Inspiration from Chefjar.

You know, chili has this sort of exalted place in cuisine, yet — and quite possibly, from over-consumption — it doesn’t really seem that deserving.  There are some that have been devoured favorably, one down the street and one back in Grosse Pointe that are mostly a tomato-ey gravy with ground beef; beans optional.  Just a little spice and they go down quite nicely, but heavy salt and loads of fat bring regrets of gastronomical distress an hour or so later — worse so when it’s on a hot dog with some mustard and raw onions.

Variations and attempts at a healthier and less, afterwards-offensive variety really haven’t been that great:  Add some cheese, a little sour cream and a couple of dashes of hot sauce and it becomes a plausible meal.  It’s fallen into the mole negro realm, of fond memories far outstrapping the actual result.  None of either quite guild with expectations.  The last batch of mole languishes in the freezer with little motivation for use, nor further attempts.  Don Carlos:  What did you do?

It was probably from a jar…

The various permutations of the stew toward a less calorically and constitutionally less offensive standard, never close to rivaled the sapor of the Coney/Nickel/Viks, despite rave herald to curious contributions and ever greater numerical additions:  Some count the dozens of spices and herbs, this and the other — they all render out largely the same, some more spicy, some tame, from viscous to runny.

The most favored are those with the tomato base, with some texture — but nothing too large.  A few whole beans in the mix are just fine, but not appreciated in quantity.  Large chunks of vegetables, likewise, are not enjoyed.  Especially such things as crucifers and pickles.  None are ever disliked, but neither do they inspire.

This Picadillo is a southwestern sort of stew that is not even a chili — does not even have chili.  But this is as close to such a thing in a while that might be worth remembering:  The largest chunks in the thing were corn — not even called for.  Why was corn added?  Oh, yes:  We were out of peas…  Some apparently have chili:

Red pepper is a great condiment for Picadillo. Cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder and the combination of all three work wonderfully. Cumin, cinnamon, bay leaves, fresh or dried oregano and cloves all contribute to the aroma of the dish. You may like  to add a tablespoon of white or brown sugar to sweeten the dish and balance the mixture of savory and spicy flavors. Tabasco sauce is not an unusual addition and neither is ground black pepper. If you’d like to up the burn factor, why not add in a finely chopped chili or two?

This turned out saucier than likely preferable; the addition of potatoes might have improved it even more:

Fried, cubed potatoes can be added to the list of ingredients to add body to your Picadillo.

Also, green olives over the black sounds delightful for this dish:  Ground beef was replaced with 8oz of minced mushrooms, 2/3 of a slab of crumbled tempeh and a fistful of tvp.  Also, we forgot to add the beans, which was the whole impetus for this in the first place…

Continue reading Picadillo

Kale, olive pesto lasagna

L20160616_1834481Lasagna was always appreciated, ever since back when we were kids.  Never something particularly longed for, but nice like a warm pair of socks on a cold winter day.  “What’s for dinner?”  — “Lasagna.”  Alright — that’s okay.  Never something ordered out, but brought to the menu now and again:  Great for large groups, not a terrible challenge to make.  The status of lasagna was raised significantly, when the mother-in-law served it with freshly made noodles:  An entirely better offering.

This variety from TheEndlessMeal is one of the best variations ever had — a slight pungency in the sauce from the tomatoes and balsamic, and an absolutely outstanding complement from the kale pesto.

As necessary, fresh noodles were used, and the pan was layered with cheese, sauce and noodle to the top — whereon the pesto was slathered.  Foolishly, the walnuts were forgotten until after a broil, and then hastily added at the end — they may have burned otherwise, and might fit well in a layer of sauce.

The idea of lasagna with many things has been tried — and failed, outside of the original.  This is one that really elevates the dish.