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. ūüôā

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

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

 

Faux-tato Salad

Cauliflower Salad The other day I saw a salad in a deli display with peas and cheese and crunchy things. It got me thinking about deli salads and summertime and all the wonderful fresh veggies that are available. I started going through the fridge looking for a combination of textures that would be reminiscent of potato salad without using potatoes. For the most part, I am happy to use nutrient dense sweet potatoes (as in this German Potato Salad¬†– so good!), but sometimes I really want a bunch of non-starchy vegetables that make me FEEL like I’m eating potatoes.

In comes the chameleon of vegetables that¬†transforms itself¬†into just about anything you’d like. If you use frozen cauliflower florets, you don’t even have to cook them. They’ve been blanched already so, once defrosted,¬†they have a soft crunch that I really like. Perhaps even more important, frozen cauliflower doesn’t make a mess! This salad combines crunch from the cauliflower, celery, and bell pepper with tenderness from the hard-boiled egg and¬†olives. Add a little brininess from the pickle and an indescribably addictive background note from smoked paprika, and this salad is a winner at any table! My husband gave it several mumbled “Mmm…mmms…,” so I think it’s a keeper.

Faux-tato Salad

1 12 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower florets

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

4 baby bell peppers, sliced into thin rounds

1/2 c. snap peas, sliced on the diagonal

3 small pickle spears, chopped

2 scallions, finely chopped

10 black olives, sliced

1/4 c. parsley, minced

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

3/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

Dressing

1/4 c. Paleo mayo

2 tsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

a couple dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco)

pinch of salt

pepper

Directions

1) Start by mixing all the ingredients for the dressing in the bottom of the salad bowl. Set aside.

2) Drop each vegetable (everything but the egg), chopped or sliced, into the bowl with the dressing. Mix well. Then add the chopped egg and mix gently.

3) Let sit for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste to adjust seasoning and enjoy.

Serves 4-6

Simple Cauliflower Rice

Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is the little black dress of the Paleo world. It can be dressed up or down and goes with just about anything. Plus, it’s pretty much essential to have it in your cooking arsenal. When you have something saucy that needs a base, when you want a veggie of some description on the side, when you don’t know what else to serve, cauliflower rice can come to the rescue. I’ve made it a dozen different ways and will post more of them as time goes by, but sometimes simple is exactly what you need.

This cauliflower rice is just the basics. I added a bunch of cilantro because I like it, but you could do parsley or even skip it altogether. What really works in this recipe is the cauliflower, ghee, and salt. It is extremely comforting. If you’ve ever¬†spent some time with a bowl of buttered rice, then let this be your new comfort in a bowl. It’s just as¬†satisfying and a whole lot better for you! Don’t skimp on the salt either (unless you’re doctor told you to) because it really brings it all together.

And no matter which version of cauliflower rice you make, you just have to deal with the mess. It’s like those little Styrofoam peanuts…it gets everywhere.

Simple Cauliflower Rice

1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets

1/2 a large onion, chopped

4 tsp. ghee

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. cilantro, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Place the roughly chopped cauliflower florets into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade and pulse about 10 times until your cauliflower looks like rice. This may take 2 -3 batches depending on the size of your cauliflower, but don’t¬†do too much at a time or it will turn to mush.

2) Melt ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onions for 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add riced cauliflower and garlic and sauté an additional 3 minutes.

3) Mix in about 1/2 tsp. of salt, put a lid on the skillet, and let everything steam for about 6 minutes, until just tender.

4) Remove from the heat, add the minced cilantro (or other herbs of your choice), additional salt and pepper, maybe even a smidge of extra ghee if you feel like it!

Serves 3-4

Squash Noodles with Cilantro Pesto

Zoodles with Cilantro PestoMany of you know how much I love my Paderno Spiral Slicer. Since purchasing it, I haven’t missed noodles because I have them all. the. time. It is immensely satisfying to slurp up some delicious noodles with a variety of sauces. In this case, I was looking for a side dish to accompany some sausages and pesto is remarkably easy. There are so many different ways you can make pesto too – it’s not just for basil and pine nuts. In this case, I made a cilantro pesto because I love the fresh citrusy burst against the squash noodles. It makes my taste buds dance.

My husband loved this and my 8 year old gave it not quite a thumbs down. In my house, that translates to insanely good because if it’s green, it already has a hit against it, and if it’s zucchini, it’s a double hit. So I’d say this is a winner! I happen to find the combination of yellow and green noodles particularly attractive, but it’s totally unnecessary. You can use either color, but if you have company coming over, definitely use both. It’s beautiful.

Squash Noodles with Cilantro Pesto

2 zucchini

2 yellow squash

2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted, divided

1 bunch cilantro

1/4 tsp. lemon zest (from 1/2 a lemon)

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbps. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Julienne or spiral-slice your squash. Place in a colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt, and let sweat for about 20 minutes.

2) While your squash is sweating, prepare the sauce. Cut off most of the cilantro ends and place the cilantro in a food processor. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts. Begin processing and add olive oil through the tube. Process until smooth and taste to adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil or lemon as needed. Set aside.

3) Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rinse squash well and shake. Add to hot pan with the water that clings to it and sauté for 3 minutes or until it is just tender to your liking.

4) Stir in about 1/4 c. pesto, or more if you like. (I saved the rest to add to my eggs the next day!)  Sprinkle with pine nuts, pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 2 (but you can easily double the squash and use all the pesto)

Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sesame Roasted Brussels SproutsEat your Brussels sprouts! Really…because they’re awesome. Little mini cabbages just waiting to be popped into your mouth. So delicious! I paired these with some pork ribs that had a Chinese five-spice rub on them and the two went together perfectly.

Sometimes just a few touches at the end of cooking can transform the flavor and feel of your dish and¬†turn what might be an ordinary vegetable dish into exactly the right vegetable for what you’re eating. In this case, the tiny additions were toasted sesame oil and scallions. The sesame oil immediately provides an Asian flair and you don’t need much at all. The toasted variety is warm and inviting and incredibly flavorful. It also provides a silkiness to the dish, enticing you to take¬†just one more¬†bite. The scallions, or spring onions, pop in your mouth and give a wonderful freshness to the dish.

I would have topped the whole thing with some toasted sesame seeds, but my husband doesn’t like them,¬†and I really like him, so I left them off. But you don’t have to! This would be delicious with some chicken or shrimp on the side – no need to get fancy. Let the Brussies steal the show!

Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 scallion, sliced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Mix with the melted coconut oil and toss with salt.

2) Place the sprouts in a large glass baking dish and roast for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring regularly so they brown richly but don’t burn.

3) Remove when they are tender but not mushy and nicely caramelized. Add the sesame oil, scallions, and any additional salt or pepper to taste.

Serves 2-3

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagusCan it really be this easy to get a gorgeous and delicious, vibrant and healthy side dish on the table? Yes it is! Roasting your vegetables with a little bit of fat will transform them. Trust me – you’ll want to try roasting everything because it is so good! When you are making dinner and looking for your side but you don’t have a lot of time, preheat the oven and you’re steps away from crowd-pleasing veggies.

You can hang on to the bottoms of the asparagus too – they work great in asparagus soup or as a veggie stock!

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. of asparagus, about the thickness of a pinkie finger

1 Tbsp. ghee, melted

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Snap off the bottom part of the asparagus stalk; where it easily breaks is where the tough part ends. Rinse the stalks and place in a large glass baking dish. Add ghee, salt and pepper and thoroughly coat the asparagus.

3) Roast for about 15 minutes. Test for doneness – you decide what you like – and enjoy!

Serves 3

Note: I like my asparagus to still be crunchy and green. They also taste slightly grassy like this, which I like. If you want yours softer and sweeter, go for it! Just don’t let them get too mushy.

Vibrantly Red Salad

Vibrantly Red Salad 2014Sometimes I eat something and immediately feel my body expressing gratitude. That might sound crazy, and maybe it actually is crazy, but it’s this sensation that I’m giving my cells what they need to repair, reenergize, and conquer the amazing tasks they have to do each day. This salad did exactly that. Full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, it was almost as if these veggies were running through my body and cleaning up the mess from intense workouts, environmental toxins, stress, etc. And it tastes good too!

If you’ve never eaten beets before, they can make a bit of a mess. Just don’t wear anything special while you make this salad. Most often, I steam or roast them before peeling and eating, but here they are shredded raw. I give them a really good scrub under the water and might peel any roots or hairs dangling, but I don’t worry too much. A pass through the shredder of the food processor and they’re good to go. The other possibly unusual addition is the radicchio. This bitter lettuce adds some lightness and buoyancy to the salad and is worth seeking out, but it’s a bit pricey so if you want to skip it, that’s okay. I also ended up adding some chopped¬†parsley.¬†I was really going for red veggies, but I like the grassy flavor¬†parsley provides and truly, it was beautiful with the green too. Just don’t tell the title that.

If you are looking to start the year off with a fresh and vibrant outlook along with some delicious raw veggies, then this salad is a lovely way to ring in the new year! I hope you enjoy it!

Vibrantly Red Salad

1/4 head of radicchio, very thinly sliced

1/4 head of purple cabbage, very thinly sliced

1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced

2 small to medium beets, shredded (I used a food processor)

1/2 cup red grapes, cut into sixths

Dressing

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

fresh cracked pepper

2 Tbsp. parsley, optional

Directions

1) Make sure all of your vegetables are thinly sliced or shredded. This can be done with a food processor, a knife, and/or a box grater. I used a knife for everything except the beets which are cleaner and easier to shred in the food processor.

2) Put all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to bring them together. Pour over the salad and toss well to combine.

3) Taste the salad and adjust ingredients – more salt or pepper, a little more olive oil or vinegar – depending on your taste. Add parsley if you wish and toss again. Eat and live vibrantly!

Note: I found that the grapes added just the right amount of sweetness for me, but feel free to add a drizzle of honey to the salad dressing if you want more (not Whole30 though).

Serves 4

*Thanks to my dad for referring me to a salad by Dale Pinnock in The Medicinal Chef that inspired this variation.

Cucumber Noodles with Salmon

Cucumber noodles with salmonMany of you know that one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my¬†Paderno spiral slicer. Almost immediately after¬†purchasing it,¬†I lost all desire for wheat noodles. I admit to sometimes¬†dreaming about¬†gnocchi or homemade ravioli, but a pile of regular noodles? Nope. All gone. It comes down to this…If I FEEL like I’m eating noodles and what I’m eating¬†has delicious flavor, then I’m good!¬†It’s pure comfort in a bowl, slurpy goodness, noodley satisfaction.

I also¬†happen to love Asian flavor combinations, so when I came across the Cold Sesame (Cucumber) Noodle salad over at The Clothes Make the Girl, I was ecstatic. I have made that very recipe a number of times and even shared it with friends. But if you like to cook, which I of course do, then you often look at recipes as a template and begin making modifications until the recipe becomes your own. That’s what happened with this one.

While I love having salads on the side, sometimes I’m looking for a one-dish meal that comes together fast and makes me feel like I’m special. This one does exactly that! Canned salmon is probably my favorite of the canned fish, but it’s a bit pricey, so I don’t eat it all the time. Here, its rich flavor marries¬†perfectly with the sesame and ginger – it really can’t be beat. I love the kick that fresh ginger gives this dressing¬†and the lemon makes the whole dish sing.

You can add all kinds of vegetables to this too! I used bell pepper, but snap peas or even steamed green beans would be nice. If you’re making this just for one, save half the dressing to whip up another salad even faster¬†tomorrow.

Cucumber Noodles with Salmon

Salad

2 cucumbers

salt

2 cans of salmon (I used boneless, skinless like this)

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 scallions

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped about 1 Tbsp.

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil or more to garnish

Dressing

1 Tbsp. almond butter (no sugar)

1 Tbsp. sunflower butter (no sugar)

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. coconut aminos

1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

Juice from 1/2 a lemon, about 2 Tbsp.

1/4 tsp. salt

Directons

1) Peel and julienne your cucumbers. Either use a spiral slicer, a peeler, or just slice very thinly with a knife. Place in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink and salt generously. Leave to sit about 10 minutes.

2) Put all your dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

3) Add the bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro to a bowl. Drain the canned salmon and add it to the veggies. Rinse the cucumber noodles thoroughly and shake off any excess water. Add them to the bowl, pour the dressing over everything, and toss thoroughly. Plate and drizzle with sesame oil. Add a pinch of salt, if necessary, and slurp away!

Serves 2

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

Brussels sproutsRoasting is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables. Take just about any vegetable, add a fat, some salt and pepper, and heat from the oven and you wind up with a sweetly caramelized, tender and delicious, totally transformed creation. Even if you think you don’t like a certain vegetable, I challenge you to try it roasted. You just might change your mind.

Brussels sprouts and mushrooms are a wonderfully earthy combination. When roasted, they both become tender but they also retain some density to them, almost a meaty chew. A winter staple in our house, I hope you like them too!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered

2 1/2 c. thickly sliced mushrooms

1/2 an onion

5 cloves of whole, peeled garlic

2 Tbsp. fat of choice, melted if solid (I used freshly rendered lard from a pastured pig)

3/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

2 tsp. parsley, optional garnish

1/2 tsp. orange zest, optional garnish

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet.

2) Slice the halved onion lengthwise down the middle and then crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Break apart and place on the baking sheet with the sprouts and mushrooms. Add the garlic, lard or other fat, salt and pepper, and toss thoroughly to combine.

3) Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until tender and well caramelized, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, taste to adjust seasonings, and add parsley and orange zest if desired.

Serves 4