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Archive for Monday, May 14, 2012

Go!

Delicious/Nutritious: When life gives you lemons

May 14, 2012

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This month, our Go! chefs have come up with several variations on lemons — a meal, a snack and a drink. What more could you ask?

Megan Stuke's Husband’s Out Simple Lemon Pasta

Megan Stuke's Husband’s Out Simple Lemon Pasta

Delicious

I’m married to Mr. Meat and Potatoes. That means that our dinners have some required components, the main one being meat.

So on the rare occasion I have a dinner at home alone, I like to make things that might not tempt my husband’s palette.

Also, when I get to cook for just myself, I like to keep it really simple. I spend enough time in the kitchen cooking for other people, so when I cook for myself I like it to be fast, maybe a little girly, and delicious.

I am a huge fan of lemon. When there are desserts to be had, I seek out anything tart and lemony first. I love lemon Popsicles, lemon curd, lemon in my water, lemon cookies … you get the idea.

But we don’t have to limit our lemon love to just sweets. Oh, no. The lemon is multifaceted. Its glories travel far and wide.

I like to zest them to add to salads, cole slaw, bread dough, whatever I can think of. I juice them for salad dressing, sauces, cocktails, and I squeeze them over pasta.

Lemon pasta is my “husband’s out” dinner. I can make it in the time it takes to boil spaghetti, and it feels like a little treat. Something just for me, something light and fresh but filling and decadent all at the same time.

Because it seems silly to write a recipe for one, I’m doing it for four. Feel free to pare down the proportions for those delicious moments of solo dinner and “Real Housewives.” Admit it, ladies. You watch when you have the chance.

Husband’s Out Simple Lemon Pasta

  • 8 oz dried spaghetti (or linguini, or bowties, whatever you love most)
  • 3 large lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • handful of parsley
  • salt and pepper

While you cook the spaghetti (in heavily salted water — I can’t stress this enough for all dried, storebought pasta), prepare your “sauce.” I use the word sauce lightly because this is not really a saucy pasta in the way we think of pasta with red sauce or alfredo or any other really prominent sauces.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and mince the garlic. Toss it in with a pinch of salt and stir, and watch carefully as the garlic browns. It will happen fast, and you really, really do not want to burn it. Just lightly toast it until it’s bursting with that good, roasted garlic aroma.

Remove your pasta from the boiling water before it’s too done. You want it “al dente” — firm, but not hard.

Keep the pasta hot — I like to put it in a casserole dish with a lid. While it is still hot, crack the egg over it, and use a fork or tongs to toss, toss, toss it until it’s coated. That hot pasta should cook the egg and bind things a little. (Hint: If you think the egg isn’t cooking, put the whole thing in the microwave for 30 seconds. I promise it will be OK.)

Then just toss in the garlic and parsley, and squeeze the lemons over. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cracked black pepper, and eat.

You’re welcome.

Sarah Henning's ice box lemon bars and two-second lemonade

Sarah Henning's ice box lemon bars and two-second lemonade

Nutritious

I’ve always been a chocoholic. ALWAYS. As a child, if I had my pick of something sweet, without fail I went with anything cocoa-related, and, thus, probably looked like I’d been gargling mud during 70 percent of my early years.

Thus, it wasn’t until I was a full-fledged adult that I discovered the simple pleasure of vanilla (or the fact that it went so well with things not made by Hershey’s). From there, I’ve been learning to cherish all sorts of flavors, and one of my rut-inducing favorites lately has been lemon.

All things lemon.

And one of the best things about lemon? You get all that taste for virtually nothing calorically. One lemon juiced has just 12 calories and 36 percent of your daily vitamin C. Fantastic, right?

Right.

Now that it’s nearly summer (and it certainly FEELS like summer out there), I thought I’d share two of my absolute staples these days: Ice Box Lemon Bars and Two-Second Lemonade.

I find both of these recipes as quick as they are delicious, which is probably why I’m constantly making them. The lemon bars taste like Lara Bars and have no refined sugar, flour or oils. The lemonade tastes just like the real thing (minus the wacky processed yellow or pink coloring) and contains virtually no calories.

Ice Box Lemon Bars

  • 1 cup raw cashews (do not use the roasted and salted kind)
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates (or regular old chopped dates, though they’ll have to be soaked for 15 minutes or so to soften them), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped (with stems removed if not using stemless)
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter (again, you want to avoid the roasted or salted kind)
  • 2.5 to 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from 3 or 4 medium to large lemons)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Place the figs and dates in a food processor and process until they’re basically a chunky paste. Scrape the figs and dates into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the cashews, lemon zest and sea salt in the food processor (no need to clean it first). Process until the cashews are ground into smaller chunks.

Add the cashew butter and the fig-date mixture. Process until the “dough” starts forming a ball inside the processor. Scrape the dough into the mixing bowl.

To shape, you can do a number of things. If you have a silicone, divided brownie pan, flatten the dough in each of the squares and then freeze (that’s how we got the square shapes for the photo). If you don’t, you can press the dough in a 7x11 glass baking pan and freeze, scoring the dough into squares or rectangles before putting it in the freezer. Or you can roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a parchment-lined brownie pan or jellyroll sheet and freeze. You can also flatten these balls into traditional cookie shapes and freeze. Or mold the dough into silicone mini cupcake “wrappers.” The sky’s the limit!

Note: If the dough seems too dry, put the dough back into the food processor and add another date or two to help it bind. You can also add a bit of lemon juice or more zest if you find the dough not to be as tangy as you want.

Two-Second Lemonade

Per glass:

  • 1 to 1-1/4 cups cold water
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 dropper full of liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • Lemon wedge for garnish (optional)

Pour lemon juice into each glass, making sure no seeds make it in. Pour in cold water. Squirt in stevia. Garnish with lemon wedge if preferred. Enjoy!

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