Tag Archives: cauliflower

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Sometimes I wonder if too much of the Food Network is a bad thing. And then creativity inspires me to create this dish, which on paper looks odd and disjointed at best, but in the mouth is creamy and delicious and bursting with “Summer is Here!” flavour. My first CSA share was a bit of a mishmash, and came with lots of bits and bobs – enough to not want to eat them all raw in salads, but not enough to make a dish highlighting the ingredients. As this summer I am addicted to re-runs of Top Chef and Chopped, I thought that I’d host my own little culinary challenge with my basket. The ingredients:

– Beets (3 small)

– Garlic Scrapes

– Basil

– Cilantro

– Beans

– Radish

– Kale

Granted, all of them could work well together in a myriad of ways – the challenge was the quantity! Tasters of each, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I adore mixed grains in a risotto/pilaf dish. Because each grain has a slightly different cooking time, the result is a chewy, creamy mouthful of goodness. This dish started out as a pilaf, but when I added the pesto mixture there was too much liquid, so it became a risotto. Quite possibly the easiest risotto ever – no stirring required! (Take that, Tom Colicchio). To the CSA offerings I added cauliflower and red onion – that’s it! The radishes were going to be incorporated, but I ate them all before the dish was born. For good measure, the radish greens made it in though. Radish greens are like dandelion greens, and quite bitter – I am addicted.

I had pre-roasted the beets as an experiment, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. By all means – go ahead if it’s cool enough to turn the oven on. I thought that the roasting quality got lost in the bright risotto, and the pre-cooked beets turned the risotto purple quite quickly. I think next time what I’ll do is leave the beets raw, and grate them on top for garnish. This would make the beet flavour more prominent, add another crunch level, and *hopefully* decrease the beet stain of the risotto!

Regardless, this dish is exceptional. Fancy enough to serve to company, delicious and decadent, I give myself a score of 10! Now where’s the Chopped auditions …

 

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

¼ cup barley

½ cup buckwheat

½ cup rice

½ cup wild rice

½ cup red onion, sliced into quarters

¼ tsp. dried thyme

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (approx. 4½ cups)

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (if short, make up difference with fresh cilantro)

1½ tsp. garlic, minced (or 3 garlic scrapes, chopped)

1¼ cup green beans, cut in 1” pieces

½ cup roasted beets, cut into wedges*

1½ cup fresh kale

salt, pepper to taste

*To roast beets, wash beets and place whole in tinfoil packet. Roast at 375dF for 40min-1h, or until just tender.

 

Directions:

1) In large pot, sauté onion in ¼ cup water until translucent, approx. 5min.

2) Add barley, buckwheat, rice, wild rice, and 6 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer approx. 25min., stirring occasionally.

3) In large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add thyme and cauliflower. Cover and cook until cauliflower tender, approx. 10min.

4) Remove cauliflower from heat and let cool slightly. Puree contents of cauliflower pot with basil and garlic until silky smooth.

5) Add cauliflower mixture to grains. Stir.

6) Add beans to mixture. Stir, cover, and let simmer approx. 5min., or until beans just tender.

7) Add beets, kale. Stir.

8) Adjust for seasonings. Turn off heat and let sit 10min.

9) Stir and serve!

 


Sambar with Rava Dosa

South Indian “chicken soup” for the soul!

Sambar is a spicy clear broth soup from Southern India and Sri Lanka. It is very simple in composition, and may be considered by some (me) to be the Indian “chicken soup” for the soul. A scattered amount of vegetables and some toor daal (also known as pigeon peas in Latin cooking) make the dish a pleasing starter to a meal or even a meal in itself. This particular recipe has a nice balance of spicy and tangy, with copious amounts of whole dried chilis and spices offset by tamarind. Tamarind is an ingredient often found in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, and gives the dish a lime-like tang. I also love to put it in chilis, as the “umami” ingredient. Tamarind pulp and tamarind concentrate can be found in any Middle East, Asian, or Indian grocery; or even a well-stocked grocery store. The base is easily adaptable, with other protein options like green or red lentils, chickpeas, white beans, fava beans, or whatever legume is speaking to you at the moment. The vegetable additions can also reflect the state of your mood/fridge: zucchini, carrots, celery, bell pepper, eggplant … even cauliflower would all be delicious! It is a comfort soup like chicken noodle, and would cure whatever ails you. With the added bonus of being extremely tasty, this soup should be a cold weather standby.

Sambar is often served with a Dosa, an Indian flatbread. After my dosa disasters, I tried another recipe that didn’t involve fermenting beans or rice – Rava Dosa. Rava Dosas are crepes made from semolina and rice flour and are extremely simple to make! Easier even than pancakes, they also taste fantastic and are quick to throw together. They are delicious by themselves, but also make a great dipping vessel for soups, stews, and curries. The jalapeno and cilantro in the batter act as accents to the main dish, almost like a baked-in chutney. They would also be fantastic instead of tortillas in breakfast burritos, omelettes, or anything else you would use wraps for! I will definitely be making these again.

The Sambar recipe can be found here: Sambar

The Rava Dosa recipe can be found here: Rava Dosa

 


Mushroom Wonton Soup

Wonton soup … the Chinese restaurant staple. My sister judges the quality of the Chinese restaurant by their wonton soup. Once the wontons are made, it’s a simple, quick dinner that is easily adaptable to the contents of your fridge. Just another example of comfort food in a bowl. Wontons themselves are very easy to prepare, and are assembled quicker than their Ukrainian cousins, the perogi. Like all dumplings, they are also infinitely adaptable as to fillings. Generally, I like to fill my dumplings with ‘culture neutral’ flavour profiles, so I know that the dumpling will match whatever gets thrown into the pot for consumption. So no black bean-mole wontons this time – although I’m not saying that the combination would be horrible!

For the wonton wrappers you can buy pre-made and pre-cut wonton squares at the grocery store or Asian market, but I opted to make my own. Pre-made would probably be easier, but making the dough is simple and the dough is very easy to work with. No difficulties making the cute little ‘Nurses hats’ with this assembly! I didn’t cook the wontons when I made them and instead froze them uncooked. Then, when you are ready to enjoy some wonton soup (or just the wontons by themselves with some sautéed greens!), stick them directly in the pot with the other goodies and they cook within 10 mins. Simple!

Mushroom Wontons

 Wonton Wrappers

1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup spelt flour (or 1 cup quinoa flour for Gluten Free)
½ tsp. salt
½ cup warm water

Directions:
1) In large bowl, sift together flours and salt.
2) Slowly add warm water, mixing as you pour.
3) Knead dough for ~10 min., until smooth ball forms
4) Cover with clean dishtowel and let rest 20 min.
 
Mushroom Wonton Filling

I used this recipe found here.

You can create your own filling combinations as you see fit. I have made wontons before with tofu, scallions, other vegetables, or with edamame. This filling is delicious however, and has not met a wonton soup combination it does not like! Follow these instructions for wonton assembly, and you will have an army of wontons in no time!

An Army of Wontons, ready for the soup pot!

For the soup, generally I use my Miso Soup guidelines for the flavour profile, which allows the wontons to pick up on the vegetable and broth flavours while cooking. Miso Soup is another comfort food staple, and the ratios of the soup pot is entirely dependent on what needs to be used in the fridge. I like my soup to be more like a stew, while I know others who would scoff at my interpretation and insist on a couple of scallions, a cup of mushrooms, and 8 litres of broth. To each their own – it’s delicious no matter how you cook it! My guidelines for Miso Soup are below.

Wonton/Miso Soup Guidelines

½ cup cauliflower florets
½ cup broccoli florets, or 1 cup Chinese broccoli, cut into 1″ pieces
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup shredded greens: kale, napa cabbage, bok choi, or more Chinese broccoli work well!
1-2 scallions, sliced into 1″ pieces
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Optional: dash of sesame oil, tofu, edamame …

Wonton Soup: Add as many wontons as you like! Generally I add 2-4

Miso Soup: Add 1 tbsp. miso paste – red miso is my favourite

Directions:
1) In pot, add broccoli and cauliflower. Cover with lid and turn on high heat. You want to steam and slightly burn the cauliflower and broccoli.
2) Watching carefully, give the pot a shake now and then to make sure the vegetables don’t burn too much.
3) Add the carrots, cover, and steam approximately 30s.
4) Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Bring to a boil. (If making wonton soup, add wontons with the water)
5) Add all remaining vegetables. Lower heat to a simmer, and let simmer approximately 5 min.
6) If making miso soup, add the miso paste. Be careful not to let the soup boil with the miso – this ruins some of the miso flavour
7) Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and Sriracha!


Fusion Pizza: Sweet Potato Crust with Kale and Vegetable Curry

The Moroccan Fusion Pizza was such a success I decided to create another fusion pizza! I had some sweet potatoes that had been languishing in the fridge for too long, and were begging to be used before they became a new life form. I remembered reading a recipe for sweet potato biscuits, so I decided that if you could make biscuits out of sweet potatoes, you can make pizza dough! This thought process led me immediately to crunchy kale, because nothing goes better with sweet potatoes than kale. (Except maybe black beans). Unfortunately for my fridge, I had stocked for my original weekend plan of Vegetable Curry, and now with the change of plans those vegetables were looking forlorn and forgotten. So I made the curry anyway, and topped the pizza creation with a nice spicy, saucy, vegetable curry. The result? Fantastic! These fusion pizzas are the way to go! Unexpected flavours when you say the word ‘pizza’, these heavily topped flatbreads are mouth-wateringly delicious. And as an extra bonus, you will have curry leftovers for lunch the next day.

For the vegetable curry topping, I used this vegetable curry recipe. It is very quick to throw together, and I found the idea of making a fresh tomato puree sauce unique. The tomato puree sauce is a new culinary trick that I will keep in my back pocket for other opportunities – it would make a great salad dressing, dipping sauce, or even a cold soup like gazpacho! For the vegetables I used all leftover and forlorn veg in my fridge. This version had extra cauliflower, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and carrots. I added broccoli to the mix, because slightly charred broccoli is perhaps more delicious than slightly charred kale. But only slightly. The curry was delicious on its own, with layers of flavours reminiscent of Northern Indian curries with a nice kick at the end. The only improvement I would make would be to add some red lentils to simmer with the tomato puree sauce for extra creaminess and a bit of protein. 

As the curry already had a tomato sauce, I skipped the sauce step of the ‘flatbread + sauce + toppings’ formula of a pizza. Instead, after baking the crust I lined the base with a healthy amount of kale, and then added a mound of curry. This technique was excellent and far exceeded expectations. The kale near the edge of the pizza turned nice and crispy, and the centre pieces became soft and marinated with that delicious curry flavour! The crust itself was one of the best I have ever had. The dough is quite sticky, and parchment paper here is worth its weight in gold. The crust comes out still soft with some crispy edges, and is almost nutty in flavour, thanks to the quinoa flour. It would be delicious on its own as a flatbread, focaccia, or even baked a bit more for some breadsticks used for dipping vessels! Plus, it’s orange. Who doesn’t like coloured food? With the kale and curry topping, it is one of the prettiest pizzas I have ever made!

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, cooled (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup spelt flour (chickpea flour or more quinoa flour would also be delicious!)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. cold water
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In large bowl, mix all ingredients together
2) Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheet
3) Bake at 400 dF for 10 min.
4) Allow to cool slightly, then add toppings.

5) Once pizza topped, bake in oven 20 min. Allow to cool slightly.
Slice and serve!

Bet you can’t eat just one!

 


Pesto Moussaka-Lasagna

The lovechild of lasagna and moussaka

On an evening where I was at a loss in the kitchen, I was inspired by many ingredients that only seem unrelated. I was tired of winter stews, chilis, and soups and wanted something fresh and spring-like. I had an incredible craving for Edamame Pesto, and wanted a medium that would make the pesto the star of the show. I also wanted lasagna and moussaka, but wanted the edamame pesto more. So of course I combined all inputs to this delectable lasagna-moussaka that is as delicious as it is green!

The edamame pesto recipe is, in my opinion, the best pesto recipe out there, bar none. My first experience with pesto was in a hostel in Oslo. If you have ever travelled to Oslo, you know that food is ridiculously expensive and you can almost feel your change purse get lighter just smelling the bakery scents on the street. A stop at the grocery store got me some Ichiban and a jar of pesto sauce. A quick stop at the 7/11 and I got a coffee stir stick as a utensil. Using some ingenuity, I cooked the noodles in the cup and stirred in the pesto sauce: instant dinner. Although good at the time, later in the evening I felt horrible. Enter the ‘pesto baby’. At 4:30am I vowed never to eat pesto like that again. This edamame pesto is light, fresh, lemony, and not oily at all – everything I think the Italians originally meant pesto to be. Serious deliciousness with a 5min cook time. Nothing wrong with that!

The cauliflower ricotta was a similar surprise. Usually I make the tofu ricotta from Veganomicon and have been pleased. Not blown away, just pleased. Roasting the cauliflower then mashing it with my new avocado masher (one of the best “useless” kitchen gadgets out there!) turned the ho-hum tofu ricotta into a BAM! moment. So much flavour just from the cauliflower alone! Once again, Isa hits it out of the park.

I used the Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz as my base inspiration. The complete recipe can be found here. Instead of tomato sauce, I used the Edamame Pesto recipe from the same book, which can be found here. Finally, to make the lasagna a moussaka, instead of lasagna noodles I roasted one eggplant and three zucchini and used those as the ‘divider’ layers. To roast the vegetables:

1)      Slice them lengthwise in ~3-5mm thick slices and placed on parchment-lined baking sheets.

2)      Roast at 400dF for ~35min, then let cool in a colander

3)      Before assembling the lasagna/moussaka, gently squeeze excess liquid from the roasted vegetables so the casserole doesn’t get too soupy.

To assemble the lasagna/moussaka:

1)      Spread a bit of pesto on the bottom of a lightly oiled 9×13” pan

2)      Layer some roasted vegetables on top

3)      Dollop some pesto on the roasted vegetables, then spread evenly

4)      Dollop some ricotta on top of the pesto, and spread evenly

5)      Layer some fresh spinach on top of the ricotta

6)      Repeat the layers until the pan is full, ending with ricotta. I got 2 full layers, but I have a shallow pan – you may get 3 or even 4!

7)      Bake at 350dF for 40min. Let set up for 10min (if you can wait that long!) before cutting into pieces.

It’s that easy! Exactly what I was craving, combining all my ‘must have’s’ in one glorious slice of heaven. Light, lemony, pesto-y (without the pesto baby), and chalk full of flavour, this dish is now a go-to recipe!

Update:

I made this lasagna recently with a “winter” theme. Layers were made with roasted butternut squash slices, celeriac root slices, and swiss chard. Pesto and butternut squash you ask? Have some faith – it’s delicious! This winter theme proved to be just as successful as the zucchini-eggplant version with the added bonus of being less watery. It turned out to be almost a stuffed layered sandwich, perfect for toting to work as leftovers. Delectable down to the last morsel!

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna with Swiss Chard


Cashew Korma

My love for Indian food cannot be overstated. It was a magical day when I went to my first Indian restaurant and learned that there is more to Indian food than the butter chicken cooked in the CrockPot that I grew up with. I love everything about it (except the butter chicken in the CrockPot). I even like that your whole house will smell of curry for 1 week after! I love that with a few tweaks in spice mix you can have a completely different dish. Change up the legume, vegetables, base, and the combinations are virtually endless. Curries are my go-to when I need comfort food, feel like celebrating, or have the desire to clean out the fridge. All that being said, korma was never my favourite. I have boiled/steamed vegetable issues from my childhood, and I don’t like cream sauces (sorry, Alfredo.) And then one day I stumbled upon this Cashew Korma recipe over at the Post Punk Kitchen. And my life was changed.

This recipe is ridiculously easy to put together, and best of all only requires one (huge ass) pot! Pulverized soaked cashews make the sauce nice and creamy. A food processor gets the job done, but a blender or immersion blender would make it even creamier. The vegetables allow for flexibility, and with my addition of green beans  and broccoli, the korma isn’t too monochromatic (my other previous issue with korma). The curry is spiced nicely – no extra dashes of anything (save for Sriracha) required. It is lovely over some basmati rice, but I have been known to eat it straight up! It feeds a small army, which is okay – load up on some Tupperware containers and freeze single portions. It freezes exceptionally well, and when you pull out the korma for those hard to motivate yourself to cook on Monday dinners, it will be heaven in a bowl.

The recipe is here: Cashew Vegetable Korma. If you haven’t checked out The PPK yet or any of Isa’s cookbooks, this is the perfect opportunity to do so! Full of humour, anecdotes that are sort of relevant (and therefore the best kind) and peppered with kitchen tips, Isa is a genius. Try the korma – it will challenge all previous conceptions about korma you have ever had, and you won’t look back!


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