It’s nearing the end of summer…the change of seasons is something I always look forward to (especially when Fall is my favorite time of year), yet I still want to hold onto summer for the next few weeks. This recipe accomplishes just that!
Let’s celebrate fresh fruit, bright herbs and zingy balsamic vinegar in this lovely marriage of flavors – Strawberry Bruschetta…and what a bonus for versatility, this recipe is used in FOUR different ways!
1. Strawberry Bruschetta (basic recipe) – serve over lightly toasted (gluten-free) french bread or gluten-free crackers
2. Strawberry Bruschetta Avocado Boats (snack or appetizer)
3. Strawberry Bruschetta and Hemp Green Salad (side salad, light dinner or lunch)
4. Strawberry Brushetta Inspired Quinoa and Beet Salad (serve as a side or a main dish)
I was assigned Julie’s adorable blog, Confessions of a Cooking Diva this month for the Secret Recipe Club and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her spunky posts and searching through her creations from the kitchen! I bookmarked her scrumptious looking Black Bean Burgers, Spicy Chocolate Popcorn and Caribbean Jerk Salmon Tacos for later experimentation…yet I ultimately settled on a Strawberry Bruschetta recipe for several reasons — I purchased a organic strawberries at the local farmers market, I had fresh basil on hand and I had some aged balsamic vinegar from a local oil & vinegar store that I couldn’t wait to use in multiple ways. Bam…what a perfect coincidence.
The simplicity of this recipe really allows the flavors to shine and come through in each bite, and there’s nothing like fresh, quality ingredients to let the food really do the talking for you! I opted to increase the balsamic a bit because I really love acidity and I served this over these raw sourdough sunflower seed crackers for the “bruschetta” portion of this recipe (since I rarely eat bread). After making this recipe, I was inspired to use the dish in multiple ways…talk about fun! Thanks Julie :)
Grain-free option, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Vegan, Soy-free, Nut-free Option, Vegetarian, Dairy-free
1 pint of strawberries, rinsed and chopped
1 – 2 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (I used 2 Tbsp because I like the acidity)
¼ cup fresh basil, julienned or chopped
1 small loaf gluten free french bread, sliced into thin slices, lightly toasted OR raw grain-free, gluten-free crackers (I used these)
1. Combine the strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and mix well.
2. Top each slice of bread or cracker with the strawberry-basil mix.
Makes 2 cups of strawberry-basil mixture.
Strawberry Bruschetta Avocado Boats
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Quick & Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian, Nut-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free
1 recipe of Strawberry Bruschetta (listed above)
2 ripe medium size avocados
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Fresh squeeze of lemon or lime, optional (if you really like acidity like me and helps to prevent the avocado from browning if making ahead)
1. Slice each avocado in half and remove the pit/seed.
2. Sprinkle the avocado halves with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Squeeze fresh lime or lemon juice over each avocado half (if desired)
4. Top each avocado half with about 1/2 cup of the strawberry bruschetta mixture and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and serve!
Makes 4 snacks or appetizers
Strawberry Brushetta and Hemp Green Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Soy-free, Nut-free
8 cups of mixed greens, baby kale or baby spinach (I use Organic Power Green blend from Costco)
1 recipe of Strawberry Bruschetta (recipe above)
1 ripe avocado, pit removed and diced into small pieces
4 Tbsp raw hemp seeds/hemp hearts (you can sub another nut or seed if desired)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Drizzle of apple cider vinegar or more balsamic vinegar and/or lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (or coconut aminos, tamari or gluten free soy sauce)
1. Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. If you like more acidity in your dressing, feel free to add more vinegar and/or lemon juice.
*If you eat meat, this salad could be served with grilled chicken or if you eat dairy, feel free to toss in some goat cheese or fresh mozzarella to bulk it up even more. To bulk it up and keep it vegan, feel free to add cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice for a green and grain salad.
Makes 2 large salads or 4 small
Strawberry Bruschetta Inspired Quinoa and Beet Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Nut-free Option
1/2 recipe Strawberry Bruschetta (above)
1/2 cup cooked beets, diced (I used Love Beets)
3- 4 Tbsp chopped walnuts, pinenuts and/or pecans (or for nut-free, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds)
Aged balsamic vinegar to taste (I used 1 Tbsp)
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (I used 1/2 lemon)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
I am currently (food) obsessed with two things:
1. All things Indian food, particularly curry
2. Everything and anything that be “spiralized” (I use this tool) – such as vegetable, potato or fruit spirals.
When I was assigned Shirley’s blog Enriching your Kid this month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was sold on making a dish with an Indian flare. This was an easy option since her repertoire includes items such as Beetroot Parantha and Banana Dumplings in Tomato Gravy (Kele Ka Kofta)…all unique and intriguing dishes that are now on my “to experiment list”! I ultimately decided on Shirley’s Chayote with Grated Coconut/Thoran since I was drawn to a new food, a new preparation and the seemingly lightness and versatility of the dish: I must say it was a great life choice!
Get excited for a new food! Have you ever eaten Chayote (pronounced chai-yo-tay)? It’s a quirky little guy that’s actually considered a fruit; chayote is a member of the cucumber and squash family and can be eaten both in raw or cooked forms. Chayote is a good source of amino acids and Vitamin C that’s also low in calories, sodium, contains no cholestrol and is a good source of fiber. Due to it’s mild flavor, chayote is versatile in a variety of dishes and it can be eaten with or the without the skin.
I left the skin on and cooked the chayote spirals until crisp tender to maintain some texture. This recipe has a flavor punch from the spices, a freshness from the basil and the lemon and a complexity with the combination of coconut and sauteed onions..mmmm! While this dish is traditionally classified as a side, I also served it with cooked quinoa that was tossed with a little olive oil, Braggs liquid aminos and sea salt and had a filling yet light veggie-packed dinner. I even had a few leftovers that I threw into a mixed baby green salad with pepitas and a curry-inspired vinaigrette…bonus points for versatility!
I made a few little changes to the original recipe…due to my infatuation with “spiralizing” food, I opted to create chayote spirals instead of grating. I couldn’t find curry leaves so I substituted fresh basil leaves with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I also made the swap of dried coconut in place of freshly grated based on availability in addition to a serrano instead of a green chili. Since I enjoy strong spices, I increased the amount of tumeric and coconut and threw in some cumin seeds just for fun. I’ll be whipping this quick recipe up again soon…could chayote be my new favorite food craze?
Chayote with Coconut/Thoran (lightly adapted from this recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Soy-free, Nut-free, Quick and Easy
1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil, olive oil or other neutral oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (I used a yellow onion)
5 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of curry leaf (first choice) or 6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 green chilli or serrano, slit in half
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground tumeric (I love spices, I used the larger quantity)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used brown mustard seeds)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed with your fingers (optional)
squeeze of lemon or lime juice (Optional but I find it enhances the spices)
sea salt to taste
1 -3 tbs grated or shredded coconut
1. Wash and clean the chayote. Either spiralize OR and grate both chayote. I used this tool to spiralize.
2. Slice the onions, chop or mince the garlic fine and slit the chili in half.
3. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat and splutter the mustard and cumin seeds.
4. Add the curry leaf (if using basil will add in later), onions, garlic and pepper and saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the grated/spiralized chayote, ground tumeric and salt to taste. Stir well, then cover and cook for a few minutes. Do not cook the chayote till soft, there should be minimal cooking to leave the crunchy texture. Stir in basil if using instead of curry leaves.
6. Garnish with grated/shredded coconut and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Season with salt to taste and more lemon as desired.
7. Serve warm and enjoy!
It’s the taste of the tropics right here…hello summer!
Now that it’s “officially summer”, I couldn’t help choosing this fresh, light yet very satisfying salad for the Secret Recipe Club reveal this month. Just look at the gorgeous colors…and I haven’t even started on the flavor profile!
This salad is a beautiful combination of acidic, sweet and salty with peppery undertones…I recommend sitting out in the sunshine while enjoying this dish, and be transported to your own personal little vacation for the afternoon or evening.
I was assigned Sue’s beautiful blog, Couscous and Consciousness for June, and what a lovely site she has! After getting acquainted with her blog, you can feel Sue’s passion for food, healthy lifestyle and conscious eating and her recipes reflect her outlook as well. While I ultimately chose her Salmon salad with Mango and Grapefruit, I’ve tagged several recipes for the future: Butternut and Tahini Spread, Scallops and Sweet Potato with Vanilla Saffron Sauce and her Green Tomato Cake with Maple Mascarpone…inventive and intriguing flavor combinations that I can’t wait to try!
I made a few tweaks to the salad by adding some olive oil and apple cider vinegar to the dressing and I sprinkled a bit of smoked paprika on the fish prior to cooking since I’ve been loving that spice these days. Sue mentioned Thai basil in her write up as well as lotus root, so I threw in some finely chopped basil and I thought the addition of a roasted beet would add a little color and sweetness that would compliment the flavors in the dish in place of the lotus. Since I am sucker for anything nutty, I tossed in some pinenuts for added texture and complexity, but feel free to leave these out if preferred! If you prefer a vegan dish, simply omit the salmon for a light lunch or a side salad and substitute Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari for the fish sauce. I’ll be making this again for sure!
Salmon with Mango, Edamame and Grapefruit Salad (lightly adapted from this recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegetarian/Vegan option, Nut-free Option, Dairy-free, Soy-free
2 skin-on, bone out salmon fillets (mine were each about 6 oz)
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
a couple dashes of smoked paprika
1 Tbsp neutral oil (I used olive oil, but vegetable oil works)
1 firm mango, ever so slightly under-ripe, peeled and shredded OR cut into wedges
1 pink grapefruit, peeled & cut into segments and chopped if desired (membrane removed)
3/4 cup shelled edamame
2 generous handfuls of peppery leaves such as rocket, cress, mizuna (I used 4 cups arugula)
1 roasted beet, diced (I used already cooked organic Love Beets, optional)
1 tbsp fresh basil or Thai basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp pinenuts (omit for nut-free)
juice of 1 pink grapefruit
2 Tbsp grated palm sugar or 1 Tbsp agave or honey (don’t use honey if vegan)
1 Tbsp fish sauce or Braggs liquid aminos or gluten free tamari*
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 cm (3/4 in) piece of ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp olive oil (I added for a bit of richness)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2. Put oil in a non-stick frypan set over medium heat. Season salmon with paprika, salt and pepper. Once pan is heated, place salmon in the pan skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes, before turning over and cooking for approximately 1-3 minutes or until done to your liking.
3. While salmon is cooking, place all the salad ingredients in a medium bowl and toss gently to combine.
4. To serve, arrange salad on serving plates, drizzle with the dressing, toss lightly and top with the salmon.
For other recipes in this month’s reveal, click below!
I’ve always loved pesto, I could eat it spooned over crackers or grilled veggies, tossed with pasta, spread as a pizza base, slathered on a sandwich or drizzled over a cheese and vegetable platter. I think you get the point, I like the stuff just a tad bit :) In my little food world, it’s the Italian equivalent of hummus…it can go on almost anything.
While I am all for healthy fats, a tablespoon of traditional pesto can pack a caloric punch…and if used as generously as I do, it also can pack on the pounds. When I came across this recipe for a white bean pesto sauce with penne pasta, I was immediately intrigued. A no-cheese, low-oil creamy sauce or dip with plenty of garlicky herb pesto flavor that can be whipped up in about 5 minutes. I’m in!
This pesto pasta recipe was discovered on Christie’s blog, A Kitchen Hoor, which I was happily assigned for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal. Not only has she been cooking since she was “tall enough to see over the counter”, Christie “loves to mutate recipes into her own creations” such as her Corned Beef and Cabbage Enchiladas and her Saffron Baked Beignets. Talk about creativity! Her claim to fame was also being featured on Emeril Live! for her Elegant Sweet Potato Skins!
I seriously contemplated making her sweet potato skins, however with the summer weather approaching I thought a no-cook, versatile sauce and pasta might be more appropriate. I loved this recipe both hot tossed with pasta as well as the leftovers cold from the fridge so that’s a huge bonus in my book. Plus, this pesto sauce can be used as a dip, a spread, or drizzled over rice, vegetables, meats, etc.
I tweaked Christie’s recipe slightly to make it gluten-free and more substantial as a main dish (yes, I like big portions). I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the sauce to bring out the fresh flavors a bit more without me having to add too much salt. I substituted whole wheat penne for this gluten-free multigrain penne and tossed in oven-roasted some grape tomatoes and zucchini for a little extra bulk. I was very pleased with this meal! Full of flavor that was complex yet simple in it’s ingredients and filling! I’ll be making this pesto again, I might even try it as a sauce for potato salad…is this strange? :)
White Bean Basil Pesto Penne (slightly adapted from this recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free option, Dairy-free, Nut-free option, Vegan, Vegetarian, Quick, Sugar-free, No-Cook
- 1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used low-sodium)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 ounce almonds (could use pinenuts for a variation or use sunflower seeds and hemp seeds for nut-free)
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice from 1/3 lemon
- 8 ounces gluten free penne or other pasta*, cooked per package directions
- 1 cup oven-roasted grape tomatoes** (optional)
- 1 medium zucchini, cubed and roasted** (optional)
- Combine beans, basil, broth, almonds, oil, and garlic, lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Toss with hot, cooked pasta and serve!
*For a grain-free option, toss with cooked spaghetti squash, grilled veggies or grilled meat, or use a spread or a dip.
** I added in some roasted grape tomatoes and zucchini but your favorite vegetable could be substituted. I cut 1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes in half and cubed the zucchini, tossed them both with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and baked at 350F for about 25 minutes.
For additional protein, toss in more beans for vegetarian or grilled or roasted chicken or shrimp.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if that suites your fancy or some toasted almonds or pine nuts for a nuttier flare.
Substitute your favorite roasted vegetable or eliminate the veggies altogether if you’re not a fan. Sauteed green would be delicious too. Make it your own!