Barbecue pulled pork – slow cooker/ Ninja Foodi /oven

Pulled pork simmered in a tangy, sweet and spicy sauce bringing back memories of a roadtrip  down to Texas where we had the most delicious and moist pulled pork – in the parking lot of a restaurant because of Covid. As we reminisced over the trip, we had to replicate the flavors at home.

Servings: 8 (for 8 sandwiches)

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1.5 large onions, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 lbs pork shoulder butt roast
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon  red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (see notes to make barbecue sauce at home)

Method

  1. Lightly rub the pork with salt and pepper
  2. If using a Ninja Foodi, put on the sear option on high
  3. Pour the oil into the bottom of a slow cooker, dutch oven or the Ninja Foodi
  4. Add the onions, garlic
  5. Add the remaining ingredients including the pork
  6. Cover the container to cook:
    1. Turn on the slow cooker and set for high
    2. For Foodi, switch to slow cooker option and set to high
    3. For oven, preheat to 250F. Cover dutch oven and place in oven
  7. Cook on high for 5-6 hours until the pork shreds easily with a fork
  8. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat using two forks
  9. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, and stir the meat with the juices in the pot
  10. Serve on hamburger buns with a side of beans, coleslaw and potato salad

Notes:

  • Home made barbeque sauce:
    • Ingredients:
      • 1.5 cups ketchup
      • 2 tablespoon molasses
      • 3 garlic cloves minced
      • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
      • 1  teaspoon black pepper powder
      • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
    • Method
      • Combine ingredients in a pot on the stove. Simmer for 15- 20 minutes until sauce has deepened in color. Store in a tightly covered lid for upto 10 days

Mushroom, Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas

When you want a healthy and yet quick meal or a snack on-the-go, these quesadillas are a great option. A mix of spinach, corn, mushrooms, black beans, onions, and creamy avocado makes for a filling, delicious vegetarian meal. And if you’re craving meat, just add some shredded chicken to the mix.

Servings: 4 quesadillas Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes
  • 8 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen Corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked Black Beans
  • 2 large Avocados, removed from shell and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 4 medium Tortillas (I use whole wheat although flour tortillas are usually tastier but less healthy)
  • Salt to taste
  • Salsa, for serving
  • 2 cups shredded chicken, optional (for when you want a non-vegetarian option)

Method:

  • In a pan, heat the Olive oil
  • When oil is hot and shimmering, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and add in the onions, stir occasionally while the onions turn translucent.
  • Add in the sliced mushrooms. Fry the mix, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and caramelized, and the water from the mushrooms in the pan has dissipated – approximately 3-4 minutes
  • Add in the spinach, black beans and corn. Cook till spinach has wilted. Sprinkle salt, stir and keep aside
  • Lay out the four tortillas on plates
  • Cover a half of each tortilla by distributing the 1 cup of cheese across the tortillas
  • Distribute equally the spinach, corn, black beans, and mushroom mix over the cheese
  • Layer the mix with equal amounts of avocado slices and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over it, as well
  • Fold tortilla into half by pressing the empty half of the tortilla over the toppings
  • Heat a medium/large size skillet. When skillet is hot, place the folded tortilla in the skillet. Cook on both sides for a total of 4 mins, flipping half-way through
  • Before serving, cut the quesadillas into 3 equal sizes
  • Serve hot with a side of salsa
  • Enjoy!

Tuvar Dal (Pigeon-Pea lentils)

While growing up, dal, or lentils, was a staple part of a meal. Tuvar dal, moong daal, chana dal, it didn’t matter. There were so many different recipes, and all were so nutritious and delicious. When you were sick, you had a simple dal soup, and on occasions, you had some more complex recipes. This recipe is a staple in our home. It’s flavorful and can be just had with rice. On some days, the perfect accompaniment to dal and rice is fried fish, stuffed with red masala…..but more on that fried fish later!

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup tuvar/tur dal rinsed
  • 3/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • .5 tsp red chili powder
  • .5 tsp garam masala powder
  • .5 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional: 1 tsp lime juice

Method:

  • In a pressure cooker, or Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot (both on sear setting) heat oil
  • When oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, they will splutter
  • Add in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes until onions are soft and translucent
  • Add in the tomato and fry for 2 minutes
  • Add in the dry powders and stir for another minute
  • Add in the dal and 2.5 cups of water along with the salt
  • Put the pressure cooker lid on (for Foodi or Instant Pot, turn setting to Pressure cook and put timer to 16 minutes)
  • Pressure cook for 16 minutes
  • When done, wait until the lid can be safely removed. You can change the consistency of the daal by adding more water
  • Stir in the cilantro leaves (and lime juice, if using) and serve with rice or chapatis

Sesame Garlic Bok Choy

A delicious, crisp vegetable that comes together in minutes. Bok Choy, a Chinese cabbage, can be braised, stir-fried or roasted. You can eat all of it, which reduces prep work. It has a crisp texture with a slightly nutty flavor.

