Are you bored of the meat and two veg dinner?
Darlings! So many cooks lately have told me that they are in a COOKING RUT! To be honest, it happens to the best of us, even to La Diva. Sometimes, you've made an old stand by meal one time too many, the same boring meat and two veg day after day!
So, for inspiration, La Diva thought she'd share with you what I've prepared in the last week. True to form, my culinary style is heavily influenced by Asian and Mediterranean flavor profiles as well as "what's in season" at the farmer's market and also what is in my pantry! I think you'll be delighted with the variety of choices.
La Diva is cutting calories and has begun a work out program (eek!) Some experts say that the key to building muscle is through eating high protein foods. Super grain quinoa has more protein than any other whole grain and paired with black lentils and tuna, this meal packs a high protein punch and is low in fat and carbs. Oh, and VERY TASTY TOO!!!
Seared tuna is spread with a thin layer of Meyer lemon tapenade and served over quinoa and black lentil salad with arugula and feta cheese garnished with fresh, diced tomatoes.
La Diva was surfing the Internet for savory Meyer lemon uses and found this spicy recipe for shrimp piri piri with quick preserved Meyer lemon. This recipe and photo comes courtesy of the L.A. Times and Chef Marcus Samuelsson. I modified the recipe somewhat by changing the chile type (I used green jalapeno, red Fresno and one baby habanero) and used regular preserved lemons instead of Meyer. I did use Meyer lemon juice though, and served the lot over organic Florida-grown brown rice. The result was spicy, succulent, DIVINE! Click HERE for the recipe.
Shrimp piri piri with quick preserved Meyer lemon
This dinner of mussels and rice can be made and on the table within 15 minutes! Simply saute a paste of minced shallot, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and chile for a few minutes until fragrant. Then, add a half a cup of coconut milk and a dash of fish sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the mussels, cover and cook until they just being to open. Remove mussels and plate with jasmine rice in serving bowls. Then reduce the sauce a bit and pour over the mussels. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
This dish is so true to its Thai roots that you couldn't get any it better at a restaurant! The mussels were small and sweet with the bite of lemongrass and chile was "just right." The jasmine rice soaks up all the broth and is eaten using the shell as a spoon and with a mussel, a heavenly bite full of flavor!
Lemongrass chile mussels with coconut milk over jasmine rice.
Good enough for compn'y, this dish of chicken involtini over lemon risotto is packed with flavor and easy to prepare. I pounded a couple of chicken breasts, spread with the tapenade (same as I used for the tuna!), then put in a bit of cooked, blotted spinach and then feta. Rolled it up, secured it with a small skewer and baked them at 350 for 30 minutes and served over risotto. I made a regular risotto with chicken broth and added Meyer lemon juice and zest to create the lemony flavor, easy peasy and tres elegant! I finished it with a bit of butter and parmigiano cheese then plated up.
To 'fancy up the plating' for company, I would serve it on a plate and garnish with more lemon zest and a bit of green, like microgreens or Italian parsley.
Man! Tom Colicchio would be patting me on the back for this perfecto risotto that yes, DID SPREAD OUT ON THE PLATE! The lemon risotto added the right tang and was perfect to go up against the strong olive and feta flavors, what a combo. The chicken came out juicy and tender but I still spooned just a bit of the chicken's juices onto each piece for added flavor.
Chicken involtini with tapenade of Meyer lemon and chile, spinach and feta cheese over creamy Meyer lemon risotto.
Bucatini all'amatriciana: A a good chunk of Italian bacon (pancetta or guanciale, if you can get it) = $3.50, box of bucatini pasta = $1.69, 8 Florida plum tomatoes = $4, white onion = $1, Total = $10.19. What better way for you to feed four hungry people for about $10 than with a big ol' bowl of hearty pasta? And if you already have the red pepper flakes and pecorino cheese to top it, well, you are GOLDEN.
This classic Italian dish is simple and spicy and darlings, don't even THINK of leaving out the chile. Even with a whole teaspoon of chile flakes, the heat is distributed throughout a pound of pasta, so really instead of intense heat, adds just the right lil' KICK. Go ahead and google this and take a look at the many recipes for it on the Internet, as long as it has these basic ingredients, it's the REAL DEAL.
Bucatini alla'amtriciana with onions, pancetta, Florida plum tomatoes, chile flakes and bucatini pasta topped with freshly grated pecorino, a tangy Italian sheep's milk cheese!
It's interesting to note that THIS week, La Diva enjoyed rice three times! But, each time a different rice was used: arborio for the risotto, jasmine for the mussels and organic brown rice for the shrimp. So, something as simple as stocking your pantry with a few different rices or grains can also add interest to your weekly meals. Also, THIS week, I didn't eat any red meat but mostly seafood. It just goes to show that you can serve interesting, satisfying meals with variety without the standard meat and two veg.
So, darlings, La Diva wants to know: Did I inspire you? Did this post get you thinking of different flavor combos? Well, I certainly HOPE so! Even if you try just ONE of these dishes that are out of the ordinary for you, you are BREAKING OUT of your BORING food rut! Now get cookin', baby, and tell La Diva all about it!
La Diva will be demonstrating at the Backyard Paradise Home and Garden Festival at the Pinecrest Gardens, Saturday April 2. I will be doing two demos at 11 am and 1 pm, click HERE for more info!