Archive for May, 2020

This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated is a quick and easy way to dress up the season’s asparagus. Cook garlic, tomatoes and olives in a skillet for a few minutes, then set aside. Cook the asparagus in the same pan until tender-crisp and bright green. Plate the asparagus, top with the tomato-olive mixture and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for olives with no sulfites added and butter that does not contain colour. Genuine Parmesan cheese (check the rind for the lettering spelling out the name of the cheese) is additive-free.

Cook garlic in skillet for a few minutes

Add tomatoes and olives, cook for a few minutes and set aside

Pan roast the asparagus

Top asparagus with tomato-olive mixture, garnish with basil and cheese and serve


2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

2 medium cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 pint (500 ml) cherry tomatoes, halved

⅓ cup (83 ml) brine-cured black olives (such as kalamata), pitted and chopped

1 tablespoon (15 ml) unsalted butter

2 pounds (907 g) thick asparagus spears (see note), ends trimmed

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 tablespoons (60 ml) chopped fresh basil (optional)

1 ounce (28 g) grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup/125 ml)


This recipe works best with asparagus that is at least ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick near the base. If using thinner spears, reduce the covered cooking time to 3 minutes and the uncovered cooking time to 5 minutes. Do not use pencil-thin asparagus; it cannot withstand the heat and overcooks too easily.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil and garlic in 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns golden around edges but does not darken, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives; cook until tomatoes begin to break down and release liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl and cover with foil. Rinse skillet with water and dry well with paper towels.

Add the butter and remaining oil in the skillet. When butter has melted, add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction; add remaining spears with tips pointed in one direction. Using tongs, distribute spears in even layer (spears will not quite fit into single layer); cover and cook until asparagus is bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes.

Uncover and increase heat to high; season asparagus with salt and pepper. Cook until spears are tender and well browned along one side, 5 to 7 minutes, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center of pan to edge of pan to ensure all are browned. Transfer asparagus to serving dish, top with tomato mixture. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper; sprinkle with basil and Parmesan. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

To Serve 2-3: Cut all ingredient amounts in half. Cook asparagus in 10-inch (25-cm) skillet over medium heat, covered, for 3 minutes. Remove cover and cook over medium-high heat until tender and browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not adjust heat when cooking garnishes; however, cooking times for garnishes should be reduced by 1 to 2 minutes.

From Cook’s Illustrated

This recipe from Real Simple combines chicken thighs with red onion, garlic and radishes, topped with a luscious sauce. Brown the thighs and set aside. Soften the garlic and onion, add the radishes, return the chicken to the pan and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and vegetables and make the quick pan sauce. Cook’s note: I used scallions instead of chives and omitted the baguette slices. Also, for juicier chicken, liberally salt the thighs up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate, uncovered. If you do this, omit the salt from the recipe. Let the chicken come to room temperature before beginning the recipe.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Imagine Organic broth and President’s Choice unsalted butter. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Brown chicken and set aside

Soften garlic and onion and add radishes

Set cooked chicken and vegetables aside

Make the pan sauce

Crispy chicken with roasted radishes


8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds/1.36 kg total)

1¼ teaspoons (6.25 ml) kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon (0.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, divided

1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 cloves garlic, crushed

12 ounces (340 g) red radishes, quartered

1 cup (250 ml) low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh chives

4 baguette slices, toasted


Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Season chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt and the pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil in a large oven-safe skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high. Add 4 chicken thighs, skin side down; cook, undisturbed, until deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Pour fat out of skillet. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil and 4 chicken thighs; do not wipe skillet clean after second batch.

Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook over medium-high, stirring often, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in radishes and nestle chicken into mixture. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F (74°C), 15 to 17 minutes.

Transfer chicken and radish mixture to a platter. Return skillet to medium-high. Add broth and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon juice, chives, and remaining ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) salt. Spoon sauce over chicken and radish mixture. Serve with baguette slices. Serves 4.

From Real Simple

This easy pasta salad with shrimp and green beans from Canadian Living is on the table in 30 minutes. Cook the pasta and green beans, rinse and cool, and place in bowl with tomatoes, shallot and olives. Cook the shrimp, cool slightly, add to the pasta mixture and toss with a lemon vinaigrette. Top with chives and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Eden Organic brand vinegar and shrimp with only salt as a preservative. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Combine tomatoes, olives, shallots and beans in a large bowl

Add cooked pasta

Add cooked shrimp, toss with vinaigrette and serve


Lemon vinaigrette

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

2 tbsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar

½ tsp (2.5 ml) finely grated lemon zest

2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced


2 cups (500 ml) short pasta, such as penne

1 cup (250 ml) chopped green beans

2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil

1 lb (454 g) large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 cup (250 ml) cherry tomatoes, halved

1 shallot, finely chopped

½ cup (125 ml) Kalamata olives, whole or pitted and sliced

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh chives


Lemon vinaigrette

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic. Set aside.


