Sesame Seared Tuna with Radish Salad and Satay Sauce | What I Made on The Taste

Seared Tuna | The TasteNormally I don’t drag one story and recipe out for three blog posts, so please forgive me. However, if I tried to cover the “why” as well as the various “whats” in one post, well, let’s just say you would have stopped reading long ago. Plus, the health and sustainability messages about tuna are relevant no matter what its preparation, and both the radish salad and the satay sauce can be used in dishes well beyond this one. It was simply too many things to cover in one article, trust me.

So, today, we’ll just get right to the seared Neothunnus with a few “exciting” cooking photos that bring everything together and be done with it.

And, of course, you can use this tuna in a whole bunch of other ways, too.

Like, say, slicing it up after it’s gorgeously crusty and rare and eating it right then and there.

* * * * *

Ingredients

Directions

1. Mix the satay sauce by following the directions here. You’ll want to do this first to allow the flavors to come together. Try not to keep eating it out of the bowl with a spoon.

2. Prepare the radish salad as discussed here. Note that for this particular dish I used only Daikon for aesthetic purposes—the dish is black and white and red all over—and omitted the sesame seeds in the salad for obvious reasons.

Satay Sauce and Radish Salad | The Taste

3. Jumble the black and white sesame seeds together with your fingers on a plate. Season the tuna with salt and pepper (or crushed black peppercorns if that kind of thing enthralls you). Press each side of the tuna into the sesame seed mixture, coating fully.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna

4. Sear the tuna. Heat the peanut oil to high heat. As soon as it smokes—worry not, peanut oil has a high smoke point—place the tuna in the pan. It will sizzle and cook very, very quickly. You do not want it to overcook: seared tuna is best served rare. It will take about 2 minutes per side. The seeds will deepen in color and you’ll see the outer edge turn color.

Seared Tuna in the Pan | The Taste

5. Plate the dish. Let the fish rest a few minutes then create an artful mound of radish salad, place the fish atop it, and fleck with lime zest.

Tuna with Satay Sauce | The Taste

I couldn’t figure out an attractive way to get the sauce involved in the plating, ergo it’s on the side. What I also discovered in remaking the dish and tasting my test pieces with the radish salad is that, ironically, it really doesn’t even need it.

Do understand that this is a huge statement for me given I could drown a happy death in a vat of peanut sauce.

Use it, don’t use it. Yet know that this beauty shines on its own abed this sprightly mix of radishes, scallions, and cilantro, perhaps with an extra drizzle of the salad dressing if you like things saucy.

* * * * *

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Simple Radish Salad with Southeast Asian Flavors

Radish Salad PKWay | The TasteRadishes. I love them, root to leaf, and it is one of the vegetables I munch on all year long. My radish horizons have been greatly expanded in recent years. Beyond the traditional red (globe) radish, they also come in purple, black, white, French breakfast, and watermelon varieties, with varying heat. And lucky me! I can get most of these all year long from the seasonal and winter markets here in Boston. Thinly slice a selection and serve with herb butter on crostini and you’ve got a fabulous French-insprired treat, a favorite at my home. Or sauté up the leaves to include in a glorious winter-themed dish like seared scallops, radish greens, and winter squash purée.

Truth be told, today’s salad grew out of a garnish, of all things. I had prepared a sesame-crusted tuna with satay sauce for the “Under the Sea” challenge on The Taste and needed acid and crunch to balance the dish. This mixture definitely fit the bill. Yet it’s so simple and satisfying that I developed this recipe starring the glorious Raphanus sativus.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 Daikon radish, sliced in batons
  • 5 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced in batons
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon Nam Pla (Asian fish sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • White sesame seeds, toasted (garnish)
  • Lime zest (garnish)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Very little to do here, friends. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, brown sugar, and water. Taste. Add the radishes, scallions, and cilantro. Toss and retaste. You’ve now got a deliciously light salad that can also be used as a base for fish (or whatever). For a dressing with a bit more body, simply include a teaspoon or two of peanut or sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice or rice vinegar. If you do add oil and acid, just whisk them in to suit your own palate. It’s your salad, after all.

