Tag Archives: Jessica Merchant

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Years ago, when I finally decided to start eating from the produce aisle on a voluntary basis, I’ve been searching for a vegetable-based taco that meets with my admittedly high and exacting taco standards. Which are the following: they must be filling and hefty, no matter what the contents; flavor must be extremely bold and in your face; there must be a touch of heat and spice from chiles of some kind; there must be multiple components that complement each other.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Vegetarian tacos generally fail at most of these criteria, particularly the last one. It often feels like people, more specifically restaurants and food trucks, think that if the filling is vegetable or bean based, then it might be overkill to top it with a vegetable or bean-based salsa. No!! Not at all! In fact it’s quite necessary to provide that contrast of textures, and that is a bit tougher on a vegetable-based taco.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

But with this blog post, I’m proving beyond any doubt that it is entirely possible. The key is choosing different textures between the main event filling and the garnish. This taco is, thus far, my hands down favorite meat-free taco ever, and it’s not a stretch to say it’s going in my top ten tacos eaten ever. The zucchini here is chopped and sautéed, so a chopped tomato salsa really wouldn’t work. The textures and shapes would be too similar. Corn kernels are a perfect solution. Then the chipotle crema adds a creamy note that this taco just begs for, plus that heat and spice that I personally require on all tacos.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Carnivore or vegetarian, I don’t care, just try these. Whatever your eating habits/philosophy, it doesn’t matter – you will NOT be disappointed. Enjoy!

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

TACOS:
2 tbs olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cubed zucchini
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 corn tortillas, warmed

CORN SALSA:
2 ears grilled corn on the cob, kernels cut from cob
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste

CHIPOTLE CREMA:
3 tbs plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch each of salt and black pepper

Directions:
For the TACOS: heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini becomes slightly tender, 5-6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
For the CORN SALSA, combine the corn kernels, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss together.
For the CREMA, whisk together yogurt, adobo sauce, lime juice, salt and pepper.
To assemble the tacos, add some zucchini mixture to each warm tortilla and cover it with corn salsa. Drizzle some crema on top. Serve immediately.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

When it comes to soups, I highly prefer chunky soups over the pureed variety. I need something to chew with each spoonful. Pureed soups often don’t do it for me, with one major exception: butternut squash soup. It’s one of my fall season favorites, and I try out a different recipe every year.

I have one hard-and-fast, persnickety rule: it can’t be too sweet. Butternut squash is inherently sweet, so I firmly believe it doesn’t need any help in that department, and in fact could use a little bit of “hindrance” from decidedly savory ingredients. My favorite things to put into butternut squash soup are ingredients like bacon, parmesan, bitter greens, smoked cheese and the like. Cubes of bread roasted with a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar has never topped the list. Until now, that is.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

I know I’ll fail at adequately explaining to you how delicious this soup combination is, but suffice it to say, outstanding is a mild understatement. The soup itself was incredibly tasty and well-rounded and really let the squash’s flavor shine. The cinnamon-sugar croutons were something I’d happily make just to snack on by themselves. Using earthy multi-grain bread ensures the sweetness is somewhat tempered; and yet it fondly reminded me of the cinnamon toast my mom would make us for breakfast when I was little.

But I think the best part of this meal comes when you top your soup with an embarrassing amount of croutons: some of the cinnamon sugar migrates from the croutons to float around in and richly flavor your soup, and it just tastes so amazing! So perfect. Enjoy!

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

CROUTONS:
2 cups multigrain bread cubes, preferably a bit stale
1-2 tbs olive oil
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

SOUP:
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs amaretto
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Black pepper, to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
First make the CROUTONS: preheat your oven to 400 F. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, sugar, and cinnamon. Spread the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden and crunchy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the croutons cool on the sheet. Try not to eat too many while you’re making the soup.
Now make the SOUP: heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Now add the onions with a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then pour in the amaretto. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the squash cubes and stock to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Once the squash is soft, remove the pot from the heat and either carefully pour the soup into your blender and puree until smooth, or hit it with an immersion blender. Either way, make sure you turn the heat off the pot. Once the soup is pureed and creamy, transfer it back to the soup pot (if necessary) and heat over low heat. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with so many croutons and garnish with a sprinkling of scallions, and pecans, if desired.

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Apple season is upon us!! Matt and I had originally planned to go apple picking this fall, like we sometimes do, but both the local grocery stores in our new ‘hood sell tons of local apples, something I was very excited to discover. We’ve found that this year at least, it’s been preferable to walk three blocks and replenish apples as desired instead of driving for two hours, picking two bushels and then frantically putting apples in absolutely everything to make sure they’re all used up before they go bad.

white cheddar apple crisp

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Either way, I promised Matt I’d make his favorite fall dessert, which is, as you might have surmised by now, an apple crisp. I needed a new twist though, and while combining apples with cheddar in desserts is probably older than time itself, it’s a combination I’ve rarely baked in my own kitchen. So it’s a new twist to me, if you will.

white cheddar apple crisp

This one is rather interesting (I thought so, at least) – instead of incorporating the cheddar into the crust, chunks of super-sharp white cheddar are tossed with the apples before they go into the pan and get topped with the crisp. The result? Lovely! The crisp is definitely sweet, but contrasts so beautifully with the salty, sharp cheese in each bite. Of course the cheese gets melty and gooey in the oven, so there’s another contrast with the soft texture of the cheese complementing the crunch of the topping and the bite of the apples.

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Matt was extremely happy with it! I bet you and yours will be too.

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:
4 medium Gala apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbs brown sugar
1 ½ tsp whole wheat pastry flour (can sub in all-purpose flour)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes

TOPPING:
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (can sub in all-purpose flour)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional but highly recommended)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the white cheddar cubes and toss again to combine. Set aside while you make the topping.
For the TOPPING, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add the butter and vanilla extract and use your fingers to disperse the butter throughout the dry ingredients.
Pour the apple mixture into a greased 8×8” square baker. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the crisp is golden and the apples are softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Parmesan Pistachio Kale Chips #SundaySupper

parmesan pistachio kale chips

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is Heart Healthy – in the middle of February, which is Heart Healthy Month. (Very apropos!) We’re doing our part to spread awareness and reminders of the benefits of incorporating heart healthy practices into our lifestyles.

But what exactly does heart healthy even mean? These days, it’s hard to know for sure. The prevailing wisdom dictates eating a low-saturated-fat diet and getting enough exercise, and lowering cholesterol. But the data coming in is indicating that maybe this is not the key to decreasing and preventing the American epidemic of heart disease. Many scientists are now reporting that sugar and refined carbohydrates may be the real culprit, and that saturated fat is just fine in moderation.

Parmesan Pistachio Kale Chips

The results seem to be inconclusive at this point. But it’s interesting to note that Dr. Ancel Keys, the scientist who got this whole low-fat-equals-heart-healthy trend started with his Seven Countries Study is widely believed to have cherry-picked his data. Oops. BIG no-no there. And did you also know that, according to renowned Harvard researcher Steven Pinker, this “prevailing wisdom” from a purportedly flawed study has been used by some animal rights activists to help further their cause of advocating widespread vegetarianism as a way to end factory farming and animal cruelty? While I’m as against factory farming and animal cruelty as anyone, and I absolutely laud the intentions of the animal rights revolution, I say this to demonstrate the ubiquity of this so-called common wisdom, that it’s coming at us from more than one source, and not all those sources are concerned with our heart health. The more a line is repeated, the more it seems obvious and self-evidently true, even if maybe it’s not.

Parmesan Pistachio Kale Chips

I think the jury may be still out, but the old verdict is seriously in question. So that left me pondering what to make for today’s theme. I decided to go for something settled and non-controversial. Even if we someday find out conclusively that saturated fats are just fine, that certainly won’t invalidate the health benefits of fresh vegetables, particularly dark greens. I think everyone can agree that vegetables are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, including for the health of our hearts.

Parmesan Pistachio Kale Chips

So I made you kale chips! Kale chips that are baked, not fried, and that are flavored with pistachios – again, not at all disputed that nuts are good for you – and a touch of parmesan cheese. Parmesan is a lower-fat cheese and is usually a garnish, not a main ingredient, as it is here.

I’m sort of in love with these things! They are super crunchy, flavorful, nutty, and completely guilt-free! This is probably the most perfect afternoon snack I’ve made yet!

parmesan pistachio kale chips

I hope y’all enjoy them, and definitely check out the Heart Healthy recipes my Sunday Supper peeps are sharing today!

{One Year Ago: Soy-Ginger Salmon over Asian Veggie Noodles; Anchovy Pasta Carbonara; Freeform Crawfish Ravioli}
{Two Years Ago: Malted Chocolate Ice CreamPimento Cheese SpreadCuban Black Bean Soup}

Source: slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:
1/3 cup roasted salted pistachios
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
2 small heads of lacinato, or dinosaur kale, each leaf chopped into thirds, bottom third with the thickest part of the stem discarded or saved for another use
2 tbs olive oil

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.
Add the pistachios to a food processor and pulse until the nuts are in fine crumbs. It’s fine if there are a few slightly larger pieces. Keep this on the pulse setting as you do NOT want to make nut butter.
Pour the pistachios into a small bowl and use your fingers to thoroughly combine them with the cheese.
Add the kale pieces to a very large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the top and use your hands to toss the kale and massage the oil into the leaves. Once the kale is evenly coated with the oil, lay the pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the pistachio mixture evenly over the top of the kale, pressing it to adhere if necessary. Bake the kale 15 minutes, until crispy but not browned.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely, and then leftovers can be stored in an airtight food storage container.
Note: I’m sure you could also make this recipe with curly kale, but I haven’t tried it.

Better for you breakfasts:

Jump start your health with these appetizers and snacks:

Soups that’ll win your heart:

Veggies, Sides, & Salads your heart will thank you for:

Healthy is the center of attention in these main courses:

Staying healthy doesn’t mean giving up desserts!

We heart wine.

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I think I’ve been on something of a buffalo chicken kick lately, as is evidenced by the fact that this is the second buffalo chicken dish I’ve posted this week, but this pizza is so delicious that I just can’t help myself. Y’all know I adore buffalo chicken anything, so of course the idea of buffalo chicken pizza always fascinated me.

buffalo chicken pizza

And yet… every version I tried fell flat and turned out to be a huge bummer. I mean, I’m aware that I never should have trusted the big chain pizza fast food places to do it right, but I’ve tried homemade versions that were hideously uninspiring and local, non-chain, reputable pizza joints have underwhelmed me too.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

The concept of a delicious, cohesive buffalo chicken pizza still eluded me; and yet I have never truly lost hope. A small part of me always believed that flavorful buffalo chicken with good ingredients was out there somewhere.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Turns out, I was right! One of my lovely Christmas presents was Jessica Merchant’s recently published debut cookbook, Seriously Delish, and upon flipping through it and discovering that she’d included a recipe for buffalo chicken pizza, I knew that was getting made immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Upon tasting my first bite, it seemed that my prayers to the buffalo chicken pizza gods had finally been answered. This version is so unbelievably delicious! It’s everything I thought and believed buffalo chicken pizza could be. I am beyond thrilled right now. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

{One Year Ago: Roasted Broccoli Stem Dip with Parmesan-Black Pepper Pita Chips}
{Two Years Ago: Easy Cranberry Apple Cake, Adobo Salmon Salad Tartines}

Source: slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup buffalo sauce, divided
3 tbs sour cream
A splash of whole milk
2 oz. plus 1 generous tbs blue cheese crumbles, divided
1 uncooked pizza dough
12 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
8 oz. white cheddar, shredded
Snipped fresh chives, for garnish
Torn fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Grease and flour a standard pizza pan and set aside.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the chicken and cook until it’s golden brown on all sides. Add ¼ cup buffalo sauce and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set the chicken aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, and the 1 tbs blue cheese crumbles to make a blue cheese sauce. Shape the pizza dough onto your pizza pan, stretching it all the way out to the edges. Spread the blue cheese sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving about a 1-inch border all the way around. Add the remaining ½ cup buffalo sauce and spread it onto the pizza dough, again leaving a 1-inch border all around. It’s fine if the buffalo sauce and blue cheese sauce swirl together.
Now cover the sauce with half the Fontina cheese. Add the chicken mixture all over the top of the Fontina. Cover the chicken with the remaining Fontina, the cheddar, and half of the remaining blue cheese. Bake the pizza until the cheese is golden and bubbly and the crust is just starting to brown on the edges, about 15-18 minutes.
Once the pizza is done baking, remove it from the oven and cover it with the remaining blue cheese crumbles. Garnish with chives and cilantro. Let it rest a few minutes to set up, then cut into wedges and serve hot.