In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes; add green beans for last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain; rinse under cold running water for 1 minute and drain again. Transfer to large bowl. Set aside.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook shrimp, turning once, until pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Add shrimp, tomatoes, shallot and olives to bowl with pasta; add vinaigrette, mixing gently to coat well. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chives. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

Sweet, spicy and hot — these delicious pork noodles from Bon Appetit are made from fridge and pantry staples and feed a crowd. Brown the pork and add ginger, garlic and sugar. Add tomato paste and basil, chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar and water. Cook the sauce down for about 30 minutes. Add cooked noodles, a little butter and pasta water to the sauce and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

No Name tomato paste is additive free. I used Simply Natural Organic sriracha for the hot chili paste. Use tamari instead of soy sauce, because it uses alcohol as a preservative instead of sodium benzoate. I used Marukan rice vinegar and President’s Choice butter, which contains only cream.

Brown pork with garlic, ginger and sugar

Add chili paste, tamari, vinegar and water and simmer

Add cooked noodles to sauce and serve, garnished with basil


2 Tbsp. (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 lb. (907 g) ground pork, divided

1 2-inch (5.08-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks or finely chopped

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. (30 ml) sugar

2 Tbsp. (30 ml) tomato paste

2 sprigs basil, plus more for serving

⅓ cup (85 ml) hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek or sriracha)

¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce

¼ cup (60 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar

1½ lb. (680 g) fresh ramen noodles or 16 oz. (454 g) dried spaghetti

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. (30 ml) unsalted butter


Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high. Add half of pork to pot, breaking apart into 6–8 large chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned on 2–3 sides, about 5 minutes longer. Add ginger, garlic, sugar, and remaining pork to pot and cook, breaking up pork into small clumps, until meat is nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.

Add tomato paste and 2 basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened and flavors have melded, 30–45 minutes.

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute short of al dente. Add to pot with sauce along with butter and a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until sauce begins to cling to noodles, about 1 minute. Pluck out basil sprigs.

Divide noodles among plates. Top with torn basil. Serves 6-8.

From Bon Appetit

The ingredient list for this tasty dish from James Peterson may be long, but once you have them assembled, the actual cooking time is about half an hour. Cook onion, carrots and garlic, add spices and tomatoes and then add herbs, raisins, almonds and shrimp. Serve on top of rice or couscous.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your spices don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Your butter should contain only cream. Saffron can contain colour, so I omitted it. Make sure your raisins and almonds are additive-free. Look for frozen shrimp preserved in salt only. I used Belazu Rose Harissa, which contains no preservatives and omitted the preserved lemon.

Cook onion, carrots and garlic

Add spices and tomatoes

Add herbs, raisins, almonds and shrimp and simmer for about 3 minutes

Shrimp tagine


1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons (15 ml) butter

One 1-inch (2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated fine

1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, grated

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked for 30 minutes in 1 tablespoon water

6 tomatoes, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

1 small bunch cilantro, large stems removed

Leaves from 1 small bunch mint

3 tablespoons (45 ml) golden raisins (sultanas)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) slivered almonds, toasted

½ preserved lemon, cut into ¼ -inch/0.64-cm dice (about 2 tablespoons/30 ml

after dicing), rinsed in a strainer (optional)

30 large or 18 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

¾ to 1 cup (187.5 to 250 ml) bottled harissa sauce, for serving


In a heavy-bottomed pot large enough to hold the whole tagine, cook the onion, carrots, and garlic in the butter over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the carrots soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the ginger, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, and saffron with its soaking liquid to the carrot mixture. Gently stir the mixture—avoid breaking up the carrots—and cook over low to medium heat for about 2 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, cover the pot, and simmer on low heat, covered, for 10 minutes more. Chop the cilantro and mint and stir into the sauce with the raisins, almonds, preserved lemon, if using, and shrimp. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with couscous or rice and harissa sauce. Serves 6.

From Cooking by James Peterson