I rooted for Aarti all season on Next Food Network Star, and I was so excited when she won! Her food always looked delicious, and she has such a warm and inviting personality that I can't help wanting to watch more. So, I was glad when the first episode of her new show, Aarti Party aired. I watched it with two friends, and we knew right away that we wanted to make some of the recipes!
So, what was the verdict? Did Aarti's recipes taste as good as they looked? For the Sloppy Bombay Joes, I would definitely say yes. These were a super tasty version of sloppy joes, with lots of good flavor. We particularly liked the addition of pistachios and raisins...they provided little pockets of crunch and sweetness all throughout the sloppy joes. I also liked that the recipe called for ground turkey, which may not be traditional but is how I had sloppy joes growing up.
I thought the Massaged Kale Salad was a bit of a mixed bag. We definitely ate it all up, but it was a little sweet for my taste. I would definitely make this again, because I love the technique for wilting raw kale and incorporating it into a salad, but I think I would use a different dressing and skip the super sweet mango. I'm imagining a lemon-y dressing with thinly sliced lemon cucumbers and minced olives, or maybe a balsamic vinaigrette with slightly tart quartered strawberries. I'll have to try one of those and report back!
Overall, I'd say Aarti's first episode was a winner -- I learned a brand new technique for serving raw kale, and we really enjoyed the dinner prepared from her recipes. Plus, it was pretty healthy - she's not the type of chef who just uses pounds of butter to make her food taste good. I will definitely keep tuning in, and you may see more Aarti recipes here sometime soon!
Sloppy Bombay Joes (from Aarti Party)
For the sauce:
1 T vegetable oil
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup water
For the turkey:
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 serrano chile, not chopped
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup half-and-half
Hamburger buns, toasted (we used minis just for fun)
1. First, get the sauce started. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers, and then add the ginger, garlic, and chile. Saute until the garlic starts to turn brown, and then add the garam masala and paprika. Saute 30 seconds, and then stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer, uncovered, while you finish the rest of the meal. Stir occasionally.
2. While the sauce reduces, make the turkey mixture. Warm half of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and then add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up a bit and the pistachios brown, stirring often and keeping a close watch so nothing burns. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil and heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and saute for about 10 seconds. Add the onion and pepper, and saute until they start to brown. Add the pepper, season with salt, and saute for another few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into smaller pieces. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the sauce to the skillet, bring to a boil, and then simmer about 10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and the flavors are nicely combined. Remove the pepper, and add the honey, half-and-half, and reserved pistachios and raisins. Heat through and taste for seasoning. Serve with toasted buns.
Massaged Kale Salad (from Aarti Party)
1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves very thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp honey
1 mango, diced
1. Combine the kale, half the lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Massage with your hands until the kale softens and wilts, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
2. Combine the remaining lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper, and the honey in a small jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake until well combined. Taste a little on a bit of kale, and adjust seasoning as needed.
3. Toss the kale, dressing, and mango together in a serving dish.