Epicurean Light
Originally published the week of August 14, 2000.

All content copyright by World Wide Recipes.

 

Even though I am calling this preparation a dip, you may also spread it on toast or crackers, or add a dollop to hot or cold soup.

Basil and Walnut Dip

8 oz (225 g) low-fat or fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh basil leaves
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs (15 ml) red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (5 ml) prepared horseradish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped walnuts

Combine all ingredients except the walnuts in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir in the walnuts. Serve with raw vegetables for dipping. Makes about 1 cup (250 ml).

 

The best cook I have ever known taught me this recipe, and it has been a standard in my kitchen ever since. Thanks Mom.

Mushrooms with Lemon Juice and Soy Sauce

2 Tbs (30 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbs (15 ml) soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 oz (250 g) fresh mushrooms, sliced
Lettuce leaves for garnish

Combine the lemon juice, soy sauce, and pepper in a bowl. Toss the sliced mushrooms in the dressing and serve immediately on a bed of lettuce. Serves 4 to 6.

 

This recipe offer proof that there is more to do with celery other than chopping it up and adding it to salads.

Braised Celery

8 - 12 ribs of celery, cut into 3-inch (7 cm) lengths
1 cup (250 ml) chicken broth
OR 1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken broth and 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or vermouth
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Place the celery in a large, shallow saucepan. Add the liquid, drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered 30 minutes, until the celery is tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with chopped nuts if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

 

This dish may be assembled several hours in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to cook it. For a special taste treat, serve with the Spicy Fruit Chutney in next Sunday's ezine.

Lime and Cilantro Pork Kebabs

1 - 1 1/2 lbs (450 - 675 g) pork tenderloin or pork loin, trimmed of all fat and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) cubes
1 cup (250 ml) plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 - 2 Spanish, Vidalia, or other sweet onion, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks

Combine the pork, yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne in a large bowl. Stir to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Thread the meat and onion on skewers and grill or broil until the meat is done, about 20 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with the remaining marinade. Serves 4 to 6.

 

You'll need an ice cream maker for this recipe, and if you own one I'll bet you find this sorbet a refreshing change of pace.

Port Wine Sorbet

1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) port wine
1 tsp (5 ml) finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 cantaloupe or honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 Tbs (15 ml) lemon juice

Combine the sugar, wine, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Raise the heat to high and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Puree the melon in a food processor and combine with the wine syrup and lemon juice. Freeze in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Think of this as a low-fat quiche. It is delicious warm or at room temperature, and would make a wonderful main dish for an elegant picnic.

Ricotta and Spinach Tart

2 lbs (900 g) fresh or frozen spinach
16 oz (450 g) low-fat ricotta cheese
1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs (or equivalent amount egg substitute)
1 Tbs (15 ml) chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A generous grating of fresh nutmeg
4 sheets phyllo dough
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 Tbs (45 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

If using fresh spinach, wash it thoroughly. Place the damp leaves in a large saucepan and cook covered over high heat until wilted, about 1 minute. Whether using fresh or frozen spinach, squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the spinach, ricotta, onion, eggs, basil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in an electric food processor and process until well combined. Alternately, finely chop the spinach and combine with above ingredients in a large bowl.

Place the phyllo sheets in a 9-inch (22 cm) quiche or pie pan, rotating successive sheets so as to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the spinach mixture and trim all but 2 inches (5 cm) of the phyllo dough. Roll the rim of phyllo dough up so as to resemble a pie crust. Don't worry if the dough tears a little bit. Arrange the tomato slices in an attractive pattern on top. Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the center is firm and doesn't shake when wiggled. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

 

This spicy, sweet, and sour chutney will keep up to a month refrigerated, so consider making a double or even triple batch.

Spicy Fruit Chutney

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup (250 ml) diced dried fruits, such as apricots, peaches, prunes, pears, etc.
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (add more or less, to taste)
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 Tbs (15 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) salt
2 tsp (10 ml) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 ml) ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, covered, over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml).