comfort food

Buttered Black Beans, Collards and Sweets

It was cold and rainy today. Bleary. Bleak.

Gross.

Hello, comfort food!

I didn't feel like going food shopping so I went through the cabinets instead and pulled something super great together. Here's three tips to make something like this possible:

1) no matter how tired you are, always buy two different kinds of leafy greens at the grocery store 1-2x a week. Store them in bags or containers to keep them fresher, longer.

2) keep a few cans of Eden brand beans around. For nights when you want some power-packed protein but have no energy to cook. Paired with some butter and spices, they go from "meh" to "YEAH!"

3) think outside the box. You're keeping this simple. You're cooking dinner for yourself (or your partner or family)--you're not competing on a Food Network tv show. Although, the challenge of assembling dinner with little to no ingredients can feel a bit like being on Iron Chef...

Buttered Black Beans, Collards and Sweets

Ingredients

1 12-oz can black beans

1 bunch collards, washed and chopped

2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp org. butter

1 carton org. chicken broth

2 cups water

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp. chili powder

Instructions

1) In a large pot, combine chicken broth, water and collards. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45-60 minutes. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will be. Allow for this time when prepping your meal.

2) In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add black beans and spices and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes.

3) Cut sweet potatoes into long rectangular cubes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook potatoes in the oven on a cookie sheet (adding parchment paper is even better) for 15 minutes or until browned to your liking.

Combine and serve.

Gluten-Free Chicken Cutlet Dinner

So here's the thing: this was not a low-fat, low-calorie meal. It wasn't plant-based. I didn't make all the ingredients from scratch--I shopped at the local heavenly Dave's Fresh Pasta for the pasta sauce. I didn't even use super heart-healthy oils this one time.

But here's what it was:

1) familiar from childhood, but improved to be gluten-free

2) delicious and nutritious

3) comfort food for two people who need some comfort lately

My mom makes the best chicken cutlets. It was one of my favorite meals as a kid. Lately, I'm needing some of that home-cookin' comfort food. We eat plant-based, minimal-ingredient, meals all the time. Once in a while, it's nice to have something that's tastes really good and makes you feel good. I made some modifications so I can stick to my goals of eating less wheat and sugar as I enter the spring season.

So here's the recipe. Make it like I did. Make it the way you want to. I hope it brings you as much comfort and joy as it did for us. My girlfriend and I are each struggling with some stressors in our lives right now---car repairs, haircuts that didn't come out right, some medical hurdles. I knew just the solution: sunlight streaming through our curtains, crisp cutlets, soft quinoa pasta and tender arugula and spinach leaves.

Our food was truly our medicine.

Mangia!

Gluten-free Chicken Cutlet Dinner 

Ingredients

1-2 lbs organic, free-range chicken cutlets (I added some dried thyme to dress them up a bit)

1 package gluten-free breadcrumbs (or homemade, if you can make 'em)

2-4 Tbs vegetable oil (enough to cover bottom of large saute pan)

2 eggs

1 package gluten-free pasta (rice or quinoa)

fresh pasta sauce (I used the mascarpone tomato sauce from Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville, MA)

grated romano or parmesan cheese

fresh baby greens, arugula or spinach (I used BOTH!)

light salad dressing (I used Honey Poppyseed from Dave's Fresh Pasta)

Instructions

1) Lay out two plates: one has a generous pile of bread crumbs the other is for the finished cutlets in a deep dish, crack open two eggs and whip with a fork to combine

2) Lay each cutlet in the bread crumbs, coat, move to the egg dish, coat and back to the bread crumbs again. Lay the breaded cutlet on the plate. When you have done this to all your cutlets, move over the stove.

3) Add 4 quarts of water to a pot and bring to a boil for your pasta.

4) Heat oil over medium high heat in a deep, flat saute pan. If the oil sizzles when you put of drop of water in it, you know it's ready.

5) Carefully lay each cutlet in the pan. Brown one side for a minute or two and then turn over. Place browned cutlets on a plate beside your stove. Be careful! The oil will be hot and the gluten-free crumbs formed a hard shell around the chicken, unlike when I've used wheat breadcrumbs. Make sure the chicken is cooked by cutting into it with a knife.

6) When your water is boiling, add the gluten-free pasta and cook according to package directions. drain in a colander and quick rinse with cool water.

7) Warm pasta sauce in a small pot over medium-low heat.

8) Toss baby greens in a colorful with dressing.

9) Set your table.

10) Finish browning cutlets and serve with a portion of pasta and spoonful of pasta sauce.

Simply delicious.