Dinner For One ~ Asparagus, Egg and Truffle

When Mister is on business travel or has a late dinner meeting, I usually turn to eggs for a quick dinner. I have never been a bowl of cereal at dinner girl and enjoy my time in the kitchen too much to just pour dinner in a bowl.  Dinner for one doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.  A few key ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator make all difference.

Eggs and asparagus are a match made in heaven, eggs and truffle are a match made in heaven and the tomato was perfect…so perfect that I went back to the kitchen for a piece of whole grain bread to get every bit of the tomato juice and truffle oil from the plate.

When you find yourself alone, indulge in this simple, elegant and truffle decadent dish for one.

I always have Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt on hand.  For me, there is nothing as wonderful as the taste and aroma of truffles and while truffle products are a bit expensive, a little goes a long way in elevating a dish from drab to divine!

Ingredients for One:

6 steamed asparagus spears
1 poached or lightly fried egg
1/2 tomato, sliced thin
Pinch of black truffle sea salt
Teaspoon of truffle oil

Preparation:

Layer asparagus and tomato on plate and drizzle with truffle oil. Place egg on top and sprinkle with truffle salt and a pinch of ground pepper.  This dish also works very well with hard-boiled eggs, sliced or chopped and sprinkled on top of the asparagus and tomato slices.

This also makes an elegant brunch or salad dish.

Truffles are wonderful in risotto and pasta as well.  I recently made a Lobster Mushroom and Truffle Risotto and there wasn’t a grain of rice left.  I owe that to the truffle!

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday.

A Meatless Journey, New Cookbooks and Chickpea Spinach Stew

Along with giving up wine for Lent (as part of Rebecca’s Do Without Challenge at Midnight Maniac), we also made a commitment to up our meatless nights from one to at least three a week.  We are not quite a week into both and there is still time for you to “do without” and join the group. It doesn’t have to be meat or wine…any indulgence will do.

For our meatless meals last week, I shot from the hip, pulling a few recipes from online cooking resources. A very kicked-up black-eyed pea and penne salad hit all the notes for a spicy dish (which we both crave and crave often), a fruited couscous stuffed squash deliciously scented with cardamom and yesterday, a zesty citrus chickpea stew with lemongrass, yam and spinach (recipe below).

A very good start for week one!

But this is a long journey and I am not a meatless meal expert. Oh, I have made the occasional meatless meal (butternut ravioli, lobster and truffle risotto, Basque tortilla, and the most decadent Gnocchi a la Parisienne) but never on a regular basis or intentionally.

When we took the pledge, I knew one thing.  We would not eat rice and beans every night.  That was not going to keep the tummies happy. I needed inspiration to keep our meals exciting and there is nothing like holding a gloriously photographed cookbook in my hands for inspiration and motivation to stay the course.

I admit, I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks collecting dust that rarely see the light of the kitchen but none of them are vegetarian (or vegan) and none of them focused on clean eating.  Keeping to my “try before I buy” cookbook resolution (1/2011), I reserved several books on clean eating, vegetarian and vegan cooking from the library.  A few more than several…15 to be exact. Lucky for me,  Mister “volunteered” to make the 2 mile walk to the library with me and with 15 books to bag and carry, I was certainly thankful for his help.

I couldn’t wait to get home, curl up on the sofa under a comfy blanket and devour my “new” books.

An absolutely beautiful book from Linda Long is Great Chefs Cook Vegan. Thomas Keller, Jean-George Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Charlie Trotter, and many other James Beard award-winning chefs create a three or four-course vegan meal, complete with mouth-watering photographs of each recipe and much more.

And mouth-watering they are…Sweet Pea Ravioli with Pea Cream, Wheat Berries with Truffle and Mustard Emulsion, White and Green Asparagus Terrine, Yukon “Linguine” with Sorrel-Arugula Sauce and Charred Corn Ravioli with Basil Fondue. Certainly no rice and bean dinners in this book.  Who knew vegan could be so gourmet!

Another book I really like is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas, Upside Down Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Cranberry-Cherry Biryani and Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh.  I am not sure what to try first!

Currant Sweet Bread, Blueberry and Almond Bread, Savory Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding, Pistachio-Lemon Pesto Pasta are just a few from the The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I just might have to join the virtual Moosewood cooking group.

A great assortment from the simple and quick to the gourmet from acclaimed chefs.  Amazing, beyond inspirational and too tummy tempting.

What inspires you for meatless meals?  Do you have a favorite book or online resource?

Lemongrass Chickpea and Spinach Stew.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:

Recipe notes:  I substituted a yam for the Yukon potato and added about a cup of chopped spinach about 5 minutes before serving.  The recipe calls for rice or substitute whole wheat couscous.

Yield:

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  diced yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1  cup  diced carrot (about 1 large)
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, about 1 large
  • 2  teaspoons  Cambodian Lemongrass spice (see link above)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (28-ounce) can diced organic tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I prefer to use dried beans to control salt)
  • 1  (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 3  cups  hot cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
  • 1/2  cup  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in potato and next 7 ingredients (through broth). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt and a chopped fresh cilantro.

Linked to: My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaySumos Sweet Stuff, Something I Whipped Up, Made By You Monday, Homemaker Mondays, Your Recipe, My KitchenMeals on MondayHappy Housewife, All Things RelatedTuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday Tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOPBeauty & Bedlam Tuesday, Melt In Your Mouth

Fruit and Couscous Stuffed Winter Squash

Continuing on our journey (a short one so far) to make 2011 healthier and cleaner and a bit more meatless (well, meatless at least three days a week),  I created this sweet and savory acorn squash stuffed with couscous, fruits and nuts.

If you have visited before, you may have read Kicked Up Black-Eyed Peas and Pasta Salad, Strawberry Chipotle Chicken or even Turkey Tzatziki Muffins and know that I am trying to reverse a few bad winter habits, primarily that of too much cooking, baking, eating (of the wrong stuff) and not enough exercise.

We all crave comfort food during those cold winter months and well, it is just too cold to get out for a run.  I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.

We are now craving a return to our 2010 routine of clean eating limiting our use of “the wrong whites”, more fruits and veggies and less meat.  We are also easing back into our fitness routine.

This stuffed squash certainly fits our renewed eating goals.  Whole grain couscous, cranberries, dates, mandarin orange segments, sweet and savory notes from five spice powder, tarragon and a pinch of chives.  Not too sweet, not too savory, a pop of tart from the cranberries…perfect for a weeknight meatless meal.  It was also beautiful on the plate and we couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy.

Recipe Note:  If your not into meatless meals, adding a bit of sausage to the couscous mixture would be perfect. Earlier this year, I made a simple sausage stuffed version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn or butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tablespoons  dried cranberries
  • 4 dried dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pecan, halved
  • 1 mandarin orange, zested, peeled, segments separated (I have access to beautiful Satsuma mandarins, use a small orange as a substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of tarragon
  • pinch of chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove and discard seeds from squash.  Place squash, cut sides down, in a baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2-inch. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until tender.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and next 6 ingredients. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Combine couscous mixture, orange segments, oil, pecans, tarragon and chives. Toss gently. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells.

Place stuffed squash in a baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

This really was filling…we did not need anything else to complete the meal.  If you feel it needs a bit more, a simple spinach salad would be a great side.

Linked to:

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

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