Monthly Archives: September 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Cherry Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Basil

Spaghetti is one of my true loves, but I rarely make it during the week. I try to maintain a healthy diet, with splurges here and there, so spaghetti is not something I prioritize.

However, spaghetti squash is another story. I swear to you – it tastes just like spaghetti cooked al dente. Healthy, simple and tasty. Once you try it, you will be hooked on the guilt-free deliciousness. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Cherry Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Basil

You will need:

FOR THE SQUASH-

  • 1 spaghetti squash, remove seeds and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Brush squash with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar on both halves.

3. Place halves cut side down on baking sheets and roast for 40-45 minutes, or until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

4. When cool enough to handle: with a fork, shred the pulp of the squash away from the skin and place in a large bowl.

FOR THE SAUCE-

  • 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes, roasted whole for 15 minutes with salt
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1 cipollini onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of loose basil, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

1. Drizzle olive oil in a large saute pan. Add onions and saute over medium heat. Cook about 5 – 10 minutes, or until slightly brown. Add garlic and roasted tomatoes. Cook another 10 minutes.

Combine tomato sauce with spaghetti squash. Garnish with basil, and stir in goat cheese.

 

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Chimichurri Steak Salad

Let me start by saying this chimichurri sauce recipe will go with anything. Chimichurri is a parsley and garlic based dressing, enhanced by lime juice and your favorite chile pepper. It is delicious with steak, and is equally pleasing with roasted veggies. Seriously, it will make your most hated (healthy) veggie taste like butter.

This salad is a robust medley of New York strip steak, roasted zucchini & mushrooms and fresh mozzarella. The best part about it: you could easily customize it to your liking, since the chimichurri sauce is so versatile. A perfect meal for carnivores and vegetarians alike. Enjoy!

Chimichurri Steak Salad (serves 4)

You will need:

FOR THE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Set aside in a bowl; refrigerate up to two hours ahead.

FOR THE STEAK

  • 4 boneless New York strip steaks (6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1. Brush steaks with oil. Combine the cumin, salt and pepper. Rub over steaks; set aside.
2. Grill steaks, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 145°; medium 160°; well-done 170°).

FOR THE VEGGIES:

  • 5 yellow zucchini squash; sliced
  • 3/4 pound cremini mushrooms; sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 475°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Toss the squash and mushrooms in a large bowl with a generous amount of salt and pepper and the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss the mixture once, and return to the oven. Roast for an additional 10 minutes, or until the squash is brown and the mushrooms dark and slightly shrunken.

Combine the steak and roasted veggies over a bed of butter lettuce. Add fresh mozzarella bocconcini (balls), and drizzle the warm salad with as much chimichurri sauce as you like.

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Sweet Potato Hash Tostada

This recipe came to me while grocery shopping, as I  planned out my Sunday brunch menu. I had zero plan in mind, but I must say…this one left a positive impression.

Sometime I just visualize recipes and they happen, miraculously. I was inspired by some Japanese sweet potatoes, and decided they would be perfect for a breakfast hash. The end result was a breakfast tostada topped off with a fried egg. It’s everything you want in your breakfast fare: hearty, healthy, and full of yummy textures that make this dish stand above the rest. I can’t wait to make it again next weekend. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Hash Tostada with Leeks, Ham and a Fried Egg

serves 4

You will need:

1 package organic corn tortillas

4 eggs

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes; peeled and chopped into small chunks (you could do this the night before to save on prep time; just seal in a large zip lock bag and store in the fridge)

2 large leeks; cleaned, trimmed and sliced into thin half moons

1 cipollini onion; diced (I still had some left from the farmers market; so delicious as they are sweet and mild)

1 cup grated Gouda cheese (more or less…depending on your health preference/love for cheese)

6 sage leaves; minced

2 ripe avocados; sliced into chunks

4 slices black forest ham; diced

3 tbsp chives; minced

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt + freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place peeled, chopped potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil to your liking. Add sage, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss. Place seasoned potatoes on lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through. You will cook them a second time in the saute pan, so make sure not to overcook.

3. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and drizzle olive oil. Add leeks and onion and stir. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent and slightly brown. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Add ham and stir. Cook another 5 minutes, and add roasted potatoes. Cook potato hash another 15 minutes; and then transfer to an oven-proof baking dish. Turn oven down to 250° and place potatoes in oven to keep warm.

4. The last step is the most important, especially if you are hosting guests for brunch. This is where you fry the eggs perfectly and grill the tortillas over an open flame. Sound easy? It’s actually pretty simple once you try it out – and it will help your multitasking skills.

5. Build tostadas and serve. Start with flame grilled tortilla (just cook it over an open flame on the stove, turning a few times and making sure it doesn’t burn), and next add some of the potato hash. Then top with avocado, and add the fried egg (I like my eggs over-medium). Garnish with chives. Voila, breakfast is served!

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Roasted Hidatsa Squash with Wilted Spinach & Toasted Pine Nuts

I’m really excited about the Fall season (Halloween is around the corner), and I anticipate it with so much foodie excitement every year. The seasonal produce is versatile and perfect for robust soups and vegetable gratins.

Best of all… winter squash is back! I just discovered the Hidatsa variety: it’s super sweet and hearty like pumpkin. Although the name sounds pretty fancy, it’s easily found at the local farmers market.

This dish is hearty enough to eat for dinner, or could be a great side dish as well. Clearly I’m ready for Thanksgiving.

Roasted Hidatsa Squash with Wilted Spinach & Toasted Pine Nuts


You will need:

1 small to medium Hidatsa squash; halved and seeded (you could also save the seeds and toast them)

4 cups loose organic spinach

1 red cippolini onion; thinly chopped and caramelized

1/4 cup pure grade A male syrup

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 can red organic kidney beans (optional; you could also use giant white beans)

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Using a heavy-duty, large chef’s knife, halve the Hidatsa squash and discard the seeds and threads.

2. Place squash halves on lined baking sheet, cut-side up. Drizzle  maple syrup and olive oil in each squash half, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven* and set aside to cool. *reserve the remaining maple glaze and transfer to separate bowl with toasted pine nuts.

3. Caramelize the onions by preheating a heavy-bottomed pan using medium heat. Add olive oil, heat for another minute add onions. Stir, and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to stir and cook onions until lightly browned or crispy (depending on your preference), about 20 minutes. Add spinach, stir and continue to cook another three to five minutes, or until wilted.

4. When squash is cool, peel using pairing knife and roughly chop. Combine squash and spinach mixture and serve. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and remaining maple glaze. Add beans if desired (great way to add protein) and drizzle seasoned rice vinegar to taste. Voila: a cozy, warm winter salad. Enjoy!

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Farm Fresh Quinoa Salad

I’m going to be honest with you. I did not feel like cooking last night.

I just returned from a week-long business trip to Toronto, and spent the day playing catch up. Cooking was not in the cards for me; however, I still wanted to eat something healthy and delicious for dinner. I needed to satisfy my post-workout animal hunger (you’ve been there).

Since I made sure to go to the farmer’s market last weekend, I was fully stocked with fresh vegetables. So, I decided to whip together a farm fresh quinoa salad. This was one of the easiest salads I’ve ever made, requires little equipment, and virtually no clean-up. It’s yummy and completely guilt-free, and I’m obsessed. Naturally.

It’s a lazy person’s perfect post-workout feast. Enjoy!

Farm Fresh Quinoa Salad

You will need:

1 cup cooked & cooled organic quinoa (according to directions on box)

1/2 pint organic quartered cherry tomatoes

1/2 chopped english cucumber (no need to peel, makes it crunchier)

1/2 chopped ripe avocado

sprinkle of organic freeze dried corn kernels (like this)

1 large garlic clove, minced

chopped basil

extra virgin olive oil

aged balsamic vinegar (or any good quality vinegar)

sea salt to taste

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, basil and garlic in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar; drizzle to your liking. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir.

2. Slowly add the quinoa to the tomato mixture and stir. Keep adding until you achieve the right balance of quinoa to vegetables (aka eyeball it).

3. Top off with chopped avocado and sprinkle with freeze dried corn. Voila! Easy-peasy.

 

 

 

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Broiled Tofu Tacos

I’m excited about this post for two reasons:

1. I just got a new 50mm fixed lens; the photos in this post are seriously improved.

2. I’ve never used my broiler before, and the results were wonderful. It’s my new favorite cooking method (and fast, too!)

I originally found this recipe in my current favorite vegan book, Pure Vegan (also used here and here), but decided to transform it into tacos. It was really very easy: I followed the recipe straight from the book, and then stuffed it in a crunchy corn tortilla. It’s so good, very light, and healthy. I’m a little obsessed.

Broiled Tofu, Carrot, and Shiitake Mushroom Tacos

*serves 4

You will need:

1.5 pounds of carrots (peeling is not necessary)

1.75 pounds extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

3 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed

1/4 cup peanut oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger

5 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

lime wedges for garnish

1 package corn tortillas, cooked over an open flame until lightly charred and crispy (about 1 minute per side)

1. Set an oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Cut the carrots crosswise into 3-inch lengths. Cut the pieces lengthwise to a width of about 1.5 inches. Cut the tofu into 1.5 inch dice. Thinly slice the mushrooms.

3. In a large bowl, combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, salt and ginger. Add the mushrooms and gently toss until evenly coated with the marinade. Transfer the mushrooms to the prepared baking sheet. Put the tofu in the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss to evenly coat.

4. Broil the mushrooms for 5 to 10 minutes, until gender, turning once about halfway through. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Leave the oven on.

5. Add the carrots to the bowl of tofu and toss evenly to coat. Transfer the carrots and tofu to the same baking sheet, reserving the marinade.

6. Broil the carrots and tofu for 20 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned, turning a time or two as needed. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. When done, transfer to the bowl of reserved marinade. Add the mushrooms, green onions, vinegar, and sesame oil and toss gently until evenly coated. Transfer to a large platter or smaller individual dishes and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Optional Step 7: heat corn tortillas over an open flame on your stove until lightly charred and crispy (about 1 minute per side), add tofu mixture and enjoy!

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