Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

December 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

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These past few months I’ve been away from home nearly as much as I’ve been at home.  My stove could’ve been featured in a magazine — unsmudged, only used to boil water for endless cups of coffee.  But in the last few weeks, my work pace has slowed down a little and I’ve re-donned my canvas cooking apron.  I’d like to share my favorite experiment of late — a grain-free “fried rice” recipe inspired by my kitchen partner-n-crime, Gina.  (You can check out her beautiful photographs and inspiring grain-free recipes over at her blog.)

I’ve made this recipe for all kinds of eaters — for folks with food allergies and those without.  It’s enjoyed by all, but definitely worth noting that this meal is an exciting addition for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Candida diet, Paleo diet, among others.  It is also nut-free, gluten-free and can be easily veganized if you omit the eggs.

In this dish, rice is replaced by blended cauliflower florets.  Cauliflower, on its own, has such a mild flavor that in this dish, it takes on the taste of whatever you put into it.  I’ve trial-ed this recipe many times: Sometimes I’ll flavor it with Middle Eastern spices (turmeric, garam masala, curries); other times I’ll veer toward a south-of-the-Border taste (adobo and ancho chile powder).  Every version has been delicious.

Below, you’ll find the Starting Point. This is the bare bones ingredient list for any fried rice recipe that you like.  It’s perfectly good as is, but you can also spice it to your liking, depending on what you’re serving alongside this “rice” dish.

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon garlic, roughly chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup scallions, chopped on diagonal
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2-3 eggs
salt, pepper
additional spices (optional)

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Method:

1. Chop, mince and grate all vegetables and set aside.  In a food processor, blend cauliflower in one or two batches until florets break down into granule-size bits.*

*Be mindful not to overstuff the food processor or the bottom will puree and the top will remain un-chopped.

2. In a large skillet, begin by sauteing the onion for several minutes until wilted and translucent.  Add carrots and peppers and saute an additional few minutes until slightly tender.  Add cauliflower, garlic and ginger and cook and additional few minutes.  Add additional spices if you’d like to; adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

3. Just before adding the egg to the fry pan, stir in scallions and cilantro.  Saute until heated through; add eggs.  Stir constantly until set.  Remove from heat and taste for seasoning.

Serve as a side dish to any meal where you’d normally serve rice.  My favorite lunch of late has featured this rice stuffed inside of romaine lettuce wraps, garnished with a little tahini dressing and toasted sunflower seeds.  The “rice” keeps in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container.

ImageDiet Notes: SCD-safe, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Candida diet

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Dilly Lentils with Citrus Dressing & Ricotta Salata

April 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

In college, I had an across-the-hall-chum who was borderline obsessed with lentils.  She piled them on top of mammoth salads and claimed they were nature’s most perfect food.  When she’d go up for seconds, I’d roll my eyes and crunch through another bowl of frosted mini wheats.  Suffice it to say, I found these little legumes entirely underwhelming.

Fast-forward to 2012: In a turn-of-the-new-year cleaning frenzy, I began sorting through the pantry dregs.  I found a couple of gems: unsweetened Scharffen Berger chocolate; a quart of dried, Mexican oregano!  I also found hoards of lentils in little baggies, nicely twisty-tied.  (Several years ago I tried to perfect a lentil soup recipe; clearly, I didn’t get very far.) After a day of lentil pondering, I decided it was time for two recipe experiments: I set out to make a savory lentil burger and a springtime lentil salad.  As I type, Trial Two of the lentil burger is in the oven.  As for the salad, after four different trials, this Mediterranean bowl — punctuated with a little dill, citrus, scallion, garlic, winter greens — is down-right wonderful.  Just be sure to season it as you go; salt is key!  And the silver lining, you can make a huge batch and freeze it.  It thaws perfectly.

Ingredients for the Lentils:
2 cups lentils, raw*
olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups winter greens (kale/collard greens/brassica leaves/etc.)
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste
dressing (see below)
1/3 cup scallion, sliced on diagonal
3/4 cup ricotta salata grated (or feta) **
1/2 cup dill

*If following the SCD-diet, soak lentils 24 hours prior to cooking and rinse well.
**If following the SCD-diet, use a hard cheese like Parmesan.