Bok choy is 90% water, negligible fat and full of vitamins A, C and beta carotene. Pair it with soy sauce, sesame seeds, chili flakes, ginger and garlic, and you have a flavorful side on the table.

Sometimes bok choy is harvested when not yet mature and sold as baby bok choy. It’s usually 3-6 inches in length, sweeter and can be cooked whole.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb baby Bok Choy (quartered or halved)
  • 1 small White Onion (diced fine)
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 5 large Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tsp Ginger (minced)

Method:

To clean Boy Choy: Under running water, rub off any dirt from the leaves and especially at the bottom of the stalks. Chop the boy choy into quarters or halves. Place them in a bowl until you are ready to cook.

To cook: In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 10 seconds. Add in the onions, and ginger and cook over high heat until fragrant, 20 seconds. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until the leaves start to wilt, 2 minutes. Add in the soy sauce and sesame seeds. Stir for about 20 seconds. Remove the bok choy from the heat and serve.


Mediterranean Chickpea and eggplant

The Mediterranean diet focuses heavily on nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables resulting in lower inflammation and better heart health. When we visited Greece, we enjoyed the salads, vegetarian dishes and pan-seared aardines. Even the simple tomato just seemed a lot more delicious. This chickpea and eggplant dish aims to bring back those memories. It includes eggplant, known for its vitamins and antioxidants with chickpeas, which keep you full longer because it’s full of fiber. The combination of those two in a simple tomato sauce is luscious and hearty.

Servings: 4

Time to cook including prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups eggplant (1 large), chopped into chunks
  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 Cups chick peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped

Method

  • In a large frying pan, heat oil
  • Add onions and fry until translucent
  • Turn flame to medium heat
  • Add garlic and fry for a minute
  • Turn heat to low
  • Add in the chili powder, nutmeg powder, pepper powder, cumin powder. Give it a stir
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and eggplant. Cover the pan and on low flame, cook till eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes
  • Add in the chickpeas. Sprinkle salt and stir gently. Cook another minute.
  • Sprinkle the parsley and turn off the stove
  • Serve with a side of couscous or a salad

Salmon with  Tamarind- Mushroom- Red Pepper Sauce

This aromatic, sweet and tangy sauce complements salmon. Not only is it a healthy, quick and easy dinner option, it is an elegant  meal for when you have company.

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skin-on, boneless salmon filet
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large red pepper, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 large red pepper, cut into thin red strips
  • 2 stems green onions, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, diced fine
  • 2 tbsp size chunks of seedless tamarind (see method below)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the fish before grilling or pan frying
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (2 tbsp if frying)

Method

  1. To make tamarind, soya and fish sauce mix:
    • Take a large marble sized piece of seedless tamarind
    • Put tamarind into a microwave safe bowl and add in 1/4 cup warm water. Heat for a minute in the microwave. Rest for 2 minutes. Then mash the pulp with the back of a spoon, forcing it through a strainer . Scrape off the paste that is on the underside of the strainer. Discard the solids left in the strainer
    • To the tamarind mix in the bowl, add fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar and blend well till sugar dissolves
  2. For the mushroom – red pepper sauce
    • Dice mushrooms and red pepper into small pieces
    • In a wok, heat oil
    • When hot, add in the garlic, stir fry for 30 seconds and add in the ginger
    • Stir fry for 30 seconds
    • Add in the mushrooms and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the water from the mushrooms dry out
    • Add in the tamarind, fish sauce mix and stir fry for 1 minute
    • Add in the green onions, and diced red pepper and stir fry for another minute
    • Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Fish
    • To cook in Ninja Foodi: 
      • Place water into Ninja Foodi pot. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides, no oil, on rack, making sure the rack is in the higher position.
      • Assemble pressure lead, making sure the pressure release valve is in the SEAL position
      • Select PRESSURE and set to HIGH. Set time to 2 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin
      • When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure cooker valve to the VENT position. Carefully remove lid when pressure is released
      • Gently pat salmon dry with paper towel, then close with crisping lid
      • Select BROIL and set time to 7 minutes. Select START/STOP to begin, check for doneness after 5 minutes
    • To grill on a regular grill:
      • While the sauce is cooking, marinate the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Rub mixture on both sides of fish. Heat grill to 450 degree F. When hot, grill the salmon skin side down over direct heat with the lid closed, for about 4-5 minutes and then turn the salmon over, close the lid and another 4-5 minutes
    • To pan fry:
      • Rub salt on both sides of the fish. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add fish, skin side down and fry for about 4 minutes on each side
  4. Serving
    • Serve fish while hot, with the Mushroom-Red Pepper sauce spooned over it, garnished with red pepper slivers and cilantro. It can be accompanied by vegetables like bok choi or broccoli as well as steamed rice

Thai yellow curry

This mild, yet complex Thai curry impresses with its pleasant and interesting flavors.

When we have guests, Thai or Mexican dishes are usually our go-to. Quick, flavorful, and enjoyed by most, it’s definitely faster to pull together than Indian food. When we do make Thai dishes, curries take center-stage and this yellow curry, is a mildly spicy delicious alternative to the ubiquitous red curry.

