Crunchy Kale Chips

September 1, 2012 § 5 Comments

Last week I ate a gallon ziploc big of kale chips that packed a balsamic vinegar punch.  K-chips with chile/adobo powder are an extremely good idea.  A couple days ago I read an article about chocolate kale chips (I’m not holding my breath on that one).  This three-ingredient version is my favorite.

This recipe has undergone seven trials in the past two weeks; each time, I’ve whittled away at a list of ingredients that was, at one time, double in length.  But as I reduced and tasted, I felt that this simple-dimple blend was just as good as the previous versions touting extra spices and peppery add-ins.  (Okay, with a caveat: If you’re a garlic lover, go ahead and add a few minced cloves to this recipe — it’s terrific.)  But rest assured, this combination below is simple and good, no garlic or spicy-heat necessary.

There are only three things to keep in mind when setting out to bake a batch of crispy kale chips: (1) Make sure the kale leaves are completely dry.  If they’re at all wet, they’ll steam instead of crisp.  (2) Don’t be tempted to pile kale onto the sheet pan. Spread the kale in a single layer and when making a large batch, use two or three sheet pans. (3) Keep a close eye on the chips during the remaining 3-5 minutes of baking.  They crisp-up quickly and can burn easily.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and ripped into large pieces
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
sea salt, to taste
few teaspoons olive oil

Method: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stem kale leaves and rip into large pieces.  Wash and spin until dry; pile in a large bowl.  Toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil to coat, nutritional yeast and sea salt to taste (be generous).

2. Spread kale leaves in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-22 minutes, tossing half way through, until crunchy and slightly golden-brown around the edges.

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

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Creamy Avocado Basil Sauce (think: vegan pesto-fredo)

April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

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This is a straightforward, easy-peasy recipe that has four ingredients and comes together in a minute flat.  Thanks to the avocado, I like to think of this creamy, vegan shmear as a hybrid pesto and alfredo sauce.

A note about the above photo: South Tucson greenhouses are teaming with ripe, cherry tomatoes and zucchinis.  As the bounty of winter brassicas and greens wanes, I’ve started loading my canvas bags with these (Sonoran) spring fruits and vegetables.  My latest kick?  Zucchini pasta.  That’s right.  I’ve been cranking one of these suckers.  I’ve dabbled with many different “noodle” preparations, but here’s my favorite method that yields flavorful, al dente “noodles”: Saute a half-cup early onion/scallion with a lot of garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a wide-brimmed sauce pan.  Saute until wilted and fragrant (just a minute or two) and add zucchini “noodles.”  Toss until heated through and coated with oil, garlic and onion.  Remove from heat; add sauce; serve warm.

Ingredients:
2 avocado
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil
juice of a lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Method: 

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add additional lemon juice to thin, if necessary.  Toss with zucchini or grain-pasta and serve immediately.  Leftovers keep two days.

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

Asparagus & Spinach Pasta Salad with Beans, Feta and Lemon

August 19, 2010 § 3 Comments

Last night I pulled into the driveway, eased my accordian-legs out of the car and began to unload: I yanked out my sleeping bag, a bathing suit, a suitcase full of tangled clothes and a freezer bag full of road snacks, trailing beach sand and Redwood twigs across the floor.  A week and a half ago, I headed westbound toward California where I spent the next 10 days hop-scotching across the state.  I took a dizzying drive up Route 1 where I photographed my first glimpse of Elephant Seals.  I baked a nectarine and peach crisp in an old gas oven in the middle of the Redwoods.  I ate Bibimbop out of granite bowls in Oakland, sipped coffee at the famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco (and spent hours in this marvelous bookstore) and caught up with new friends from Guatemala and old friends from early college days.  I also visited a gaggle of cousins, aunts and uncles and on my last night, I read poetry and ate chocolate truffles with my great aunt at the end of a warm, Pasadena day.

It’s been a marvelous close to a summer teeming with new experiences and ideas.  And like all good things, I’m left feeling bittersweet: a bit glum at Summer’s end, and, at the same time, a bit renewed with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the air.  Time to get back in the saddle and get back to work at the university.

Fortunately, I ate my way through California with gusto (I may have discovered the most delicious blueberry muffin on the West Coast).  But I’m excited to re-tie my cooking apron and use up the last of my summertime garden vegetables.

I made this recipe just before I left for California.  It calls for asparagus and spinach — two vegetables I had frozen from a springtime harvest.  The lemons, basil and onion came from the garden.  This recipe is a breeze to throw together and packs a delicious punch from the citrus and cheese.  I enjoyed it best heated, just a smidgen.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups pasta, uncooked*
1 large onion (about 2.5 cups chopped)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups asparagus, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped and cooked (about 6 cups raw)
2 cups cannellini beans
juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup basil, loosely packed, ripped
sea salt, pepper

*For gluten-sensitive, choose brown-rice or quinoa pasta.

Method:

1. Heat a pot of water on the stove with a generous pinch of sea salt.  When boiling, add pasta, lower heat slightly and cook until al dente.

2.  Meanwhile, chop onion horizontally in long, thin strips.  Heat a large skillet on the stove and begin to saute the onions until crisp and brown (about 7 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.  While onion is sauteing rinse and chop asparagus and spinach.  After onion has browned, add asparagus and cook until bright green (approximately 3 minutes) and then add cooked spinach and cook until heated through (approximately 1 minute).  Alternatively, if using raw spinach, add at the same time as asparagus.

3.  Toss asparagus and spinach with feta cheese.  When pasta is cooked, don’t drain the pasta water!  *The reserved water can help loosen the pasta if the pasta clumps with the vegetables.*  Scoop pasta out of the water with a slotted spoon and toss with vegetables.  Squeeze lemon juice, add beans and toss.  Taste and season to preference.  If necessary, add a spoonful of reserved pasta water at a time to help loosen the pasta salad.  Serve at any heat or chilled — slightly warm is my favorite.

Diet Notes: gluten-free (see asterisk), nut-free

More-Veggie-than-Egg Frittata

October 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

morevegthaneggfirtatta2

A couple of days ago after a long day of reading and research, I excitedly crossed off the last of my tedious “do’s” from my “to do NOW!” list and hurried into the kitchen.  I plopped a few frozen fruit chucks into a blender, whirred and scampered back to my bedroom, banana + pineapple smoothie in hand, and cozied up to my laptop to watch a couple of online episodes.  Not Gossip Girl (a show I claim not to watch, but secretly do).  Not even old Office reruns.  I sat down to review the past month of Mark Bittman Minimalist videos.  If you haven’t seen a Mark Bittman video, I suggest you sit down and watch a couple right now.  They’re such a hoot, sometimes I turn on his Chickpea video just to stave off a rotten mood!

A half hour later, smoothie cup drained, I had some great recipe ideas.  The following day, I ca-clunked my cast iron skillet out of the cupboard and hacked up a giant mound of asparagus, eggplant, four types of herbs and gobs of garlic in preparation for whipping up his  “More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata.”  Here’s his frittata video, which I heartily recommend, but if you want to cut to the chase, here’s the recipe print-out as well.

morevegthaneggfritatta1

One quick suggestion: an addition that made this dish especially good was the amount and variety of herbs that got tossed around in the skillet just before I poured in the eggy mixture.  If you don’t happen to have these different herbs on hand you can experiment with dry, too.  Or, if all else fails, coarsely chop a lot of garlic.

We ate this frittata along side a light leafy-green salad with roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pecans and herbed goat cheese.  We also broke into some warm buttermilk corn muffins a la Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Cooking. And on top of the frittata we generously spooned my ma’s salsa (roasted chiles, onion, gobs of cilantro, garlic, stewed tomatoes pulverized until “chunky” in the blender) and it was wonderful.

Ingredients:
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
5+ cloves garlic
1-2 cups diced eggplant
2-4 cups asparagus
3 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
splash soy milk/milk preference
1/3+ cup basil, chopped
2 tablespoons each: fresh oregano, dill, parsley (optional)
salt, pepper to taste

Methods:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Chop between 4 and 6 cups of vegetables.

2. Heat olive oil on medium in an oven-proof skillet until hot.  Add onion, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and additional vegetables and cook until al dente.  Cooking time varies depending on vegetables.

4.  Turn the heat down and stir in any leafy greens, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes (if using). Remove from heat.

5. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk and Parmesan cheese.  Whisk.  Pour into the skillet.

6.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the egg at the center is set (springs back slightly to the touch) and the top is golden.  Let sit for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free

Blueberry Compote (a little bit of heaven)

August 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

blueberrycompote3

Blueberry compote is simple to make with just a couple of must-have ingredients.  It’s not as complicated as jams or jellies, and while it doesn’t have the shelf life of canned fruits, I promise, you won’t need a good expiration date.

Ingredients:
2 pints blueberries
1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 lime)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar

blueberrycompote1

Methods:

1. In a wide-brimmed skillet, heat blueberries, lime juice, zest and sugar.  The berries will soon loose their shape and their skins will burst, revealing pearly-green underbellies.  Just before boiling, the pot will turn a deep purple color, almost black.  Boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Spread a bit of jam on a plate and place in the fridge for about ten minutes.  After ten minutes, take out and spread your forefinger across the jam.  If your finger leaves a clear path, the compote will set up nicely.  If the compote is still liquidy, put the pan back on the stove and cook another minute or two.   Let the compote set for at least 20 minutes before spooning on top of bread/yogurt.  Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

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

Quick Cucumber “Pickles”

August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

quickpickles3After 24-hours of marinating/refrigeration.

quickpickles2Before marination.

Ingredients:
4 medium-sized cucumbers
1 small red onion
1 small white/yellow onion
few springs fresh dill
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 heaping tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

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Method:

1.  In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until dissolved.

2.  Chop cucumbers and onions in thin slices.  Place in a non-corrosive bowl.  Add sprigs of dill.

3.  Once sugar/salt has dissolved add peppercorns and olive oil.  Pour liquids over vegetables.  Refrigerate for at least two hours so that the cukes and onions can “wilt down,” preferrably over night.  Enjoy staight out of the fridge or as a delicious salad topping!

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

Fingerling Potato, Arugula and Yellow Wax Bean Salad

July 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

potatoarugulasalad7

Last Sunday I made this gigantic salad and packaged it away in big, portable yogurt containers to tote to work for my lunches this week.  Each day I’ve pried off the plastic lid, dumped the contents unceremoniously onto a large plate and I’m telling you – I’ve loved it so well, I’m seriously considering making a make-shift repeat for tomorrow with the sparse leftovers I have in the back of the fridge.  This salad has won its way to my “top salad favs” list because it has a wonderful blend of textures and flavors.  (This recipe was inspired by some experimental new pesto blends I’ve been whirling up and a beautiful update from Smitten Kitchen.)

If you want to try this recipe, I highly recommend three things: First, don’t short change the arugula.  Second, take the time to toast the walnuts; the taste and crunch-quality of toasted walnuts is terrific, especially paired with a fork-full of potatoes!  Third, if you can find fingerling potatoes, buy a pound or two.  In a pinch, you can chop up a large Yukon Gold, but fingerling potatoes have terrific taste and are more fun to eat.

Ingredients:
1 bunch arugula
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1/2 pound green/yellow beans
3 large leeks
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup basil
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (full-fat preferred)

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Methods:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Chop fingerling potatoes, coat in olive oil and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until crispy around the edges.

2. Simultaneously toast walnuts in the oven for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and golden-brown; check repeatedly to make sure they don’t burn.  If you prefer, you can also toast on the stove in a dry pan.

3. Heat a medium-sized pot on the stove to blanch green beans. Meanwhile, prepare dressing: in a Cuisinart, blend cilantro, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.  Whirl, adding olive oil and lemon juice as needed.  When the dressing is smooth, spoon in a few scoops of yogurt to thicken it up and set aside.

4.  Heat a rimmed skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Wash leeks.
(Cooking Tip: Leeks are notoriously packed with dirt in-between the concentric crevices.  To wash leeks I chop them first, then soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes, rubbing the chopped pieces between my fingers.  The dirt will naturally settle to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks will float to the top.  Scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon when oil is hot in the pan.)  Saute leeks until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic.  Stir.  Reduce heat.

5.  When water is boiling, blanch the beans for 5 minutes or until bright green and al dente.  Then, combine with the leeks and garlic and saute a minute or two.  Pull out the potatoes, add them to the pan. Remove from heat.

6.  In a large serving bowl, tear arugula leaves into large pieces.  Spoon dressing over the beans and potatoes until incorporated.  Layer on top of the arugula bed.  Top with toasted walnuts and serve.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

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