I don't know if it's something in the gorgeous crisp September air, or the thrill of a new season, but the creative energy is flowing these days. And thankfully, is directing me right into my kitchen. I whipped up a few new side dishes for a dinner with friends last week celebrating the Jewish New Year. New year, fresh flavors and colors with a little mystery and flair thrown in for fun. So, for your viewing/cooking pleasure...
Quinoa with Pomegranate, Apple & Scallions
*As I've mentioned before, quinoa is an exceptional source of whole grains and a quality source of plant-based protein. If you're looking for an energy-dense, nutrient-packed, good-for-you carb, look no further.
2 cups quinoa
seeds from 1 pomegranate*
4 to 5 scallions, chopped
2 tart apples, diced
juice from 1 lemon
salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons Dijon vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine quinoa with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Toss cooled quinoa with pomegranate seeds, scallions and diced apple. Season with lemon juice. For the vinaigrette, whisk together shallots, mustard and vinegar. Slowly and continuously, whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over quinoa and mix well.
*To easily remove the seeds from a pomegranate without permanently staining your fingers a vibrant shade of magenta, cut the pomegranate in quarters and place them in a bowl of water. With your fingers, remove the seeds in the bowl. Water works magic!
Green Beans with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Lemon Zest & Hazelnuts
*who knew, those little delicious hazelnuts are packed with heart-healthy antioxidants!
serves 6 to 8
1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed
2 slices crusty day-old whole wheat bread, smashed to tiny pieces
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, halved
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl of water and ice to stop the cooking process and keep the beans nice and crisp and emerald green.
In a small saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add bread crumbs, toast for 3 to 4 minutes and set aside.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add in lemon zest and green beans, saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in hazelnuts and toasted breadcrumbs, toss and serve.