Amritsari Masala Pork Chops

Here is the pork version, of the Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops that I posted last Saturday.

Pork Loin Rib Chops served with Curried Baby Turnips Feature

The pork chops are also made with my Indian Spice Mix, but I tweaked the flavor with additional warm spices which have a well-rounded, sweet profile to match the flavor of the pork.  I know that sweet things go with pork because Pork Chops & Apples is a classic American combination.

INGREDIENTS:

 

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  • 2 thick cut, bone in pork loin rib chops.  These very special Berkshire pork chops were provided by my neighbors, Rose and James, at Peach Creek Farm.
  • Enough Indian Spice Mix to coat the pork chops.  If you prepare 1/2 a cup of spice mix you should have plenty.
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 piece of mace
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp of grape seed oil to coat the pork chops, and 1 Tbsp to coat the non-stick skillet.
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

A FEW NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS:

Berkshire pork is a gourmet product from a breed of pigs that originated in the English county of Berkshire.  The meat has shorter muscle fibers than regular pork, making the meat more tender.  The meat is also highly marbled with intramuscular fat, making the meat more succulent and flavorful.  Rose and James treat their animals with care, they are not caged, and no hormones or chemicals are used in raising them.  For more information, you can go to their website at Peach Creek Farm.

Mace (on the left) is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed.  It gives a milder, more balanced flavor than nutmeg. It rounds out the flavor profile of the spice rub.

Mace & Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds (on the right) have a sweet slightly, licorice-like flavor.  They are often used in sausage making.  My husband likes it in the rubs I use for pork, because it makes him feel like he is eating sausage.

PREPPING THE PORK CHOPS:

 

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  • Remove the pork chops from their package and pat them dry
  • Place the mace and fennel seeds in a spice grinder.  Pulverize into a powder.
  • Add this powder along with the cinnamon to the Indian Spice Mix
  • Mix the spices to form a spice rub
  • Sprinkle the spice rub, salt and pepper over the pork chops
  • Drizzle with grape seed oil
  • Rub the spices and oil into the pork chops
  • Flip the pork chops, and season the second side with the spice rub and oil
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour

The seasoned pork chops can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.  The spices prevent the meat from going bad.  This is a good way to prep protein ahead of meal time.

COOKING THE PORK CHOPS:

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with a Tbsp of grape seed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and let the oil get hot.  When the oil is ready it will shimmer.
  • Place the spiced pork chops into the pan without over crowding the pan.  You should hear a sizzle.
  • Leave the pork alone to let a spicy crust form.  This should take 3 to 5 minutes.  When the crust is ready the pork will release itself, making it easy to flip without sticking.
  • Cook on the second side to get the meat to your desired temperature.
  • Transfer the cooked pork chops to a platter.  Loosely cover with foil.  Let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.  The resting period allows the juices to stay in the meat when you cut into it, thus keeping it moist.

Since pork chops go with something with a sweet profile, I have served them with Curried Baby Turnips (tops & all).

Pork Loin Rib Chops served with Curried Baby Turnips Feature

Turnips are a good low carb alternative to potatoes.  They are perfect for a Ketogenic Lifestyle!  1 medium turnip has 8 grams of carbs and 2.2 grams of fiber, making one whole turnip just 5.8 net carbs as compared to 33 net carbs in one medium russet potato.  They are also a good source of Vitamin C.

My husband likes turnips with pork because their sweet profile goes very well togehter.  Try them with your favorite vegetable.

I hope you enjoy this post.  Please leave me your feedback in the comments section.

I love to hear from you. 😃

 

Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops

Here is the recipe for Amritisari Masala Lamb Chops that I promised you.

Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops served with Mustard Green Saag Paneer

My home town is Amritsar in the Northern region of Punjab, India.  The spice rub I use on the lamb chops is from Amritsar.  It is the same spice rub that I used for the Amritsari Masala Fish with the addition of cinnamon and dried mint.  Cinnamon brings warmth and extra depth of flavor to the meat, and mint is a classic match to lamb.  We don’t use cinnamon for  the fish because it will overpower the delicate fish.

I don’t eat meat because I was raised a vegetarian and am not used to eating it.  Most Indian people are vegetarians.  I personally don’t like the taste of meat.  If I accidentally eat something made with a poultry or meat broth, I get a very upset GI tract.

My mom was a vegetarian, but my dad eats meat.  I learned how to make meat dishes for my dad.  My husband needs meat in his diet or he doesn’t do well physically, so I also make meat dishes for him and my meat eating Texas friends.  I never taste the meat dishes, but somehow I am able to make them.  My guests always compliment me on them.  I feel like the rat in the movie, “Ratatouille”, I can imagine the flavors in my head.

We live in a ranch community in Texas, so we are lucky enough to have access to the best quality meat that is organic, hormone free and grass fed.  We have neighboring ranchers who supply beef and pork.  My husband raises his own chickens, ducks, their eggs and he goes on fishing expeditions to catch fish for me.  We try to stay as close to Mother Nature as possible.

For this recipe my husband brought home Natural Lamb from our local HEB market.

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 1 pound of lamb chops
  • Enough Indian Spice Mix to coat the lamb chops.  If you prepare 1/2 a cup of spice mix you should have plenty.
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of dried mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of grape seed oil to coat the lamb chops and 1 Tbsp to coat the non-stick skillet.
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

PREPPING THE LAMB CHOPS:

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  • Remove the lamb chops from their package and pat them dry
  • Crush the dried mint leaves between the palms of your hands, and add them to the Indian Spice Mix along with the cinnamon.
  • Mix the spices to form the spice rub
  • Sprinkle the spice rub, salt and pepper over the lamb chops
  • Drizzle with grape seed oil
  • Rub the spices and oil into the lamb chops
  • Flip the lamb chops, and season the second side with the spice rub and oil
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour

The seasoned lamb chops can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.  The spices prevent the meat from going bad.  This is a good way to prep protein ahead of meal time.

COOKING THE LAMB CHOPS:

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  • Coat a large non stick skillet with a Tbsp of grape seed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and let the oil get hot.  When the oil is ready it will shimmer.
  • Placed the spiced lamb chops in the pan.  You should hear a sizzle.
  • Leave the lamb alone to let the spicy crust form.  This should take about 3 minutes. When the crust is ready the lamb will release itself, making it easy to flip without sticking.
  • Cook on the second side to get the meat to your desired internal temperature.  Some people like it medium rare, some medium and I know most Indian people like it well done.  Choose what you prefer.
  • Transfer the cooked lamb chops to a platter.  Cover loosely with foil.  Let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.  The resting period allows the juices to stay in the meat when you cut into it, thus keeping it moist.

You can serve these lamb chops with you favorite side dish.  Here I served it with Mustard Green Saag Paneer.

Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops served with Mustard Green Saag Paneer

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Please give me your feed back in the comments section.

Next Saturday, I will post Amritsari Masala Pork Chops, the pork version of this recipe.  It will be similar but the spices will be tweaked to match the flavor of the pork.

Stay tuned.  I really appreciate your support and interest. 😊 Bye for now. 🖐

 

 

 

Roasted Bottle Gourd Medallions

Bottle Gourd is a winter squash.  It has many different names such as, Calabash, Long Melon, and Opo Squash.  It is called Dudhi in Central India and Lauki in Northern India, which is where I am from.  It can be harvested young to be consumed as a vegetable, or harvested mature to be dried and used as a utensil.  I grew up eating Lauki.  Most of the time it was peeled and turned into a curry.  It tastes halfway between a squash and a pumpkin.  It is great for a low carb or Ketogenic diet because 100 grams of Lauki has only 2.5 grams of net carbs.

I use all parts of a vegetable because I don’t like waste.  The skin has so much fiber and nutrients, so I decided to come up with a dish that uses the skin.  This recipe is an Indian twist on my Italian Roasted Tromboncino Squash Medallions.

Roasted Bottle Gourd Medallions Feature

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 small bottle gourds
  • 2 Tbsp of my Indian Spice Mix
  • Grape seed oil, enough to coat the medallions
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Bottle Gourds Prep

  • Cut the bottle gourd into 1/4 inch medallions
  • Place the medallions on a lined baking sheet for easy clean up
  • Sprinkle the first side of the medallions with salt, pepper and my Indian Spice Mix
  • Drizzle on grape seed oil to coat.  Gently rub in the spice mix and oil into each medallion.  Flip the medallions and repeat on the second side.

COOK:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Place the sheet trays of medallions in the middle of the oven
  • Let roast until you see the moisture in the medallions bubbling.  About 10 minutes.
  • Remove the sheet trays from the oven and flip the medallions over.  Roast until tender.  About 5 minutes.  Then turn off the oven, and leave in the oven for another 5 minutes.  This will allow the side resting on the sheet tray to to get nicely caramelized without burning.
  • Place medallions on a platter caramelized side up

Serve as an appetizer or a side dish.  You can top them with Pan Seared Scallops for a fancy and tasty presentation.  Here is a photo of my Pan Seared Scallops and Squash to give you an idea.

Scallops and Squash Feature

I usually buy Bottle Gourd at the Indian market.  I have occasionally seen it in my local grocery store, or in a Mexican market.  If you can’t find it, use zucchini instead.

This is an easy recipe that can be made quickly when you are short on time.  It also reheats very nicely.  I keep some in the frig and then pair it with a protein to make a meal in a hurry.  Its great for meal prepping.

Hope you enjoy this.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Red Lentil Pasta -Napoli Style

Red Lentil Pasta-Napoli Style, is the second of two recipes I created to show how marinara sauce can be used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.   The first one was Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan, which I posted last Saturday.  Casseroles like this are great because they can be made in advance, and actually taste better the next day.

Red Lentil Pasta Feature

To make things easy, you can buy marinara sauce at your local supermarket.  If you would like to make it, click on Marinara Sauce – An Italian Essential for my recipe.

Marinara Sauce Feature

INGREDIENTS:

Red Lentil Pasta Ingredients

  • 10 oz box of red lentil pasta (believe it or not, I bought this at Walmart.  It only has one ingredient listed on the box–red lentil flour.  That’s it, and water Of course.)
  • 1 lb of ground pork ( we are blessed to have this special Berkshire ground pork provided to us by our neighbors, Rose and James, at Peach Creek Farm.)
  • 2 lbs of ground beef ( this Austin bred & fed ground beef is from K & C Cattle Co.  which is owned by Patrick, an Army veteran of the 1st Ranger Battalion.)
  • 20 ounces of grated Parmesan (I usually grate my  own, but I found this grated Parmigiano-Reggiano imported from Italy at Costco.  It is the real thing with absolutely no additives.)
  • 24 ounces of marinara sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

COOK:

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  • Coat a heavy duty stainless steel pan with olive oil
  • Add the ground meat, break it up into bite sized pieces.
  • Saute until brown

Red Lentil Pasta Cook 4

  • Add the marinara sauce
  • Cook for about 10 minutes until the marinara sauce is bubbling
  • Add the pasta
  • Stir it in
  • Cook for 4 minutes.  At this point it will be par cooked.  It will finish cooking when we bake the casserole in the oven.
  • Adjust salt and pepper to taste

ASSEMBLY: the casserole is assembled in 4 layers using a 9 X 11 baking dish.

Layer 1 –  spread half the pasta mixture

Layer 2 – sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese

Layer 3 – spread the last half of the pasta mixture

Layer 4 – sprinkle 2/3 of the cheese

I like to make the top layer of cheese thicker so that I can get a really cheesy, golden crust.  Its the best part.

Cover with foil.  Bake in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes at 400 F to get the golden brown and delicious crust. 😋

Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.  This a great meal to pack for lunch, or make ahead for a quick supper after work.  It is filling, nutritious, and yummy.

On days when my husband is working on the ranch, he gets very hungry and will end up eating a big piece as soon as he comes indoors.  Here is a piece he plated for himself.

Red Lentil Pasta Plated

I like the way it cuts into a sturdy slice.  It almost looks like lasagna.

Please try this and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Next Saturday, I will be posting an unusual and easy Indian vegetable recipe.  Be on the lookout for it.

Ciao for now 🖐

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan

My first visit to Italy was in 2005.  Our first stop was Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region.  It is the home of University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world.  As I walked around the city during lunch time, I noticed a long line of university students waiting their turn to go inside a tiny bistro.  I decided to come back when the lunch rush was over and eat there.  This is when I had the most incredible roasted eggplant dish.

Gluten Free Eggplant Parm Feature

It has been one of my favorites ever since.  I recreated it when I got back home, and I make it a lot.  Fortunately for me, it is gluten free and keto friendly.  As I stated in a previous post, I started a ketogenic lifestyle on 25 February 2019 to control my blood sugar without any medications.  Since I have decided to lead a ketogenic lifestyle forever, I am glad that this favorite dish of mine can still be part of my life.

