Healthy Recipe, Charred Zucchini and Scallion Pasta

It’s amazing how much depth of flavor can be achieved from basic ingredients with a few tweaks in the cooking, as Yasmin Fahr demonstrates in this recipe from “Cook Simply, Live Fully.” Here, summer squash, which tends to be bland, is charred first in a dry skillet with thin slivers of lemon and scallions. Olive oil, grated Parmesan, and the starchy water from the cooked pasta transforms into a creamy sauce rich with umami rather than fat. Not only is it healthy, delicious, and filling, but it’s also easy on the wallet and a snap to make. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 2 large or 3 medium zucchini or other summer squash
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 scallions
  • ¾ pound rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, or other short tubular dried pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more, as needed
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with about a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, halve the zucchini or squash lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut into ½-inch-thick half-moons and set aside.
  2. Cut the lemon in half. Leave one half of the lemon whole for squeezing. Slice the other half into thin rounds, poke the seeds out, and cut the slices into ¼-inch-thick matchsticks. Set aside. Then trim the roots and thinly slice scallions.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until slightly underdone by a minute or two. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a dry 12-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini to the dry pan, season lightly with salt, spread out in an even layer and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Then flip with a spatula, scooting some of the slices up to rest on the sides of the pan if it looks crowded. Allow the slices to cook again, undisturbed, for 2 more minutes. Repeat this flipping process in 2-minute increments until the zucchini is browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes total.
  6. Add the sliced lemon and scallions to the zucchini and cook until softened, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the olive oil and season lightly with salt.
  7. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cooked pasta, ½ cup of the pasta water, and ¾ cup of the Parmesan, stirring well to form a creamy sauce. Add more water if the sauce looks too dry or more cheese if the sauce looks too watery.
  8. Remove from the heat, squeeze in the reserved lemon half, and stir. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Healthy Recipe, Indian Okra

Okra is a staple of the American South: fried, pickled, stirred into gumbos. It’s also the primary component of a popular North Indian dish called bhindi (okra) masala, the inspiration behind this recipe lightly adapted from William Stark Dissen’s “Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes in the New South.” Bursting with bright curry spices and fresh herbs, it’s also loaded with nutrients and fiber. Pair it with rice and a yogurt-based sauce to make a quick vegetarian meal in a bowl. Serves 4.

Cucumber Raita: 

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste

Okra and Tomato Stew:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound okra, stems trimmed and sliced crosswise ½ inch thick
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Jasmine or other white rice and lime wedges for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the raita: In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, cilantro, mint, lime juice, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the stew: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes; cook and stir for a minute more. Add the okra; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
  4. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender but not mushy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in half the cilantro, lime juice, and garam masala.
  5. Divide the okra among serving bowls and garnish each with a dollop of raita and the remaining cilantro. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe, Quinoa Bowls 

This one-bowl vegetarian dish adapted from Clarissa Stanton’s new cookbook, “Seriously, So Good,” is so filling and flavor-packed, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you. And it’s a snap to assemble. Toss together chickpeas and veggies with a little olive oil and seasonings. Then roast them on a sheet pan while you blend lemony tahini sauce. Heap the roasted veggies and chickpeas artfully into a bowl alongside diced avocado and quinoa. Serves 4.
Roasted Chickpeas and Vegetables

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ to ½ cup hot water (or more, as needed)

Bowls

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese or vegan feta (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, broccoli, red pepper and red onion. Add the olive oil, turmeric, garlic powder, ginger, salt, and pepper and toss to coat evenly.
  2. Spread out in a single layer on a large sheet pan and roast 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  3. Blend tahini, garlic, lemon juice, syrup or honey, salt, and cayenne. Slowly add hot water until the sauce is pourable.
  4. Scoop ½ cup of the quinoa into each bowl and divide the roasted chickpeas and vegetables, avocado, and feta between the bowls.
  5. Drizzle with the lemon-tahini sauce.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe, Chicken Thighs with Limes  

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a low-fat, low-cost protein source that’s convenient to have on hand. But without the skin and bones to keep them moist and hold them together, they can use some extra TLC in the prep. Here’s one fast and easy idea worth keeping in your back pocket, adapted from a recipe in Yasmin Fahr’s “Cook Simply, Live Fully. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, as needed
  • 2 limes, zested and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint
  • Rice and green salad for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1.  Heat a broiler with a rack 6 inches from the heat source to high.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, Parmesan, sumac (if using), cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, the lime zest, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir to coat.
  3. Arrange the lime rounds on a sheet pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up if desired). Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and spread them out. Arrange the chicken pieces on the pan.
  4. Set the pan under the broiler and broil until the tops of the chicken pieces are lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and broil 4 or 5 minutes longer, or until the chicken starts to darken. (To test for doneness, cut through a thick piece with a knife to see if the juices run clear.) If the chicken is charring too quickly, move the pan down a rack to finish cooking.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chicken and limes (which you can eat) with the herbs.  Serve with rice and salad, if desired.

Healthy Recipe, Rice Noodles, Shrimp and Cucumbers with Thai Flavors

Prik nam pla is the name of that little bowl of spicy, tangy, slightly sweet sauce on tables at Thai restaurants. The essential components are fish sauce, lime juice, chiles, and a touch of sweetener. Here, a version of that super-simple formula serves as a dressing for a light and lively whole-meal salad of rice noodles (often sold as pad thai noodles), shrimp, and a few vegetables and herbs. It’s based on one in Nigel Slater’s “A Cook’s Book.” Serves 2-3.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine, found in Asian food sections)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • Juice of 2 or 3 limes (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 minced chile pepper (Thai, serrano, or whatever you have), or dried red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 minced garlic clove (optional)
  • 8 ounces peeled, large raw shrimp
  • ½ medium cucumber, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, grated (optional)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 4 ounces flat rice noodles (as for pad thai)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the fish sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, chile or pepper flakes, and garlic (if desired.) Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and set it aside for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain in a colander.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, add the shrimp, reserving the marinade, and let them cook for 2 minutes, just until they turn pink.
  4. Remove the shrimp to a large bowl and set aside. Then pour the marinade into the empty skillet and allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes until it’s reduced by about half.
  5. Add the drained noodles to the bowl, along with the cucumbers, carrot (if using), cilantro, and mint. Pour the hot marinade over the mixture and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe: Coconut Cream Overnight Oats

If you’re a fan of coconut cream pie, you’ll love this genius make-ahead breakfast idea lightly adapted from a recipe in Kat Ashmore’s “Big Bites.” Thickened with tiny, antioxidant-rich chia seeds, these grab-and-go treats are creamy, filling, refreshing, and packed with nutrients and fiber. A sprinkling of toasted coconut adds crunch. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional toppings: toasted shredded unsweetened coconut, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mango, banana, toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Have ready four 12- to 16-ounce lidded wide-mouthed glass jars or other containers.
  2.  Shake or stir the coconut milk to blend if the cream and water have separated, then pour 1 cup of the blended coconut milk into a large bowl.
  3. Add the almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, oats, chia seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide among the jars, cover with lids, and refrigerate overnight. (The oats will keep in the refrigerator up to a week.)
  5. Serve with coconut or fruit of choice.

 

Healthy Recipe, Shrimp Bowls

Try this this health-packed, one-bowl meal adapted from a recipe in Michelle Braxton’s “Supper with Love.” No fancy ingredients needed. The trick is to cook the vegetables and shrimp separately, but in a pan that’s just hot enough to turn the surface of a nice shade of golden. A dab of butter is added in the last minute when the shrimp are almost done, along with the garlic and tamari, bringing out the garlic’s aroma without burning it.  Squeeze citrus over the shrimp and you’re ready to assemble your bowl with the cooked veggies and grain of choice. Serves 3-4. Ingredients3 or 4 tablespoons Spicy Mayo Sauce (recipe below)Shrimp and Vegetables: 

  • 1-pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if frozen)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 or 7 grindings freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil (plus more as needed)
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips or bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ lemon or lime

For assembly: 

