Tag Archives: cilantro

5 Minute Magic Green Sauce

avocado, cilantro, lime, pistachio dip, sauce, spread, dressing

This recipe originally comes from Pinch of Yum, and it instantly became one of my favorite easy dips/sauces.

What makes it magic? It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s versatile, it’s delicious!

Use it as a veggie or cracker dip. Smear it on just-cooked fish, chicken, or burgers. Use the thinner version to drizzle over fresh tomatoes, or roasted vegetables. I bet it would be amazing blended into twice-baked potatoes — or twice-baked cauliflower!

 

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Grilled pork tenderloin with easy al pastor glaze and mango salsa

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This sounds fancy-pants, but it was an easy weeknight dinner that I kinda threw together.
It started with an extra mango and some cilantro in the fridge, left over from fish tacos a couple days ago. What to do with that? A spicy and/or salty pork dish would be a nice counterpoint, so I picked up a couple pork tenderloins.
Mid-afternoon, I trimmed the pork and put both pieces in a baking dish, and slathered one of them with this impromptu glaze:
– a good bit (maybe 1/2 cup?) of some bottled “Tacos Al Pastor” sauce I had on hand (Target’s “Archer Farms” brand)
– a sprinkle or two of cayenne (if you’re not a spice wimp like me, you might want more)
– a scant 1/2 teaspoon of ancho chili
– a drizzle of honey (a teaspoon or more, maybe. want it sweet? use more!) 
(I seasoned the second tenderloin with cumin and a couple other things, to be made into Cuban sandwiches tomorrow night.)
So the tenderloins sat in the fridge for a few hours, covered and marinating in their glaze/rub. Forty minutes before dinner time, I took them out and let them sit at room temp for 20 minutes, before grilling till the interior temp was just over 140 F; then a few-minute rest. You could also cook them in the oven; find directions for that here.
While the pork was cooking, I chopped up the mango and a small handful of cilantro. Tossed that together with the juice of one lime wedge. 
Sliced the pork and topped with the mango mixture. (Roasted cauliflower for the side dish.) Verdict? The hubby said, “If I ordered this at a restaurant, I’d be very happy with it.” Wow! 

Crazy for quinoa? 14 quinoa dishes to try.

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If you’re into healthy eating at all — or Pinterest — you’re probably seeing quinoa everywhere. If you’ve tried it once before and been unimpressed, try it again. The first dish I had was leftovers from a homemade dish, and was mushy and bland. The second was at a great bistro: the texture was like perfectly-done, nutty brown rice, and the flavor was amped up with some other great ingredients such as sweet potato and balsamic vinaigrette.

And why is it so hot? A dietition on FitDay says that, compared to rice, quinoa “has many more nutrients: it is a complete protein (contains an essential amino acid lysine, which is good for tissue repair and growth), high in iron and fiber, and contains Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.” She also says that quinoa is related to spinach. Huh! I didn’t know that. Texture-wise, it makes a great, higher-protein substitute for not only rice, but also orzo pasta and couscous.

 I’ve created a quinoa salad inspired by that yummy restaurant dish, and also made a simple pilaf by adding sauteed onion and mushrooms. Loved them both; now I want more!

So I’m on the lookout for great quinoa recipes. Because I’m compiling this list for myself, I thought I’d share it here. But to make this a quick post, I’m not including pics of each one. (The photo above is of “super berry quinoa salad,” by Angela Simpson, via Eat Spin Run Repeat.)


But trust me: they’re all lovely and colorful!

I started this list with 12, but I keep finding more. So far I’m up to 14…

Super berry quinoa salad  (pictured above)

Quinoa with toasted pine nuts

Quinoa pilaf

Colorful quick quinoa Greek salad

Black bean quinoa with basil-lemon dressing

Warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa

Avocado quinoa salad

BLT quinoa salad

Cilantro-lime quinoa

And some orzo dishes to try with quinoa…

Spinach and orzo salad

Sun-dried tomato orzo

Mexican orzo salad

I’d like to try making this wheat-based salad with quinoa…

Strawberry Wheatberry Salad

And a rice dish from Kalyn’s Kitchen…

Christmas Rice with Bell Peppers, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

Have you tried quinoa yet? If not, here’s a primer on how to cook it.

Ina Garten’s “guacamole” salad

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The recipe is Ina’s; the photo is mine!
Looking for a quick, easy dish to take to a Fourth of July party today? This is it! You can whip it up in about 10 minutes, and although it might taste better if it sits for a bit, you can serve it right away. And because it has no mayo, you don’t need to worry about it sitting at room temp for a few hours. Perfect for a potluck, barbeque or picnic! Plus, it’s just chock full of healthy stuff, and has no sugar in the dressing!
The recipe is from Ina Garten, and although she calls it “Guacamole Salad,” I think of it as avocado salad.
I do make a few minor tweaks. Being the spice wimp I am, I leave out the jalapeno and cut back on the cayenne. But I also add in some chopped cilantro. And after making it the first time, I think I’ll double the avocado next time.
It’s so yummy, I could eat it straight out of the bowl. For lunch. And I have!

Herb-crusted salmon

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Herb-crusted salmon - the original recipe

This recipe evolved from a similar dish in one of my favorite cookbooks, Weber’s Art of the Grill. (Which is now out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.) You can grill it if you like, or broil it in the oven. The herbs get nice and crispy as they cook, and marry together in a wonderful, savory complement to the flavor of the salmon. Over the years, I’ve come to just throw it together by memory, and I tend to put in quite a bit more herbs than the original called for. (The recipe that follows is my version.)

It involves a little bit of herb chopping, but if you want, you can let your food processor do that. Then, it’s just stir, spread, and broil or grill. So easy!

Recipe: Herb-crusted salmon

Serves 2.

1 lb. salmon fillet
1 handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley, ditto
1 handful of fresh basil, ditto (or about a tablespoon of dried)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. chili powder (or ancho chili powder)
1/4 t. kosher salt
pepper to taste

Preheat your grill or broiler (whichever you’re using). If using the oven, place the top rack about 6″ from the heat.

If using a broiler, coat a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray, a generous brushing of canola oil, or line the bottom with foil.

Chop all of the herbs coarsely and put them in a small bowl. They don’t need to be finely minced, because they will shrink some and get crispy as they cook. Here’s the cilantro, before and after.

chopped cilantro

Add in the 2 T. olive oil, the soy sauce, and chili powder, and stir till everything is well combined.

Lay your salmon skin side down in the baking pan (or on whatever surface you’ll use to transfer it to the grill). Scoop the herb mixture on top of the salmon, and spread it around into a thick, fairly consistent layer. There will be bits of salmon showing through here and there; that’s okay.

Herb-crusted salmon, in the making

Once the herb mixture is on, sprinkle it lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking. You don’t need much salt, because the chunks are big and will be the first thing to hit your tongue. (I highly recommend kosher salt, but if you’re using regular salt, use half as much.)

Herb-crusted salmon close-up

For the grill: Place the fish herb side down on the grate. I know, it seems wrong! You think all the herbs will fall off, but trust me. A few may fall off, but most of them don’t! Our propane grill instructions say to turn the three burners to medium/off/medium. Do what works best on your particular grill. Close grill and cook that side for half the total cooking time. When it’s half through, flip it herb side up, and cook until it’s done.

For the broiler: Place the baking pan — with the fish herb side up — in the oven. Bake it there for five minutes, then move the rack down one row to complete cooking.

Herb-crusted salmon

Your total cooking time should be 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part.

When is it done? I’ll repeat an earlier posting… “A minute or two before the recommended time, check your fish. Just poke a fork gently into the side at a thick place, and pull it up a bit to see if it flakes easily. You can also pull up just enough to see the interior of the fish, and see if it’s done to your liking. Some people like their salmon a bit rare, so that it’s orangey-er on the inside. Not me: I like it just done all the way through, but just so — not overdone and dry.”

Then remove from the heat, slide a spatula between the skin and the fish, and slip it onto your serving plate, herb side up.

Once you’ve tried this, feel free to experiment with your choice of herbs and spices. Let me know how it comes out!

You might also like:
Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema
Slightly spicy slaw
Green beans and pine nuts

Ginger-peanut dressing

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Ginger-peanut dressing on Asian chicken salad

Here’s a simple ginger-peanut dressing that rivals any restaurant Asian salad! My favorite salad combo to serve it with — and the one shown above — is, for each serving:

– one heart-of-romaine head, chopped (I save the bottom 4″ to use as dippers with hummus, etc.)
– one regular or two small green onions, sliced thin
– one or two handfuls of slaw mix with carrots
– chopped bell pepper to taste
– chopped nuts of your choice and to taste: peanuts, cashews or almonds
– chopped cilantro to your taste
– optional: 1/2 to 1 whole cooked chicken breast

Just toss all this together and serve immediately, or cover and chill till you’re ready to serve.

Just before serving, drizzle on the dressing. This recipe makes enough for about four servings.

Recipe: Ginger-peanut salad dressing

1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 T. minced fresh ginger root
2 T. sugar-free peanut butter
1 T. honey
2 pkts. Splenda
1 small garlic clove
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 c. canola oil

Combine all ingredients except for canola in a blender and process till smooth. With the blender running, drizzle in the canola oil.

Best if chilled for a couple hours before serving.

Amost-Panera’s Asian chicken salad

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Almost Panera's Asian chicken salad

I love the Asian Chicken Salad at Panera, so I experimented and came up with the recipe that comes pretty darn close. Just this week I discovered that you can get the actual Panera recipe online, but I actually like this version better.

And it’s so, so simple! Instead of finding a source for the won ton fries (or frying them myself), I just use Ramen noodles. So much easier, and probably lower fat, too. If that’s too many carbs for you, you could just leave them off and put on extra almonds.

Almost-Panera’s Asian Chicken Salad

4 hearts-of-romaine heads
2 handfuls cilantro leaves, chopped
4 cooked chicken breasts, sliced thin (grilled, roasted or poached)
4 green onions, chopped
1 pkg. ramen noodles
1/2 c. sliced or slivered almonds

optional: sesame seeds for garnish

Dressing:
3 packets of Splenda OR 2 T. sugar*
3 T. rice vinegar
1 T. sesame oil
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Prepare the dressing 30 minutes ahead of time by combining the first three ingredients in a food processor or blender. With the blender running, drizzle in the vegetable oil. Set aside.

How to chop romaine: 
This is how I like to do it: Start by making one slice down the length of the head, starting about 5” from the stem, going all the way to the loose end. Rotate the head one quarter turn and make a second slice in the same manner. (I like to slice right down the center of the rib.) Then chop perpendicular to the first slices, starting at the loose end and working toward the stem end. Stop 4 or 5” from the stem, and save the uncut part for another use.

Slice the green onions. You may leave the cilantro leaves whole or chop them, whichever you prefer.

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, cilantro, and green onions. Let chill at least 10 minutes. (Longer is better; the lettuce absorbs someof the cilatro and green onion flavors.) Break up the ramen noodles into bite-sized pieces and set aside. At this point, you may hold everything till serving time, if you wish.

To serve, add the chicken, almonds and ramen noodles. Serve in salad bowls and offer the dressing in a pourable container so your guest can add as much dressing as they want. You can also pour the dressing over the top of the salad, toss, and serve immediately.

*You can use either Splenda or sugar with no compromise in taste, but using sugar makes it cling to the greens better.

Recipe review: Salsa Verde Chicken

Mmm… Made this for dinner tonight! The original recipe from simplyrecipes.com is super simple, but I wanted to get some vegetables and fiber in the meal without making a second dish, so I put one 10-oz. can of Rotel with Lime and Cilantro and part of a can of black beans in the pan before putting the chicken breasts in. It worked great! I placed the hot, cheesy chicken on the dinner plate first, then scooped out some of the saucy beans and tomatoes as a side dish. And all from one pan!

Oh, and I only used one 7 oz. can of salsa verde. Yeah, I’m a spice wimp!