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!

Cajun Broccoli Salad

Cajun Broccoli Salad 2014I know! I know! Another salad! I keep thinking I need to cook more main dishes for the site, and I definitely will, but you always need something on the side. Right? And as I go through my day and cook for my family, I make salads like this one that I just love and feel are worth sharing. Especially since it’s summertime so it’s nice to have something cooler alongside whatever you’ve grilled. But I’m probably not fooling anyone – I’d eat this salad all through winter too.

What got me going was that we were invited to a friend’s house for a Cajun boil and I was in charge of bringing a salad. I love broccoli salads and I started wondering if they were typically Cajun. I still don’t really know the answer to that because I couldn’t find a definitive answer. Instead I used my imagination and made my own. If you’re Cajun and reading my blog, I apologize in advance if I’ve overstepped my bounds. I hope you like the salad anyway!

Cajun Broccoli Salad

3 med-large broccoli crowns

1 large red bell pepper

5-6 mushrooms

2 large stalks of celery

3 scallions

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Dressing

3/4 c. Paleo mayo

1/2 lemon, juiced about 2 Tbsp.

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)

Directions

1) Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil and throw in a handful of salt. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Add them to the boiling pot for 3 minutes. Remove and run under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the bright green color. Place in a large bowl.

2) Chop the bell pepper into 1/2 in. pieces, very thinly slice the mushrooms and the celery (a mandoline can come in handy here), and thinly slice the scallions. Toss all the veggies in the bowl with the broccoli.

3) Make the dressing in a small bowl by mixing all the ingredients together well. Toss the salad with the dressing and taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt or Cajun spice as desired.

4) Serve garnished with bacon crumbles.

Serves 4-6

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

Beets with Radishes and DillI confess. This picture is deceiving. When you toss the salad with the dressing, the entire thing becomes a glowing pink. It’s beautiful, but if you have an aversion to pink food, you might want to steer clear of this one. If, however, you are a fan of pink – or you don’t care because you love beets – then this salad is for you. The first night I made it, my husband couldn’t even wait to let this one get to the table. I said something about it being pink and wondering if that would be a problem for my blog readers and he just said, “It’s delicious!” Twice. While taking another bite. I ended up having to recreate it almost immediately because I like to have my salads carry over to the next day so I can eat them at breakfast with my eggs. So I did! Once you have your beets cooked, the rest is a snap.

There are a lot of different ways to cook beets. I respect people who roast them and I think steaming is a great way to maintain the nutrients, but I usually end up cutting off all but an inch or so of the stem and root ends, plopping them in a pot of salted water about half-way up the beets, and simmering them with the lid on until they’re tender when poked. I’ll turn them over during the process so they cook evenly and when they’re done, I stick them in a container and peel them once they’ve cooled. I’ve found that to be the simplest way for me to cook beets. If you have a favorite method, feel free to share it – I’m always willing to try something new!

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

7-8 small to medium beets

4 scallions

10 radishes

Dressing

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

3-4 sprigs of fresh dill, about 1 Tbsp. minced

Directions

1) Cook the beets using your preferred method. See notes above for how I typically do it. When the beets are cool, peel off the skin, and chop into 3/4 in. pieces and place in a bowl.

2) Thinly slice the scallions and radishes and add both to the bowl of beets.

3) Mix the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl and then spoon over the salad. Toss well, marveling at how bright and pink it is, and sprinkle dill on top.

Note: This salad could also be plated first with the dressing drizzled over the top to keep the colors separate. Momentarily anyway.

Serves 3-4

Cucumber-Grapefruit Salad

Cucumber-Grapefruit Salad 2014Eating grapefruit always reminds me of my grandma. She has a grapefruit tree in her yard and for as many years as I can remember, there has always been a half of a grapefruit for breakfast. She also is the one who introduced me to what is still one of my favorite salads and it has grapefruit too. It’s a luscious fruit, fleshy and flavorful. The pink ones are considerably sweeter than the yellow and I don’t think they need any sweetener added to them. I like the yellow ones without sugar as well, but some people find them to be a little too tart.

This salad reminds me of spring. The new radishes are sweet and the colors are bright but soft, not quite reaching the intensity of summer. This salad can easily be doubled (or more) to serve with company and it goes with so many things. It would be delicious next to grilled or baked chicken and lovely next to pan seared fish. If you have a little mint, you could sprinkle that on top. Whatever you decide to do with it, I hope you enjoy its delicate flavors and subtly sweet allure.

Cucumber-Grapefruit Salad

1 grapefruit (preferably pink) + its juice

1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded

3 radishes, trimmed

1/4 avocado, chopped

1 scallion, sliced

1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard (omit for AIP-friendly)

pinch of salt

1) Over a bowl to catch the juice, cut out the grapefruit supremes by first removing and discarding the top and bottom peel of the grapefruit. Then cut along the sides removing the rest of the peel and any bitter pith. Cut into each section removing the flesh only. Place sections on a cutting board and halve or quarter them. Squeeze the remainder of the grapefruit juice into the bowl.

2) Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the cucumber into very thin half-moons. With the mandoline again, slice the radishes thinly.

3) Evenly distribute the grapefruit, cucumber, radishes, avocado, and scallion onto 1 or 2 serving plates.

4) Whisk the vinegar, mustard, and salt into the reserved grapefruit juice. Taste to adjust seasoning and drizzle over the salad.

Serves 1-2

Zesty Zoodles with Wilted Arugula

Zucchini and Arugula ZoodlesSpring brings a whole host of wonderful greens to eat. You can still get the hearty greens that were around in the winter like kale, collards, and chard, but you can also get a number of other greens that are a little more delicate and start showing up at this time of year. You can find arugula year-round too, but it’s usually bagged or boxed up. In the spring, you can often find it with the roots still attached, which I think is really lovely. There’s something about knowing that your greens came from the ground and that you need to put them in a tub of water and swish them around a bit that makes me appreciate them even more.

I have always liked adding greens to noodle dishes, but I sort of forgot about it since transitioning to zoodles. The other day I started thinking about tossing some in with my zucchini noodles, and I was not disappointed. Sticking with a simple treatment that mellows the arugula a bit and goes well with zucchini was my goal. I happen to love the peppery bite of arugula, but if it’s a bit too spicy for you, then grab a handful of baby spinach. I’m sure that would be just perfect in this.

Zesty Zoodles with Wilted Arugula

2 medium zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper

1/2 a bunch of arugula, about 3 oz. or 4 cups

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 Tbsp. chives

salt and pepper

Directions

1) Julienne the zucchini and yellow squash or put it through a zoodler. Place in a strainer over the sink and salt generously. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. Rinse and shake dry.

2) Rinse and dry the arugula (it’s okay if some water remains on the leaves) and roughly tear into large bite-sized pieces.

3) Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper. When they are fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the zucchini noodles to the pan and toss to distribute the oil and garlic throughout. Cook for about 8 minutes, continuing to toss. Once cooked to your liking, add the arugula and toss with tongs until wilted, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove from the heat and add lemon zest, chives, additional teaspoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2-3

South-of-the-Border Sweet Potato Noodles

Mexican Sweet Potato HashThe picture does not do these sweet potato noodles justice! They are so much better than they look – trust me! Do you have a spiral slicer yet? If you don’t you can use a julienne peeler or even just chop them up. It’ll still be good, but there’s something really special about the sensation of the noodles in your mouth, especially if you don’t do traditional noodles anymore. They’re wiggly and fun and really good.

We ate these at dinner with a side of chorizo meatballs and a cucumber salad. They’d be great for breakfast with an egg on top or for lunch or a snack (especially post-workout). If I were having a really bad day, I might even be tempted to eat the entire bowl all by myself. And you know what? That would be just fine.

South-of-the-Border Sweet Potato Noodles

1 large sweet potato, peeled

1 Tbsp. lard (or other fat)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/4 c. water

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Directions

1) Heat lard in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes until beginning to soften.

2) While your veggies are cooking, turn your sweet potato into noodles using a spiral slicer or a julienne peeler. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan along with the water and salt and place a lid on it. Allow to steam-cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until soft and done to your liking.

3) Add the garlic and cumin to the mix and stir to combine. Allow the flavors to come together for a few minutes, add additional salt if necessary, and serve.

Serves 2-4, depending on the size of your sweet potato and your appetite.

 

Go-To Guacamole

Go-To Guacamole 2014To me, guacamole is one of those foods that doesn’t really need a recipe. In fact, I think that perhaps writing down what you put in your guacamole might even be like putting this fantastic condiment in some sort of food jail. I believe it’s meant to be an expression of the cook, a playful conversation between the different ingredients that you choose to put in, something that can be changed on a whim. It really depends on the flavors of the individual ingredients too. Is your avocado more or less ripe? Is your onion sweeter or spicier? How strong is your garlic? Plus I think it might also be that avocadoes are so incredibly delicious, you have to try really hard to mess it up. At least in my opinion. So go for it! You might even surprise yourself.

That being said, a few years ago I was at a friend’s house and she had become somewhat of a guacamole aficionado. She shared a recipe, or rather more of a technique, that had come from her brother-in-law and ever since that day, this has been my go-to guac. I might do something different when the mood strikes – a little more lime, some cumin or coriander, orange or lemon as the citrus component, extra garlic or other combinations that stray even farther from the base – but when I just want a straight-up, no-nonsense guacamole, this one never fails. Thanks, Lauren and Raf!

Go-To Guacamole

1 large avocado or 2 small avocadoes

3/4 Tbsp. lime juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. minced sweet onion

1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno

1 Tbsp. minced cilantro

6-8 little cherry tomatoes, diced

1/4 tsp. salt + more to taste

Directions

1) Start by cutting the avocado in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop each half out in one piece and place pit-side down on a cutting board. Cut each half in half again, as if you were cutting at the equator. Then slice lengthwise into very thin slices, 1/4 in. or less. Finally cut the slices horizontally. The goal is to have very small little chunks that hold their shape while also getting a little creamy when mixed with the other ingredients. Put the avocado dice in a medium bowl.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very gently. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more lime juice or salt, a little more jalapeno, whatever makes it taste right to YOU.

3) Dollop on everything, use as a dip for veggies, eat next to eggs at breakfast, lick the spoon!

 

 

Simple Celery Salad

Paleo Celery and Raisin SaladSometimes the simplest ingredients are all you need. A couple days before making this salad, I was slicing up some celery and decided to do the entire bunch. I put what I wasn’t using into a glass jar, added water about 1/3 of the way up, put a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge. I wasn’t expecting miracles; I just wanted a way to easily store the celery and have it ready for a salad when the feeling struck. It worked like a charm.

Lunchtime rolled around today and I needed a little something extra on the side. Out came my presliced celery while I rummaged around to find a few other things that would make my palate happy. And voila! This little salad was born. Sure it would be delicious with some apple or walnuts added, a bunch of chopped parsley would be really good too (in fact I might do that next time), but this was so fresh and each ingredient had its own special place in the mix, that I hesitate to mess that up. But don’t you be afraid! If you have something that you think would be good, add it! And then let me know how it went. Enjoy!

Simple Celery Salad

1 1/2 Tbsp. Paleo Mayo

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 c. sliced celery

3 Tbsp. raisins

1 Tbsp. chopped chives

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

2) Add to the bowl the sliced celery, raisins, and chives. Stir everything together and taste to adjust seasonings.

Serves 2-3

 

Buffalo Deviled Eggs

Buffalo Deviled EggsA few of you out there might have some hard boiled eggs laying around right now. If you’ve been Paleo for a while, you might even have a constant supply of hard boiled eggs around. Here’s a little something to do with them that is fun, delicious, and super quick. These make an excellent appetizer, lunch, or snack. You can even be fancy and pipe your filling into the eggs, but I used a spoon because it was lunch time and I was hungry! Add more or less buffalo sauce to make these to your spice level and also be sure to use a hot sauce that doesn’t have a bunch of junk in it. I use Frank’s Original because it has peppers, vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder and nothing else. I used 3 eggs here, but this recipe is great for doubling or tripling. Make however many you want because they’re sure to get eaten!

Buffalo Deviled Eggs

3 hard boiled eggs

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Frank’s Original Buffalo Sauce)

celery, diced to garnish

freshly cracked pepper

Directions

1) Peel and cut hard boiled eggs in half. Pop the yolks out and place in a small bowl. Set whites aside.

2) Add mayonnaise and hot sauce to the yolks and stir to combine thoroughly. Taste and add more hot sauce to taste.

3) Spoon or pipe filling evenly into each egg half. Plate and sprinkle with celery dice and black pepper.

Serves 1-2

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Spring Celery Soup

Cream of Celery SoupThis soup is everything that makes me think of spring. It’s light and delicate, just like the first flowers peeking out. It’s simple, with very few ingredients to distract from its beauty. And it’s easy – but maybe that’s just my requirement for spring! This is sort of like a cream of celery, only it’s so much lighter. It’s a starter, not a main course, but I found myself wanting to drink it like tea while I went about my day with the birds chirping in the background. I think it would also be delicious next to a few fried eggs in the morning except that I’ll have to make another batch to try that because this one is all gone!

Spring Celery Soup

2 tsp. ghee

1 lg. leek

1/2 lb. of celery

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. dried chives

1 Tbsp. dried tarragon

1 c. coconut milk

2 c. chicken or veggie broth

Directions

1) Cut off the root end of the leek, slice lengthwise down the middle, and then cut the white and tender green parts into 1/4 in. thick half-moons. Place these in a bowl of water and swish around until all the dirt is gone. Strain. Slice the celery into 1/4 in. pieces.

2) Heat ghee over medium heat in a medium pot. Sauté the celery and leek with the salt for 5 minutes. Add the chives, tarragon, coconut milk, and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

3) With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. A Vitamix or high-speed blender would work well here too.

4) Taste to adjust seasoning and then sip with pleasure.