Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
Tip: The lamb and peppers may be made two days in advance, and the matzo balls may be made and frozen a week ahead and thawed overnight in the refrigerator.
Roasted Mini Sweet Peppers
2 pounds mini sweet bell peppers
2 tablespoons top-quality
extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (lengthwise)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat two baking sheet pans with cooking spray.
2. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove the pocket of seeds. (You may leave the stems on or off but they are not edible.) Place the peppers cut-sides down on the prepared pans; bake 10 minutes, then rotate top to bottom and front to back and cook 10 minutes longer, until some of the peppers are lightly browned.
3. Heat the olive oil and garlic together over medium and cook until the garlic is lightly browned around the edges; toss the oil and garlic with the peppers. Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 56 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 4 g sodium
Lamb Shanks Braised in Tomato and Red Wine
(Recipe can be halved)
12 lamb shanks (about 14 to 15 pounds)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 (28-ounce cans) crushed tomato
2 cups red wine
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 4 shanks and brown on all sides, turning often. Transfer to a large roasting pan and repeat with remaining oil and shanks.
3. Add the garlic, celery, basil, oregano and fennel seeds to the skillet and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and wine and cook, stirring to scrape up bits from the pan surface. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are somewhat softened. Pour over the lamb; cover the roasting pan with foil.
4. Roast until meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer lamb to a platter and skim fat from the sauce. (To remove the maximum amount of fat, refrigerate the sauce and allow the fat to rise and solidify.)
5. To reheat, place the shanks back in the sauce and warm in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 12 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 551 calories, 54 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 28 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 700 mg sodium
Do-Ahead Matzo Balls
4 large eggs
1 (4.5-ounce) box matzo ball mix
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Separate the eggs. Lightly beat the yolks with a fork. Use an electric beater to whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the yolks into the whites. Stir matzo ball mix into eggs, working as gently as you can.
3. Using wet hands, form into 1-inch balls, working the mixture as little as possible. Drop them into the vigorously boiling water, cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 minutes.
4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a tray and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When solidly frozen, transfer to a freezer-proof plastic bag.
5. To serve, thaw matzo balls and add to chicken soup 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Makes 10 servings, 30 to 32 matzo balls
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 65 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1,204 mg sodium