Cauliflower Cous Cous and Vegetables

Lightly adapted from the Nutritionista

I love making one food out of another, healthier food. Like making pasta out of vegetables, a pie crust out of quinoa or cous cous out of cauliflower.

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I actually hardly ever cook using cous cous. I’d rather use quinoa since it’s gluten free and healthier, but there is definitely something about the texture of cous cous that makes it pretty ideal for meals. That’s why I was thrilled to discover a cous cous recipe that didn’t call for cous cous at all. You can easily use cauliflower instead for an all-vegetarian and gluten free dish that is just. so. good.

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What You Need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What You Do:

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Gently pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles a cous cous-like texture. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop the cauliflower with a sharp knife until it becomes very small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and serve!

This makes a great side dish, and while it screams summer BBQ, it really works just fine any time of year with your favorite meat, as a filling for stuffed peppers (stay tuned for that recipe), or just mixed in with a salad. The lemon juice and oil make a nice dressing so you don’t have to add the extra calories. Put some avocado in with it and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal!

Pro Tip: This is a great dish to play with as far as adding your favorite herbs. Add freshly chopped basil, oregano, mint or cilantro or even chopped walnuts or dates to give it some different flavor and texture!

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Thanksgiving Day 4: Vegetarian Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

If a mushroom is stuffed with stuffing, is it redundant to call it a stuffing stuffed mushroom?

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Say that 5 times fast! Either way, the real point here is that stuffing is one of the greatest foods served at the Thanksgiving table. I know I have my whole affinity for squash thing going on, but it’s basically trumped by stuffing.  Stuffing is always flavorful and goes so well with all the other foods on your plate – especially the turkey. Even the name stuffing just makes me love it that much more.

Stuffing is mostly always served in a big bowl, but for the purpose of my 5-day Thanksgiving meal extravaganza (I’m calling it that now, by the way) I wanted to come up with something that would act as more of an appetizer, and be friendly to those traveling who want to bring something unique that can be easily heated up.

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This dish is a fun twist on the classic stuffing in a bowl. And it’s really easy to make. It may look like a staggering amount of ingredients but it’s actually very simple. It does include a homemade vegetable broth so you could always make things easier on yourself and use a store-bought kind. There’s 4 ingredients off the list right there!

And this recipe has some great vegetables in it that add amazing flavors so you don’t need to add spices outside of a pinch of salt and pepper.

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What You Need:

  • 2 leeks, one cut in half and one diced
  • 1 large yellow onion cut in half, one half left in tact (skins and all) and one peeled and diced
  • 1/2 a tomato
  • 1 jalapeno cut in half
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 2 leeks, one cut in half and one diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 medium sized load of French bread (about 3.5-4oz in weight) OR your favorite gluten free bread to make this a 100% GF dish
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 5 large portobello mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. This is for your vegetable broth. Once the water is boiling, add the leek that is cut in half, the 1/2 tomato, the in-tact onion half and the jalapeno and boil until the vegetables are soft and the water is colored with vegetable leavings.

Strain the broth into a separate pot to separate out the vegetables. Discard the vegetables and set 2 cups of the broth aside. (Freeze the rest for future recipes).

In a very large skillet, melt the butter. Once melted, add the parsnips and let them simmer in the butter for about 2 minutes.

Then, add the leeks, onion, garlic, eggplant and a pinch of salt and pepper (no more than 1/4 tsp each) and cook, covered, on a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.

Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed.

Slice the bread into 1-inch cubes and lay them in the bottom of a casserole dish.

Sprinkle the sage and rosemary over the bread.

Then, pour the vegetable mixture over the bread as well. Spread it out so it evenly covers the bread.

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Pour the remaining cup of vegetable broth over everything, gently pushing aside the vegetable mixture to allow the broth to work through to the bread and the bottom of the casserole dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

While the stuffing is baking, gently clean any dirt off your mushrooms.

Slice off the stems and gently dig out the gill-like material on the underside of the mushroom caps.

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Place the hollowed-out mushrooms cap-side down in a baking dish and bake them in the oven (also at 350F) for about 10 minutes or until they begin to look slightly droopy or wilted. A small amount of liquid might appear inside the caps – this is a good way to know you need to remove them from the oven.

Once the stuffing is done, add a generous scoop of stuffing to each mushroom cap.

Top each with a tablespoon of cheese and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

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These make for a gorgeous presentation lined up on a serving tray. I hope you enjoy them as much as Mike and I did!

Pro-Tip: Try to pick out portobello mushrooms that have high sides so they’re more cup-shaped instead of flat. These will maintain their shape a lot better after being heated up and make it easier to stuff them.

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Sweet Dumpling Squash Fritters

A few years ago, groggy from a raucous New Years Eve celebration the night before, Mike and I embarked on a fairly involved breakfast of zucchini fritters and pancakes, a cooking endeavor I can only attribute to having been younger and therefore more motivated than we should have been.

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We had followed this recipe, from my all-time favorite cooking blogger, and it was absolutely perfect. We devoured every last fritter (and quite possibly went back to bed after).

Since I went through this summer’s zucchini bumper crop without making one single fritter (the horror!!) I HAD to make up for it.

Enter: the Sweet Dumpling Squash.

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These beauties are delish – a bit sweeter than other squashes, and such a cute size! Having bought four from the farm without any major plans for them, I seized the chance to replicate those New Year’s Day fritters in a slightly different way.

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This is a super-simple dish that works as an appetizer or as a side-dish with dinner. I served each fritter with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top, alongside oven-roasted BBQ chicken and sweet potatoes.

What You Need:

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  •  2 Sweet Dumpling squashes, skin peeled, seeds scooped out, grated by hand (about 3 cups grated squash. More detail below)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, diced
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed (substitute this with chia or hemp seeds – whatever you like)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour (gluten-free flour works totally fine)
  • Coconut oil (at least 3 tbsp but you might find you need more)
  • Plain Greek yogurt for dollops on top

 

What You Do:

Slice the tops and bottoms off the squashes and discard. Gently cut a circle around the inside perimeter of the squash, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the skin and where you’re cutting. The circle you cut should loosen and easily pull away from the seeds and out, exposing the inside.

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Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Then, with a sharp knife, gently slice off the outer skin. This doesn’t have to be a perfect job because the skin is actually edible. I just got as much as I could but left it in the grooves where it wouldn’t readily slice off.

Using a hand or box grater, grate the squash until it’s mostly used up (you won’t be able to grate the entire thing, but get as much as you can).

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Place the grated squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the chives, pepper, salt, flax seed, egg and flour, and stir well.

In a large pan on medium heat, add a tbsp of coconut oil.

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Form the squash mixture into small, flat patties and place them in the pan. They should sizzle in the oil once it’s properly heated.

Give each side of the fritters a few minutes to cook, lifting them periodically when a spatula to ensure they don’t burn.

You want the fritters to have a nice, golden brown coloring. The longer each side cooks (without burning) the crispier and more held-together they will be.

This recipe should make 8-10 fritters. Add a tbsp of coconut oil each time you add new patties to the pan, and add additional oil if the pan begins to look dry or the patties start to burn.

Serve hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream on top.

Pro Tip: Any type of squash will work with this recipe. I like Sweet Dumpling because of their sweeter taste, and because the skin is edible, but Acorn or Butternut squash are good substitutes in a pinch.

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Rhubarb and Green Bean Dijon Potato Salad

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I have to admit, this post is kind of a cheat on my part. I do not think it’s ACTUALLY rhubarb season anymore, although to be fair I did see some at the grocery store…

But I didn’t want to go the whole summer without posting this recipe, which I made awhile back, DURING rhubarb season, from farmer’s market rhubarb with the intention of making it part of my Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals. But since I failed to do that, I figure now is better than never right? Like most things.

And what’s summer without potato salad? It’s traditional anyways, but this summer was an even bigger hit because of this amazing Kickstarter campaign that gave potato salad the attention and fame it has always deserved.

Potato Salad (1)What You Need:

 

  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound green beans, sliced in half
  • 2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 pound red potatoes, chopped into 1 1/2” cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6-8 tbsp dijon mustard (I like the pub style with the mustard seeds)

 

What You Do:

Simultaneously boil a large pot of salted water and heat a nonstick skillet over medium.

Once the water is boiling, add the potato cubes and lower the heat so they simmer. Cook until a fork easily goes through them.

Drain and pour potatoes into a large bowl.

In the skillet,heat the rhubarb, stirring frequently, until JUST cooked. Do not leave it in the pan for too long or else the rhubarb will become very soft. You want it to remain firm.

Add onion, green beans, rhubarb, garlic, green pepper and celery to the potatoes and stir to mix well.

Add the mustard to taste and stir well. You may find you need more mustard (or less) so add gradually and see how you feel. Taste tests are the best part of cooking!

Pro Tip: Add other vegetables, or something crazy like bacon! Everyone loves bacon, right?

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Tomatillo Pizza

Pizza with tomato sauce? How about pizza with tomatillo sauce?

I’ve only ever used tomatillos to make salsa. That is, until I discovered that when you slice them and heat them in a pan, they reduce to a thick and sweet sauce that pairs perfectly with other veggies and – my favorite – goat cheese.

This sauce puts a fun spin on pizza. It makes it a little sweet but it’s definitely tasty and a really good summer pizza. I busted it out on a hot day for a pre-dinner appetizer and it was a hit!

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Preheat Oven to 350F-375F

What You Need to Make the Pizza Dough:

(Adapted from this recipe from my cooking idol Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon  active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1-2 tablespoons whole flax seed. Gives the dough a little crunch and healthy boost!

What You Need to Make the Topping:

  • Pre-made or homemade pizza crust. If you make your own, I highly suggest using this recipe from my cooking idol Smitten Kitchen.
  • 6-8 medium tomatillos, shells peeled off and sliced into quarters
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3-4 oz. of goat cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of corn meal (to sprinkle on baking pan to bake the pizza on)

IMG_3853To Make the Pizza Dough:

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add the water and olive oil and stir until formed into a ball. Knead well and place in a well-greased bowl with a damp towel covering it for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.

Knead dough again to eliminate air pockets and place back in the bowl for 20-30 minutes. Roll out the dough and lift onto a pizza stone or pizza pan pre-sprinkled with cornmeal.

To Make the Topping:

Place the tomatillos into an oiled pan heated on medium. Cover and simmer until they reduce and thicken, stirring frequently.

While tomatillos are cooking, place sliced onions in an oiled pan on medium heat, cover and cook until caramelized.

Spread the tomatillo mixture across pizza like a sauce. Top with caramelized onions and goat cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your dough.

Pro Tip: Along with the flax seed, add fresh basil or dill to the pizza dough to give it a little kick and a little more of that summer flavor!