Spoon artfully on a plate to serve. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and zest with fresh lime. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Radish Salad PK Way | The Taste

* * * * *

Quick. Easy. Pretty. Crunchy. Flavorful.

Another win for radishes.

Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Satay Sauce and Radishes | What I Made on The Taste (and Why)

This is the first part of a three-part series on this dish. For the recipe itself, click here.

What happens when you sear up a gorgeous piece of tuna with black pepper, Fleur de Sel, and sesame seeds and serve it with satay sauce and a crunchy radish garnish? This. This bite of deliciousness right here, which sorta looks like my spoon for the “Under the Sea” challenge on The Taste.

So why did I make this dish? For starters, the logistics of the competition were paramount considerations, which involve timing and strategy. Is it circa 1998, as Chef Marcus Samuelson claimed? Perhaps. Whatever. The name of the game is to stay in the game, so I didn’t want to take big risks with one of my more inventive dishes, like, say, seared scallops with Moroccan spices and red lentils or swordfish with tomato tamarind sauce and coconut chutney. Seared tuna is also extremely quick to cook: a crispy crust with a rare center and it’s done. My Asian-inspired peanut sauce is, frankly, awesome—and takes experience to prepare with its many ingredients. I began making my own after eating a lot of bad Thai takeout, drawing on skills I learned in a cooking class in Thailand using traditional seasonings like Nam Pla. Finally, my crisp radish salad with its flavorful dressing brought in a creative element, a burst of acidity that perfectly balanced the richness of the fish and sauce. In fact when I remade this dish for today’s post, I found it didn’t even need the satay sauce at all. If I had to do it again on primetime I’d leave it off and focus on the radishes. Then again, I’m a radish fiend. 

Beyond all that, tuna is one seriously nutritious fish, a protein powerhouse that’s packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that have anti-inflammatory actions critical for heart- and brain health. And most people, including pregnant women and children, don’t consume the recommended levels for optimal development and disease prevention. Tuna is also an amazing source of selenium and vitamins B-3, B-12, B-6, and D; B-12 is particularly important since many adults are at risk of deficiency, especially those over 50 years of age. For all these reasons and more, most people would benefit from increasing their consumption of seafood.

On the other hand, tuna is high on the food chain and can be contaminated with methylmercury. Other species suffer from dwindling populations due to severe over-fishing, and bycatch compromises other sea life. And there are a whole bunch of different species of tuna that vary on these factors.

Foods for HealthIt gets to be a lot, I know, but there is good science to guide you. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has a great app that informs decision-making when standing at the fishmonger’s counter—yes, I’m that personand the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fishwatch is also quite informative; a recent article in National Geographic summarizes the myriad tuna issues. If you’re interested in this kind of farm-to-fork thinking when making food choices please subscribe to my blog. You might also enjoy my recent book, National Geographic Foods for Healthcurrently on sale at local bookstores and here.

And just for the record, the other elements I included in the dish, like radishes, sesame seeds, and peanut butter, are pretty darn healthful, too.

So. Cooking and Eating the PK Way. Better for you, better for the planet, and unbelievably tasty when dishes like sesame-crusted tuna with satay sauce and radishes are on the menu.

What else can I tell you, really?

Seared Tuna and Satay Sauce | The Taste

Oh, right.

The recipe.

It’s coming soon. Please stay posted!

And thanks for reading.

Update: Here’s the recipe!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Savory Sicilian Cauliflower, the PK Way

Savory Cauliflower the PK WayMy regular readers are quite familiar with my crazy cruciferous ways and my deep affection for cauliflower in particular. I even highlighted it in my “Top 5 Foods for Autumn” in a recent interview on Fox TV.

Many of my favorite cauliflower recipes begin with roasting, which creates a crispy texture and brings out the sweetness of the vegetable. Roasted cauliflower is lovely on its own but is also the beginning for all kinds of scrumptious things. Think: Garlicky Smashed CauliflowerCauliflower Soup with Artichokes and LeeksCauliflower Salad in Three Colors; Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiana and Pesto; Green Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing and Avocado; and Aloo Gobi (Curried Cauliflower with Potatoes and Peas). I’ve even doused it with hot sauce and dipped it in blue cheese dressing for a vegetarian play on buffalo chicken wings.

Today, we take a super savory trip to Sicily in a recipe inspired by Bon Appétit a few years back. Of course, I modified the dish to be better-for-you-and-the-planet-too while also bringing in a few of my own elements. You can find the original story here, or just fast forward below to get to the good stuff: the recipe.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of white cauliflower
  • 1 small head of Romanescu cauliflower
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon capers (no liquid)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain breadcrumbs, from about 2 pieces of bread
  • teaspoons sherry 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup green olives, sliced
  • 4 anchovies, finely minced into a paste) (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon honey, approximate (optional, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Roast the cauliflower. Preheat oven to 450°. Break cauliflower into medium-sized florets; you should have about 6 cups. Spread florets on a baking pan and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss with your fingers until coated. (Add a bit more oil if needed; they should be lightly coated but not dripping.) Roast until cauliflower is crispy and cooked (but not mushy!), about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. (For more details and photos on roasting cauliflower, click here.)

Prepare the toppingMeanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until just golden and crunchy, about 5 minutes, then add capers and cook 1 more minute. (They may pop.) In the meantime, chop or roughy grate the bread into crumbs and add to garlic-caper miture and stir until fragrant and toasted, about 2–3 minutes. Dump mixture onto a plate for later.

Make the dressing. Add stock and sherry to the same sauce pan (it’s fine if a few errant breadcrumbs remain) and bring to a boil. Add raisins, olives, anchovies, and lemon juice, and simmer until almost fully reduced, about 5 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with honey for sweetness and balance as desired. Continue reducing until a few teaspoons of liquid remain. Taste and readjust if needed.

Put it together.  Place the cauliflower on a plate and drizzle with raisin mixture. Scatter with crispy topping and garnish with parsley. Drizzle with finishing olive oil and a bit of sherry vinegar if desired.

Can be served warm or at room temperature. Serves about 4.

* * * * *

This plate may not the prettiest out there, I’ll admit (though it does have a certain Jackson Pollack aesthetic happening in my eyes). And its bold flavors may not be for everyone. But if you’re looking for something adventurous, I recommend giving this dish a try. The unique ingredients come together in a way that’s different from anything I’ve ever made with its complex flavors and textures. And, as in all cases, you can alter the recipe to suit your own palate.

Sicilian Cauliflower | PK Way

Roasted cauliflower delivers, yet again.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more. 

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Mac and Cheese, the PK Way | What I Made on The Taste

Macaroni and Cheese | The Taste

Here’s a taste for *you*! Thanks for reading & watching!

All cooks have their own version of macaroni and cheese, that perennial favorite that everyone loves—including me. So I was thrilled when that was the first team challenge on The Taste. And how fun to see the Domestic Goddess make mac and cheese in her own kitchen!

Anyway, after watching me on the show last night, one of my Twitter followers quipped “Did you put anything healthy in your mac+cheese? Is that possible?”

The simple response, as many of my regular readers will anticipate, is yes. (Occupational hazard.) Not that it’s always necessary, mind you. See, for example, my recipe for maple walnut ice cream. But it’s certainly possible.

Yet I think the more important answer to the question is that decadent dishes like mac and cheese absolutely fit into Cooking & Eating the PK Way, which is my food-loving philosophy that keeps pleasure and taste at the center of the plate (while also looking like this). There’s no need for total deprivation when it comes to diet, and that in and of itself can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food, trigger binge eating, and so forth. Mac and Cheese | PKWayThat said, macaroni and cheese is not my regular menu item given its massive amount of, well, cheese. (More examples of the things I regularly cook are here.) Moderation is key when it comes to meals like these; my recommendation is to keep mac and cheese as a special treat. I, for example, make it only a few times a year. I adore the classic cheddar-based version—confession: I still get occasional hankerings for Stouffer’s from my grad student days—but today’s recipe includes other cheeses, too. Ravishing additions like caramelized onions, blue cheese, and a crispy garlic and herb crumb topping come together in a sexy adult variation that’s definitely not yo’ mama’s mac and cheese.

So enjoy this lighter-than-usual-yet-still-creamy-and-delicious dish of indulgence—and do so guilt-free! It is definitely nutrition doctor approved.

Just, you know, not all the time.

* * * * *

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more)
  • 2 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, fresh (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Salt and black pepper, to season
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, homemade or no-sodium store bought
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth (or white wine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 12 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni (or other pasta of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups white cheddar, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups blue cheese, crumbled (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup green peas (optional)

Crispy Crumb Topping

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 2 pieces whole wheat bread, pulsed or grated into fine crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, chopped (almonds or pecans also work)

Directions

Caramelize the alliumHeat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low and add in onions and shallots. Season with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Cook down slowly until brown and deliciously sweet, stirring occasionally, and toss in the thyme leaves during the final minutes. Drizzle in a bit more EVOO if needed during cooking to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan and drying out. (More instructions here on how to caramelize onions.)

Make the pasta and sauce. While the onions are doing their thing, smash your garlic cloves with the back of a knife, remove the skins, and throw into a saucepan with the vermouth, vegetable stock, and rosemary. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes or so. Note that the goal is to infuse the stock with garlic and rosemary, not reduce it substantially. While the sauce simmers, fill a pot with water and a few big pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Follow the directions on the package and cook your pasta of choice until a few minutes firmer than al dente; it will absorb the sauce and become more tender during cooking. In a large bowl, grate the cheddar cheese and toss it with corn starch, then pour in the herbaceous stock and whisk. (Note that this is not a thick béchamel sauce; the mixture will still be thin at this point.) Stir in the mascarpone, dried mustard, and white pepper.

Prepare the crispy topping. Pulse the bread into fine crumbs; you’ll have about 1 cup or so. Heat the olive oil to medium-high and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, and then the breadcrumbs. Sauté until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes or so. Add nuts and parsley, mixing an additional minute or two to combine.

Put it together.  Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce then add the crumbled blue cheese, caramelized onions, and peas (if using),  just until combined. Pour the mixture into a large casserole or fun, individual-sized serving dishes that have been lightly coated with olive oil or cooking spray. Scatter the top(s) with the crispy crumbs.

Bake in an preheated 375 degree F oven about 20-40 minutes (a deep casserole will take closer to 40 minutes), until mixture is hot and bubbling. If crumbs are getting too brown, cover with foil until cooked

Let the mac and cheese rest a few minutes then serve.

* * * * *

If you’re still reading—and thanks for that!—then you caught the various alterations that make my version better-for-you-and-the-planet-too: I swapped nutritious whole grain for typical white for both the pasta and bread crumbs; switched heart-healthy olive oil for butter; selected homemade veggie stock rather than full-sodium store-bought chicken broth; and included veggies like onions and peas for balance and texture. (My hubby has an affection for peas, and I love to see the green pops of color.) And I used Nigella’s tip of starting with a stock, which lets the flavors sing rather than burying everything in uber-creamy cheesiness. (Though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that once in a while, as she and I both fully agree, and you can make this dish a lot richer by starting with a traditional roux and adding even more cheese.) Finally, including some toasted nuts in the topping brings in even more vitamins and minerals with a little bit of extra crunch to boot.

The result? The earthy, herbaceous notes of this dish come together delectably in a sophisticated take on mac and cheese that’s almost dinner party worthy.

And if this dish doesn’t quite work for you, since some people don’t care for blue, either use all cheddar or swap in Swiss or gouda. And include the veggies that make you and yours happy. Make it your way!

Or, you know, there’s always Stouffer’s.

I hear that.

Macaroni and Cheese

Note. This is the version of the dish I make in my own kitchen based on the ingredients I use regularly, like whole grain pasta and bread and homemade vegetable stock. I made minor changes to my regular recipe on the show based on the pantry items available. Also—repeat after me—whole grain pasta doesn’t suck, and this dish is the perfect foil since it has other nutty, earthy elements to it (like blue cheese and nuts). Give it a shot, or start swapping in whole grain for regular until your palate adjusts to the more pronounced flavor of whole grain pasta; it will happen.

Getting Retro with Waldorf Salad: A Modern Take on the Classic

Waldorf SaladSome of my readers may not be familiar with this dish, which is decidedly old-school. In fact, Waldorf salad was created at the turn of the twentieth century. It was particularly popular in the early 1900s, even getting a shout-out in Cole Porter’s classic song “You’re the Top” from Anything Goes (1934) alongside Shakespeare and Mickey Mouse. Waldorf salad also played a starring role in one of the episodes of the 1979 British sitcom Fawlty Towers

Perhaps due to its tasty simplicity featuring common ingredients like apples and walnuts, it continues to be passed down the generations. And why not? There’s nothing not to like about this classic, and it’s a fine way to celebrate all those crisp autumn apples of varying colors and flavors. Just select a few varieties that make you happy—leave that pretty skin loaded with fiber and phytonutrients on, please—and add a few more ingredients for a dish that can be made in less than ten minutes. My recipe modernizes the salad with additional vegetables and herbs to give it a nutrition and flavor boost, and there’s plenty of room for you to play, too, to create your own perfect Waldorf salad fit for twenty-first century families.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • Hakurei turnips (sweet salad turnips)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (approximately from 1/3 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (I prefer golden)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pecans, toasted, rough chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon agave nectar (or honey) (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions and Notes

Chop the unpeeled apples and turnips into bite-sized chunks and toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice. (I generally choose one sweet and one tart apple; use whatever you want.) Stir in scallions, celery, parsley, mayonnaise, yogurt, raisins, and nuts. Add a shake of vinegar and small squirt of agave, season with freshly ground pepper and a few pinches of salt, and mix. Taste and adjust: final amounts of vinegar, lemon juice, and agave (if using) will be dictated by how sweet or tart the apples you selected were as well as your own preferences. Personally, I enjoy a salad with tang so I often squeeze in a bit more lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest, a few nuts, or a scatter of parsley and scallions, as desired.

* * * * *

Sure, you can just toss some apples together with yogurt and nuts perhaps like you would with any fruit for a simple snack or dessert. But putting a few additional ingredients together creates something … special. I include scrumptious turnips because they’re always at my farmers market this time of year. This small and sweet variety is perfect in any kind of autumn salad and has the same texture as a very crisp apple with none of the bitterness of its larger counterpart. Perfect complement.

There are so many other options to keep things interesting and suit your taste. Swap red or yellow onion for scallions; switch pistachios or walnuts for pecans; add kale, broccoli, or cauliflower for color and texture; or toss in and handful of grapes, as those keeping with the traditional recipe are wont to do. And you could ditch the mayo if you prefer and just use yogurt, perhaps with crème fraiche or sour cream for tang. I often include a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, too.

A small bowl of Waldorf salad makes a super breakfast, snack, or dessert, but with all of these vegetables I find it also makes a really nice light lunch when served atop a bed of greens. Peppery arugula is perfect (as pictured) but anything works, really, from sweet spinach to pretty red leaf lettuce; choose whatever you have on hand.

Modern Waldorf Salad

Here’s to the classics!

There’s a reason they’re still around, and getting creative makes them a fun and worthwhile addition to your meal-time repertoire, even now.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce: A Revelation

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with CaramelSure, you can carve a pumpkin for Halloween and toast its seeds up all nice for a healthy snack or salad topping. But a pumpkin is far more than a decoration, and its orange flesh rich in nutrients like alpha- and beta-carotene and soluble fiber can be enjoyed in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Think: Thai pumpkin soup with cashews, coconut, and curryspinach salad with pomegranates and pepitas; and pumpkin bread with dark chocolate chunks and pecans.

And then there’s this sexy little number, a dessert so divine it will make a bread pudding lover out of you, just as it did me.

You see, I used to loathe bread pudding before I discovered this recipe and made it my own. I was sadly reminded of the reason for my detest last Friday night when my husband and I ordered one, thinking it would be like this plate of lusciousness. Instead, it was a starchy hunk of tasteless white bread that I scowled at in disapproval.

Very disappointing.

Tragic, really.

