Loaded Recipe Series, Poultry, Veggies based & Vegetarian

THE.BEST.Cauliflower.side.dish. EVER

For some reason, cauliflower wasn’t always a superstar. Yet one of the most favorite vegetables for me. We grew cauliflower in our family garden, and I loved it prepared many different ways. It surprised me how many people had reservation about this beautiful “white flower” and had no idea how to make it tasty.

 

 

Long before Atkins or Paleo was hot, I enjoyed cauliflower based dishes as a replacement for the meat. Fried, sauteed with sausage, onion, and eggs,  as cauliflower fritters or as my multiple veggie mixes. Later, when everybody started going avocado about the low carb diets, cauliflower was suddenly IN. Cauliflower fried rice, mashed cauliflower “potatoes”, cauliflower steak,  cauliflower dough for low carb pizza – and I must admit, these were exciting new ideas for me too. Cauliflower is delicious and super rich in nutrient on top of that. What’s not to love?

This recipe is one of the most fun, fast, easy and super tasty way to prepare a side dish with cauliflower. It screams SUPERFOOD!!!! Cooking for cancer patients, I have developed several recipes that are loaded with all the anti-cancer components, boosting immunity and of course, taste good. Here is one of them:

 

 

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Zucchini

 

 

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 medium green zucchini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • As much finely chopped or grated ginger root as you like
  • sea salt and freshly grated pepper to taste
  • a handful of cilantro, parsley or sliced scallions for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large deep bowl whisk together oil with all the seasoning. Cut cauliflower into similar size pieces and thoroughly rinse in the colander (not too small). Let it air dry, while you wash and cut zucchini into thick chunks (zucchini cooks much faster). Don’t know about you, but I don’t care for mushy.

Add both vegetables into the seasoning mixture and shake the bowl until everything is perfectly combined and every piece is coated with seasoning. It’s easy to see because turmeric and curry made everything bright yellow.

Spread vegetables on a large baking sheet. Make sure all the veggies are in one layer. Spoon the rest of the seasoned oil on the vegetables if there is anything left in the bowl.

Bake in the oven until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Time vary based on your oven and the size of the pieces you cut, so check after 15 minutes. Carefully poke a small knife into the thickest part of the cauliflower to check for doneness.

When ready, garnish with your chosen herbs and enjoy!

 

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

I wanted to take a different picture of the full dish of this beauty, but it disappeared as soon as I took it out of the oven. I guess I’m not the only one who loves it!

Did you try this recipe? Do you have a different recipe you want to share? Let me know in comments!

 

Wine pairing:

I have opened my 2016 Muga Rose for this dish. It’s a rich, crisp and nicely dry rose that goes smoothly with the components of our dinner. Any other unoaked white would be a good match – try a Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All recipes paired with wine, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Simple Indian dish, all roasted in oven

Although I am not a vegetarian, I occasionally enjoy meatless dinner options without even thinking twice. And having this demand from my clients, I am constantly searching for more and more options and various cuisines to make my menus more interesting. Flipping through old Food & Wine magazines, I found this recipe, created by Grace Parisi. It had all the ingredients I like. Here is my slightly adapted version of

Curried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Spinach

Curried eggplant

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 dried, crumbled chili if you like to add heat
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (I did not peel the eggplant)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and washed in colander
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground pepper and Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 5-oz bag baby spinach
  • Warm naan and Greek yogurt, for serving

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. On a work surface, mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. In a large bowl, mix the paste with the curry powder and vegetable oil. Cut eggplant into similar size cubes, mix with onion, chickpeas and ginger, season with salt and pepper. Toss well together with the dressing so every piece is coated with seasoning and oil.

Spread the vegetables in an even layer and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the eggplant and onion are tender. Take out of the oven, stir in the spinach (mix so it’s covered with roasted vegetables) and roast just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve with warm naan and yogurt.

Curried eggplant, chickpeas and spinach

Seasoned yogurt:

  • 3 full tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly cut mint and parsley

Mix together and enjoy with curried eggplant dish.

Curried eggplant

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Guacamole and salsa, or let’s call it Gualsa!

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On Sunday, I posted this  picture on Facebook ans asked my friends to guess what I was making. And yes, it totally looked like guacamole – and/or salsa. I lately decided to save some time and combined the two  – because what’s better than getting all the guacamole and tomato salsa on the chip at the same time, right? Ever since, that’s the only way I am making it. Who has time to make guacamole, and then tomato salsa to go with it?

I call it my “Gualsa”. If you want to try it, here is the recipe (the amounts of each ingredient are flexible, it all depends on your personal taste, and how many people you want to serve). Down side: just like guacamole or salsa, it doesn’t keep well, so it’s better to make less and make a fresh one again soon!

Vera’s Gualsa

Ingredients:

4 ripe tomatoes (I like campari tomatoes, they seem to have the most flavor)
1/4 red onion
1 lime
1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper (or, when you don’t have one when you feel like Gualsa, you can use Sriracha for heat, instead)
1-2 avocados
salt and freshly grated pepper
2-3 tablespoon of high quality olive oil
bunch of chopped cilantro

Start with tomatoes and cut them into small dices (personal preference here, if you like bigger chunks, that’s fine). But smaller are better to get on the tortilla chips. Place into larger bowl.

Seed the pepper and cut  into strips first, then small dices. I like to use green pepper for the color, but any peppers are fine. Add to the tomatoes. Do not mix yet. Next, finely chop red onion and jalapeno pepper. If you like spicy, leave the seeds in jalapeno, otherwise take the seeds out and chop just outer pepper. It’s still going to add heat to your Gualsa.

Wash and chop cilantro (I like plenty, again make it to your personal taste and preference), and let cilantro join the party. Season with salt and pepper. Do not mix just yet.

Last, halve the avocados. Take out the pit with your knife, and with small pairing knife, carefully cut stripes into the avocado, all the way to the skin, while holding the half in the palm of your hand. Be careful not to cut through the skin and not to cut yourself. Then repeat crosswise, so you’ll end up with dices of avocado. Repeat with the other avocado. For my own taste, I like to leave avocado in bigger chunks – since they are soft and will be inevitably little broken when mixed anyway.

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With table spoon, carefully run it against the skin, and take the avocado flesh out, straight above the bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle all over with the lime juice. I use juice of whole lime for that. You can squeeze the juice ahead of time, and then just pour it all over. Make sure to cover the avocado evenly; the lime juice is not added just for the taste, it also prevents avocado to oxidize and turn dark. When everything is in the bowl, sprinkle with olive oil and mix carefully together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
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Cover with plastic foil, and let cool in the fridge for 1/2 hour. That is, if you can wait – or dig in right away, and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips! I also use this as super bright salad on its own.Oh – and as for wine pairing – when I go this road, although devoted wine lover, in this case I reach for nicely chilled bottle of Corona with a slice of lime. What would be your choice of drink? How about some great margarita?!!!

Enjoy!

All recipes paired with wine, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Quinoa Edamame Pilaf

This dish started as a phantasy ride on “fried rice” – but I was in hurry and Quinoa cooks much faster than rice. And I like the crunch this grain has. I was kind of mixing stuff together without plan, but the result was surprisingly delicious! Nobody complaint about “healthy food”!!! The recipe might look like a lot of ingredients, but it’s basically your “Chinese cooking stuff” already in the pantry.

Quinoa Edamame Pilaf

1 cup quinoa – cooked in 2 cups of chicken broth
½ red onion, finely copped
1 carrot – peeled and chopped
½ cup chopped celery root (you can use celery stick as well, but the root is softer)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ cup low sodium soya sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce (I like Ka.Me)
¼ cup blended sesame oil
3 tbsp peanut oil
¼ Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper (careful, sauces are salty)
Juice from ½ lime
2 tbsp Sriracha (hot chilli sauce) (optional, but delicious!!!)
2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp flex seeds
1 can of Straw mushrooms
1 cup cooked Edamame soybean

Cook quinoa, following the instructions, until soft. Fluff and lets stand.
In the large pan cook (or wok) heat peanut oil and sauté onions, celery and carrot for a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and mix together. Sauté for another 30 seconds. Add all the sauces and sesame oil.  Add Sriracha if you don’t mind the heat.  Stir in quinoa and Edamame soybean.  Season with lime juice and sprinkle seeds over the mix for a healthy crunch.

At the end, mix in the drained straw mushrooms (chop in smaller pieces if desired).

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Summer is the time for yummy Gazpacho

 My first Gazpacho was in Spain. We got served this goodness in 1 star Michelin rated restaurant Las Rejas Restaurante in Cuenca, La Mancha. As everything else in this super special place, it got served in a tiny glasses (like a shot) and to be honest, I didn’t even know what it was. But I drank it and it was superb!

Trying not to draw any attention to the fact that I had no clue, I learned later from one of my smarter colleagues that this was, in fact, a gazpacho. I remember that name ever since. And now, ever since the warm season starts, I keep asking about it in my favorite Spanish restaurant Costa del Sol in Hartford, CT.

I would never dream of cold soup. I know there are many recipes for different cold summer soups – it just never appealed to me. Until I tried gazpacho.

Last time I bought 3 portions in the restaurant to take out with me. I was also chatting with the chef Javier, tricking him into giving me the recipe. He gave me some hints. I kept guessing what was in it, he kind of confirmed it. Good enough. I have just tried to make my first gazpacho at home and I am very pleased with the result.

Tasting it side by side with the restaurant’s version, mine is slightly different (I guess that depends on what kind of veggies one uses and in what ratio). But it is gazpacho, and I will gladly share it with you! Is it authentic?

I have no idea! You may have seen  better recipes out there, but this one is mine and I am sticking to it (because it tasted really good). Did it taste to my liking? Oh, yeah! As Javier said: “Spaniards keep gazpacho in the fridge and snack on it all day long – it’s like Spanish Bloody Mary, only without the alcohol.”

Gazpacho

1 cucumber
1 large garden tomato
3 Kumato tomatoes (just because I love the rich flavor)
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 of large red onion
1 cup of tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of good quality sherry vinegar
juice from 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
salt and pepper

Have colander ready with a dish underneath to catch all the precious juices.
Peel cucumber and cut lengthwise, removing the soft, seed part. Seed part with all the juices goes into colander. Chop the cucumber and add to the blender.

Cut the top of the tomatoes, remove the seed’s part to the colander. Add tomatoes to the blender. Clean and seed peppers, chop and add to the blender.

Add garlic, onion, squeeze lime into the mix, add tomato juice, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add whole cilantro to the mix and turn on the blender. Don’t forget to add all the juices you got from the removed parts of tomatoes under your colander.

I first used “blend – puree” button on my blender, and when all the veggies were blended, I switched to “liquefy-whip” function. Let the blender running for a few minutes to get a fine, delicate puree.

They are adding a little bread to the blender in the restaurant, to get more body to their gazpacho. I tried mine without bread and it was just fine. It’s up to you. Taste it and season a little more, if desired. I kept adding vinegar because it was lacking the acidity to my taste.

Gazpacho can be kept in refrigerator for a week. It is served chilled, with just a splash of quality extra virgin olive oil and a piece of cilantro. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!