Category Archives: Lunch

Israeli Couscous

Israeli_Couscous

The greatest thing about food is all the “togetherness” that it brings. Families & friends bond at the dinner table. They laugh, argue (not just over who gets the last piece of garlic bread!) and learn new things about each other with every meal. New family members are celebrated with fancy dinner-dances, and who can forget the comfort you get from devouring your grandmother’s signature dish. Mothers’ show their love through a well thought-out meal after a long day, and little kids have the chance to experience new ingredients & flavors, all while secretly expanding their palates.

Do you see what I mean? SO much happens when food is involved.

One other thing that I love about food, is being able to share & swap recipes with my loved ones. Not only does the recipe you’re given instruct you on how to recreate a dish, but it also allows you to reminisce.

That being said, this particular recipe was adapted from one of my favorite dishes by Mum Khaneja. She introduced the hubso & I to Israeli couscous this past summer (during our trip home for her birthday weekend) and we automatically hit it off! Because of the instant attraction, I so eagerly wanted to share this recipe with my mum… and finally got the chance bring her some couscous when we  recently visited HK. She hasn’t gotten round to cooking it though, because – funny enough – I forgot to give her the recipe. Hah.

Anyway, this one’s for you, Mum!

Israeli Couscous w/ Veggies

1 pkt Roland’s whole wheat Israeli couscous – I use this one in particular
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, julienned
3 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup carrots, shoestringed
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
4-8 oz sugar snap peas, washed & trimmed – I love them, so tend to go overboard here!
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Prepare the couscous as directed on the packet. After this is done set the pot aside, covered, and grab a wok/ non-stick sauté pan. Heat the oil and sauté the garlic over medium-high heat for about 1 minute, but not until it’s browned. Add the onions and cook until slightly browned & translucent. Then add your carrots, sugar snap peas & mushrooms, and cook thoroughly for about 3-4 minutes (you’ll want the sugar snaps to become a bright vibrant green!) Season with salt/ pepper as you see fit. Next, combine the couscous with your sautéed veggies and make sure you leave any remaining liquid in the mix (this is where all the flavor is). Sauté for another minute or two, until all components are well incorporated, and turn off the heat. Fold in the spinach so that is just begins to wilt.

Serve & enjoy hot. You can have this as a side dish at a BBQ (think lamb chops, sausages, etc.) or throw in your choice of meat to create an entree-size meal.

This recipe makes about 4 (side) servings.

Chicken Parmigiana

For my first post, I thought I would do one of my most favorite things to eat! All my friends know that I generally prefer Asian cuisine over anything, so to not have an Asian dish as my first entry is going to shock you all. Hah!

When I crave Italian food, this is always my go to choice.

This dish reminds me of when I first moved to the US for college; I didn’t experience the “culture shock” that our high school college counselor eagerly prepped us for. I did, however, experience food shock. There were so many different types of foods that I had never eaten as a child growing up in Hong Kong. Until this day I’m still not sure if it’s because I was an incredibly fussy eater, or because we just didn’t have that much of Italian/ American spread over in Asia.

For the longest time I couldn’t remember that ‘Parm’ was not an abbreviation for parmesan, though I really don’t know anymore – there are so many Chicken Parmesan recipes out there. Anyway, I was first introduced to this dish at a little Italian joint in Providence’s infamous Italian neighborhood, Federal Hill.  I liked the description on the menu and ordered it. I was so excited when it arrived because I just knew it was going to be good… and OMG, it seriously was. I immediately fell in love with the different textures (soft, crispy, juicy) – I’m big on a variety of  textures, that’s really important for me in a dish – and needed to figure out a way to replicate the plate for myself.

So here’s my take on this Italian favorite. It involves a pseudo-homemade tomato sauce (I like to make things easy for myself, when I can), whole wheat spaghetti, a deliciously baked chicken cutlet, and most importantly fresh basil leaves, which the husbo & I grow in our little balcony garden.

IMG_4630_copy

Chicken Parmigiana

1 lb 99% fat free chicken breast cutlets (thinly sliced)
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup pasta sauce (I prefer classico’s red pepper)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 packet of shake’n bake
1 egg, beaten
pinch of cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 leaves basil chiffonade
whole wheat spaghetti
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 cup italian blend cheese, grated
salt & pepper (to taste)
1 tsp italian seasoning
extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat the oven at 400℉ and begin by prepping the chicken. Wash thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Lightly sprinkle each side with salt & pepper. Do the same with the cornstarch, being sure to really massage it in.

Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Pour the packet of Shake’N Bake into a shallow dish, and the beaten egg into a separate dish – creating a little assembly line. Dip the cutlet in the beaten egg, and then dredge in the Shake’N Bake. Place on the baking tray.

The baking tray goes onto the middle shelf of the oven, for 20 minutes… or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165℉. If you don’t have a thermometer (I don’t) you can just check the color of the meat, making sure it’s not pinkish (this is super important, because let me tell you: Salmonella is friends with no one!) and check it’s juiciness by piercing it with a fork.

Coat a medium sauce pot with extra virgin olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, crushed red pepper; cook and stir for 5 minutes until the onions are browned, soft & fragrant. Carefully add the tomatoes (they enjoy splashing everywhere), stir and cover for 3-5 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to get mushy. Add the Italian seasoning, tomato paste, and pasta sauce – stir thoroughly. As the sauce thickens, I prefer to keep the tomatoes chunky, but feel free to use a hand blender to smooth it out – if that’s what you like. Season with sugar, salt & pepper. Stir thoroughly, lower the heat, cover, and keep warm for later.

Don’t forget to prepare the pasta while the chicken is cooking! I’m not a huge fan of plain pasta, so I keep a little bit of the tomato sauce on the side and mix it into the spaghetti before serving.

IMG_4634_copy

Ladle the tomato sauce over the baked chicken cutlet and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and garnish with the basil chiffonade.

Serve hot with spaghetti and enjoy!