Deconstructed Creamy Almond Fruit Tart

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Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour

1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less fat (Neufchatel) or regular cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups fresh berries

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Crust:

1/4 cup each: crushed sliced almonds, melted butter, rolled oats and brown sugar

6 tablespoons flour

Beat cream cheese in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt, honey and extract. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To prepare crust, preheat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a small baking sheet. Stir together all crust ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed. Press 1/4-inch thick on baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then break into pieces. To assemble, spoon equal amounts of cream cheese filling into 6 small bowls. Top with fruit, crust and almonds. Makes 6 servings. 

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories: 360, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0g, MUFA: 4.93, PUFA: 1.59, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 240mg, Potassium: 185mg, Carbohydrates: 35g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 22g, Protein: 11g, Vitamin A:  20%, Vitamin C:  20%, Calcium:  10%, Iron:  6%

Green Chile, Cheese and Avo Stuffed Potatoes

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We’ve skipped the butter and added creamy avocado and Greek yogurt instead. These potatoes are great with or without the chicken.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: about 25 minutes total

2 large (10-oz.) russet potatoes

1 cup shredded 2% Mexican blend cheese, divided

1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

3/4 teaspoon Mexican blend seasoning

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed

3/4 cup diced cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken

1/4 cup canned diced green chiles

1/4 cup chopped Mariani Almonds

Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes on a large plate and pierce several times. Microwave on HIGH for 9 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft when gently squeezed. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and carefully scoop out potato leaving a small rim of potato inside the skin. Mash potatoes with 3/4 cup cheese, yogurt, garlic salt, Mexican seasoning and avocado. Stir in chicken and chiles and spoon back into potato skins. Mix remaining cheese with almonds in a medium bowl. Holding one stuffed potato over the bowl, press the mixture onto the top and sides of the filling, letting the excess fall back into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining potatoes to use all the topping. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Top with cilantro, if desired. Makes 4 servings. 

Recipe tip:

If using rotisserie chicken, it’s easiest to take off the bone while it’s still warm. 

Heirloom Tomato and Almond Panzanella Salad

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This traditional bread and tomato salad gets extra flavor and crunch from toasted almonds. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5 to 10 minutes

7 cups 3/4-inch hearty bread cubes (use a mixture of wheat and white)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups 1-inch cubes heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cup thinly sliced and coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 cup snipped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until toasty and firm; let cool. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes and onion and stir well. Place bread in a large bowl and top with tomato mixture. Toss well to coat, pressing tomatoes slightly with the back of a spoon to release juices. Add almonds and basil and toss again lightly.  Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories: 280, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 280mg, Potassium: 570mg, Carbohydrates: 40g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 13g, Protein: 7g, Vitamin D: 0 IU, Vitamin C: 50%, Calcium: 8%, Iron: 8%

Grape and Almond Tortilla Roll-Ups

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Prep time: 15 minutes

1/3 cup chopped tomato

3 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons minced Anaheim chile OR 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper

1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro

4 (8-inch) whole grain tortillas

4 oz. 1/3–less fat (Neufchatel) or regular cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup quartered seedless grapes

1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted

Stir together tomato, onion, pepper and cilantro in a small bowl. Lay tortillas on a cutting board and spread 1 oz. of cream cheese over each. Top with equal amounts of grapes, tomato mixture and almonds, leaving 2-inches at the top of each tortilla empty. Starting with the bottom of each tortilla, roll up tightly and press gently to compress ingredients. Wrap each individually and refrigerate until ready to serve. May be prepared one day ahead. 

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories: 360, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 440mg, Potassium: 295mg, Carbohydrates: 35g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 13g, Vitamin D: 0 IU, Vitamin C: 20%, Calcium: 10%, Iron: 6%

Almond Pasta Risotto with Vegetables

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This is a tasty and easy-to-prepare option for the winter months. It is both filling and heart-healthy.

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced and coarsely chopped shallots

1 1/2 cups ditalini or small shell pasta

1 teaspoon dried basil

4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth

1 cup sliced asparagus (may substitute chopped cauliflower)

1 cup coarsely chopped broccoli

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add pasta and basil, then add 1 cup of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid has been absorbed before adding more. Towards the end of cooking when pasta is still slightly soupy, stir in wine and vegetables and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in cheese and almonds. Makes 6 servings.

