Roasted Asparagus with Olives, Parmesan Inspired by Alain Ducasse

Rice Noodles with Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Olives, Parmesan
Pan-Roasted Asparagus over Brown Rice Noodles
Kalamata Olives, Balsamic Reduction, Shaved Parmesan

Organic brown rice noodles make this a fabulous gluten-free meal. Or omit the noodles and serve this asparagus as a low-carb side dish. Either way, French Master Chef Alain Ducasse’s recipe for “Roasted Asparagus with Black Olives” is a springtime winner. It’s the genius combination of just a few choice ingredients, it shines in its simplicity: Asparagus, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Olives, Parmesan.

In his snappy cookbook, Nature, Ducasse shares “simple, healthy, and good” recipes featuring plenty of fruit and vegetables, grains with a little meat or fish, all cooked in olive oil. The Chef admonishes us, “You can’t cook well without good ingredients.” To that end, make sure to choose the freshest asparagus, high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and authentic Parmesan for this recipe.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus over Rice Noodles Recipe

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Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint

Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint
Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint

Once again inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and his vibrant vegetable cooking, here I serve a braised leek dish instead of a salad to begin a recent dinner party. Its rich warm hues and luscious sweet-and-sour notes make it a fabulous Autumn starter. Or serve it with couscous for a stellar vegetarian main course. “I find the creaminess of leeks and their sweet oniony flavor very satisfying,” penned Ottolenghi.

Elegant Braised Leeks Recipe

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Pickled Tofu Carpaccio, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw

Pickled Tofu, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw

Pickled Tofu Carpaccio, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw

By his own admission, he’s not a tofu guy. But my brother Don is definitely a foodie. Never met a foie gras he didn’t like. Tofu does not elicit even a glimmer of interest or enthusiasm. He trusts his sister though, so when she offers him a vibrant pickled tofu carpaccio – he definitely gives it a try.

Not to my surprise, it receives a big thumbs up. With the combination of exotic spices, sweet and hot juxtaposed to crunchy and soft elements, he advises to try all the flavors in one bite – calling it both a science experiment and a volcanic eruption.

Pickled Tofu Carpaccio, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw Recipe

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Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce

Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce

Several months ago I came across a recipe for “Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce” in Saveur magazine. I’ve made it over and over with different fish and various vegetables. The preparation is simple and the flavor combination is stellar. My modified spinach version makes a fabulous vegan entree spooned on top of basmati rice – or a fragrant vegetable side dish to fish, meat, or chicken.

Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce Recipe

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Chèvre Chaud Salad, Limoncello Dressing

Chèvre Chaud with Grape Arugula Salad, Limoncello Dressing
Chèvre Chaud over a Salad of  Arugula, Grapes, and Marcona Almonds
Limoncello Rosemary Dressing

How did this fall off my radar? Often, I would serve a Salade de Chèvre Chaud at dinner parties. It’s been years  – but now, fried goat cheese back. This time with arugula, grapes, marcona almonds, and a zippy limoncello rosemary dressing.

Food Network is featuring grapes this week, so I was thinking about foods that might pair well: goat cheese, almonds, lemon, rosemary, arugula, alcohol… Alcohol? Yes – like wine, cognac, brandy, rum. How about limoncello? The dressing is bold, lemony, and definitely zippy.  It adds unexpected character and balances the rich fried cheese. All the ingredients just came together and voilà – this bodacious “adult” salad was born.

Chèvre Chaud Recipe

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It’s The One Dish To Serve With Those Grilled Steaks!

eggplant and garbanzo salad
Grilled Eggplant Topped with a Chickpea Mash
Tomato Cucumber Onion Relish, Tahini Sauce, Mint Garnish

It’s a side dish, it’s a salad, it’s a vegetarian entree. Throw some steaks on the grill and serve them with this fabulous vegetable-bean dish! That’s the whole menu, right there. Smoky grilled eggplant is the base, topped with a terrific warm chickpea mash, a lively colorful relish, and a creamy sauce. It’s one unfussy yet pretty vegetarian platter bursting with flavor, the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat, chicken, or fish…

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