Posts tagged ‘Cheat Dishes’

June 2, 2015

Revisited: Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers

Gazpacho Redux

With both the legislative session and school winding down, I’m making it a goal this summer to really explore one or two international cuisines. I realized recently that not really having the opportunity to cook for several months has left me in something of a culinary rut. I think a deep dive into the subtleties of a specific palette is just what the chef-doctor ordered.

And since a visit to Spain many years ago was what really piqued my interest in cooking, so it only seemed like a fitting place to return.

Almost four years ago (!) when I had just started this blog, I posted a recipe for one of the most ubiquitous of Spanish dishes – gazpacho. Here is what I wrote at the time:

There are hundreds of ways to spice up a gazpacho recipe – and believe me, I’ll be back here with some of my own takes down the road – but for a quick, refreshing dish on a hot day, you can’t beat the original.

Don’t say I’m not a man of my word.

Technically the addition of bread to this dish would make it salmorejo, the less famous cousin of gazpacho, but it’s largely the same concept. This recipe is a bit heartier – enough to be a light meal by itself – but still delightful for a warm summer day. The fried capers offer little bursts of salt and vinegar that help break up the flavor of the soup. The pea shoots, meanwhile, are a beautiful visual addition that also provide some diversity in texture.

Traditional? Not as much. Delicious? Sí.

Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers


  • Food processor


  • 1/3 cup crusty bread, preferably a bit stale, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for plating
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1/2 cup pea shoots


  1. Place the cubed bread in a small bowl with the vinegar. Let it stand until all of the liquid has been absorbed so that the bread is slightly soggy.
  2. Roughly chop the red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and garlic. Don’t worry about getting them too small or the same size.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables to food processor along with the bread, pimentón, cumin and quarter cup of olive oil. Blend to your desired consistency (there are all manner of opinions on how much you should blend your gazpacho. I’m a fan of almost completely smooth, but it’s up to you).
  4. Chill the soup for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Feel free to let it sit overnight, as the flavors only develop over time.
  5. To serve, fry your capers in a small sauce pan with a dash of oil until lightly crisped and beginning to lose their shape, about 2-3 minutes. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the gazpacho and top with a handful of capers and the pea shoots.
July 18, 2014

Chipotle Grilled Corn


Chipotle Grilled Corn

What’s the best way to beat the heat? Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire. And by “fire,” I mean this Chipotle Grilled Corn.

This corn the cob is the first in what’s sure to be a long string of grilling-related recipes, as I finally purchased my very own grill a few weeks ago. Although you can emulate some of the mechanics of a grill by using the broil function of your oven, I don’t believe there is a real substitute for freshly grilled meats and vegetables. Grabbing a small grill off craigslist or making friends with your neighbors who have one is highly recommended.

As for this recipe, it really couldn’t be simpler once you have the right equipment. At just four ingredients, it definitely qualifies as a cheat dish. I promise that you won’t feel cheated at all by the wonderful union of sweet and heat that you bite into though.

This recipe is a perfect example. A proper searing on the grill brings caramelizes the outer layer of the corn, bringing out it’s natural sweetness. It’s paired with out the smokey and devilishly spicy flavor of the chipotle pepper and tamed just so by creaminess of the butter to make for an easy, delicious side.

Serve these bad boys up with some carne asada or barbecued chicken and enjoy with some sangria. You could even invite over some friends – assuming you’re willing to share.

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April 27, 2014

Cauliflower Carrot Salad

Carrot Cauliflower Salad

This is a simple but delicious salad that’s perfect for the warm days of Spring and Summer.

The cauliflower and carrot are a wonderful base, but the real star of this salad is the dressing. When Maggie and I were on vacation recently we stopped by an artisan oil and vinegar shop and found a delicious lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar. It’s tangy and herbal, sweet and acidic – and it makes the perfect base for dressing! Pairing it with refreshing parsley makes for a wonderful little salad.

If you can’t find a lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar – a very real possibility – then you could certainly make your own. Allowing some pulverized mint and lemongrass to sit in white wine or white balsamic vinegar will give you a perfectly serviceable home substitute.

Whip this up for a picnic or a big barbecue party and enjoy!

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January 14, 2014

Chipotle-Espresso Braised Rib-Eye Roast


(Blogger’s note – my job has called me down to the state capital for the legislative session. For the next few months I’ll be working longer and more irregular hours, but I’ll do my best to keep the new recipes coming!)

Are you in a post-holiday slump? Are you beset on all sides by the doldrums of winter?

Well if you are (heck, even if you aren’t) this recipe is the perfect remedy. On one hand it’s bold and upbeat, combining spicy chipotle with rich and dark espresso flavors to create a robust forefront of tastes. At the same time, it pulls in the classic winter flavors of slow roasted beef that will fill your stomach and warm your heart. The wonderful contrast between the outer char and the pull-apart interior is icing on the metaphorical cake.

But arguably the best part about this dish is that it’s as simple as it is mind-bogglingly delicious. If you can mix spices in a bowl, rub them on a chunk of beef, and put that beef in an enclosed container, then you can make this dish. I used a dutch oven for mine, but even that’s not really necessary. Any oven-safe vessel that can be covered will work to slow cook the rib-eye to sweet, fork-tender oblivion.

I served this with the Wild Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi that I just posted and not a soul was left unhappy. Give it a try the next time you’re looking to cook up an impressive meal!

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July 30, 2013

Watermelon Salsa

Watermelon Salsa

In case you missed my last post, earlier this month I had a lovely vacation in Southwest Colorado. It was a wonderful chance to catch up with family and get some much needed R&R – and to learn several new delicious recipes!

I sipped on a delicious and refreshing Bayfield Breeze the first day I was there, but it wasn’t until a few days later at our family reunion I tried another must-post recipe: Watermelon Salsa.

I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about how well watermelon would work when my cousin-in-law first told me about this salsa – but I was a convert after my very first bite. The slight sugary-ness of the watermelon is actually a perfect substitute for the subtle sweetness of tomatoes, and actually does a better job of absorbing the other flavors of the salsa for a more cohesive whole.

This salsa is a simple and delicious seasonal substitute for your run-of-the-mill Pico de Gallo. Whip some up today!

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June 8, 2013

Chorizo and Yam Hash

Chorizo Yam Hash

You know what the best thing about brunch is?

Trick question, everything about brunch is amazing. It’s the perfect combination of flavor, flair, comfort and sociability. Brunch can be light and airy or decadent enough for two meals – which it just so happens to be, so you don’t even need to feel guilty when you eat that chicken fried steak or eggs benedict.

But still, brunch has a fatal flaw: it’s best served lazy.

That’s fine if you want to drag yourself out of bed and stroll over to your favorite brunch spot, but what if you want to indulge in the comfort of your own home? Many brunch dishes are as complicated as they are luxurious, making a lazy mid-morning meal almost impossible.

Fear not, this Chorizo and Yam Hash recipe is the solution to your brunch conundrum. It’s low on ingredients, short on instructions, but packed full of meaty chorizo, sweet and savory yams, and sharp manchego goodness – perfect for a lazy at-home brunch!

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April 3, 2013

Rosemary, Goat Cheese and Honey Crostini

(Recipe developed by light-bites wizard Maggie Humphreys)

Rosemary Goat Cheese Bruschetta

I had an unfortunate realization the other day. For a blog entitled Rosemary Renaissance, there is an astonishing lack of recipes that actually involve rosemary.

Luckily these crostinis are just what this blog needs to start living up to it’s name. Goat cheese and honey are a classic sweet and salty pairing that work wonders on top of a crusty baguette. Combined with a little rosemary to imbue a spark of piney zest, these two-bite morsels are packed with simple but robust flavors.

This crostini dish is super easy to make – it’s even filed it under my slightly dusty “cheat dish” tag – but it’ll be a big hit at your next party!

(Protip: when eating, turn the bread sideways before taking a bite. That way you’re not shaking your head back and forth trying to tear through the crust – like I did.)