Sprinkle with fresh basil to finish.

Nutritional analysis per serving:
Calories: 240, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 490mg, Potassium: 305mg, Carbohydrates: 24g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 11g, Vitamin D: 4.24 IU, Vitamin C: 25%, Calcium: 15%, Iron: 15%

Asparagus, Artichoke and Almond Salad

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This simple salad uses the best of spring produce. Use raw asparagus, or blanch or lightly grill to add a slightly smoky taste.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour

Parmesan Dressing:

1/4 cup each: extra virgin olive oil, unseasoned rice vinegar and shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese   

1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic

Salad:

1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus

1 cup coarsely chopped, water packed artichoke hearts

3/4 cup small bite-size pieces bell pepper (preferably red or yellow)

1/2 cup thinly sliced and coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds

Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Puree all dressing ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Snap the ends off each asparagus spear and discard. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl with artichoke hearts, bell pepper and onion. Drizzle with dressing and toss well to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour for flavors to blend. (May be prepared 1 day ahead.) Just before serving, sprinkle with almonds and additional Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Bacon, Cheddar and Almond Waffles

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Skip the butter and top these waffles with mashed avocado, fried eggs and fresh pico de gallo. This is a budget-friendly meal as well.


Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: about 3 minutes per waffle

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter or better-for-you spread, melted

2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons chopped, toasted whole almonds, divided

1/4 cup real bacon bits

2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons each: baking powder and sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mashed avocado, fried eggs and fresh pico de gallo or salsa (toppings)

Whisk together milk, butter and eggs in a medium bowl; stir in cheese, 3 tablespoons of the almonds and bacon bits. Add dry ingredients and stir just until flour is incorporated. Using 1/4 of the batter at a time, cook in a greased waffle iron until waffles are a light golden brown. Top waffles with mashed avocado, fried eggs, pico de gallo and remaining almonds. Makes 4 to
6 servings.
 

Lemony Almond Salsa Verde

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Not to be confused with a Mexican salsa verde, this Italian sauce is like pesto but gets its tangy flavor from lemon juice, capers and Italian parsley. Serve over grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, toss with hot cooked pasta or spread onto crusty Italian bread. Add a bit of finely grated lemon zest for additional lemon flavor.

Prep time: 15 minutes

2 cloves garlic

1 1/3 cups lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chop garlic by dropping into a small food processor with the motor running. Add parsley, almonds, basil, capers and lemon juice and pulse to finely chop. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil, mixing just until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 cup.

Fruit and Nut Brussels Sprout Salad

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This salad is best if marinated for 1 hour before serving but if you’re in a hurry, it may be served immediately after making. 

Prep time: 15 minutes   

Marinate time: 1 hour (optional) 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked or plain sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

5 cups very thinly sliced Brussels sprouts or 1 (10-oz.) package shaved Brussels sprouts

1/3 cup dried cranberries, dried cherries, or golden raisins

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

3/4 cup Mariani Slivered or Sliced Almonds, toasted

Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add Brussels sprouts, dried fruit and shallots; toss well to coat. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir in almonds just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings. 

Recipe tip:

Replace part of the green Brussels sprouts with purple Brussels sprouts. The vinegar in the dressing will turn them a vibrant color. 

Asian Rice Salad

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Prep time:  15 minutes  

Cook/stand time: 55 minutes

Chill time: at least 1 hour

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup long grain brown rice

3/4 cup Mariani Slivered Almonds, toasted

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (preferably red or orange)

1/2 cup sliced green onions

2 heads baby bok choy, coarsely chopped

1 (8-oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

Torn fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Dressing:

1/4 cup thick sesame teriyaki sauce

3 tablespoons each: unseasoned rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce and sesame oil         

Bring water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let cool slightly, then chill for at least 1 hour or until cold. While rice is chilling, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss well to coat. Stir in remaining salad ingredients. Best if chilled for 1 hour to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Makes 6 servings.

Make ahead tip:  Salad may be prepared a day ahead without the almonds, bok choy and cilantro. Stir in these ingredients just before serving.