I know, broccoli is controversial (though not quite as much as brussels sprouts). Some love it, some hate it. If you’re not a broccoli fan, this recipe for oven roasted lemon garlic broccoli might change your mind. Roasting helps reduce the bitterness and gives the broccoli a nutty flavor (from the caramelization). It also makes the broccoli crispy outside, tender and sweet inside.
I have used frozen broccoli florets, because they cook more quickly (and I had a big bag of them). This is also more practical, since it’s tough for one person to eat an entire head of broccoli all at once! This way I can take out just what I need and the rest can stay frozen until I want it for something else.
Plus, frozen vegetables often have more vitamins and better nutrition than fresh vegetables do. That’s because the frozen version has been picked and then preserved (by freezing) immediately, while fresh produce may have traveled for days from some other state (or even country) before it gets to your supermarket.
If you have fresh broccoli (or a farmer’s market nearby), you can use that too. Don’t toss out the stems, they are just as good as the florets. They do cook faster (and better) if you remove the tough outer layer from the stems first. A vegetable peeler will work just fine for this.
You’ll also need to cook fresh broccoli a bit longer (since the frozen broccoli has been blanched first). Roast the fresh broccoli for about 25 minutes. If you like it super-crispy, roast it for half an hour (turning it once).
This recipe makes me smile whenever I make it. You may wonder what’s so funny about linguine with garlic and olive oil? Nothing really, it just reminds me of a friend.
This friend does not cook. At all. I don’t think she’s ever used her oven. I was at her house one day and I was hungry. Nobody else wanted anything, so I started poking around in her fridge and cupboards (with permission).
I found some dried pasta, bouillon cubes, some olive oil, and a can of parmesan cheese. So, I made the “shelf stable” version of this recipe. They all looked at me as if I had walked on water or parted the seas!
It is, of course, much better if you have higher quality ingredients at hand. Here at home, I used fresh linguine, homemade chicken broth, and freshly grated parmesan cheese, along with high quality olive oil.
You can do it that way, the shelf stable way, or somewhere in-between. I won’t judge.
A simple, weeknight dinner you can make even if your cupboards are nearly bare! It can be fancy (fresh pasta), or simple and basic (shelf stable ingredients). Great for those, what the heck do I eat for dinner nights. A lot of flavor without a lot of effort.
3 garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil
2 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/3 cup chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add the oil to a small frying pan. Put the garlic in the pan and cook over medium heat. until it turns slightly golden. Don't burn it! Stir it every once in a while, then turn off the heat and set it aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt.
If you are using dried pasta, add it, then stir it (to keep it from sticking).
Cook for 5-8 minutes until it's al dente (soft, but not mushy).
If you have fresh pasta, add it, stir, and watch carefully. The pasta is cooked when the water returns to a boil (a minute or two).
Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot.
Add the chicken broth and turn the heat back on to medium. Let the pasta/broth mixture simmer for a few minutes until most of the broth is absorbed.
Take the garlic/oil mixture you set aside and add that to the pasta pot. Using a spoon and a fork, toss the whole thing together, like a salad.
Remove to a plate and serve, topped with black pepper and grated cheese.
Substitutions and Variations for Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil
Make it more substantial with some cooked chicken or cooked shrimp
In my head, this was Roman spinach. Then I looked and realized that was a completely different recipe (with pine nuts and raisins). I was wrong about the Roman part, but at least sauteed garlic parmesan spinach is really Italian.
The recipe that inspired this called for blanching and baking the spinach and then broiling everything. That was too much bother! I’ve adapted it to make it simpler and easier.
This way, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare. It will go nicely, I think, with a simple pan fried fish, or grilled fish. Or, serve it with a steak.
Unlike the Roman spinach (which would have required a trip to get pine nuts), this sauteed spinach is made from everyday ingredients you probably already have at home. No special shopping trip needed!
This is all my brother’s fault. He was raving about the Sichuan Chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauce that he had at a local restaurant. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and I already had the eggplant (bought to make eggplant parmesan), so I figured I would give it a try.
This recipe is adapted from The New York Times. It originally called for minced garlic, soybean paste, and hot chili paste. I had the garlic, but not the other ingredients, so I improvised. I replaced the soybean paste with hoisin sauce, and used chili garlic sauce instead of the garlic and chili paste. Doing that also saved me an extra step (no garlic to chop). I reduced the water a bit to compensate. That recipe also called for ground pork (which I didn’t have because I’d eaten the last of it with my black beans, so I used chicken instead).
Eggplant is notorious for soaking up oil. There are several schools of thought about preparing eggplant in order to minimize this.
Some insist you have to salt it and let it sit (to draw out the water) and dry it with a paper towel and let it sit for 45 minutes. Others say to put it in water, salt the water, cover that with a lid or a heavy weight, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain, and dry it off.
A third way (which I just learned, and wouldn’t necessarily do for Chinese food), is to soak the eggplant in milk.
