tart, herbaceousness of sumac and za’atar together.  I use these spices/dried herbs a lot.  Don’t be put off by cooking a whole bird.  It’s easier than it looks and I find it much more economical, plus I can use the bones afterwards for stock.  2 in 1!  If your family eats white meat and dark meat, a whole bird is the way to go. Continue reading

Vegetarian Mushroom Wellington Recipe

I hope you are having a lovely holiday season!  Hubs and I are so enjoying being with all the kids.  There is truly nothing better. Once the kids leave, you relish any time you spend with them!  We had the best visit with my family on Long Island and now we are in Utah with Hubs’s family.  I will pray for good snow but mild temps!  I’m such a wimp.  If you want a super impressive and delicious main dish for a night in or for a New Year’s dinner, I have you covered.  I served this Mushroom Wellington at a dinner party last year, and I couldn’t believe how everyone went crazy for it – even the carnivores!Continue reading

Roasted Stuffed “Fondue” Pumpkin Recipe

Not all pumpkin recipes have to be sweet!  This Roasted Pumpkin Fondue is an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine that I made back in the day but shelved it because it was too rich and heavy.  My friend Katie Morford lightened it up and it’s even better than the original version!  Think soft and gooey cheese on the inside with cubes of whatever bread you like + tender pumpkin.  It’s comforting and delicious and could be a full meal with a simple salad on the side.  After shooting this with an amazing dark multi-grain, seeded bread, I realized that a lighter color bread looks more appetizing.  But this tasted phenomenal!Continue reading

French Onion Soup Recipe

healthy french onion soup | pamela salzman

If it wasn’t winter before this week, it sure is now. Not in Southern California, of course.  But for the rest of the country.  Although people in LA dress like it’s zero degrees when it’s 55.  It’s totally funny.  I cracked up when I saw this post on Pinterest last week:

50 degrees in California, 50 degrees in Michigan

So I figured that everyone would be in the mood for soup this week, no matter where you live!  I had completely forgotten about this delicious French onion soup I taught two years ago, until my husband asked me to make it.  My entire family, Mr. Picky included, are big soup fans and I love making it.  In general, soups are easy, flexible, reheat well and a good way to consume homemade bone broth, which I am convinced is so healing, immune-boosting and good for digestion.

lots of sliced onions

 

French onion soup is a classic, and I am not necessarily reinventing the wheel here, just sharing the way I like to make it.  And isn’t that the beauty of cooking?  Figuring out how to tweak recipes to your liking?  I prefer an onion soup that is loaded with onions and with a rich and flavorful broth.  I’ve tasted a few very lackluster onion soups and that is not this one!

healthy French onion soup | pamela salzman

healthy French onion soup | pamela salzman

The key to the broth is good stock and the proper alcohol.  Yes, you can serve soup with alcohol to children since the alcohol is burned off in the simmering process.  My kids have had plenty of alcohol in cooked foods and were not affected in the slightest.  Brandy or vermouth plus some white wine are my favorites.  I do not love this soup with red wine, personally.  Another tip I can offer is using the slicing disc in your food processor to slice all the onions.  It will take you all of 1 minute with no tears to do it this way.  If you have no food processor, get out your best knife and get close (not too close) to a big open flame, like a gas burner on your stove, and slice away.  The flame from the stove will burn the gases from the onions and you won’t cry.  Promise!

healthy French onion soup | pamela salzman

As for the cheesy toast, I personally don’t add the traditional Gruyere toast on top to mine because I can’t eat too much dairy, but my family loves that part.  My son adds toast only, I add chopped parsley, and my husband and daughters love toast + cheese.   I think it makes more sense to toast the bread and melt the cheese separately in the oven than broil it in the soup bowls.  The soup bowls get so incredibly hot and it’s not safe at all to serve such hot bowls to kids (or anyone.)  It’s much simpler to add the melted cheese toast to the soup bowl.  But you can broil it in the bowls, too.  I would serve this with a meal of roasted fish and a green vegetable or just a large, hearty salad.  This soup is all about comfort, warmth and total deliciousness.  One bite is like a cozy blanket wrapping itself around you.  What more could you need on a day like today?

