April – Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

April – Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

I am not a taco snob. What do I mean by that? If you or your family like those crisp shells from a box sold at the grocery store, I am not one to criticize. Go for it! That’s what some members of my family prefers. Now I wouldn’t order tacos that way in a restaurant. But at home, they are perfectly fine and save me a lot of trouble when I’m trying valiantly to get dinner on the table. I myself prefer a soft whole wheat or gluten free tortilla that I can roll into a big fat burrito; the bigger the better. I want to have to eat it with a knife and fork.

Tacos are great because you can put out the fixings on the counter and let everyone customize it to their own taste. That way of putting dinner on the table is also ideal if you have a mix of vegans, vegetarians, and meat lovers to feed. A taco bar is a lot of fun, you can let you imagination run wild (or not if it’s one of those days). All you need is a wrap of some kind, filling, salsa, cheese (vegan cheese  is not bad), and some sliced cabbage or lettuce. Anything else is icing on the taco so to speak. But do try the pickled onions, their sharpness is very welcome against the smooth and creamy black beans.

This version of a vegetarian filling came from the blog Smitten Kitchen.  I have increased the amount of seasonings, otherwise I followed the recipe fairly closely. It features one of my favorite vegetables, cauliflower. And it’s prepared in my favorite way, roasted until brown and charred in spots. It really is the most amazing vegetable and it’s good for you as well.

Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans

Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans

You add the drained black beans to the sheet pan when the cauliflower first comes from the oven, warming them and further flavoring the beans in the seasoning in the pan.

The pickled red onions are definitely addictive. I keep a jar of these in my fridge. They are wonderful on a grilled cheese sandwich (any kind of sandwich for that matter), quesadilla, salad or taco. You can pickle them for 30 minutes to several days, they get better and better.

Pickled red onion

Pickled red onion

Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

Pickled onions:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (rice vinegar results in a milder pickle)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Cauliflower and black beans:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive or other neutral oil
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed, broken and chopped small (they need to fit into the taco)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 15-ox can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • tortillas
  • 1/2 to 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • crumbled or shredded cheese
  • optional – salsa, hot sauce, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce, sliced radishes, etc.

Method:

  1. Make the pickled onions by combining the vinegar, water, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. Add the onion and toss to coat. Set aside or refrigerate until you are ready to eat.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Line a sheet pan with baking or parchment paper.
  4. Put the cauliflower in a large bowl, toss to coat with the oil, cumin, salt, and red pepper to taste.
  5. Spread on the sheet pan and roast for a total of 25-30 minutes, turning them midway through.
  6. Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the cauliflower. Add the black beans to the warm sheet pan. Taste and add more lime juice if you want.
  7. Heat whatever vehicle you want for eating, top with the cauliflower and beans, add avocado, pickles onions and whatever else your taste desires.
Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

For us it was slim pickings that night, no avocado, no cabbage (I did have a lonely head of romaine), and no cheese. But the cauliflower and black bean filling was delicious and easy. We still counted this a wonderful dinner which was worth repeating.

And the leftover cauliflower and black beans were delicious tossed into a salad the next night, this time with crumbled tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, pickled onions and cherry tomatoes. I would consider making a batch just for the leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

This is the perfect side dish to serve when you are trying to decide what to do with yet another harvest of zucchini and summer tomatoes.

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

It is also a vegetarian main dish (that’s how we had it) with a big green salad. But you could also serve it as a side dish at a summer BBQ or as a seasonal breakfast dish with a poached or fried egg on top.

If you have the zucchini and tomatoes available, the rest of ingredients are standard pantry staples. I used brown rice but white rice would work perfectly as well. If you have some leftover rice from dinner earlier the week, this comes together quite easily.

I want to make a note about salt. Not all salts are the same. I use almost exclusively Diamond kosher salt in cooking. It doesn’t have any additives or anti caking agents. The grains are slightly larger so I would use more of it in a recipe calling for fine sea salt or regular table salt or even another brand of kosher salt. The amounts in the recipe are designed for Diamond kosher salt (yes, as one commenter reminded me, there is a difference in the grain sizes of kosher salts. Morton brand kosher salt grains are smaller). If you are using another type, please use less and taste, taste, taste. You can always add more later but an over-salted dish is difficult to reclaim.

Zucchini, tomato and rice gratin   

serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
  • 5 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, 3-4 medium, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided in half

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cook your rice by you favorite method.
  2. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat them with olive oil. Spread the zucchini slices on one sheet and the tomato slices on the other, trying to not overlap the slices. Sprinkle each with salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Roast the tomatoes and zucchini for 10 minutes and remove the tomatoes from the oven. Flip the zucchini slices and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the onions are limp and tender, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Grease a shallow medium casserole dish (about 2 quart size) with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. In a bowl combine the onion mixture, rice, eggs, spices, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the parmesan.
  7. Spread half the rice mixture in the bottom of the casserole, cover with half the zucchini, spread the remaining rice on top, then the rest of the zucchini, finish with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. I was a little generous with the parmesan on top.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. I found the best browning is on the shelf near the top of my oven.
zucchini, tomato and rice

zucchini, tomato and rice

This recipe was inspired from one in the the blog Smitten Kitchen, I have made my own modifications. It was originally published by SK in 2012; she adapted it from a recipe published in Gourmet in 2008. But it really feels like came from a small provincial kitchen in Italy or France. Don’t make it too fancy, it should be rustic.

April 2020 – Down to the Dregs, Pizza Rice

April 2020 – Down to the Dregs, Pizza Rice

Many of us are down to the dregs of our fridges and pantries right now, I haven’t been to the store for a couple of weeks and the cupboard (not to mention any semblance of creativity in the kitchen) is pretty bare. A yen for pizza had hit but not too much in the way of pizza makings were in sight. Does this sound like your house right now? We are all making do with what we have on hand.

This recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

I found a couple of large tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes (just about to go bad), some stale flour tortillas, rice, and cheese…pizza rice casserole was born. My pantry did have an onion and some garlic plus oregano in the spice drawer.

Make the rice, white or brown, whatever you have on hand. I made about 3 cups finished.

Saute an onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for about 5-7 minutes until soft, add the garlic, some red pepper flakes, and a rounded teaspoon of dried oregano. Continue to cook until everything mingles into a soft tomatoey mess.

Heat your broiler and put a rack near the top.

Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet on medium heat. Layer the tortillas in the bottom of the pan, tearing them to cover the entire surface. Cook long enough that they start to puff and brown on the bottom. Spread the rice on top, then the tomato mixture, cover with grated cheese.

Put under the broiler to melt the cheese and heat the tomato/rice layers.

Cut into rough wedges to serve with a salad on the side (there was some lettuce in the garden to harvest).

Pizza Rice

Pizza Rice

Pizza rice is born.

 

May – Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

May – Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

What is that grain in the salad? Is it rice, is it cracked wheat, is it couscous? Nope, none of that. This salad is grain and gluten free. It’s my favorite substitution, cauliflower! And this salad is wonderfully delicious as well as healthy; it’s full of chopped herbs plus cherry tomatoes and toasted almonds with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It keeps well so you can make it ahead.

I can find already riced cauliflower in the grocery store, both Trader Joe’s and Safeway carry it. But it is easy to make at home in your food processor if you need to start from scratch (or have cauliflower growing in your garden…lucky you). I don’t recommend using the packaged already riced cauliflower if you are making mock mashed potatoes I think it has a high percentage of stem. It won’t result in a creamy rich amazing mashed potato substitute. You need to have mostly florets for that recipe. But, it is perfect for use in this recipe. The kernels hold their shape and crunch once cooked.

I roasted the cauliflower for extra flavor before mixing it with the other ingredients.

Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

If you are starting with a head of cauliflower, slice the head in half and remove the tough core. Roughly chop the florets. Working in batches, add the cauliflower to your food processor and pulse until the consistency of ‘rice’. Transfer to a large bowl.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower:

  • I head of cauliflower or a package of pre-riced cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons of fruity olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped flat leaved parsley
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped mint
  • 4 scallions white and light green, chopped
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced to make about 1/4 cup of juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 3/4 cup of sliced almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the riced cauliflower in a large bowl and add the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes until tender and browning around the edges. You may need to leave it for a few additional minutes but check it so it doesn’t burn. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool on the parchment paper.
  4. Spread the almonds on a small baking sheet and toast in the same oven for about 5 minutes, again check constantly as they will turn from nicely toasted to burnt in seconds. Remove and cool.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking you can make the herb salad. Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a bowl and let the herbs and tomatoes marinate until the cauliflower is cool.
  6. Once cool, add the cauliflower to the bowl with the salad and mix well. The parchment paper works well as you can just lift it off the baking sheet. Taste to see if you need to add any additional lemon juice or salt or pepper.
  7. Chill until ready to serve, garnished with the toasted sliced almonds.

I found this salad kept well and was still good the next day for lunch.

You could turn this into an entire meal by adding some sliced feta or leftover chicken to the salad. It would be an excellent side with lamb chops or kebobs.

Middle Eastern Cauliflower and Herb Salad

I’m taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday #274, over at Angie’s place (where she is feeling the need for spring cleaning). Please click over to meet other food, garden and craft bloggers. And guess what, I am co-hosting with Antonia @ Zoale.com

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

I couldn’t believe how flavorful, creamy, healthy, quick and easy this soup was to make in the electric pressure cooker. Mine isn’t an Instant Pot, which I know is all the rage. But it is very similar and works exactly the same way. You could, of course, make it on top of the stove. It will still be delicious and I will include directions for that as well.

This soup is dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian; qualifying it  it as vegan. The creaminess comes from coconut milk with additional richness and flavor from peanut butter. Curry paste and ginger add a touch of spice.

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

(serves 4 generously, 6 not so much)

  • 8-10 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetarian broth or water
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for serving

Method:

  1. For the electric pressure cooker – add everything to the pot and set the timer for 15 minutes. When done, let it cool down naturally for 10-15 minutes. Then carefully release the pressure. When cool, blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt to taste. Top with cilantro for serving
  2. For the stovetop – saute the onions and garlic in coconut or other oil until soft. Add the carrots, coconut milk, broth, ginger, and curry paste. Simmer gently until the carrots are very soft. Add the peanut butter and stir to melt it. Cool before blending smooth. Top with cilantro.

Curried Carrot Soup

I am going to take this soup to Fiesta Friday #260 hosted by Angie, the co-hosts this week are:

 Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens