I’m in Love With a Flexitarian

I just have to say…Mark Bittman, I love you.

One of my favorite sources to find recipes has to be Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times. His recipes are simple yet delicious, making it extremely easy to eat good food that’s healthy for you. His most recent recipe (which naturally I had to make) was Pasta alla Norma—and it was to die for.

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For the recipe you’ll need: 1 ½ pounds of eggplant, cut into decent –sized chunks; 1 tbsp. of chopped garlic (I took the easier approach put the garlic through a mincer); 3-4 dried chiles (I left these out but by all means add them if you want a nice kick to your dish); 1 ½ pounds of tomatoes—his recipe calls for fresh but canned work just as well!; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; 1 pound of pasta–I used this amazing big rigatoni from Eataly (my mom and I were calling it “big rig” by the end of the night); ½ cup chopped parsley or basil; and last but not least, ½ cup grated ricotta salata.

Simply cook the eggplant in lots and lots of olive oil (good thing it’s heart healthy!), and season with salt and pepper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the box. Once the eggplant is nice and brown, remove and sauté the garlic (and chiles if you use them), then add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook until ‘saucy’ (his words not mine).  When the pasta is done, strain and add to the tomato/garlic mixture, top with grated ricotta salata, and there you have it! Pasta alla Norma cooked from scratch. This is a dish that is guaranteed to impress any guest!

If you haven’t seen Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times, check it out! He takes wonderful ingredients and turns them into a fabulous meal that doesn’t take much time at all. Trust me, his recipes won’t disappoint you. Try some of his recipes and let me know which ones are your favorites—I’d love to blog about them! But until next time, keep eating!

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Ode to the Humble Chickpea

Naked Chip Update: I’m home, recently graduated, and am looking for a PR/marketing job in the culinary world…..is anyone out there???

Now that I’m home I have more free time on my hands. Not to mention more pots and pans, an array of spices, more counter space, and more food in general to work with.  My dorm kitchen seems minuscule to my kitchen at home. Oh have I missed this….

Since I have so much free time on my hands, I can exercise my creative license when it comes to food. On the menu today: chickpeas. Chickpeas are somewhat of a miracle food—they are loaded with protein (which is great for your waistline) and even happen to taste delicious.  They are versatile, allowing you to do many things with them. You can season and roast them to make a delicious snack, turn them into hummus, eat them plain, or mix them into a salad.

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I decided to mix them into a salad. Yes Greek salad (I simply love all the flavors as seen in my earlier post It’s All Greek to Me!). You can’t go wrong with a simple Greek salad. It’s light and refreshing and perfect for a hot, humid, summer day—and trust me, living in New Jersey it’s hot and humid EVERY day, so I’m always on the lookout for a good summer salad.  All you do is mix together olive oil, lemon juice, red onion, cucumber, grape tomatoes, feta, chickpeas, olives, parsley, and salt and pepper. It’s as simple as that. What’s so great about it is that you can store it and take it as a quick on-the-go lunch if you’re in a hurry or make a huge batch of it for a party.

If anyone knows of any other great recipes using chickpeas, please don’t hesitate! I would love to know! But until next time, keep eating!

What’s for Dinner? Homemade Pizza

If you’re ever looking for a quick, easy meal, homemade pizza is your savior. Most grocery stores sell pre-made dough (I would love to learn how to make dough but it’s not very practical in a college dorm), and then pick up some cheese and whatever toppings you’re in the mood for and you’re good to go!

My friend and I were craving veggie pizza, so we practically sprinted to Shaw’s to pick up the ingredients (since it was raining and incredibly windy outside). We bought eggplant, red peppers, shredded mozzarella, tomato, and shallots–but if veggies don’t appeal to you, you can add whatever you want (try some pepperoni if you’re a meat lover, or different kinds of cheeses if you simply can’t get enough cheese). Buy any type of sauce–if you want to be adventurous, try a spicy sauce or even a white sauce! One of  the best things about pre-made dough is that it only takes about 15 minutes to cook–which was perfect because we were starving (a video of our food-making process will be in my next post).

And, since the whole purpose of my blog is to ‘spice up my life’ through food, I naturally added a myriad of spices to my pizza. If I tell you all the spices I used, you’d look at me crazy–but it turned out to be delicious. I suggest adding some garlic salt and Italian seasoning for some flavor.

Cooking food is one of the best activities to do on a rainy day and it lets you be creative! So if you ever need a cheap, quick, easy meal, go for the homemade pizza–it’s a crowd pleaser. But until next time, keep eating!

My First Time…..Trying Something New!

I don’t know what it is about this year, but I have become more adventurous when trying new foods (and I must say I definitely don’t hate it–talk about spicing up my life!) This time I tried something I always thought I would like but never had the guts to do it. Ok, it wasn’t anything extreme like frogs legs or alligator, but it was enough to make me feel adventurous. Plantains. Not an extremely easy thing to find just anywhere, but definitely something worth searching for.

I love bananas and honestly the only way I can describe a plantain is a banana but ten times better. They were fried too (in my opinion anything fried helps make an ordinary food incredible). The plantains were starchy and sweet–much chewier than a banana but in a good way. It was love at first bite.

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I Googled how to make plantains, and luckily for me (and anyone else who is feeling adventurous) they aren’t that hard to make! My search results informed me that you can cook them in three ways: frying, baking, or grilling. Since I’m no where near ready to deep fry them myself, I will probably stick to either grilling or baking.

Plantains seem to be the perfect side dish to any sort of spicy food–maybe something along the lines of fajitas, or spiced chicken–or can even be a side for a brunch. If anyone knows of a dish that pairs well with plantains I would love to know! I honestly could eat them plain, but I would love to know what flavors complement them. If you’re interested in a how-to on cooking plantains check out this awesome site, Pati’s Mexican Table! But until next time, keep eating!