Feature story and Global Gourmet column
Why Eating Mediterranean Makes Sense
Baked Mussels in Tomato Olive Sauce with Zucchini and Potatoes
Serves: 4. Hands-on time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Here, mussels are roasted on top of a hearty, fresh tomato sauce brimming with vegetables. Serve whole-grain bread on the side—you’ll want to sop up every drop.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 lb tomatoes, cut into 1/2-in dice (about 4 cups)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4-in-thick half-moons
6 oz small red or white potatoes, cut into 1/2-in wedges
8 pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, divided
Sea salt to taste
1 1/2 lb mussels, scrubbed and debearded (TIP: If you have any mussels that are open, give them a tap; discard any that do not close.)
ONE: In a large skillet on medium, heat oil. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices and come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add zucchini and potatoes and cook uncovered, adjusting heat to maintain a simmer and stirring occasionally, until zucchini and potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
TWO: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Stir olives and 1 1/2 tbsp oregano into tomato mixture; add salt. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish and arrange mussels over top. Bake until mussels open, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle mussels with remaining 1 1/2 tsp oregano.
Nutrients per serving (8 to 12 mussels and about 1 cup tomato mixture):
Calories: 272, Total Fat: 10 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated fat: 5 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, Carbs: 25 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 23 g, Sodium: 663 mg, Cholesterol: 45 mg
Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Flatbread with Olives and Almonds
Serves: 8. Hands-on time: 40 minutes. Total time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Jam-packed with veggies, nuts and herbs, this flatbread makes a hearty, satisfying appetizer. Paired with a simple green salad, it also makes a great entrée for four to six people.
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp raw honey
3 cups whole-spelt flour, plus additional for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 4-oz Asian-style eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup drained and sliced jarred roasted red peppers
10 pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp unsalted slivered almonds
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
ONE: In a small bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp warm water (105 to 115°F), yeast and honey; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Mist a large bowl with cooking spray and set aside.
TWO: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour and salt. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Add yeast mixture in 3 or 4 additions, mixing on medium speed between additions. Continue mixing until dough forms a ball and sides and bottom of the bowl are clean, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer dough (it will be soft and slightly sticky) to the prepared bowl and loosely cover; set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
THREE: Mist a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and gently roll into a rectangle of approximately 12 x 15 inches. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet; set aside 30 minutes.
FOUR: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500°F. Mist another large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange eggplant slices top. Mist top of slices with cooking spray and bake until tender but not yet cooked through, about 5 minutes.
FIVE: Dimple dough with fingertips, then drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Arrange eggplant, peppers and olives on top, then drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, almonds and rosemary and continue baking until flatbread is browned, eggplant is very tender and almonds are toasted, 5 to 8 minutes more.
Nutrients per serving (1/8 of flatbread):
Calories: 252, Total Fat: 9 g, Sat. Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated fat: 6 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1.5 g, Carbs: 37 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 8 g, Sodium: 375 mg, Cholesterol: 2 mg
Farro and Chickpea Cakes with Avocado “Aioli” and Cherry Tomatoes
Serves: 4. Hands-on time: 40 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.
The farro for this deliciously crispy crab cake-like dish is purposefully a little overcooked and sticky to help the cakes hold their shape during cooking. An avocado aioli-style sauce and tomatoes on top add creaminess, brightness and color.
1/2 cup semi-pearled farro
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or BPA-free canned unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced shallots
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 butter lettuce leaves
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
ONE: To a medium saucepan on medium-high, add farro and 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook until farro is very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain farro, if necessary, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
TWO: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mash avocado, yogurt and garlic until mixture is relatively smooth. Add salt to taste; set aside.
THREE: In a small bowl, lightly mash chickpeas to yield some crushed pieces, some partial pieces and some whole. To large bowl with faro, add chickpeas, panko, shallots, parsley, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt; stir in eggs. With damp hands, shape mixture into 8 3/4-inch-thick cakes. (Tip: Arrange cakes on 2 flat plates to make it easy to slide them into the skillet later.)
