Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and FigsThe number on producer of sweet potatoes in the United States alone, is the state of North Carolina, planting and harvesting more than 40% of the national supply.

3 popular sweet potato varieties sold at market

Image Credit: Saveur Magazine

The website for the sweet potato industry, North Carolina Sweet Potatoes say that the list of sweet potato varieties changes rapidly and new varieties are released almost annually.

The most popular varieties sold at your local market are, Covington Sweet Potato, O’Henry Sweet Potato, and the Japanese Sweet Potato.

The popular food magazine, also found on line, Saveur says that shopping for sweet potatoes, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday (USA), you can came across a surprising range of varieties, 16 to be exact.

They go on to say that a consumer can find both heirlooms and new hybrids alike, all which are being grown in the United States.

Our feature recipe – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – uses three different types of sweet potatoes, which are the speckled purple sweet potato, which is named because of their flecked magenta flesh.

An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, and not to forget the Hannahs varity which has tan skin and an off-white interior. When roasted the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture.

Here is what you will need to prepare – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs in your own kitchen.

2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, different colors

5 tablespoons olive oil

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

6 dried figs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 peeled coins fresh ginger

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar

12 scallions or green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1 1/2 inch segments

1 red chili,halved, seeded, thinly sliced

My mother had two fig trees in her garden, both a black and green variety. Fresh figs can be very fragile, and need to be eaten within a day or two of harvesting. We used dried figs in our recipe because they are just as versatile as fresh figs when re-hydrated.

Read more here about the Benefits Of Figs Help Fight Against Common Ailments.

Recipes directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Scrub potatoes and slice each one into wedges.

roasted sweet potatoesToss wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, s teaspoons of Himalayan salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.

rehydrating fdried figs with lemon zest, juice, sugar and fresh gingerMeanwhile, place the dried figs in a medium saucepan with lemon zest, juice, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose.

dried figs rehydratedScoop figs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels. Let dry, and quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.

In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs - close upArrange roasted sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. place in onions, and chili. Fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes.

Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Suggested to serve at room temperature.

Ginger and Lemon Juice WaterMaybe you are wondering what to do with the water solution that was used to dehydrate the figs? Put it into your Nutri-Bullet or blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds and drink down a nutritious anti-inflammatory drink.

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Tomato Basil Chicken

Tomato Basil ChickenYou have some chicken breasts and are looking for a new idea to prepare them? Well you have arrived to the right place for a quick and easy recipe. It’s our Tomato Basil Chicken entrée. Besides being healthy with all fresh ingredients that include tomato, basil, and garlic, this recipe is reminiscent of warm weather and luscious Mediterranean summers.

According to Spice Pages by Gernot Katzer, basil is native to India, though it is not used as a culinary herb, but rather is considered sacred and use in religious rites. Besides the most common Mediterranean type basil sold in the Western world, there is also varieties from the Asian world, such as Thailand‘s sweet basil with a licorice flavor, and a lemon basil which has a distinct balm-like flavor. Katzer states there are also verities introduced to European gardeners from Africa as well (Spice Pages: Basil).

Now for our featured recipe: Tomato Basil Chicken, and here is what you will need.

Tomato Basil Chicken - ingredients

1 lb boneless chicken breast (about 2-3 medium sized pieces) with the skin on

1 teaspoon of rock salt, Himalayan or Sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon if salt is ground

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 handfuls of fresh chopped basil, about 1 1/2 cups

1 ½ -2 cups fresh diced tomato

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic

Fresh chopped ingredients for Tomato Basil ChickenDice the tomatoes, and chop the garlic. Tear the basil apart by hand.

adding salt and pepper to chicken breastNext, season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. You may use the ground salt, but the rock salt lends a more rustic appeal to the dish.

adding chicken meat to a preheated pan with olive oilIn a preheated ceramic coated pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and place the chicken skin side down.

adding garlic and browning the meatNext add the garlic and allow the chicken to brown on both sides, turning once.

adding tomatoes and basilOnce both sides are adequately cooked, add the tomatoes. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and some of it has formed a sauce with the olive oil and garlic. Next add the basil and cook for another minute.

adding cheeseNext add the grated Parmesan cheese and remove from the heat.

plated- Tomato Basil ChickenPlate and serve. Makes 2 to 3 servings. Add a side of cooked Mediterranean vegetables or a Greek salad.

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Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto Chipotle Sauce

Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto
Using Italian ingredients makes for a delectable meal, and pasta orecchiette is no exception. Orecchiette according to Recipes Wikia, is a pasta typical of the Apulia (Italian: Puglia) region of Southern Italy.
Orecchiette Pasta - uncooked

The shape of the pasta is what gives it, its name. The pasta resembles a small ear.

In Italian, the word “orecchio” means “ear”, and the suffix ‘etto’ means ‘small’. The pronunciation of Orecchiette is : ohr-ay-KYEHT-ee.

In another article we noted that Andouille Sausage is thanks to French cuisine. The sausage is double smoked pork, that is once the meat is prepared it is smoked, then put into a sausage casing and smoked again.

Our featured recipe is actually a mix of two pasta recipes, which are Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine (click links to view recipes).

Now for our featured recipe Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto Chipotle Sauce, and here is what you will need.

16 ounces of cooked orecchiette

2 Andouille sausage links, about ½ pound, sliced

3/4 cup fresh basil pesto (link here for recipe – History of Pesto Sauce)

2 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

15 symphony cherry tomatoes (about), sliced in half to measure 1 cup

1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut in half

Prepare basil pesto, and add the 2 teaspoons of adobe sauce to one cup of the pesto (get ingredients by following link above). Or if you are using your favorite store bought brand (preferably in a jar) remove one cup and mix in the adobe sauce. Set prepared pesto aside.

If you have any left over basil pesto sauce, store in a glass jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil over top of pesto to keep it from browning, and place a lid on jar and tighten. The pesto should keep in cooler for 7 to 10 days. Pesto sauce makes a great spread for sandwiches as well.

fresh green beans and cherry tomatoesPrepare green beans and symphony of cherry tomatoes and set aside.

adding greens beans to pot of  boiling water with Orecchiette pastaCook pasta according to package instructions. Last three minutes of cooking time for pasta, add prepared green beans.

cooked Orecchiette and green beansDrain, but do not rinse. Set aside.

adding Andouille to pastaSlice sausage into 1/2 inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, add meat and move about until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

In the same large skillet, add the pasta green bean mix, the cup of pesto, sausage, and mix until coated with pesto chipotle sauce.

Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto

Plate and serve.

 

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Different Ways to Cook Rice

 

Different Ways to Cook Rice

Rice needs to be thoroughly washed. A good way to do this is to put it into a colander and place it in a deep pan of water. Rub the rice well with your hands, lifting the colander in and out the water, and changing the water until it is clear; then drain. In this way the grit is deposited in the water, and the rice is left thoroughly clean.

The best method of cooking rice is by steaming it. If boiled in water, it loses a portion of its already small percentage of nitrogenous elements, unless you are using whole grain brown rice. With white rice most of the nutrition was removed when the fiber was stripped away in the processing method.

White rice requires much less time cooking than whole grain brown rice. Rice as it cooks to several times its original bulk. One cup of uncooked rice is two cups of rice when cooked.

When cooked, each grain of rice should be separate and distinct, yet perfectly tender.

Try some of the following methods.

Steamed Rice

Soak a cup of rice in one and a fourth cups of water for an hour, then add a cup of milk, turn into a dish suitable for serving it at the table, and place into a steam-cooker or a covered steamer over a pan of boiling water, and steam for an hour. It should be stirred with a fork occasionally, for the first ten or fifteen minutes.

Japanese Method of Cooking Rice

1 cup rice

1 ½ tsp.  salt

5 cups boiling water

Wash the rice, add it to the boiling salted water, and boil slowly for 15 minutes. Then cover the utensil in which the rice is cooking and place it in the oven for 15 minutes more, in order to evaporate the water more completely and make the grains soft without being mushy. Serve in the same way as boiled rice.

Classic Rice Pilaf

2 cups long grain rice

2 bay leaves

3 cups chicken broth

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. salt

Pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Over medium heat in a small sauce pan, heat the oil. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the rice to a 9 x 9 oven safe glass cooking pan. Stir in sautéed onion/garlic mix until well incorporated.

Add the broth, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the heated oven and cook for 35 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and fluff with a fork.

If making the Classic Rice Pilaf, try adding the following:

Rice with vegetables and nuts

After the pilaf is cooked add

  1. a mix of cooked peas and carrots with slivered almonds
  2. Roasted diced sweet potato and pecans

Check out our article “Say Good-bye to Soggy Rice“.

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