Just the (Nutrition) Facts, Ma’am

If you showed up today expecting recipe number two from Italian Week, I apologize.  It was supposed to be pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup), but I totally botched it!  Remember how I said I used to be known for one kitchen disaster with every meal?  Last night’s disaster was forgetting that pasta e fagioli is supposed to have tomato in it.  And forgetting that soup in general usually needs an acid in order to not suck!  It actually didn’t suck, but without the tomato to brighten it up, the pictures looked really drab.  So it’s not front-page blog material, at least not until I’m really hurting for content.

Ignore Nutrition Facts, Read the Ingredients List

foodlabeljp 150x300What I want to write about instead is nutrition facts.  And the lack thereof on my blog.  I read a Twitter post yesterday by someone complaining about health sites that don’t post nutrition facts.  It would be naive for me to believe that my blog prompted this complaint, but my first thought upon reading this was I need to start doing that in order to make sure every last reader is satisfied.

But something about that felt wrong.  I write this blog to share the way I eat and exercise, because eating delicious food and staying healthy is one aspect of life that I think I’m great at.  And I’m not too modest to say that.  I’m not a raw-food vegan, and I’m certainly not the fastest marathoner.  But I think my version of a healthy, active life filled with delicious food is one that regular folks can adopt as their lifestyle, not just a diet.

I almost never look at nutrition facts.  If we were meant to read nutrition facts, then whoever created this world would have put nutrition labels on food.  And in a way, he/she/it kind of did, only not in the form of a list of numbers.  If a food is ripe and good for us, then it usually looks fresh, vibrant, appealing, and real.  That’s the only nutrition fact you need.  Obviously there are exceptions, but you get the idea.  Eat real foods, eat colorful foods, eat local foods, eat a variety of foods, the way you are meant to and the way people did for thousands of years until this hip new thing called technology came along and screwed it up.

Eating isn’t supposed to require math.  If every time you eat, you have to add up a bunch of numbers and worry about how many of your allotted calories you’re using up, then you’re doing it all wrong.  You’re supposed to enjoy eating.  I’m not one of the “thoughts are things” New-Agers, but I do believe that if you feel guilty everytime you eat, then you’re sending the your body the wrong message.  Food tastes good to us because calories are fuel.  Fat tastes especially good because it’s nourishing and used to be scarce.  When you avoid fats and calories, you send your metabolic system the message that it’s a time of famine, and your body responds by storing away whatever it can find, usually in the form of that nice Goodyear inner-tube around your midsection.

Here’s how to decide what to eat.  Check the list of ingredients in a food.  Best case: one.  An apple contains… surprise, apple!  Certainly we have to combine lots of foods when we cook, but the difference between cooking and buying prepared foods is that we’re the ones doing the combining.  We don’t add preservatives for shelf life, and we don’t add cheap fake flavors to turn a bigger profit.  If you need to buy something prepared, just make sure it doesn’t have many ingredients, and make sure you can pronounce all of them.  As you can tell, this method requires a lot of very complex calculations, but we are very lucky to be living in an age of technology so we can carry them out to a high degree of accuracy.

So that’s why I don’t care about nutrition labels.  If you find yourself using a certain ingredient a lot, then sure, check the nutrition label to make sure there aren’t any shockers.  But most of the time, screw that.  The caveat is this: eating the way we are meant to requires living the way we are meant to.  Specifically, doing things.  We used to have to hunt for food or spend hours in the fields to grow food.  Everyone knows we aren’t designed to sit at a computer all day writing a blog article about nutrition facts that’s growing longer than we planned.  So you have to move around if you don’t want to get fat.  It’s very complicated, this nature thing, but you’ll get the hang of it.

I look forward to your comments about this philosophy.  I have a feeling this post might earn me my first haters!  All I can say is that I didn’t invent it.  Actually it’s old; in fact I think the 1.2 million year anniversary of its invention is coming up next month.

A final warning: If you’re already way overweight, then my advice might not be right for you yet.  You probably need a big calorie reduction and exercise, all done safely of course.  Once that’s taken care of, then you can start ignoring nutrition labels.  If you stay active.

