Month: January 2014

Coconut-Pistachio Chocolate Bark

20140112_210519

I love chocolate. Love. Dark chocolate is a more recent development, relatively speaking. I probably didn’t really join the dark chocolate camp until after college.

Pistachios are also more of a grown-up treat, don’t you think? I don’t remember liking them as a kid. Or having them around at all, now that I think about it (boxes of pistachio-flavored Jell-O instant pudding don’t count). Older and wiser me is all about the curious little green nut.

I work in market research. One of my favorite research partners, Davis Research, sends a canister of pistachios every December. Laugh, but we look forward to it all year (or at least, from the time the previous year’s batch runs out!). While I love snacking on them, I like mixing it up a bit and finding new ways to use them.

20140114_144536

This coconut-pistachio chocolate bark is adapted slightly from Bon Appetit’s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse, a two-week program designed for foodies to get on the resolutions bandwagon with a food palate reset. A friend and I each made several recipes from this year’s Cleanse, with varying reactions, but this recipe was definitely a keeper.

A few tips:

Buy the good stuff. The first ingredient should be cacao.

If you’re new to bittersweet chocolate, go a little further than you’re accustomed to, but not so far that you won’t eat it. The point is to still have a treat while cutting back on sugar. The recipe calls for a chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao, but if you don’t normally go any darker than semisweet chocolate, start with 60%.

Melt the chocolate slowly. A double boiler is best, but the microwave works. When chocolate melts properly, it should be shiny and smooth.

Unsweetened coconut. Repeat: unsweetened coconut. “Regular” flaked and shredded coconut is, like, 99% sugar (okay, maybe not 99%, but it is a lot). If your regular grocery store doesn’t carry it, try a natural or specialty food store.

Don’t skip the salt… unless your pistachios were already salted. It really brings out the flavor.

20140112_183840

Coconut-Pistachio Chocolate Bark

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes about eight 1-oz. servings

1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% or more cacao)
3 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until most flakes are straw-colored, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in 30-second intervals in a microwave, stirring between each interval. Spread melted chocolate on baking mat in an even layer about 1/8″ thick. Scatter toasted coconut and pistachios evenly over chocolate. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Let chocolate cool completely, then break into pieces. Bark will keep for about a week stored in a cool place in an airtight container.

Advertisements

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese

I’m not big on resolutions, but I do like goals. One of mine for 2014: eat more vegetables, more consistently. This recipe was borne out of a desire to do just that, especially during lunch, when salads leave me feeling unsatisfied and searching for sugar two hours later.

20140105_174339

I first made this easy bolognese with family over the holidays, and loved that it was hearty and filling on a cold day. Even my crunchy-vegetable-hating brother seemed to like it. At home, I took the recipe a step further by substituting spaghetti squash for traditional pasta. I had never cooked spaghetti squash myself, and it was surprisingly easy.

I divided the mixture into 6 portions and froze half for easy lunches down the road. Great with a green salad or even a cup of soup!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese

Serves about 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup diced mushrooms (I used half a package)
1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1/3 cup (or more) shredded Parmesan cheese (Omit if observing a Paleo diet)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash spaghetti squash rind, halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place rind side up on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. When cool enough to touch, shred the squash with a fork, working the width of the squash. Place shredded squash in a colander; drain and discard excess liquid. (Make ahead: can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.) 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat, until meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil; reduce to a simmer.

Toss squash, sauce and cheese in a large bowl. Season to taste.