So I immediately baked up my unbelievably moist pumpkin bread pudding with sticky caramel and dreamy whipped cream to supplant that horrid food memory and bring back the love.

And now I share it with you.

* * * * *

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups puréed fresh pumpkin (or canned with no added salt or seasonings)
  • 1 cup packed Muscovado sugar (or dark brown)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 10 cups whole grain bread, cut into 1/2 -3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I prefer golden)

Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce

  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for teetotalers)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Roast pumpkin as directed in this short cooking video here. When cool, remove the flesh from the skin (it should pull away easily if it is adequately cooked) and purée in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 2 cups and save the rest for another purpose; it freezes beautifully. 

Make pudding. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl then add half and half, pumpkin, sugar, spices, and vanilla extract, whisking fully until blended. (You can use a hand beater if you prefer, though it’s really not necessary.) Gently fold in the bread and raisins until the cubes are saturated with the custard. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased glass or porcelain baking dish; let stand 15 minutes. Custard should be largely absorbed with some liquid remaining. Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Prepare caramel. Heat sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, then whisk until fully combined. Add bourbon and salt and stir until smooth. Whisk in cream until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste—don’t burn your tongue!—and add more salt and/or hourbon as desired. Sauce will thicken as it cools and can be reheated over low heat when ready to serve the pudding.

Whip cream. Freshly whipped cream is a decadent addition to this dessert, a light yet velvety richness that perfectly complements the pudding and caramel. I’m going to go ahead and say it’s necessary. Simply beat 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form.

Drizzle caramel sauce on a plate creatively then top with a serving of pudding and dollop of whipped cream; a sprinkle of cinnamon here or there is optional. (See three additional plating ideas here.)

Note: This is a big recipe that serves about 8-10 people, ideal for a dinner party or holiday; leftovers can be frozen for another occasion. Or halve the portions for a recipe that serves 4.

* * * * *

Truth be told, I first wrote about pumpkin bread pudding a couple of years ago, and the original story and a few good photos are here. But that post was mostly a story, and I’ve since gotten better about writing up my recipes. And—trust me—this one you need to try.

No, the whole grain bread and fresh pumpkin doesn’t make my recipe healthy, of course, in light of all that cream and sugar. Come on now. Yet it gives me such joy swapping whole grain bread for highly refined white with no deleterious impact on flavor. I’ve made this dessert for enough guests at this point to say with conviction that no one will be the wiser. Indeed, the nuttiness of a high-quality whole grain bread melds beautifully with the rich fall flavors of the dish.

While pumpkin bread pudding isn’t a show stopper in appearance—big brownish lump that it is—do not let looks deceive: it’s the ménages-à-trois of the pudding together with the salted caramel and cream that make this one of the most sumptuous autumn desserts out there.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel

Hello, lover.

Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (Video)

Autumn Harvest SaladAutumn abounds with hearty greens, lively herbs, crisp apples and pears, and squashes of all shapes and sizes. Here in Boston we’re also lucky enough to be seeing the final crop of sweet tomatoes and summer corn. It truly is a cornucopia of goodness at the local farmers’ markets, which makes for terrific eating that’s good for you and the planet, too.

Today’s salad features roasted butternut squash, rosemary onions, and dried cranberries. The salad sings with a zesty maple Dijon vinaigrette. Watch the video of me whipping it up at the Boston Local Food Festival and learn more about why salad dressing and nuts are so nutritious.

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 large onion, large chop (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, rough mince
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, split, or more
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (reduced sugar if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive, canola, or grape seed)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chive blossoms, minced, or regular chives
  • Mixed lettuces, about 8 cups (arugula, mustard greens, kale, etc.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Roast the squash. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Remove the peel and seeds from the squash and cut into fork-friendly chunks. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat, using more if needed. Spread squash onto a baking sheet and roast about 20 minutes, tossing once, until softened. Don’t overcook, since you want the squash to retain its shape and have a pleasing texture for the salad. (Note: extra squash works fantastically in roasted butternut squash soup.)

Roast the onions. Chop the onion—yellow, white, or Vidalia all work well—into large pieces. Give the fresh rosemary a rough mince. Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and toss together; use more oil if needed. (Like the squash, the onions should be lightly coated, but not greasy or dripping.) Spread onions onto a baking sheet and roast at the same time as the squash, about 12 minutes, tossing half-way through. Onions should be somewhat browned, soft, and translucent. (Caramelized onions are a great way to go, too.)

Make the dressing. While the vegetables are roasting, whisk Dijon, vinegar, and garlic together in a small bowl then stream in the oil until emulsified. I recommend adding about 4 tablespoons of oil and go from there; some people like a dressing with more vinegary zing while others prefer a milder taste. You can’t go back, so tasting is key before adding it all! Whisk in fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Put it together. When vegetables have cooled somewhat to warm or room temperature, you are ready to plate your salad. On a large serving platter, create a bed of greens that makes you happy. I encourage you to go for dark green and red for the greatest nutrition; the bitter crunch of kale or mustard greens works wonderfully to provide texture and contrast to the sweetness of the squash and cranberries. Spoon the squash over the greens then scatter with the roasted onions and dried cranberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and top with minced chive blossoms; regular chives work fine if you can’t find them. Let people serve themselves, and pass additional vinaigrette around the table.

Options. For a heartier salad, include nuts and seeds of your choosing, like toasted walnuts or spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds; a whole grain like quinoa, farro, or brown rice; or cooked beans. Crumbled goat or blue cheese also work really well. Less is more, so don’t add all of these at the same time, but with tasty toppings like these you can make this salad over and over again, adding new elements to suit your mood to keep things fun and interesting.

Serves 6-8 people, fewer if consuming as a stand-alone “big salad for supper.”

This video was remixed from my cooking demo at the Boston Local Food Festival, where I made three other salads featuring health- and planet-friendly ingredients like pear and arugula with walnut vinaigrette. For more delectable recipes of all kinds, please visit my recipe page.

From Farm to Fork, Why What You Eat Matters: Foods for Health Now On Sale!

I am excited to announce that my first book is now on sale here and will be available in stores around the country on September 9, 2014!

Foods for Health

Foods for Health is science-based (of course!) and filled with great food porn—and even includes a few of my very own photos like the one here. It’s a gorgeous, coffee-table type book that highlights 148 foods and explains the health and environmental impacts of each in a user-friendly fashion. I can’t wait until my cookbooks are published to help you bring salubrious and sustainable eating to your plate in delectable ways. Until then, peruse hundreds of recipes right here on my blog and keep checking back with The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen for fabulous dishes that will make you swoon.

I hope you’ll understand that I won’t have much time to write in the upcoming weeks with the beginning of the semester and book tour activities. (By the way, you can still register for From Farm to Fork: Why What You Eat Matters if you like, and it’s offered online so you don’t need to be in Boston.) In the meanwhile, I hope you pick up a copy of Foods for Health for your collection. Thank you for your support!

Summer on a Plate: Caprese, Meet Peaches

It doesn’t get much prettier or simpler than this. In a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, this ravishing play on caprese salad screams summer with the addition of juicy peaches. The traditional ingredients of tomato, mozzarella, and basil still shine, but including sweet stone fruit brings a burst of color and flavor that just may make you swoon.

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches

Simply slice your favorite tomato—heirlooms are glorious, if you can find them—and serve with peach wedges and shards of fresh mozzarella. I had a bit of extra basil oil, which is why the cheese has flecks of green, but you needn’t bother. (Though the addition of pesto is always an option on this kind of salad, as shown here.) Tuck in a few leaves of basil and season with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper; a drizzle of balsamic is always delicious, too, pictured below.

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches and Balsamic

Okay, fine, yes, I just wanted to include another photo of this salad because it’s so luscious.

And I really have very little else to say, other than to encourage you to take advantage of local and seasonal produce while you can. The tomatoes, peaches, and basil came from my local farmers’ market, which makes all the difference when it comes to taste. You can have fun with the salad by mixing up the variety and color of the tomatoes, the type of cheese, and even the herbs and stone fruit you use: make it delicious, your way.

And do make it soon.