Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meatless, Luscious and Fun: Individual Veggie Gratins for Dinner Tonight!

One of the things I love about this recipe? The color. As I've admitted before, I'm easily amused by bright colors and anything sparkly. So when a ramekin of bright veggies turns up, I'm all about it. For me, more color, more better! Because I've spent so much time working on healthy eating and translating dietician advice into realistic recipes, I know that the more color in food, the more nutrition it brings. 

Whoa, but what about the taste each color serves up? How about the green earthy taste of the broccoli in this dish, the red and orange crunchy-sweet-and-warm bite of the peppers, the saltiness of the olives and the yellow sharp-tangy goodness of the cheese? Color brings more than nutrition, it brings taste too! 

Individual Cheddar and Broccoli Gratins

4 Cups Broccoli Florets, Chopped Coarsely
4 Cups Sweet Mini Peppers, Chopped Coarsely
4 TB Olive Oil, Divided
2 Garlic Cloves, Grated
Pinch of Cayenne
8 Oz (Light) Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Coarsely Shredded
1/3 Cup Pitted Oil Cured Black Olives, Coarsely Chopped (You can find these at the grocery store or a speciality market. In a pinch, 
1 Cup Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs
Pinch of Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Fresh Tomato Coulis for Garnish*

Step One
Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat 6 ramekins with non stick spray.

Step Two
Microwave the broccoli for 2 minutes or until crisp tender

Step Three
In a large skillet, heat 2 TB of the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cayenne and cook just until fragrant. Remove from the heat; add the broccoli and peppers and stir. Toss half of the cheese and the olives with the vegetables.

Step Three
Transfer to the ramekins and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  In a small bowl, toss the crumbs with the remaining 2 TB of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cheese. Bake in the top of the oven for about 6 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crumbs are golden. Serve hot, topped with a TB of tomato coulis

Fresh Tomato Coulis*

2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, Seeded, Chopped and Drained
1 Tsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Tsp Olive Oil
¼ Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Pinch of Sea Salt and Pepper

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless, Luscious, Fun - Middle Eastern Carrot Salad

I love recipes like this one. It takes a very pedestrian veggie – one that we’ve eaten thousands of times before – and with the addition of spices and herbs it makes that same “ole veg worth eating all over again. We made this salad the other day for a cooking class at Cancer Wellness and everyone raved about its bright taste and fresh flavors. I hope you will, too! Make it a meal by serving sliced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Greek yogurt with fresh dill and a stack of warm pita pockets. 20 – 30 minutes and dinner is ready. I’ll be over in just a bit!

Middle Eastern Carrot Salad

4 Large Carrots, Peeled
2 TB Olive Oil
1 TB Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Clove Garlic Grated
½ Tsp Hot Paprika
½ Tsp Cumin
¼ Cup Chopped Parsley

Step One
Put the peeled carrots in a pot of boiling, salted water and cook until crisp-tender. (This means just barely cooked.) Remove from the water and slice into ½” rounds.

Step Two
Place the carrots in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Ingredients for a Flavorful Fruit Filled Dessert or Dip!

My last week was ambitious. After sliding into Atlanta late Wednesday afternoon from a fabulous trip to San Francisco, Thursday morning found us in the kitchen prepping for a class on Thursday night and a brunch for 45 on Friday morning. (Two classes on Saturday, too.) Thursday night’s Mindful Eating class with Facilitator Angela Buttimer was wonderful. We shared our hints and tips for being present while enjoying food, whether alone or with friends and family. Oh – and by the way – standing up or eating in the car doesn’t count as mindful eating…even if we are appreciating the aromas and tastes:)

Late night Thursday led to early morning Friday. We were was lucky enough to host the "Pets For Life" initiative for the United States Humane Society’s Atlanta chapter, at the beautiful Cancer Wellness Center at Piedmont. We were serving a vegan brunch – and wanted to make the food as delicious and flavorful as if we were serving a full assortment of meats and cheeses. One of the dishes we served was Kitchari (031113) – from the March 11, 2013 Meatless Monday post. (If you haven’t made this dish yet, give it a try!)  In India, it is traditional to eat rice and lentils or other beans for breakfast. It's a super change from the same old bacon and eggs or biscuit. Plus the recipe makes a lot. Just like day old soup – it keeps getting better.

Now, back to this week's blog post. So here is our take on a fruit dip. A little different than what you usually find, not as sweet, and the limes and coconut make it creamy and interesting! Sometimes you just need to shake things up a bit. Whether you are having a brunch – like the one where we served the Pets for Life folks, or you are looking for an easy fruit filled dessert, check this recipe out.

Cashew Coconut Lime Dip
1 Cup Cashew Butter
2 Limes, Zested and Juiced
½ Cup Coconut Milk – whisked together with ½ Cup Hot Water
1 TB Agave Syrup (optional)

Put all the ingredients for the dip into the food processor. Puree until smooth, adding a little more hot water as necessary to thin the sauce to dipping consistency. Serve with your choice of fresh fruit or berries.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meatless, Luscious, Fun: San Francisco the Eaters City - Roasted Red Pepper Dressing or Dip!

I'm in San Francisco this week eating and drinking my way through the city - and oh! also learning from others in the culinary world at my professional culinary conference. Oh, the pictures I can take... of food, food and did I mention food? This is an eaters paradise. And the wine culture out here? Heaven.

Inspired by all the fabulous food and drink, I had to share my take on beautiful crunchy veggies and savory dip. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Serve it as a dressing or dip - you'll love the smoky roasty flavor of the peppers combined with the slightly salty cheese. Just the thing to get everyone in the house excited about eating their veggies!

Roasted Red Pepper Caesar Dressing or Dip

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Soy Sauce or Tamari
4 *Roasted Red Peppers
2 Whole Garlic Cloves, peeled
Zest and Juice of a Lemon
3 TB Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
2 TB Light Olive Oil Mayo
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Add the ingredients to a food processor.  Puree and enjoy!

* Check out How to Roast a Pepper! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Meatless, Luscious and Fun: Italian Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Stew

"They" say never start with an apology. So, I am calling these first couple of paragraphs leading up to the recipe, an "explanation"...

 Many of you reading this blog are also subscribers to the Friday Four - my weekly newsletter with a healthy recipe, wine suggestion and 2 kitchen tips. I've been publishing it now for 6 years, (WOW! That's a lot of Fridays:) and have the procedure down pat. I start thinking of what recipe will appear early in the week. Once that is decided, I move on to the wine and then the kitchen tips. I try to carefully document activities during the week so that I can share what's going on in the Taste and Savor kitchen with all my friends. Okay, so that's what I do with my Friday Four. Got it. Done.

Meatless, Luscious and Fun is another thing. I find it challenging to stop on Monday and capture my thoughts. If I don't have an event scheduled, I try to take Sundays off. As those of you who are owners of a small company know - this is a monumental task. My mind is always full of details and ideas, and its difficult to shut it down "on command". So Mondays are the day when I run full speed. From the very-early-hour  when my alarm sounds to the time when my head hits the pillow, I am often in constant motion. I love what I do, and there is often not enough time to squeeze it in, make plans, and deliver everything I have promised.

Which leads me back to a Monday recipe. It isn't hard for me to come up with a meatless, yummy recipe. Although not a vegetarian, I still eat and prepare most plant-centric menus. So all I have to do is slow down, sit down, and stop for a moment to share it.

Hmmm, its Tuesday morning. Sigh. Thus, this week's Meatless Monday recipe is a day late. The good news is that its one of my favorites, and many home cooks that have my book have emailed me to agree. Here's to Mondays, Chickpea Stew and being on time next week!

Italian Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Stew

1 TB Canola Oil

1 Large Red Onion, Chopped

2 Roasted Red Peppers
1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

5 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Lentils, Rinsed Well
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Tsp each Dried Basil and Thyme
1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Can Chickpeas, rinsed well
1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Cup Brown Basmati Rice, prepared
Chopped Basil or Parsley for Garnish
Shredded Parmesan for Garnish

Step One
 Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add the onion, cook until soft and golden brown about 7-8 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Step Two Stir in the tomato paste. Add the broth, lentils, bay leaf, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

Step Two. Add in the lemon juice and serve garnished with the basil and Parmesan topping the brown rice.