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

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

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

MAKE THIS PRONTO: Tangy Cabbage, Avocado & Basil Slaw

March 10, 2012 § 4 Comments

My mom claims that this salad is how I’m going to make my first million.  (Bless her.)  This slaw is creamy, crunchy, tangy and a little sweet from the basil and avocado.  I’ve made multiple batches of it this week so that at any time of day, a forkful is mere seconds away.  That’s right: even the slaw leftovers are good (not gloppy).  Give it a try.  I’ve never been so emphatic about a brassica recipe in my life.  In fact, it actually takes the cake — literally. I ate a second helping of this cabbage salad instead of a chocolate coconut muffin, hot outta the oven.  (Recipe coming.)  Now that’s sayin’ something.

Ingredients:
6 cups cabbage, shredded
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup basil, ripped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
salt

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup plain kefir (or tangy, sharp yogurt)
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt, to taste

Method:

1. Cut cabbage into thin strips.  Place in a large bowl and salt lightly.  Toss and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing.  Whisk until thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and adjust lime juice and salt as needed.

3. Chop scallions and rip basil.  Toss with cabbage.  Slice avocados and dunk in the dressing (to prevent browning).  Drizzle dressing and avocados over cabbage.  Toss carefully until cabbage is coated.  Eat immediately or chill until serving.

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

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

Preserving Winter’s Bounty: Spicy Arugula Pesto

February 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

I tend to be overzealous about a number of things (ie. an empty email inbox, books (of non-electronic varieties), election cycles, coffee, citrus and cocoa powder, to name a few).  Last week, after gabbing with farmer friends and ogling over the bounty of winter grub, I came home with four, enormous cloth bags of spicy winter greens.  I can’t help myself.

With only two, lonely cubes of garden, basil pesto in the freezer (and wanting to save those for a rainy day), I decided to do a riff off of traditional pesto and use spicy greens for the leafy base instead.  After a few trails, this recipe is my favorite.  (A close second had a few squeezes of meyer lemon blended in at the end.)

Ingredients:
4 cups arugula (packed)
1 clove garlic, large
3 tablespoons olive oil  (plus additional, if desired)
1/2 cup asagio cheese, grated
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Method:
Pulse arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese in a food processor.  Slowly add olive oil and blend to desired consistency.  Freezes and thaws well.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

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