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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)

 

I absolutely adore my slow cooker. It is so perfect for those days where you kinda feel like cooking, but you don’t really have the time or desire to stand around stir this pot so it doesn’t stick, toss that thing in this dressing, cut up this and that. I always love eating at home and cooking my own meals, but sometimes after a long day of work, I just don’t have the energy to head to the kitchen and start on another 1-2 hour adventure. Though it hardly feels like work, sometimes it’s just hard to muster up the energy after a long and busy day. With a crock pot there is no preheating, no keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t over cook, no stirring. It’s just simple, easy home-cooking. When you are ready to eat, just head to the kitchen and serve yourself. I always tell Mark that my crock pot is the closest I will ever come to having a personal chef, it really feels like that.

This recipe is exceptionally easy, just toss all (well, almost all) of the ingredients in to your crock pot in the morning and check back later. I decided to keep out the peas until the end and wished I had done the same with the spinach, so I altered the recipe to reflect that. That’s it. You could certainly fuss with sautéing the onions and garlic ahead of time if you wish, but I really don’t see why you should bother. I tossed it all in and it was ready to go 6 hours later. I had some beautiful spinach and peas from the market so I decided to toss those in for some extra greeny goodness and that was our meal.

I truly think this was the best curry I have made yet. I personally have a wonderful yellow curry powder that I love, though I know many people swear by making your own mix, toasting the spices yourself, etc. I have yet to try that as I really love the powder I buy. If you prefer to take that route, please do. Beyond being extremely easy to make, this curry is loaded with flavor and is so satisfying. I served it over a small serving of brown basmati rice and topped it with fresh cilantro and a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut. The perfect cleanse-friendly, fall meal.

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)
serves 8

2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dried organic chick peas
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can organic coconut milk (you can use light here, I didn’t)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (you could also use kale here)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen here, if you wish)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (you can use your own blend of spices here, I just happen to have a premixed curry powder from a local indian grocery store that I love)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for serving)

Rinse and sort through the dry chickpeas. Cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch square cubes. Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker besides the peas and spinach. Cook on high for 6 hours. About 20-30 minutes before serving add in the fresh peas and spinach, and give it a stir. If your sauce seems to be a bit too thin or watery when it is done cooking, you could make a quick mix of cornstarch and hot water and pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the crock pot, allow it to simmer a bit longer. This will thicken it right up.

Serve over brown basmati or jasmine rice topped with fresh cilantro, mint or basil and maybe even some shredded coconut.

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Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts

I know that I always carry on about my love of pasta on here, but you’d be surprised to know that for as much love as I have for those delicious carbs, I have an equal and unrelenting love for vegetables. I honestly cannot think of a vegetable that I don’t love. I love them raw, steamed, grilled, roasted, it doesn’t matter. After traveling and eating at restaurants, where many times the serving of vegetables on your plate, if they even give you one, is so tiny you can’t tell if it is an inedible garnish or a side dish, I come home with a craving for anything green, leafy or with a stem. One of my favorite things is to go to the farmers market and pick out new vegetables that I have never tried before and experiment with ways to cook them. This past Saturday we grabbed some of the usuals at the market, arugula, tomatoes, swiss chard, cauliflower plus this time I also bought a purple cauliflower, butter beets and a large bunch of perpetual spinach. The perpetual spinach and butter beets were both brought home for juicing and I haven’t yet decided what to do with the purple cauliflower, I will probably just make this dish again. After looking at all of those delicious veggies at the market, I wanted to come home and make a delicious vegetable feast for lunch, so I decided on this.

I love roasted cauliflower, even on its own with just olive oil, salt and pepper, it is so delicious. Add in one of my other favorites, chickpeas and you have a winner. Together with the spices, the high heat and a little olive oil, it gets beautifully browned, caramelized and it has a wonderful nutty and sweet flavor. This dish was inspired by all of the delicious spices I have been cooking with on this cleanse and I added in chickpeas for protein and fiber and the pine nuts for a nutty crunch, which I am a big fan of. We served this as a main dish, with nothing else so we ended up with 2 big servings, with a small amount leftover. This would be good just as side dish or for a real hearty meal, you could serve it over some brown rice, quinoa or even with some pasta.

 

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts

 

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts
Serves 2 to 4

1 medium head organic cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into large florets
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups cooked organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon finely minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 small red chiles, finely chopped, seeds removed for less heat (I used some dried korean heirloom red chiles from my garden)

Preheat the oven to 450º.

Place the cauliflower, chickpeas and pine nuts on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the spices, fresh ginger and garlic, salt and red chiles. Drizzle olive oil evenly over everything and toss gently to combine. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes tossing occasionally to ensure even cooking, bake until edges are golden brown, and the cauliflower is slightly tender,

Serve on its own, as a side dish or over rice for an entrée.

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Vegan, Gluten-free Fettucini Alfredo

I have fully admitted to my love-affair with pasta on this blog, many times. It is something I cannot live without and is almost always included in my weekly menu planning. Not only are pasta dishes simple and fun to create but they can easily be made with ingredients you have in the pantry and your refrigerator and many times can easily be made healthy. Even with the healthiest of pasta recipes, to me it is a major comfort food, it always will be. Probably the number 1 comfort food on my list.

Although I am on a cleanse, I wanted to make sure to experiment with at least one cleanse-friendly pasta dish. Of course, as I mentioned in my post about my cleanse, there are many different types of cleanses out there and many different items you can remove from your diet when cleansing. Obviously this recipe may not work on every cleanse. For me already being on a totally gluten-free diet, removing gluten when cleansing is never a major hassle or issue, but it is very important to a cleanse and to detoxify your body. For me one of the biggest things I like to remove from my diet while cleansing is dairy. I am not a milk drinker and I rarely cook with it, but cheese is what gets me. I love cheese. So with that in mind, I wanted to come up with a cleanse-friendly pasta dish that would bring the comfort of any other gluten-free pasta dish I would make, but with cleanse friendly ingredients.

I love gluten-free pastas and find them to be much lighter compared to traditional wheat-based pastas. I personally prefer brown rice pastas and I love Tinkyada brand organic pastas. They have three or less ingredients, organic brown rice, rice bran and water. That’s it. When I cleanse the majority of what I eat is fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains – I certainly cannot go without pasta. Brown rice pasta falls within the constraints of my cleanse and though I don’t eat a ton of it, a dish like this is a perfect way to forget you are even cleansing at all. If you don’t care much for brown rice pasta, there are also corn and quinoa based gluten-free pastas that are also quite delicious, as well.

I decided when making this alfredo sauce rather than trying to experiment with different nut milks, which I knew wouldn’t give me the thick and creamy affect of an alfredo sauce, I would go the route of a raw nut based sauce. Cashews tend to be great for this. Even without excessive soaking, you can just add boiling hot water to cashews just before pureeing and get a delicious creamy sauce. I took the above photo the next day with the leftovers, since it was too dark to take photos the night we ate it. I honestly don’t think the image fully captures just how creamy the sauce really is, it is incredible. There isn’t an overwhelming nutty flavor to the sauce and by adding garlic, basil and some nutritional yeast, it’s very hard to tell that it is even dairy free. Beyond nutritional yeast’s nutty and cheesy flavor, is a great source of protein and fiber, it is rich in B-complex vitamins including B12 and it contains the glucose tolerance factor that helps in the regulation of blood sugar. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is definitely worth exploring adding it into your diet.

The beauty of this sauce is that it doesn’t actually need to be heated up, so if you like to eat raw, you could skip heating it up, use your favorite alternative raw noodle, like thinly sliced raw zucchini (or other raw vegetables), kelp noodles, etc and just pour the raw cashew cream sauce right over for a delicious and healthy raw meal.

I had some beautiful zucchini and yellow squash that we picked up at a farmers stand on our drive home from NYC so I added that and a carrot to the dish for some additional health-benefits as well as the very lovely colors. You could play around with many different vegetables here including fresh spinach, peas, etc.

I had a small amount of sauce leftover that I put in the fridge, I figured it would be delicious on some steamed broccoli or over a baked potato, etc. I have a feeling you will fall in love with this healthy alfredo sauce.

Soaking raw cashews for Vegan, Gluten-free Fettucini Alfredo

Veggies for Vegan, Gluten-free Fettucini Alfredo

Vegan, Gluten-Free Fettucine Alfredo
serves 6

1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted organic cashews
3 cloves garlic
1 cup warm water (you may need more)
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces of your favorite gluten-free fettucine or linguini, I use Tinkyada’s organic brown rice pasta
handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini, julienned
1 yellow squash, julienned
1 carrot, peeled, julienned (or you can wash and peel the outside, then peel the entire carrot instead of julienning it, which is what I did)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the raw cashews in a glass bowl, cover in water. Let soak as little as a few hours or overnight.

In a large saucepan bring your water to a boil and cook your pasta according to package directions.

Drain the soaked cashews and rinse well, place into your food processor with garlic, salt, pepper and 1 cup of water. You may find you need to add more water if the sauce is too thick, but you can always add more. Process until smooth and creamy. Once it is at your desired consistency, add in the nutritional yeast, pulse a few times to combine. Set aside until you are ready to heat it up.

While your pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over a medium-high heat, add your julienned vegetables and sauté a few minutes until tender. Remove from heat.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of your cooking liquid, drain and place in a large serving dish. Pour the alfredo sauce into the saucepan you used to cook your pasta and heat over a medium heat, stirring often to keep from sticking. Once warm, pour over the pasta.

Add the vegetables and fresh basil to the pasta and sauce. Toss to combine, adding some of the pasta cooking liquid if the sauce is too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, topped with freshly chopped basil and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, if you wish.

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Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

This is another cleanse-friendly recipe that I made as a side dish to my lentil soup. You could actually just toss the roasted squash cubes right into the soup just before serving if you wish, but Mark and I really wanted to savor the crispy brown little bites on their own.

Roasted butternut squash is super easy to throw together and it makes a delicious fall side-dish. You can also add it to soups, stews or even atop salads. Butternut squash is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, it is low in fat and it provides an ample dose of your daily fiber. You can read more about all the wonderful health benefits of butternut squash from Whole Living here.

Like most things that I tend to gravitate toward when cooking, what I love most about squashes are their versatility. You can roast butternut squash with a wide array of different spices and herbs, you can toss it with a bit of maple syrup or brown sugar and cinnamon, you can puree it for soup, the list goes on and on. Grab yourself some fall-harvest squashes this weekend at the market and get to playing, the possibilities are endless. We hit an adorable farmer’s stand on our way home from NYC and I nabbed two butternut squash, two acorn squash, a spaghetti squash and four pie pumpkins. I plan to grab even more this weekend at our farmers market.

I chose rosemary as the star of this show because my potted rosemary in the garden is looking wonderful and it pairs so wonderfully with fall and winter dishes like this. You can certainly play around with other herbs or spices, thyme and sage are both wonderful with squash, you can also try smoked paprika, cilantro, tarragon, the list goes on and on.

Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash
serves 2-4 (depending on how large the squash is)

1 medium butternut squash
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Olive Oil (I probably used under a tablespoon, you can use more here if you wish, I was just trying to keep this very light)
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400ºF

Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler (if you can, this never works for me) or cut into big chunks and keep steady on the cutting board while cutting off the peel with a sharp knife.

Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with chopped rosemary, minced garlic, a small amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper and toss to evenly combine. Spread out evenly in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.

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Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

This recipe is a fast and simple twist on the original, with no accurate measurements needed. It’s all about taste. I grabbed a quart of colorful local heirloom tomatoes at the market and I couldn’t wait to pick some of the beautiful heirloom black cherry tomatoes from my own garden to make a big tasty salad with. Since the tomatoes themselves had so much flavor and the basil from our garden was abundant, I decided to not go crazy and put the full 8 oz of fresh mozzarella into the salad, it just didn’t need it. I also decided that by saving half of it, I could use it to add to an omelette with the next morning.

I wanted to get a nice sweet and tart punch from the balsamic, so rather than just pouring it on as is, I made a simple reduction syrup to drizzle over top the salad when serving. It is incredible how the concentrated flavors from the vinegar reduction really sing with the subtle sweetness. It is one of my favorite, simple kitchen tricks that works for so many dishes. In addition to drizzling over top salads like this one, the balsamic reduction is also wonderful drizzled over a steak, grilled fruit and so much more.

There is something about a good insalata caprese that just screams summer to me. But much like the balsamic, it is bitter-sweet, by the time the tomatoes in our gardens are ripe enough to start picking for the beautiful salad, summer is on the down-swing and definitely more than half over.

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction
serves 4

Approximately 1 quart of mixed heirloom tomatoes, any variety. (Mine were all smallish – cherry and grape sized, some from our garden)
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes (you can use the full 8oz, but I was attempting to keep this light and much more about the tomatoes)
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup high quality balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons brown sugar
A few tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan over a medium-high heat bring the balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil, constantly whisking to prevent burning. Continue cooking until it is reduced by half, stirring often. Remove from heat, allow to cool. (The sugar is optional as the vinegar has a natural sweetness when reduced, but I find that just a little is nice to compliment the tartness of the vinegar)

Meanwhile, half or quarter the tomatoes and place in a large serving bowl. Add the fresh mozzarella and basil. Toss lightly to combine. Season the salad with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Serve individual servings of the salad on small side plates, drizzle both the olive oil and the balsamic reduction over top each serving. Serve immediately.

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Summer Squash Salad

Zucchini and yellow squash are two of my favorites and both automatically come to mind when I think of summertime eating! They remind me so much of growing up, my parent’s always had an abundance of both growing in our garden. The last few years when I have planted them in my own garden, they take up a HUGE amount of real estate and never really produce much. They must not like my soil. I skipped out on planting them this year. Thankfully, my parent’s still grow both in their garden and never have a problem sharing with me.

After our family dinner this past week, I came home with a bag full of beautiful yellow summer squash and I couldn’t wait to start cooking with them. They are wonderful sliced and browned up on the grill, sauteed or roasted and added in salads or pasta, etc. Not only as a kid when my dad would cook with them, but now as an adult in my own kitchen, I always find myself eating the raw squash slices as I am cutting them to cook, so I decided I wanted to experiment with a raw salad.

When I was dreaming up this salad, I was so excited about it combining so many beautiful summery ingredients and flavors, some of my favorite ingredients. The soft and flavorful squash pairs so nicely with the crisp and spicy radishes and the peppery arugula rounded it all out with a refreshing bite. The fresh mint was a nice compliment to the light and refreshing dressing, the brightness from the lemon sings in your mouth with every bite and the toasted walnuts were a bonus crunch at the end. I couldn’t help but feeling like this salad is everything that summer is about, on one plate.

The other great thing about this salad are the many wonderful variations you could take, by changing out the herbs and going with fresh basil, oregano or chives. You can play with different nuts and seeds like toasted pine nuts, almond slivers or even sunflower seeds. You could even top the salad with cheeses like feta, goat cheese, fresh parmigiano reggiano, pecorino or asiago. I personally opted for no cheese since we wanted a vegan side-salad to accompany our vegan creamy avocado pasta. There is so much you can do with this salad. Keep in mind when picking squash that smaller, younger squashes are better since the larger squash tend to have larger tougher seeds and sometimes a tough skin.

Summer Squash Salad Recipe
serves 4

1 pound summer squash (yellow or green, or a mixture of both)
5 to 8 radishes (depending on how large they are)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup whole walnuts
1 bunch of baby arugula, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet, the oven or toaster oven and set aside and allow to cool, then roughly chop.

