Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Meats, potatoes, Quick, Salad, Sausage

Sausage and potato roast salad with arugula and shallots

Here’s a quick, weeknight friendly dinner to try out now that it’s fall and the oven is back in commission. This salad has a very complex taste for how few ingredients it combines and it is tasty with both fingerling and colorful mini potatoes.

The recipes this one is adapted from call for a lot more sausage and shallots. I’ve made this several times and tweaked the recipe with each iteration until I finally found a balance I liked with enough sausage to be filling but not too heavy and just a small amount of shallots, enough to add a little bit of sweetness. 1/2 sausage link per person is plenty for lunch or brunch and can be increased to 3/4 of a link for dinner (and the remaining sausage can be used as a pizza topping!) I use just one shallot per person, and I peel and slice it before I roast it so it can caramelize and crisp in the pan. I try to keep as much of the basal stem in tact as I can when I separate it from the roots so the shallot layers stay together when I slice it. I keep the shallots in for the same amount of time as the potatoes because I like them extra crispy. If they look too crispy for you, they can be removed before the final stir, as noted in the instructions.

The only decision I’m still on the fence about is how small to cut the sausage before roasting. Cutting them into 1″ pieces yields pieces large enough to slice into that stay tender inside whereas cutting them into 1/2″ pieces produces crispier and bite-sized pieces that can be more evenly distributed in the salad. For the salad in these pictures, the sausage is cut into 1/2″ pieces and I used 1/2 sausage link per person.

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Avocado, Carrots, Lunch, Quick, Vegetarian

California veggie melt sandwich

California veggie melt sandwich on alickofsalt.com

Veggie melt sandwich with crushed avocado, handcrushed pesto, melted cheese, grated carrots, tomato, baby kale, and sprouts, aka the most Californian sandwich that ever existed. This is inspired by a sandwich I used to get at Cafe Literati in Los Angeles before they stopped making it. It was served with homemade potato chips on the side. I eat it with Kettle unsalted chips or purple heirloom chips.

This would be perfect in a panini press. I don’t have one, so the instructions are for making it in a toaster oven. Since the vegetables don’t need to be warmed, I split up which ingredients I heat up. But I do have the other ingredients ready so I can compile the sandwich quickly and enjoy it warm. If you have a panini press, compile the whole sandwich before pressing.

For those on low-sodium diets, my recipe for low-sodium bread yields about 3 normal-sized loaves. I’ve been working on a recipe that yields exactly one loaf but just using 1/3 of the ingredients from the recipe I posted doesn’t work as well as I expected, and neither does doubling pizza dough recipe so I’m still perfecting it. Pictured here is a trial of a light whole wheat bread with added sesame seeds. This picky eater thinks it came out a bit dense.

If you can’t be bothered to make your own bread (or if it’s too hot!) get bread with the lowest sodium content you can find that isn’t pre-sliced and slice it into thin slices. The serving size on the packages is listed for about 1/8 of a loaf so thinner slices make a big difference.

Lately I have been reheating bread I buy in store and it is the best! Heat the loaf directly on the oven rack for 5-8 minutes at 400°F, transfer onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes for it to cool before slicing, and then enjoy crusty, fresh-tasting bread!

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Dinner, Lunch, Pasta, Quick, Seafood, Shrimp, Walnuts

Shrimp pasta with parmesan and ground walnuts

Shrimp pasta with parmesan and ground walnuts

We’ve been eating more pasta since I discovered egg pasta that tastes more like freshly-made pasta than the kind we can find at our grocery store. Egg pasta is generally yellow, looks more brittle, cooks more quickly and comes, for some mysterious reason, in fragile packaging like bags or boxes with an exposed, shrink-wrapped front. The kind we get is much pricier than the $1 boxes of pasta we used to get, but it’s so much tastier, it’s completely worth it. It also has some sodium from the egg so it tastes good on its own even though we don’t salt the water when we cook it.

This recipe is fairly quick but it does require a little bit of multitasking and figuring out the timing can be a little tricky. We first prepare the shrimp and set it in the fridge to marinate for at least half an hour. We’ve found that marinating it in a carbonated beverage helps make the shrimp taste more tender. We usually marinate it in the cheapest beer we have; pop or soda also works well. We aim to have the pasta and the sauce ready at the same time so we give the pot of water for the pasta a little bit of time to warm up, then start preparing the sauce in a frying pan. We start cooking the pasta after we add the shrimp to the sauce and give it a couple of minutes to cook. The shrimp cooks pretty quickly so the timing will need to be adjusted if you’re using a pasta that takes longer than 4 minutes to cook.

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Berries, Blackberries, Breakfast, Brunch, Fruit, Nuts, Pancakes, Peaches, Pecans, Quick, Raspberries, Vegetarian

Dutch baby with summer fruit, pecans, and Nutella

Dutch baby with summer fruit, pecans, and Nutella

Summer has come and gone and now that our apartment no longer turns into a sauna everyday, I have free rein over the oven again, which means that I can restart my tradition of weekly dutch babies. It has been a little over two years since I posted my first recipe on here and two years later, my dutch baby obsession is still going strong. This one is large enough to share, unlike the first one, which has not served two people since we got our larger cast iron pan.

When we’re feeling fancy, our favorite toppings are summer fruit and Nutella. I sometimes add chopped pecans to the dough, but I’m not always in the mood for them. I have also made a few changes to my technique. I don’t cook the fruit in the oven anymore. Instead, I prepare it while the oven is preheating, put it in little porcelain bowls, and place the bowls on the warm potion of the stovetop until the dutch baby is ready to come out of the oven. This warms the fruit up a little bit. If the fruit is not very ripe, I also sprinkle some powdered sugar on it to sweeten it up a bit. The Nutella goes in a little porcelain bowl as well because my stovetop gets warm enough that it would melt the plastic jar if I tried to heat it up directly. I learned this the hard way, by mutilating our immersion blender.

The dutch baby lessons I’ve learned since my first post is that it’s a pretty failproof recipe as long as I use whole milk, and that it absolutely has to be eaten right away. If you don’t eat it right away, my obsession with this pancake will baffle you, as it baffles me the few times it ends up cooling on me before I can dig in. So if the person you’re sharing it with ends up needing to do their bathroom activities as soon as the dutch baby is ready to come out of the oven — does this happen in other families or just ours? — then turn off the oven and keep the dutch baby in there until they’re back because slightly burnt dutch baby is better than cold dutch baby, trust me.

Also, if you’re feeling lazy and can’t be bothered with the fruit or pecans, it is still delicious served the traditional way, with just the powdered sugar, some drizzles of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and maybe some maple syrup.

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Asparagus, Dinner, Leeks, Legumes, Lentils, Lunch, potatoes, Quick, Salad, Side salad, Vegan, Vegetarian

Warm potato salad with lentils, asparagus, and caramelized leeks

Warm potato salad with lentils, asparagus, and caramelized leeks

Salads make for great meals in the summer, especially ones that don’t require you to heat up your oven, like this one. Fingerling potatoes are still in season, and the colorful ones look great in this filling and accidentally-vegan salad. If you can’t find fingerling potatoes, new potatoes are also nice but really, any kind of potato works; just be sure to mind the cooking time. Some hints about modifications and serving the salad as a side can be found in the Tips section below.

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Breakfast, Brunch, Chickpeas, Dinner, Eggs, Lunch, Quick, Vegetarian

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta (Shakshuka)

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta (Shakshuka)

This poached egg, tomato, and feta dish is quick and easy to make, tasty, and hearty enough to be breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even dinner. We usually only poach as many eggs as we eat on the day we make it and save the rest to reheat and serve with fried eggs. This shakshuka is slightly spicy. For a bit more spice, I would use either two jalapeños or increase the chili powder to 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL). Serve with good bread or warmed pita or tortilla.

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Lunch, Quick, Soup

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup)

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup) on alickofsalt.com

Here is a recent addition to our repertoire of favorite dishes that are quick to make. But first, a quick digression on my relationship with soup.

Soups are a huge part of my heritage. It’s the first part of every main meal. I didn’t particularly appreciate this custom growing up because, as picky as I am about food in general, I’m even pickier about soup. I was happy to eat it if it was made by my mom or grandma and even then, it couldn’t be just any soup. It basically had to be either strained chicken noodle soup with thin, homemade noodles or fresh bean soup with a tomato base.

And then I had a version of this soup in Nicaragua. It’s a tomato base soup with avocado and cheddar and, the best part, crispy tortilla strips. No, wait, the best part might be how quick it is to make.

It’s slightly tangy, likely from the tomatoes we use, and I’ve made it spicy enough to require some nose-blowing mid-meal. We add fried black beans for some extra protein because we have it as a single dish meal. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegan by skipping the cheese.

Part of what makes eating this soup so fun to eat is that you continually replenish the toppings and can have crispy tortilla strips with every bite. I like letting some of the tortilla strips soak slightly, so parts are crispy and parts are soft. My partner like to eat them before they have a chance to soften.

We generally snack a lot during the day so eat relatively small meals. But serial snackers as we are, this soup that’s supposed to serve at least 5 people is only enough for two meals for the two of us.

A website update: I added a favorite tools section to the website which features some of our favorite kitchen things. The products link to the site where we bought them (or had bought from us from our registries). You’ll notice that currently everything that’s on there is from Amazon. That’s in part because I’m only an affiliate there, but in larger part because I actually do buy almost everything from them. They got me hooked, the tricksters, with a free prime account when I was a student living in a city that had no home goods stores within waking distance and I had no car. If you are a human (i.e. not a spam bot), feel free to suggest your must-haves on that page, and not just from Amazon. I look forward to any recommendations!

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