INGREDIENTS FOR EGGPLANT SLICES:

  • 4 small eggplants (these came from my neighbor’s garden.)
  • 1/4 cup of my Italian Spice Mix
  • enough kosher salt to lightly sprinkle over eggplant slices
  • olive oil to saute the eggplant

PREPARING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Using a serrated knife, cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs
  • Lightly sprinkle them with kosher salt on both sides
  • Place in a glass container and cover with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate overnight to allow excess water to be extracted from the eggplant.  This process makes the eggplant absorb less oil.
  • Remove the eggplant slices from the glass container and place onto paper towel sheets to dry off excess liquid.  Discard the liquid at the bottom of the glass container.
  • Place the salted and dried eggplant slices , in a single layer, into a clean glass baking dish

Kachri Sliced

  • drizzle on some olive oil and sprinkle with my Italian Spice Mix.  Flip the slices over and repeat on the other side.
  • Add another layer of eggplant slices and coat with oil and spice mix.  Repeat until all the eggplant slices are used up.

Eggplant Slices Coated with Italian Spice Mix

  • Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

COOKING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil
  • Turn the flame to medium heat and get the oil hot, but not smoking
  • Once the oil is hot add a layer of spiced eggplant slices.  Do not crowd the pan. Cook the slices till they are golden brown on the first side. Flip and repeat until the slices are brown and crispy on both sides.
  • The cooking time is longer than you think.  It is 10 minutes per side.  Once the eggplant is brown on both sides, test it with a fork. Once it is fork tender remove it to a glass baking dish.
  • Continue the process until all the eggplant slices are cooked.

When I am cooking a lot of eggplant, I use two pans on the stove.  This saves time.

INGREDIENTS FOR ASSEMBLING THE CASSEROLE:

Gluten Free Eggplant Parm Assembly Set Up

  • Cooked eggplant slices
  • 24 ounces of marinara sauce (you can buy it or make it.  Click on Marinara Sauce – An Italian Essential, for my recipe.)
  • 10 ounces of fresh mozzarella cut into thin slices
  • 1 large bunch of basil leaves, removed from their stems
  • 24 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

By the way, those beautiful dishes in the photo above are by Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela in Ravello, Italy.  One of my favorite places.

ASSEMBLY: the casserole is assembled in two layers

  • Coat the bottom of a 9 X 11 glass baking dish with a thin layer of marinara sauce.  This will prevent the bottom from burning.
  • Next place a single layer of eggplant slices
  • Place a piece of mozzarella on each eggplant slice
  • Top each slice of mozzarella with a basil leaf
  • Spread a layer of marinara sauce
  • Sprinkle on a layer of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Repeat, starting with another layer of eggplant slices

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 F oven until the casserole starts bubbling.  Should take about 20 to 30 minutes.  Take the casserole out of the oven.  Raise the oven temperature to 400 F.  Remove the foil and top with a final layer of Parmesan cheese.  Place back in the oven, on the top rack, and bake until the top layer of cheese turns brown.  Should take about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it so the cheese does not burn.

Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before serving.

Gluten Free Eggplant Parm Feature

The hardest part is waiting to let it rest.  It smells so good and looks so tempting that it is hard to wait.  I like making this for pot luck suppers, because I can make it in advance, and it tastes even better the next day.

I have also made this dish with other vegetables like spaghetti squash and patty pan squash.  I will post those versions next time I make them.

Here is a photo of my  “Spaghetti Squash Faux Lasagna” version, served for dinner with a large salad.  Easy breezy, gluten free, vegetarian, keto friendly and oh so delicious!!!

Spaghetti Squash Faux Lasagna with Salad

Hope you enjoy this.  Please let me know in the comment section.

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

Happy fourth of July!!!

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

Here is the very special red, white and blue low carb and keto friendly Italian dessert that I promised you in last week’s marinara sauce post.

This dessert was on the menu of my first Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  I am now making the time to post the recipe in full.

Zabaglione is an Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet Marsala wine.  The eggs are from our own chickens, making this custard extra special.  I played around with the traditional zabaglione recipe to find a way to cut down the sugar.  The classic recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of sugar for 2 egg yolks along with 1 Tbsp of sweet Marsala wine.  I was able to cut the sugar down to 1 tsp by adding a pinch of fennel powder.

FENNEL POWDER ADDS THE ILLUSION OF SWEETNESS ALLOWING YOU TO DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR.  The fennel powder also works in this recipe because it is a classic Italian flavor.  I use the same trick in my marinara sauce. An Indian cooking trick carried over to Italian Cuisine.  I really like that.

INGREDIENTS:  Each serving requires 2 yolks.  I am going to list the ingredients for 1 serving.  Multiply the recipe for additional servings as needed.  For my cooking class/pop up supper club, I had 16 people so I used 32 egg yolks.

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione Ingredients

  • Yolks from 2 eggs.  Save the whites for an omelette or another dish.
  • 5 medium sized strawberries (you can also use raspberries for the red color)
  • 3 oz of blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp of sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 pinches of fennel powder (1 pinch for the custard and 1 pinch for the whipped cream topping.)
  • 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • a dash of vanilla bean paste for the whipped cream topping

PREP:

Berries Prepped

  • Leave the blueberries whole
  • Remove the green leafy tops of the strawberries
  • Chop them to match the size of the blueberries

MAKING THE ZABAGLIONE CUSTARD:

CC 1 making Zabaglione

  • Bring water up to a simmer in a pot
  • Use another mixing bowl, that is the right size to float on top of the simmering water, without touching the bottom of the pot that has the simmering water in it.  This is how you create a double boiler if you don’t have one.  We need to use a double boiler so that the custard can be brought up to temperature slowly while it is cooking.  This method will prevent the egg yolks from scrambling.
  • In the mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar and fennel powder
  • Whisk to combine
  • Place the egg yolk mixture on top of the simmering water
  • Whisk while slowly drizzling in the Marsala wine
  • Keep whisking until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon

The photo above is from my cooking class.  One of the students, Roy is drizzling in the Marsala wine, while I am whisking.  If you don’t have someone to help you,  just add a little Marsala wine at a time.  I am using an electric mixer.  A hand whisk can also be used.

Once the Zabaglione custard is ready, transfer it to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Make sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the custard.  This will prevent a skin from forming.  Let it sit at room temperature while you make the whipped cream.

MAKING THE WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:

  • In a cold stainless steel bowl, add the heavy whipping cream, a dash of vanilla bean paste and a pinch of fennel powder.  NOTE: no sugar is added.  The high quality vanilla and fennel powder add so much flavor that the sugar will not be missed.
  • Whip to soft peaks

ASSEMBLING THE DESSERT:

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  • Start with adding a spoonful of zabaglione at the bottom of your glass serving dish
  • Next, sprinkle in a few berries
  • Then repeat twice

Top with a big dollop of the whipped cream topping, and a few berries for color.

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

This is a very low carb version of the original Berries and Zabaglione.  My students and guests couldn’t believe that is tasted so good despite the reduced sugar.

Other than myself, there was one more guest who also follows a Ketogenic Lifestyle.  She has actually lost over a 100 pounds and wants to keep it that way.  The two of us had just the berries and whipped cream topping.  That is the best dessert for Keto purists.

I know that many Keto desserts are made with sugar substitutes, but most of them upset my stomach or give me an unpleasant after taste.  I prefer to reduce the sugar and use high quality ingredients, for those few but special times that I have a dessert.

Please try this and give me your feedback in the comments sections.  Also, if you have any questions, I will be happy to help you with answers.

Ciao for now 🖐💕

Marinara Sauce – An Italian Essential

Marinara Sauce is a basic Italian ingredient that can be used in many recipes.  My  marinara sauce has no added sugar.  Ground up fennel seeds are used to give the illusion of sweetness.  This is actually an Indian cooking tip that I learned from my great grandmother.  TIPUse fennel powder to impart the illusion of sweetness without using any sugar or sugar substitute.  

Marinara Sauce Feature

When I was 12, my family moved to America.  We settled in Queens, New York.  We lived in a very Italian neighborhood.  Most of the Italian families were related to each other, and everyone had vegetable and herb gardens in their backyard.  I had never even heard of Italian food, much less tasted it.  The Italians I met were full of joy and very generous.  They loved to feed me whenever I visited.  This was my introduction to Italian food, where I learned how to make marinara sauce from one of the Italian grandmothers (nonnas.) They always seemed to have jars of homemade marinara in their cupboards.

I learned from the nonnas, the great TIP of having marinara sauce on hand because it can be used to make so many dishes.  I have already created and photographed two recipes using my homemade marinara.  They will post on July 11th and July 18th.  For the 4th of July, I have planned a very special red, white and blue Italian dessert that is low carb and keto friendly.  I named the dessert Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

  • 8 large ripe tomatoes ( these beauties came from my neighbor’s garden.  I have the best neighbors 😃)
  • a large handful of basil ( the basil in the photo was grown by me.  I grow herbs in pots in the sun room just outside my kitchen.  This way I can get fresh herbs when I need them.  I feel truly blessed to be able to have the luxury to do this.)
  • 1 large white onion (this one was grown by my neighbor.  He brings us vegetables and we give him eggs from our chickens and ducks.)
  • 3 Tbsp of the best extra virgin olive oil you are able to find (the can of extra virgin olive oil in the photo, was picked up in Tuscany while I was taking a pasta making class.)
  • 1 bell pepper and 1 Serrano pepper (optional.  I like adding the peppers for an extra kick.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes (leave these out if you want to make the dish less spicy)
  • 2 tsp of fennel seeds ( grind these to a powder in a spice grinder)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind.  TIP: Keep leftover cheese rinds in the freezer and use them to add flavor when making marinara sauce.
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPPING THE TOMATOES:

 

  • Score an “X” mark in the skin at the base of each tomato
  • Boil a large pot of water
  • Get an ice bath ready
  • Blanch each tomato in the boiling water for 30 seconds
  • Immediately place the blanched tomato in the ice bath to stop the cooking process
  • Once the tomatoes are cooled, peel off the skin starting at the scored “X” mark.  It should peel off easily.
  • Dice the peeled tomatoes and place them in a crock pot

TIP: Use a crock pot to make the sauce so you don’t have to spend hours stirring the sauce like the Italian nonnas, who taught me to make the sauce did.  

Its a good time saver.  If you want to make it like the nonnas, feel free to make it the traditional way in a large sauce pot.

PREPPING THE OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Marinara Sauce Prep

  • Add the bay leaf and cheese rind to the tomatoes in the crock pot
  • Turn the crock pot to high, and put the lid on while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Dice the onion and bell pepper
  • Mince the garlic and Serrano pepper
  • Tear the basil into small bits

COOKING THE AROMATIC BASE (SOFRITO):

 

  • Coat a stainless steel pan with the extra virgin olive oil and place on medium heat
  • Add the onion, garlic, peppers, basil, red chili flakes, oregano and fennel powder
  • Saute until lightly brown
  • Add the tomato paste, stir it in and cook for another minute
  • Add the cooked sofrito to the crock pot that already has the tomatoes in it

COOKING THE SAUCE:

 

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  • Add 1 cup of red wine
  • Turn the crock pot to low and cook for about 4 hours.  At this point the sauce should have turned a deep red color.
  • Now add salt and pepper to taste
  • Turn the crock pot to warm and let it sit for 30 minutes to let all the flavors marry

I wait until the end to add salt and pepper because it allows me to balance the flavors once everything has already blended and come together.

You can use the marinara immediately for many recipes, or you can put it in mason jars and keep in the frig for up to 2 weeks.  It will keep in the freezer for 6 months.

On a final note, I want to credit Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela, in Ravello, Italy for making the beautiful bowl and plate that I used to present my Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce Feature

I visited their shop when I was in Ravello and fell in love with their ceramics.  I ended up ordering a whole set.  I use it frequently and remember Italy fondly.  I get no compensation for mentioning Carmela’s lovely art work here, but I like giving credit where credit is due.

Please use the comments section to let me know what you think if this recipe.  I always love hearing from you.

Ciao for now.  🖐😃

 

 

Mustard Green Saag Paneer

Mustard Green Saag Paneer, is the last in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

Mustard Green Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes.  The word Saag means any leafy green vegetable.  Paneer is an Indian farmer’s cheese, which many Indians make at home.  Click on Paneer (Indian Cheese)  to check out my recipe.

If you don’t want to make it, you can buy Paneer in an Indian market.  I have even seen it at my local super market, but the quality is not as good as when you buy it at the Indian market.  If Paneer is not available, feel free to substitute, scallops, shrimp or baby red potatoes.

When Saag Paneer is made with spinach, it is called Palak Paneer.  Palak means spinach.  In Punjab, where I am from, the classic Saag is made with Sarson, which is an Indian mustard green.  This recipe is the classic Punjabi dish, inspired by the American mustard greens that were available in my beautiful vegetable basket.

INGREDIENTS:

Saag Paneer Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of mustard greens
  • 1 cup of frozen finely chopped spinach
  • 1 cup of paneer pieces (the one’s you see in the photo are home made.  They have been coated with my Indian Spice Mix and pan fried in grape seed oil.  This step adds extra flavor but you can skip it and use the paneer plain.)
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.  You can buy it at the store, or if you want to make your own click on My Mom’s Yogurt.
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 1 inch of turmeric root (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1/2 tsp of powder.)
  • 3 chili peppers (used whatever variety you have on hand – here I used a fiery hot scotch bonnet and 2 mild orange baby bells.) Mixing up the peppers lets you control the heat level and results in a more complex flavor.
  • 1 Tbsp of dried pomegranate seeds ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp of garam masala
  • 2 Tbsp of ghee (use grape seed oil if you don’t have ghee.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Saag Paneer Prep

  • Wash the mustard greens to get rid of any gritty dirt.  Then tear the leave off the stems.
  • Dice the onion
  • Mince the ginger root, garlic and chili peppers

PREPPING THE SAAG MIXTURE:

 

  • Put the mustard leaves in a food processor and give them a whiz.  You may have to add a little water to help turn them into a paste.
  • Add the frozen spinach and whiz it again to incorporate.

COOK:

 

  • Coat a large stainless steel pot with ghee.  Place the pot on medium-low heat to let the ghee melt.
  • Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chili flakes and garam masala.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric root, using a mini grater or a micro-plane.  If you are using powdered turmeric add it when the tomato paste is added so that it does not burn.
  • Saute until the onions get translucent.  About 5 minutes.
  • Make a hot spot in the center of the pan by pushing the veggies aside and add tomato paste.
  • Let the tomato paste cook for a minute and then stir it into the veggies.

 

  • Add the saag mixture
  • Sprinkle in the cinnamon and ground up pomegranate seeds
  • Cook on low heat until the mixture turns dark green.  Stir occasionally while cooking.  This should take 10 to 15 minutes.

 

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  • Add the yogurt and stir it in
  • Continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally until the saag starts bubbling

 

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  • Add the paneer pieces
  • Gently toss to incorporate them into the saag without breaking them
  • Cover with the lid and turn the heat off.  Let sit until ready to serve.

The residual heat will bring the paneer up to the correct temperature without overcooking it.  Overcooked paneer becomes rubbery, so it is best to bring it up to temperature gently.  The residual heat will also allow all the flavors to marry.  This technique of marrying the flavors together is called “DHUM” in Hindi.  DURING THE “DHUM” PERIOD DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO REMOVE THE LID TO TAKE A PEEK.  Removing the lid will let the heat escape and ruin the process of marrying the flavors together.  As a child, I always wanted to lift the lid.  My mom or my grandma would stop me.  Now since they are only with me in spirit, I have to stop myself. 💕  I got a little sentimental writing this.

Saag is traditionally served with Makki Di Roti, a flat unleavened Punjabi bread made from corn meal.  I usually visit my family in India during the winter months when it is Sarson Saag season.  I eat it almost every day, but I skip the Makki Di Roti, because I lead a Ketogenic Lifestyle which does not allow corn.  Occasionally, I cheat and take just a small bite. 😊 Here is a photo of my favorite Punjabi meal from my favorite Punjabi Dhaba (roadside restaurant.)

 

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To make a complete Ketogenic meal, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Fish for me, since I am a pescatarian.  For my husband, who has to have meat in his diet, I serve it with Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops.  Lamb and Saag is a classic combination.

Amritsari Masala Lamb Chops served with Mustard Green Saag Paneer

The spice mixture for the lamb chops is a little bit different than the one for the fish.  I will be posting the lamb recipe on Saturday, August 1st, 2020.  Be on the lookout for it.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed my story and recipe.  Please give me your feedback in the comment section.  I always love hearing from you.

Bye for now 🖐  Have a great day !!!