YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Mario Batali’s Radishes Al Cartoccio

I’m gonna take a guess that you’ve always eaten your radishes fresh and raw, like in salads. I can certainly promise you that was the case for me up until just a couple of years ago. But then I began to cook them, and it was a whole new game. Like onions, cooked radishes release their bite to ease into a lovely, complex kind of sweetness with an entirely new set of flavors.

Here’s a little gift of a recipe from the great chef Mario Batali. Its name, Radishes Al Cartoccio, means that the radishes are wrapped and then cooked inside a package, in this case foil. I’ve also seen salmon cooked al cartoccio, as in this wonderful recipe from Cook for Your Life.

I even remember making burgers this way, as a kid. Preparations for going camping included a pile of packets consisting of hamburger patties from the previous year’s steer, thick slices of onion and green pepper, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. We placed them in the cooler for the ride, and then tossed them into the coals as soon as the fire was established. This was our traditional first evening meal while camping.

You can make all kinds of things al cartoccio — let your imagination steam away.

2 pounds large mixed radishes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. summer savory leaves, finely chopped (substitute fresh thyme if you want)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Cut two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, approx. 16 x 12-inch, and lay them out with the short ends toward you.
3. Combine the radishes, onions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and savory in a large bowl. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently and mix well.
4. Divide the mixture in two, placing half in the center of each piece of foil. Fold the short foil edges up and over the mixture, doubling over the edges twice to form a tight seal. Then fold up the side edges in the same way to form two tightly sealed packets.
5. Place both packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a large serving platter, and allow to rest for 10 minutes, unopened.
6. Bring the platter to the table, and then slice open the packets right at the table for dramatic effect. You can use tongs for the radishes, but remember to include a serving spoon to collect the juices.

Serves 8-10 (side dish).


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Roasted Onions

Today I have in mind a recipe for a simply different idea: roasted onions. Can you ever have too many onions in the pantry? Probably not. But, just in case, here’s one way to use up a whole bunch, all at the same time!

4 medium-sized, whole yellow onions, peels ON
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
balsamic vinegar

Turn the oven to 425F, and place the rack all the way down, on the bottom-most rung. Slice the whole onions in half, width-wise, and toss them into either a large plastic bag or a large bowl with a lid. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil. Close the bag or bowl, and shake until well mixed. Remove the onion halves and place each, cut side down, on a baking sheet with an edge. Roast the onions approximately 25 minutes until tender and golden. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar for extra zing. These roasted onions are really, reeeeeally good, and they add a special something to every meal you can imagine, whether simple or fancy, indoors or out, like barbecue, or an omelette, or a bowl of greens, beans and brown rice.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Red Lentils & Sweet Potatoes

I’m on a kick here. I think it might be the spinach. Or maybe the garam masala. It might be the orange vegetables and their phytonutrients. This recipe is slightly simpler than the chickpea-spinach curry one I posted a few weeks ago, but it’s also out of this world. The leftovers are so fantastic that you may decide to eat them for breakfast AND lunch, both.

1 small-medium sweet potato, peeled
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (use 1/2 tsp. if they aren’t super fresh)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups fresh spinach
a pinch of salt

  1. Dice sweet potato into ½-inch cubes, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup water plus 1 tsp. olive oil, and sauté onions and garlic for one minute.
  3. Add red pepper flakes and continue to cook until all the water has boiled off. Add turmeric and garam masala, and stir well.
  4. Add broth and sweet potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low, cover pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add red lentils, and simmer 7-10 min until lentils and sweet potatoes are both fully cooked. Add additional water as needed to keep ingredients moist.
  6. Add spinach and stir until soft.
  7. Add salt to taste and serve.

Serves 2.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Let this list of spices inspire you! Sure, you can reach for the curry powder in the spice cabinet, but wait! Don’t! You are not going to believe the difference between THAT and THIS. It’s diamonds vs. paste. Top shelf vs. moonshine. Everything you’ve ever wanted vs. anything you’ve ever settled for. You will be so grateful, and your tastebuds will, too.

If you’d like, you can serve this beautiful curry with a bowl of rice and a plateful of cucumber slices. The original recipe comes from So Vegan. So check it out.

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
4  large tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. hot chili powder
3 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coconut cream
3 cups raw spinach
1 handful fresh coriander leaves
pinch of salt
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tsp. coconut oil for frying
sliced cucumber for garnish

1. Add onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Crush the mustard seeds and coriander seeds until fine, either with the side of a knife blade or a mortar & pestle.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
4. Fry the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, and chili powder for 2 min.
5. Add the onion and tomato mixture, stir well, and simmer on low heat for 20 min.
6. Add coconut cream and chickpeas, stir well, and heat for 3-5 min.
7. Add a pinch of salt, a drizzle of lemon juice, and a small handful of coriander.
8. Add all the spinach, and stir briefly until wilted.

Serves four.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Haminados for Passover!

