Curried Cucumber Salad

Curried Cucumber Salad 2014We have had some absolutely stunning weather in Colorado these past few days. I know that we will have snow and cold again, and I even know that it won’t be long before that happens, but the gorgeous sunshine and warmer temperatures have me believing that summer is just around the corner.

Last summer had a few transformative moments for me, some things I did a little differently than I have in the past or than I normally would. Some special people moved further away, while other special friends found a spot in my heart. I spent many evenings walking in the sunshine, and many, many more days cooking vegetables that I had grown in my very first garden. Honestly, I love that memory – I even love that I spent most of those summer months with scratches on my arms and legs from wandering through my garden and weeding and harvesting. The thought of summer coming and my next garden has me thinking about what it might look like this year, how it might be different, what other transformations are on the horizon.

I guess that’s what spring is for, actually, isn’t it? New growth, small changes, an opportunity for renewal. Much like the new year has me exploring resolutions, I’ve noticed that this time of year has a similar feel to it, only it’s far gentler. There seems to be a subtle shift in the air that allows for the heart to open and be ready for the sunshine to come in. That thought makes me think that there is also a purpose in the inevitable last few cold weeks and even a few snow storms. I think that for me, at least, those colder days will provide an opportunity to sit quietly with a blanket and cup of tea or glass of wine and let the possibilities of spring settle in and take shape. I wish sometimes we all had simpler lives so that we could follow the natural rhythm of the seasons more closely.

On to this recipe – there actually is a reason that it came about! The thoughts of a summer garden reminded me of all the cucumbers that I had last year. They were so sweet and delicious and I ate them constantly. For a few weeks, there were so many that I was eating them three times a day. This salad became a favorite of mine because I happen to love Indian food and while it’s a lot simpler than the amazing dishes you can find in Indian cuisine, it does bring those warm flavors to the table incredibly fast. Sometimes that’s really all I’m looking for.

I hope you enjoy it!

Curried Cucumber Salad

3 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

2 tsp. fresh lime juice, about 1/2 a lime

3/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

1 scallion, sliced

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder and salt.

2) In a serving bowl, place the cucumber slices, parsley, and scallions. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Enjoy!

Serves 2-3

Green Beans in a Turmeric Cream Sauce

Green Beans in a Turmeric Cream Sauce 2014

Happy December! If you’re in the US, I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. If you are somewhere else, I hope you had a great November. 🙂

These green beans are not your quiet, well-behaved little side dish. They stand right up and demand to be noticed and I think they are insanely delicious. In fact, I couldn’t get enough of this sauce and was practically licking the plate when I was through. I could say that I was licking the plate in order to get all of the health-supporting components of the turmeric, because there are many. But I’d be lying. The fact is, this sauce made me do a happy dance.

So what’s so great about turmeric? It’s the part of curry powder that turns it yellow and it has a warm, deep flavor. It’s slightly bitter, but in this sauce the coconut milk helps spread the flavor throughout the dish and it becomes positively addicting. Turmeric has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. There is some research suggesting it might even help prevent the spread of cancer, lower blood sugar, and reduce LDL (the bad) cholesterol. It can aid digestion, reduce headaches and stomach pain, and potentially fight depression and Alzheimer’s. All of that in a jar of spice.

This is one of those recipes that can be scaled to size and I think it would be lovely on a holiday table. Something a little different to liven up your typical green bean casserole. You could add some crispy little caramelized onions on top or maybe some toasted coconut flakes sprinkled with curry powder and salt. Or have it just the way it is. I know that I’m going to have to make it again right this minute.

Green Beans in a Turmeric Cream Sauce

1 tsp. coconut oil

½ onion, chopped

4 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 ¼ tsp. salt, divided

1 lb. frozen green beans

1/3 c. water

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. grated ginger

¼ tsp. turmeric

¼ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground coriander

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

½ c. full-fat coconut milk

1 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions

  1. In a large sauté pan, melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions and mushrooms with ½ tsp. salt until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add green beans, water, and another ½ tsp. salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 7 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and final ¼ tsp. salt. Stir for a moment until fragrant and add coconut milk. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste for seasoning, adding any additional salt or pepper.
  4. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and cilantro and serve.

Paleo Calabacitas (Sauteed Zucchini and Peppers)

Paleo Calabacitas 2 2014 This summer was really my first true vegetable garden. It still wasn’t huge, but I had multiple plants and at times a few more zucchini than any one person should eat in a day. I tried, though. Really I did.

The first time I tasted Calabacitas was at our local Chile and Frijoles festival a few years ago. Fair and festival food are generally not Paleo-friendly and my family and I don’t spend a lot of time eating our way through them, but we do like to walk around, soak up the atmosphere, get a bunch of roasted chiles if we’re at the Chile Festival, and support our local community. On this particular occasion, though, there was a stand with a man serving little cups and bowls of zucchini so, being the veggie-lover that I am, I had to give it a try.

There are many different ways to prepare this dish but I’ve found that I like it simple. The way I first tasted it, it included squash, corn, peppers, onions, lots of butter, and a sprinkling of queso fresco. It was rich and luscious and love at first bite. I created different variations over the years, but when I went Paleo 2 years back, I knew I’d need to come up with something that was Paleo-friendly. So out with the corn, butter, and cheese and in with the Paleo-approved fats. This dish is so tasty that you really don’t miss the cheese, and it’s the perfect side dish in summer when your garden is overflowing with zucchini. It goes with any grilled meat and it’s wonderful next to eggs in the morning too. Make any modifications you want – that’s what we do around here anyway. Be sure to let me know if you change something up and it makes your tastebuds sing!

Paleo Calabacitas

1 Tbsp. bacon grease

1 red onion, chopped

1 Pueblo or Anaheim chile, chopped (I generally don’t use a roasted one here, but you could!)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 med-large zucchini, about 4 cups chopped

1 1/2 tsp. salt pepper to taste

3 Tbsp. coconut milk

1/3 c. cilantro, minced

Directions

1) In a large sauté pan, melt bacon grease over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 3-4 minutes, until just beginning to soften.

2) Add all the chopped peppers, zucchini, and salt. Stir to coat with the fat and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, until everything is soft and tender, almost velvety.

3) Stir in the coconut milk and cilantro, additional salt and pepper as desired. A squeeze of lime is nice too. Enjoy!

*Note: I don’t really know how many this serves. It never seems to last very long in our house!

Confetti “Rice” Salad with Salmon

Cauliflower Rice

I’m a cookbook junkie. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks plus a few shelves on a secondary bookshelf and a new shelf in the pantry, but I don’t think anyone’s noticed that one yet… 😉 I was in my early 20s living in France when I first started reading cookbooks as if they were best-selling novels. I had a 90 minute commute on the metro and a regional train to the suburbs of Paris for work. When you spend that much time on public transportation, you go through a lot of books. I was also on a tight budget, so when I discovered a series of spiral-bound paperback cookbooks that covered individual topics, I was elated. They were about $2 a piece, and nearly every week I would buy a couple. I still have my collection today, but honestly, I don’t cook from them anymore. I just can’t imagine parting with them either. Over the years, I’ve collected many more cookbooks and periodically I do go through them and donate some. Each time it makes me smile to see how my tastes and cooking style have evolved over the years.

Lately, as I’m sure you can imagine, Paleo cookbooks have placed front and center and I recently got one called 500 Paleo Recipes by Dana Carpender. One of the things that I look for in a cookbook these days is that little something different, something unusual. I’m not afraid to combine exotic flavors or seemingly random ingredients to create a flavor or texture that awakens the palate and Dana does just that! I find myself wanting to try so many of the recipes and when I do, I want to make them again.

That’s what happened with this recipe. It is inspired by Dana’s own Confetti Salad but when I made it, I modified a few things along the way. It was so delicious that I immediately wanted to make it again and decided to record what I was doing so that I could share it with you. There’s something magical that happens with the soft, slightly briny artichoke hearts and the rich, toasted pine nuts with the gentle tang of white balsamic. It’s really special, I think. Just so you know, nobody out there is going to mind if you make a few of your own modifications (the original didn’t call for salmon so you could always skip it, for example) and make this your very own.

Confetti “Rice” Salad with Salmon – inspired by 500 Paleo Recipes

4 tsp. Paleo mayonnaise

4 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. dry thyme

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

1/3 c. artichoke hearts (I used about 1/2 a can)

1/3 c. thinly sliced bell pepper, preferably red/orange/yellow

1/2 c. thinly sliced celery

1 1/2 c. steamed cauliflower rice*

3-4 oz. cooked salmon (canned okay)

2 tsp. pine nuts, toasted

1 scallion, sliced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, curry powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

2) If the artichoke hearts are large or need trimming, quarter or cut off any tough parts and place in a medium salad bowl. Add the bell pepper slices, celery, and cauliflower rice. Add the salmon and dressing and mix gently so the salmon stays in nice-sized pieces.

3) Taste and adjust seasioning with any additional salt, pepper, or curry powder. Top with pine nuts and scallions and serve.

Serves 1-2 (If serving 2, some hard-boiled eggs and tomato slices on the side would be nice.)

*Note: To make cauliflower rice, place florets in a food processor fitted with an s-blade and pulse 10-12 times until it looks like grains of rice. It might take a few batches so it doesn’t turn to mush. Put the rice into a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for about 6 minutes. Let cool and then either use immediately or refrigerate to use later in the week for salads like this!

Green Chile Cauliflower Rice

Roasted Chile Cauliflower Rice 2014

I’m so sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new recipe. Sometimes life just gets in the way! I haven’t stopped cooking, though, and I have a few different recipes that are waiting to be shared. I would love to say that it’s a bunch of meat dishes, since I need a few more of those on the blog, but of course, it’s my beloved veggies that come first.

In Colorado, this time of year is chile roasting season. Pueblo, in particular, is known for its Pueblo chile – hotter than an Anaheim but still not habanero-hot, the Pueblo chile is meaty and flavorful and we use it for everything. Green chile (the sauce/stew, not just the chile itself) covers just about anything here from burritos to eggs to biscuits and you can do anything you want with the plain chile – I’ve even used them to replace a hamburger bun and it was delicious. We like to get our chiles roasted by the bushel and you can find that being done at farmers markets, in front of supermarkets, and at the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles festival. The air smells fantastic, even if your eyes might sting a little bit.

Since green chiles are a tradition here, I really couldn’t imagine going through fall without sharing a recipe with you that’s filled with them. If you can’t get your hands on some Pueblo chiles, you can use Anaheim or poblano chiles. You’ll just want to be sure to roast them first and you might add a jalapeno or Serrano to kick up the heat a bit. This version of cauliflower rice is currently my favorite! Happy fall!

Green Chile Cauliflower Rice

1/2 large head of cauliflower

1 tsp. salt

1Tbsp. lard, bacon grease, or F.O.C. (fat of choice)

1/2 onion, chopped

1-3 Pueblo green chiles (depending on how hot you like it), roasted and chopped

1/4 c. full fat coconut milk

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Cilantro (optional)

Directions

1) First, rice the cauliflower. Roughly chop the florets and place in a food processor with an s-blade. Pulse about 10 times until the cauliflower resembles grains of rice. This may take a few batches so that it doesn’t turn to mush. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the “rice” for 6 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2) In a large sauté pan, melt lard over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the cauliflower, salt and green chiles and cook for about 5 minutes more.

3) Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk and lime, stirring to combine. Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve.

Serves 2-3

Grilled Zucchini Salad

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon Thyme 2014Summer is in full swing and we’ve been having very garden-friendly weather in Colorado. It’s been wet and not too hot and things are really taking off now. Zucchini has been making an appearance in more meals than I can count lately and when I’ve fired up the grill, I almost always toss some on. If I don’t use it right away, I’ll stick it in the fridge and either have it for a snack or add it to something later on. It’s such an easy veggie to have on hand for snacks, but then again, I love just about any vegetable at any time. Except okra, in case you were wondering. I absolutely abhor okra. Maybe one day someone will convince me otherwise but for now, if a recipe calls for okra, I’d probably substitute zucchini. 🙂

The herbs that I planted this year include basil (lots), dill, and lemon thyme. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with thyme other than add it to soups and stews, mostly in the fall. And lemon thyme is a bit different – mine at least has a pretty big punch of lemon. I have a lot of it though, so I’ve been adding it rather randomly to see what I think. In this case, I knew that I wanted a citrusy counterpoint for the zucchini and I also wanted to add some dill, which is good friends with lemon too. The combination was bright and lively and it really felt like a summer evening by the grill to me. If you have different herbs that you need to use, by all means do that! These vegetables and the lemon vinaigrette are very friendly and would go with just about anything – basil, parsley, chives, rosemary. Whatever you have on hand would probably be delicious. I thought this salad improved with a little sitting time and was perfect next to eggs the next morning so don’t hesitate to make a bunch and save some for leftovers.

Grilled Zucchini Salad

4 zucchini

2 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper, plus more to taste

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

about 8 kalamata olives, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

juice from 1/2 a lemon

about 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

3-4 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme, about 1 Tbsp. chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Slice the zucchini lengthwise into quarters. Place in a bowl or plate and toss with 2 tsp. olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for about 10 minutes.

2) Grill the spears over medium heat until soft and charred on all sides. Time will vary depending on heat, etc. so just keep an eye on them and grill to your liking.

3) Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Chop into one-inch chunks and place in a bowl.

4) While the zucchini are cooling, mix the mustard, lemon juice, and Tbsp. of olive oil in a small bowl and chop or slice the tomatoes, onion, and olives. Add these to the bowl with the zucchini.

5) Add the chopped fresh herbs, the dressing, and toss everything well. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before adjusting salt and pepper and serving. This salad can be eaten slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold. They’re all delicious!

Serves 4

Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

Tomato Basil Salad on Zucchini Noodles 2014Having a garden is amazing and rewarding and to actually eat things that I planted just weeks ago gets me excited every single time. There is something truly fulfilling and gratifying and I can’t wait to experiment with other vegetables next year. This year, however, the learning piece has included zucchini plants. I had a bit of a debate with the person at the nursery where I purchased my little seedlings about how many to plant together because the little stick said to plant two. My neighbors have since smiled…and locked their doors. Apparently, they don’t want to share in my bounty! 😉

I am not intimidated, though, since I have a million ways to prepare zucchini. And a spiral slicer, which helps immensely. Zoodles rule and I really can’t imagine getting sick of them so you might see a few more recipes over the course of the summer. I hope they serve as launching pads for your own ideas and that you’ll share whatever magic you are making happen in your own kitchen!

Zoodle Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil

3-4 zucchini

1 Tbsp. salt

1 c. tomatoes, chopped

6 kalamata olives

1 tsp. pinenuts, toasted

2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

small clove of garlic

1/3 c. fresh basil chiffonade

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Spiral slice or julienne the zucchini and place in a strainer over the sink. Toss with salt and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse well and cut into shorter zoodles, if necessary.

2) In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and garlic and set aside.

3) Place zucchini in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, and basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well to combine.

4) Chill the salad for about 15 minutes, then add pepper and additional salt, if desired. Enjoy!

Serves 2

*Note: The proportions in this salad are totally flexible. Use what you have and what you like!