Stewed Chickpeas with Spinach and Goat Cheese

This warm and fortifying vegetarian stew is adapted from one shared by Nadia Ghulam, an Afghan cook now based in Madrid, to serve to refugees for a project featured in “The World Central Kitchen Cookbook” by the humanitarian organization’s founder, chef Jose Andres. It’s quick and easy and loaded with flavor and goodness. The creamy, tangy goat cheese sauce adds an extra boost of protein and richness. Serves 4-6. – Susan Puckett

Goat Cheese Sauce:

• ½ cup whole milk or cream

• 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

• ½ teaspoon ground cumin

• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste


• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

• 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

• 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

• 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice

• 1 cup tomato puree

• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

• ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

• ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 8 ounces spinach leaves, roughly chopped

• 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, undrained

• 1 ½ cups vegetable stock or water

• Freshly ground black pepper • ½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

  1. Make the goat cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the milk, goat cheese, and cumin. Bring to a simmer over low heat (do not let it boil) and cook, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature while you make the stew.
  2. Make the stew: In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the red and green bell peppers and continue cooking until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the tomato puree, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and salt and mix well.
  4. Add the spinach in batches, stirring so that the leaves wilt into the mixture. Add the chickpeas and their liquid and the stock and increase the heat to medium-high. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the stew is thickened to desired consistency. Taste and season with pepper and more salt, if desired.
  5. Ladle the stew into bowls. Stir the goat cheese sauce well — it should be thick and creamy. Add a dollop of the sauce to each serving and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Serve warm!

Healthy Recipe, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic

For many, a holiday feast isn’t complete without a side of mashed potatoes. Make it healthier by using, cauliflower- it can make a wonderfully satisfying stand-in. You may never crave mashed potatoes again. Serves 4.


1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (cut stem into bite-size pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons goat cheese or cream cheese
½ teaspoon salt
A few grindings of black pepper (plus more, to taste)
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)


1. Place a steamer basket insert into a large saucepan; fill the pan with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Add the cauliflower, cover the pot, and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until very tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic; cook and stir until softened, taking care not to burn, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Transfer half the cauliflower to a food processor; cover and process on high until finely chopped. Add the rest of the florets, one at a time, and process until creamy. Blend in the cooked garlic with the oil, the cheeses, salt, and pepper.
5. Remove to a bowl and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with parsley or chives and serve hot.


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


Healthy Recipe, Winter Crisp

Need something to do with cranberries and apples? Try this tart and tangy fruit dessert that’s just perfect on a cold winter night. 


For filling: 

½ C sugar or sugar substitute
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
1 tsp grated lemon peel 
¾ tsp lemon juice 
5 C apples, unpeeled, sliced 
1 C cranberries 

For topping: 

⅔ C rolled oats 
⅓ C brown sugar, packed 
¼ C whole-wheat flour 
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 Tbsp soft margarine, melted 


1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2. To prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and lemon peel. Mix well. Add the lemon juice, apples, and cranberries; stir to mix. Spoon into a 6-cup baking dish.
3. To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, whole-wheat flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted margarine; stir to mix.
4. Sprinkle the topping over the filling. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From the National Institutes of Health.

Healthy Recipe, Scattered Sushi

Few of us have the time or inclination to roll sushi at home. But here’s an easy way to enjoy those flavors and textures at home when fussy presentation isn’t a priority. In her new cookbook, “The Secret of Cooking: Recipes for an Easier Life in the Kitchen” (Norton, $40), Bee Wilson suggests cooking up a batch of the sticky short grain rice used for sushi and then serving it communal style, as is often done in Japanese households, with various tidbits scattered over the top. Serves 4.


  • 1 ½ cups short-grain (sushi) rice
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 7 ounces smoked trout, salmon, or other smoked fish
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons white or black sesame seeds
  • Pickled ginger and wasabi for serving


  1. Place rinsed rice in medium pot with 1¾ cups water over medium heat and simmer. Cover, reduce heat to lowest setting, cook 12 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest, covered, 10 minutes. 
  2. In small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar and salt dissolve. Transfer warm rice to large bowl and gradually drizzle vinegar mixture over rice, mixing until grains are all coated. 
  3. Cover bowl until ready to eat. (It’s best served warm or at room temperature, but if not eaten within 2 hours it should be refrigerated.)
  4. Place rice in wide serving bowl or on platter. Tear fish into bite-size pieces. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and slice in thin half-moons. Peel, seed, and slice avocado and squeeze lemon juice over slices.
  5. Scatter fish, avocado, cucumber evenly over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger and wasabi on side.

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

Healthy Recipe, Golden Coconut Chicken

This saucy chicken stew, adapted from one in Sandra Gutierrez’s “Latinisimo: Home Recipes from the Twenty-One Countries of Latin America,” is loaded with protein and micronutrients. It’s also free of dairy, gluten, lactose, and soy. Best of all it’s easy to make, full of soothing flavors, and sure to warm you up on a chilly autumn evening. Serves 4 to 6. – Susan Puckett Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onions
  • 1 cup stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Hot, cooked rice for serving, optional


  1. Place thighs in medium bowl and sprinkle with bouillon powder, if using. Add vinegar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss to coat all chicken. Marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place a Dutch oven or wide, deep pan with lid over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. When shimmering, add onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, stirring for 6 or 7 minutes or until vegetables are soft and no longer juicy; remove to bowl and set aside.
  3. Add remaining tbsp oil to pan, along with chicken, turning the pieces until golden on all sides. Add coconut milk and reserved vegetables. Stir, making sure to scrape up browned bits at bottom of pan.
  4. Bring to full simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Allow mixture to simmer slowly until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced with fork.
  5. Uncover, raise heat to medium, and bring liquid to boil. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls, over rice if desired, sprinkle with cilantro.

