Jan 16, 2018

A Tasty Soup That's Good For You!

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Chickpea & Lentil Soup
I have been told that Hawaiians don't eat lentils which explains why I had such a hard time finding them in Molokai's grocery stores (thank you Kualapu'u Market)!. 

 Lentils are considered to be the world's healthiest food. They are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. A very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Additionally they are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. 

Did you know? When combined with a whole grain like brown rice, lentils provide the same quality protein as meat! Lentils are a good source of protein. A 1/2 cup serving of dry lentils provides about 26 grams of protein. With such high protein content, you are sure to be fuelled up all day long.

This recipe is a good example of how you can easily make a delicious meal for you and your family that will be healthy. It's a hearty Moroccan soup called Harira, served during the holy month of Ramadan. There are many variations to this recipe, but this one is one of my favorites because the mix of spices makes an incredible flavor that works really well with the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 grinds of black pepper
1– 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1– 14.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dried lentils (red lentils are the best if you can find them)
1/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
A couple handfuls of roughly chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 small container of Greek Yogurt for serving (optional)

Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper as early as possible.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in 2 batches and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened. Add all the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, chickpeas and salt. Cook until fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add the stock, lentils, brown rice and paprika, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 50 minutes.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley leaves. Place a small handful of roughly chopped spinach leaves in each bowl. Ladle soup on top of the fresh spinach and serve with a small spoonful of yogurt if you wish. Warm pita bread is perfect with this soup.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to deepen. Note though that the lentils and rice will absorb more of the liquid so you will have to add some broth to thin it out. Alternatively, if you plan to make this dish ahead, you follow the directions to simmer the soup for an hour and then the next day you can add the rice and simmer it for the remaining 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

A Pasta Classic

Roast Shrimp with Pesto Pasta
2 pounds medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pesto Sauce:
2 cups (one large bunch) fresh basil leaves
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

To make the pesto sauce, combine basil leaves, shallot, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, chopped macadamia nuts (toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat), and grated Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor; season with Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. Makes about 1 cup of pesto sauce.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil a foil lined baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. Gently toss shrimp with 1/2 cup of the pesto sauce and place shrimp in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.

Place into oven and roast just until pink, firm and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve as a main course on top of 1 pound of cooked pasta. Taste for additional seasoning and serve mixed with the extra 1/2 cup of pesto sauce that has been heated, and crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.

Jan 12, 2018

Pear & Ginger Chutney

Store Bought Pears for Chutney

Chutneys are savory preserves, usually fruit-based, that are served as a complement to other foods. Some are smooth, some are chunky; some are cooked, some are raw; some are served as a condiment or dip, some are served as a side dish, or if you live in Hawaii, on top of a warm manapua (steamed pork bun).

If you know anything about pears, then you know that they like to grow in cool temperatures. They actually do grow in Hawaii, but in cooler 4,000 foot elevations of the Big Island of Hawaii. At that elevation, both pears, plums, and ginger grow, which has inspired this recipe.

Pear & Ginger Chutney
Cooked Pear & Ginger Chutney
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2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallots (minced)
4 pounds (about 6) very ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears (peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons mustard seeds (crushed)

Hawaiian Manapua with Pear & Ginger Chutney
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Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large roasting pan over medium heat. Add minced shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes. Add pears and lemon juice, and cook for five minutes, until softened.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix everything together, then add it to the pears. Bring to a simmer for at least one hour uncovered, stirring occasionally until the pears are starting to break down and the mixture gets thick and syrupy as shown above. 

Pour chutney into sterilized pint or 1/2 pint jars and seal well. Store in a cool, dark place. This chutney needs to mature a little in the jar, so I would suggest keeping it for at least a month before opening. This chutney keeps well for up to two years. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Delicious served with roast pork, chicken, turkey, or as a topping on a warm Hawaiian manapua as shown above.

Makes about 4 cups of Pear & Ginger Chutney.