healthy French onion soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
French Onion Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 pounds yellow onions (about 6), halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (double this if your stock is unsalted)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • ¼ cup Cognac or brandy
  • 4 cups rich chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 cups high quality beef broth (or use mushroom stock or chicken stock)
  • 6 ½-inch slices of baguette or French bread torn by hand
  • 6 ounces Gruyere, shredded (or buy it pre-sliced)
  • a pinch of Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt butter over medium heat and add onions. COVER and cook 10 minutes.
  2. UNCOVER, add thyme, bay leaves, salt, black pepper and cook onions until they are very soft and deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. I usually start at medium heat and then when I see the onions start to color, I drop to medium-low and then to low heat. This is the key step in this recipe. If the onions don’t get golden, the soup won’t have as much flavor. But you also don’t want to burn the onions because then the soup will taste bitter.
  3. Stir in the wine and Cognac, scraping the bottom of the pot.
  4. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Taste for seasoning. Keep in mind that if you are adding cheese, you will be adding extra saltiness.
  5. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, arrange the baguette slices or bread pieces on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat the broiler to high and position the oven rack 6 inches from the heat. Either top each piece of toast with a handful of grated gruyere and broil until melted. Divide the soup between 6 bowls and top each soup bowl with a piece of cheese toast. OR place 6 oven-proof soup bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet and fill each with soup. Top with the toasted bread and then the cheese. Broil a few minutes until cheese has melted.
Notes
This soup tastes even better the next day! If you want to double this, caramelize the onions in 2 pots. Otherwise it's too many onions at one time.

 

Parmesan Peppers Recipe

prepping peppers | pamela salzman

I just returned home from a beautiful vacation on Long Island with my family.  It’s always my favorite week of the year and I enjoy the time even more when the weather is perfection like it was last week (barring the crazy 30-minute quasi-tornado on Tuesday morning.) I try to visit my parents in August rather than earlier in the summer because my father’s vegetable gardens are much more abundant now.  I think one of the best, most rewarding things in life is to be able to grow your own food.  On so many levels it’s good for you and good for the earth.

prepping peppers | pamela salzman

It can be very confusing to know what’s in season these days since we can buy virtually anything at any time.  But if you’ve ever gardened, you know that certain vegetables are planted during certain times of the year.  When I was growing up, I knew strawberries were only around for a short time so I would eat as many as humanly possible to take advantage of nature’s little springtime gift.  Same with tomatoes.  In fact, my mother loves telling me the story of when I was little and I ate so many unripe green tomatoes out of my father’s garden that I made myself sick.  I guess you can have too much of a good thing.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Here’s a newsflash for some people:  bell peppers are a summer vegetable.  Sure you can buy them all year, but they’ll be imported and likely not organic.  Another newsflash is that bell peppers are usually on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of most highly contaminated produce, so I always buy organic or not at all.  Yikes.  Now I look back and thank my lucky stars my father grew lots of peppers without pesticides.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Sweet bell peppers have a soft spot in my heart because they were one of Mr. Picky’s first “approved” vegetables.  I can even remember the day he tried a stick of raw red bell pepper and said, “Hey, this is good!  It’s juicy!”  Munch, crunch.  Then I went overboard trying to put sweet bell peppers in everything because I thought they were my ticket to broadening his limited palate.  Well my strategy didn’t exactly work.  But I’m glad I went pepper-crazy because I found this recipe for Parmesan peppers and it has become a favorite.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Parmesan peppers is one of the easiest and tastiest side dishes.  It gets multiple flavor boosts from garlic, thyme, lemon and Parmesan cheese, although I often use Pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese.  It’s true that my son prefers his bell peppers raw (“juicy and crunchy”), I prefer the sweeter flavor and silky texture from roasted peppers.  One sliver of these peppers wrapped around a bite of fish or roasted chicken is just delicious.  And if you can find two (or even three) colors of peppers, this is a really beautiful side dish.  And I repeat, easy!

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

So the big question is, does Mr. Picky eat this?  And the answer is, almost.  What does that mean?  Like most kids, he’s slow to come around to vegetables and he likes to try things on his own terms.  It’s annoying for sure, but it is pretty normal.  So the first couple of times I made this, he was like “no way I’m eating that.”  He did have the obligatory taste, but nothing more after that.  More recently, he has eaten an entire piece and declared, “it’s pretty good, but I’m fine with one piece, thanks.”  The last time he had one piece and said, “it’s good and I’m pretty sure I’ll eat more next time.”  Welcome to my world!

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

While there are no guarantees in life, these peppers have always been a hit with everyone else who has tried them, including my two daughters. What I do know for sure is that summer and local peppers won’t be around forever, so do enjoy them while you can.

Parmesan Peppers
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011
Ingredients
  • 4 bell peppers (a mix of yellow, red and orange is nice)
  • 1 clove thinly sliced garlic
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • juice of ½ lemon, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stem, core and quarter bell peppers; place on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Toss with garlic, thyme and olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange skin side down in a single layer and roast until softened, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and preheat the broiler.
  6. Sprinkle the peppers with Parmesan and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and peppers are slightly charred. This will only take a minute or two.
  7. Remove from oven and drizzle with lemon juice, if you like. You can leave the thyme sprigs, but they are not to be eaten.
Notes
Feel free to leave out the cheese if you need. These are also great with a few capers sprinkled on when they come out of the oven.

 

Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe

You see that beautiful piece of fish down there?  That is my idea of a perfect dinner — simple, healthy, light, delicious, seasonal, easy-to-make.  If my family didn’t thrive on an ever-changing dinner menu, I would love to eat this twice a week with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé.  Perfect.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Fish in parchment is easier than it looks and one of the most healthful ways to cook fish.  I have taught and posted two other fish in parchment recipes which you may have tried, one with cilantro and ginger and the second with summer herbs.  Both are delicious and perfect when you want something light in the summer.

L1210229

L1210231

The basic idea when you’re cooking in parchment, is to use ingredients that all cook pretty quickly and at the same rate.  Make sure that parchment is tightly sealed and you’ll create a little steam oven in that packet.  I always make sure the fish is well-seasoned with salt and pepper and that I add a smidge of fat, either butter or olive oil for flavor, and then there are lots of possibilities.

L1210238

Once I see those first local tomatoes at the farmers market, I start going a little tomato-crazy.  I especially love cherry tomatoes because they are always so sweet.  In this recipe, you can’t beat the combination with the sautéed garlic, salty capers and olives and zingy white wine.  I would eat this with a simple rice pilaf or quinoa salad or a raw zucchini salad.  My family would probably love a little pasta with pesto to go with it.

med fish parchment collage 1

I have taught this recipe in my cooking classes many, many times and sometimes I added some raw baby spinach leaves under the fish.  The spinach wilts beautifully and tastes delicious with all the other ingredients.  Shaved zucchini slices would also be perfect, but you could also add vegetables to the packet like blanched (not raw) green beans or slivers of roasted peppers.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Of course, if there are ingredients in the recipe you don’t care for, feel free to omit.  After I finish going over a recipe in my class, I take a few minutes to talk about substitutions.  Questions about how to change the recipe are the most common questions that come up — how do I make this gluten-free? My husband won’t eat anything with onion.  I hate olives.  Etc, etc.  I give you permission to take out the olives if you want.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Summer is here, friends.  Let’s get cooking!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • a handful of mixed fresh herbs (I like to use mostly parsley with a little basil and mint mixed in), if you have them or sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
  • 4 filets of wild halibut or sole
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange each piece of fish in the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  3. Top each filet with a fourth of the tomato mixture, 1 teaspoon of butter or oil, and 2 teaspoons wine.
  4. Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Repeat for each piece of fish. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
Notes
Sometimes I like to add a handful of baby spinach leaves to the parchment before topping with the fish.