May 162012
 

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know by now that pizza is my favorite food.  It’s not even a contest.  You’d think that a future nutritionist would try to pick something a little more vegetabely as a favorite food, but then I’d be lying.  Reasons I love pizza include but are not limited to:
1) Most varieties involve cheese.  And I love cheese.
2) There are endless possible combinations…veggies, meats, cheeses, crusts, sauces.  
3) Even though it can be considered a junk food, with whole wheat crust, low fat cheese, and healthy toppings, you don’t even have to feel guilty eating it.  
So I never miss an opportunity to try and interesting pizza recipe, so when I saw this Fig and Arugula pizza in bon apetit last month, I knew I had to try it.  





This one is a perfect appetizer to impress guests.  It has a fig/marsala reduction sauce, goat cheese, and is topped with a light salad of arugula and pear slices.  It’s a great sweet/savory combo and has so many great textural elements between the crisp crust, soft figs, creamy goat cheese, juicy pears, and crunch arugula (woahhh adjectives). 





Nutritional Highlights:  As far as pizza’s go, this one is moderately healthy.  The crust is whole wheat (yay fiber and whole grains) and I rolled it out as thin as possible so we’re not carbo loading here.  The sauce is made up of dried figs and marsala, and although dried figs have a pretty high sugar content, they’re also high in fiber, Vitamins ( K, B6, and thiamin) and minerals (copper and manganese).  The salad on top is super healthy too.  When compared to iceberg, Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce.  Pears have lots of fiber, and vitamin C and K.  As far as cheese goes, goat cheese is lower in fat and calories than many other hard cheeses, and on this pizza we only use a small amount.  So overall, this pizza is pretty darn good for you!





Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula
adapted from bon apetit

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 pear, cored, thinly sliced
  • whole wheat pizza dough (I used trader joe’s brand, but you can also make your own if you’re less lazy than I am!)
Preparation
  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add figs, Marsala, and rosemary. Increase heat. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often and adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until figs are soft and jam measures 1 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a very thin 10″ rounds. Cover with a kitchen towel. 
  • Place 1 dough round on each of 2 baking sheets (or use your pre heated pizza stone if you have one). Bake for 3–4 minutes to partially cook. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Spread 3–4 Tbsp. fig jam over each crust; scatter 2 oz. goat cheese over each. Bake in batches until crust is crisp, 4–5 minutes. 
  • Toss arugula, pear, and remaining 1 tsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Top pizzas with salad.

Aug 302011
 

There’s something really perfect about the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. One of those perfect trios like the Three Musketeers, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or Destiny’s Child.  So you may think, why add another ingredient–4’s a crowd. But in this case, it’s just making a classic combo even better. Roasted eggplant stacks with tomato, mozzarella, and pesto.  Sometimes more is more.





The best part about this was it’s simplicity. The only somewhat involved step is roasting or grilling the eggplant, but then you simply stack with tomato, mozzarella, and (gasp!) store-bought pesto. Homemade is obviously better, but my meek little basil plant wasn’t quite up to that endeavor.  Serve as an app, salad, or double the stack for a meal!





Nutritional Highlights: Tomatoes are filled with a powerful antioxidant–lycopene, plus tons of vitamin C. Basil has “flavonoids” that help protect cells from damage (like radiation) and has also been shown to have anti-bacterial properties, and this helps prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Nasunin in the skin of eggplant is an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the lipids in brain cells. Fresh mozzarella provides calcium and has less calories and fat than many other cheeses (in general, soft cheeses are better than hard cheeses). Basically, this is a healthy, seasonal, delicious appetizer or salad that will impress without leaving you exhausted!


Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoon each Balsamic Vinegar and Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • Fresh basil and parmesan for garnish
Instructions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Now an optional step: Sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt and let it sit for about a half hour.  This pulls out moisture and will help the eggplant hold its shape when cooked (but I don’t think skipping this step would be terrible).  Wipe off the salt and spread slices onto a sprayed baking sheet. Mix the oil, vinegar, and garlic and brush it on both sides of the eggplant slices.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip eggplant slices, and roast for another 10 minutes.  

While eggplant cools, slice your mozzarella and tomato.  Create your stacks by starting with one piece of eggplant, top with tomato and mozzarella, and then another piece of eggplant.  Top with pesto, fresh basil, and parmesan.  Drizzle plate with more oil and vinegar to get extra fancy.  Enjoy!
Jun 022011
 








There’s nothing better than a good bar-be-que.  When the weather finally starts to cooperate, the first thing I want to do is get outside and get grillin (or at least watch someone more grill-capable cook the food the I prepared).  But sadly, my NYC apartment does not have a spacious back yard for a grill.  So, when I was home in Chicago last weekend and my family requested a tush cook dinner, I had to take advantage of access to a great grill and an even greater griller (I call him Dad).  So, I made some flavorful and colorful yogurt-marinated chicken skewers.

The marinade was simple but added so much flavor and kept the chicken incredibly moist.  Perfect way to mix up your run-of-the-grill (get it??) bbq and impress your guests (or family, in my case).

Nutritional Highlights:  Skewers are a great way to keep your bbq tasty AND healthy.  Burgers and dogs are tasty, but chicken or shrimp skewered with lots of veggies is way better.  I paired mine with my favorite mustard roasted potatoes and a strawberry, feta, and toasted pine nut salad.  General rule of thumb–the more colorful plate you have, the better…you can’t really beat this!


Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Skewers
adapted from Baked Bree

For the chicken and marinade:
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a little extra cuz I’m crazy like that)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Veggies for skewering (red onion, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms…)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into one inch cubes

For the lemon dressing (I didn’t make this because I lost track of time and forgot, but I think it would be yummy so I’m including the recipe):
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:  Mix all the marinade ingredients.  Cut chicken into cubes and marinate for 3-6 hours (no longer or the yogurt will start breaking down the chicken).  Mix your lemon dressing, if using.  Soak your skewers in water for 30 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill.  When it’s done marinating, skewer your chicken with vegetables in between and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side (this may vary based on the size of your chick chunks).  When they chicken is done, remove for the grill, brush with the lemon dressing and serve!