Bruschetta Salmon over Garlicky Zoodles

It’s entirely possible to get a delicious dinner on the table quickly. The key is to do a little prep work ahead of time and choose the right ingredients. Salmon and zoodles both take very little time to cook and the flavors of this dish are hearty and bold while staying light and refreshing for a hot summer day. It was so good that I kept saying “mmmm….” after nearly every bite.

I used my Spiralizer to make the zoodles the other day and salted them in a colander for about 20 minutes to get rid of most of the water. Once rinsed, I popped them in a container and stuck them in the fridge for tonight. I got home from yoga and was able to have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. It might have been even faster if I’d been focused instead of chatting and taking notes for the recipe.

I have to admit that I struggled with what to call this. I decided on Bruschetta Salmon because the topping is kind of like what you’d put on bruschetta but technically, “bruschetta” is the grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil and the topping can vary. I thought about calling it Italian Salsa but that seemed equally confusing. Anyway, no matter what you call it, it’s still delicious. But if you plan on kissing anyone, make sure they have some too!

Seriously, though, this is the type of recipe to have in your back pocket for those rushed days when you still want to take care of yourself and celebrate the joy of eating healthy, fabulous food. Quantities are flexible here too. Use more or less tomato or garlic, or use parsley instead of basil. You get the idea. It will still be good. Just get in the kitchen and spoil yourself!

Bruschetta Salmon over Garlicky Zoodles

2 salmon filets (mine were skin on)

1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 tomato

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 black olives, minced

1 Tbsp. minced sweet onion or shallot

4-6 basil leaves, julienned

1/3 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Make the topping by chopping the tomato into 1/4 inch pieces and adding to a bowl with the garlic, olives, onion, basil, vinegar and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Salt and pepper the salmon and lay face down (skin-side up) in the pan.
  3. Cook for 4 minutes and check to make sure the flesh is crispy and brown.
  4. Flip and cook skin-side down for another minute or 2, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Once the salmon is just cooked through, remove to a plate, leaving the skin behind in the pan.

Garlicky Zoodles

2 zucchini

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

  1. Spiralize the zucchini and place in a colander over the sink.
  2. Salt liberally and mix through. Leave to drain for about 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse, shake dry, and set aside. (This can be done a day or two ahead.)
  4. Warm the olive oil over low heat for a few minutes.
  5. Add the pepper flakes and garlic to the oil and allow to sizzle for about a minute until fragrant.
  6. Increase the heat to medium and add the zoodles. Toss the zoodles until evenly coated in the garlic oil and cooked, about 2 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings and plate.

Bring it all together

  1. Plate zoodles.
  2. Top with the salmon.
  3. Add 1/2 the bruschetta topping to each serving.
  4. Celebrate the freshness of summer!

Serves 2

 

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Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

Ham and Asparagus Risotto 2014 3

About this time last year, some fabulous Paleo people decided to put together a bundle of e-books to sell at an amazing price. I love when that happens because it lets a lot of people get acquainted with more Paleo blogs and cookbooks in an affordable way. Eating healthy and delicious food should be accessible, I think. Within that bundle was a cookbook that compiled a number of recipes from a website called chowstalker where I have posted before. I was honored to be asked to share a recipe for the book and this risotto is what I created. For whatever reason, I didn’t post the recipe on BalancingPaleo last year but it’s delicious and I’d love for all of you to enjoy it too, so here it is!

A risotto is a rice dish from Italy with a creamy, decadent consistency that is both comforting and luxurious at the same time. It can be made many different ways, with many different ingredients. It is a dish to master so that you can create a sumptuous risotto with whatever ingredients you have on hand. For the Paleo eater, cauliflower takes the place of rice and it does so beautifully! While it might lack some of the starchiness of rice, it makes an excellent backdrop for the ham and asparagus in this risotto. Get a quality ham with some good smoke – it’s an important ingredient here and you want to love what you’re eating. Tarragon has a flavor reminiscent of licorice, which is surprisingly delightful in this dish. You could substitute parsley if you can’t find it, but I highly recommend seeking out tarragon if at all possible.

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus is a beautiful dish that comes together quickly and highlights the bright freshness of the season. Serve this at your next dinner party or for a weeknight meal – either way, your taste buds are in for a treat!

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

2 Tbsp. ghee, divided

1 lb. ham

1/2 large onion

1 large head of cauliflower

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. vegetable broth

1/4 c. coconut milk, divided

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb.

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Ham: Melt 1/2 Tbsp. of ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cut the ham into matchsticks about 1/4 in. thick. Sear the ham until it begins to caramelize a bit, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2) Onion and Cauliflower: While the ham is cooking, finely chop the onion. Then roughly chop the cauliflower and drop it into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Process the cauliflower until it looks about like grains of rice – this will take about 10-12 pulses for each batch. A large head will need to be riced in 2-3 batches so it doesn’t get mushy. Set aside in a large bowl.

3) As soon as the ham is cooked and set aside, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp. of ghee to the pan. Sauté the onion until slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower, garlic, and salt, and stir to combine. Add broth and 2 Tbsp. coconut milk. Stir again, place a lid on the pot, and reduce heat slightly. Allow to cook for about 7 minutes.

4) Asparagus: While the cauliflower is cooking, remove the tough portion at the bottom of each asparagus and slice the stalks on the diagonal into pieces about 1 1/2 in. long. If the asparagus is as thick as a finger, first slice each stalk down the middle lengthwise and then into 1 1/2 in. pieces. Add the asparagus pieces to the cauliflower and replace the lid. Cook for 3 minutes.

5) Add the ham back to the mixture and stir in 2 more Tbsp. of coconut milk. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes until everything is piping hot.

6) Remove risotto from the heat and add 1/2 Tbsp. ghee, scallions, tarragon, and pepper. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Bacon-wrapped Chicken with Roasted Onion Gravy

Bacon-wrapped Chicken with Roasted Onion Gravy 2014Bacon happens. Sometimes I think people are interested in exploring Paleo simply because they know we eat bacon. Happily, regularly, and without fear. Notice I didn’t say with abandon. I like bacon and I definitely use it to flavor dishes, but I don’t use it as a protein source and it definitely isn’t a veggie, so that means that I use it more like a condiment. Something to make a dish a little more special or to add another layer of flavor. It’s not something we sit down to a plate of in my house, generally. It’s true my son has been known to eat an inordinate amount on occasion, but we’re working on moderation…

Here, bacon wraps around a lean chicken breast and as it cooks, the flavor melts into the sliced apples and onions. All of that gets blended together with a touch of horseradish and mustard to make an addictive, intensely flavored gravy that I show spooned onto the plate. What you don’t see is that we then slathered our chicken with it, covered our Brussels sprouts in it, and ate it directly from the spoon. Because it’s that good.

Bacon-wrapped Chicken with Roasted Onion Gravy

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 slices of thick-cut bacon

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt, divided

pepper to taste

1/2 large sweet onion, sliced

1 sweet apple, thinly sliced (I used an Ambrosia apple and left the peel on)

1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. horseradish

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss onion and apple slices with olive oil and 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper in a large glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring about half way through.

2) While the veggies are roasting, sprinkle chicken breasts with garlic powder, the other 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper, and wrap each one with a slice of bacon.

3) After the apple-onion mixture has roasted for 20 minutes, place bacon-wrapped chicken on top and put back in the oven for 25 minutes.

4) Increase the temperature to 425 degrees and cook for a final 10 minutes. When the chicken and bacon are done, remove them to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

5) Spoon everything from the bottom of the dish, including any juices, into a blender or food processor (I used a Magic Bullet). Add horseradish, mustard, and thyme and blend thoroughly but carefully, because it’s hot, until smooth. Taste and add any additional salt and pepper or horseradish for an extra kick. Plate the chicken on or under the sauce and devour.

Serves 3-4

*Adapted from 500 Paleo Recipes

Smoky Picadillo

Smoky Picadillo 2014Finally! A meat dish from me. I laugh a little bit every time I go to post a recipe and find myself wanting to share yet another veggie side dish that I’ve prepared. Maybe with the arrival of winter there will be more opportunities for me to share protein dishes because the colder weather inspires me to cook indoors more frequently. Summertime has me grilling just about everything and that keeps things simple, but now there’s a chance for a little more creativity in the kitchen when it comes to the main event.