Ingredients for the Dressing:
4 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*
3-4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt, pepper

*If following a strict SCD diet, swap balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar.

Method:

1. In a large pot, boil lentils until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a wide-brimmed pan, saute onion in a little olive oil. Salt and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add cabbage and saute an additional few minutes, until slightly softened.  Add garlic and winter greens and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.

3.  Prepare dressing; whisk and set aside.  In a large serving bowl, combine lentils, sauted mixture and dressing.  Taste and add dressing and salt as needed.  Top with scallion, dill and cheese.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisks)

Winter Herb & Greens Salad, with a little sweet & crunch

March 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’ll be nearly 90 degrees in Tucson today.  With the advent of the near-double digits, the end of March calls for tank tops, margaritas and the last of the winter greens, herbs and recently-harvested pecans and dates.  I’ve made this salad six times in the last two weeks — for potlucks, for the fam and just for me.  My friend James is a big fan of the dates.  My mom says the feta takes the cake.  (A sidenote: My dad likes this salad best when I tuck a few pieces of south-of-the-border avocado in between the leaves.)

The dressing is my favorite part, so I’ve put a “sketch” of my method, below.  I unceremoniously shake all the ingredients together in a ball jar to emulsify and then taste-test using lettuce leaves, often adding a bit of additional acid (citrus/vinegar), salt or honey.

Ingredients for the Salad:
10 cups winter greens
1 cup fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro)
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3/4 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Ingredients for the Dressing:
juice of a few citrus fruits (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime)
a few glugs of white balsamic vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)
hefty pinch of salt
10 cracks of pepper
a dab of dijon mustard
a long drizzle of honey
a few cloves of garlic, minced
stream of olive oil, to taste

Method for the Salad: Layer greens and herbs at the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Top with scallion, pecans, dates and feta.  Dress just before serving.

Method for the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake until thoroughly incorporated and emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings/acid/oil as needed.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

Balsamic and Ginger Cabbage with Dried Cherries

February 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

While farms (and farm stands) bring us crunchy winter delights like cabbage and sweet apples, I wanted to share my early February lunchbox favorite.  This recipe unites an odd assembly of players — dried cherries and purple cabbage, balsamic vinegar and ginger — but they bring more than the sum of their parts to the table.  This salad is both sweet and savory and it’s hardy enough to stand alone.  While it’s very good at any temperature (I’ve tried ’em all), it’s unequivocally tastiest warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients:
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ginger, minced (or more, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt, pepper
4 cups red cabbage, shredded
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar added)
4 small sweet apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Method:

1.  Shred cabbage and set aside.  In a large, high-rimmed pan, saute onion and olive oil on medium-high heat until wilted (about five minutes).  Add garlic and ginger and season with sea salt and pepper.  Stir until fragrant (an additional minute or two).

2.  Add cabbage and gently toss.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and cook for 6 minutes, until cabbage has heated through and is al dente.  Meanwhile, slice apples.

3.  Add apples and dried cherries and saute until heated through (but not cooked).  The apples should still have “crunch” and maintain their shape.  Remove pan from heat and fold in feta cheese.  Serve warm.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free

Cilantro-flecked Chickpea-Quinoa Balls with Tahini-Citrus Dressing

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I set forth to make this wrap, I combined a hodgepodge of recipes and aimed to make a falafel-like ball with crunch and Mediterranean flavor.  Instead of relying on dried coriander and cumin to amp up the taste, I wanted to use garden-fresh cilantro and scallion.  I wanted to see what would happen when I incorporated a whole grain into the mix (quinoa) and fresh vegetables (spinach) for nutrients and eye-popping color.

Before supper one night, I happened upon Green Kitchen Stories saffron-falafel recipe.  I liked their idea of using flappy cabbage leaves as a wrap (a pita would be good, too) and tahini as the base for a bright dressing.  I experimented with a few simple four-ingredient tahini dressings. The one below was my favorite.