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Meatless Muffaletta Sandwiches

meals 012 300x225Welcome to Italian Week, No Meat Athlete style!  Or Italian Half-Week, since it’s already Wednesday.  For those who don’t know, a muffaletta is an Italian-style sandwich from New Orleans.  Until I saw it on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, I had no idea it wasn’t really from Italy.  But who cares where it’s from; it’s really good.

Muffalettas generally consist of roasted peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, or other vegetables, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive tapenade, balsamic vinaigrette (to put mayo or anything else on it is a sin!), and prosciutto or other meats.  But no meat on this one.  Actually, the only other place I’ve ever had a muffalatta serves theirs with no meat, so it’s not much of a stretch to make a meatless one.

meals 019 247x300My version of the sandwich is served on ciabatta bread, of which you can bake your own from pizza dough.  I had an s-load of schoolwork to do yesterday, so baking my own bread was pretty much out of the question.  I figured I’d have to settle for a refined white flour loaf in the store, so you can imagine my elation when I found a wheat ciabatta from Chabaso bakery in the store.  Yes, in No Meat Athlete world we get elated by stuff like this.  We (read: I) also get elated by Italian wine, so I picked up a bottle of Banfi Centine, a blend of sangiovese, cabernet, and merlot that I really like and is a great value at around ten bucks.  My school work wasn’t going to do itself, but hey, it’s not every day that it’s Tuesday, so I treated myself to a few heavy pours.

The homemade muffaletta turned out to be as good as any I’ve had at the Italian deli where we get them.  The only part I didn’t love was the black olive tapenade; it was just a little too black-olivy.  So in the recipe I’m giving you, I’ve changed it to include green olives as well.  I didn’t roast my own peppers, again because of a lack of time, so I bought jarred.  I also had to get jarred artichoke hearts, olives, and capers, so we ended up spending almost as much for these as we would have if we had just bought them at the deli.  But what fun would that be?  Plus there’s leftover of almost all the ingredients, so I’ll probably make these again this weekend for lunch.

meals 015 300x225Our rating?  4.5 cows out of 5!  The only thing holding these back from all-out NMA glory was the tapenade.  Now that I’ve changed the recipe, try them yourself and see how they tickle your tastebuds.  And why not crack open an Italian red to have with them?  Come on, it’s Italian Week!  And it’s Wednesday!

Vegetarian Muffaletta Recipe

Ingredients (for the tapenade):

  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1.5 Tbsp capers
  • 1.5 Tbsp canola oil (or olive oil, for best flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • fresh thyme leaves from about 3 sprigs, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • salt and pepper

Process all ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor until uniform but still coarse.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients (for 4 sandwiches):

  • One loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 4 squares and sliced open like rolls
  • 4 small roasted red bell peppers, jarred or home-roasted
  • 4 to 6 marinated artichokes, quartered (I used jarred marinated, already quartered)
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven or grill if you want to serve the sandwiches warm.  In a bowl, combine basil, vinegar, garlic, roasted peppers, and artichokes; let sit for 5 minutes.  After optionally warming bread, spread some of the tapenade on one side of each of the ciabatta rolls, then top with tomato, roasted pepper and artichoke mixture, and mozzarella.  Drizzle with extra vinegar from bowl and olive oil.  Easy!

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Mustardy Portobello Mushroom Pasta

meals 007 300x225I know– a lot of people are afraid of mustardy anything.  I can understand how you might not like straight-up mustard, but once it’s whisked with white wine and boiled, it forms a nice sauce to coat the pasta and really doesn’t taste like mustard!

Before I get to the recipe though, I am happy to announce that I ran ten miles over some pretty tough hills yesterday.  I was a little worried about how my knee would hold up to the test, but it seems to have passed with flying colors.  I wasn’t running very hard, but I’m pretty confident now that I’ll be able to build up to twenty miles in the next six to eight weeks, before my own “Boston boot camp” begins in the heat of June.

Back to the food!  This recipe is borrowed from a cookbook, but I made enough modifications of ingredients and amounts that I think I’m in the clear.  It’s a nice simple dish that’s pretty quick to make.  There’s not a whole lot of protein in this one, so if you’re concerned about that, use Barilla Plus pasta.  You could also add tofu, tempeh, or even chickpeas to it if you were so inclined.  But I figure that as long as most of my meals contain a decent amount of protein, then it’s ok if every now and then a few don’t.  I’d be much more concerned about missing out on complex carbohydrates, now that my running mileage is starting to increase.

meals 002 300x225Portobellos do a great job of replacing meat, as far as flavor goes.  They have a beefy taste of their own and tend to absorb other flavors well.  And the onions, garlic, and vegetable stock form a nice base of flavor that you can’t see in the pictures.  Lots of hidden veggies in this meal!

I am going to give this meal 3 cows out of 5 because it’s a little boring, but that’s not such a bad score when you have to follow 5-cow buffalo tempeh wraps.  My taste buds have been stretched and might never return to their original dimensions.  Maybe every meal will be a cow or two lower than it would previously have been…

Don’t let the “3” stop you from making this one.  I found myself really looking forward to the leftovers, and they didn’t disappoint.  It’s just that kind of meal I guess.  Nothing showy in the kitchen or as the star on the dinner table, but wonderful as leftovers.  And I think that’s how a lot of simple, real food is.  And speaking of real, simple food, it’s Italian week in the NMA household!  We have three vegetarian Italian meals lined up for the rest of the week, and I’m excited about all of them.  The first is on the docket for tonight, so check back tomorrow for the post.  Much more provacative, in my eyes, than this old mustardy mushroom thing!

Portobello Mushroom Pasta With Mustard Sauce Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 12 ounces dried whole wheat rotini
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 6 to 8 oz portobello mushroom caps, sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pepitas or pine nuts, toasted
  • salt

Cook pasta according to package directions (don’t forget to salt the water until it tastes like the sea).  Transfer the pasta to another bowl or strainer and set aside.  Dry the pasta pot.

In the pasta pot, heat half the oil over high heat.  Add the mushrooms with 1 tsp salt (eyeball it) and cook until tender, should take 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the pot, again over high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook for a minute or two until it starts to soften.  Add 1/2 tsp of salt (eyeball it again), the rosemary, and the amount of crushed red pepper that you like.  Add the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low for 2 minutes.  Transfer to the mushroom bowl.

Put the pot back on high heat once again, add the white wine and mustard, and whisk together.  Once it’s boiling, add the cooked pasta and mushroom mixture and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.  Top with pepitas or pine nuts.

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No More Fishing?

no fishingI’ve been thinking pretty hard in the last few days about giving up fish, about whether I should become a “real” vegetarian.  After all, the blog is called No Meat Athlete.  I suppose I could justify my fish-eating by saying that “no meat” is an ideal that I’m hoping to achieve one day, but it’s not about the blog title.  It’s about the title I give to myself.

I know that titles don’t matter much.  If I were to eat fish only one time per year, there are plenty of people who would argue that I still wouldn’t be a vegetarian.  But who cares what it’s called, right?  If I know in my head that I am vegetarian 99.5 percent of the time, then the title doesn’t matter at all.

Only it does matter.  It matters because I’m honest, and something would feel very wrong about telling others that I’m a vegetarian when in fact I still consume some animals (let’s not forget that fish, dumb as they seem, are animals).  I could just say “almost-vegetarian,” or “pescetarian.”  But I don’t like doing anything “almost,” and most people think pescetarianism is a religion.

But still, all that is about names.  And there’s more to my dilemma than just names.  I want to be someone who doesn’t eat any animals.  For now I’m semi-ok with dairy, because you’re not eating a corpse when you drink a cow’s milk (though with all the hormones and whatever else finds its way into most milk, I wouldn’t call it healthy).  But actually eating animals is on another level.

On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to be that guy who can’t eat crabs at a crab feast, or the guy who has to make special arrangements when a wedding reception dinner includes a fish option but nothing vegetarian.  It’s really not about missing fish; we already eat it less than once per week and it’s not like I count down the days until I get to eat it again.  I could do without it at home.  But as far as convenience goes (and I really hate to use the word “convenience” when I’m talking about eating a once-living being), it would just be so much easier to have fish as an option when I go out to eat with friends or go to someone’s house for dinner.

Here’s a solution that a friend proposed to me, and I’m kind of happy with it.  Stop making fish at home, don’t plan on eating it out, but realize that there will be some situations when I’ll end up eating it, and be ok with that (as a Marylander, can I really be expected to eschew a crab feast?).  And call myself a vegetarian.  It’s that last part that I’m struggling with.

Finally, just to keep things in perspective, let me brag a little.  Just two months ago I was eating essentially anything, and yesterday at a party I turned down a home-smoked pulled pork sandwich with vinegar-based sauce! I once drove seven hours through the night to get this type of sandwich when I was in college (not a lie; my friend and I literally drove there, slept in the parking lot until the place opened, ate a sandwich, and drove home).  I may not be a perfect vegetarian yet, but turning down vinegar-based barbecue, dear readers, was a victory.

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Big Ups to Some No Meat Athlete Readers!

61 1 blue ribbon perfect logo 293x300Ok, so they’re not technically No Meat Athletes yet, but strictly speaking, neither am I!  Unless you define “meat” in the fish-excluding Catholic sense, and I don’t think too many of us still define it that way.

I just wanted to write a quick post about some readers of this blog who have made me really happy, by being open to trying the recipes I’ve been posting and by letting me and other readers know about their successes.  And I think they’re great examples of the fact that you don’t have to stop eating meat entirely to benefit from a few vegetarian meals each week.

The first No Meat Athlete award goes to Pete, a guy who is one of the last people I would have expected to like this blog.  Not because he’s extremely unhealthy or anything; he’s just not to into fru-fru stuff like vegetarianism.  He has tried five or six of the recipes with an open mind (to his wife’s chagrin, I sense) and has been happy with the results, from what I can tell.  And don’t doubt that Pete is an athlete–his claim to fame (in my mind) is the double play he turned in high school on the now-evil-Yankee Mark Teixiera.

The other (joint) recognition goes to Colleen and Joel, both of whom have a growing interest in cooking real, healthy food.  They’ve jumped right in and even tried the tempeh recipes, pretty scary for most non-vegetarians.  As for the athlete part?  Colleen and Joel completed the Baltimore Half Marathon in October, thanks in no part to my blog, since it didn’t even exist back then.

Nice job No Meat Athletes!  This blog takes up a lot more time than I envisioned when I started it, but seeing it actually inspire people to make changes makes every hour I spend worth it.

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Friggin’ Awesome Buffalo Tempeh Wraps

meals 036 225x300Finally!  I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since that mistress tempeh won me over with her meatlike texture. Her soy sister tofu made a crispy deep-fried appeal to win back the love of my taste buds at a Thai restaurant today, but this day belongs to tempeh.  Buffalo tempeh.

I am an admitted lover of all things buffalo.  The sauce, not the animal.  So I guess some things buffalo.  Back in my meat-eating days, even when I was a generally healthy eater, a fried buffalo chicken sandwich pretty much trumped everything else on any menu for me.  Delicious and impossible to screw up.  So when I first tried tempeh, in Szechuan Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce, the tangy, somehow blue-cheesy flavor left me with no doubts that tempeh would be a natural with buffalo sauce.

meals 026 225x300And by no means did it disappoint.  I went on Twitter and asked for some tempeh-cooking suggestions, the response came back “grill it,” and I did just that.  Grilling in the middle of the day on a weekday (thank you, grad student-hood) is one of those Zen experiences that just makes you happy to be alive.  And I achieved gustatory nirvana when I ate two of these buffalo tempeh wraps within the span of ten minutes.  The satori didn’t last too long though, because when you eat so fast and so much that you end up skipping dinner six hours later, you feel sort of terrible for a little while after the binge.  But all in all, it was worth it.

There’s not too much to say about them, because wraps are a pretty simple food.  I did make a Bobby Flay-esque blue cheese yogurt sauce to spread on the them,  so that was kind of fun, but the rest is straightforward.  Whole-wheat wraps, lettuce (spinach would have been nice but I didn’t have any), tempeh, buffalo sauce, the yogurt sauce, and some blue cheese crumbles.  Simple, delicious, impossible to screw up, and each wrap has over 30 grams of protein!

meals 031 300x225I could go on for a long time about buffalo wraps in terms of stupid Zen metaphors (today was my once-weekly coffee day so I’m a little amped up), but there’s just no need.  The pictures provide all the evidence necessary.  And if that’s not enough, the surely my first 5 cows out of 5 rating should do the trick.  In the name of fairness and transparency I must tell you that this was a one-man totalitarian decision, since Erin didn’t have any (I didn’t find out she doesn’t really like buffalo sauce until after we were married).  So the small sample size makes it likely that the rating is an outlier, but if you’re a buffalo fan like me, make this; you can’t possibly not like this one.

Buffalo Tempeh Wrap Recipe

Ingredients (for 2 big wraps):

  • 2 large whole-wheat wraps
  • 1  8-oz package tempeh
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce (make sure it’s Buffalo Wing, not regular Frank’s)
  • lettuce or spinach
  • a few handfuls of crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (I used soy, but Greek or regular would taste best)
  • 1 celery rib
  • 2 Tbsp minced red onion
  • small handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper

meals 028 300x225Heat your grill to high (the oven would work if you don’t have a grill)  Rub the tempeh block with oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and about 2 Tbsp of the buffalo sauce.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes while the grill gets hot.  In the meantime chop the onion, celery and cilantro and mix in bowl with the yogurt and some of the blue cheese to taste.  Add salt if desired.  Grill the tempeh block for 2 minutes or so on each side, until heated and just marked by the grill.

Slice the tempeh into 1/2 inch slices and toss in a bowl with remaining buffalo sauce.  Spread the yogurt sauce on the wraps, top with lettuce or spinach.  Add half the tempeh to each and sprinkle with remaining blue cheese, if desired (mine was a little too blue cheesy , so go easy on the cheesy).  Fold in the sides, wrap up, and enter buffalo nirvana.

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Lentil Burgers

Time for another Twitter-submitted recipe, this one from @reluctantveggie.  She runs a blog called The Reluctant Vegetarian, something that I imagine a lot of you are (or, more likely, whoever you live with is).  So check it out for lots of recipes from someone in the same boat!

meals 021 300x225The recipe is for lentil burgers; you can find it here.  I know lentils don’t sound too terribly exciting, but don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe.  In addition to lentils, there are carrots, onions, oats, and breadcrumbs (or flaxseed, see next paragraph), so they’re great for you.  Lentils, like beans, are loaded with protein and fiber, among tons of other good stuff.  And as it turns out, they make a damn good burger.  You might remember my first attempt at vegetarian “burgers,” portobello bistro burgers, and my second attempt, Mexican black bean burgers.  Portobellos are shaped like burgers and have a nice beefy flavor, but they just don’t seem like burgers when you’re eating them.  They seem like mushrooms.  And the black bean burgers, though tasty, were just too soft.  These lentil burgers, on the other hand, eat like real burgers.

The recipe calls for frying or baking the burgers, but I chose to grill them since I was grilling bread to serve them on (I served these bistro-style, like the portobello burgers).  It worked out well, since these burgers stayed together nicely and didn’t fall through the grates or anything.  I do think that pan-frying might have been a little better though, since the grill tends to dry food out, and our only complaint with these was that they were a little dry.  So go with the original recipe and fry them (which will add a little moisture) rather than grilling.

meals 014 300x225A suggestion that @reluctantveggie gave me, which in my excitement I forgot to do, is to substitute ground flaxseed for the breadcrumbs.  Definitely a little healthier, and probably tastier too.  Ground flaxseed has a nice nutty flavor that somehow gets lost in the pure-evil flavor that pure flaxseed oil conveys.  We add it to our smoothies now instead of oil, for that whole-food goodness.  I’ll definitely try it in the burgers next time.

Like I said, these burgers were awesome, even if a little dried out by the grill.  It really felt like we were eating real burgers.  One caveat: when I say these burgers taste great, don’t expect a medium-rare piece of beef on your plate.  I wish veggie burgers were called “veggie patties” or something like that, to avoid the comparison.  You aren’t going get a burger; you get a different food that is really good in its own way.  And it’s a hell of a lot better for you.  Erin and I agreed that these veggie patties were worth yet another 4 out of 5 cows.  I swear the rating system isn’t biased, I just know how to pick ‘em!  But the credit really goes to @reluctantveggie, for supplying us with this recipe, so pay her blog a visit and let her know how much you like these burgers.

Marathon Training Update

In other news, I’m finally back to a normal running schedule now that my knee is better.  I did a hilly seven-miler over the weekend and have done two hill workouts since.  My knee is still giving me a little trouble, so I’m easing back into it, but it feels great to be back.  I’m totally committed to qualifying for Boston at Wineglass in October, which means knocking 10 minutes off my previous best, and it’s so exciting to commit to something that seems so hard.  If you haven’t committed to something like that in a while, give it a try and remind yourself how good it feels!

Check back tomorrow for buffalo tempeh wraps!  I made them today for lunch, and they were friggin’ fantastic.

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Patatas Bravas

Buenos dias!  I went to Spain four times during high school, living with Spanish families for a month each time as part of an exchange program.  At the time I was more interested in drinking Cuarenta y Tres con naranja than sampling the fine 012 300x225cuisine.  But now that I love good food, I really wish I had made more of an effort to try real Spanish food while I was there.  I ate what my host families served each day, but that’s like a Spanish exchange student visiting the U.S. and eating pizza, grilled cheese, spaghetti, and hamburgers and calling it American cuisine.  Plus, the other students and I hit the McDonald’s pretty hard almost every day, so I ate a lot of McPollo sandwiches.

I think the tapas scene is what most people think of when they think Spanish food.  And this recipe is supposedly a tapas dish from Seville.  It would have been great with a Spanish red, but since I made it for lunch on a Saturday, we passed.  Normally I wouldn’t make potatoes the center of a meal, but we had a few vegetables from the farmers market that we needed to use so we just had a bunch of side dishes as our meal.  Hey, that has all the makings of a trendy new style of eating.   Let’s see, they could call it… tapas!

0101 300x225Erin and I were really happy with these.  In fact I ate way too many.  I just kept popping them in my mouth, even as I was cleaning up.  Ours were just a little bit undercooked; make sure you test a few before you take them off the grill.  And it would have been nice if the sauce were a little more liquidy, so I’ve reduced the simmering time in the recipe that I’m posting.  I give these potatoes 3 cows out of 5, with the potential for 4 if they were cooked fully and the seasonings in the sauce adjusted a bit.

If you’re wondering about the other vegetables in the photo, one is asparagus and the other is beet spinach.  The asparagus I just drizzled 018 300x225with olive/canola oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling for a few minutes.  For the beet spinach, I heated some oil in a pan, added the spinach to wilt it, then threw in some garlic and lemon juice during the last 30 seconds or so.  This was the first time I had tried beet spinach, and I wasn’t a big fan.  It tasted fine but it was a little crunchier than I would have liked.  I think I’ll stick to regular spinach.  But this is a great way to prepare it.

Last thing:  Usually when I cook from cookbooks, I try to modify the recipe enough to make it my own so that I don’t break any laws in typing it up and posting it here.  But this one I didn’t change at all, since I’d never tried patatas bravas before, so it’s pretty much directly from a cookbook.  Hope those fat cat publishers don’t catch me!  If you log on tomorrow and the blog has mysteriously disappeared, at least you’ll know what happened.

Grilled Patatas Bravas Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 16-20 medium-small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • Paprika
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a few pinches of crushed red pepper
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

Cover the potatoes in a saucepan with an inch or two of water.  Bring to a boil, then cook until they’re very close to being tender (a fork or skewer should go through without much effort).  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic; saute for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the red pepper (as much as you like), tomatoes, wine, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Heat your grill to high.  Drain the potatoes and rinse, dry and cut each into halves or quarters, depending on how large they are (you don’t want them to fall through the grill grates).  Brush the potatoes with the remaining oil and sprinkle paprika over them.  Grill for 5-6 minutes, turning often.

Pour the sauce over the tomatoes in a dish, adjust seasonings and garnish with more parsley.

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