Recipes: Main Dishes

In this section on Main Dishes, you can find the following recipes:

Chuckwagon Beef Stew with Cheddar-Smashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Here’s the meat-and-potatoes dish to make when you feel like getting on with it-no time lingering over browning the meat and no extra step for cooking the potatoes. This no-frills approach is all thanks to the ingenuity of cowboy cooks who never wasted a thing: When leftover morning coffee found its way into the dinner stew, they discovered that it deepened the flavors remarkably well. (Northern Italian Cooks use a similar approach by adding espresso to a beef stew called Stacotto al caffe.)

The sauce is thin, but memorably laced with the smoky scent of bacon. By the way, you won’t actually taste the coffee. If you wish you may substitute beef broth.

In this recipe, the potatoes are cooked along with the beef right from the start. It’s no problem if they get a bit overcooked since they are to be mashed coarsely with some sharp cheddar and crisp bacon bits. Serve them in a mound in the middle of the stew.

20 minutes high pressure plus 15 minutes natural pressure release


3 strips bacon, chopped
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup strong black coffee or beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chunk, cut into 1-inch cubes, well trimmed
2 large bay leaves
3 pounds Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and peeled, then halved
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar or Monterey pepper jack cheese, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


Set the bacon in cooker and set the heat to medium high. Fry until quite crisp, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, and lowering the heat to medium, if needed, to prevent the bacon from burning, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and pour off the thin film of fat.

Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add coffee and stir well, taking care to scrape up any browned bits that are sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, beef, and bay leaves. Stack the potatoes on top for garnish the beef (Some will end up in the liquid and become extremely soft and flavorful.)

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat to maintain high pressure and cook 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away form you to allow excess steam to escape.

With a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes out of the cooker and set them in a large bowl. Taste the beef and, if not sufficiently tender, return to high pressure for 5 minutes more. Again, let the pressure come down naturally.

Use a potato ricer or fork to mash the potatoes coarsely, mixing in the cheese and reserved, crisp bacon as you go. Season the potatoes with salt and lots of pepper. Reheat the potatoes in the microwave, if necessary.

Remove the bay leaves from the stew and season to taste. Ladle the stew into large, shallow bowls. Set a large mound of smashed potatoes in the middle. Garnish with parsley, if you wish.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

Wheat Berry Salad with Apples and Mint

Serves 4 to 6

Chewy wheat berries develop a juicy “squish” when marinated briefly in dressing. A citrus dressing is a particularly good complement to the tart green apple and vibrant mint tossed into the mix.

The salad tastes best when freshly made; the wheat berries tend to harden when refrigerated. To improve the texture of any leftovers, loosely cover the salad with waxed paper, and microwave it for about 20 seconds. Perk up the taste with a little lemon juice.

Serve the salad at room temperature, on its own or with roast chicken or grilled meat.


1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3/4 cup tightly packed mint leaves
2 cups cooked wheat berries
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from 2 juice oranges)
1 small green apple
1 small red apple
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped


First prepare the dressing: Blend the orange juice, oil, vinegar, salt, and 1/2 cup of the mint in a food processor or blender.

Set the wheat berries in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing over them and toss to coat. Stir in the orange zest. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Toss occasionally.

Meanwhile, core the apples and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Stack the remaining mint leaves and roll them into a log. Slice them as thinly as you can. Toss them into the salad along with the apple, and hazelnuts. Add more salt, if needed.


After blending the dressing, stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger.

Grain Exchange

Use triticale, spelt, or kamut instead of wheatberries.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass

Photo by David Prince

Quinoa Salad with Tempeh Adobo Nuggets
and Lime-Shoyu Vinaigrette

Makes 2 1/2 cups nuggets

Tempeh holds up beautifully to the assertive seasonings of the Latin American kitchen. Once marinated and cooked, these flavorful adobo-red nuggets may be served on their own or on a bed of fried peppers and onions. They make a great filling for tamales and are also tasty tucked into a Kaiser roll with roasted red pepper or shredded lettuce and tomato.


1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted) corn kernels
Tempeh Adobo Nuggets (see below)
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup finely minced, tightly packed cilantro
1 to 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely diced
1/4 to 1/3 cup Lime-Shoyu Vinaigrette (see below)
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (optional)
Radicchio leaves, for garnish

Lorenzo, an Ecuadorian farmer who
grows organic quinoa. Photo by Lorna Sass.


Quinoa in the raw state has a number of soapy components that must be rinsed away. Most of the packaged quinoa available today is already thoroughly rinsed. In a large sauce pan, bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, swish the quinoa vigorously in a large bowl of warm water. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer. Repeat this process until the rinsing water remains just about clear. Drain.

Add the quinoa to the boiling water and cook over high heat until almost done, 11 to 12 minutes. Add the corn and cook until the quinoa is tender but still crunchy, about 1 minute more. Using a large, fine-mesh strainer, drain thoroughly, bouncing the strainer up and down to release excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and stir from time to time to accelerate cooling.

When the quinoa stops giving off steam, toss the tempeh nuggets, red bell pepper, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and enough vinaigrette to coat the ingredients lightly. Add the lime juice to taste, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature on a bed of radicchio.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass.

Tempeh Adobo Nuggets

Makes 2 1/2 cups nuggets

Tempeh holds up beautifully to the assertive seasonings of the Latin American kitchen. Once marinated and cooked, these flavorful adobo-red nuggets may be served on their own or on a bed of fried peppers and onions. They make a great filling for tamales and are also tasty tucked into a Kaiser roll with roasted red pepper or shredded lettuce and tomato.


8 ounces tempeh, preferably mixed grain
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and pushed through a press
1 1/2 teaspoons dried leaf oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon pureed chipotle in adobo or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili (see note) or ground cayenne pepper


Cut the tempeh into 3 equal pieces crosswise. Cut each piece in half horizontally to create a total of 6 thin slabs.

Spoon the remaining ingredients into a 1-quart zipper-top storage bag or lidded container. Mix well. Add the tempeh, seal, and shake gentle to coat the pieces. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight, shaking gently from time to time.

Gently transfer the tempeh to a large nonstick skillet, set over high heat until the tempeh sizzles. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 minutes. Flip the tempeh over, cover, and cook an additional 3 minutes. Uncover and saut over medium-high heat, flipping the tempeh as needed, until the slabs are browned and crusty on both sides.

Cut the browned tempeh into 1-inch dice. Eight ounces of tempeh yields about 2 1/4 cups nuggets.

Note: Chipotles in adobe is a thick paste of chipotles, onions, garlic, and spices. Look for it in Hispanic groceries and gourmet shops. Chipotle chilies are dried jalapeños that impart a hot, smoky flavor. They may be purchased from gourmet shops either whole or ground. To grind your own, stem and seed the chili, snip it into bits, and grind the bits to a powder in the spice grinder.

Copyright © 2006 Lorna Sass.

Lime-Shoyu Vinaigrette

Makes 3/4 cup

Shoyu adds depth of flavor as well as saltiness to this simple, versatile dressing–a personal favorite. The vinaigrette delivers lots of pizzazz to the Quinoa Salad with Tempeh Adobo Nuggets It’s also terrific on a mixed green salad, as well as on bean and grain salads.


1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons shoyu
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Put all the ingredients in a small jar and shake well. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and shake well before using.

Pasta with Black Beans, Tomatoes, and Pumpkin-Cilantro Sauce

I created this recipe for Nature’s Path Foods, using their Lifestream organic wholegrain pasta.
Serves 5 to 6


1 large bunch (4 ounces) cilantro, thoroughly rinsed and drained
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup pitted Spanish olives
1 1/2 teaspoons brine from olives
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quarterd
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

Copyright Nature’s Path. Used with permission.


Trim off any sandy root ends of cilantro. Cut bunch in half lengthwise. Place cilantro stems and leaves in bowl of food processor. Add pumpkin seeds and garlic, and pulse to chop. With motor running, pour in oil to create a paste.

Add lime juice, salt, chili powder, olives, and olive brine. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop olives. Set sauce aside.

Break pasta in half and cook according to package directions until tender but still firm. While pasta cooks, place corn in large colander and run hot water over it to separate kernels. When pasta is done, pour it over corn to drain. Return pasta and corn to pot. Toss in tomatoes, black beans, and pumpkin-cilantro sauce. Serve warm.

View Recipes From Other Categories

Back to top of page ↑