Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lentil and Vegetable Chili

I love making a big pot of chili for dinner. I have made chili with ground beef, chili with ground turkey, and chili with leftover roasted turkey. All of these variations are deliscious. I crave them all from time to time. I couldn't help but wonder if I could come up with a no-meat chili, in honor of Meatless Monday, that would be completely satisfying. Answer: yes! I couldn't believe how many times my husband said, "this is really good." He ate the leftovers almost every day for lunch or dinner until they were gone. I was lucky to get one more cup for a lunch later in the week. I think the leftover chili was even better than on the first night I served it, because the spices had extra time to meld together. (Perfect for phase 1 South Beach and phase 2 of The New Atkins).

Lentil and Vegetable Chili
1 lb of green lentils, soaked in water with lemon (see why you should soak your grains here)
1- 2 lemons
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 zucchini, diced
8 oz of portobello mushrooms, diced
1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes, no salt added (I like adding my own salt)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

(optional garnish)
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (low fat for South Beach | regular for The New Atkins)
sour cream (low fat for South Beach | regular for The New Atkins)

1. Soak the lentils in a bowl (or the pot that you will cook the chili in) with enough warm water to cover the lentils by 1 1/2 inches. Squeeze lemon juice in the water. If the lemons are not juicy add a second lemon. Soak for 7 hours. I do this first thing in the morning before going to work so when I'm ready to prepare dinner the lentils are ready.

2. Drain the lentils and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot until it shimmers. Add the minced onion and stir for 2 - 3 minutes until the onions become translucent.

3. Press garlic over the onions and stir until it becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Stir in the lentils.

5. Add the amount of water to the lentils, onions, and garlic as directed on the package of lentils.

6. As the lentils are cooking according to the package instructions. Chop the mushrooms and zucchini in a similar size dice.

7. Halfway through the lentil cooking time add the mushrooms and zucchini. Do not stir. Simmer the lentils and vegetables for the remaining lentil cooking time.

8. Finally, when the lentils are finished cooking then you can stir the pot. Add the kidney beans (you don't have to drain them or you can if you prefer).

9. Add the diced tomatoes.

10. Now comes the flavor. Add all the chili spices: chili powder, paprika, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

11. Cover and simmer the chili for 15 minutes until the flavors marry well. Serve up the chili with your favorite garnishes (or whatever you have on hand which is usually the case in our house).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

We love Caesar salad in our house. We make it often. So when we got our new Weber gas grill this summer the very first thing I made was a grilled chicken Caesar salad. By grilled I mean grilled chicken, Romaine, baguette slices, and garlic. Everything except the dressing and the cheese is grilled in this recipe. I love that so much of this recipe is prepared on the grill. Oh, and grilled Romaine is delicious!  (Great for phase 2 South Beach or phase 2 of The New Atkins).

Grilled Chicken and Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
2 chicken breast halves
2 hearts of Romaine
Caesar dressing (see recipe below)
1 bulb of garlic, separated and unpeeled (save 1 or 2 cloves for the dressing)
Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup grated for dressing plus shaved pieces to top the salad)
1 lemons, juiced and divided (juice of 1 lemon for dressing and the juice of 2 lemons for marinade)
4 slices of rustic bread
1/8 cup olive oil (plus extra)
fresh cracked pepper
(this will make 4 entree salads)

For the Dressing
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup of a good quality mayonnaise (Use low fat for South Beach or regular for The New Atkins - I used Spectrum Organic or you could make homemade)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (usually one juice lemon will work)
1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's Naturals Organic)
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of dry mustard
1 or 2 cloves of garlic depending on the size of the cloves and your taste

1. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a glass dish to marinate. Add 1/8 cup of olive oil and 1/8 cup of lemon juice. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken half way through the marinated process.

2. While the chicken is marinating make the dressing. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat grill to a medium-high heat. Look here is my shiny new grill!

4. Cut the Romaine hearts in half lengthwise, brush both sides of the Romaine with olive oil and set aside. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil and set aside.

5. Place the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a tightly sealed tin foil pouch. Place on the grill for 10 - 12 minutes turning the foil pouch periodically.

6. Remove the chicken from the marinade, lightly pat with paper towel so that oil isn't dripping from the chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken salt-and-pepper side down diagonally on the grill for nice grill marks. Grill the chicken about 5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through (160 degrees). Remove chicken and garlic to a clean platter and cover with tin foil.

7. Add the prepared Romaine cut side up to the grill. Grill the Romaine about 1-2 minutes and then flip. Grill the Romaine on the second side for an additional 2-3 minutes or until slightly charred and wilted.

7. Grill the prepared toast slices about 1 minute on each side. Bring everything inside to assemble.

8. Begin assembly by first slicing the chicken into strips.

9. Arrange even portions of the chicken on to the side of four plates. Place the grilled Romaine in the center of the plate. Add a toast slice and a clove or two of garlic. Drizzle the Romaine with some Caesar dressing. Finally, using a vegetable peeler add some Parmesan cheese shavings.


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