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 – 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.

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.

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.
 

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

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.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

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The Japanese have known the health benefits of miso and scallions and have used miso soup to cure the common cold since ancient times, kind of like a vegetarian version of homemade chicken soup. We have all had miso soup in Japanese restaurants, that savory broth with tiny cubes of tofu and thinly sliced scallions  floating on top. Usually, in restaurants we consider it as a small starter before the main courses arrive but in Japan miso soup is a staple and eaten for breakfast and throughout the day loaded with eggs, fish and other garnishes.  So I figure that they must be onto a good thing and decided to create a miso soup that is simple to make but worthy of being a main course for lunch or dinner, and I came up with this Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl. For more on using miso soup to cure the common cold check out this article:  Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

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It is delicious and satisfying and can be made spicy or mild depending on tastes.  I simmered bok choy, carrots, snow peas and cubes of tofu in miso broth and then served them over rice noodles.  I offered a selection of garnishes which, in my opinion, really makes the dish.   Not surprisingly, everyone’s noodle bowl looked different.

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What is miso anyway?  Miso is a Japanese word that means “fermented beans”, which are almost always soybeans, although other grains can be added to achieve certain flavors, resulting in many different varieties of miso available.  I used a white miso, which is lighter in color and milder in flavor, however any kind of miso will work just as well.  Miso is a good source of fiber and protein and a great way to increase your nutrient intake while you think you are just adding flavor.  In fact, adding  two tablespoons of miso to a soup or stir-fry, is the equivalent of approximately one-quarter cup of a legume(like lentils).  Miso is also  a very good source of copper, manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It also has naturally occurring pro-biotics, those beneficial bacteria that are so good for our bellies.

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TIPS:  Making miso broth is easy but you can also find miso broths already prepared or in dried form that are pretty tasty too.  When purchasing both tofu and miso, make sure they are labelled organic since a wide majority (90% in the U.S.) of soy based products are made from genetically modified soybeans, those dasterdly GMO’s which are to be avoided at all costs. Miso is generally simmered on medium or medium low to prevent the loss of nutrients, so don’t let your soup boil! One last tip, noodles tend to get soft and mushy if left sitting in broth, so add them to the broth just before serving.

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GINGER MISO TOFU NOODLE BOWL

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

 

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.

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  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls

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  • Prepare all soup ingredients. Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.

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  • Prepare all toppings.

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  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan. On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes.  Don’t let it boil or some of the nutrients in the miso will be lost.

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  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.

 

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  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.
  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls
  • Prepare all soup ingredients and toppings.
  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan.
  • On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes
  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.
  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

Wheatless Wednesday – Collard & Black Eyed Pea Soup

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How about a bowl of comfort?  It’s chilly outside, so we’re making soup; healthy, yummy goodness in a bowl.  I am making this soup for lunch today and the house smells heavenly.   Last night was a stormy and today is another dreary and rainy day in California.  It just doesn’t stop raining.  Can I call the dought over yet?  Our cup streets literally runneth over.   At least my delicious soup is warming me up from the inside out.   I already feel it warding off my seasonal sniffles…

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I don’t see fresh black eyed peas very often so when I do I get very excited as they are so delicious, nothing like their canned counterparts and I have to admit that I don’t often think ahead to soak dried beans overnight (although both of those options will work too).  Black eyed peas are not really peas.  They are beans and high in fiber and protein, and good sources of iron and potassium.  They are also delicious and a personal favorite. Then I spotted these giant collard leaves and the rest is history.

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I have often heard that the pairing of black eyed peas and collard is a natural fit, at least it is so in the South, so decided to give it a go.  Now, I can see why.  I have never used collard greens before, although last year my friend, Kerri begged me for collard recipes because she kept getting collards in her CSA box. Apparently, collard greens are more plentiful in Virginia than they are here. Well here you go Kerri, a year later.  I’m not sure what took me so long.  Collard greens are loaded with nutrition, add more fiber, protein and iron plus a whole slew of other nutrients.  Plus, they are great in this soup.  If you don’t have (or don’t like) collard greens, you can substitute kale or chard.

TIPS:  Black eyed peas are available fresh, frozen, canned or dried.  I have included cooking directions for each type.  For frozen peas, thaw and use as fresh.

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COLLARD AND BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.

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  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.

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  • Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.

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  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.

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  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.

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  • Serve hot.

Collard and Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.
  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.
  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.
  • Serve with shredded or flaked parmesan, if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – Chili Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

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Shrimp is America’s number one seafood, beating out salmon, crab, clams, tilapia and even canned tuna.  I can take or leave shrimp but my family really loves it so I do prepare it occasionally.  Even I really liked this savory Chili Prawn Pasta with Wilted Greens. This is an elegant and tasty dish worthy of company or a special dinner, but it’s deceptively easy and fast. If you buy pre-shelled shrimp, the prep time is very short and dinner can be ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Now that is what I call fast food!

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Pasta is often thought of as empty carbs but that is not completely true. In processing traditional pasta the bran layer and oil-rich germ is removed which gives an indefinite shelf life, a quick cooking time, a familiar texture and a mild, versatile flavor. Depending on the type, however, 50 to 90 percent of a grain’s nutrients and phytonutrients are removed during processing. To address this substantial loss of nutrients, the United States government requires refined flour to be enriched with specific vitamins and minerals, including iron and the B vitamins folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, so it may not be as bad as you think.  Whole-grain pasta is an excellent source of B vitamins and iron, which occur naturally and provides significantly higher levels of essential trace minerals and fiber.  The most common whole-grain pastas are made from whole wheat or buckwheat, but there are many new combinations available now made with brown rice, quinoa, spelt, farro and kamut which are good gluten free options.  I tried a new multi-grain pasta for this dish, made with red quinoa and amaranth.  I liked the flavor but be warned that some whole grain pastas can get sticky if overcooked. I always save a cup of pasta water before draining and then adding some of it back to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Some whole grain pasta, this one included, don’t increase in volume when cooked so I had to double the quantity of dry pasta.

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So how does the nutrition of traditional pasta made with refined flour stack up with whole grain pasta?  A 1-cup serving of plain, cooked enriched spaghetti provides 221 calories, 8.1 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of fat and 43.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 2.5 grams are fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By comparison, 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti has 174 calories, about 7.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 37.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 6.3 grams are fiber — an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the daily value for fiber. ( HealthyEating.SFGate)  Surprisingly, refined pasta is not a bad choice (thanks to the US government), so I no longer feel guilty when digging into a big plate of pasta in a restaurant.  When I cook at home, though, I prefer to use whole grains.

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NOTES ON SHRIMP AND PRAWNS:  When buying shrimp, look for wild vs farmed shrimp, if possible, and pay attention to where they are from.  According to Seafood Watch, wild-caught shrimp is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” with the exception of shrimp fisheries in Mexico and Thailand, which are on the “Avoid” list for poor management. Most “Best Choice” shrimp is caught in Alaska, but there are other great farmed and wild options. Buy these first, then look for a “Good Alternative” like U.S. Gulf of Mexico shrimp. Only buy imported shrimp if you’re sure it’s from a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” source. Heads up: You’re good to go if the shrimp is caught in a way that reduces harm to sea turtles. Also, over 90% of our shrimp is imported. Farmed shrimp from the U.S. is also a good option.  However, 90% of our shrimp is imported farmed shrimp, mostly from Asia, and is generally on the “Avoid” list due to questionable practices including overcrowding, chemicals, poor quality of food and even abusive labor conditions. So even though they are likely to be more expensive than farmed, wild-caught shrimp are also better for you. Go to Seafood Watch for a current listing of shrimp fishing practices around the world.

TIPS:  The shelling process is not difficult but does take a bit of effort.  You can shorten the prep time by about 10 minutes by purchasing prawns that have already been shelled and deveined. Just make sure the tails have been left on for best presentation.  Don’t skip the step of drying the prawns or your shrimp won’t sear properly and might curl into tight little balls when you cook them instead of keeping their gorgeous traditional shape.

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CHILI PRAWN LINGUINE WITH WILTED GREENS

  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)

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  • Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. There are two veins that should be removed; a white one that you remove along with the legs and a black one (usually) along the back that can be removed with a sharp knife.  The black vein (poopy vein) especially gets gritty when cooked.

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  • Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.

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  • Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour.

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  • Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.

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  • Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.

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  • Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.

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  • Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Chile Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

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

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  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)
  1. Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. Make sure to remove the vein along the back as well with a sharp knife.
  2. Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.
  3. Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky.
  4. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour. Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.
  5. Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.
  6. Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.
  7. Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
 

Wheatless Wednesday – 5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

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Brrr…It’s cold outside.  Warm up with this easy and delicious hot soup.  With only 5 ingredients, including pumpkin from a can, this tasty vegan soup is ready in less than 10 minutes.  (Deborah, this one is for you!) With a bit of spice from red curry paste, this soup will delight your tastebuds and warm you from your head to your toes.  Best of all, the recipe is so quick and easy, making it a great last minute throw together meal with items straight from your pantry. It just tastes like it’s been bubbling away on the stove all day.  Just add crusty bread or a salad and dinner is ready. Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table STAT or it’s going to be takeout again…This is a recipe I spotted on Foodie Crush which is a great source of foodie inspiration so check out her site, but I think the original recipe is from “The Instant Cook”‘ by Donna Hay.

We know that using canned pumpkin is a time saver and allows us to use pumpkin all year around and not just in the Fall/Winter when it is in season, but is canned pumpkin as healthful as fresh?  It actually appears that it does have some other  benefits than just being convenient.  ‘Canned pumpkin has a concentrated density so has more calories per serving than fresh pumpkin and higher amounts of several essential nutrients. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 40 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of protein, according to the University of Illinois. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 17,500 international unites of vitamin A, almost twice the amount one-half cup of fresh pumpkin provides. This serving also includes 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 40 milligrams of calcium and 2 milligrams of iron. Canned pumpkin offers more fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium and iron than fresh, boiled pumpkin.’ (Jillian Michaels) Some cooks actually prefer canned pumpkin to fresh, especially in baking, probably due to it’s density of nutrients and thicker, less watery consistency.

So don’t feel like a deadbeat cook for using canned or boxed pumpkin.  Just think of yourself as making smart choices, but do make sure you buy organic canned pumpkin that does not contain any salt, spices or ingredients other than pumpkin. The label should indicate that it is organic pumpkin with nothing added, especially pumpkin pie spice and/or sugar.

TIPS:   If you are a purist and prefer to use a fresh pumpkin instead of the canned variety, choose a 2-3 pound pumpkin, peel, seed and chop it and simmer in veggie broth or water for about 5-10 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender until smooth then return to the pan.OR you can cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it until soft. Remove the skin, then puree it. Continue the recipe at the coconut milk stage. To add more protein, add chunks of tofu, toasted pumpkin seeds or cooked quinoa and cook until warmed through.

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5 INGREDIENT THAI PUMPKIN SOUP

2 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
1 large red chili pepper, sliced

cilantro for garnish (optional)

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.

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  • Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

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5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

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

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  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
  • 2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
  • 1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
  • 1 large red chili pepper, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.
  2. Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Wild Rice, Mushroom and ‘Sausage’ Stuffed Pumpkin (Vegan)

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JUST IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING! If you are looking for a glorious edible centerpiece for your table or you just want to stuff something that isn’t a turkey, how about roasting your favorite stuffing (or mine) in a pumpkin?  Pumpkins make a lovely serving dish and the rich and creamy pumpkin flesh gets scooped up along with the flavorful wild rice, mushrooms, pecans and vegan sausage stuffing.  It’s a wonderful and savory dish, sure to satisfy both vegan and meat loving friends.   This recipe makes a perfect Vegan main course or a hearty side dish for about ten people and is naturally gluten free.

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I have always loved the colors of Fall and the view from my window shows why. (Notice that roses in the lower left corner are still blooming too.) The gorgeous orange of pumpkins is the essence of the season. As the pumpkin bakes it gains a gorgeous dark amber color. I bought a Tutti Frutti Sugar Pie Pumpkin just shy of 6 lbs. Who can resist a name like that?  This is a dense, sweet smaller pumpkin that is great for cooking and less so for making jack ‘o lanterns.  ‘The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.'(University of Illinois Extension)

Have you heard about the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015?  Apparently, it’s true.  If you see pumpkins in your market, don’t wait until the last minute.  Scoop them up or maybe try Farmer’s Markets.  Pumpkins (and all winter squaash) can stay quite happily on your counter for  a week or two until you are ready to use them.  ‘The sugar pumpkins are grown primarily in Illinois, which produces about 90% of the supply each year.  But this year heavy rains hit Illinois and cut deeply into the sugar pumpkin crop.’ (CNN)

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Historically, I have stayed away from Vegan ‘meats’ and ‘cheeses’ because I usually don’t like either the taste or the texture but I keep on trying. I am not Vegan but I do believe in using non-dairy products as often as possible, both to promote all the new products (and encourage more) and to boycott the dairy industry, in particular, the factory farming/ Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) which are crueltry beyond belief. Click on How Our Food Animals Are Raised it if you don’t already know.  The Vegan world is rapidly changing and there are some really good options out there now that are pretty good.  I have recently stumbled on these Field Roast Italian Sausages (made with eggplant, fennel garlic and red pepper) They also make some good vegan cheeses under the name of Chao. If you are gluten free, check the labels.  Some are made with vital wheat gluten. I threw these same sausages on the grill a few weeks ago during a family barbecue and we were all pleasantly surprised.  I thought that grilled they were a bit dry but with a great flavor and consistency.  I decided that next time I would brush them in olive oil before grilling or saute them in a pan with oil.  In this recipe I removed the casings and crumbled the ‘meat’ and sauteed it along with the onions and celery.  Of course this step is optional as there are enough other good flavors and textures in this dish without it.  See TIPS for some suggested substitutions.  NOTE: This is not a paid endorsement, just my personal opinion.

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The inspiration for this dish came from Vegetarian Times and I used their directions as a guide but created my own ingredients.  If you are interested in the original recipe which is also Vegan and includes wild rice, beans, corn and spinach, click HERE.

TIPS:  The stuffing can be made two days ahead of time and refrigerated unstuffed.  Substitute any ingredients that you and your family really like.  Some suggestions would be substituting chopped chestnuts instead of pecans, 1 1/2 cups of cooked cannelini, black or kidney beans instead of vegan sausage;  2 cups of fresh spinach instead of mushrooms.  For a bit of sweetness add 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, yellow raisins or black currants.

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WILD RICE, MUSHROOM, PECAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ STUFFED PUMPKIN

Note:  Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8lb pumpkin will call for 2 cups wild rice blend. Adjust accordingly.

1 1/2 cup wild rice blend (or 1/2 cup wild rice and 1 cup long grain brown rice)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
2 links vegan sausage (optional)
1 cup criminy mushrooms
2 Tbsn fresh sage, chopped (divided)
2 Tbsn fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 6-8 lb pumpkin*See note.
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  • Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool.

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  • Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery,; sauté 5 minutes.

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  • Remove sausage from casings and crumble.

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  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel and chop. Add sausage and mushrooms, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 of. sage and thyme to pan with onions and saute another 5 minutes or so until all liquid has evaporated.

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  • Toast pecans in a dry pan for several minutes until aromatic.

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  • Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture. Fold in pecans. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Reserve seeds for roasting if desired.  See below for directions.

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  •  Combine remaining oil, garlic, sage, and thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin.

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  • Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip.

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  • Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

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BONUS:

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • Remove the large pieces of pulp from the seeds. Don’t worry, the smaller shreds will disappear in the second step.
  • Boil the seeds in really salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let dry.
  • Spread seeds on a baking sheet. Spray or coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or any other spices you like.
  • Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden.  Remove from heat and let cool. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
  • Use as toppings for salads or soups if you have any left after you’ve been snacking on them.

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Wild Rice Mushroom Sausage Stuffed Pumpkin

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
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Note:  Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8 lb pumpkin needs 2 cups uncooked rice. Adjust recipe accordingly.

1 1/2 cup wild rice blend (or 1/2 cup wild rice and 1 cup long grain brown rice)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
2 links vegan sausage (optional)
1 cup criminy mushrooms
2 Tbsn fresh sage, chopped (divided)
2 Tbsn fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 6-8 lb pumpkin*See note.
  • Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool.
  • Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 of. sage and thyme; sauté 5 minutes.
  • Remove sausage from casings and crumble.
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel and chop.
  • Add sausage and mushrooms to pan with onions and saute another 5 minutes or so until all liquid has evaporated.
  • Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture.
  • Toast pecans in a dry pan for several minutes until aromatic.
  • Fold in pecans. Taste aand season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Reserve seeds for roasting if desired.  See below.
  •  Combine remaining oil, garlic, sage, and thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin.
  • Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip.
  • Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • Remove the large pieces of pulp from the seeds. Don’t worry, the smaller shreds will disappear in the second step.
  • Boil the seeds in really salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let dry.
  • Spread seeds on a baking sheet. Spray or coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or any other spices you like.
  • Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden.  Remove from heat and let cool. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
  • Use as toppings for salads or soups if you have any left after you’ve been snacking on them.

Wheatless Wednesday – Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

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Happiness is…hot soup on a cold day.

On Monday I shared 25 things to make with sweet potatoes since I had just been gifted a big back of them…So which of the recipes did I decide to make?  Soup!   Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup to be specific.  It finally rained more than a few drops here in Northern California and when its cold and wet outside, soup is the ultimate comfort food since it warms you up from the inside out. I love this flavorful gingery soup, made creamy from the sweet potatoes and not from adding cream or butter.  At only 144 calories per serving (1 1/4 cups), this is a low calorie, zero cholesterol meal with a high nutrient payoff; 4.1 grams protein, 3.9 grams fiber, with loads of vitamins, including Vitamin C to help fight winter colds, plus iron and calcium.

This week we are eating orange on the rainbow.  So what does orange do for us?

“Most yellow and orange food is packed with carotenoids, which give them their vibrant colour. Three of the most common carotenoids – alpha-carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin – can be converted from foods into vitamin A in the body. This nutrient is needed for good vision in dim light, normal growth and development, a strong immune system and to keep the skin and cells that line the airways, digestive tract and urinary tract healthy. But thanks to their antioxidant activity, there’s also evidence to suggest that carotenoids – and especially beta carotene, found in orange and yellow food – might help to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

However, these findings haven’t always been shown with supplements of beta-carotene, so it’s much better to boost intakes through eating foods which are naturally rich in beta-carotene such as carrots and sweet potatoes.” (Weightloss Resources)

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TIPS:  If I have really fresh, youngish carrots, I like to keep their peels on since so many of the nutrients are in or just under the peel and it’s a shame to cut them off.  Just scrub them with a vegetable brush or sponge and rinse.  They should be smooth and shiny.  If you have older carrots, you may have to peel them because the skins can have a bitter flavor that is best removed.

CURRIED CARROT, SWEET POTATO AND GINGER SOUP

1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2-3 large)
3 cups peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups carrots (2-3 large)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2 tsp curry powder
1 quart vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Peel and cube sweet potato into about 1/2 inch pieces.

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  • Scrub carrots and slice or chop them into 1/2 inch pieces.

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  • Peel  ginger and grate about a tablespoon.

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  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; saute 3 minutes or until tender.

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  • Add potato, carrots, ginger, and curry; cook 2 minutes.

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  • Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; taste and add salt if necessary.

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  • Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.

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  • Clean saucepan and pour soup back in and reheat.

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  • Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt and cilantro with a pinch of paprika (optional).

Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2-3 large)
3 cups peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups carrots (2-3 large)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2 tsp curry powder
1 quart vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt

  • Peel and cube sweet potato into about 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Scrub carrots and slice or chop them into a/2 inch pieces.
  • Peel  ginger and grate about a tablespoon.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; saute 3 minutes or until tender.
  • Add potato, carrots, ginger, and curry; cook 2 minutes.
  • Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; taste and add salt if necessary.
  • Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.
  • Clean saucepan and pour soup back in and reheat.
  • Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt and cilantro with a pinch of paprika (optional).

Wheatless Wednesday – Baked Eggs in Kale Cups

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Move over eggs and toast, Baked Eggs in Kale Cups is more delicious, nutritious and way cuter!  With easy preparation and few ingredients, breakfast is on the table in 30 minutes or less. This is the perfect weekend treat! The kale is crispy on the sides but creamy and garlicky on the bottom, while the egg is perfectly set with hints of parmesan, red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Delish and easy!  Just pop them in the oven and enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper while they bake.  (It will only look like you worked so hard…)  These pretty baked eggs are a good source of protein to start your day and the KALE  adds vitamin B6, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids phosphorus, more protein, folate, and niacin. Whew!  That is why kale is king…. These little beauties are also elegant enough to serve at a brunch or even as a quick and easy dinner. Serve with fresh fruit or a tossed green salad. For a hearty appetite, add roasted or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

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I spotted this recipe in the November, 2015 edition of Vegetarian Times and decided to make it for Sunday brunch using  eggs from the backyard chickens next door and fresh kale from my garden.  I have a great arrangement with my neighbor, Sandy.  I give her all of my cooking and vegetable garden scraps and she gives me beautiful organic eggs from happy chickens.  Look at the gorgeous orange of the yolks.  Darker yellow/orange yolks usually means the hen had a varied diet and the resulting egg is richer in Vitamins and micronutrients like vitamins A and E plus omega-3. as compared to the anemic pale yellow, less nutritious standard supermarket egg.  Did you know that egg yolks are one of the foods that naturally contain Vitamin D?  Another egg fact you may not know is that the color of the shell doesn’t indicate how nutritious it is, just the kind of chicken that the egg came from. My Mom raised a variety of chickens who laid eggs that ranged in color from off white to green, blue and brown – all equally nutritious because they were raised the same, happy and on the earth.

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However, if you aren’t lucky enough to have chickens like my brother, Tom, and his wife, Kelle, or have  a neighbor with chickens, try to buy eggs that are labelled “Pasture Raised”.  Other egg labels are often meaningless and lies misleading as producers try to capitalize on people’s desire to make more humane and nutritious choices.  Just because something is labelled ‘Organic’ or ‘Free Range’ doesn’t mean the chickens were given nutritious food or had a chance to go outside and peck at the ground.  There is little to no oversight so producers just decide for themselves what those terms mean. Outside might mean a tiny concrete enclosure that the chickens may not even know is there or have real access. For a breakdown on what egg labels are supposed to mean and what they really mean, click HERE to read an article by NPR.  And, FYI, chickens are NOT vegetarians…

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TIPS:  I used lacinato kale because that is what I had ready in my garden, but you can use any kind of kale you like.  Curly kale would make extra pretty ‘cups’ in this dish.  When forming the nests/cups, use more kale than you think and make sure the muffin tin is completely covered to prevent leakage and that the fronds stick up out of the muffin tin, as the kale shrinks quite a bit during baking.

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BAKED EGGS IN KALE CUPS

      2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
      1 12-oz. bunch kale, stems removed
      2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
      1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
      6 large eggs
      1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.

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  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.

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  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).

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  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

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  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.

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  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.

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  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired.

Baked EggS in Kale Cups

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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        2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
        1 12-oz. bunch curly kale, stems removed
        2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
        1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
        6 large eggs
        1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.
  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.
  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).
  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.
  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.
  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.
  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired

Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

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I love Autumn salads which are a bit heartier than those we enjoy in summer.  With the advent of chilly evenings, we need more tummy-filling ingredients to keep us warm and satisfied.  It also helps that bikinis are soon to become a distant memory (unless you’re going on a tropical vacation).  I really like adding either grains or legumes to salads, especially if they are the main course and French green lentils are a favorite.  In creating this salad, I started with a bed of frisee which adds texture and interest, then a layer of French green lentils, tomatoes and oranges topped with warm seared scallops.  A final drizzle of mustard vinaigrette completes the dish. To make this dish vegan, substitute sliced hearts of palm instead of scallops. I don’t know how hearts of palm are when seared, so would recommend using them raw unless you are up for a challenge. It could be worth a try, though.  They sure worked well as a meat alternative in my Pulled ‘Pork’ Sliders. I may have to try…

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Frisee is an under-appreciated green, at least in the Univted States.  Frisee, also called curly endive, is part of the chicory family, along with Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole.  Frisee is packed with nutrients, and very low in calories like most greens. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third the daily recommended amount of each, in a single serving. It is also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese. It’s slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes it a nice addition to salads but it works best mixed with milder greens or with complementary flavors like sweet citrus, earthy lentils and a tangy vinaigrette.

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I often use French green lentils (De Puy) which I think are the most flavorful and they keep their shape when cooked, unlike red lentils which are soft and split open, making them perfect for soups and stews.  Brown lentils, which are the most commonly available, can be substituted.  Just be careful not to overcook as they also can become too soft.  Lentils not only delicious, they are high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals, including iron.

TIPS: When purchasing scallops, try to buy dry sea scallops.  Scallops are often labelled ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.  If they aren’t labelled, ask. ‘Wet’ scallops are treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture. The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life and keeps them plump and fresh looking. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (meaning you get fewer scallops per pound and possibly scallops that are less than fresh)  In addition, you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan—because of all that excess moisture. If you have had trouble browning scallops in the past, this could be the reason. You will still rinse and dry your scallops which shouldn’t effect the browning as long you dry them well with paper towels.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FRISEE

1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.

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  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.

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  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.

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  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.

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  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.

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  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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 1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.
  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.
  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.
  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.
  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad.
  • Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.