Pan-Roasted Chickpea Salad

When I’m hungry for chickpeas (and I’m always hungry for chickpeas), I simply heat some olive oil in a skillet, toss the dry, cooked chickpeas into the pan, and let them roast away over medium-high heat, stirring to get roasted brown spots all over. I don’t want them crispy — that’s an entirely different recipe! — but I do want them browned in spots and full of roasted flavor.

While the chickpeas are doing their thing on the stove, I whip together a lemony vinaigrette and chop parsley. When the chickpeas are done, I toss them in the vinaigrette, add the parsley, adjust the seasonings, and serve.

This ridiculously easy recipe will impress your family and friends. They’ll never know how simple it really is!

Chicken Paprikash

Since I’m half Hungarian, I’d like to pretend that I’ve been making this dish since birth. The truth is I’ve only been making it for a few years. While you can make it spicy with the addition of cayenne or hot paprika, I like the way the onions and paprika mellow into a slightly sweet and smoky dish. Some dishes don’t need to be spicy hot!

This version uses chicken on the bone (I generally use thighs because they are so good and relatively inexpensive), but you can substitute boneless meat. The volume of onions will seem huge, but they cook down pretty quickly. The longer the onions braise, the more they melt into the sauce.

If you’re making this for a party, transfer the browned meat and onions to a crockpot and cook on low for several hours. I prefer using cut-up boneless thighs if I’m making this for a party.

Grilled Fish Tacos

Let me be perfectly clear: while this recipe is for fish tacos, you can make a good taco out of just about anything. Steak, chicken, and carnitas (shredded pork) are popular fillings. But fish tacos are something special. And they’re so easy.

Obviously, since these tacos are gluten-free, they’re not covered in a heavy, and often greasy, batter. Instead, the fresh flavor of the fish shines through, and additional yumminess comes a tangy cabbage slaw. If you’re not up for making a slaw, diced onions and cilantro with a bit of lime juice works just as well. If you like your tacos with a bit heat, add a small amount of diced jalapeno.

Basic Pesto Sauce

Basil is easy to grow, and I love the fragrance. It’s also the key ingredients in one of my favorite pasta toppings: pesto. As you can see from the recipe below, you can quickly throw together pesto using a few ingredients. In addition to making a quick vegetarian meal with pesto and pasta, I love to use pesto in other ways.

One favorite is as a topping for grilled salmon. Add a bit lemon juice or zest to your pesto and use a few spoonfuls on each serving of salmon. Another fun way to use pesto is mixed with steamed rice. It’s a nice break from ordinary, plain rice, and takes just moments to prepare. Mix pesto to taste into just-cooked rice and serve. Top with a bit of grated Parmesan for additional flavor.

Pesto is also open to new ingredients. You can use artichokes, kale, spinach, or other greens. Swap out the pine nuts for walnuts. Some red pepper flakes can add a bit heat if that’s what you’re looking for.

Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

Meatloaf with Ketchup-Vinegar Glaze

I grew up eating really bad meatloaf — it was dry and covered with ketchup. Yet I still loved the stuff. I love it even more now that I’m an adult because, as with many of the foods from my childhood, I’ve discovered and refined recipes that suit my more adventurous tastes. But I admit it: I still frequently use a variation on the traditional ketchup glaze.

Traditional meatloaves are made with a bread-and-milk panade. Unless you’re doing a lot of gluten-free baking, chances are you don’t have much GF bread to spare. Another option is gluten-free breadcrumbs, or…you can do as I do and use meaty, tasty mushrooms to your meatloaf. In addition to adding incredible flavor, mushrooms help keep your meatloaf moist and increases flavor.

This recipe includes basic seasonings. Use them as suggestions. Fresh herbs and different spices can change up the flavor in great ways. Like heat? Add some cayenne or fresh jalapeno. I sometimes add about a 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese to my meatloaf mixture. There is no one way to make a meatloaf.

One thing: while you can make your meatloaf in a loaf pan, I like this freeform style because it keeps the loaf from stewing in its juices.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Instead the ketchup glaze, serve with mushroom gravy.[/box]

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