Ingredients for the Chickpea-Quinoa Balls:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
2 cups spinach, fresh
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup scallion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon flax meal
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons water (if necessary to thin)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees on convection (or 400, standard).  In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until pureed.  The mixture should be sticky, but not so sticky that it doesn’t hold a form or stay together.  (In the event that there is too much liquid, add extra brown rice flour, a little bit at a time.  If too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.)  Scoop into balls, uniform in size, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Tahini Sauce
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
generous pinch sea salt, pepper
2 tablespoons water, to thin

Method:
Whisk together and drizzle on top of wrap.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

Farmer Cheese Frittata

October 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

For the last two months I’ve been collecting eggs from (very vocal) chickens roosting up the road, and harvesting baskets of veggies from the gardens surrounding my house. With these ingredients at my disposal, frittatas are a farmhouse standby.

Frittatas are exceptionally versatile (ie. chuck in whatever you have in the garden and it’ll taste terrific) and they’re minimal-fuss.  At the farm, we start our frittatas on the stove, sauteing whatever veggies we have handy, and once we add the eggs and cheese, we pop our cast iron into a preheated oven and let it do the rest of the work.

Frittatas are hearty, delicious hot, room temperature and cold, and are out-of-this-world-good when drizzled with a little salsa.  Below I’ve shared my favorite recipe, but I’ve left some wiggle room for you to add whatever vegetables are in season in your neck-of-the-woods.  (If Delacata or Butternut squash are popping up in your gardens or hitting the farm stand, give those a try!)

Ingredients:
1 small onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup roasted vegetables (eggplant, bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, winter squash, etc.)
4 eggs
1/4 cup pesto
1/3 cup farmer cheese
1/4 cup sharp cheddar/parmesan reggiano, shredded
pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a cast iron pan (or alternative cooking/baking, oven-safe receptacle) heat olive oil or butter on medium-heat.  Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, until wilted and beginning to carmaelize.  Add roasted vegetables and cook until heated through, another minute or two.

2.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs, pepper and pesto.  Remove cast iron from heat, add egg mixture and dollop with farmer cheese.  Sprinkle with cheddar or Parmesan and finish cooking in the oven.  Bake until set, between 15 and 20 minutes.  In the last minute of cooking, place under the broiler for 30-45 seconds to lightly brown the top of the cheese.

3.  Let sit for at least five minutes before serving.  Serve hot, warm or cold.  Top with salsa or avocados and fresh tomato wedges.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe and gluten free.

Socca To Me: The New Friday Night Pizza

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s Friday and it’s pizza night!  While five-minute-pizza dough most certainly has its merits, if you have a hankering a gluten-free pizza alternative, grind up some beans (or buy ‘um ground) and whip up a socca tonight.

Soccas are like pancakes on MiracleGro, except they’re in the savory camp and don’t necessitate maple syrup dredging.  They require only a couple of ingredients: ground up garbanzo beans (garbanzo bean flour), salt, a splash of olive oil and water.  I’ve been adding dried herbs from our garden, too.  While soccas are great plain, hot out of the skillet, they also make a toothsome base for a pizza.  Our favorite toppings include garden zucchini, caramelized onion and fresh-picked cherry tomatoes.

Ingredients:
1 + 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend (rosemary, sage, parsley, basil)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water, cold

Method:

1.  Grease oven-safe skillet.  Place in cold oven.  Preheat oven & skillet to 350 degrees (or 325 on convection).

2.  In a bowl, whisk together garbanzo bean flour, salt and spices.  Add olive oil and water and whisk vigorously until all clumps dissolve.

3.  When oven is preheated, carefully remove skillet from oven and add batter to skillet slowly.  Be mindful of hot, splattering batter.  Place back in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and slightly brown around the edges.  The sides will receede slightly from the edges of the cast iron.

4.  Remove from skillet and place on baking stone or sheet pan.  Top with favorite pizza add-on’s. Bake five additional minutes and one minute (keep a close eye) under the broiler to make the cheese bubble.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

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