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

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

This recipe originally appeared in the NY Times without the chicken. I wanted something heartier for a visiting friend who had driven 3.5 hours to visit us up on the coast. This was the perfect dinner after a long drive on a cold and rainy autumn evening. The coconut sauce is amazing, you really need something to soak it up. Serve it with lavash or other flatbread for dunking if you have some. Not having those in the cupboard, I served it over brown rice. I consider this comfort food as well as (somewhat) health food. It is a soupy stew and could also be considered a thick soup/

Without the chicken, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan. A delicious option if you have a dinner party with mixed eating preferences. Add the chicken to only a portion of the soup, a deli chicken would be easy and perfect. I had some sous vide chicken thighs in the fridge and added them at the end. The recipe also called for adding greens (kale or spinach), which I forgot to purchase at the market. So the picture doesn’t have greens. I am definitely making this again and will add them next time and take a picture. With the addition of a half-can of chickpeas, the leftovers were delicious the next day.

I consider this a pantry meal, most of the ingredients are already in my pantry and available for a quick meal. If you have greens and mint in your garden you are already perfectly positioned. No chicken, no problem. The original recipe didn’t include chicken. But check your freezer for a lone chicken breast that might be hanging around. Defrost it in the microwave, cut into cubes, and add it once the coconut milk and stock come to the simmer. If you have any salad greens in your fridge, use them as greens. Maybe some baby spinach? Arugula would be fine as well, shredded romaine…why not. If it is a cold and wet night, who wants to go to the store?

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Spiced Chickpea Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach – stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped for serving
  • Lime slice for serving
  • Optional whole fat plain yogurt for serving
  • Steamed rice, toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread for serving

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and starts to brown a bit. That will take about 3-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas start to sizzle and brown and fry a bit in the spices and oil. I had to add a tiny bit more oil at this point. They will start to soften and break down, becoming brown and crisp. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3.  Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stock to the remaining chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any crusty bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add your chicken if using.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened slightly and the flavors have come together., about 30-35 minutes. Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  7. Add greens and stir, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cook long enough for them to soften, which will depend on the type of greens you are using, about 3-7 minutes. Spinach and chard will soften much faster than kale.
  8. Divide among bowls and add the reserved chickpeas and mint, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes if desired. A dollop of whole fat yogurt with a dusting of turmeric would be nice as well.

 

Sous vide boneless chicken thighs

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The recipe was adapted from the NY Times article, A Creamy Stew That’s Hearty and Virtuous.

I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #253 to share with Angie and the gang. Click on the link to see all the wonderful ideas for holiday food, crafts and decorating. I am excited to be a co-host for the virtual party this week with Mila @ Milkandbun

I think the folks at Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen will enjoy it as well. Follow the link for other soup, salad or sandwich ideas. Perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  .Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.

November – Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom and Whole Tomato Ragout

November – Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom and Whole Tomato Ragout

Dried Porcini, Fresh Mushroom, and Whole Tomato Ragout

Doesn’t that look delicious? Dried porcini mushrooms (or any other variety you have in your pantry), fresh mushrooms, roma-type tomatoes (canned are fine), with fresh herbs. Serve this as a main course for a vegan or vegetarian meal with crusty bread, sweet butter, and a chunk of flavorful cheese. Toma is my personal favorite right now. Or, as the recipe suggests, on top of cheesy polenta. Or as a low carb/low calorie side dish to some thinly sliced grilled steak (steak and mushrooms are a combination made in heaven). Be sure to include a few slices of crusty rustic bread to soak up the juices. It’s the perfect antidote to all the rich foods of last week.

The recipe came from the cookbook In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison.

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

Deborah calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs in addition to parsley. Use whatever you have on hand, the season my dictate it. In my case it was some fresh marjoram but adding additional fresh parsley at the end would work as well. If you have access to wild mushrooms, use them as the fresh ones. But plain old grocery store varieties work just fine. Porcini mushrooms can be pricy, but you can substitute another variety. I have seen large bags of dried shiitake mushrooms at Asian grocery stores, at good prices. Recipes are only a starting point to your imagination. Make the substitution and let me know how you like it.

I was lucky to have stumbled upon a large bag of dried porcini while in Italy this past September. It was a tiny store on a back alley. I now wish I had brought back 2 bags. But that’s a long way to go for a bag of dried porcini.

Dried Porcini Mushrooms

It’s mushroom season up here on the coast but tomato season is over. I used good quality Italian canned roma tomatoes. One 28-oz can was just the right size. If you make this in summer, use fresh tomatoes. Slip them into boiling water for 30 seconds and they are easy to peel.

 

Dried Porcini and Tomato Ragout

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried porcini (or other) mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound of fresh mushrooms, gills still closed if possible, cleaned and thickly sliced at odd angles
  • 8-12 peeled whole roma-type tomatoes
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, any seasonal will do
  • For finishing – optional: Parmigiano-Reggisno cheese, grated and more fresh chopped herbs

Method:

  1. Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups of hot water and set aside while you assemble the rest of the ingredients, for at least 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid. If there is any soil or small grit in the water, pour it through a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Heat a wide skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When warm, add the onion and the drained porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden (about 5 minutes). Then add half the parsley, all the other fresh herbs and the garlic. Work in the  tomato paste. Pour in the wine and cook until it is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Remove to a bowl.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, when it is hot, add the fresh mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and saute until they start to color, add a few pinches of salt and cook until they release and reabsorb their juices (about 6-8 minutes).
  4. Add the contents of the bowl to the skillet and pour in the mushroom soaking liquid. Nestle the tomatoes among the mushrooms. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked and the tomatoes are hot, at least 15 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining herbs and optional butter for more richness.
  6. Serve with a grating of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Simmering Mushrooms and TomatoesI am taking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #252 to share with Angie and the gang. This weeks co-hosts are Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul

Be sure to click on the link to read all the interesting posts for holiday food, gifts and crafts. And, add your own link to the party. If you want to be considered for “post of the week” be sure to credit Fiesta Friday, Alex, Zeba and Angie in your post.

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

November – Veggie Sausage Dressing with Raisins

November – Veggie Sausage Dressing with Raisins

This will be the first Thanksgiving that I am only making a vegetarian version of my regular dressing or stuffing recipe. You can see last year’s meat lovers sausage and raisin version here, definitely not vegetarian. In past years I have made two dressings, one with and one without the sausage. But this year the vegetarians at dinner will well outnumber the carnivores. It’s also the year I discovered LIghtlife Gimme Lean veggie sausage. It’s a good substitute for pork or turkey sausage, not perfect but acceptable. It’s lean and not as flavorful as regular bulk sausage. To counter that I’ll add extra seasonings and butter (this is not vegan) to make up the difference.

I am amazed at how far vegetarian food has come.

And how was it?

Veggie Sausage

Well, it was delicious! No one could tell the difference. This recipe is well worth the trouble of including in your vegetarian feast as a side. You could even stuff and bake a few halves of acorn squash as the Thanksgiving main course. Or, what about large portobello mushrooms? I think they would be good as well.

If you are making stuffing (inside your bird), stick with the regular meat version. Although as a thought, if you avoid pork and can’t find turkey sausage, this will work equally well as a stuffing.

This recipe is not vegan. I used parmesan broth (definitely not vegan) as a substitute for turkey or chicken stock. Parmesan broth is a very tasty broth made from the leftover rinds of parmesan cheese. Don’t throw them away! Store them in the freezer until you have enough to make this wonderful broth from them. A parmesan rind is a flavorful addition to a pot of minestrone soup, and then there is this wonderful vegetarian broth which tastes amazingly like chicken. One of our local delis even sells a package of them, left over from their own gratings. Check with your own gourmet deli and they may even give them away to you at no charge.

Some other options homemade vegetarian stock are instant vegetarian stock or magic mineral broth. If you use the instant vegetarian stock make sure you taste for salt before adding additional, it is quite salty.

Parmesan Rinds

If you don’t have any rinds or homemade vegetarian stock on hand, use a good quality commercial stock. Try to find one without an overwhelming carrot or celery flavor. Commercial vegetarian stocks vary greatly in quality. Some of them are awful. I found this Organic Imagine Vegetarian No Chicken Broth to be more than acceptable:

Vegetarian Stock

Raisin Cornbread Veggie Sausage Dressing:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter, divided plus more as needed
  • 1 pound of bulk vegetarian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning. See note 1.
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 4 fresh brioche rolls, hamburger or other soft bread (preferably a little stale), torn into large (3/4 inch) pieces. See note 2.
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled into large pieces, about 3/4 inch (you will want chunks rather than crumbs for texture and flavor)
  • 2 generous handfuls of golden or regular raisins
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1 cup or more of vegetarian stock, I used parmesan broth

Method:

  1. Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the onion and celery and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small pieces as it browns.
  4. Add the Herbs de Provence, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes to the pan.
  5. Add the second 5 tablespoons of butter and remove from the heat, allowing it to melt.
  6. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into 3/4 inch pieces in a large bowl, you don’t want them too small.
  7. Add the raisins and mix.
  8. While still warm, add the contents of the skillet to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for salt, you want it well seasoned.
  9. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 (or more) tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl. Ma Barnes would add as much as a full stick of butter at this point.
  10. If baking immediately, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Spread the dressing in a casserole. Add the stock, you want the bread to be moist but not swimming. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and increase the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 20 minutes to brown the top and crisp the edges (those charred bits are my favorite). Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  12. If making ahead, set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and out of reach of the dogs. Once cool you can refrigerate it for a day. Keep your last minute stress level down and prepare it the day before the holiday.
  13. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the dressing into a shallow casserole dish and add the stock. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 45-50 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes to crisp the top. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn although those charred crispy bits are my favorite.

Note 1: Check that any commercial poultry seasoning in the your pantry is fresh. Ground spices lose their potency quickly. My own was old and the grocery store was out of that particular mix. You can make your own poultry seasoning, here is the recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Note 2: Don’t use all cornbread. You need the regular bread to absorb the liquid. The cornbread should not be predominant.

Finished baked Dressing

I have not received any remuneration from the commercial products mentioned in this post. The recommendations come only from my own experience.