Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pan-seared Scallops with Pecan-Arugula Pesto on Zucchini Noodles and Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

My schedule has not been matching up with Claire's very well, so we are now both in cooking blog withdrawel. I've had to sneak in a post.  My first attempt was a wonderful grilled chicken, but the pictures came out all blurry and unacceptable. We'll have to save that for another time. In the meantime, these dishes are fantastic fall offerings.  Soup season is here!

Serve this with the soup below for a gorgeous and flavorful meal.
Pan-seared Scallops 
with Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Scallops are an overlooked favorite with kids, and a nice departure from chicken. The trick is to not overcook them, as they can get rubbery.  I used high heat and a dusting of flour to get a nice crisp coating. Fresh ones are the best, but I bought frozen so that I wasn't on a time crunch to get them cooked. The dried salted herb mixture is something that I use for my homemade croutons-- you don't have to be particular about the herbs that you add- adjust according to taste and what's in your spice rack.

1 lb. frozen thawed or fresh scallops
1-2 T flour
1-2 tsp salted dried herb mixture (sea salt, pepper, and a pinch each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, parsley)

Toss scallops with flour and herb mixture. Heat pan on high with 1 T olive oil. Place the scallops in a single layer for a few minutes, and once browned, use tongs to flip to the opposite side for a couple more minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your scallops. Once the scallops are done, arrange them them over a bed of zucchini noodles tossed with pecan-arugula pesto.

Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles are one of my go-to favorites.  I use my lemon zester and mix the zucchini noodles with whole wheat pasta.  It cuts the carbs, adds moisture to the whole wheat pasta, and kids (and grown-ups) will gobble it up. The pesto was inspired by a recipe that originally called for almonds instead of pecans.  The leftover pesto is GREAT as a sandwich spread- try it with turkey and roasted red pepper with crisp lettuce.  Don't be afraid of the arugula.  It is not bitter at all.

1/2 c chopped pecans
2 1/2 c arugula
1 1/2 c spinach
1/2 c basil leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Blend the first 5 ingredients together in a food processor, adding the oil slowly.  Add salt and pepper. 

Zucchini noodles:
2 small zucchini or 1 medium zucchini, zested in its entirety with a lemon zester
4 oz (1/4 package) whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked
1 small clove garlic, minced

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic when it sizzles. Add the zucchini noodles and saute, but be somewhat gentle so you don't break up the noodles too much. After about a minute, add the cooked spaghetti. Add about 1/3 cup of the pecan arugula pesto, and toss gently in the saute pan until it is incorporated.  Add more pesto if necessary.  Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. I also added 1/4 julienned red pepper for color. 

Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
This soup has the most wonderful aroma, and is fantastic on a cold, dreary day. You can adjust the curry to your taste, but don't forget that the coconut milk will temper the spice.  If you don't have curry paste, you can also use red curry sauce, which I found at Trader Joe's. The original recipe called for butternut squash only, but I didn't quite have enough, so I threw in a sweet potato and had no regrets.  If it's too spicy, you can always add a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat.

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 inch ginger root, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T red curry paste or 1/2 c red curry sauce
1 can (14 oz) lite coconut milk
3 c chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 T lime juice, and lime zest if you used fresh lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 c frozen corn (frozen roasted corn if you can find it)
2 diced scallions
1/4 c chopped cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the squash and the sweet potatoes with 1 T olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tender.  In a large soup pot, heat 1 T olive oil and add the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Saute until the onions are translucent and turn off heat. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, red curry paste, lime juice and zest.  Add the squash and sweet potatoes, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Turn the heat back on and add the corn, half the scallions, and salt to taste. Once the soup is heated, ladle into large bowls and garnish with the rest of the scallions and cilantro.

Please leave comments/suggestions.  We love hearing from you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup with Sauteed Greens

We were both working this week and unable to cook together, so I suggested, more as a challenge to myself, a crock pot recipe. I am crock pot challenged, even when Claire helps get everything together, but this time it turned out.  I think.  At the very least, it was not only edible but palatable and appetizing!  Claire, I should note, reads her crock pot cookbooks from start to finish, and knows all sorts of things about keeping the lid on, not overfilling, etc.  I tend to skip those parts of cookbooks, and so I end up peeking halfway through and somehow ruining the dish.  It doesn't seem like that would make a difference, but it does.  I'd say this is a great addition to the chili family, this one with a little ole!  Our first recipe in a while with no zucchini! It got good reviews from the family, with very few leftovers.

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup
You can serve this with tortillas, tortilla chips, brown rice, or in my case, sauteed cabbage and spinach!  The taco seasoning is adapted slightly from  It tastes like the mix you buy in the store, but you know what's going into it.  We also were able to adjust the cumin flavor, and turn down the heat a little bit for the kids. This is easy to make vegetarian by substituting TVP for the ground meat and using vegetable broth instead.

You might also want to add in finely chopped
mushrooms, carrots, zucchini,
or 1/2 c salsa for extra flavor.
2 cups cooked chicken meat or ground turkey
2 14 oz cans tomatoes, green chili flavor if available
2 cans beans (we used black)
1 bag frozen corn (or 2 cans of corn)
3 T taco seasoning (see below)
2 cans chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/4 c cornmeal

Taco seasoning:
1 T chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin (we used a little less)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (if avail)
salt and pepper to taste

green onions 
shredded cheese
crushed chips
Greek yogurt or sour cream
squeeze of lime

Dump everything in the crock pot, except the toppings.  Stir only once.  Close the crock pot lid and turn on low heat.  Do not open for 4 hours.  DO NOT OVER FILL.  If the crock pot is more than 2/3 full it will not have enough room to create steam and won't cook properly.

Sauteed Greens
I can't stand having a meal with nothing green.  So I had to throw this together.  I put a big scoop in the bottom of the bowl and ladled the soup over it.  Delicious, and only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook!

3 c shredded cabbage
2 cups chopped spinach
1 clove minced garlic

Heat 2 tsp oil in a sautee pan.  Add garlic once the oil is hot enough to sizzle.  Add the cabbage and stir, being careful not to burn. Add liquid as necessary.  Add the spinach as the cabbage is starting to wilt. Salt if necessary, but remember you're serving this with soup!

Please leave a comment!