FOUR: In each of 2 medium skillets over medium, heat 1 tbsp oil. Carefully add 4 cakes to each skillet and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
FIVE: Arrange lettuce leaves on plates or a platter and top each leaf with a cake. Sprinkle with tomatoes and spoon on avocado mixture.
Nutrients per serving (2 cakes with toppings):
Calories: 346, Total Fat: 15 g, Sat. Fat: 3 g, Monounsaturated fat: 9 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, Carbs: 43 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugars: 6 g, Protein: 13 g, Sodium: 311 mg, Cholesterol: 95 mg
Almond-Crusted Cod with Green Olive Salsa
Serves: 4. Hands-on time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes.
Mild-tasting cod is served over nutty arugula, earthy lentils and topped off with a piquant salsa. The textures and flavors in this easy dish play off each other beautifully.
1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup diced red onion plus 2 tbsp minced, divided
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped green pimento-stuffed olives (martini olives)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped drained capers
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp plus 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 5-oz skinless cod fillets, about 3/4 inch thick
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds
4 cups loosely packed arugula
ONE: To a small saucepan on medium-high, add lentils, diced onion, salt and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain if necessary and set aside to cool.
TWO: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine minced onion, olives, parsley, capers, vinegar and 2 tbsp oil; set aside.
THREE: Brush top (skinless side) of fish with egg white. Press almonds evenly over top of fish. In a very large skillet on medium, heat remaining 4 tsp oil. Add fish crusted side down, and cook until almonds are toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn and continue cooking until fish is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
FIVE: Arrange arugula on plates or a platter and top with lentils. Arrange fish over lentils and spoon on olive mixture.
Nutrients per serving (1 fish fillet, 1 cup arugula, 1/4 cup lentils, 2 1/2 tbsp olive mixture):
Calories: 344, Total Fat: 16 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated fat: 11 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 2.5 g, Carbs: 18 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 31 g, Sodium: 477 mg, Cholesterol: 54 mg
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Grilled Fruits and Herbed Bulgur
Serves: 4. Hands-on time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.
This dish gets its amazing flavor from pomegranate molasses, an intensely sweet and sour syrup typically found at Middle Eastern markets, specialty food stores and natural foods supermarkets. But it’s easy to make your own—look for our recipe at cleaneatingmag.com.
3/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
16 seedless green or red grapes, or a combination
6 fresh figs, halved
4 6-oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
2 tbsp each coarsely chopped fresh basil and fresh mint
2 tbsp pomegranate arils
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 10- to 12-in skewers, soaked in water if wood or bamboo
ONE: To a medium heat-proof bowl, add bulgur and 1 cup boiling water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
TWO: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp molasses and 1 tbsp oil. Thread grapes and figs onto skewers. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
THREE: Lightly oil the grate of a grill and heat on medium-high. Add chicken and grill for 2 minutes per side. Lightly brush both sides with some of molasses-oil mixture and continue to grill until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more per side. Lightly brush both sides of skewers with remaining molasses-oil mixture and grill until fruit is lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side. Set chicken and skewers aside to rest, loosely covered, for about 5 minutes.
FOUR: Stir basil, mint, pomegranate arils, vinegar and remaining 1 tbsp oil into bulgur. Season with additional salt and pepper. Arrange bulgur on plates or a platter and top with chicken and fruit. Drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses and serve.
Nutrients per serving (1 chicken breast, 1/2 bulgur mixture, 1/4 of fruit):
Calories: 448, Total Fat: 11 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated fat: 6 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, Carbs: 48 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 23 g, Protein: 38 g, Sodium: 329 mg, Cholesterol: 94 mg
A Simpler, Healthier Coq au Vin
Don’t be daunted by this French classic—it’s an easy and delicious reason to invite company for dinner tonight.
Coq au vin is about as classic French as you can get, which might make you think it’s a challenging dish to make. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, coq au vin is a simple country meal, a relatively basic braise that’s perfect for the coming cool months and equally impressive for guests.
Perhaps even better, steeped in red wine and featuring bacon, mushrooms, onions, herbs and garlic, coq au vin is as rich in flavor as it is easy to prepare. This stunning, scrumptious dish definitely deserves a place in your culinary repertoire.
The story behind the dish
Coq au vin literally means “rooster with wine.” Roosters were typically used for breeding, and so by the time one ended up in the kitchen, it was quite literally a tough, old bird. So a long, slow cook was the ideal way to turn that toughness into tender delicousness.
Although the dish has been traced back to the days of the ancient Gauls and Julius Caesar, recipes for coq au vin only started appearing in the early 20th century. By the latter half of the century, the dish was relatively well known—perhaps thanks to Julia Child popularizing it on her cooking show, The French Chef.
The new coq au vin
Child made a few adjustments for her times—eschewing a rooster for a hen, for example—and I’ve made a few more for ours to elevate this classic to a clean-eating caliber.
Instead of a whole chicken, this recipe uses skinless chicken thighs, which are inherently juicy and tender. Nowadays, they’re readily available and the dark meat is most apropos for a braise. I’ve added an overnight soak in the wine, a traditional step that Child omitted but one that helps add flavor and color to our skinless meat.
Many recipes cook the mushrooms and onions separately, which adds fat and extra steps. For the sake of simplicity, this recipe cooks everything in one pan. And in the spirit of eating clean, I’ve switched to turkey bacon and upped the veggies. All of which makes the dish simpler and healthier, but no less delicious.
Cooking with wine
Since wine is a main ingredient in coq au vin—it’s right there in the name!—let’s review some basics about cooking with wine.
- Stick to the type of wine the recipe calls for. When a recipe calls for wine, don’t substitute white for red, or dessert (sweet) wine for dry.
- Choose mid-priced wine for cooking—wine that won’t break the bank, but that still tastes good to you. With more expensive wine, you’d be paying for flavor nuances that are likely to cook off anyway.
- Wine is mildly acidic, so use it judiciously, especially if there are other acidic ingredients in the dish, such as tomatoes.
Coq au Vin
Serves: 6. Hands-on time: 1 hour. Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus marinating time.
Many recipes suggest serving this rich, chicken, mushroom and onion braise over buttered noodles, but a hunk of whole-grain country bread would also be a good accompaniment. Either way, you’ll want to sop up every delicious drop.
6 7-oz bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 oz all-natural turkey bacon, no added nitrates or nitrites, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 tsp ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste
24 pearl onions (about 4 oz.), peeled (NOTE: To easily peel the onions, cut an X into the root end of each, then cook them in boiling water for about a minute. Drain and set aside to cool, then slip off the skins.)
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 lb cremini mushrooms (halved if large)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
4 large fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 small bay leaves
ONE: In a large resealable bag, combine chicken and wine. Seal bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and set aside in refrigerator to marinate 12 to 48 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade, and pat pieces dry. Set aside.
TWO: In a Dutch oven, braising pan or large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tbsp oil on medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon transfer to a large plate and set aside.
THREE: Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pan and heat on medium-high. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with pepper and salt. Working in batches, add chicken to pan and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate with bacon.
FOUR: To pan, add onions, celery and carrot to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes (if pan is getting too brown, lower heat to medium). Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour, stirring until evenly incorporated. Add marinade and scrape up any browned bits in pan with a spoon. Stir in broth, thyme, parsley sprigs and bay leaves.
FIVE: Return chicken and bacon to pan, nestling chicken into liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
SIX: Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken and vegetables to plates or a platter, discarding parsley and thyme sprigs. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper and spoon a little over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve remaining sauce at the table.
Nutrients per serving (1 chicken thigh, 3/4 cup vegetables, 1/3 cup sauce):
Calories: 272, Total Fat: 11 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated fat: 6 g, Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, Carbs: 13 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 30 g, Sodium: 423 mg, Cholesterol: 125 mg