This curry can be made in advance, I prefer to, as I find it tastes even better. It has lots of sauce and can be re-heated very easily.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional if vegan, see note)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can Thai yellow curry paste or the paste made with this recipe
  • 3 kefir lime leaves
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (alternatively, 3 tbsp lime juice if vegan)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 1 medium sized Chinese eggplant, cut into thin long slices
  • 3 tbsp green peas
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large red potato (or white) cut into small cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 red pepper strips, cut into thin strips for garnish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Method

  • Slice chicken breast into thin, long slices ( 3 inch long, 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick)
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • Add in the onion, and stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add in the yellow curry paste and stir fry for 1 minute
  • Add in the potato cubes and stir fry on low flame for 2 minutes
  • Add in half the can of the coconut milk, stir to dissolve the paste in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • Add the remaining cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to medium and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will start to see the oil from the coconut milk raise to the top
  • Tear the lime leaves to halves and add to the sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken
  • Add chicken and egg plant into the sauce, turn heat to maximum, cook for a minute
  • Add 1/2 cup water and let the curry boil for a minute
  • Add fish sauce and sugar and turn heat to medium. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add in bamboo shoots, red pepper strips and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add in the peas and 3/4 of the chopped cilantro
  • Stir fry for 2 minutes
  • Serve hot, topped with remaining cilantro leaves and a few red pepper strips with a side of rice

Thai yellow curry paste

Made from scratch, this recipe beats canned curry pastes. When time is not of the essence, prepare this paste and then make a delicious Thai curry. Serve it over rice and then enjoy the afternoon siesta!

Ingredients:

  • 14 dried thai chilis
  • 2 tbsp fresh turmeric root, grated (or 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 kefir lime leaves or 1 tsp grated lime
  • 6 large garlic cloves, diced fined
  • 4 small shallots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, bottom half only, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste, omit if vegetarian
  • 1 tsp oil, set aside for later

Method:

  • With a mortar and pestle or in a blender, mix all the ingredients (except oil)together. Grind until you have a smooth paste
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil and on low flame , slowly cook the paste for about 3 minutes
  • Use to make a Thai yellow curry

Vino Dosh – The Portuguese version of Pork Vindaloo

One of my favorite dishes – hot and spicy Vindaloo is a Goan dish that my mom made for parties, a special Sunday meal or festivals. The original Portuguese version is anything but spicy but nevertheless this “meat in garlic marinade” packs a punch of flavor. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes. Make this in the Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot or in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • Prior to cooking – 3-4 days ahead
    • 3 pounds pork shoulder (boneless) – chopped into 1.5-inch cubes
    • 10 cloves of garlic – peeled and minced fine
    • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 10 whole cloves
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp red chili flakes
    • 2 tbsp black pepper powder
    • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • When ready to cook:
    • 1 large onion chopped into quarters
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Prepare the marinade:
    1. In a bowl, whisk the red wine vinegar, red wine, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, chili flakes, black pepper, and thyme
    2. Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag
    3. Add the pork to the bag, massage the marinade into the pork, squeeze out the excess air and seal the bag
    4. Marinate in the fridge for 3-4 days, turning occasionally. Each time, massage the pork gently in the bag
  2. Ready to cook – in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
    1. Press the sauté button and add in the olive oil
    2. When oil is hot, add the onion and the pork (minus the marinade) and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, browning the meat on all sides
    3. Add the marinade, close using the pressure cooker
    4. Secure the pressure cooker valve, select the pressure cooker option and cook for 25 minutes on high pressure
    5. Naturally release the pressure
    6. Open the lid, and select the sauté button
    7. Stir in the all purpose flour, slowly to avoid lumps
    8. Cook for 5-8 minutes until it thickens to a stew-like consistency
    9. Serve with Hawaiian bread
  3. Ready to cook – in the oven:
    1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F
    2. In a Dutch pan, heat the oil
    3. Add onion and pork pieces (minus marinade) and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, browning the meat on all sides
    4. Add the marinade and bring to a simmer
    5. Add in the flour, slowly, stirring to avoid lumps
    6. Cover with oven-safe lid and put the dish in the oven
    7. Cook for 1.5 hours – the meat should be tender to a fork
    8. Remove from oven, remove the bay leaves and thyme springs and discard
    9. Serve with Hawaiian bread

Chipotle Black Beans

To soak or not to soak? The kids want to take burritos to school and I don’t have time to soak beans. Sure I can make it without beans but beans add a lot more protein and nutrition. What to do? A no-soak option gives me delicious, smoky beans within an hour.

The options below include the method if you did soak your beans overnight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp crushed chipotle pepper with sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, for garnish
  • Optional garnish: red onions, avocado

Method

  • Wash the beans and remove any debris
  • Put beans and 2 cups water in a pressure cooker-safe container and pressure cook on high for 30 mins and slow release for 15 minutes
  • If you did soak your beans for atleast 6 hours, pressure cook beans for 15 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro