Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

gazpacho

I wanted to make a gazpacho that was thirst quenching, nutritious and refreshing, so I married some juicy heirloom tomatoes, seedless watermelon, with the traditional bell peppers and cucumbers. All of which have a high water content, making it unnecessary to add tomato juice. This recipe was pretty simple even though the list of ingredients seems a bit daunting. As long as you have the right measuring tools it’s quite simple to make. Optional: make a big batch and store in the fridge for up to five days.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of diced heirloom tomatoes + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 ½ cups of diced cucumbers – seeded and peeled + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 ½ cups of diced red pepper – seeded + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 2 cups of chopped watermelon – seeded + 2 tbsp diced for garnish
  • 1 cup of croutons
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp for drizzle on garnish
  • 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp diced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Chill the soup for minimum 4 hours but can be stored in the fridge over night. Mix all the reserve garnish (tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, and watermelon) with olive and salt. Place a tbsp onto each serving. Serve with a cool cocktail, perhaps a watermelon margarita or mojito.

Whipped Ricotta Flatbread with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Zan's recipe Flatbread whipped RicottaHere is a fun appetizer I created using some (store bought) pizza dough, ricotta, and some veggies. It’s not too heavy and you can make a little extra whipped ricotta as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Ricotta

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 Tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 8 small cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Flatbread

  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • flour for dusting surface and pizza spatula
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sliced zucchini (with cheese slicer)
  • 5 Roma tomatoes (sliced same thickness as zucchini)
  • 8 leaves of basil (sliced into strips)

Directions for Whipped Ricotta:

Place ricotta, rosemary, roasted garlic, salt, and goat cheese crumbles into the blender, blend on low speed, and slowly add in the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency.

Directions for Flatbread:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or grill. (I normally cook pizza on a pizza stone.) Roll out the pizza dough on a smooth floured surface, stretching on the edge of a counter then tossing in the air, as my husband normally does, (getting flour all over the place) until the pizza dough is evenly thinned out. You can leave the edges thicker (similar to regular pizza), which can be used for dipping into the sauce. Place 1/2 – 1 cup of whipped ricotta onto the center and spread to within one inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Place onto the pizza stone and cook until the edges brown, and the center is cooked – approximately 5-10 minutes. Remove flatbread and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve the extra whipped ricotta on the side. Slice into 3″ pieces and serve. Enjoy!!! Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Endive with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Pears

I was slacking off in the kitchen for a while, and I can tell my husband was really looking for something new in our culinary lives, so I whipped up his favorite type of greens (or rather yellow ;-). Endives! I personally think they are a little bitter, so I added some balsamic reduction, a little sweetness to balance it. In addition, the stinky gorgonzola “paired” really well with the sweet pears. And for a little crunch, I added in the chopped walnuts. This is a super easy and simple appetizer to make, as long as you’ve made the balsamic reduction ahead of time. (Click here for that recipe). Enjoy!

Zan's recipe for Endives with Gorgonzola, pear and walnut

This only took a couple of minutes to throw together. Using the Endive as the serving utensil, you can scoop up the ingredients for a single bite, without the double-dipping.

Ingredients: (for 2 servings)

  • 1 head of endives (10-12 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp gorgonzola
  • 1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 bosc pear (cubed)
  • a drizzle of balsamic reduction

Mix all above ingredients in a bowl, except for the endives. Place the endive leaves on a plate, and add the mixture into the center, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Haricots Vert (French Green Beans), Almonds and Parmesan

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Haricot Vert are a thinner and smaller version of the standard American green beans. I cooked these last night as a side dish to my fried trout with brown sage butter (I’ll post that recipe tomorrow). The flavor combinations came from the “affinities” listed in my go-to “Flavor Bible“, pretty much my inspiration for a majority of these recipes. For a Paleo version, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups of haricot vert
  • salt for water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Boil 5 cups of salted water in a medium sized saucepan. Add in haricot vert and blanch them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, add in the garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the haricot vert, stir frequently. After 5 minutes add in the almonds and saute until beans are tender.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle the beans with parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Channa Dal (Dahl)

Channa Dal

It’s finally winter, and I really wanted to something that was hearty, healthy and warm. It’s been years since I’ve made this Ayurvedic dal (Dahl), but it has always been one of my favorite dishes. I learned this recipe over 18 years ago when my husband and I visited the Deepak Chopra Center in La Jolla, Ca. We stayed there for a week and attended spiritual classes, yoga classes, daily massage treatments, and Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even had a chance to meet Deepak in person! A truly “life-changing” experience! The recipe we made at the Center was a mung Dal, but I could only find Chana Dal at my local grocer. Channa Dal is a small relative of the chickpea and has a yellowish color. Its flavor is slightly sweet. If you can’t find channa dal use yellow mung dal, or yellow split peas. In preparing Dal, it is important to soften it well and cook it long enough so that it takes on a creamy consistency. ( I ended up soaking mine for 2 hours, then cooking for 2 more hours).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry Chana Dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 2 tsp of mustard seed
  • 2 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • salt to taste
  • a sprinkle of asafoetida (helps with digestion) – get online or Indian Market
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Wash Chana Dal; drain. Soak in water for 2 hours. Cook Chana dal in water in a medium-sized saucepan covered over medium heat until soft, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the dal! In a small frying pan heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add it all of the spices, and stir so the onions are covered. Then add the spice-onion mixture to the chana dal pot and stir. Add salt and asafoetida. Cook for additional 10 minutes. The texture of the dal should be creamy. Serve with a garnish of cilantro. If not concerned about paleo, you can serve with garlic Naan or basmati rice.

Here are some other great resources for Ayurvedic Meals:

“The Ayurvedic Cookbook” – by Amadea Morningstar

“Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living” – by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Johnny Brannigan

“The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well” – by Kate O’Donnell and Cara Brostrom

Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew (Paleo)

paleo moroccan chicken and vegetable stew

After a traditional Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to make some aromatic, and spicy ethnic food. I pulled out a “somewhat Paleo” recipe book, written by Dr. Mark Hyman called “The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook“, based on his book “The Blood Sugar Solution“. It’s basically a healthy cookbook with a lot of Paleo recipes. This dish called out to me with all of the aromatic spices, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I made some slight modifications and spiced it up a bit. Warning: It did take a while to prep, approximately 40 minutes as I like to chop the ingredient a bit smaller than Dr. Hyman recommended, but was well worth it. I did not include the recommended eggplant, as my husband “claims” that he is allergic to it. (What REALLY happened: when he was in college, after a dinner of eggplant parmesan, and bit too much to drink, he threw up, and now claims it was the eggplant he was allergic to). Ha! Anyway, you can always add one chopped eggplant to this dish. Oh, and this dish is also called “Tagine”. Also, if you want to go vegan, substitute the chicken for firm tofu and reduce cooking time by 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/4 tsp for less heat)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces and trimmed of fat (if going vegan use firm Tofu)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch half circles
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth is going vegan)
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot (I used a cast iron dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and saute gently until the onions begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the dried spices. Saute the spices and onions about 2 minutes. Salt the chicken (or tofu) with the remaining salt, and add to the pot. Turn heat up to medium, and saute for 3 minutes, until all of the chicken (or tofu) is well coated with spices. Add the cauliflower and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes. Then Add the bell peppers and zucchini, and saute until they soften about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the stew gently, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are tender and the liquid is thickened and reduce approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in olives. Plate and serve with cilantro garnish. Serves 4

paleo moroccan chicken stew

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Bacon

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are such a great winter treat, as long as they have a little sweetness, and are super easy to prepare. I love them a little crunchy which a touch of garlic. And as we all know, EVERYTHING is better with Bacon!!!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I like to cook the chopped bacon in a small saucepan until crispy, drain them on a paper towel, then reserve the bacon grease. Toss the Brussel sprouts with the bacon grease, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and garlic. Put the mixture onto the baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Add the bacon, toss, and bake for another 2 minutes. Your Brussel sprouts should be tender and should have some crispy leaves.

Kale Salad with Togarashi

Kale Salad with Togarashi, Apple, Sweet Nuts, and Cranberries

Kale Salad with Togarashi, Apples, Pecorino, Sweet Almonds and Dried Cranberries

This is one of my favorite salads. With Kale being one of the highest nutrient rich foods (and ANDI score of 1000), I try to squeeze this in my dinners as often as possible. The most important thing with kale is that you can’t have it dry, it really needs a lot of love, which translates to oil! First you needs to make sure your kale is washed, which sometimes, takes wiping down the front and back of every leaf. You then need to completely dry it, because as well all know, oil and water don’t mix. Next you have the remove larger ribs that run down the center. Then you cut all of the leafs off. Try to keep them in large pieces. You then stack a series of leaves and roll them, like rolling a cigar. You will have a tightly wound up spiral of leaves. You then cut ⅛” thick (or thin) so you have small strands of leaves, like in photo above. Once all of the leaves have been nicely cut into thin and long pieces, place them into a bowl. Now you give it some love, pour in the EVO Oil into a bowl and toss around so that all of the pieces get a nice coating of oil, this is what softens it up. Next add apples, dried cranberries, chopped sweet almonds, pecorino and toss well to cover all ingredients in oil. Your last step is to add the Japanese red pepper (Togarashi). I would add this slowly, then toss around and see how much is enough for your individual taste. Some people love the red pepper spice, others have less tolerance for hot foods (like my husband). It does contain a bit of salt, so just keep tasting to see if you need additional salt in your salad.

Ingredients:

  • Large bunch of Curly Kale
  • 2 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)
  • 1 Gala Apple (thinly sliced)
  • ⅓ cup Dried Cranberries
  • ⅓ cup Sweet almonds (chopped)
  • ½ cup of shredded pecorino cheese
  • ½-1 tsp Togarashi (Japanese Spice)
  • ¼ tsp salt (optional)
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Curly Kale
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Kale with ribs removed
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Rolled Kale leaves rolled

I also found some interesting information about Kale from Dr. Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain). I have included it here, but you can also visit this link to read the rest.

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is power packed with vitamins A, K, C, with meaningful amounts of B vitamins as well as trace minerals. It’s low in carbs and calories. Kale is rich in a chemical called sulforaphane, and this may be one of kale’s most important health attributes.

Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich chemical that activates a gene pathway in animals as well as humans called Nrf2, and when Nrf2 is turned on by consuming sulforaphane rich foods, several important health-promoting mechanisms are accentuated. These include a reduction in inflammation, enhanced antioxidant protection, and powerful amplification of our ability to detoxify potential damaging chemicals.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Chive Cream Sauce

baked potatoes with chive cream sauce

This recipe is just as simple, and slightly more elegant, than your typical “baked potato with sour cream” and chives. I used small red potatoes, cutting them into ½” pieces. The cream topper makes a perfect side along side any meat-based dish. Round reds are often referred to as “new potatoes,” but the term “new” technically refers to any type of potato that is harvested before reaching maturity. I roasted these till the outside was crispy and the inside perfect soft texture.

Ingredients:

  • 20 red potatoes (sliced into ½” pieces)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste for potatoes
  • ½ cup Crème Fraîshe
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste (for sauce)

Toss the potatoes with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Bake until tender inside and crispy exterior. Combine the Crème Fraîshe, sour cream, mayo, chives, dill, salt and pepper. Serve potatoes and add on 2 dollops of cream sauce on top. Pairs nicely with grilled meat.

Panko Crusted Cod with Pea Puree and Mushrooms

cod-pea-puree-mushrooms

Cod is another one of my favorite types of fish, flaky and dense, with a mild flavor. If cod is not available, (as some stocks are severely overfished), you could swap out with some more sustainable fish: i.e. cobia, pollack, hake or whiting. I like a crunchy texture to my fish, so I used some Panko breadcrumbs to create a nice crust. I paired this fish with some crispy mushroom, pea/parsley puree and some crispy shoestring sweet potatoes. Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MUSHROOMS

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 10-12 ounces mushrooms (cremini, shiitake), cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter

FOR THE FISH

  • 1 ½ pounds of cod, cobia or pollack (4 pieces)
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup of panko crust, enough to cover each piece
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  •  Lemon juice, to taste

FOR THE PEA PUREE

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of cooked frozen peas
  • ⅓ cup chopped shallots
  • ⅛ cup EVOO (olive oil)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 oz. Crème Fraîshe

PREPARATION

  1. Make the pea puree. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add parsley leaves. Blanch for 20 seconds only and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and press leaves against strainer to squeeze out water. Using a food processor, add the cooked peas, shallots, parsley and salt. Slowly add in the oil so that all ingredients become a smooth puree. Place the puree into a bowl, and slowly stir in the Crème Fraîshe. Be sure to stir gently with a spoon so it does not separate or turn to butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place oil into sauté pan and heat on medium-high heat. Salt the fish. Press the panko bread crumbs onto all sides of each piece of fish. Cook the fish on each side (2-3 minutes per side), or until outside crust is golden brown. Place fish into baking dish. Drizzle lemon over the fish and bake 5 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets), until fish is opaque and pulls apart when a fork is inserted.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Arrange mushrooms in skillet in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until bottom side is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, toss mushrooms, and continue to cook, tossing often and reducing heat as needed to avoid scorching, until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes more.
    Reduce heat to medium and add butter and garlic to skillet. Tip skillet toward you so butter pools at bottom edge. Spoon butter over mushrooms until butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from skillet with a slotted spoon.
  4. Place a piece of fish on each of 4 plates. Spoon pea sauce onto plate, next to fish. Place mushrooms on pea sauce and serve.