Monthly Archives: June 2012

Vegan: “Creamy” Zucchini and Basil Soup

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Vegan Creamy Zucchini Basil Soup


When it's vegan, is it Kreamy or "Creamy" or just plain Creamy, with an explanation to follow?


Creamy Zucchini Basil Soup
This is a question that has been plaguing our family for … centuries, decades, 5 minutes now.

What amazes me about this soup is that everyone in our family really liked it.  Even the non-vegan, even the picky, even the manly man, even the nut-hater.  Even after Alyssa explained it had nutritional YEAST in it.  No one was deterred.


Thank you to the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's website of massive recipes to help us with our 6-Week Vegan Challenge.


If it's summer………..SERVE WITH WATERMELON!!  (It will break up the greenness)


Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup
Compliments of JennaDish

from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen  

2 pounds zucchini (about 5 small to medium)
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups vegetable broth (we used Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock)
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
3 tablespoons raw cashews
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
salt & pepper, to taste

Set aside one of the zucchini; trim and coarsely chop the rest. (We skipped this part.)

Cook onion in a large saucepan for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the chopped zucchini, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 15 minutes.

Pour into a blender (in 2 batches, if necessary) taking care to avoid burns by not filling the blender more than halfway. Add the basil, cashews, and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth.

Return soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm. Shred the remaining zucchini with a spiral slicer, mandolin, or grater. Pour soup into bowls and sprinkle grated zucchini over top.

Nutrition Facts (according to FatFree Vegan Kitchen)

Nutrition (per serving): 128 calories, 56 calories from fat, 6.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 437.6mg sodium, 542.3mg potassium, 14.2g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 4.5g sugar, 6.3g protein, 2.6 points.

Vegan: Nutty Crunchy Veggie Burger

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Nutty Veggie Burger with Onion Rings
Nutty Veggie Burger
After the last veggie burger turned out a little more soft than Alyssa liked, she went on a search for something a bit more chunky.  Less beans, more variety, more dense, firm but not dry.

In comes a nice recipe from Whitewater Cooks by Shelley Adams, which needs to be altered slightly to be vegan-friendly, plus we didn't need 12 burgers, so a reduction in servings was needed!

Alyssa also made ONION RINGS to go with it! …. That post to come.

So, do you bake these or fry them?

To bake or to fry?  That used to be the question.  Now, not so much.  There was a recently published study that followed people who fried their food and those who didn't, and there was no noticable difference in their health.  Not to say you can fry everything, have fried chicken for breakfast, deep fry your veggies, etc.  I translate the study (link below) to say, 'hey, if you want to saute the following veggie burgers in a little healthy oil, go for it!'  But we baked this time.

Download Bmj.e363.full

Nutty Crunchy Veggie Burger
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Whitewater Cooks by Shelley Adams

Bake or fry.  You choose!  


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
   3 vegan eggs =
   3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
   1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon water
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or regular dried is fine) 
1 cup low-sodium black beans, drained and pureed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seed, toasted
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs (we used 3 slices sprouted wheat bread)
1 cup oat flour
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup finely grated carrot
    if frying:
flour for dredging
olive oil or canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350o if baking.  In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. 

Meanwhile mix the vegan eggs in a small bowl by stirring together the ground flaxseed and water.

Saute onions and garlic until softened and starting to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the cumin, chili powder and oregano to the onions and mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients through the grated carrot, including the onion mixture.  Now add most of the vegan eggs (flaxseed mixture), leaving a tablespoon or less, and try to make a tightly formed ball or patty.  If it needs more egg mixture add the rest.  

To bake, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. 

Bake 15 minutes, then flip and bake another 10 minutes or until heated through.


Finely grate the carrot with a cheese grater, if you have one. 

Vegan Eggs- Ground Flaxseed and Water
This is the mixture of ground flaxseed and water, which is used widely in vegan cooking as an egg replacer.  Once you mix it, let is sit a few minutes to thicken.

If you don't have oat flour, grind your own.  Take old fashioned oats and grind them in a small food processor.  It should look like flour when your finished, but for this recipe you don't have to grind to a fine flour.  Some pieces in it is fine.

You can learn how to Make Your Own Chili Powder, which has a fresher, deeper flavor.

Vegan: How to Make Sauteed Vegetables with Italian Herbs

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Considering that I'm trying to be at least 90% vegan (well, no dairy/no meat) to support my daughter, Alyssa, for the next 6 weeks or so, I need to eat veggies, plus it doesn't hurt to use things up in the fridge…

Over the last few weeks, I've made sauteed vegetables and potatoes three times.  Here are three versions of a dish that seems like they are all the same, but depending on the amount of veggies and potatoes, the spices, and the cooking method, can taste quite different.

Sauteed Potatoes Veggies
Sauteed Potatoes and Veggies
The above (2 photos, same dish) was made with the following ingredients and method, enough for 3 people:

Olive oil, as needed
1 large zucchini, diced small
1 stalk celery, chopped small
1/2 – 1 red pepper, chopped small
1/2 onion, chopped small
oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme sprig (optional)
9 new potatoes, boiled until tender, mostly peeled, cut in large chunks
Non-Dairy Basil pesto (1 cup basil leaves, 1-2 Tbsp pine nuts, olive oil, ground)
(feta cheese for your dairy eating loved ones)

In oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat, throw in the first 4 veggies & the 6 spices/herb. 
Cover and let the veggies cook without stirring, about 10 minutes, then turn and toss until tender.
Dump the veggies in a bowl and set aside.
Using more oil, throw in the pre-cooked potatoes, turn up the heat to medium high, and do the same – let cook while still, then flip and toss until mostly browned.  When about done, throw in pesto and toss to coat evenly. Quickly remove pan from heat.

Place potatoes in bowls, throw earlier veggies back in the pan to quickly stir and reheat.
Spoon the soft veggies over the potatoes.
Sprinkle feta on the dish of anyone who prefers their cheese, please.

Potato Onion Pepper Saute

The saute above is made up of new potatoes, red onions, tomatoes from my porch plant, green beans, poblano peppers, herbs de provence, and some fresh ground pepper.


Potato Zucchini Tomato Onion Saute
This one had quite a different taste.  Better I would say.  Even Alyssa nearly raved about it and she's not a big veggie eater.  The ingredients for this one in order of the cooking process:  olive oil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, zucchini coins, chopped poblano pepper, onion sliced thin to cook faster, a previously baked potato cubed, tomatoes cut about 1" pieces.


Compliments of JennaDish

Look in your fridge and see what veggies you have, and decide how much you want to make and how big of a pan you have to accommodate the stinkers.

Let's say you are cooking for yourself but you may as well make enough for leftovers tomorrow.  For two people I cooked the following:

olive oil
big pinch red pepper flakes
1 big clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/8" to 1/4" coins
1 red onion, cut in half then sliced thin
1 whole baked potato, cubed to 1" pieces
1/2 to 1 poblano (or green or red) pepper, cut into small 1/2" pieces 
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half, or a whole tomato or two cut to 1" pieces
fresh basil, optional

That would defintely feed two, expecially if you are having something else like bread.  But you could throw in a little more just to make sure.  Use a 10" or 12" pan for this much so you have tossing room.

Have everything chopped and ready to go.  The French call this Mise en Place (pronounced miz on plas) which basically means put in place.

Layer flavors.

Start with a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet on medium heat.  

Add olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons to start.  Let it get warmed up about 2-3 minutes.

Throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes.  If it sizzles and seems it will burn, turn the heat down a bit and lift the skillet to quickly reduce the heat and stop the food from burning.  You don't need to cook red pepper flakes, you just want to heat it enough to bring out the flavor of the spice and to meld it with the oil.  So 20 seconds or so.  

Make sure your heat is under control now.  Not so low that it does nothing, and not too hot.  Then, immediately put in the minced garlic.  Same general idea – pieces are very small and delicate so it will burn quickly.  Stir around until it seems it's starting to become golden but before it burns, for Pete's sake.  Add a little more olive oil if you need it.  That will also help it to cool down briefly.

Now toss in the zucchini and stir around for 4 minutes or so until they are really softening up and starting to brown.  Now add small-cut peppers, stir a minute or two, then throw in the onion and keep tossing every minute or so.  Let things start to caramelize.  Once you get all the veggies about 2 minutes away from being the way you like them, throw in the potatoes which just need to heat through another 2-4 minutes.  Then add your tomatoes and heat through a couple minutes.

The whole idea here is to start with aromatics, meld and layer flavors, then start adding vegetables starting with those that will take the longest.  You also decide what to put in next based on how much you want something cooked.  For example, I only want the tomatoes heated up, so I put those in last.

Remove from heat and divvy up some veggies on your plate.  You can add fresh, torn basil if you like.

Yer done.





Vegan: Quick, Spicy, and Peanutty Sesame Noodles for One

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Quick and Spicy Peanut Noodles

No one in my family likes peanut sauce on anything.  

But I LOOOVE it!!

So when I heard that I'd only be fixing dinner for moi, I grabbed some frozen (formerly fresh) pasta and a jar of natural peanut butter.  Yay.  Another vegan friendly dinner.


Quick, Spicy, and Peanutty Sesame Noodles for One
Compliments of JennaDish


4 oz fresh pasta or 1 serving dry noodles (linguine or spaghetti are good choices, use eggless for vegan)
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil (or use olive or canola as an alternative)
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter, smooth or better yet, crunchy
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Chili paste, such as sriracha
juice of a lime
sesame seeds
scallions (chopped green onion) 

Cooking the pasta, drain, and put in a small to medium bowl for tossing.  Toss with the toasted sesame oil. 

Mix the next three ingredients, through the chili with 1 Tablespoon water in a small microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds or so, do not let it boil or burn.  Just get it very warm so it will stir completely.

After stirring, squeeze some lime juice in the mix, stir and plop onto noodles.  Toss well to coat all noodles.  Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

Vegan: Tuscan White Bean Burgers

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Tuscan White Bean Burger
The thing about healthy food, unless it's a plate of bright veggies or fruit, the photos can be a little on the boring side.

But this ugly duckling bean burger is a tasty mixture of cannellini (navy) beans, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, fresh sage leaves and Kalamata olives (which I skipped this time). So it's big on flavor.

And I put a big ol' roasted red pepper on it and some English mustard.  Yum.

I put this veggie burger together for Alyssa, who has decided to challenge herself to eat as a vegan for six weeks.

Meet Alyssa …

Proud Meat Eater.

But here it is a year after this photo was taken and she just wants to try a challenge that forces her to eat healthier.  As a vegan, you'd better like more than 3 vegetables, you'll need to tolerate beans, grains, and nuts, and eat alternatives to milk and cheese.  Maybe even eat some tofu, although not absolutely necessary.

Besides getting used to these healthier foods, something else that Alyssa finds challenging is soft, grainy, or mushy foods.  So although she loved the flavor of this White Bean Burger, it was softer than she liked. It was slightly softer than a crab cake.  I told her to put some potato chips on it for crunch.  

I personally wolfed it down and wished I had another.  

I have agreed to go vegan along with Alyssa, as much as possible. That means I'll still have my healthy Greek yogurt some mornings.  And maybe an egg sammie on the weekend. But no meat.

Here's the recipe…


Tuscan White Bean Burgers
Compliment of JennaDish

To help with timing, you can make the whole bean burger mixture the evening before, so you can come home and form the burgers and cook them quickly.  These make smallish burgers, smaller than most buns, so I'd double the recipe if you are feeding four, unless you have a filling side.


from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger

1 onion, peeled
4 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 head garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (cannellini or navy – I used a 15 oz. can) 
1 egg (I used powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer to respect our temporary veganism)
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup sliced, pitted Kalamata olives (I left them out this time)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs, or more if needed (I used Panko bread crumbs)
Fresh ground pepper

1. Caramelize the onions: Cut the onion in half through the stem and then slice into 1/8"-thick half-rings. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-low heat and add the onion, turning to coat.  Cook slowly, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat if the onion begins to burn, until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Cool.

2. Meanwhile, roast the garlic.  There are many methods, but I prefer this one: Break the head of garlic into cloves and clean off most of the papery skins. Toss the cloves in 1/2 teaspoon of the oil and spread out on a small baking sheet (a toaster oven works great for this).  Roast at 300oF for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took less time), shaking the pan and stirring the cloves around frequently until the largest clove can be pierces effortlessly with a knife.  Cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 375oF.  

4. In a food processor, puree 1/2 cup of the beans with half the roasted garlic, half the caramelized onion, the egg, and half the sage.

5. Chop the remaining onion and roasted garlic coarsely and place in a mixing bowl.  Add the remaining beans and coarsely mash with a potato masher.  Fold in the pureed bean-egg(replacer) mixture, remaining sage, the olives, and lemon juice.  Fold in the bread crumbs, adding more if necessary- just until the mixture begins to pull from the side of the bowl (it will be a wet mixture). Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Shape into 4 patties.


Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto

  Pizza Arugula Cherry Tomatoes Prosciutto

OK fine.  That's not prosciutto.  We had leftover salami so we used it. Use either one, or even strips of smoked ham.  There's such a small amount of meat on each, it's not likely to matter that much.

If you're not familiar with arugula, it's not your basic lettuce.  A basic lettuce, like iceberg, would be lame on pizza.  Don't do that.  People will cry for you.  Arugula has a peppery bite.  Makes things interesting. 

My English teacher hated that word.  Interesting.  So I feel self-conscious every time I use it.  Like I'm being pathetic and unimaginative.  

Anyway, if you add fresh basil leaves also, and even just a teeny amount of red chili flakes, it's just enough exhilaration without the bother of climbing on a roller coaster.  

Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Salami
Above is the pizza before the greenery.  See – not much meat.

Here's an overview of the method to get this extremely thin and crispy-crusted pizza, using the grill.

Get some really thin store-bought crusts.  We used something we've never seen before – Golden Home Ultra Thin Pizza Crust – purchased at the former Bigg's, now Remke's, in Hyde Park Square (Cincinnati).

Preheat your grill on a low setting.

Put a thin coating of pizza sauce on the crust, cover with cheese, then distribute tomatoes, cut in half (so they won't squirt hot tomato juice in your mouth when you bite into it).  

Place on the grill for a couple of minutes, then check the bottom of the crust.  If it's starting to crisp and burn before the cheese melts, place a heat-safe pan or ceramic tile under the pizza and close the cover until the cheese melts.  Or if you don't have anything to place under the pizza, remove the pizza and place it pizza under your oven broiler to finish it.

Remove from grill (or oven) when finished cooking, and place on a cutting board.  Add arugula, meat, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes, if using.  

Pizza with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto
Compliments of JennaDish

Adapted from Cook this Not That: 350-Calorie Meals by Zinczenko & Goulding 


2 thin crust, 12" prepared crusts (I used Golden Home Ultra Thin crusts from Bigg's/Remke)
1 cup your favorite healthy pizza sauce 
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 cups cherry tomatoes (we cut them in half)
2 cups arugula
Basil leaves, torn (optional)
6 slices prosciutto, cut or torn into thin strips (substitute ham – less salt and lower cost)
Shaved Parmesan 
Red chili flakes, optional

For the grill:
Preheat your grill on a low setting.

For each pizza, use 1/2 the listed amount of each ingredient.  Put a thin coating of pizza sauce on the crust, cover with cheese, then tomatoes cut in half (so they won't squirt hot tomato juice in your mouth when you bite into it).  

Place on the grill for a couple of minutes, check the bottom of the crust.  If it's starting to crisp and burn before the cheese melts, place a heat-safe pan or ceramic tile under the pizza and close the cover until the cheese melts.  Or if you don't have anything to place under the pizza, place the pizza under your oven broiler to finish it.

Remove from grill (or oven) when finished cooking, and place on a cutting board.  Add arugula, meat, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes, if using.

For the oven:  
Preheat oven to 425oF (or according to your crust instructions). For each pizza, distribute 1/2 the sauce (should be thin layer), sprinkle evenly with 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, and cover with 1/2 the cherry tomatoes.

Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.  Placing directly on rack will yield a crisper crust, but be careful about dripping cheese on the bottom of the stove.  Otherwise, use a baking sheet. 

Remove pizza to a cutting board and immediately top with 1/2 the arugula (will wilt from heat), and 1/2 the prosciutto (or meat) and parmesan cheese to taste.  If you have a block of parmesan, shave it thinly with a vegetable peeler right onto the pizza.

Pork Tenderloin Grilled with Pineapple Sauce

Pork Tenderloin Grilled with Pineapple Salsa

Did you know that pork is best served Medium Rare?  For us more mature folks, that's scary.  

But evidently things have changed and pork doesn't need to be cooked as long as we used to think.

*WASHINGTON, May 24, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is updating its recommendation for safely cooking pork, steaks, roasts, and chops. USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of meat to 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allowing the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming.

This change does not apply to ground meats, including ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork, which should be cooked to 160 °F and do not require a rest time. The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains at 165 °F.


Pork Loin

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Sauce
This is the quick and simple sauce:  fresh pineapple, jalapeno and apricot jam.  Use fresh pineapple – it makes a difference.

Pork with Pineapple Sauce
Stir-Fry Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas

We had leftover asparagus (about 3/4 bunch), and about 6 oz. sugar snap peas.  So I sauteed them stir-fry style on high heat about 5 minutes, tossed with a teaspoon of Sun Luck Hot Chili Garlic Sauce. Turned out nicely crisp and perfectly spiced.

Pork with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas

Notes:  The pork took longer to cook, at least on our grill, than the suggested 10 minutes. Double the time.

I sauteed a handful of leftover mushrooms, tossing them in a teaspoon of hot chile sauce to add to the asparagus saute for those of us who like mushrooms.  Wasn't as spicy as I thought – unimpressive. 

Overall, Alyssa did an awesome job with the pork on the grill.

And the sauteed asparagus and sugar snap peas were yummy.  Just enough though for the four of us.

To summarize:  I love the saucey, slightly spicy sauce for my pork.  The "green" saute was perfect.  Since the pork has a barely detectable mustard glaze, oven fried potatoes tossed in mustard would have also made a nice side.

For meat and salsa only: About $3 per serving and 210 calories, 4 g fat, 390 mg sodium


Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Quick Pineapple Sauce
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Cook This Not That: 350-Calorie Meal by Zinczenko & Goulding

1 Tbsp Dijon or grainy mustard
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb pork tenderloin
4 slices pineapple (1/2" thick), core removed
1/4-1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
2-3 Tablespoons apricot or peach jam

Preheat the grill. Combine the mustard, honey, chili powder and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and rub all over the pork.  Place the pork and pineapple slices on the grill.  Grill the pineapple for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly charred and softened.  Grill the tenderloin, turning once or twice, for about 10 minutes, until lightly charred and firm (but yielding) to the touch. An internal thermometer should read no more than 160oF. (My note: Can remove at 145o and still be safe-see above). Let the pork rest for at least 3-5 minutes.

While the pork rests, chop the pineapple into bite-size pieces. Combine with the jam and jalapeno in a small saucepan and heat on medium low until bubbly and thickened, just a few minutes.  Mash the pineapple with a fork while in the pan.  Slice the pork and serve with the sauce. 


Chili-Mango Chicken

Chili-Mango Chicken

Finally, another meal that everyone in the family likes.  This is a stir-fry, so don't forget the rice – it's not mentioned in the ingredients list.  I used Jasmine Rice.

Note to self:  Alyssa doesn't care for the mango.  Replace with pineapple.  Everyone loved the snap peas. Allen added extra chili garlic sauce to his, of course.  Rice recipe claiming it feeds 6 is barely enough. Do 8 servings next time, for 4 people.  