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, quinoa, or other grains
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Make the Spicy Mayo Sauce as directed below; refrigerate until serving.
  2. Place the shrimp in a bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper; set aside.
  3. In a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini slices, onions, and bell pepper and cook, undisturbed, on one side about 3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to turn caramelize. Give it a stir and sauté until the onions and peppers are softened and the zucchini is cooked through but still a bit firm, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to the skillet if needed and set on medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook on one side until pink and slightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook on the other side a minute or two longer, just until pink and opaque, taking care not to overcook. Add the butter and once melted, add the garlic and tamari and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Squeeze the lemon or lime juice over the shrimp and season with a little salt and pepper if desired. Remove from the heat.
  6. Assemble the bowls: Add a scoop of rice or grain of choice to each bowl. Top with shrimp and vegetables. Drizzle with some of the Spicy Mayo Sauce, sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds, and eat.

Spicy Mayo Sauce Makes about 2/3 cup Ingredients

  • ½ cup mayonnaise (vegan is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha or other hot chili sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water, plus more, as needed

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, tamari or soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon of water, or enough to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Transfer to a small airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to a week.

—  Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe, Paprika Chicken 

Here’s a way to achieve juicy, crispy-all-over chicken without a rotisserie: Skip the pan and roast the chicken pieces directly on the oven rack. Rub the pieces with smoked paprika for a boost of bold Spanish flavor before popping them in the oven along with the pan of veggies, toss together a simple green salad while they roast, and feast. Serves 4 to 6. Simplified from Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food.”  – Susan Puckett Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold or other potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks
  • 2 lor 3 sweet bell peppers, cored and cut in bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, extra sprigs (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or chicken pieces of choice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a small cooling rack on the grates of the middle rack in the oven.
  2. Place potatoes and peppers on a large sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves (if using) along with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and toss well.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the other tablespoon of olive oil, vinegar, paprika, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Place the pan of vegetables on the bottom rack of the oven and set the chicken pieces skin-side up on the cooling rack directly over the vegetables, allowing the juices to drip through the grates onto the vegetables.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes, pull out pan of vegetables, and give it a good shake. Lay sprigs of thyme over the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and roast 5 to 10 more minutes, or until chicken and potatoes are fully cooked through. Serve hot.

—  Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe, Salmon Patties

There are many great reasons for always keeping a can of salmon in your pantry: It’s inexpensive, has a long shelf life, and is an excellent source of protein and good-for-the-heart omega 3s. And with a few other staples it can transform into a delicious dinner in minutes. This is a case in point. Both the patties and the sauce are infinitely adaptable to other tasty tidbits you have on hand. Serves 4-6. – Susan Puckett Sauce

  • ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salmon Patties

  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can salmon
  • ½ cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more, as needed

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, capers, lemon juice, and zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Drain the salmon, reserving the liquid. Place the salmon in a medium bowl. Add breadcrumbs, onion, egg, and mustard; mix well to combine.
  • Shape the mixture into 8 to 12 patties and set them on a tray, adding reserved liquid from the salmon if the mixture is too dry. Line a plate with paper towels and set near the stove.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and add patties, leaving several inches of space in between. Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Add a little more oil and repeat with the remaining patties.
  • Serve patties with the sauce.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

Healthy Recipe, Broiled Gochujang-Glazed Salmon

Gochujang is a Korean fermented pepper paste with a spicy-sweet, pungent flavor that can take the bland out of practically anything. Here it’s the key ingredient in a simple glaze that’s brushed on omega-rich salmon fillets. Pair it with your favorite green vegetable or any grain for a simple but elegant meal. Leftovers are great flaked into a rice bowl with veggies. Adapted from skinnytaste.com. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett Ingredients

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 or 2 thinly sliced scallions
  • Black or white toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Position a rack 4 to 5 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler to high.
  2. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking oil spray. Set aside.
  3. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the gochujang, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger until blended.
  4. Place the salmon on the prepared pan (skin-side down if skin on) and sprinkle lightly with salt. Run under the broiler for 2 minutes.
  5. Brush the salmon with the glaze and broil 3 to 5 minutes longer, depending on thickness, just when the flesh begins to flake when pressed with a fork.
  6. Transfer to a platter or serving plate and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds, if desired.