Meatless Monday – Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

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Roasting beets intensifies their natural flavors and jewel toned colors.  Slicing them into rounds creates a gorgeous base for creating a spectacular but simple salad.  I topped the roasted beets with crumbled goat cheese and pistachios with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. The goat cheese adds a creamy tang that complements the earthy beets and the pistachios provide a satisfying salty crunch. This is the perfect departure from the traditional tossed green salad, although you could lay the sliced beets on top of a bed of baby greens.  Other good additions would be citrus slices or segments, pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced red onion, avocado, burrata or sliced fresh mozzarella.

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The intense colors of BEETS are not just for show. The pigments that give them their rich colors are phytonutrients called betalains. which are either red or yellow, and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Beets give you a big bang for the buck.  They are vitamin rich, including iron, vitamin C and B6, while also low in calories (35 calories in a 2 inch beet), no cholesterol and almost no fat, so they can be your guilty pleasure.  Speaking of guilty pleasures, this Four Pepper Goat Cheese from Trader Joe’s was a nice extra touch.  However, use any cheese that you prefer.  A great vegan option would be using one of the soft cheeses by Miyoko’s Kitchen which is starting to get traction outside of the Bay Area, so check them out!  I have good luck finding it in Whole Foods Markets.

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Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts.  They are delicious and easy to use if you buy them pre-shelled.  Although this salad uses only a small amount of them, they still contribute more than just flavor and crunch. Pistachios have protein and fiber and as a bonus, contain fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than other nuts.

TIPS: The beets take about an hour to roast and then they have to cool, at least enough to handle.  Luckily, they can be roasted a day or so ahead of time, peeled and refrigerated until you are ready to use them.  Or you can sometimes buy already roasted beets for a super short cut.  Once the beets are cooked and cooled, the salad is ready in minutes. Enjoy!

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BEET SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PISTACHIOS

  • 4-6 beets, preferably different varieties (red, golden or chiogga)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans)
  • 2 oz (2-3 Tbsn) goat cheese (or other crumbly cheese like feta)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cut off beet greens and save for another use.  (They are delicious sautéed in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper} Take care not to cut into the beets or you will lose some of the juice in cooking.  Leave the root or ‘tail’ end.  It’s easy to pinch off after it’s cooked.  If you must remove it, leave a short tail to minimize juice seepage. (I absent mindedly cut mine off without thinking and they turned out fine but a slightly harder clean up.)

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  • Spray a baking dish with olive oil and place the beets inside.  Spray or drizzle them with olive oil.  Cover tightly with foil. For an even easier clean up, line the bottom of the pan with foil too.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about an hour.  They should be easily pierced with a fork but not soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Remove the beet skins with a papertowel and pinch off the stem and tail.

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  • Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the beets and place on a platter in a single layer.

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  • Here is your opportunity to be artistic.  I recommend slicing your golden beets first to prevent having to wash the mandolin between colors. Warning:  the red beets will dye anything they come into contact with, so don’t use anything with a porous surface (like wood).

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  • Roughly chop the pistachios and parsley and sprinkle them on top of the beets. Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle it as well.

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Whisk the oil and vinegar together (or combine in a shaker).  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Drizzle over beets and serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

 

 

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4-6 beets, preferably different varieties (red, golden or chiogga)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 2 oz (2-3 Tbsn) goat cheese (or other crumbly cheese like feta, or gorgonzola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut off beet greens and save for another use.  (They are delicious sautéed in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper} Take care not to cut into the beets or you will lose some of the juice in cooking.  Leave the root or ‘tail’ end.  It’s easy to pinch off after it’s cooked.  If you must remove it, leave a short tail to minimize juice seepage.
  2. Spray a baking dish with olive oil and place the beets inside.  Spray or drizzle them with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil. For an even easier clean up, line the bottom of the pan with foil too.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about an hour.  They should be easily pierced with a fork but not over soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Remove the beet skins with a papertowel and pinch off the stem and tail.
  4. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the beets and place on a platter in a single layer.  Here is your opportunity to be artistic.  I recommend slicing your golden beets first to prevent having to wash the mandolin between colors. Warning:  the red beets will dye anything they come into contact with, so don’t use anything with a porous surface (like wood).
  5. Roughly chop the pistachios and parsley and sprinkle them on top of the beets. Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle it as well.
  6. Whisk the oil and vinegar together (or combine in a shaker).  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Drizzle over beets and serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

Meatless Monday – Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

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20161207_194811 Risotto is so rich and creamy that it seems fancy and somewhat decadent.  Well this version is no different, even though it is made without meat or dairy and I used barley instead of the traditional Arborio rice which adds flavor and interest. If you are intimidated by making risotto at home, don’t be.  It’s actually a pretty easy (mostly) one pot dish.  Yes, you do have to stir it but not constantly.  You don’t have to be a slave to the stove but it is the technique of slowly adding broth and allowing it to absorb into the barley which creates the rich and creamy almost sauce-like texture which is the result of the barley releasing starch into the broth. Starch is that magic ingredient that helps marry the ingredients.  (This is same reason I always save a cup of cooking water when making pasta). The barley risotto is a wonderful, slightly chewy consistency and the butternut squash is sweet and perfectly accented by the lovely ‘sauce’ and fresh tangy sage. The end result is worth the extra attention, however, I have a short cut in TIPS below for those who can’t be bothered but still like the idea of butternut squash and barley.

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Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice which lends itself to a creamy consistency but I decided to use pearl barley instead to give my risotto a heartier, winter ‘stick to your ribs’ feel and to boost the nutrition. So what exactly is pearl barley?  Pearl Barley, or pearled barley, is barley that has been processed to remove its hull and bran. All barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran layer.  Although pearl barley is not a whole grain, it still has twice as much fiber than white and brown rice. Adding fiber to your diet helps prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes and keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Pearl barley also has almost four times the amount of calcium than white rice but white rice, surprisingly has a bit more iron and more protein.  Go figure. You can also buy hulled barley, which still has the bran, for even more nutrition.  It may not make as creamy of a dish and will take about 20 minutes more to soften.  To read more on Livestrong, click HERE

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TIPS:  If you like this combination of ingredients but don’t have the patience to add the broth a half cup at a time, just saute the onions and squash, then add 3 cups of broth, the squash and half the sage, cover and cook on low heat about 25 minutes. Stir in parmesan and remaining sage.  It won’t be as creamy but should still taste pretty good.  Since the squash will continue to steam, it may fall apart but that is probably okay.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY RISOTTO

  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

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  • In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Heat oil in a medium sized pot and saute onion over medium heat until tender.

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  • Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes.

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  • Add barley and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

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  • Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.

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  • Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and remaining sage.

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  • Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

 

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low.
  2. Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté until tender.
  4. Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add barley and stir for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.
  7. Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

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These cheesy grainfree breadsticks are a guaranteed winner!  They are yummy enough to satisfy that carb craving that we all know so well, without adding empty calories and they are wheat and gluten free. This is one of the blog posts that went missing during my technically challenged summer, however, I certainly didn’t mind ‘having’ to make it again.  The first time I spread the cauliflower ‘dough’ into rectangles  (like a sheet pizza) and cut it into strips to serve.

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This time I decided to try making into individual strips or bars which can be picked up by hand to eat.  I am a crispy crust lover so I figured this would maximize the crispy edges and I was not disappointed.  I sprinkled the cooked breadsticks with fresh basil but you could also provide warm tomato sauce or pesto for dipping.

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Cauliflower is a great carb substitute and provides vitamins, and minerals plus fiber and very few calories (only 27 per cup), very low fat and no cholesterol.  It is a surprisingly excellent source of Vitamin C which we need more of, especially this time of year as flu season approaches.

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This recipe can also be used as a pizza, either rectangular or round.  Just add tomato or pesto sauce.  I would go light on toppings as it may not hold up. Here is a photo of my first Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks based on the recipe from Jo Cooks.com

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I have blogged about Cauliflower Pizza before.  My older recipe calls for the addition of almond flour which makes it more of a traditional crust and great for lots of toppings.  Check out my original recipe for Cauliflower Crust Pizza which also featured caramelized onions and mushrooms.

 

I have the luxury of fresh eggs from my own backyard hens.  I have 9 hens, most of whom have been rescued from Factory Farms where they lived in warehouses and never got a chance to go outside or eat fresh food.  (Yes, even my organic cage free hens.)  You can follow my ‘girls’ on their Facebook Page  Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens.  However, if you don’t have access to backyard chickens, please buy Pasture Raised eggs from the store.  That is the ONLY label that means that the hens got a chance to go outside.

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TIPS:  I used a food processor to ‘rice’ my cauliflower which is very easy, however, I am starting to see Cauliflower Rice in stores (even Costco) if you are looking for a shortcut. Then I steamed the cauliflower rice in the microwave which is the easiest way to ensure you don’t have excess moisture. If you prefer not to use a microwave, you can steam the cauliflower on the stovetop with a bit of water before ricing.  Just make sure any excess water is removed by squeezing with papertowels.

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CHEESY CAULIFLOWER BREADSTICKS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (optional topping)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional topping)
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  • Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Prepare 2 pizza dishes or a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

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  • Remove outer leaves and roughly chop cauliflower into florets.

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  • Add the florets to a food processor or blender and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice.

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  • Place the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cover. Microwave for 10 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Stir in the oregano, garlic, red pepper and salt and pepper. Taste (before adding the eggs) and adjust spices if necessary.

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  • Mix in eggs and 2 cups mozzarella.

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  • Divide the mixture in half and place each half onto the prepared baking sheets and shape into individual strips (about 5 or 6 to a pan) or into a rectangular shape that you will cut into breadsticks later.

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  • Bake the crust (without toppings) for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. You may have to push the sides back in with a spatula if you see spreading.

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  • Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

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  • Serve with fresh basil.

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (optional topping)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional topping)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Prepare 2 pizza dishes or a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove outer leaves and roughly chop cauliflower into florets.
  3. Add the florets to a food processor or blender and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice.
  4. Place the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cover. Microwave for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Stir in the oregano, garlic, red pepper and salt and pepper. Taste (before adding the eggs) and adjust spices if necessary.
  6. Mix in eggs and 2 cups mozzarella.
  7. Divide the mixture in half and place each half onto the prepared baking sheets and shape into individual strips (about 6 to a pan) or into a rectangular shape that you will cut into breadsticks later.
  8. Bake the crust (without toppings) for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. You may have to push the sides back in with a spatula if you see spreading.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  10. Serve with fresh basil.

 

Meatless Monday – Fall Harvest Minestrone

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It’s been raining outside, so… soup.  I actually could have called this ‘Stone Soup’ from the old children’s fable, because it’s less of a recipe than a gathering of what was readily available from my pantry; like the last of the tomatoes and zucchini from the garden paired with root vegetables and winter squash.  I know several people, like me, who hastily gathered the last of summer’s bounty from our gardens before the season’s first storm hit. This minestrone is a broth based soup so it isn’t heavy but it is hearty and filling with the addition of potato, butternut squash and cannellini beans.

20161015_125926 Fall is a fabulous time for food. It’s a collision of the best of summer and the emergence of hard squashes and root vegetables.  This broth based soup is relatively low in calories, cholesterol and fat but still densely nutritious. Cannellini beans add protein, calcium and iron.  Butternut squash is an excellent provider of Vitamin A and potatoes (wrongfully maligned) is a surprisingly good source of Vitamin C.  The more vegetables you include in your soup will result in a better array of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.  However, the best thing about soup is that it just makes you feel good and warm inside.

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TIPS: Canned tomatoes make an easy shortcut but if you are trying to use up fresh tomatoes, you can just dice them to make about 2 cups.  If you don’t like tomato skins, just blanch the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute or until you see the skin split.  Then they are easy to peel, seed and dice. Feel free to use whatever fresh vegetables that are available. Try substituting other root vegetables or various types of squash. The more colors you see, the better.

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HARVEST MINESTRONE

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into half circles
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

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  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.

