This recipe from Air Fryer Perfection makes a lovely salad or side dish with grilled fish or meat. Roast the peppers in an air fryer, on the grill, over the direct flame of a gas burner or under the broiler. Peel and slice, then toss with a balsamic vinaigrette, fresh mozzarella, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for a balsamic vinegar with no sulfites added. Make sure the fresh mozzarella is additive-free and that the pine nuts do not contain preservatives.

Place peppers in air fryer or use another method to roast them.

The peppers are ready when they are soft and the skins are brown and wrinkled

Peel peppers, slice and toss with vinaigrette, fresh mozzarella, basil and pine nuts

Ingredients:

2 large or 4 small bell peppers (red, orange and/or yellow)

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

2 oz (57 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into 1-inch (2.54-cm) pieces

2 tbsp (30 ml) torn fresh basil

1 tbsp (15 ml) pine nuts, toasted

Preparation:

Trim ½ inch (1.25 cm) from top and bottom of bell peppers. Using paring knife, remove ribs, core and seeds and discard. Arrange bell peppers in air-fryer basket on their sides. Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 degrees F (204 C). Cook bell peppers until skins are brown and wrinkled and have collapsed, 25-30 minutes, flipping and rotating the peppers halfway through cooking.

If not using an air fryer, cook the peppers on a grill, over direct flame or under the broiler.

Transfer bell peppers to bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes.

Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, 1/8 tsp (0.6 ml) salt and 1/8 tsp (0.6 ml) pepper together in serving dish. Uncover bowl to let bell peppers cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, peel peppers and discard skin, then cut into 1-inch (2.54-cm) wide strips. Add bell peppers and mozzarella to bowl with dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with basil and pine nuts and serve. Serves 2-3.

From Air Fryer Perfection

This recipe from Food and Wine is another great baked pasta dish. Cook the pasta and set aside. Simmer cream and salt and add cheese to create a sauce. Combine pasta and sauce and broil until browned. Serve with thinly sliced prosciutto. Cook’s note: I don’t like nutmeg in the sauce; I used hot pepper flakes instead.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the cheese does not contain colour or other additives. Check the nutmeg to make sure it doesn’t have preservatives or anti-caking agents. Look for prosciutto that is preserved with salt only.

This recipe uses lots of Gruyere cheese

Simmer cream

Add cheese to cream, add cooked pasta and broil until browned

Serve baked pasta with prosciutto

Ingredients:

1 (16-ounce/454 g) package gemelli pasta or other short pasta, such as penne or elbow macaroni

16 ounces (454 g) Gruyère cheese, finely shredded (about 4 cups/1 L)

3 ounces (85 g) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 1 ¼ cups/310 ml)

3 cups (750 ml) heavy cream

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly grated whole nutmeg

Thinly sliced prosciutto, for serving

Preparation:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions until barely al dente, about 10 minutes (about 3 minutes less than package directions indicate). Drain and immediately transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer. Set pasta aside. Toss together Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a medium bowl, and set aside.

Preheat broiler to high with oven rack in middle of oven. Bring heavy cream and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over high. Reduce heat to medium; stir in nutmeg, and simmer, stirring often, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 4 ¼ cups (1.06 L) of the cheese mixture, in small batches, stirring until cheese is melted after each addition. Stir in cooked pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a 2 ½ -quart (2.5 L) broiler-proof baking dish; top with remaining 1 cup (250 ml) cheese mixture.

Broil in preheated oven until cheese is melted and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with thinly sliced prosciutto. Serves 6.

From Food and Wine

Skate are fish that are members of the ray family. Their fins are large and look like wings, which is why you often see it labelled “skate wing” at the fish counter. Usually sold skinned and filleted, it is a mild-tasting fish that is delicious when dredged in flour and pan-fried in oil or butter. In this recipe from Jacque Pépin, you pan fry the fish in oil, fry some mushrooms in the drippings while the fish rests and then top everything with brown butter, lemon juice and parsley.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only cream, without colour. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, as the concentrates contain sodium benzoate.

Dredge the skate in flour and pan fry in oil

Pan fry the mushrooms while the fish rests

Top fish with mushrooms, brown butter, lemon juice and parsley

Ingredients:

1 large skinned and boned skate wing (about 2 pounds/900 g)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 1/3 cup (85 ml) all-purpose flour, for dredging

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons (30 ml) corn oil

2 cups (500 ml) sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces/113 g)

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

Cut the skate wing into 4 slabs. Sprinkle the pieces of skate with ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt and 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) pepper and dredge with the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy skillet until hot. Add the skate, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on the first side. Turn and cook for 5 minutes longer on the other side, or just until the skate is cooked through; the meat should still be slightly moist and pink in the center. Arrange the skate on a serving platter.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the drippings in the pan and cook for just 1 minute; they should still be firm. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, then scatter the mushrooms on top of the skate.

Heat the butter in a small skillet until it is foamy and brown. Sprinkle the lemon juice on the skate, pour the hot butter on top, garnish with the parsley, and serve. Serves 4.

From Jacques Pépin

I have a new kitchen toy — an extra-large air fryer. Air fryers aren’t really fryers at all – they are small convection ovens that circulate hot air with a fan. The intense hot air approximates frying — with little or no fat. I have a Philips Avance model and have been impressed with the results — crispy fries, moist fish and chicken that cooks through and browns in 20 minutes. It frees up oven space and there is no spatter! On the down side, it is large and heavy, so I’ve been leaving mine on the countertop. These Tandoori chicken thighs are from the American’s Test Kitchen Air Fryer Perfection cookbook. Marinate the chicken for a few minutes and then air fry for 20-30 minutes. You could also bake them in a 425 F (218 C) oven for 30-40 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your dried spices don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Use fresh lime juice and yogurt with no additives.

There are many different models of air fryers. This is a Philips XL Avance.

Marinate the chicken and place in the fryer basket.

The chicken is cooked and well-browned in about 20 minutes.

Air fried Tandoori chicken thighs

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp (15 ml) grated fresh garlic

1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) garam masala

1 tsp (5 ml) chili powder

1 tsp (5 ml) vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

½ cup (125 ml) plain whole-milk yogurt

4 tsp (20 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice

4 5-oz (140-g) bone in, skin-on chicken thighs

Preparation:

Combine garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder, oil, ¼ tsp (1 ml) salt and ¼ tsp (1 ml) pepper in large bowl and microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly, then stir in ¼ cup (60 ml) yogurt and 1 tbsp (15 ml) lime juice.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Using metal skewer, poke skin side of chicken 10 to 15 times (omit this step if you aren’t using an air fryer). Add to bowl with yogurt-spice mixture and toss to coat; set aside to marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) yogurt and remaining 1 tsp (5 ml) lime juice in clean bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off, and arrange skin side up in air-fryer basket, spaced evenly apart (or place chicken on baking sheet). Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 F (204 C) (or place in pre-heated 425 F/218 C oven). Cook until chicken is well-browned and crisp and registers 195 F (90 C), 20 to 30 minutes, rotating chicken halfway through cooking; do not flip (if roasting in oven, cook 30-40 minutes).

Transfer chicken to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with reserved yogurt-lime sauce. Serves 2.

From America’s Test Kitchen Air Fryer Perfection

Now that the holidays are over, I feel like cooking simple, light meals. This sheet-pan shrimp recipe fits the bill. Create a paste of garlic, oregano, lemon juice, oil and pepper. Rub the paste on peeled shrimp and broil them for a few minutes on each side. Serve with tomatoes and feta.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the feta to make sure it is additive-free and use freshly squeezed lemon juice. I use frozen shrimp with only salt added.

Coat the shrimp with the paste and broil for a few minutes on each side

Sheet pan shrimp with tomatoes, oregano and feta

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

Black pepper

1 ½ pounds (680 g) peeled shrimp

Chopped tomatoes, for serving

Crumbled feta, for serving

Preparation:

Turn on the broiler, and position the oven rack close to the heat.

Mash garlic clove with salt until it forms a paste. Add chopped oregano, lemon juice, olive oil and lots of black pepper. Rub paste all over peeled shrimp.

Spread shrimp out on a pan and broil, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Served topped with chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta. Serves 4.

From New York Times Cooking

Happy New Year! This recipe from Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy can be made in the oven or on the grill. Marinate the chicken in citrus juice, tamari sauce, oil, jalapeno and garlic. Cook the chicken and let it rest on top of citrus slices. Sprinkle with herbs and reserved marinade and serve after the chicken has rested about 15 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use freshly squeezed juice and tamari, which does not contain artificial ingredients. Use jalapeno instead of the sambal sauce.