Haminados are one of my all-time favorite Passover recipes! Simple, sublime and delicious, they have been a staple at the Passover tables of Mediterranean Jewish communities for millennia! Check out this recipe and you’ll see why. Whether you make this dish in your crockpot or oven, it takes just a few minutes to toss it together and get things cooking.

12 whole eggs, in their shells
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Kosher salt
4 whole onions, including their skins
1 tsp. olive oil
1-2 quarts cool water

Slice the whole onions, skins and all, into quarters. Pack the eggs and onions into a crock pot or a medium-sized, tightly covered dish. Add salt, pepper and olive oil. Pour in cool water to cover the eggs completely, and turn heat to low (crockpot) or 200 F (oven). Cook at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours if you’re busy. Check the water periodically to make sure it stays at or close to the top of the eggs. When you’re ready, drain, rinse and peel the eggs you’re planning to eat right away, and refrigerate the rest for later. Discard the onions, hopefully in your compost pile if you’ve got one!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lebanese Potato Kugel

Once again, my dear friend and talented cook Judith has outdone herself. Potato kugel (translated loosely as “pudding,” but much more Yorkshire than chocolate), was a mainstay of my childhood. Last weekend she completely surprised (!) me, creating her own version of this recipe that is so familiar and dear to me, and which I grew up eating on many holidays and other special occasions. My Grandma Rosie had her own special way of making potato kugel; she taught my mom to make it, and that’s how I learned. Grandma Rosie’s version would have you heating the oil in a square glass Pyrex pan in the oven, carefully pouring the potato batter directly into the hot pan with spitting hot olive oil, and then sprinkling a little more oil on top prior to cooking it, but Judith’s version gives you a little more control over the crust.

This is one of those recipes whose flavor creates a memory that stays with you for years. As my grandma Rosie would have put it, it takes a little bit of potchky-ing (fussing) but, as Judith puts it, it’s “A labor of love you won’t regret.”

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup garbanzo or fava bean flour
1/2 cup cilantro (plus more for garnish if desired), chopped coarsely
1/2 cup green onion, finely sliced
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
water to mix

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except the water.
2. Add water as needed to absorb chick pea flour, so that the mixture is wet but sticks together (fairly solid). Too wet is better than too dry, fyi, so if you are unsure, err on the side of more water.
3. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add a generous slick of olive oil (approx 2 Tbsp.), and spoon potato mixture into the pan, spreading it into an even layer. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes, reduce flame to medium, and allow to brown.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Once the sides of the kugel begin to crisp, slide a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen, reduce the flame to low, and allow to cook 10-15 minutes more. This time, slide a sharp spatula under and around the edges to loosen it from the pan.
5. Flip the kugel by placing a serving plate atop the skillet, and then flipping so the cooked side faces up. Return empty skillet to the fire, turn up heat to medium-high. Add remaining olive oil, allow to heat thoroughly, and slide kugel, now raw side down, back into the skillet. Allow to cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, and
6. Transfer the entire skillet to the preheated oven. Cook 15-20 minutes until done. Use a sharp knife to check the center of the kugel for doneness.
7. Flip the kugel onto a cutting board or platter, and slice into 8 or more wedges. Serve with a few slices of brisket, a squeeze of lime, more fresh chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of salt, a crumble of queso fresca, a drizzle of Mexican crema, or straight up. Your choice.

Thank you, Judith. Hearty appetite!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Feminista White Beans

Here’s a recipe served throughout the Middle East by families, the families who love them, and the families who love to feed them. All kinds of families.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, peeled & minced (approx. 1 med-large onion)
  • 1/2 cup celery, rinsed & minced (approx. 2 medium stalks)
  • 16-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 3 cups canned white beans (navy beans or cannellini), drained and rinsed well
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

Heat olive oil to medium-high in a large, deep skillet. Add onion and celery, lower heat to medium, and sauté until translucent and turning golden.

Add crushed tomatoes, honey, and paprika to the skillet, and stir gently until mixed. Continue to heat until mixture is simmering. Stir in the beans. Add a pinch or two of salt and a few shakes (or grinds) of black pepper.

Cover and simmer over very low heat for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and basil just before serving. Serves 6-8 hungry feminists (and their families).

A prior version of this recipe was published at www.vegkitchen.com. Thanks!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Sparkling Delicious Lentils

Here’s a wonderful recipe to start your week right! Especially after the food extravaganzas (yeah!!) of the past few days, this salad may be a really great idea for helping your digestive system to get back on track. Add a serving to the bottom of a Ball jar or two, fill to the top with freshly washed-and-dried greens, and you’ll be ready for the week with a couple of lunches-to-go-go! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Huevos Haminados (Slow-roasted Eggs)

Haminados are one of my all-time favorite Passover recipes! Simple, sublime and delicious, they have been a staple at the Passover tables of Mediterranean Jewish communities for millennia! Check out this recipe and you’ll see why. Whether you make this dish in your crockpot or oven, it takes just a few minutes to toss it together and get it cooking. Continue reading