Any way you slice it, this weekend was probably a bender chock-full of alky, cals, and candy (our favorite trio). But drop the guilt and snap out of it, because with the holiday season creeping around the corner, it's gonna be hard to avoid adding a little extra sumthin' on the waistline before wintertime's upon us. Our advice? Try one of these 400-calorie (or less) recipes from three of New York City's finest chefs. Alexandra Raij of Txikito and El Quinto Pino Restaurants, Harold Dieterle of Perilla and Kin Shop, and sister duo, bakers Melissa and Emily Elsen of Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery, are offering seriously tasty dishes that will keep you looking (and feeling) fit all the way through to those New Year's resolutions. But we're not talking celery and soup. You can do some hardcore cooking and chowing down without having to cut back on the delicious factor. And, with these options, sneaking an extra glass of wine is fine by us.
Click through to get the dish—we're talking pie here people!
Photos: Courtesy of Helen Hollyman
First Top Chef winner, Harold Dieterle, has many tricks up his sleeve—but we'll let you in on one of them. His light and healthy Green Papaya Salad (with Ground Peanuts, Snake Beans and Chili Lime Vinaigrette) packs a generous heap of bright, tangy, spicy-yet-sweet flavors, without that long list of calories. Harold uses this salad as a garnish upon many dishes throughout the Perilla and Kin Shop menus, but it also makes the perfect compliment to braised beef short ribs, the topping of a crisp romaine salad, or our favorite: served straight up on it's own— a sure fire win.
Not into spice? Reduce the amount of Thai chili to 1 tablespoon (or leave it out completely), and taste before adding more to the vinaigrette.
Green Papaya Salad with Ground Peanuts, Snake Beans & Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Courtesy of Harold Dieterle Chef/Co-Owner of Kin Shop and Perilla
85 calories per serving. Serves 4.
1 medium-sized green papaya, peeled, seeded, and julienned
1 tablespoon fresh mint, cut into a chiffonade
2 tablespoons snake beans (aka Chinese long beans), chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, ground
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons Thai chili, ground
1. Place the papaya in a bowl. Add the mint and snake beans. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the contents of the blender through a fine strainer, reserving the liquid dressing. Pour the strained dressing over the papaya mixture in a bowl and mix with a spoon (or your hands.) Garnish with ground peanuts and dried shrimp and serve chilled.
Photo: Courtesy of Helen Hollyman
Txikito Restaurant, known for its Spanish Basque region inspired tapas, infuses bold flavors into little bites, also known as "txokos." Chef Alex Raij suggests serving her roasted beets with boquerones and green tahini as a main entree to impress your dinner guests the next time the dinner bell rings. This light, earthy salad has a comforting richness from the creamy tahini and a gorgeous citrus finish that will make you want to go back for seconds and thirds.
According to Alex, " This recipe suits the season we're in. It's naturally low in calories, but doesn't forgo richness and balance." And, the chef says, " I like this recipe because it marries my Jewish palate with a typically Basque ingredient, boqueron (pickled fish), and beets is such a delicatessen style combination to me."
Txikito’s Roasted Beets with Boquerones, (Basque Anchovies) and Green Tahini
Courtesy of Chef Alexandra Raij, Owner of Txikito Restaurant and El Quinto Pino
298 calories per serving. Serves 4.
6 medium beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup tahini sesame paste
1 cup warm water
Salt, to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cups fresh cilantro leaves
12 each Boquerones, (Spanish vinegar-marinated white anchovies)- substitute with Italian Alici marinati if you can't find the boquerones, both available at gourmet grocers and gourmet import stores.
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Wash the beets and trim off their tops and bottoms. Toss them with ½ the olive oil and salt to taste.
3. Using a large sheet of tin foil, make a foil pack and wrap the beets inside, adding ¼ cup water before sealing. Place the packet in a baking dish and roast the beets until tender but firm, about 50 minutes.
4. With a kitchen towel while still warm rub the skins off and quarter the beets. Dress with the balsamic and remaining olive oil, and adjust the salt if needed. Keep at room temperature or chill until needed.
5. Place half the cilantro in a food processor with a little salt, the lemon juice, the tahini and fresh garlic, pulsing until incorporated. With the motor running, add all of the water in a thin stream to obtain a light sauce (the consistency of heavy cream-if it's too thick, add more water.)
1. Divide the sauce to coat 4 salad plates.
2. Divide the dressed beets among the four plates and scatter each with ¼ of the remaining cilantro leaves.
3. Top each salad with 3 boquerones and garnish with pine nuts. Serve immediately.
"This dish is great because it's a building block recipe. It teaches you the best way to roast a beet without ruining a pan or letting them come out stringy, and it shows you how to make green tahini, which is extremely versatile," says Chef Alex Raij.
Photo: Courtesy of Helen Hollyman
With apple picking season in full effect, this recipe's an excuse to indulge in those baking skills without expanding your waistline a-la-Veruca Salt. Thanks to sister baking duo, Melissa and Emily Elsen (also known as the wizards behind Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery), here's a quick fix solution to grabbing that extra slice of guilt-free-pie. According to the Elsen sisters, "We love this recipe because apples and pears are a natural fruit pairing. Their flavors balance each other nicely, and the addition of just a little rosewater adds a floral note that the fruit carries perfectly."
The trick to shaving off those unwanted calories is a secret hidden within your fruit selection. Say the sisters Elsen, "This pie is healthier than most because we've reduced the sugar, and if you use in-season fruit that is partially tree ripened, you will have enough sweetness and flavor that you won't miss the sugar. A small slice is a worthwhile indulgence." In short, this is a recipe we consider as easy as you know what...
Four and Twenty Apple Pear Rose Pie
Courtesy of Melissa and Emily Elsen, Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery
330 calories per serving. Serves 8.
Prepare one batch of your all time favorite butter piecrust. Roll the bottom crust and fit into a well buttered glass 9" pan, and cut the top as lattice, approximately 1 inch in width or as desired. Refrigerate the rolled crust while you prepare the pear-apple filling.
Apple Pear Filling:
(Prep the pears and apples about an hour in advance if possible.)
3 medium to large apples (a firm, dryer apple is best, but a variety that is somewhat sweet such as Ida Red)
3 medium to large pears that are slightly firm, but not rock hard (Bartlett or Bosc, or anything seasonal)
Mandolin for slicing
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons Rosewater or Rose Syrup
1. Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel and thinly slice the apples and pears - (a mandolin works great for producing very thin slices.) Dredge all of the slices in freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Layer the fruit in another bowl and sprinkle lightly between the layers with white sugar to help release some of their juices. Set the prepared fruit aside for an hour. After an hour, drain off any excess liquid from the fruit. Sprinkle the Rosewater or Rose Syrup over the fruit while tossing to coat evenly.
In a small mixing bowl, combine:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons corn starch
1. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 F°
(Rolled pie crust and lattice)
Apple and Pear mixture
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1. Gather your rolled piecrust and apple pear mixture. Layer the pears and apple mixture on the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps.
2. Assemble the lattice by weaving, crimping and fluting the edges of the crust. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
1. Bake on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan (otherwise the juices will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven) for 20 minutes at 375 F°- 400 F° degrees (depending on the hotness of your oven), on the bottom rack of your oven. Reduce the heat to 325 F°-350 F° and bake for 25 to 35 minutes on the middle rack of your oven. You can test the fruit for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. They should be just soft. The top and bottom crusts should be golden brown.
"If you take the time to sweat the apples and pears with a little sugar, it will really help offset a pie that is overly juicy. Use semi-ripe (and definitely not overripe) pears, and firm apples. If you can use local, seasonal fruit, all the better, " says Sister Duo, Bakers Melissa and Emily Elsen.
Photo: Courtesy of Helen Hollyman