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  • Add broth, potatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.

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  • Add squashes, tomatoes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10-15 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Harvest Minestrone

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.
  • Add broth, potatoes, tomatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Add squashes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10=15 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

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If summertime means throwing something on the grill for dinner, but you are trying to eat less meat for whatever reason, well this one is for you and ready in less than 30 minutes!  This tofu is grilled to crispy perfection on the outside but creamy on the inside and topped with a spicy, savory jalapeno pesto that will become your new favorite. Trust me, you will want to put it on everything! The first time I made this for an omnivorous crowd, I had to defend the platter from my meat eating friends to make sure there was something left for the vegetarians.  The next time I made a double portion and  it still disappeared…20160702_164054

I happen to be a big fan of tofu, and it’s an obvious and easy meat substitute, however many people think it’s boring-or even unhealthy.  90% of soy is GMO (genetically modified and pesticide laden) and most of that is processed to make soy bean oil.  What remains after the oil has been extracted is called soybean meal, much of which is fed to livestock (read meat) or turned into processed foods as soy protein. (both soybean oil and most soy protein should be avoided) Unlike soy protein, tofu is minimally processed and usually made from organic soybeans . Tofu is a great source of protein that is free from unhealthy animal fats. Best of all, it’s bland flavor allows flavors to be absorbed making it quite an adaptable food. It can be stewed, fried, grilled, baked, blended into sauces or even as a pizza topping. (Stay tuned for next week’s Barbecued Tofu Pizza which was also a fan favorite).-Joyce

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GRILLED TOFU WITH JALAPENO PESTO

1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

JALAPENO PESTO
1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is. Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.

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  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine. Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.

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  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine. Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.

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  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.

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  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is.
  • Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.
  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine.
  • Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.
  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.
  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.
  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad (Vegan)

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Since it’s the Fourth of July, how about a colorful, holiday version of an old summertime classic? Enter Red, White and Blue Potato Salad, a flavorful vegan version using caramelized onions, whole grain mustard and a red wine vinegar and fresh herb blend to make this your new favorite potato salad – and it’s pretty too.  Eat the mini potatoes whole or smash them up with your fork (like I did for my kids) to combine all the yumminess for maximum flavor.

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Potatoes are a favorite comfort food but we most often eat them fried as French fries or potato chips, so they are fat laden (and usually not the good kind).  Potatoes themselves are actually healthful even though they get a bum rap. They are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid. Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity.  So if you eat them without all the added fat, potatoes are actually a low calorie, high fiber, nutritious vegetable.  In this recipe only heart healthy olive oil is used along with multiple other flavors to provide a healthy potato salad that is also delicious. I also added caramelized onions to provide that yummy taste sensation that is usually derived from bacon for good flavor without the animal fat and calories.

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TIPS:  Potatoes can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.  Or make the whole salad a day ahead since the flavors only get better after sitting overnight. When making caramelized onions, resist the temptation to increase the heat to make it go faster.  They will just burn. Trust me…

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RED, WHITE AND BLUE POTATO SALAD

  • 3 pounds small red, white and blue potatoes
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine or malt vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1/3 red onion, minced or small bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, thyme, oregano or parsley, roughly chopped (or more)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cut any larger potatoes in half and place them all in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fork tender but not soft. Drain the potatoes, rinse them with cold water and place them in a serving dish.
  •  While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize the onions in a large sauté pan over medium low heat, stirring often until the onions are dark brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t rush it or they will burn.

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  • Remove caramelized onions from the pan and set aside.

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  • Over low heat, add the vinegar to the pan and stir, making sure to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the vinegar into a bowl and add the olive oil and the grainy mustard. Whisk together well and then pour over the potatoes.

 

  • Add the caramelized onions, red onions and herbs. Toss everything well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 3 pounds small red, white and blue potatoes
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine or malt vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1/3 red onion, minced or small bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, thyme, oregano or parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut any larger potatoes in half and place them all in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fork tender but not soft.
  2. Drain the potatoes, rinse them with cold water and place them in a serving dish.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize the onions in a large sauté pan over medium low heat, stirring often until the onions are dark brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t rush it or they will burn.
  4. Remove caramelized onions from the pan and set aside.
  5. Over low heat, add the vinegar to the pan and stir, making sure to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Pour the vinegar into a bowl and add the olive oil and the grainy mustard. Whisk together well and then pour over the potatoes.
  7. Add the caramelized onions, red onions and herbs. Toss everything well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Asian Lettuce Cups with Hearts of Palm (Vegan)

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Lettuce wraps are fan favorites of those trying to eliminate carbs, gluten or calories.  I just love them because they’re delicious with their warm, savory filling wrapped in cool and crispy lettuce leaves, topped with shredded veggies, salted peanuts and chili peppers. The best part is that they are easy to make and ready in about 15 minutes.  My son, Jackson, loves the Chicken Lettuce Wraps at our local Japanese restaurant.  I wanted to make a similar version at home but without the chicken and I may have taken some liberties but the concept is the same.  I used hearts of palm in place of meat in my Barbecue Pulled “Pork” Sliders with great success and thought I would see how it does as a substitute for chicken.  Well, the results were a resounding “Yum!”.  Click on the link below for the Slider recipe:

https://goodmotherdiet.com/2015/09/21/meatless-monday-barbecue-pulled-pork-sliders-with-spicy-slaw-vegan/

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I had warned that hearts of palm would be showing up in more recipes, especially once I realized that they are such a good meat substitute, both in taste and texture but also from a nutritional standpoint.  Hearts of Palm is harvested from the inner, less fibrous, part of various palm trees, most commonly the cabbage palm. It is definitely not empty calories as I originally thought. Hearts of Palm is naturally low in calories, at only 41 calories per cup(146 grams). It is also very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Protein (four grams in one cup), Riboflavin and Potassium, and a very good source of Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. That is quite a list for the unassuming hearts of palm.

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TIPS: I love the crispy, juiciness of iceberg lettuce for wraps but butter lettuce, romaine or even kale or collard greens would work too if you like something a bit more substantial.  I recommend setting up a toppings bar and letting everyone decorate their own.  My favorites are roasted peanuts, scallions and red chili peppers but the sky is the limit.  Use your imagination. Sriracha is a good option too.

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ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS WITH HEARTS OF PALM

1 can hearts of palm
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 large red onion (or yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (optional)
6 brown mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce (or gf liquid aminos)
1 Tbsn rice vinegar
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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TOPPINGS

8 lettuce leaves
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, sliced or julienned
2 red chili peppers, chopped or julienned
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

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  • Drain hearts of palm and water chestnuts.  Roughly chop both and set aside

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  • Cut onion into small dice and chop garlic.  Prepare toppings, either slice, chop or julienne scallions and peppers. Coarsely chop peanuts. Cut stem end from lettuce and gently separate leaves.

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  • Heat olive oil on medium high in a heavy pan and brown onions, garlic and hearts of palm.  Cook about five minutes, or until veggies are seared and browned but not burnt.

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  • Reduce heat and add water chestnuts and zucchini/mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.

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  • Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over veggie mixture and cook several minutes.

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  • To serve, spoon veggie filling into  lettuce cups (I like a double cup). Top with scallions, peppers and peanuts.  Drizzle with srirachia, if desired.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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1 can hearts of palm
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 large red onion (or yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (optional)
6 brown mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsn rice vinegar (or gf liquid aminos)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

TOPPINGS

8 lettuce leaves
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, sliced or julienned
2 red chili peppers, chopped or julienned
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

  • Drain hearts of palm and water chestnuts.  Roughly chop both and set aside
  • Cut onion into small dice and chop garlic.  Prepare toppings, either slice, chop or julienne scallions and peppers. Coarsely chop peanuts. Cut stem end from lettuce and gently separate leaves.
  • Heat olive oil on medium high in a heavy pan and brown onions, garlic and hearts of palm.  Cook about five minutes, or until veggies are seared and browned but not burnt.
  • Reduce heat and add water chestnuts and zucchini/mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
  • Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over veggie mixture and cook several minutes.
  • To serve, spoon veggie filling into  lettuce cups (I like a double cup)
  • Top with scallions, peppers and peanuts.  Drizzle with srirachia, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Kale, Fennel Salad with Apples, Pecans & Goat Cheese

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Well I’ve finally done it!  I massaged kale. I have always thought kale was just fine the way it is naturally but have heard that massaging kale is a thing and have been wondering if ‘super relaxed’ kale is really worth all the fuss.  So when I spotted this recipe from Vegetarian Times, June 2016 for Fenway Park’s signature salad, I thought I would give it a try – even down to the kale massaging and fennel soaking, (Nope, I hadn’t done that before either).  What could be better than a salad that has been given the ultimate in pampering and spa treatments?  This lucky salad is a delicious combination of sweet and savory on a bed of velvety kale and fennel and drizzled with a Maple, Lemon, Dijon Vinaigrette.  Not bad for ballpark food, don’t you think?  Good on you, Fenway Park!

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Why do we massage kale anyway?  Kale is a slightly bitter green which is also somewhat fibrous.  When it is massaged, it’s tough cellulose structure breaks down (LA Times) making it less fibrous.  You can actually see the difference.  The kale will darken, shrink in size and become silky in texture. The flavor changes as well. That bitterness mellows to a sweet softness. Another benefit is that massaged kale has such a wonderful texture with just the right mix of sweet and bitter flavor, you need to use less salad dressing, thus fewer calories.  That said, this Maple Dijon Dressing is pretty good so don’t skip it entirely.

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So now you probably want to ask why one would soak shaved fennel.  Well that is not quite as clear.  Soaking fennel in cold water seemed to mellow the flavor and soften the texture of shaved fennel while still preserving it’s crispiness. Just make sure the water is really cold. The soaked fennel paired really well with the silky kale so there must be something to this.  You could probably soak your julienned apples too to prevent browning.

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TIPS: You can skip the massaging and soaking if you’re pressed for time or can’t be bothered.  Just make sure you slice thinly.

This recipe calls for dried cranberries but I was planning on using pomegranate seeds instead but I didn’t get the pomegranate seeded before my guests came and I didn’t want the kitchen to look like a tragic kitchen accident with all that pomegranate juice, so I stuck with dried cranberries, which were good.  I think pomegranate seeds would provide a fresh pop of sweet and tart, so next time I will be better organized and give them a try.

If your pecans are raw, just toast them in the oven at 350 for about about 7 minutes and let cool.  Or you can find toasted or candied pecans in most grocery stores.

This is a yummy dressing but it can tend to be too sweet when paired with apples, cranberries and pecans, so try adding one tablespoon of maple syrup at a time to the other ingredients until it is to your preferred sweetness.  The original recipe called for three tablespoons but I used two and next time I will use only one.

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KALE FENNEL SALAD
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1 generous pinch of salt
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, thinly sliced and submerged in ice water
1 apple, cored and julienned
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted or candied
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

DRESSING
1-3 Tbsn pure maple syrup (add 1 Tbsn at a time until desired sweetness)
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1 Tbsn dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
6 Tbsn olive oil

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  • Place kale in a medium bowl, and massage with salt for a minute or so, or until the greens are dark and glossy.

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  • Thinly slice fennel and place in a cold water bath while you prepare the other salad ingredients

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  • Drain fennel, and add to kale

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  • Stir in apple, cranberries, goat cheese and pecans.

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  • Combine maple syrup, lemon juice, mustard, shallot and thyme in a small bowl.  Whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.

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  • Toss the salad with dressing.

Kale and Fennel Salad with Apples, Pecans and Goat Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1 generous pinch of salt
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, thinly sliced and submerged in ice water
1 apple, cored and julienned
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted or candied
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

DRESSING
1-3 Tbsn pure maple syrup (Add 1 Tbsn at time until desired sweetness)
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1 Tbsn dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
6 Tbsn olive oil

  • Place kale in a medium bowl, and massaage with salt for a minute or so, or until the greens are dark and glossy..
  • Thinly slice fennel and submerge in cold water while you prepare the other ingredients
  • Drain fennel, and add to kale
  • Stir in apple, cranberries, goat cheese and pecans.
  • Combine maple syrup, lemon juice, mustard, shallot and thyme in a small bowl.  Whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss the salad with dressing.

Root Vegetable Chips with Two Dips

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Root vegetables, I know – they’re homely and mostly relegated to salads and stews… but not any more!  These root vegetable chips will please almost anyone, especially people who love savory snacks!  They are like a potato chip on steroids, more flavorful and more healthful. Parsnips, red, yellow and pink striped chiogga beets sliced thinly, brushed with olive oil, dusted with salt and pepper, and baked into crispy chips.  They are absolutely delicious and crunchy and  a great way to get people to eat more non-traditional veggies.  I mean, who eats parsnips?  Well, a whole group of people ate them and came back for more at my house the other night.  I served them with a homemade Lemon, Parmesan Aioli (my go-to dip) and a traditional guacamole, but really they were good enough to stand up on their own. The dips are just extra for people (like me) whole love a good creamy dip or thinks chips can’t be served without guacamole.

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I owe the idea for these veggie chips to my sister, Carole. Last weekend I attended a family event and stayed with Carole, who had a recipe for making chips from root vegetables that she wanted to try.  I had never made them before but we had fun making them together and were happy with the results.  They are very easy to make if you have a mandolin.  Just peel and slice the veggies and bake them on low heat for an hour and a half or so until they are crispy.  The original recipe my sister used called for them to be cooked at 195 degrees which I eventually increased the heat because they weren’t crisping fast enough for us. There are many root chip recipes out there that call for various oven temperatures (even up to 400) and lengths of time (as little as 30 minutes) but most of the commentary was not positive.  I decided this time to bake at 250 degrees because so much flavor is retained with the low temperature and there is little chance of burning.  It’s almost like speed dehydrating but it works and everyone loved the results!

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Root vegetables are a treasure chest of nutrients in spite of their unattractive and intimidating outer appearance.  However, once you cut them open, their jewel toned flesh is revealed.   These intense colors are not just gorgeous, they are indicative of their rich nutritional value.  Root vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium that they absorb from the ground and they are an excellent source of fiber. Even parsnips, which look like white carrots, are loaded with nutrients like their more colorful cousins. Use a combination for maximum nutrition and to ‘Eat the Rainbow”.

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TIPS:  I sliced the parsnips and the chiogga beets on my mandoline on the thinnest setting  but sliced the red and yellow beets on the second setting because  I wanted to see if there was a difference in quality.  The thicker beets took about 20 minutes longer to cook and were definitly thicker.  The thicker you slice, the longer they take to crisp and the yield is smaller.  I prefered the thinner chips but the crowd preference was pretty split between thick and thin.  For thin slices, you will need one baking sheet per vegetable.

When selecting root vegetables from the market, choose larger specimens as they shrink quite a bit during baking.  Also choose smoother skinned ones, if possible.  The ‘hairy’ parts are harder to peel, in fact, I had to use the tip of my peeler to remove them.

Using an olive oil spray makes prep easy and fast but you can also use the old fashioned oil and brush. Feel free to add other spices before baking. Chili, curry or garlic powder, ground cumin and cayenne pepper are all good choices.

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ROOT VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • 4 root vegetables(any combination of beets, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potato, etc)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Peel and trim root vegetables

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  • Using a mandolin or sharp knife thinly slice vegetables lengthwise

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  • Spray or brush oil on the bottom of each baking sheet and arrange veggie slices in a single layer. Spray or brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

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  • Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.  Thicker slices can take up to two hours. Remove from oven when crispy and let cool

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  • Serve with dips if desired. (I made a quick Lemon Parmesan Aioli  and guacamole)

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LEMON PARMESAN AIOLI

  • 1/2 cup mayo (I love Just Mayo)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest from one lemon
  1. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a small serving bowl

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QUICK GUACAMOLE

  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves, garlic, minced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice and salt.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into a serving bowl.

 

Root Vegetable Chips

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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ROOT VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • 4 root vegetables(any combination of beets, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potato, etc)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and trim root vegetables
  2. Using a mandolin or sharp knife thinly slice vegetables lengthwise
  3. Spray or brush oil on the bottom of each baking sheet and arrange veggie slices in a single layer
  4. Spray or brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.  Thicker slices can take up to two hours.
  6. Remove from oven when crispy and let cool
  7. Serve with dips if desired.

LEMON PARMESAN AIOLI

  • 1/2 cup mayo (I love Just Mayo)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest from one lemon
  1. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a small serving bowl

QUICK GUACAMOLE

  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves, garlic, minced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice and salt.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into a serving bowl.
 

Meatless Monday – Ginger Miso Eggplant with Sesame Soba Noodles

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I love eggplant pretty much any way it is served and I’m always looking for a new recipe.  I’ve been eyeing this one for a while but have been thwarted several times in my attempts.  I planned to make this last week but my eggplant had already grown a few moldy spots, so we had to resort to dinner out (darn!).  In subsequent tries, one or both of us had plans.  Oh darn again, parties…  Anyway, last night was the night and I can report that it was worth the wait.  Tender and flavorful roasted eggplant topped with a miso and ginger sauce, coupled with yummy sesame soba noodles, this dish really satisfies, especially when you’re craving something with an Asian twist.

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We all know that eggplant is an exceptional vegetable and not just because of it’s glorious purple color.  Eggplant is deliciously low in calories and high in fiber and nutrition – but what about soba noodles?  Aren’t they just useless carbs just there to soak up the sauce? Well it turns out that soba noodles are made out of buckwheat flour, which is not, despite its name a form of wheat. The word, Soba, actually means buckwheat in Japanese. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and the small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour, so I guess it’s technically a vegetable and not a grain.

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Buckwheat is a good source of nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, thiamine and manganese. When compared to regular spaghetti, soba noodles have less calories, more fiber and more protein.  Buckwheat itself is gluten free but it is often mixed with other types of flour, so check your labels to make sure you know what is in the soba noodles if you are trying to avoid gluten.

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TIPS: The long and thin Japanese or Chinese eggplants work best for this recipe.  You can cut eggplants in half lengthwise, as in this recipe, or cut on a diagonal into 1-inch-thick slices, as desired. I like to salt the eggplant before cooking to draw out excess water and any possible bitterness, but when roasting this is less important.  So if you are pressed for time, you can skip this step.

I used fresh Miso, which is a paste made of soy beans that have been fermented with a culture made of wheat, rice, barley, or beans. Miso is available on grocery shelves in many stores in the Asian section. If you don’t have miso or can’t find it, you could try substituting sesame paste or tahini.

Eggplant Recipe Adapted from www.bonappetit.com

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GINGER MISO EGGPLANT

SERVINGS: 4-6

  • 4-6 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1/3 cup white miso paste
  • 4 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 3-4 thinly sliced scallions (about 3 Tbsn), divided
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  • Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side up.  Salt generously and let sit for about 10 minutes. (optional)

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  • Thinly slice scallions and prepare ginger and garlic.

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  • Preheat oven to 425°. Brush or spray cut side of eggplant with oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.
    Roast eggplant, turning once halfway through, until very tender, about 20 minutes. While eggplant is cooking, prepare soba noodles (recipe below)

 

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  • Remove from oven. Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and heat to broil. Meanwhile, whisk miso, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. scallions.

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  • Spread top of eggplant slices with miso sauce.

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  • Broil until golden and charred in places, 4–5 minutes.

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  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp. scallions.

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  • Serve hot or warm with Sesame Soba Noodles.  Watch it disappear.

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SESAME SOBA NOODLES

  • 1 package organic soba noodles (9.5oz)
  • 2 Tbsn soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsn sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsn seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced and then minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, mince (ginger paste or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili or cherry pepper, small dice or thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, garnish
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  • Cook soba noodles per package directions. While the water is boiling, prepare the sesame sauce.

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  • In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, oil, garlic and ginger and whisk with a fork until well combined.

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  • When the noodles are ready, drain (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and return to the saucepan. Pour the sesame sauce all over the noodles and stir to combine.  Add the green onions and peppers, toss again. Serve with toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of hot sauce if desired.

 

Ginger Miso Eggplant with Sesame Soba Noodles

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4-6 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1/3 cup white miso paste
  • 4 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 3-4 thinly sliced scallions (about 3 Tbsn), divided
  • Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side up.  Salt generously and let sit for about 10 minutes. (optional)
  • Thinly slice scallions and prepare ginger and garlic.
  • Preheat oven to 425°. Brush or spray cut side of eggplant with oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.
  • Roast eggplant, turning once halfway through, until very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • While eggplant is cooking, prepare soba noodles (recipe below)
  • Remove from oven. Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and heat to broil.
  • Meanwhile, whisk miso, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. scallions.
  • Spread top of eggplant slices with miso sauce.
  • Broil until golden and charred in places, 4–5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp. scallions.

SESAME SOBA NOODLES

  • 1 package organic soba noodles (9.5oz)
  • 2 Tbsn soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsn sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsn seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced and then minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, mince (ginger paste or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili or cherry pepper, small dice or thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, garnish
  1. Cook soba noodles per package directions. While the water is boiling, prepare the sesame sauce.
  2. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, oil, garlic and ginger and whisk with a fork until well combined.
  3. When the noodles are ready, drain (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and return to the saucepan.
  4. Pour the sesame sauce all over the noodles and stir to combine.
  5. Add the green onions and peppers, toss again. Serve with toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of hot sauce if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – Eggplant Fans

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Here is a ‘twist’ that you will LOVE on the traditional eggplant parm. (pun intended) Whenever I suggest making Eggplant Parmesan for dinner, my husband’s eyes light up.  It’s one of his favorite vegetarian dishes.  This time, however, I decided to shake it up; same old ingredients but different preparation. This version is not breaded and fried but sliced and stuffed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, fresh mozzarella and herbs, then baked to a golden brown and melty goodness.  A sprinkling of parmesan on top adds to a nice golden crust.

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Eggplant and tomatoes make a good couple, which is why you see them paired together so often along with fresh basil and a variety of cheeses.    I used fresh mozzarella and parmesan but you could easily use crumbled feta or goat cheese depending on your preferences or what you have in your refrigerator. Eggplant is one of the few vegetables that are filling enough to star as a main course. I used medium/large eggplants and found that the two eggplants served four people but those with large appetites may not agree.  In addition to being a favorite and versatile veggie, eggplant provides quite an impressive array of nutrients. Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and copper. It is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate, and vitamin K as well as phytonutrients.

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TIPS: My new favorite kitchen hack is olive oil in a spray bottle. It makes brushing slices of anything SO much easier and with better coverage.  You can use your own olive oil in a plastic or metal spray bottle or you can purchase it from most stores.  They have come a long way since PAM.  Just make sure it’s a good quality of oil.  Avocado oil is a good choice too.

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EGGPLANT TOMATO FANS
2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
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  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.

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  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness. Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.

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  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.

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  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.

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  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.

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  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Eggplant Fans

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.
  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness.
  • Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.
  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.
  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Avocado Citrus Dressing

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As promised, I tested the Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing from my Buzzfeed Life FB Post on Monday (25 Clean Eating Meals For Vegetarians). I mean, it has many of my food loves all in one bowl.  How could I resist – and why?  Of course I put my own spin on the original recipe, which will surprise no one. This salad is delicious and very satisfying with two great sources of protein in the red quinoa and black beans.  The avocado, in both the salad and in the dressing, adds a healthy fat and helps keep your belly feeling full and happy.  The Avocado Citrus Dressing is divine, just the right balance of creamy, savory and sweet and it’s easy to make spicy if that’s where your tastebuds are headed. Don’t be afraid to toss in a few tortilla chips to enhance the Mexican flavors of this dish.

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I like to use red quinoa in dishes that would normally be filled with ground beef or some other meat protein because it makes such a good substitute in both taste and texture. Quinoa is naturally high in protein and loaded with nutrition but low in fat and calories.  With the addition of black beans, this ‘salad’ becomes a real main course contender.  My meat eaters love it!  Red quinoa has a great consistency and when sauteed with onions, garlic and spices, just like you would with ground beef, it really picks up those savory flavors nicely. In fact, this black bean quinoa mixture is a great base for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or any other dish requiring a Mexican inspired filling.

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The vegetable toppings on this salad are so colorful, making this a dish worthy of company – or that pot luck that you never know what to bring.  It can be served slightly warm or at room temperature, making it a great busy day meal, especially when you have people going in many different directions.  If it were summer and corn was in season, I would use raw or grilled fresh corn kernels.  Since it’s winter, I used defrosted uncooked frozen corn. Each of these colorful veggies adds a whole new wealth of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants which is why we should try to Eat the Rainbow every day.

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Have you ever wondered how restaurants serve orange segments that are bright orange and have no pith?  Don’t peel them. Just cut off the top and then slice around the sides, then cut off the bottom.  Remove any remaining pith and then slice into gorgeous segments.  Yes, you lose a bit of the flesh but the result is so pretty and has no tough skins or bitter pith.  If you don’t care about that, peel and segment. Done!

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TIPS: This salad can be prepared as a layered, tossed or composed salad.  You can also make one large salad or prepare individual salad plates and cater to each of your diner’s tastes.  I combined the black beans with the quinoa mixture so that the beans would also absorb the garlic, onion and spice flavors.  If you want to make a composed or layered salad and want to keep the ingredients separate, you can serve the beans warmed up or room temperature.  I think they are fine plain with their natural salty flavor or you can sprinkle the beans with a bit of the spices and toss to coat.
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Original recipe from Minimalist Baker (link below).

MEXICAN QUINOA BLACK BEAN SALAD
  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)

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DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced  (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
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  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside

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  • Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

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  • Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.

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  • Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside. NOTE:  This quinoa black bean mixture is a great base for tacos or any other Mexican recipe.

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  • While quinoa is cooling, prepare vegetables.

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  • Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.

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  • Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture and top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.

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  • Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

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Drizzle dressing over salad and top with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.cre

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)
DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
  1. Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside
  2. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  3. Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.
  4. Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.
  6. Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture
  7. Top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.
  8. Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
  9. Drizzle orange lime dressing over salad and adorn with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker, a great cooking site worth checking out.  

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

Meatless Monday – Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD! Low Carbs + High Protein + Spicy Peanut Sauce = #NeedWeSayMore  My family loved this meal! In spite of their lukewarm (at best) love for tofu, they dug in to these wraps and came back for more. Everyone was really polite though and tried not to be the ‘One Who Ate the Last of the Tofu’.  Yes, you heard that right.  My meat loving family was close to fighting over who gets thirds and do we have to leave any for Mom for lunch tomorrow.  The answer to that is always “Yes”.

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The tofu and waterchestnut combination is really flavorful, picking up the garlic and ginger flavors, with the soy adding a pleasant saltiness (you know, umami).  I know people always say that various foods taste like chicken, but in this case, I would say it’s true.  The beauty of tofu is that it is so bland on it’s own that it picks up flavors very easily.  I wasn’t trying to make it taste like chicken but it certainly doesn’t look or taste like tofu, and the texture is really great.  I could eat it on it’s own or over rice with a fork, but when wrapped in a fresh lettuce leaf and topped with veggies, jalapenos and peanut sauce – yum!  I also like setting everything up as a ‘bar’ so that people can design their own plate.

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So what’s the deal with water chestnuts?  They are a staple in many Chinese dishes, and I have always thought of them as filler or meat extender, but are they good for you? It turns out, yes.  Water Chestnuts have zero fat and cholesterol and, at 60 calories per cup, are low in calories and sodium but they provide a wealth of nutrients for such an unassuming vegetable. They contain essential vitamins like Vitamin B-6 which supports healthy brain and immune system function, and thiamin and riboflavin which help your body convert food into energy. They are also a good source of potassium, copper and manganese.  As a bonus, water chestnuts  are a nonstarchy vegetable that helps keep you feeling full longer.  So combining a protein, like tofu, with chopped waterchestnuts goes way beyond increasing the quantity of food. It adds a pleasant texture, increases the nutritional value AND helps keep your belly full and happy.  You may see water chestnuts showing up in more recipes… You’ve been warned.

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TIPS:  I love homemade dressings and sauces.  This is a good homemade peanut sauce which is also fairly easy to make, however, there are many good brands of peanut sauce available in stores if you are pressed for time or you just can’t be bothered to make your own.  Peanut lovers can always add chopped peanuts as an additional topping. Sriracha is another good topping for those that like extra spicy food.  Don’t skip the step of pressing the water out of the tofu.  If the tofu is wet, the garlic and ginger flavors won’t be absorbed.  If you are in a rush, you can squeeze the tofu in several thicknesses of papertowels to get the excess water out.

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ASIAN TOFU LETTUCE WRAPS

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

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  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 15 or 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out excess water.

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  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.

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  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more, if needed.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.
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SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Saucs (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.
  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.

SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

 

Green Bean & Chick Pea Salad with Goat Cheese & Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

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Sometimes I want a salad that goes beyond lettuce and vegetables, one that is hearty enough to have for dinner.  This green bean salad has it all; garbanzo beans for protein and bulk, spicy radiches, sweet cherry tomatoes and creamy goat cheese drizzled with a fresh herb vinaigrette.  I loved the combination of flavors and colors in this salad, with it’s array of green, red, purple, yellow, beige and white.  (Yes, even the beige and white provide important nutrients). You know when your meal is colorful that you are doing a good job of eating the rainbow. In other words, you are getting a wide assortment of nutrients from your food.

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Each color provides something different, which is why it’s a good idea to eat a variety of foods. The star of this salad, though is the green beans which I think are often forgotten about except for at Thanksgiving when Aunt Ellie brings out her traditional Green Bean Casserole topped with fried onions(Although I have to admit it’s one of my favorites too).  Green beans are a great base for a salad and pair nicely with beans, mushrooms or potatoes to provide a substantial belly-filling meal.  

Health Benefits of Green Beans

Green beans are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol. The fiber content of green beans is very high, and it also provides some of your daily protein requirements. They also act as an easy source for acquiring vitamins like A, C, K, B6, and folic acid. In terms of minerals, green beans are a good source of calcium, silicon, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.

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I got the idea for the vinaigrette from a bit of Lemon Parsley Pesto that was left from my https://goodmotherdiet.com/2016/02/08/meatless-monday-roasted-artichokes-fennel-with-lemon-parsley-pesto/ post on Monday.  I had loved the flavors and thought it would make a good dressing, and it did!  So I recreated the recipe as a vinaigrette which you can make with or without the nuts, which I love and include every time I get a chance.  I did not include parmesan because I was already adding goat cheese to the salad, and I thought it might get too heavy, but you could certainly include a tablespoon of that as well, especially if you aren’t adding cheese to your salad.

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TIPS:  You can make the whole salad ahead of time and either let it rest, undressed, on the counter or in the refrigerator covered with a paper towel. You can also prepare the beans and vinaigrette the day before and toss the salad when ready.  Or if you are in a real hurry, just use your favorite prepared salad dressing. I like to make a lot of different salad dressings and recently bought several small glass containers, like the one I used for this vinaigrette, from The Container Store.  I usually don’t use it all and that way I always have a good homemade dressing ready to go.

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GREEN BEAN AND CHICK PEAS WITH LEMON HERB VINAIGRETTE

1 lb fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 radishes
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta, goat cheese (or vegan cheese), crumbled (optional)
small handful arugula or whole sprigs parsley(optional)

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Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice (plus zest from one lemon, optional)
1 Tbsn apple cider or red wine vinegar (or more to thin)
2 Tbsn fresh herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano), minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsn pistachios, walnuts or pinenuts, finely minced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, 3 minutes. Remove the green beans from the boiling water, run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking, and then drain and dry with a paper towel (add ice cubes, if desired to speed the cooling process)

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  • Cut radishes into thin slices, cherry tomatoes in halves and red onion in thin slices.

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  • Place green beans in a large serving dish.

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  • Spread garbanzo beans evenly among green beans.

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  • Top with radishes, tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle arugula leaves on top, if using.

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  • Mix together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

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  • Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.

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  • Drizzle vinaigrette or serve on the side.

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Green Bean and Chick Pea Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 lb fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 radishes
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
small handful arugula or whole sprigs parsley(optional)

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice (plus zest from one lemon, optional)
1 Tbsn apple cider or red wine vinegar (or more to thin)
2 Tbsn fresh herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano), minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsn pistachios, walnuts or pinenuts, finely minced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

  • Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, 3 minutes. Remove the green beans from the boiling water, run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking, and then drain and dry with a paper towel
  • Cut radishes into thin slices, cherry tomatoes in halves and red onion in thin slices.
  • Place green beans in a large serving dish.
  • Top with radishes, tomatoes and onions
  • Mix together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette or serve on the side.

 

Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Looking for healthy and delicious goodies to serve at the Superbowl Halftime?  These yummy Blackened Fish Tacos will not disappoint.  They can be served as a make-it-yourself Taco Bar or as pre-made sliders to serve a large crowd and they are really fun, with a colorful topping of Rainbow ‘slaw’ that includes fresh sweet mango, avocado, black beans and jalapeno, and topped with a dollop of Spicy Avocado Sauce.  I like to include black beans in the slaw.  Their earthy saltiness adds a nice contrast to the crunchy sweet and spice of the rest of the fruits and veggies.  Plus the addition of black beans allows vegetarians or non-fish eaters to make delicious and satisfying tacos too. I know nutrition is not the top priority of SuperBowl cuisine, but you can rest assured that these tacos will be popular and pack a huge nutrional punch without all the extra calories.

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Well the good news is that Punxatawny Phil didn’t see his shadow yesterday on GroundHog Day, which means Spring will come early this year, although I’m not sure that Phil is a trustworthy predictor of spring.  In fact, according to the StormFax Almanac Phil has been right only 39 percent of the time. Since his first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times and not seen it on just 18 occasions, including this year.  I guess Spring will come when it comes but I can’t wait.  I know we need the rain in California but…

I love Mexican food, especially tacos!  The spicier the better in my book.  Halibut makes a great taco base since it’s mild in flavor and really picks up the wow of the spices.  It’s also firm in texture so it doesn’t turn to mush or fall apart in the taco even when you add multiple toppings. I used the smaller, slider sized, corn tortillas which are fun for large gatherings, if you can find them, like the Superbowl.  That way I get to eat two for the price of one… yum!  I also liked the way this avocado sauce set itself apart from guacamole (which I also love) and doesn’t include any sour cream or other fatty fillers, just lots of lovely flavor.  For a spicier sauce, include more jalapeno and some of the seeds.  The honey is added to offset the acidity of the apple cider vinegar and lime juice, not to make it sweet.  Of course, you could always omit the honey if you like it tangy.  For a creamier sauce, substitute yogurt and a little water for the vinegar.  It’s hard to go wrong with avocado, so feel free to experiment.

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TIPS:  To easily cut a mango into chunks, slice the mango lengthwise, on the flat side just to the right of the large pit.  Cut the fleshy part of the mango lengthwise and then crosswise (without cutting into the skin) and invert mango to expose mango sections.  Then easily cut off mango cubes.  The avocado sauce and the rainbow/mango topping can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  I found that both Rainbow Slaw and Avocado Sauce held up really well overnight in the refrigerator.

For more SuperBowl recipes, check out my blog post this Friday. Cheers!

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BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

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RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING (Makes a generous salad/can easily be halved)

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded or chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

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SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
1-2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.

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  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl.

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  • Sprinkle spice mixture over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.

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  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.

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  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Start with just one tablespoon of honey and then adjust according to taste.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).

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  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

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  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160127_203858

BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.
  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.
  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.
  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).
  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.
  • Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.
  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce