You know one of the great things about being a home cook? You can basically do whatever you want in your kitchen. Mix up cuisines. Pair unlikely foods. As long as it tastes good and you like it, no great uber-chef in the sky is going to look aghast and tell you you can't do what you've just done. Thank goodness! Case in point, this quick and easy pasta dish from my friend Peg Poswall. Ancho chiles (dried poblano chili peppers) are distinctively Mexican. Parmesan? That would be Italian. Tossed together with pasta and shrimp? Huh?
One of my favorite foods is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), a grain-like seed native of South America. It's a lot like couscous, but nuttier in flavor, and smoother on the tongue. It's also high in protein and completely gluten-free. You can make a pilaf with it, or use it for stuffing, or just eat it plain. I recently stumbled upon a recipe for quinoa with queso fresco in this book, and then found many other variations online. As I played around and experimented with this recipe I had two revelations. The first is that quinoa tastes great with milk poured over it. The second is quinoa tastes great with cheese (queso).
Updated from the recipe archive. Originally posted in 2004.
We first posted this recipe years ago, it came from my dear friend Heidi H in Carlisle, Massachusetts. I think she got a version of it from the Boston Globe. With apple season upon us, it is timely again. This is a quick and easy chicken dish for a mid-week meal. Apple slices cook alongside chicken breasts and everything comes together with a simple honey mustard sauce.
Have you ever had broccoli rabe (pronounced "rahb" or "rah-bee" depending on where you are from)? I have sort of a love hate relationship with it. It looks like broccoli, but it doesn't taste like it. Broccoli rabe can sometimes be so bitter, even with blanching, there's no amount of vinegar or bacon that can save it. But bitterness heightens flavors (hence the purpose of parsley). Your tongue can distinguish 4 basic tastes—sour, bitter, sweet, and salty—so if you combine the somewhat bitter rabe with strong tastes from the other groups, the result can be like happy fireworks in your mouth. Rabe combined with sun-dried tomatoes is a deli classic, the tomatoes offering a sweet intense counter-note to the rabe. Still, it's not for everyone, so be warned. This recipes tosses lightly sautéed broccoli rabe with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and penne pasta. So good! We devoured it.
Years ago I visited the Caribbean island of Trinidad and was struck not only by the music of steel drums filling the air everywhere, but also by a street food called "roti", which is sort of like an east Indian version of a burrito. A curry pocket of sorts.