Zucchini and Basil Sautee

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy all the zucchini that’s super fresh right now.  And it’s really easy, just some time and a few ingredients and you’ve got a healthy delicious side dish or meal to go picnicking with!

Ingredients:

Zucchini

Onion

Butter and/or Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil

Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method:

Chop up some onion, I usually use about a 1 to 4 ratio of onion to zucchini.

Add the chopped onion, a few pinches of salt (go easy on the salt if you plan to add cheese to the finished dish, which I highly recommend!) and a healthy dose of butter and olive oil to a heavy bottom pan, the wider the pan the better.   You’ll start with a lot of fat in the pan to cook the onions and then when you add the zucchini you can decide if you need to add more.  Cook the onions on medium heat.

While the onions cook, chop your zucchini.  I make some pieces smaller than others so when it cooks, the smaller bits get mushy and the larger bits keep their shape so you don’t end up with baby food.  Or maybe you end up with baby food, it’s really delicious either way!

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

When the onions begin to look translucent, add in the zucchini, some black pepper and saute, stirring all the while, til smushy and starting to brown on med to medium high heat.

Sautee the zucchini and onions

Saute the zucchini and onions

Once you’ve cooked the zucchini down, it will release a lot of water, so plan on stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes til you get a nice, thick consistency.  Take it off the heat and serve topped with fresh chopped basil and shredded hard cheese like Romano.  This tastes great warm or at room temperature and makes a nice take along meal for picnic’s or pot lucks.

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

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Cauliflower Pizza: A New Take On Veggie Pie

I was skeptical about this idea of using cauliflower as the base for a pizza crust.  Then, a former coaching client sent me the recipe she had used, telling me I would love it.  Since she and I have shared a bunch of recipes I decided it was time to see what I was missing out on:

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

The recipe I was sent is this one, from the site Eating Bird Food, which is all about how healthy foods can and should be delicious, I couldn’t agree more!  I took the recipe and made it double, with minor changes:

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cheese- use your favorite- mozzarella is great, we had some goat Gouda so I used that.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons each basil and oregano

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven and pizza stone, if you have one, to 400° F
  2. Prep a 12 inch round baking tray- you can grease the tray or use parchment paper.
  3. Remove the stems and leaves from your cauliflower and chop the florets into chunks. Add to a food processor (I used my Cuisinart) and pulse just until the texture is similar to rice. If you don’t have a food processor or Vitamix, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater or chop it.
  4. Sauté cauliflower “rice” in a non-stick skillet (I used our large cast iron pan) over medium heat and cook until translucent, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Mine did not get very translucent but it did get cooked somewhat which is the whole point.
  5. In a bowl combine all remaining ingredients, starting with the eggs so you can whip them up.  Then add the cauliflower and mix well to combine.
  6. Spread dough out evenly over greased tray or parchment paper – about ¼ to ⅓ of an inch thick. The pizza should be about 12  inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden, crispy on the edges and cooked through the middle.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven.
  9. Top with sauce and toppings.  Add whatever you like best, you’ll be eating this pizza with a fork so go for it: sautéed onions, mushrooms, fresh chopped veggies, pesto, cheese, fresh herbs, etc.
  10. Broil the pizza for 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool for 2-3 minutes then cut and serve immediately.

I topped our pizza with one crumbled Italian sausage, sautéed onions, hot pepper flakes, more oregano and basil and just a bit of grated Romano sheep cheese.  I thought we had pesto in the freezer (wishful thinking!)  which would have been perfect for the sauce.  I could have made pesto out of garlic, olive oil, salt and some of the collard greens we had but didn’t think ahead enough.  It turned out really well even without the green and I am already thinking about what to make next time!

If you want pizza you can eat with your hands, try the flax crust I posted earlier and be sure to let us know what your favorite toppings are!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara was a staple meal when I first moved to New York City and was living on 13th street.  Back then I made this dish with pasta, less than farm fresh eggs and tempeh bacon.  My diet has certainly changed a lot since then!  Spaghetti squash is a really versatile winter vegetable that I now use in place of noodles in soups and in place of wheat pasta.  Wheat, according to the new book Wheat Belly by William Davis, is an ingredient most Americans would be better off with out.  According to his book, wheat, even the organic kind, as grown in the US since the 1980’s is has been so genetically modified from it’s original form that it can not grow in the wild on it’s own and contains a protein entirely unfamiliar to our digestive systems. This so called ‘wheat’ that is used in almost every imaginable food product is nothing like it’s healthy, civilization sustaining ancestor. No wonder so many Americans are being diagnosed with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease!  Wheat also acts as an opiate, the more you eat the more of a high you experience and so, the more wheat you crave, creating a viscous cycle of addictive over eating.  Try skipping all wheat for a week or two and see if you notice a difference in how much you eat and how you feel energy and mood wise.  Here’s a great recipe to get you started: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara!

Ingredients:

One medium spaghetti squash, baked at 350 til it’s done.  Here is a post I wrote with further instructions on baking this type of squash.

2-4 slices of happy bacon

small bunch of Parsley, chopped

1-2 large farm eggs, whipped with an equal amount of….

grated Romano or Parmesean cheese

The number of eggs and the amount of cheese you use should be determined by the amount of cooked squash you have.

Warming the cooked squash in the bacon fat with cooked bacon pieces.

For the squash: I like to chop it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibers, oil the inside and bake the halves skin side up at 350 for about 30-45 minutes.  I know they are done when given a push, the skin gives a little.  Also, when I try to fork out the spaghetti like strands, they should come out without much effort. Be careful not to over cook this squash, the strands will lose their slightly crunchy, mildly sweet individuality and turn into a mushy mass.

Once your squash is baked and cooled enough for you to remove the strands you can start cooking the bacon.  You will be using one pan for this meal so once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and add your squash to re-heat it.

Add your greated cheese to the whipped eggs and then add this mixture to the pan, stirring quickly off the heat.  If there isn’t enough heat in the squash to cook the sauce you can put it back on a low flame and keep stirring til the sauce thickens.

Add lots of chopped parsley, the bacon pieces and eat immediately!

Flat Bread and Crackers, or, Why I Love Flax

Flax crackers with golden sesame seeds.

My friends Mike and Becca sent me this recipe for flax crackers and I’ve made several batches, experimenting with thickness, cooking time and how to get the sticky flaxy ‘dough’ rolled out with out it sticking to everything.  My first batch came out all uneven and not crispy.  But they weren’t bad and gave me the inspiration for intentionally making a big, thick ‘flat bread’ which is pretty awesome for someone who hasn’t eaten anything remotely like a sandwich in years!

You can use the basic recipe to make wafer thin (‘but it is only wafer thin!’) crisps, crackers or flat bread.  There’s a lot of possibility here as far as adding in herbs, cheese and spices so get creative!  I’ll post some recipes that compliment this one in the following weeks so you’ll have something to eat all this flaxy goodness with.  Remember to drink plenty of water/liquids with flax, it’s super bonus fiber and will soak up liquid like a sponge so make sure there’s plenty for you and the flax.

The recipe is very straight forward and simple:

1 and 1/2 cups flax meal (I ground my own in a coffee grinder but you can purchase it already ground)

1/3 cup sesame seeds or flax if you don’t have sesame seeds

1 cup of water

salt to taste

Optional additions include but are certainly not limited to: 1/2- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, dried herbs, pepper, curry powder, 1/2 cup finely grated cheese like romano.  I made a very thin batch with 1/2 cup grated romano, black pepper and ground rosemary, wickedly good.

Set your oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients together until it’s sticky and starting to thicken, see, I told you the flax would soak up all that water.  It’ll do that in your stomach too so have some tea with your crackers.

What's brown and sticky? A stick! And this dough.

If you want to make middle of the road not too thin, individual round crackers and you don’t have parchment paper here’s what you do:

Grease a baking sheet, the single ply kind, not the fancy lined ones.

Roll bits of dough, about 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon and place on the sheet.

Flatten with the bottom of a well greased glass, twisting as you go makes it easier to unstick the glass from the dough.

Poke the crackers all over with a fork, this helps them get crispy and cook all the way through.  You can sprinkle them with salt, pepper, maybe cinnamon and stevia, ect before putting them in the oven to bake.

Bake at 400 for about 15-20 minutes.  When they are darker on the edges and feel sturdy in the middle they’re done.

Let them cool on a rack.  Store in an air tight container or paper bag at room temp. Putting them in the fridge is fine too but they will lose their crispness.

Flax crackers of varying thickness, ready to bake.

The thinnest ones, pierced with a fork, came out the best as far as crackerness goes.

For the flat bread, grease an 11×17 rectangle pan or something about that size.  Scoop out all of the dough and pace it in the prepared pan.

Here’s the meditative part, don’t rush, it’s fun!  Use your fingers, well-greased (olive oil, or better, butter) to gently smooth the dough to fill out the pan from edge to edge.  If the flax sticks to your hands, remove the dough from your fingers and re-grease them.  You may be able to do this with a rubber spatula but I find it’s much easier to use my fingers. I can get the batter pretty smooth and even and if I start off with enough butter the batter never sticks to me!

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt and pepper, ect.  And then bake for 20 minutes at 400.  It will pull away from the edges when it’s done and will remain soft in the middle.

From top left to right: the flattened dough ready to bake (for this I used a 9in round pan and half the recipe) butter and the glass I made small round crackers with!

A little thick, a little flexible, topped with sesame seeds, this is as close to bread as it gets!

For thin crispy crackers you’ll definitely need parchment paper and a rolling pin.

Get out a big baking sheet (the ones that are insulated or double thickness will make for not so crispy crackers, go with the low tech, single ply baking sheets for this recipe) and cut two pieces of parchment about the same size as your baking sheet.

Rub oil all over the one sheet and then place the other sheet on top and smush together, making an even coating of oil on both pieces.

Peel the top parchment off most of the way, place a shy cup of flax dough in the center and cover with the top parchment paper.

Using your rolling-pin, roll out the dough as evenly as you can, making sure not to get too close to the edge of the parchment.  You can make the dough as thick or as thin as you like.

Flax dough rolled out between two sheets of oiled parchment.

Pull the top layer of parchment off, if it sticks, you need to use more oil next time! Airate the dough by poking it all over with a fork.

Rolled out super thin, removing the top layer of parchment, don't forget to sprinkle with salt!

Slide the dough/parchment onto your baking sheet and once again, bake at 400 for 10 minutes to start, check it and see, when it’s firm in the middle and darker around the edges, it’s done!

Super thin, crispy and made with romano cheese, black pepper, rosemary and salt, yum!

So there you have it, flax three ways, all of them delicious!  Here’s how I had my Sunday breakfast last weekend, with toasted flax bread, finally something I can eat eggs over easy with!

Looks like toast and eggs to me!

I ate that and it was awesome.

My next post will be for an open-faced toasted cheese and onion sandwich.  Oh yeah!