Picadillo is a Cuban dish that is easy to make and delicious to eat. It has a lot of different flavor components that come together in a savory-sweet way that I really like. Mine isn’t totally traditional because I’ve been craving smoky flavors lately so I added some smoked paprika. And typically this would be served with rice or inside an empanada, but you know how Paleo rolls – a nice pile of meat and a veggie side and you’re good to go! You could easily serve this over spaghetti squash or tossed with some quickly sautéed zoodles, and both those options would be delicious. I had it for lunch the next day piled on top of some garlicky green beans, which might have been my favorite way, and I also heated it up and then added it to a simple salad (lettuce, tomato, avocado, scallions). There are really endless options so if you’re looking for something to make when you’re doing your weekly cook-up, you might want to give this one a try.

Smoky Picadillo

2 tsp. fat of choice (I used grass-fed beef tallow)

1/2 large onion, about 1 c. chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp. salt, divided

2 lbs. ground beef

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 c. beef broth

1/3 c. sliced green olives

2 Tbsp. raisins

2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed and chopped

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced

2 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Melt fat over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add carrots, onion, bell pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt and sauté about 5-7 minutes, until beginning to soften.

2) Add ground beef and additional 1/2 tsp. salt, plus a few grinds of pepper, and cook until brown throughout, about 10 minutes.

3) Stir in tomato paste, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and cinnamon. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add broth, raisins, olives, and capers. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.

4) Add vinegar and cilantro, taste for seasoning and add any extra salt or pepper, top with toasted almonds and serve.

Serves 6-8

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Dairy-free Paleo Crock Pot Beef StroganoffWhen I look at the history of my blog posts, I realize there are a lot of veggie recipes. You might start to think that I’m not a very good example of Paleo – where is all the meat? I honestly eat meat all the time, but for some reason, when I’m cooking and serving it, it just sort of gets eaten and the pictures don’t get taken and the recipe might not get fully developed. Most of the time, I’ll flavor something up quickly and simply and then use whatever cooking method I’m in the mood for and it’s done. Veggies and sides and salads, however, are where I tend to have more fun and play with flavors and textures a little differently. I’ll try harder to get some protein posts out there, but I actually still have a few zucchini ones waiting in the weeds…

Even though we are nearing the end of summer, it’s probably still a little early for a stew recipe. But in a previous post, I shared a recipe for Paleo Beef Stroganoff and it is consistently the top viewed and loved recipe on my site. It’s a pressure cooked meal, which makes it easy to get on the table during the week, and it’s ridiculously delicious. One lovely blog reader shared how much her family liked the recipe and asked about a slow cooker version. Then a dear friend of mine asked for one the other day too so I’ve decided to oblige, regardless of the fact that it’s supposed to be in the 90s. While I prefer other cooking methods for dishes that need to keep their distinct flavors and brightness, I’m a big fan of the slow cooker for cozy dishes like Stroganoff. You can always add some brightness with parsley, lemon zest, or zoodles as your base. I don’t like to dirty up a bunch of pots or use a lot of time browning meats ahead of time either, so as I’ve said before on this blog, if I’m using my slow cooker, I prefer to challenge myself to get the whole thing cooking in the time it takes me to scramble my eggs in the morning.

When you use your slow cooker, you don’t need to add a lot of moisture because the food you put in there will give off plenty. My slow cooker also runs fairly hot so I mention cooking it on high without the lid for the last hour. If you want this to have a thicker consistency and your slow cooker will do that, great! Otherwise, you might want to opt for the pressure cooker version where you can boil it down at the end. You can also just leave it a little soupy and serve it on top of a baked sweet potato or straight from a bowl. In either case, I hope you find the time to throw this together in the morning and love it when you get home.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs. beef stew meat

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. onion powder

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

1/2 onion, sliced

1/3 c. coconut cream (scooped from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk)

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together all of your spices. Place meat in a large bowl and sprinkle with the spices. Mix everything together, using your hands, and coat the meat well with the seasoning.

2) Place the sliced mushrooms and onion in the bowl of the slow cooker. Lay the seasoned beef on top. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 1/2 hours.

3) When the meat is tender and nearly done, add the coconut cream, vinegar, and any additional salt or pepper. Stir around and cook on high (with the lid ajar, if possible) for about an hour.

3) That’s it! Enjoy!

Serves 4-8

White Turkey Chili

White Turkey Chili on White Sweet PotatoDo you know what traditionally goes in white chili? White beans! Dried beans are a legume and they aren’t typically part of a Paleo lifestyle. My take on beans is that they’re okay on occasion if you tolerate them and if they’ve been soaked first. They’re a plant and certainly better than a box of processed ick with an endless ingredient list of non-foods. However, they have anti-nutrients that block absorption of other important components of the foods we eat, they are difficult to digest (surely not a secret), they are fairly high in carbs which can be a challenge if you are working on getting lean, and meat is simply a more bio-available source of protein.

But I like white chili so I went to work. I am a huge fan of cauliflower’s versatility and use it quite frequently to replace other foods (think rice, potatoes, chickpeas, etc.). Not only is it a great stand-in for the white beans in this dish, but it adds bulk and nutrients and an extra serving or two of veggies. Honestly, what could be wrong with that? Since it cooks up to be fairly tender, you can even mash a bit of it in your bowl to thicken it.

This is one of those dishes that can be served in a variety of ways, too. Here I have it piled on a white sweet potato, but I had the leftovers on chopped chard one day and shredded cabbage the next, allowing the heat to soften the greens. You can eat it just the way it is too – I imagine a big mug or bowl. And remember to adjust the seasonings to your taste! I used mild green chiles but some hot ones would have been great too, just a bit too much for my family.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! It made great leftovers for lunch and, even though my husband mentioned that 95 degree weather didn’t really lend itself to chili, he didn’t complain once he tasted it!

White Turkey Chili

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 onion, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey

5 cloves of garlic, minced

diced green chiles, 7 oz. can

2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed between fingers

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne

frozen cauliflower, 12 oz. bag

2 1/2 c. vegetable or chicken broth

1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided

Directions

1) Melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, bell peppers, and 1/4 tsp. salt and sauté for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften.

2) Add the turkey, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the meat, until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

3) Add chiles, spices, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir to release the flavor of the spices, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer the chili covered for about 30 minutes.

4) Remove the lid, add the cauliflower, return to a boil and simmer again, uncovered this time, for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

5) Top with cilantro, avocado, tomato, and enjoy!

Serves 4-5

Spicy Slow Cooker Pork

Pork with green chiles 2014I have had some busy mornings with busy afternoons lately and that can make it difficult to eat right in the evenings. Unless I pull out my slow cooker, of course. You probably know the rules already – for me, it has to come together quickly and I don’t want to do any extra browning of this or that. I just want to throw it all in the pot and come home later to something tasty. This does not disappoint!

I didn’t even thaw the meat. My pork was already cut into one inch pieces so I put the whole block in the crock pot, added the other ingredients, stirred it after a few hours, and a couple more hours later, it was done. If your pork isn’t frozen, that’s no problem – it just won’t take as long. The chiles I used were quite spicy so if you like it milder, go ahead and use mild green chiles. And you can serve this a lot of different ways. I went with a pile of spaghetti squash, but there’s no reason you can’t wrap it in a Paleo tortilla or top a baked sweet potato with it. Or even just eat it on it’s own. I’m already looking forward to leftovers!

Spicy Pork Slow Cooker Stew

2 lbs. pork, cut into 1″ pieces, frozen

1/2 onion, chopped

7 oz. diced green chile peppers, canned, hot or mild

1 c. full-fat coconut milk

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. dried oregano, rubbed to release flavors

1 1/2 tsp. salt

cilantro, optional

Directions

1) Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Stir, breaking up the chunks of pork and combining everything well. Cover.

2) Cook for about 2 more hours until pork is tender.

3) Plate, top with fresh chopped cilantro, and serve.

Serves 6