I tend to use the first method, but I confess I usually don’t wait that long. I’m too impatient (and hungry). I get around it by slicing the eggplant very thin.
If you want your eggplant extra crispy, dredge it in cornstarch before you cook it.
Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
8-12 thin slices of eggplant
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp potato starch or corn starch
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 tsp hoisin sauce
2 T neutral oil
1 chicken thigh
Slice the eggplant and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle it with a bit of salt, toss everything together and let it sit while you go on to the next step.
In a separate, small bowl, make the sauce. Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, and starch (potato or corn) until the starch dissolves. Add the water, chili garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce.
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan or wok.
Slice the meat off the chicken thigh (if you are using bone-in), or cut into strips if you have a boneless thigh (I always get the bone-in, toss the bone in the pan first, let it cook a few minutes longer than the rest, and save it for stock).
Cook the chicken for 5 minutes. Once it's done, transfer it to a plate while you cook the eggplant.
Dry the eggplant with a paper towel.
Add the remaining oil to the pan. When it gets hot, add the eggplant slices.
Cook, stirring, and turning the eggplant occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it's brown and slightly crispy.
Now add the sauce. Cook another minute or so, then add the chicken back to the pan.
Raise the heat to high and bring the entire thing to a boil. Let that cook for a minute or two.
Sweet, slightly tangy and great for this dish, as well as marinades. Try it with a simple pork roast, sliced and served with steamed bread and scallions. Or, marinate fish with garlic, hoisin, and five spice powder. It’s also great in stir fries.
In case you haven’t guessed (since I keep mentioning it), I love this stuff. It’s got more heat than sriracha (which has sugar), plus the extra flavor boost from garlic. I put it on eggs, in marinades, stir-fries, veggies, enchiladas, soup. Someone on Amazon mentioned mixing it with some plum sauce and cooking it with chicken. I’m going to try that next!
If you want to be authentic, get the chili paste. Use it for this recipe, or for making Thai or Indonesian recipes. It makes a great starting base for marinades and sauces. Mix it into meatloaf or top some scrambled eggs. Think of it as sriracha with more kick.
Lamb is one of my favorite foods and this lamb breast recipe for one is a great meal for a lazy, cold winter weekend. It cooks slowly and heats up the house nicely. It’s mostly set it and forget it, so you can do other things while dinner cooks (and your home fills with the fragrance of lamb).There’s very little fussing.
First, you boil it gently for an hour or so, and then you roast it. This makes the meat tender and delicious.
It’s also generally a cheaper cut of meat than lamb chops or a roast. I spotted it on sale at the local supermarket for a mere $3.99 a pound, so I pounced!
This dish was inspired by a Jacques Pepin recipe, but naturally, even with a master chef as a guide, I felt compelled to change it a bit. The original recipe called for vegetable oil, parsley, and bread crumbs.
I’m not a big fan of vegetable oil (olive oil has more flavor, and it fits the dish better, I think). I never have parsley around, but I do have a pot of fresh rosemary, so I used that instead. Too much bread bothers my stomach, so I replaced the bread crumbs with oatmeal.
And, of course, I reduced the original amounts to make it for one person (although, the recipe is so good, you may want to make extra and save it for dinner another day).
You can save the broth you get from the initial boiling and use it to make Scotch broth (with some barley). One warning though, that pot will get a bit greasy from the lamb fat.
One Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Lamb breast provencale for one
Two or three ribs from a lamb breast
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C oatmeal, ground up in your mini-chopper (or use a blender, or use quick-cooking oats)*
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 T olive oil
Fill a medium saucepan with water and add the lamb breasts. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Let the lamb boil for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the meat from the pot with tongs and place it in a roasting pan. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the lamb for 30 minutes.
While the lamb is cooking, grind up the oatmeal (if you use the regular kind) in a mini chopper or blender. Then add the garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Pulse it to combine the ingredients, and chop up the garlic.
Take the meat out of the oven with a pair of tongs and set the pan on top of the stove or a trivet. Spoon the oatmeal garlic mixture over the top of the lamb, using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly over the meat.
Put the lamb back in the oven and bake for another half an hour.
Remove and serve.
You can use bread crumbs or panko if you prefer (instead of the oatmeal).
The original recipe suggested spreading the bread crumb (oatmeal) mixture with your fingers. Ow! No thanks, I don't have iron fingers.
It’s much easier to lift the lamb out of the saucepan and remove it from the roasting pan with these tongs. They lock in place for storage, clean easily, and grip tightly. The ends are covered in nylon so they won’t scratch your pans if they’re nonstick.
I just bought this pan to replace one that gave up the ghost. It’s nonstick, not too heavy, and fairly wide and shallow. It’s the perfect size for the lamb breast or several pieces of chicken. The handles do get hot, but with potholders, it’s easy to transfer from the stove to the oven. I also like that it comes with a clear glass lid. I haven’t used it for the pan yet, but it’s great for covering my large frying pan.