Posts filed under ‘Sides and Snacks’

Chayote with Coconut/Thoran (SRC)

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.

Food is fun, eating is fun and eating food in spiral form is just plain awesome.
chayote 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!

chayote thoran bite2

 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!

chayote thoran2

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 thoran

Chayote with Coconut/Thoran (lightly adapted from this recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Soy-free, Nut-free, Quick and Easy

Ingredients
1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil, olive oil or other neutral oil
2 chayotes
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

Directions

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!

 

chayote thoran bite

For more recipes from this month’s reveal, please click below!

July 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm 6 comments

White Bean Basil Pesto with Penne and Oven-Roasted Veggies (SRC)

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!
bean basil pestoThis 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!


bean basil penneI 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? :)

bean basil penne close

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Toss with hot, cooked pasta and serve!

Serves 4

*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.

Options:
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!

bean basil penne 2

For additional recipes from this month’s reveal, click the link below!

May 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm 8 comments

Butternut and Apple Crumble (SRC)

Oh my…this recipe might just be my new favorite thing! A sweet but savory twist on a crumble…Mmmmmm. This delicious dish includes a few of my all-time ingredients and has a unique and incredible flavor profile. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share it with you, I could actually squeal! For those of you who actually know me, I am sure you can visualize and hear me giggling in excitement right now :)

butternut apple crumble1Some of you may be tired of winter squash recipes, but I am giving it a last “hoorah” as it was 12F yesterday morning, and the flavors of fall and winter still have a grip on me. This is the second time I’ve made this dish in a week, and I (am a bit embarrassed to) admit that I haven’t shared it with anyone…I fully intended to but lunch, snack time and dinner came around and it disappeared!

For the Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned Susan’s blog The Wimpy Vegetarian. After reading her post on using food words as story, I knew she was my kind of gal! I chose her Farmhouse Butternut and Apple Crumble for March, although I had my eye a few other dishes, I kept coming back to this one…and I am MORE than thrilled that I did! I made a few changes: I increased the ginger a tad because I love ginger, swapped out oat flour for all-purpose to make it gluten free and subbed coconut sugar for brown sugar. I increased the mushrooms to use up what I had on hand and opted for a combination of chopped dried figs and tart cherries in the filling since I didn’t have fig jam in the fridge. To keep it dairy-free and make this recipe vegan, I used coconut oil in place of butter and I loved the flavor that it lends to the overall dish. Did I mention that I love this dish?!? Thank you, Susan, I will be making this over and over again! 
butternut apple crumble2

Butternut and Apple Crumble (adapted from The Wimpy Vegetarian)
Gluten-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Vegetarian, Refined Sugar-free

Ingredients
For the Filling: 

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, unsalted butter, ghee or Earth Balance (use oil or Earth Balance for dairy-free and/or vegan)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (1 large shallot)
  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash, into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp to 3 tsps freshly grated ginger root to taste (I love ginger so I used 3 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups thinly sliced apple (unpeeled, I used Gala)
  • 2-3 Tbsp dried cherries, cranberries and/or chopped figs (I used 1 chopped fig & 1 Tbsp chopped tart cherries based on what I had on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Crumble:

  • 1/4 cup oat flour OR gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1/4 cup gluten free oats
  • 2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar (or other granulated sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil, unsalted butter, ghee or Earth Balance (use oil or Earth Balance for dairy-free & vegan)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375˚F, and generously butter or oil a baking dish. I used a casserole dish and a large ramekin for mine.

In a large frying pan, melt the oil/butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until the shallots are soft and the mushroom begin to melt into the oil/butter, about 7 minutes.

Add the butternut squash and sauté until it softens and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. After the squash has been sautéing for 10 minutes, add the ginger and apple slices. Sauté all together for the final 5 minutes. Add a little extra oil/butter if the skillet is dry, but no more than 1/2 tablespoon.

Stir in the broth, thyme, dried cherries/fig/cranberries, and salt.

Pour the squash filling into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until just tender, about 20 minutes.

Combine all the Crumble ingredients together in a small bowl except the butter/oil. Chop the butter into pieces and add to the mixture. Pinch the butter in the mixture until the crumble is coarse, and some chunks of butter are the size of peas. This can also be done in a small bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade (this is what I used). Just pulse until the chunks of butter are no larger than a pea.

When the squash filling comes out of the oven, scatter the crumble over the top and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.

Serve warm.

Serves about 4 larger portions or 6 small

butternut apple crumble bite

For more recipes from this month’s reveal, click below!

March 30, 2014 at 10:00 pm 11 comments

Quick Quinoa-Buckwheat Skillet Bread (SRC)

Sometimes a girl just needs some bread. While I eat grain-free dishes at times and I love my veggies, nuts and protein,  I certainly can’t resist a good slice of bread. Whether it’s dense and chewy or light and airy, I will take bread in any form. Of course, finding it and/or making it gluten-free can be a more laborious task.
quinoa buckwheat skillet bread2What if I told you that you could make this bread in 20 minutes from start to finish…without using an oven? Literally. I had no excuses, I just HAD to!

quinoa buckwheat skillet bread bite2

It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day again and this month I was assigned to JJ’s beautiful blog, 84th & 3rd. JJ has a captivating writing style, and when paired with inventive, healthy recipes and drool-worthy photos, I was sold on both her and her food. I have bookmarked a slew of recipes, but I was immediately drawn to her tag labeled “Crazy Creations”. I am all about experimenting with something different, and the first recipe that caught my eye was her Purple Carrot Anniversary Pie. I was set on making this dish but couldn’t locate purple carrots anywhere…while I could have used orange carrots, I thought the purple ones added to the novelty and opted to add this to my “must make list” for a later date.

I then spotted her Quinoa Buckwheat Skillet Bread, and I happened to be in the mood for bread to accompany my lentil stew I was making for dinner. Perfect timing…and it was delicious! Soft and light in the middle with a slightly firmer “crust” on the outside, this bread is versatile, super tasty…and did I mention EASY? I thoroughly enjoyed the earthy taste of the buckwheat and quinoa, and I topped a slice off with melted ghee right out of the oven…yep, food heaven.

I opted for the dairy-free version with the almond milk and lemon juice instead of yogurt. I didn’t want to “mess with” the original recipe too much but I look forward to adding in different spices, herbs and possibly other goodies…I’m thinking about a cheese and jalapeños variation! Thank you JJ for this gem of a recipe!

quinoa buckwheat skillet bread bite1
Quick Quinoa-Buckwheat Skillet Bread
(recipe from 84th and 3rd)
Gluten-free, Nut-free, Refined Sugar-free, Dairy free, Soy-Free, Vegetarian friendly

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 tsp lemon juice OR 1/3 cup natural yoghurt (use non-dairy options for dairy-free)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • coconut oil, olive oil, butter or ghee for cooking (coconut oil is my fav!)

Directions

1. Use a fork to whisk all ingredients except baking soda. Let batter rest for 5 minutes while you preheat a small [20 cm / 8 in] skillet over medium to medium-low heat (I used medium-low because mine cooked more quickly).

2. Mix sifted baking soda into batter – it should start to bubble. Grease pre-heated pan with a bit of oil/butter, pour in all batter and shake pan slightly.

3. Cook 6-7 minutes. Run spatula around edge, flip carefully, cook 5-6 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool.

Ideas for serving: Slather with butter/Earth Balance or your favorite nut butters and/or jam or jelly. Cut into fingers for an antipasto or cheese platter. Cut in quarters, split like a roll and fill with sandwich fillings – or really any other sandwich ingredient you could imagine.

If there is any left store in fridge until needed. It also toasts really well.

*COOK’S NOTES:

  • Fancy it up: flavour with herbs like oregano and thyme to make it more savory or spices like cinnamon and cloves to sweeten it up.
  • The vegan attempt: JJ tried this without an egg and it just doesn’t work the same way – proceed at your own risk…
  • Make it bigger: Could you? Definitely, just keep the flours/water/yoghurt at a 1:1:1:1 ratio. You can go up to 1/2 cup of each for one egg although I’d increase the baking soda to a slightly heaped tsp. Then just multiply from there as you wish – BUT remember you still have to flip it… so try it out as is in a small skillet before you go too crazy.

quinoa buckwheat skillet bread bite3

For more recipes from this month’s reveal, click below!

February 23, 2014 at 10:00 pm 16 comments

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