Category Archives: goat cheese

Mushroom Israeli Couscous Risotto

I think there are two kinds of food shoppers.  Sam falls into the group which goes into the store, for exactly what he needs, and escapes as soon as he can.  I, on the other hand, love to browse the aisles.  What if I miss some new and exciting product?

Last year I was searching for Israeli couscous, but I could never find it.  Who decides which aisle holds certain products?  I have a feeling that me and that individual are not on the same wavelength.  There are times where I’ll circle around searching for something in particular, and never end up finding it.

One day, when I was alone in the store, I stumbled upon Israeli couscous.  Finally!  Of course once I find the product, I couldn’t find a recipe which I wanted to try.  I recently organized my food magazine basket (growing every month), and finally came across a recipe which sounded delicious.

What is Israeli couscous?  Other names it is known as are: ptitim, Jerusalem couscous or pearl couscous.  In the 1950’s food rationing in Israel was enforced, and during this time rice was scarce.  The prime minister asked Osem (the largest food manufacturer and distributor in Israel) to make a wheat-based substitute.  The company then made ptitim, made of hard wheat flour roasted in the oven.

These days, Israeli couscous is marketed towards children in Israel.  Just like pastas in the US- they are made in various shapes to cater to a younger crowd.  Many eat ptitim plain, fried with onions, or topped with tomato sauce.  Meanwhile, in the US you can find it in trendy, upscale restaurants.


Mushroom Israeli Couscous Risotto
Adapted from: Cooking Light (March 2009)

We basically made a risotto, but rather than using arborio rice- I tried out Israeli couscous.  Both of us really enjoyed it, it was a bit lighter and more filling.  If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, feel free to swap it out for asparagus and green peas, or use whatever mushrooms you have in your fridge.
 

2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup of water
2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, chopped finely
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1/2 cup dry white wine (ex: Bogle Chardonnay)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz goat cheese
4 tbsp chives, chopped

Combine the broth and water in a saucepan over medium heat, bring it to a simmer.  Continue to simmer this broth until you use it all up.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan, then toss in the mushrooms.  Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates.  Add in the shallots and garlic, cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Then add the Israeli couscous, stir constantly for about 1 minute.  Finally pour in the wine, cook for another minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stir constantly.

Add a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of broth into the couscous mixture.  Stir constantly until the broth is absorbed.  Then add another ladle of the broth, continue until all of the broth has been used.

Stir in salt and pepper.  Finally, add in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it has dissolved into the couscous mixture.

Divide the couscous onto 4 plates, and sprinkle with the chives.

Fig & Arugula Flatbread

Last summer was the first time I saw a lot of recipes which had figs in them.  Determined to make something, we bought a bunch…and nothing ended up happening.  I had no idea what to do with them.  I didn’t realize fresh figs were not sweet, I guess I had their dried version stuck in my head.

So this year, when fig season came around (once everyone started posting recipes on various blogs) I was going to make something.  And I’m so glad I did.

This was especially helpful on the hottest day of the year (so far), since it involved almost no cooking, and dinner was ready in approximately 5 minutes.  This flatbread could also be cut up into bite-sized pieces, and enjoyed as an appetizer- how convenient.  If anyone thinks of other things you can do with figs- please let me know, we still have a bunch left over and there is no more flatbread.

Fig & Arugula Flatbread
*white wine is great with this*

2 pieces of flatbread (or plain naan)
1/4 cup of goat cheese
1 cup of arugula, chopped
4 figs, chopped
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 pieces of prosciutto
pinch of salt

Spread the goat cheese onto the flatbread.  Add it to a toaster oven, and warm it up until the cheese starts melting.  If you do not have a toaster oven (which you should have, it’s great!) just use the oven.

With a spoon or small whisk, blend together the balsamic vinegar and honey.

On the warm and cheese flatbread, sprinkle the arugula and figs.  Top with prosciutto.  Then, drizzle the balsamic vinegar-honey mixture.  Lastly, sprinkle each flatbread with some salt.

Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes over Quinoa

It’s finally getting warm here, the weekend ended up being beautiful!  Although Saturday morning was gloomy and chilly, by the end of the day the sun was out.  We took a walk on the Mall, among all the tourists, and got a little sun.  For dinner we tried burgers at Good Stuff Eatery, which were delicious.  Spike Mandolhson is known from Top Chef, and he opened this burger join a couple of years back.  Both of us were very surprised how busy it was!  So if you’re in Capitol Hill, and enjoy a good burger- check this place out.

In order to counteract the (not so healthy) burger, I decided a quinoa salad would be much better for us.  So below is a great recipe, for a quick and easy salad.  As always with these, feel free to change the vegetables or keep these yummy one’s.

Broccoli with Sun-dried Tomatoes over Quinoa
Adapted from: Vegetarian Times

1 cup uncooked quinoa
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp grape seed oil (feel free to use another oil)
2 heads (about 1 lb) of fresh broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (feta can be a substitute)

Cook quinoa per package directions.  Once it’s cooked, add to a large bowl.  Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to the large bowl.

Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and cook for 2 minutes, or until florets are coated with oil and begin to soften and brown.  Add water and cover tightly with lid.  Steam broccoli for 5-10 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender.  Once cooked, add to the large bowl.

In a small bowl mix: sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Stir to mix all of the ingredients.  Pour over the salad in the large bowl.  Mix the ingredients, so the vinaigrette is covering the salad.  Top the salad with goat cheese.

Squash Lentil Salad

This is a great salad for a quick and easy dinner.  Since it’s more savory when the squash is warm, and the greens don’t get soggy- this one is a make right before you eat.  It’s a good mix of a light salad, but filling with the squash and lentils.  Since there are plenty of squash to choose from, it should not be limited to butternut squash, feel free to try others. 

Squash-Lentil Salad
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen Blog

3/4 cup lentils
2 medium size butternut squash; peeled, seeded, cubed (1 inch)
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups spinach (or arugula)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, thinly shredded

Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Toss the squash with 4 tbsp of oil, cumin, paprika, salt and red pepper flakes.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes; flip squash and roast for another 15 minutes.  When squash is tender, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

While the squash roasts, cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender (20-30 minutes).  After they are cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. 

Combine the lentils, squash, goat cheese and greens in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix mint, vinegar and 2 tbsp oil.  Add the dressing to the salad, season with extra salt if desired. Divide between 3-4 bowls, and lightly sprinkle each of them with Parmesan.

Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Quinoa Salad

I absolutely love “salads” that don’t exactly look like the typical salad which many think of (lettuce, croutons, dressing, veggies).  I prefer using many of the grains that are out there (quinoa, barley, couscous, etc) to make a different type of salad to take for lunch.  I have found that quinoa is the easiest (especially cooking it!), and has a great taste.

So having goat cheese in our fridge, and coming across a recipe on one of the food blogs, I tried this one out.  I also grab any new ideas to put into my quinoa salads whenever I can.  But, anything goes!

Goat Cheese & Roasted Pepper Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Cooking After Five

2 cups of cooked quinoa
8 cups (16 oz) of fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp of red pepper flakes (or less/more)
1 cup of roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
4 basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz goat cheese, crumbled up

With 1 teaspoon of olive oil, saute the fresh spinach for about 3-5 minutes with the minced garlic.  Once the garlic begins to wilt, add the red pepper flakes and cook for another minute or two.

Then mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except for the basil and goat cheese.  Place the salad in a bowl (or tupperwear for lunch!) and sprinkle with some basil and goat cheese.  We had 6 servings out of this for lunch.