Belgian Endive Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Grape in Dijon Agave Dressing

Don’t panic. The picture here shows only one single endive leaf, because it is an arsty fartsy shot I took. I was just trying some new lighting techniques. The image does not represent one serving. One serving contains many leaves…. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk endives.

IMG_7118_edited_smallerOr not. We can take some time to discuss the difference between an endive and a Belgian endive, but I will let you dish it out with Bing or Wikipedia to sort that out. In the meantime, check out this simple salad recipe. This is not a stand alone salad, but it is easy to make and goes really well with a wide variety of proteins. Me? I can eat this as a main course (eat three or four servings and call it done).

The agave and lemon and the Dijon in the dressing gives this salad a really nice tangy and sweet flavor, while the Grapeseed oil allows the flavors to thrive (unlike olive oil, it does not overpower them at any point, as it slides) across your taste buds.

Ingredients

  • 6 heads of Belgian endive,  oz. trimmed, and broken down to little cubbies (each endive will mak 5-7 endive boats)
  • 3/4 cup, toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup, seedless white grapes, cut into halves
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 or 1.5 Tbsp Agave syrup (or honey but 1 Tsbp honey tastes boring and cannot stand to the lemon and dijon) 
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

On a large platter, lay down the Belgian endive boats and then fill them up with the grapes and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard, and the agave syrup until combined. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

If serving this as part of a multiple component course (salad on one side, protein or pastry on the other), then lay the endives in individual serving dishes instead of a large platter, since transferring the individual servings from a large platter in a pleasant way is difficult. If doing the communal table, do the large platter (it will still look pretty when you serve)

Serves 8. Here are the nutrition facts, courtesy of the recipe calculator at SparkPeople:

Endive grape walnut nutrition facts

Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple, Cabbage and Teriyaki Glaze

This 475-calorie, 50+ grams of protein monster (I mean that in a good way) is hefty enough to satisfy your appetite and your eye (quantity), and it is sweet enough to satiate your cravings… It is fairly straightforward and easy as well. I usually make this when we have people coming over to watch something (when eating is not the front and center of the evening) and most of the time, they don’t even know they are eating what could be called ‘diet food.’ If this is diet food, then I know how America’s waistlines can shrink again. Trust me and try this.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. pork tenderloin trimmed, cut into 1- to 2-inch thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • Generous pinch of Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (less if you are so inclined)
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sweet rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp dry white wine or cooking wine
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a medium bowl, soak the pork in the water with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes. This will make sure the pork stays moist and ridiculously tender. Longer you soak, the more tender the meat will get.

In the meantime, make the teriyaki glaze. In a 1-qt pan, heat the soy sauce, rice wine, dry white wine and the honey on low heat. Once boiling, let simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered and stirring occasionally. The mixture will reduce to about 1/8 or 1/6 cup. If you have off-the-shelf glaze, use one that is not too sweet. Just 2 Tbsp should do the trick per person. I seriously recommend that you consider making your own though. Who knows what goes into those glazes? It is probably loaded with copious amounts of sodium and not the good kind. If you don’t like the look or the idea of my teriyaki glaze recipe, find your own and use it. Either way, it takes only a few minutes to put it together and it practically cooks itself while you are working on other components of this dish.

I digress… Back to the recipe.

Rinse the pork, and pat dry. In a dry, small or medium bowl, toss the pork with the generous pinch of the Chinese five spice. Set aside.

While the pork is sitting in spice, spray a non-stick large frying pan (or wok) and on medium heat over a few minutes, let it get hot. Add peppers, onion, garlic and the pineapple and cook until the bell pepper slices start browning on the edges and the onions are all wilted (8-12 minutes). Place the cooked veggies in a large bowl. Set aside.

Return pan to the stove and spray more oil if you like. With heat still on medium, add the pork and cook, until it’s done to your liking: I usually cook a total of 4-5 minutes until all pork looses its pink.

Place the pork in the large bowl with the veggies. Toss everything together with 4 Tbsp of the glaze.

Return pan to stove and increase heat to high. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes, until cabbage wilts. You are not cooking them, you are just seasoning them with the leftover pork juices (I am sure I can articulate that better but pork juice sounded disgusting and I could not resist the wordplay) and taking away the harsh edge of cabbage, without losing its crunch.

On a dinner plate, lay down half of the cabbage, and then top it with the half of the pork, veggie and glaze mixture. Repeat. Done.

You will be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised how much food 475 calories can offer. And how delicious.

Serves 2. Here are the nutritional facts, courtesy of SparkPeople:


Pork Stir Fry with Pineapples and Teriyaki Glaze

Chicken Apple Salad (Not as Dull as It Sounds)

Chicken Apple Salad… I am not scoring any winning points with that title, am I?

Hear me out: This is a delicious recipe that offers full satisfaction, great nutrition and pretty colors on the plate. What else do you want?

I consume about 1,700-2,000 calories daily (except on those days I drink wine) and this makes a phenomenal dinner or lunch. The dish tastes fresh and it fills up a plate. So, you get the satisfaction of good taste, volume and color.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1- to 2-inch thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 small apples (any kind… I use one granny smith and a sweeter kind for the other), sliced thin (no need to peel)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced and zest
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (reduce this to 1 Tbsp if you are watching fat grams)
  • 1 Tbsp. mixed nuts (OPTIONAL… The nutrition facts assume you are using them… hence the higher fat content. Skip if fat gram conscious)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Soak the chicken in the water with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes. This will make the chicken ridiculously tender. Baking soda soak is the secret to the tender meats in Chinese restaurants. They soak their meats in soda (sounded dirty, didn’t it?) for at least an hour to achieve than silky yet crunchy taste. For the soak to work, the chicken has to be in small bite size chunks. So do not get lazy. If you have a full hour to soak, you can reduce the baking soda to 1 tsp instead.

Rinse the chicken well.  Pat dry.

Spray a non-stick pan with oil and heat until hot on medium heat. Cook the chicken until well done, approximately 8-10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, mix the lime juice, zest, jalapeno, olive oil in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Combine the chicken, all other ingredients in a large bowl and then toss with dressing. Serves 2.

Here are the nutrition facts, courtesy of the recipe calculator at SparkPeople:

 

Chicken Apple Salad nutrition facts

Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Mücver is something I loved when I was growing up. Well, I still love it. It is usually fried and served with yogurt but there are ways to get the taste without the frying part… My mom used to do FIRINDA MüCVER as ‘diet’ food. She would go on to these diets, fairly strict ones and eat very little, to similarly very little long-term effect on her weight. One of the things she used to eat was this dish. I prefer to eat it because it tastes delicious (it is somewhat one-dimensional and bland but it accompanies other dishes well and the one-dimensioned taste is a solid one if you like zucchini and onions) and not because it is considered ‘diet’ food. It sure doesn’t scream diet food, given the delicious taste and it goes well with pretty much any kind of protein you maybe having. A salad alternative or a color splash on the plate. Either way, it is goooood.

There are recipes out there for Firinda Mücver and this is my version… I first did this based on what I remember from watching my mom and talking to her about it. Then I morphed it over the years to make it become what I want…

Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini, grated (food processor makes this very quick)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz. grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of mild cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached white or wheat flour (you may not need all of it. You can use garbanzo bean flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely minced (or a generous pinch if using dried)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch dish.

Grate the zucchini using the food processor and then handling one handful at a time, squeeze the juices out and place them drained zucchini in a large bowl. Add the onions, eggs, cheese, baking powder, the flour and the parsley and combine well. This may be a bit of work and the consistency won’t be runny at all but it works (zucchini will release some additional water in the baking process so while the mixture may look like it needs moisture, trust me, it doesn’t).

Season with salt (a generous pinch), pepper (less generous one) and red pepper flakes (generously) and dill, if using and mix well.

Transfer the mixture into the greased dish, using a spatula to spread an even layer.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. If not browning after 45 minutes, broil for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 12, 3-inch square servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

There are a million arugula salad recipes on the web. I asked myself… Do we really need another one? Well, I think we do. If I browse the recipes I find, I see that most are drenched in oil and cheese. Well, with that much oil and cheese – topped with watermelon – any old crap will taste great. How about making something healthy out of it, without sacrificing the taste? That was the idea of coming up with this particular recipe. I did a version of this 2 weeks ago and another version this week. I like this week’s version better so here is the recipe…

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tbsp honey (1.5 tbsp if the arugula is from a farmer’s market since organic ones tend to be sharper)
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 2 cups watermelon, diced to chunks and loosely packed
  • 4 oz goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes (OPTIONAL)

Prepare the vinaigrette by first combining the orange juice, lemon juice, honey, shallots with a whisk and then drizzling the olive oil in as you whisk to form an emulsion. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, watermelon, mint and the cheese. Coat with the vinaigrette and toss well. Adjust salt and pepper. If you’d like, you can dress it up with cherry tomatoes as you serve.

Makes 6 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Arugula Watermelon Salad Nutrition Facts

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