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Portuguese caldo verde with cauliflower & kale

Today will be the 4th time I’ve made this soup since Fall arrived. Can’t get enough of it!! It’s incredibly flavorful and guilt free at 380 calories per serving.

Sometimes I puree it completely and sometimes I leave some cauliflower bits in the soup. It’s perfect either way. The vinegar on top should not be skipped :).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds cauliflower (from 1 medium head)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for roasting)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 is nice & spicy)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound smoked turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/2 bag Tuscan Kale, shredded (I like more so I use 3/4 of the bag)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Sherry Vinegar, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F. Slice the cauliflower into large slices and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season cauliflower with cumin, smoked paprika, and liberal amounts of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Set aside once cooked.

Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-medium high heat until tender and translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove from heat and purée.

In a skillet, brown sliced kielbasa and set aside.

Return the puréed soup to low heat. Add the kale and sausage and simmer another 10 – 15 minutes until the greens soften a bit. Remove from a drizzle of olive oil & sherry vinegar.

Red quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato & arugula

I haven’t exactly been “burger free” since my last post… but this salad is satisfying, packed with nutrition & proves healthy food can taste almost better than a burger. It’s also gluten free & vegetarian.

I’ve never made a quinoa salad but I’ve tasted plenty. The good ones seem to have very flavorful dressings, texture and the right balance of savory and sweet. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and minus the olives is very similar to a greek salad. I threw in some dried sour cherries but feel free to use any dried cherry, cranberry or craisin.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (or any citrus fruit you have)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries, craisins, etc)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup pistachios

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lime juice, vinegar & agave nectar. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients, except for the feta & pistachio. Add cooled quinoa. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Top with crumbled feta & pistachios before serving.

Sesame chicken & kale salad

I should start labeling recipes as “Trader Joe’s Recipe”. Since they’ve opened a store near me I’m there every Sunday & I can’t get enough of their produce (and their prices).

Kale is a weird green. I put it in green smoothies and cover it up with lots of fruit. Outside of smoothies & soups, I think it’s pretty awful. Until now! I had this salad at a local Dallas eatery & paid 12.99/lb. It’s so simple… no need to pay more than I’d pay for a steak!

Use whatever vinegar you like (rice wine would be great) as it really breaks the kale down. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange & muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1/2 bag tuscan kale, cut, washed & tough stems removed
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed

DIRECTIONS

Mix the vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients – toss, cover & let sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Asparagus with Bacon, Shallots and Pine Nuts

What a great side dish for the holidays. Fast, delicious and so addictive. Use bacon, use pancetta, use a different nut. Drizzle with a little meyer lemon olive oil if you have it on hand. You can’t mess this one up.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large non-stick pan, sauté bacon or pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and shallot and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest and toasted pine nuts and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

I’ve been working a lot and traveling a lot the past few months. Meaning I’ve been eating a lot of fabulous foods and treating myself to things I would typically pass up at home. Pastries. Potatoes. Pasta. Time to get back to the healthy meals. Luckily, this meal feels like a treat.

I admit, I was skeptical these meatballs from the yummy Rocco Dispirito would actually be satisfying. Considering he reduced the calories from 1200 to 350, the meatballs are surprisingly moist and tender, full of flavor and the tomato sauce is rich and hearty. I’m sure the original version of his Mama’s Meatballs are delicious… but I’ll take these and feel less guilty about dessert.

The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is the puffed kamut. It’s a brilliant replacement for breadcrumbs… and I’m thinking it could make a cool replacement in rice krispy treats… but I’ll tackle that later. You can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts or most any health food store. I prefer to blitz it in food processor into coarse crumbs for this recipe.

If you really want to take this to the ultimate in healthy meals… skip the pasta and substitute spaghetti squash, one of my favorites.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
  • dried red chili flakes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 28 ounce can Cento tomato puree
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 medium eggplant (halved lengthwise)
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 ozs ground turkey breast
  • 4 ozs lean ground beef (93/7)
  • 2 ozs lean ground pork
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 oz parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups puffed kamut cereal (Arrowhead brand)
  • 6 ozs spaghetti (kamut or brown rice)

DIRECTIONS

Make the sauce: In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add half the garlic and half the onion and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook over medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add half the chicken stock, tomato puree, diced tomatoes & herbs. Simmer over low heat for an hour.

Make the eggplant puree: Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, using the tip of a knife, score the eggplant deeply and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant cut-side up and cook under the broiler until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the broiler and place on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add the meats and mix gently to incorporate. Place the egg white, ¼ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup onion, 1 clove garlic and parsley in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the bowl with the meats, add the cheese and crumble the kamut in with your fingers. Sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.

Scoop the eggplant pulp out of its skin and let any excess water drip off. Measure out 1/2 cup of the pulp, and then lightly chop and add to the meat mixture, folding in to incorporate. Make each meatball a heaping tablespoon and form into balls with your hands. Should make around 16 meatballs.

Heat a few teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Roll the meatballs on the other side and brown evenly, about 2 minutes. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and add more olive oil if needed. Repeat the browning with the rest of the meatballs. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer very slowly for an hour.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a simmer and then add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the pasta in the water and cook per manufacturer’s instructions. Place 4 meatballs each on 4 plates, and then add the spaghetti to the remaining sauce in the pan with 1/2 cup of the pasta water and cook until the sauce holds well on the pasta. Evenly distribute the pasta to each of the 4 plates.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

I’m not sure there is a better summer salad than this gorgeous and light panzanella. You can use any tomato and you can even Sandra Lee it up and use croutons from the store. I had a loaf of cheddar & garlic bread to use… but my friends ate most of the croutons before I assembled the salad. So I mixed in the store bought ones. Just as good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups of baby herb salad blend or arugula
  • Croutons, recipe follows (or use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Croutons

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

For the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

For the salad: Lightly salt the tomatoes & cucumbers and drain in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the croutons & dressing (or let sit 15 minutes).

For the dressing, whisk together vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic & olive oil. Set aside.

In a bowl combine the tomatoes, arugula, onion, basil, salt, and pepper and dressing. Add the croutons and toss well. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Now you see them, now you don’t…

These meatballs are really satisfying and disappear pretty quickly! I have used ground turkey & chicken and both are equally delicious. Don’t skip the sauce… it is a must. Serve warm or at room temperature (or eat them cold out of the fridge like me).

INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • canola or sunflower oil

For the sauce:

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small Fresno chili, deseeded
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. To prepare the peppers for the sauce, quarter them with a sharp knife and shave off the white parts and the seeds. Put them in a roasting tray and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt, then roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Transfer the hot peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Once they have cooled down a little, you can peel them, although it isn’t essential for this sauce. In any case, place them in a blender or food processor with their roasting juices and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Process until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set aside.
  2. For the meatballs, place a heavy non-stick frying pan over a high heat and throw in the corn kernels. Toss them in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes, until lightly blackened. Remove and leave to cool.
  3. Soak the bread in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble it into a large bowl. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the oil and mix well with your hands.
  4. Pour a shallow depth of sunflower or canola oil into your heavy frying pan. Allow it to heat up well and then fry about a teaspoon of the mince mix in it. Remove, let cool a little and then taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper in the uncooked mixture to your liking.
  5. With wet hands, shape the mince mix into balls, about the size of golf balls. Brown them in small batches in the hot oil, turning them around in the pan until they are golden brown all over. Transfer to an oven tray, place in the oven at 400F and bake for about 5 minutes. When you press one with your finger, the meat should bounce back. If unsure, break one open to check that it is cooked inside. Serve hot or warm, with the pepper sauce on the side.

Chargrilled Broccoli with Chili & Garlic

Another Ottolenghi win… simple ingredients and delicious leftover!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chilies (Fresno), thinly sliced
  • coarse sea salt
  • black pepper
  • lemon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Separate the broccoli into florets and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes – don’t be tempted to cook longer! Remove immediately to a bowl of ice water, then drain and leave to dry completely.

Once the broccoli is dry, toss with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place a grill pan on high heat and leave for 5 minutes until smoking hot (or grill on your outdoor grill). Grill the broccoli in batches on the hot pan, turning to get lovely char marks on all sides.

While the broccoli is cooking, place the remaining oil in a small saucepan together with the garlic and chilies and cook on a medium heat until the garlic begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chilli burn – they will continue cooking in the hot oil even when off heat.

Pour the garlic and chili oil over the hot broccoli and toss well. Season to taste and toss in lemon wedges. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Ancho Turkey Chili

There are a few kitchen gadgets that I do not own… it’s a shock to me too. I see TV chefs putting all kinds of fun things through a food mill and magically there is a beautiful fresh tomato puree with no skin or seeds – can’t I make that happen with a food processor and sieve? The ricer is another contraption I could use to turn out some light and beautiful mashed potatoes – but I don’t really like mashed potatoes.

Soups and sauces are more my thing and there have been many blender blow-ups of hot bisque all over my kitchen. It’s time for an immersion blender – that is a gadget I will use and won’t take up a ton of space. On Christmas Day I opened the box and instantly put it to use for my pork roast pan sauce. I noticed my Dad eyeing the “boat motor” he spent hours shopping for (thanks mom) and his brain was ticking. He’s quite a good cook and has been experimenting with dried chiles for chili and soups… this would be a perfect way to get those chilies pureed.

Since I have been looking for anything to puree lately – I decided to give his method a shot in my healthy turkey chili. I’m a changed person. Really I am. The intensity you get from the dried chili puree can’t be achieved with chili powder alone. The combination of both with the fresh toasted spices is a crazy ride on the flavor boat.

I love this gadget and round 2 with poblanos & chicken is coming soon!

Cooks Notes: You can use a blender to puree the chilis – be sure to push through a sieve to remove any pepper skins. If you don’t have whole spices – use the same measurement of ground spices.

Ancho Turkey Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (85/15)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • One 15 to 16-ounce can beans – black pinto kidney mix, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

Make Ancho Puree: Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any of the skins.

Toast the spices: In a small, dry skillet, toast the seeds over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often. Keep watch to ensure the seeds don’t burn. When the seeds are fragrant and slightly darker, transfer them to a plate. Cool the toasted seeds, then grind them in a spice mill.

Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until the vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turkey and saute until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey with the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to blend. Add the chili puree, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to blend. Add the broth and beans. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors blend and the chili thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cilantro, cheese & sour cream.