Greek-Style Roasted Red Potatoes

Apparently, once we have some success with a particular cuisine or style of cooking, we make a lot of recipes in that same style.  Variety may be the spice of life, but Greek flavors seem to be the singular focus of our kitchen and blog these days.  (Tabouli recipe coming soon!)  We had some red potatoes on hand and needed a side to go with this Greek shrimp dish, so we did a search for “red potato” on the Epicurious site, then narrowed the results by clicking the “meal/course” and “side” categories and found this recipe, which we adapted by roasting the potatoes instead of just boiling them.  The resulting recipe is similar to our regular roasted potatoes, but kicked up with Greek ingredients including kalamata olives, feta cheese and fresh mint.  Combining these items with potatoes might seem odd, but all the flavors came together well in a fresh, slightly salty and tangy side dish that complemented the tomato sauce of the shrimp main dish very well.

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Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp

We recently discovered how simple it can be to cook Greek food at home, and we’re always looking for good new recipes using shrimp.  Not only is this Greek recipe easy, but it’s also a delicious and healthy way to cook one of our favorite crustaceans.  The ingredients are items we usually have on hand:  shrimp, an onion, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, a can of whole tomatoes and feta cheese.  If you like Greek flavors with a hint of spice, and you like shrimp and tomatoes, you will enjoy this savory dish.

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Slow-Cooker Posole

As much as we like to use our slow-cooker for hearty, comfort-food meals when it’s cold out, we’re also making an effort to use it more often this spring and summer for lighter fare.  Posole (pronounced “po-SO-lay”) is a brothy stew that seems more light than traditional beef stew, possibly due to the mild flavor of the hominy that serves as the base of the soup.  But far from bland or boring, posole has layers of spicy and savory flavor from the hominy, chicken broth, browned pork, mirepoix (combo of onion, celery and carrot), green chiles, soy sauce, garlic and spices.  This stew can be further dressed up with tons of garnish options:  shredded lettuce or cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped green onions, diced avocado, pumpkin seeds, salsa, lime, cilantro, etc., etc.  There are almost as many different recipe options for posole as garnishes — we adapted ours from a recipe in this book, one of our favorite sources for slow-cooker ideas.  This was the first time we had ever made (or eaten) posole and we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it.  Although posole is often served during Christmas or New Year’s holidays, we like it as a warm-weather dish, since it’s filling enough to be a full meal, but not so stick-to-your-ribs heavy that you feel like you need a nap after you eat it.

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Bean Sprout Salad

As promised, here’s the bean sprout salad recipe to accompany the recently-posted Thai-style pork patties.  We adapted Cook’s Illustrated’s original recipe by adding more vegetables and some sesame oil and leaving out the chopped peanuts.  It’s a ridiculously easy dish — just toss together bean sprouts, green onions, carrots, cucumber and cilantro with a mixture of vegetable and sesame oil, lime juice, brown sugar, sriracha and salt & pepper.  The result is a fresh, slightly spicy and flavorful salad that would go well with pretty much any Asian-style main course.  Or you could make it a meal on its own by adding leftover pork, chicken or shrimp for a filling lunch or even a light summer supper.

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Thai-Style Pork Patties

“Pork patties” may not sound very appetizing, and I’ll admit that I was skeptical about how these would turn out, but this is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, so we know it was tested extensively by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen until they got it just right.  We’re big fans of Cook’s Illustrated and subscribe to them online (great site to find tried & true recipes for dishes you may be cooking for the first time), receive their magazines at home (6 issues per year, packed with interesting cooking tips, info and recipes) and have many of their “best of” books (highly recommend this one for  weeknight cooking.)  I’m also always on the look-out for any of their special edition magazines, usually available in the grocery store.  Their Fall 2011 issue of “30-Minute Suppers” has 64 recipes that are perfect for a weeknight meal, including this pork recipe and several others we have tried and enjoyed.  But enough of this non-sponsored free commercial for Cook’s Illustrated — back to the pork patties!  We were pleasantly surprised by how delicious they turned out, most likely due to the unique combination of flavors from several Thai-style ingredients:  fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, shallot, serrano chile, lemongrass and cilantro — blended together with ground pork, an egg and fresh breadcrumbs that resulted in flavorful patties with the ideal crispy-outside-moist-inside texture.  These patties have an unexpectedly sophisticated flavor (makes me want to name them something more refined than “patties”), especially considering how quick and easy they are to prepare in under half an hour.

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Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

Here’s the final non-meat dish for this season of Lent, and we saved the best for last.  You might be surprised to find that cauliflower can constitute an entire meal (we were), but there is enough going on with this recipe to create a more than satisfying and delicious dinner made up entirely of vegetables.  We had heard of roasted cauliflower steak before and were intrigued to try it, but we (mostly me) were a little skeptical about how a slab of cooked cauliflower would actually taste.  When I found this recipe incorporating olive relish and tomato sauce, I knew we had a winner — if olives and tomatoes can make fish appetizing (and they can), we were excited to see what they could do for cauliflower.  Turns out they add a ton of rich, salty and tangy flavor to transform a roasted vegetable into an elegant meal.  An easy weeknight meal with simple ingredients:  cauliflower, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, butter, Parmesan cheese, garlic, tomatoes and salt & pepper.

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