Let the cooked chicken rest on citrus slices, topped with herbs and reserved marinade

Citrus chicken rested in herbs

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 ml) lime or lemon juice, plus 1 lime or lemon, thinly sliced

½ cup (125 ml) orange juice, plus 1 orange, thinly sliced, seeds removed

½ cup (125) ml soy or tamari sauce

2 tablespoons (30 ml) canola oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) sambal or 1 jalapeño chilli, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

Kosher salt and freshly ground

Black pepper

1 3.5 to 4 lb. (1.6 to 1.8 kg) chicken, halved lengthways through the backbone, or bone-in, skin-on parts

1 handful coarsely chopped coriander, tender leaves and stems

1 handful coarsely chopped parsley, tender leaves and stems

A few sprigs of rosemary, thyme, oregano or marjoram (optional)

Preparation:

To make the marinade, combine the lime juice, orange juice, soy sauce, oil, jalpeno and garlic in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set about half aside for later, and add the rest of the marinade to a large bowl, resealable bag or baking dish. Add the chicken, tossing to coat well.

Let it sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Alternatively, heat a barbecue grill to medium heat, with cooler coals or low flames on one side. (You can grill the chicken over hotter flames, but it can be challenging to manage; for beginners, it’s good to err on the side of the coals being slightly cooler than slightly hotter.)

Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade the chicken was sitting in. Place on a baking tray, skin side up. Roast until the skin is deeply browned and lightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, 35–45 minutes; there’s no need to flip or turn the chicken.

Alternatively, place the chicken skin side down on the grill and cover; make sure the vents are open. Let it grill, resisting the urge to turn or check too frequently, until it’s nicely golden brown with those cute little grill marks, 10–12 minutes; just like when you’re searing chicken in a skillet, the skin will release effortlessly once it’s cooked and golden. Attempting to move it beforehand will probably tear the skin and maybe ruin your day! Using your finest and largest tongs, carefully flip the chicken, then cover so that it continues to grill and cook on the other side, another 10–12 minutes. Flip once more, skin side down, and add a few halves of cut citrus if you have them. Continue to grill another 5–8 minutes, to crisp the skin and finish cooking through.

Place the citrus slices on a platter or cutting board and scatter with the herbs. Place the cooked chicken on top, skin side up, and pour the reserved marinade over. Let the chicken rest for 10–20 minutes, allowing its juices to mingle with the citrus and herbs.

Carve the chicken into pieces before serving. Serves 4-6.

From Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman

Happy holidays! This recipe from Real Simple is a tasty weeknight supper that is on the table in less than 45 minutes. Roast carrots and onions on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, season the pork and sear it on top of the stove. Reserve the skillet for the sauce. Place the pork on the baking sheet with the vegetables and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C). While the pork rests, make a quick sauce with stock, butter, mustard and tarragon and serve over the sliced pork.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Imagine Organic chicken stock, Gay Lea unsalted butter and President’s Choice Old-Fashioned Dijon mustard. All are additive-, preservative- and colour-free.

Roast vegetables for about 15 minutes

Meanwhile, sear the pork

While pork is roasting with the vegetables, make the sauce

Let pork rest for a few minutes before slicing

Roast pork tenderloin with carrots, onions and mustard-tarragon sauce

Ingredients:

1 lb. (454 g) carrots, cut into 2-in. (5-cm) pieces

1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, divided

1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 1-lb. (454 g) pork tenderloin

1 cup (250 ml) low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon (15 ml) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons (10 ml) Dijon mustard

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Toss carrots and onion with 3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) each salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beginning to soften, 12 to 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Season pork with remaining 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Move vegetables to edges of baking sheet; place pork in center (reserve skillet). Roast until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 140°F (60°C), 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board; let rest for 5 minutes.

Add broth to skillet; cook over medium-high until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, tarragon, and mustard. Thinly slice pork and serve with vegetables and mustard sauce. Serves 4.

From Real Simple

I’m really enjoying cooking from Alison Roman’s new cookbook, Nothing Fancy. In this recipe, salmon is topped with browned butter, caramelized lemon and onion slices and capers and then slow-roasted until just cooked through. Cook’s note: the recipe calls for a garnish of dill, sesame seeds and onion. I didn’t make the garnish and the dish was still outstanding.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your butter doesn’t contain colour. Unico capers are additive-free.

Season salmon with salt and pepper and place in baking dish

Brown the butter and add lemon, onion and capers

Pour the butter mixture over the salmon and bake

Buttered salmon with lemon and red onion

Ingredients:

1 lemon

2 lbs (907 g) salmon fillet

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tbsp (90 ml) unsalted butter

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

½ a small red onion, sliced into very thin rings, divided

2 tbsp (30 ml) brined capers, drained

One cup (250 ml) fresh dill

2 tbsp (30 ml) toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 325º F (163º C). Thinly slice half the lemon and remove any seeds; save the other half for juicing.

Place the salmon on a baking tray or in a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter has started to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add the olive oil, sliced lemon and half the onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until the lemon and onion have started to brown and frizzle, 2-3 minutes (you’re looking for a kind of crisped rather than softened and caramelized). Add the capers.

Pour the brown butter-lemon mixture over the salmon. Place it in the oven and roast until just cooked through but still medium rare inside, 12-15 minutes; the flesh will more translucent, less opaque. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.

Meanwhile, toss together the dill and sesame seeds, if using, in a medium bowl. Give a squeeze from the halved lemon and season with salt and pepper. Scatter on top of the salmon, along with the raining sliced onion. Serves 4-6.

From Nothing Fancy, by Alison Roman

Sausage, spinach, cheese, pasta — comfort food at its best! This recipe is from a magazine ad for dairy products and it’s great for supper on a cold winter night. Cook pasta shells and drain. Meanwhile, cook the onion, garlic and sausage. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Transfer the meat mixture to a bowl and add the cheeses. Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of a baking dish, stuff the shells, place them on top of the sauce and bake.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for sausages without additives, such as PC Free From brand. Tre Stelle ricotta is additive-free, as is genuine Parmesan cheese. I used Hunt’s tomato sauce.

Cook the onions, garlic sausage

Add the spinach

Cook until the spinach wilts

Stuff shells and place on top of tomato sauce. Top with Parmesan.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden

Sausage, spinach and ricotta cheese shells

Ingredients:

32 uncooked jumbo pasta shells

1 tbsp (15 ml) of olive oil

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 Italian sausages, casings removed

6 oz (170 g) of spinach, chopped finely

14 oz (400) of ricotta cheese

¾ cup (180 ml) of grated Parmesan cheese

½ tsp (2.5 ml) of sea salt

22 ounces (640 ml) of store-bought tomato sauce

Fresh Italian parsley, minced

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the shells are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian sausages. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage meat and sauté until fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the sausage mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, ½ cup (125 ml) of the grated Parmesan cheese and the sea salt, and mix to combine.

Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. Generously fill the cooked shells with the sausage and cheese mixture and set over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Saputo grated Parmesan cheese and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden. Garnish with Italian parsley and serve. Serves 8.

From Saputo Dairy Products

This recipe from the New York Times uses harissa paste, a North African paste made from roasted peppers and ingredients such as garlic, caraway, coriander and cumin. It adds wonderful flavour and colour. In this recipe, brown the chicken thighs and set aside. Then cook shallots and garlic, stir in harissa and cinnamon, return the chicken to the pan, add stock and simmer until the chicken is done. Serve with the sauce and garnish with cilantro, scallions and lime wedges.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used additive-free Belazu Rose Harisssa paste, which is available from Well.ca or Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts at 141 Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa. I used Imagine Organic brand chicken stock. Check the cinnamon to make sure it doesn’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Cook the chicken and shallots in the harissa sauce

Harissa chicken thighs with shallots

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

4 to 5 small shallots, ends trimmed, quartered, root to stem, and peeled

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons harissa paste

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 to 1 ½ cups chicken stock, plus more as needed

¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Flaky salt, for serving (optional)

Preparation:

Season chicken thighs well with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs skin-side down and cook undisturbed until nicely browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan and return to medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.

Stir in harissa and cinnamon, and add back in the chicken and any residual juices. Pour in enough of the stock to come up to the chicken about halfway, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover and allow the chicken to finish cooking through, about 15 minutes more.

Toss the chicken in the sauce until it’s nicely coated. Plate and top with the cilantro and the scallions. Serve, spooning braising liquid on top and with lime wedges on the side. Finish with flaky salt, if desired. Serves 4.

From the New York Times

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