Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

This week's menu:

I love the nutty flavor of brown butter. It really adds dimension to this dish.

1. Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 lb tortellini (any kind, I used whole wheat with cheese filling)
6 slices bacon, diced
6 T unsalted butter
2 cups arugula (I substituted baby spinach)
kosher salt
black pepper

Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet, over medium heat until crisp. Reserve the bacon and discard the drippings. Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the butter and brown (see how to brown butter below). Remove from heat and add the bacon, arugula (or spinach), salt, pepper and cooked tortellini. Toss well and serve.

How to brown butter:
Melt the butter in a skillet or small saucepan over medium heat (preferably a light colored one, this helps to see the color develop). Stir the butter as it starts to foam. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to turn golden brown and smells nutty (about 1 minute).

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time and finally decided to try it because I had just enough apricot preserves left in the bottom of a jar. The recipe called for chicken but I decided to use pork instead. I was going to use pork chops but when I got to the market they had rib ends on sale. It was a delicious alternate. You could also try this on shrimp or salmon.

2. BBQ Apricot Pork with Cheddar and Scallion Grits
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half)

For the pork:
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup apricot jam or preserves
1 T balsamic vinegar
kosher salt
black pepper
pork rib ends (I don't remember exactly how much I used, it was one package with four pieces in it. That was enough for two servings.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, jam, vinegar, 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly. Arrange the pork in a baking dish and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork and roast until it is cooked through, about 1 hour.

For the grits:
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 c grits (not instant or quick cooking)
1 c (4 oz) grated white cheddar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 t black pepper
1 T unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 1/4 cups water and the salt to a boil. Whisking constantly, slowly add the grits in a steady stream. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are thick and creamy, 15 - 20 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Add the scallions, pepper and butter and stir.

This salad was very good. I think it would be especially good to make at the beginning of the week to have for lunches throughout the week.

3. Creamy Barley Salad with Apples and Cranberries.
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1/2 c pearl barley
kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t Dijon mustard
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 apple, cut into 1/2" pieces (I used Granny Smith but I think next time I will go for a sweeter apple with some red color to it.)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 cups red leaf lettuce, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, 1 1/2cups water and 1/2 t salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Spread out and let cool. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, mustard 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Add the celery, apple, cranberries and cooled barley. Toss to combine. Serve on top of the lettuce.

I had some hot Italian sausage left over from the sandwiches I made last week. I just removed the casings, cooked it and mixed it in some marinara sauce. I put a dollop of ricotta on top which was left over from the corn cakes I made two weeks ago. I had steamed broccoli on the side.

This is a meal my mom made growing up and I love it! I don't usually make it with meat but I had a ton of shredded chicken left over from tacos that we had over the weekend so I decided to put some in. I think it may have evolved a bit from the way my mom makes it so here is my version. It is really adaptable so use whatever ingredients you like. This makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

5. Enchilada Casserole
makes 6-8 servings

2 cans refried beans
1 can chopped green chilies
3/4 cup corn
1/2 cup olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
flour tortillas

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, reserving about 1/3 can of enchilada sauce and a few olives. Put one tortilla in the bottom of a baking dish. Spread a layer of the bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese, place another tortilla on top. Repeat until all of the filling is used up. On top of the final tortilla pour the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with a handful of cheese and the reserved olives. Bake until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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