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

Healthy Recipe, Minestrone

A cholesterol-free version of this classic Italian vegetable soup—brimming with fiber-rich beans, peas, and carrots. Ingredients

  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, or ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • 1⅓ C coarsely chopped onion
  • 1½ C coarsely chopped celery and leaves
  • 1 can (6 oz) no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 C sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
  • 4¾ C shredded cabbage
  • 1 can (1 lb) no-salt-added tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 can (15½ oz) low-sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1½ C frozen peas
  • 1½ C fresh green beans
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 11 C water
  • 2 C spaghetti, finely broken, uncooked


  1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan.
  2. Add garlic, onion, and celery and sauté about 5 minutes.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except spaghetti and stir until ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Add uncooked spaghetti and simmer 2-3 minutes only. Serve warm

From the National Institutes of Health

Healthy Recipe, Juicy Chicken Breasts

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a convenient source of lean protein. But they’re notoriously bland and dry out easily. Jacques Pepin offers a solution in his new cookbook, “Cooking My Way.” Season first with salt, then smear with mayo flavored as you wish. Much of the fat in the mayo melts into the pan, leaving behind a golden-brown crust and giving the chicken a subtle tang. Serves 2. – Susan Puckett Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha or other chili garlic sauce
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or scallion tops, parsley, or herb of choice


  1. Dry the breasts with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Spread with 1 tsp sriracha sauce on bottom and place them, sauce side down, in baking dish.
  2. Mix mayo with remaining 1 tsp sriracha. Spread thickly over top of chicken.
  3. Bake 25 minutes, or until cooked through but still very juicy inside. Sprinkle with chives or herbs of your choice and serve.

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

Healthy Recipe, Honey-Mustard Broiled Salmon

Here’s a speedy sheet pan dinner that covers all the nutritional bases — protein, omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber — and is delicious to boot. Lightly adapted from Jake Cohen’s “I Could Nosh: Classic Jewish Recipes Revamped for Every Day.” Serves 4.  Ingredients

  • 1 lb small potatoes, halved
  • 1 12-ounce bag pre-cut broccoli florets
  • 2 medium bulbs fennel, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 (5- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tbsp dried)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Place a rack 6 inches from top of oven and another in lower half.
  2. On a sheet pan, combine potatoes, broccoli, fennel, 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, water, and ½ tsp each salt and black pepper. Toss to coat. Roast on top rack, 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and lightly golden.
  3. Line another sheet pan with foil and place fillets, skin down, on it. In small bowl, whisk 2 tbsp olive oil, both mustards, honey, thyme, lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spoon over salmon.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove pan from oven and turn on broiler. Place salmon on top rack, broil for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Garnish with dill and serve with lemon wedges.

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

Healthy Recipe, Flatbread Pizzas

Prepared flatbreads from the supermarket — such as pocketless pitas or naan — are great to have on hand as the basis for an impromptu pizza. This healthy, summery combo is adapted from one in “The Big Book of Pizza” by the Food Network magazine. To keep the crust from going soggy, the tomatoes are squeezed of their juice before chopping and added to the crusts along with the olives and cheese. Serves 4.Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 pocketless pitas 6 to 8 inches
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Red pepper flakes


  1. Core and halve tomatoes. Squeeze juice, seeds into large bowl. Whisk oil, season salt, pepper. Add arugula but don’t toss. Set aside.
  2. Dice juiced tomatoes. Toss in another bowl with olives, rosemary.
  3. Preheat grill, stovetop or skillet to medium-high, or oven to 400.
  4. Brush onion rounds with oil, season with salt. Grill 3-4 mins per side. Transfer to plate, separate rings. Reduce grill or stovetop heat to medium.
  5. Brush both sides of the flatbread and grill, 2 to 3 minutes each side.
  6. Remove from heat. Top with tomato-olive mixture, ricotta, mozzarella, onion. Return them to the grill and cover, or place in preheated oven, until cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Toss arugula with tomato dressing and pile on pitas. Season with salt, red pepper flakes, drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve immediately.

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

Healthy Recipe, Late-Summer Vegetable Soup

As temperatures drop, here’s the soup to bid farewell to summer: a pot-full of the season’s harvest that’s filling yet light, brightened with fresh tomatoes, corn kernels, and basil added at the end. This recipe is lightly adapted from “Simply Tomato” by Martha Holmberg (Artisan, $30). Serves 4 to 6. — Susan Puckett


  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt
    4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 to 2 cups cubed zucchini or summer squash
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (plus more, to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups cubed, peeled Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes
  • 1 to 2 cups cubed tomatoes
  • About ½ cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves


  1. Cut the kernels off the corncobs and set the kernels aside. Place the reserved cobs in a pot with 1 quart of the broth or water, along with a teaspoon of salt. Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced to about 6 cups, about 45 minutes.
  2. While the broth simmers, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil or butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini or squash in a single layer, season with a pinch of salt, and let cook, undisturbed, for about a minute, until lightly browned; flip and cook the other side until browned and slightly tender but not mushy. Set aside.
  3. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onions, scallions, celery, and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. When the corn broth is ready, strain it and measure to see if you have 6 cups; if not, add more broth or water, then add to the soup pot, along with the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, and reserved corn kernels and simmer until all the vegetables are heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. 
  6. To serve, divide the basil among soup bowls and ladle the hot soup on top. 

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