Slow Roasted Rosemary Tomatoes and their Oil

Provencal TomatoesThere’s nothing quite like the intense flavor of slow roasted tomatoes. If you’ve never had them, it’s a lot like sundried tomatoes only there’s a little touch of freshness to them that still remains. They are packed with umami, that 6th flavor category that means something like savory, but is perhaps more easily described as deliciousness. It gives dishes a depth of flavor and richness that is thoroughly satisfying and it pays to add bursts of umami to your dishes at every opportunity.

One of the great things about slow roasting vegetables is that you can coax a lot of flavor out of something that might have been a little less-than-spectacular to begin with. At the height of summer, it’s possible to have tomatoes as they were meant to be – bursting with ripe, fresh flavor. But most of the year, they can benefit from a little boost. This is a solution to that problem!

I was inspired to make these because this past weekend, we took down the last of my tomatoes from the garden. I was so lucky this year to be nearly overwhelmed by my tomato bounty! My backyard looked a bit like a jungle because the tomato plants were overgrown, unruly monsters. One of them even had a rosebush growing through it, which meant that every time I went to harvest the tomatoes, I had to brave the thorns. I have a few scars left to prove it! Now when I look out back, my garden space is more open, you might even say barren. When I look at it, though, it seems beautiful to me just as it is. More spacious, airy, and clear. I’m sure that I’ll plant in the spring and that it will be a giant tangle again next year, but I think I’m finally ready to settle in to the quieter months of winter.

These tomatoes take a while to make, but the process is mostly hands-off so on an afternoon when you’ll be hanging around the house, take five minutes to slice a bunch of tomatoes, drizzle them with oil and pop them in the oven. When they come out, eat a few, because you pretty much have to, and then put the rest in a jar and cover them with your favorite extra virgin olive oil. After a few days, you’ll be rewarded with a deeply flavored roasted tomato oil that is exceptional drizzled on salads and maybe even better drizzled on eggs.

Slow Roasted Rosemary Tomatoes

10-12 Roma tomatoes

3 Tbsp. olive oil

about 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

about 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (dried would work here as well)

1/2 tsp. salt

Directions

1) Turn oven to 275 degrees. There’s no need to fully preheat the oven, just prep tomatoes while it starts. Coat a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil.

2) Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and place skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread the olive oil on the open side of the tomato halves.

3) Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with garlic, rosemary, and salt. Place in the oven and roast for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

4) When the tomatoes are dried, they can be eaten as is or sliced and added to dishes for a burst of intense tomato flavor.

Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Roasted Tomatoes in Oil

Place tomatoes in a glass jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Leave to marinate for a few days and then enjoy in salads, omelettes, or next to grilled meats.

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Ginger Beef with Snow Peas

Ginger Beef with Snow Peas 2014The holidays can sometimes get the best of us with the various parties and social engagements, busy schedules, shopping, and treats. Lots and lots of treats. Now that I’ve been eating Paleo for a few years, I find that even when I go off-roading (and I admit, sometimes it’s rather significant off-roading), my body really wants to come back to this way of eating because I feel so much better inside and out.

I think it’s pretty clear that I have a love affair with vegetables. I don’t just eat them because they’re good for me, I truly love them and crave them. If I go very long (like a meal or two) without having enough of them, my body starts to send some clear signals that it’s time for me to load up. This time last year, in fact, I flew with my son to visit some family and friends in California for Christmas and after a day of traveling, all I wanted was a giant pile of vegetables. We arrived at my friend’s house and while she offered me anything I wanted (cheese comes to mind), what I ended up doing was grabbing a bag of baby bell peppers and sitting on the couch and chatting while I took down a ridiculous amount of peppers as if they were candy.

So that’s how this stir-fry was born. There were a few too many meals that we grabbed on the go and one or two too many cookies that were eaten. My brain thought everything was great and was having fun with all the sugar. Meanwhile, my body was begging for a vitamin. The snow peas were beautiful at the store and I always have a knob of ginger in my freezer. Quickly this dish took shape. It would have been delicious on cauliflower rice or over some finely shredded cabbage, and if you do rice, that would have been great too. This little stir-fry was just what I needed to get back on track.

Ginger Beef and Snow Peas

3 tsp. coconut oil, divided

1 carrot sliced paper thin (I used a mandoline)

2 – 2 1/2 c. snow peas, rinsed

1/2 lb. stir-fry beef

1 inch knob of ginger, grated

5 cloves of garlic, minced

5 scallions, whites chopped, green tops cut in 1 in. pieces

1/4 c. coconut aminos

1 tsp. rice vinegar

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

1) Melt 2 tsp. coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the carrot and sauté for about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas with any remaining water clinging to them and the scallion whites and cook for about 4 minutes until just tender. If the pan seems too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. Remove to a plate.

2) In a small bowl, combine coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and pepper flakes. Set aside.

3) Melt remaining tsp. of coconut oil in the pan and add the meat, stirring quickly until barely cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, reserved veggies, and scallion tops and stir until fragrant.

4) Add the sauce and cook until it reduces very slightly, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning, adding any salt and pepper or sesame seeds to taste, and serve.

Serves 2

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.

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

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