Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chunky Marinara Sauce

Unlike our Classic Marinara Sauce, which is relatively smooth, this version contains luscious chunks of tomato. Use regular diced tomatoes for larger chunks, or petite-cut tomatoes for smaller chunks, as you prefer.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or 1 tablespoon for a low-fat version)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes, either regular or petite-cut
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, shredded or coarsely chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt, and pepper. Raise heat to medium high and bring the mixture just to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use within 2-3 days, or freeze for future use.

-- Approximately 3 1/2 cups of sauce

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta

This elegant appetizer/snack is quick and easy to make but loaded with flavor. And it can be a meal in itself when served with a big green salad or hearty soup.


French baguette or submarine/hoagie rolls, sliced into 16 (1/2-inch) slices
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, shredded or coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Broil until one side of the bread is lightly golden. Turn the bread slices over and broil until the other side is lightly golden. Remove from broiler.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Spoon the tomato mixture evenly onto the bread slices and serve.

-- 8 appetizer servings

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Creamy Tarragon Mock Chicken and Mushrooms in Puff Pastry Shells

This recipe looks and tastes very fancy, but is relatively easy to make using frozen puff pastry shells. Serve alone as an appetizer, or enjoy with a green or orange vegetable and tossed salad for a full, balanced meal.

Chicken-style seitan is seasoned so that it has a flavor and consistency reminiscent of cooked dark-meat chicken. It's a great substitute for chopped, cooked chicken in recipes, and I love to use it in this recipe. If you cannot find the seitan, just dice up your favorite unbreaded mock-chicken breasts, patties, or tenders.


2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup chicken-style seitan, or other non-breaded mock chicken product, thawed if frozen, diced
1 cup fresh white mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons quick-mixing flour (such as Wondra), or sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup mock chicken broth (such as Imagine No-Chicken broth)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 frozen puff pastry shells (1 10-ounce package)

In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add the seitan, and saute until the seitan is lightly golden. Remove the seitan from the skillet and set aside.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same skillet. Add the mushrooms and tarragon, and sautee over medium to medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet, leaving any butter and mushroom juices in the skillet. Set the mushrooms aside.

Whisk the flour into the pan juices, and then slowly whisk in the broth, salt, and pepper. Whisk over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until thickened. Lower heat to medium-low.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream. Stir 1 tablespoon of the broth mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the skillet.

Add the seitan and mushrooms back into the skillet. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, to heat through and blend the flavors.

Meanwhile, bake the puff pastry shells according to the package directions.

Fill the puff pastry shells with the seitan-mushroom mixture, and serve immediately.

-- 3 entree servings or 6 appetizer servings

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Classic Hummus

While I love to make hummus variations containing extra ingredients for flavor and color, you can't beat a traditional, classic hummus. This simple but delicious dip/spread is traditionally made with only chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, and salt. Anything more is a variation.

Serve with Pan-Grilled Pita Wedges, pita chips, and/or fresh veggies for dipping.


1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained, reserving the chickpea liquid
1 clove garlic, crushed through a press or finely minced
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, including 2 tablespoons of the chickpea liquid. Puree until fairly smooth. If too thick, add more of the chickpea liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time

Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled.

-- 8 appetizer servings