I forgot to add the sesame oil, just too big of a hurry and didn't notice it.  It's also very hard to read in the small cookbook.  Hopefully, the way I rephrased the recipe and divided the steps, will help next time.

According to the authors:
Per serving: $2.06, 240 calories, 8 g fat, 410 mg sodium


Chili-Mango Chicken Stir-Fry
Compliments of JennaDish

Adapted slightly from Cook This Not That! 350-Calorie Meals by Zinczenko and Goulding

Have all ingredients ready, measured and chopped as this recipe moves quickly.  Serve over rice.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1/2" pieces (I used boneless breasts)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 to 1 Tbsp peanut oil or canola oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and chopped (can substitute pineapple)
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (preferably samal oleek)
black pepper to taste

Combine the chicken and the next 3 ingredients – cornstarch, soy sauce and sesame oil – in a mixing bowl and let sit 10 minutes.

Heat the peanut or canola oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. (I think level 8 of 10 is fine – at 10 things will be popping like crazy). Add the onion and cook about 1 minutes, add ginger and cook another minute or until the onion is translucent.  

Add the sugar snap peas and stir-fry 1 minute, keeping them in constant motion.

Add the chicken, including marinade, and stir-fry about 2 minutes, until meat browns on the outside.

Add the mango, chili sauce, and black pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the mango has softened into a near sauce-like consistency. 

Serve over rice.



Baked Fish in Foil: Sea Bass, Mushrooms and Asparagus

Chilean Sea Bass in Foil Packet

This dish is amazingly simple and memorably tasty.  It's from one of my favorite little cookbooks, Cook This, Not That: Easy and Awesome 350-calorie Meals by David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding.

It's not one of the cheapest meals in the book.  I paid $20 for about 10oz. of Chilean Sea Bass, which gave me 4 oz. and Allen 6 oz.  Plenty for both of us, since we had a salad with it.  You can save money by using halibut or any white fish, even tilapia or catfish, the authors suggest.

TIPS:  use skinny asparagus – it's more tender; to peel ginger root before grating, use the back of a spoon and scrape it off rather than use a sharp knife; after grating the ginger, it tends to stick to the grater – to release, hold the grater over the fish and bang the grater against something solid like the side of a pan or dull side of a large chef's knife, and it will spatter haphazardly over the fish, which is what you want.  

Sea Bass Fish in Foil Packet

Rather than give the recipe for 4 people, and then having to halve it or or even quarter it for one person, I'll present the recipe per packet.

250 calories, 4.5 g fat, 540 mg sodium

$5.85 per serving for sea bass (Chilean is more expensive than this), or less for other white fish 

Somewhat Interesting Family Factoid: 

Every time someone mentions Chilean Sea Bass, my better half, Allen, blurts out PATAGONIAN TOOTHFISH!

That's because he read Four Fishes: The Future of the Last Wild Food, by Paul Greenberg.  It explains that for marketing purposes, someone decided to rename the Patagonian Toothfish to Chilean Seabass. 

Sea Bass Packet
Compliments of JennaDish 


6 oz. Sea Bass fillet (or halibut or other white fish)
2-8 spears of asparagus, preferably skinny spears, ends removed and chopped in half (I used about 6)
1 oz. shitake mushrooms, stems removed (equal to about 2-3 mushrooms, sliced)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (sweetened sake) or sweet white wine
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven the 400o F.

Lay 4 large (18" x 12") piece aluminum foil for each fish packet.  Fold into thirds and open back up.  Lay fish fillet in the middle third of each piece, then scatter the asparagus, mushrooms, and ginger over each.  Drizzle with the soy sauce and mirin and season with a small pinch of salt (actually I forgot this part and didn't miss it), and black pepper.  Fold the sides over the fish, then roll up the ends to secure into a fully sealed packet.

Arrange the packets on a large baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes (if 1/2" thick or less, bake for 15 min; if closer to a full 1", bake for 20 min).  When baked, place each packet directly on a plate and serve.  Be careful of the hot steam when opening the foil packet.