Rosemary, Goat Cheese and Honey Crostini


  • 1 baguette, cut into slices
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 rosemary sprigs, destemmed


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. On each slice, spread a generous pat of goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, and 3-4 pieces of rosemary.
  2. Place all the slices onto a baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the goat cheese is starting to melt. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes.
  3. Eat!
August 20, 2011

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is easy, right? Just tomato, onion, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro and lime – nothing special.

So why do we so often buy it at a grocery store?

Homemade Pico de Gallo tastes way better than store-bought, and tends to be substantially lower in sodium (even if you’re buying your favorite extra-super-organic variety). It can be made in large batches and even stores well. As with most other culinary endeavors, it’s more than worth the effort to make it yourself.

Nearly everyone has had Pico de Gallo at some point in their life, so I won’t go on and on extolling the virtues of this dish. Suffice to say, it is crisp, refreshing, a bit spicy, and crazy addictive.

Of course, I must also admit that I chose this recipe primarily because my garden (!) is finally yielding veggies to work with.  The Pico de Gallo pictured uses tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño grown out on my front porch along with local, organic onion and garlic from the farmers market. After a rather unsuccessful crop last year, I couldn’t resist showing off just a bit.

Pico de Gallo

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 5-8 cilantro stems, picked and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt (optional)


  1. Combined all ingredients in a bowl. Salt to taste, toss to combine and serve.
August 15, 2011

Green Salad with Strawberry and Curried Sesame Seeds

Even with the days growing shorter and then sun shining a bit less brightly, it’s still the perfect weather for a light summer salad.

This dish is the epitome of simple, unencumbered food. The tart strawberries, earthy Parmesan, and spicy-sweet sesame seeds are all bold flavors that won’t weigh you down as you frolic through the rest of the evening. In fact, they work so well together that this salad doesn’t even need any sort of dressing, making it quite healthy for you as well. It works perfectly by itself but also makes an excellent starter or side for a seafood or poultry entree.

Whether you’re looking for something light, something simple, or something bold, this salad will do the trick!

Green Salad with Strawberry and Curried Sesame Seeds

  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons curry power (hot or mild, depending on your taste)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Place a cast iron pan on a stove and heat to medium-low. Empty the sesame seeds into the pan and toast until lightly browned, approximately 2-3 minutes (sesame seeds burn easier than other seeds and nuts, so be careful)
  2. Drizzle the butter over the sesame seeds, sprinkle the sugar and curry over the pan and toss several times to coat evenly. Allow the seeds to cook for 3-5 additional minutes so the sugar caramelizes lightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least ten minutes.
  3. While waiting, prepare the rest of the salad. When the seeds have cooled, sprinkle them over the top and serve.
July 26, 2011


If you couldn’t tell, I’m on a bit of a Spanish kick.

First, with the rustic, tangy Romesco Sauce and now with this Spanish culinary classic, Gazpacho.  Although Spanish food doesn’t have quite the reputation of French or Italian, it’s a highly underrated cuisine worthy of far more attention than it receives.

Gazpacho is a vegetable soup that is a served chilled for lunch or as a starter or side during dinner.  It only has a few ingredients (it definitely qualifies as a cheat dish, one which is easy to make can still be impressive), but the flavors work marvelously together.  The vegetable medley creates a strong foundation that is paired with some light spice from the raw onion and finished with smoky paprika and cumin notes.

Chilled, as it is meant to be served, makes it the perfect dish for a warm summer day (sure to return to Seattle soon, right? Right?).  In addition, this lighter version omits the bread, making this a raw-vegan dish – for those of you who care about that sort of thing.

There are hundreds of ways to spice up a Gazpacho recipe – and believe me, I’ll be back here with some of my own takes down the road – but for a quick, refreshing dish on a hot day, you can’t beat the original.


  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 red peppers, cored and seeded
  • 1 cucumber, seeded
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (either white wine or apple cider)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper


  1. Chop the tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber and onion into half inch cubes.  Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse on the lowest setting until lightly blended.
  2. Chill for at least one hour before serving.  (The longer you allow it to chill, however, the more the flavors will develop, so leave some leftovers!)
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