Archive | April, 2013

Spring Eats: Fennel, Orange, and Avocado Salad

30 Apr

If this dish doesn’t say spring, I don’t know what does. For those of you fennel novices, this may sound like an odd salad. I guess I would have, too, had I not had an adoration for fennel. Fennel, with its crunchy, sweet anise flavor is a distant relative to carrots, parsley, dill, and coriander. You may have seen it in your French or Italian cookbooks and breezed by it, writing it off as something you’ll never try. I hope you’ll give it a chance this time…it’s in season and there’s no reason not to.

Call me crazy, but something about eating fennel just makes me feel healthier. There is some data to back me up, though – fennel touts an impressive nutrition panel (antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium). It is thought that fennel tea has a de-bloating property (so feel free to brew some when you’re feeling a little puffy).

The origin of this salad goes back to spring 2007 when I was living in Bologna (Italy). My dear friend Alessandra whipped up a similar salad to this and I thought it was the chicest little Italian salad I’ve ever eaten. Yes, it’s chic. It’s full of that simple Mediterranean flair that we appreciate. With fewer than 5 ingredients, you can welcome Spring to your table and get your taste buds ready for farmers markets. Though Alessandra’s didn’t include avocado, I think it adds a nice dose of healthful fats and is satisfying as a main lunch dish if you add some mozzarella cheese or grilled chicken. The salad is very versatile – you can take her anywhere and set her up with anything.

You can score bonus points if you eat this al fresco – it adds a certain je ne sais  quoi.

Fennel, Orange and Avocado Salad (Serves 2)

fennel salad

1 whole fennel bulb, trimmed of outer leaves and sliced thinly*
1 whole orange, peeled and divided into wedges (I used a Cara Cara orange)
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced into wedges
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)

*A mandolin is the ultimate kitchen gadget for slicing fennel thinly. If you don’t have one, use a sharp knife and cut slices as thinly as you can.

Directions: Combine fennel in a bowl and dress with olive oil and balsamic, if you are using it. Next, add the orange wedges and toss gently. Season liberally with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange salad on plates and add slices of avocado, and enjoy!

Advertisements

This one goes out to #Boston: Giulia Restaurant Review

23 Apr

As the sidewalks of Boylston Street were handed back to the City of Boston, the 617 area code is mustering the strength to power on (albeit prouder than ever).  I feel that it’s no better time than to bring your hard-earned money to Boston. Eat, Sleep, Do! Let me help you with the first one: EAT! Cuz, we’re all about food, here, right? I have been sitting on this review for a couple of weeks… so here is my first of many tributes to the wonderful Boston eateries: Review of Giulia Restaurant.

Giulia Restaurant (www.giuliarestaurant.com)
1682 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
617.441.2800
Serving dinner Monday-Saturday

storeIt is hard to replicate “Italy” outside of, you know…Italy. Until now. Across the river in Cambridge, Giulia Restaurant allows you to travel to Italy without even digging out your passport. Mike Pagliarini, previously of Radius and Via Matta, along with his wife Pam Ralston, have created a piece of heaven in Giulia. Named after “Via Giulia” in Rome, where Mike and Pam decided to pursue their joint dream of creating, owning, and operating their own restaurant. They both endorse that perhaps the most time-consuming effort was finding the location. Location, location, location! After scouting out many locations, it was  this location at 1682 Massachusetts Ave., smacked between Harvard and Porter Squares, that spoke to them. (FYI for locals: It was the same site as the now closed, Rafiki Bistro.) This place is so good, and so special, I will continue to venture across the Charles River to go to it!giulia storefront

As you enter the intimately lit Giulia, your senses become heightened. There are white flickering tea lights in clear shallow candle holders. The light ricochetes on the exposed brick wall (which the owners discovered during demolition). Your first encounter is with, typically, Pam herself, as she welcomes you to her home away from home.

The menu is more authentic than some restaurants in Florence, near the Duomo that have those English/Italian menus with American and Italian Flags on large tripod-sized menus. You know the ones I mean? Well, not this place.  Giulia – from start to finish – is tastefully done. As Pam sweeps you to your table, you can feast your eyes on what everyone else is having. It’s hard to make a decision, and even harder after some of their delicious prosecco.

menu2

John and I started with an antipasto plate, which featured mortadella, soppressata, finocchiona and wild boar. These salty and smooth meats paired well with the robust Sangiovese that we were drinking by that point. For “primo” piatto, I had bucatini all’amatriciana. Bucatini-shaped pasta is hard to find. “Buco” meaning “hole” gives this pasta its unique shape, as it’s hollow, yet dense at the same time. John had the classic, pappardelle with wild boar, which I kept helping myself to. The portions were respectful of the fact that they were first courses. The homemade pastas were the perfect canvas for the flavorful, full-bodied sauces. After we nearly licked our plates clean, out came the bistecca alla fiorentina adorned with a grilled lemon and a garlicy salsa verde. I could have made a meal just of the salsa verde alone. It was, hands down, the BEST steak I have ever had. It easily feeds two people (so, split it!). If you get anything from this, “Try the bistecca alla fiorentina!”

To cap the evening, we split the chocolate terrine with toasted coconut gelato (yum) and salted almonds (yum). Because it was my birthday dinner, a candle was inserted in the terrine for an added touch. The coffees, served with cream and raw sugar, brought out the sweetness of the cocoa in the dessert. Never once did we feel rushed. It was a dining experience for sure. Giulia is booking far in advance, so you’ll need a reservation if you are planning on a table (vs. eating at the bar). Reservations can be made online by visiting  Opentable.com or calling the restaurant directly.

Pantry must have: black beans

11 Apr

Recently over a burrito bowl at Chipotle, I realized how great the idea of a vegetable filled burrito bowl actually is. Why should it be reserved for restaurants only? With a few ingredients from both the pantry and the fridge, this could be a go-to weeknight staple, that we all need in our repertoire. I’m all in favor of promoting pantry essentials to structure weeknight meals. I happen to love black beans, rice and sauteed vegetables. Protein + Fiber + Healthful fat. Check, Check, Check! You can use your creativity (like adding meat), or not, to create you own unique burrito bowl in less than 20 minutes (including the cooking process). I have no aversion to eating leftovers, and this serves as an excellent lunch at work.

Chipotle-inspired Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

IMG_7331
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 cup black beans
1 large green pepper + 1 large onion, sauteed in 1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup frozen corn, cooked
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
cherry tomatoes, halved
shredded romaine lettuce
avocado, diced
sour cream (optional)
salsa (optional)
Fresh cilantro and jalapeno peppers for garnish (optional)

In a bowl add 1/2 cup of the cooked brown rice, Begin layering the bowls with black beans, sauteed peppers and onions, cherry tomatoes, cooked corn, and shredded cheese. Top with the shredded lettuce, avocado, salsa, sour cream, jalapeno and fresh cilantro as desired. Serve immediately!

Spring Cleaning Your Diet

2 Apr

It’s about that time of year when the sun beams in on your [dusty] windowsill and thoughts of spring cleaning enter your atmosphere. Cleaning and organizing is mentally clarifying, which we know is a key factor for health and sanity. That said, often overlooked is the spring cleaning that your fridge and pantry need. Take advantage of these longer, brighter, sunnier days to revamp your grocery list and pantry…in a sense, you can push the reset button and clean your slate. There is no better time than spring time to give yourself the gift of a healthful lifestyle, which as you know, begins with what you stock in your kitchen. Last week, I had a speaking engagement at the Brookline Adult Community Education Center, on the topic “Shop Right for Every Bite”. The base of eating well is surrounding yourself with healthful options, right? We know this, but we often fail to do it. Here are two handy weekly and monthly shopping guides that I created to help you with your new spring cleaning shopping. By stocking your pantry with these clean foods, you will, by default, start yourself on a better track. For downloadable PDF versions of the guides, please click here: shopping list.

Picture 1

Picture 2

The Guided Bite Blog

Eating right with every bite!

Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN

Eat Better, Stress Less

Eat Well with Janel

Eating right with every bite!

Eating right with every bite!

Kitchn | Inspiring cooks, nourishing homes

Eating right with every bite!

Meg's Food Reality

Eating right with every bite!

Dinner With Julie

Life in my kitchen

David Lebovitz

Paris based chef baking and writing cookbooks

Chocolate & Zucchini

Eating right with every bite!

Nutrition Unplugged

Serving up food news and views

101 Cookbooks

Eating right with every bite!

Orangette

Eating right with every bite!

The Wednesday Chef

Eating right with every bite!

Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN

Eating right with every bite!

%d bloggers like this: