Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crisp and Crunchy Brussels Sprout Salad

After the recent roasted fall salad I made was a hit with both my husband and daughter, I decided to make another variation this past week. Again, I began with roasted Brussels sprouts from the CSA as my base, and used one of my favorite flavor combinations to compliment them, apples, blue cheese and walnuts. I made a simple maple-dijon dressing, and used it as a marinade for some pan seared tempeh strips. This salad was equally delicious, but had a lot more crunch and a fresher flavor due to the raw apples. We ate it warm/room temperature, but I'm sure cold leftovers would taste great. I just saw I've got another stalk of Brussels in this week's share, so I'm sure in another week, you'll see another Brussels sprout salad!

Crisp and Crunchy Brussels Sprout Salad
Veggie by Season original

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 apple, any variety, cored and diced
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 c. toasted walnut pieces
1 8oz. package of tempeh

2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 c. sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 400*
Add toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper on a cookie sheet, roast for 25-35 minutes, tossing occasionally, until browned.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients, add half to a bowl and toss with sliced tempeh.
Preheat a nonstick skillet to medium heat, add tempeh slices and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes.
Add Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl, toss in apples and nuts, top with tempeh strips, blue cheese, and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled later. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Cranberries, Feta and Pepitas

Last weekend I hosted a baby shower for one of my friends who is expecting a baby boy in just a few weeks! The shower was at 11am, so I tried to create a menu that was substantial enough for lunch, but still light since it was earlier. I've been doing brunch so often lately, it was a nice change of pace to not have an egg-heavy menu! I tried to incorporate some of Leah's favorites, and then selfishly made something I knew I'd love. 

I literally can't get enough of grain based salads. They're so simple, but such a crowd pleaser. My standard formula is grain, fruit, cheese, nut, vegetable and dressing with fresh herbs. I took a chance with this one as the flavors didn't seem like they'd perfectly match, but this salad was fantastic. The feta's saltiness balanced out the sweet cranberries, the tangy lemon was cut with the bright mint, and the pepitas added crunch. I made a huge batch of this salad, so it might be necessary to halve or third it for a smaller meal, but leftovers aren't a bad thing either! 

Quinoa Salad with Cranberries, Feta and Pepitas
Veggie by Season original

1 lb. quinoa
4 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pepitas
8 oz. feta, cubed or crumbled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar/honey/sweetener of choice
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh minced mint leaves

Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until it runs clear.
Bring stock to a boil in a large pot, add quinoa, turn to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until quinoa has plumped and 'tails' spring out.
Pour into mesh strainer, drain and cool for 10 minutes, then add to a mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator until thoroughly cooled (can be done a day in advance).
Add cranberries, pepitas, feta and scallions to quinoa, toss.
Add lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper and mint to a dish, whisk, taste and season as necessary.
Pour dressing over salad and toss. 
Pour into a serving dish, garnish with extra mint and serve chilled.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bean and Kale Ragout over Parmesan Polenta

So you may have noticed the recipes here since Christmas have been pretty "healthy" and vegetable-heavy. It's partly because of the CSA, and mostly because I've really been trying to lose more weight. I am so proud of how far I've come, but I also have these last 15-ish nagging pounds on me that I'd like to get rid of. I decided to make a goal of losing it before my birthday (May 14) and so far, so good! I hit a big milestone on Sunday of -90 lbs. and it's given me some great motivation to finally hit that magical -100lb. mark!

I am trying to lose the last 10 as I lost the first 90, slow, steady, diet and exercise, but I'm not going to lie and say crash dieting and restricting for a few weeks hasn't crossed my mind. But I want this to last, and I want it to be my lifestyle, so I'll keep plugging along. Dinners like this make me remember that I can eat healthy, but also eat delicious food and still stay within my calorie bank for the day.

I tried to find big, beautiful heirloom beans at Whole Foods, World Market, and another specialty shop, but the only thing I could find was large lima beans at Publix. While I'm not a lima bean lover or hater, I never would have guessed these were lima beans had I not prepared the meal. The kale was from the CSA, of course. I got this idea of cooking beans and kale in tomatoes from browsing recipes for kale, but didn't print out the recipe, and don't exactly remember what was in that recipe, so I guess I'll call this one an original!

Bean and Kale Ragout over Parmesan Polenta
Veggie by Season original

1 c. dry large lima beans, or any bean 
1 bunch of kale, any variety, stemmed and chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. dry red wine
2 c. diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 c. vegetable stock
1 c. quick cooking polenta
Milk, as needed
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes

Soak beans overnight in the refrigerator, drain and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add kale and blanch of 2-3 minutes, until slightly wilted, drain and set aside.
Add oil to a pot over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, saute' for 5 minutes.
Add wine, tomatoes, oregano, fennel and beans, stir well, cover, turn to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add vegetable stock to a small pot, bring to a boil.
Add polenta and whisk continuously, add milk if necessary to thin. Turn heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, add Parmesan cheese, turn heat off and cover.
Add kale to bean mixture, stir and heat through.
Add polenta to a dish, spoon in bean mixture, top with Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes, serve. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas

Every week for the past few weeks, I come home from the CSA with 3 lbs. of carrots. Literally, I'm turning orange. Most of the time I peel, slice and pop them in the fridge for snacking, but I still have a surplus. I did a little googling for carrot soup, and found this recent entry from Smitten Kitchen. Her photographs are beautiful, and put mine to shame! 

The soup is flavorful from the super fresh carrots, the tahini, some spice, and of course the floating crisped chickpeas are a nice little treat. I used quite a bit more spice than her original recipe, I like things extra flavorful! Rather than use her tahini cream swirl method, I crumbled in some feta and added the tahini directly to the soup. We enjoyed this soup with some pita wedges (sprinkled with za'atar and baked) and tabbouli. While we both loved the soup, it was the snack-able, addictive chickpeas that stole the show! 

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp. ground corriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. tahini
1/2 c. Feta, crumbled
4 pitas, cut into wedges
1 tbsp. Za'atar

2 c. cooked chickpeas (I use dried, canned are fine, too)
1 tbsp. olive oil (I used cilantro-onion from The Olive Leaf)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
Add carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes. Saute' until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
Toss chickpeas with olive oil, salt and cumin on a baking sheet, roast at 425* until crisp, stir occasionally.
Once vegetables have browned, add stock, and scrape up bits stuck to the bottom. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 more minutes.
Remove chickpeas from the oven, place pita wedges on another baking sheet, sprinkle with za'atar and bake until crisp.
Puree soup using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender, blend until smooth.
Turn heat off and stir in tahini, taste and adjust seasonings.
Ladle into bowls, top with feta, chickpeas and serve with pita.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza with Garlic Goat Cheese

Lately I've seen a few recipes for pizza come up in my google reader with cauliflower as the crust. Seriously?  Why in the world would anyone replace delicious carby crust with cauliflower?! I know carbs are the enemy and whatnot, but let me tell you as an 85 lb. (and counting!) weight loser, it's not! Diet and exercise, counting calories, and a colorful, plant based diet at the answer! I have my pizza, and eat it too.

After receiving 3 heads of cauliflower in the CSA share last week, I decided to take the cauliflower pizza idea, and make it the topping. To make it flavorful and healthy, I used a 50/50 unbleached white flour/whole wheat flour pizza crust, and roasted garlic infused goat cheese as my base. Roasting vegetables gives them so much flavor, the cauliflower turns a little nutty and the garlic becomes sweeter and less pungent. A sprinkle of parmesan, some fresh thyme and scallions finished the pizza and let me tell you it was phenominal! I paired it with a garden salad and it was a healthy (but delicious) pizza night! For Christmas, we received a pizza stone, and it really does make a huge difference. This is the first time my homemade pizza has bubbled up like the best pizzaria's pizzas do, and yes, that's a life "win" for me!

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza with Garlic Goat Cheese
Veggie by Season original

3/4 c. warm water (about 110*)
1 packet instant yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil

1 head of garlic
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt
Black pepper
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400*
Cut top 1/3 of garlic bulb off, place garlic on a square of tin foil, drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil.
Pinch up sides and create an ball around garlic. 
Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour.

While garlic roasts, prepare crust.
Add water, yeast and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, swirl around to gently mix.
After yeast begins to bubble, attach dough hook to the mixer and add flour, salt and oil.
Turn mixer on low and knead dough for 8-10 minutes, add additional flour if necessary, dough should be slightly sticky, but pull away from sides of the mixer. 
Flour surface, form dough into a ball and rest, cover with a damp towel.

Add cauliflower to a baking sheet, toss with 1 tsp. olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper, place in the oven with the garlic and roast for 20 minutes.
When garlic is finished, cool and squeeze out 4-5 cloves into a dish, add goat cheese and mix well. 
Remove cauliflower from the oven and set aside while you prepare the crust, Raise oven temperature to 475*.
Stretch dough out and form a circle, top with goat cheese mixture, cauliflower, Parmesan, thyme, scallions and crushed red pepper flakes.
Place on a pizza stone and bake for 20-24 minutes, until crisp on the bottom and golden brown on top. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Warm Millet Salad with Brussels Sprouts and Creamed Mushrooms

I feel so behind the times admitting this, but this was my first time cooking with millet. It reminded me very much of cous cous, but it's a grain, so it's popular in the world of gluten-free diets. In the little research I did, I found that it's mostly used as bird feed, so... yum! Another CSA box, another stalk of Brussels sprouts to work with. While I occasionally get stressed about finding new and exciting recipes to feature using them, and yes I realize this is totally a First World Problem, it's awesome when I finally find something I know we'll love!

I used the Whole Foods recipe bank search and stumbled upon this salad. It's very hearty and filling, I just added a few strips of dijon grilled tempeh for some protein (they're not pictured). This did seem quite dry at the end with just 1/4 c. half and half, so I added a bit of vegetable stock to moisten it. I also subbed fresh thyme for the sage as it's what I had on hand, and finally, a large handful of shredded Swiss cheese, because everything's better when it's topped with cheese!

Warm Millet salad with Brussels Sprouts and Creamed Mushrooms

1 c. dry millet
2 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp. butter or olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quatered
1/2 red onion, thickly sliced
3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1/4 c. half and half
1/4 c. vegetable stock
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 c. shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat a medium pot over medium-low, add millet and toast for 2-3 minutes.
Add 2 c. stock, turn to high, bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low, cover and cook millet until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. 
Turn heat off and leave covered on the stove.
Add butter to a large saute' pan over medium-high, add Brussels sprouts and onions, season with salt and pepper.
Saute' for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add mushrooms and continue to stir, after mushrooms have let go of their liquid and begin to caramelize, add half and half and thyme, stir and turn heat off, taste and adjust seasonings. 
Transfer millet to a serving bowl, toss with lemon juice and fluff with a fork, add up to 1/4 c. stock if millet seems too dry.
Add vegetable mixture, stir gently to combine.
Top with shredded cheese. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

French Onion Soup Risotto

After thoroughly enjoying the Dirty Cauliflower Risotto I made a few weeks ago, I've been dying to make another red wine based risotto. Once again it was a Friday night, the eve of grocery shopping, and I had to scrounge around the fridge and pantry to make dinner. I was in the mood for French Onion Soup, but we had no bread in the house. I contemplated making bread, but it was already seven o'clock and I was hungry! I had pasta, rice and potatoes on hand, and decided risotto would be fantastic.

This risotto was absolutely delicious, very creamy and flavorful. If you're not vegetarian, you could certainly use beef stock as that's a more traditional way to make French Onion Soup, but I love the Rapunzel vegetable stock cubes with herbs. This would be a great side dish for a dinner party, but it's quite substantial on it's own. To make it a complete meal, I'd serve it with a nice salad, some crusty bread and add cannelini beans to the risotto (stir in just before serving). But for a smaller meal, it's perfect as is.

French Onion Soup Risotto
Veggie by Season original

2 tbsp. butter
2 small or 1 large yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 c. arborio rice
1 tbsp. cognac
1 c. dry red wine
1 bay leaf
2 fresh sprigs or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2-3 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. shredded Gruyere cheese

Heat a deep skillet over medium-low, melt butter and add onion.
Stir occasionally, and allow onions to caramelize for about 10 minutes.
Add rice, stir and allow rice to toast.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Add cognac and red wine, turn heat to medium-high and allow wine to reduce by half, stirring as it reduces. 
Turn heat back to medium-low, add bay leaf and thyme.
Add ladles full of stock every few minutes as it is absorbed by rice, stirring well after each addition. 
After the rice is plump and isn't absorbing stock, turn heat off, stir in 1/4 c. of the Gruyere.
Dish into individual bowls, sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.