Slice the squash very thin slices using a mandoline or a steady hand and a sharp knife. Set aside in a large bowl. Do the same with the radishes. Add in the roughly chopped arugula.

Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour the dressing over the squash, radishes and arugula, toss lightly. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Add in the fresh mint and toasted walnuts, toss gently again to thoroughly combine.

Serve to individual salad plates or on 1 large serving platter, top with fresh mint and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy immediately.

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Creamy Avocado Pasta

I have a love for avocados that I cannot be put into words. The mere site of one of those beautiful, creamy, tasty friends is enough to make me happy. It isn’t always easy to buy avocados here, they aren’t always in stock, sometimes when they are they look awful and other times to do so, you may need to take out a small loan. They can be a bit on the pricey side since they have to travel so far to get to us, so I don’t buy them every time I am at the grocery store, I try to spread it out and really enjoy them when I spend the money.

While on our nearly 2-week long trip to California earlier this month, I tried to enjoy the fresh and local avocados as often as possible. On the side with my breakfast eggs instead of home-fries, with salads, etc. Of course when I came home from our trip, I still had California and all of it’s lovely produce on my mind, especially those creamy delights! I came across this recipe on Oh She Glows, while googling different avocado recipes and I couldn’t wait to try it out. But, I knew I had to be a bit strategic when making and serving it, since hubby doesn’t always love avocados. He’ll always eat guacamole, but other than that he isn’t usually a fan. I had a feeling if I asked him if he would like this, he would definitely say ‘no’ so I just went for it. I decided to make the sauce while he took Seri for a walk and I put it all together and served dinner right when he walked in, being careful to rid the kitchen counter of any evidence like the peel or pit from the avocado.

I served the pasta warm, with the fresh lemon zest and spicy red pepper flakes on top and left out some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, in the event it needed it. I let Mark take a few big bites and I waited for his reaction, he liked it. He kept eating it. His first words were “wow, this is so good, but so different from any other pasta you’ve made”. After a few bites on my own, those were my exact thoughts as well, it was creamy with a nice spicy bite from both the fresh basil and the red pepper flakes and a refreshing brightness from the lemon and lemon zest. The sauce definitely doesn’t mock cheese or cream in taste, but certainly in texture, I wouldn’t say I missed any of the dairy, but I did crave the sharp bite from a good quality cheese on top. I tried a few bites with the parmigiano reggiano and it was good, though I would hardly say it needs it.

I eventually told Mark what the sauce was made of and he was genuinely shocked and surprised, he said he couldn’t taste the avocado, just that it had a much different flavor profile than any pasta than I had ever made. If you don’t care for the bit of spice from the red pepper flakes, you could certainly skip it and just top your pasta with freshly ground black pepper. I have to say this sauce was incredibly easy to make and I was very excited about how healthy it was and I was happy to find another naturally vegan dish. I definitely plan to make this again maybe trying it with some fresh spinach, only this time I won’t have to hide the evidence.

*keep in mind, it is probably best to make only as much of this pasta, as you will eat in the first meal. Due to the avocados most likely browning after time, this dish wouldn’t reheat very well.

Creamy Avocado Pasta
Serves 2
Adapted via Oh She Glows

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil (or try a cup or two of fresh spinach)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings (6 oz) organic brown rice pasta (or your choice of pasta)
Crushed red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh basil for serving

Cook your pasta according to package directions. When cooked to al dente, remove from the heat, reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water, drain and rinse in a colander, place the cooked pasta in a large serving bowl once drained.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted and peeled avocado, basil and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. If your avocado is more on the firm side, you may want to add a bit more olive oil or even a tablespoon or two of pasta water.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss until fully combined, again you may want a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce a bit so it will coat all of the pasta evenly. Garnish with lemon zest, red pepper flakes and a leave or two of fresh basil. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

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