Heirloom vegetables are so gorgeous and delicious, especially in the summer. Our dinner last night was wild coho salmon. For vegetable accompaniments I made what I like to call Italian-style tomato salsa/salad and roasted rainbow carrots.
The tomatoes I chopped up and mixed with finely chopped red onions, minced jalapeño pepper, chiffonade basil and capers, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. The jalapeño gives the salad a nice kick, while the aged balsamic brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes. The capers add a salty, briny quality. We love this salad to go with a variety of proteins as a topping, or just to eat with corn chips, much like a salsa.
As for the carrots, I scrubbed them clean and cut them them into about 1/4 inch thickness, skin on, taking off just the ends. Laying the carrots onto roasting pans — making sure not to over crowd them — I gave them a few good glugs of olive oil, about two table spoons per pan, and mixed thoroughly so all carrot pieces were coated with oil. I added a few slices of lemon. Normally I would add whole cloves of garlic, skin on, but sadly I was out of garlic — so I sprinkled some garlic powder over the carrots instead. I roasted the carrots in 400F oven, occasionally mixing them around in the pan, until cooked, about 50 minutes. I wanted to “char” the carrots a bit, so at the very end I set the oven to medium broil for about 5 minutes to crisp up the edges. Once out of the oven I seasoned the carrots with salt and pepper, and threw in some finely chopped basil. I think the lemon works very well with the carrots, as it adds a brightness that complements the natural earthy sweetness of carrots.
So simple and yet so flavorful! Summer vegetables are so wonderful.
What seasonal vegetable are you cooking these days?
‘Tis the season for organic purple sweet potatoes! David and I love having roasted sweet potatoes in the fridge, which make for a great post-workout snack and snack in general. And when we can get purple sweet potatoes? Even better! Purple sweet potatoes are wonderful — they are drier and denser than your regular sweet potatoes or yams, have a balanced sweetness and are packed with antioxidants. I like to chop them up in small pieces (about 1/2 in. by 1/4 in), coat them in cinnamon with a sprinkling of cayenne, garlic powder and salt, and roast them with coconut oil. The coconut oil and cinnamon highlight the sweetness of the potatoes, while the garlic powder, cayenne and salt bring out the savory qualities. I eyeball the spices, and roast them at 400F until the potatoes are cooked through. A fork test always works best to make sure the potatoes are cooked. Today, I chopped up 3 large purple sweet potatoes, tossed them in cinnamon, cayenne, garlic powder and some salt, and plopped on about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.
I find it easier to toss the whole mixture together once the coconut oil melts in the oven after a few minutes. Once in the oven, I mix the potatoes around every so often, making sure that the pieces are coated evenly with the coconut oil, and roast them for about 45 minutes.
Voila! I sprinkle a little bit more salt once the potatoes are out of the oven. The potatoes keep very well in an air-tight tupperware for a week or a bit more. They are great cold, and I eat them after my workouts or when I’m craving something sweet. Roasted sweet potatoes have become our must-always-have foods in our fridge these days, and we LOVE them!
Check out this purple sweet potato beauty right out of the oven!
Recently, I have come to the conclusion that my favorite squash/pumpkin to roast is the acorn squash. I had never cooked an acorn squash before this fall; it happened as one of my “impulse” vegetable purchases one day when David was away and I was cooking for myself, and the acorn squash looked appealing and it also wasn’t too big. I went home, sliced up the squash, tossed the slices in olive oil, seasoned them and roasted them… and they were SO GOOD. What I love about roasted acorn squash is that the squash has a lovely, natural sweetness to it, and when roasted, it has an almost creamy texture that is still light, an almost custard mouth-feel without any density or heaviness. Adding a sprinkling of cinnamon brings out the sweetness of the squash, while the chili slices give them a fiery kick. The squash is great cold, too, and makes for a delicious veggie leftover “snack.”
I like to get organic acorn squash, because I keep the skin on, which I think is delicious roasted. And here’s how I roast them:
We’re loving kale salads these days, so I’m always on trying to come up with new ways to “dress” the healthy greens. I recently came up with a simple dressing that worked very well. I added some toasted pecans in the salad, since they were so nice in the “Red (Purple) Salad” I’ve made before. I think the pecans add a nice earthy flavor as well as texture, and complements the heat from the serrano chili. The salad pairs well with meat, such as a pork chop, but it’s also great on its own. It keeps well and tasted great the next day, too!
Continuing with our infusing more “purple” vegetables in our lives, I decided to pick up a radicchio to use in the vegetable accompaniment for dinner. I already had a couple of organic Chinese eggplants, red onions and purple garlic from the farmers’ market, as well as shiitake mushrooms, in the fridge, so I decided to put them all together in a “stir-fry.” Chinese eggplants have a much thinner skin than normal eggplants, so they are great for stir-frying because they will cook through more easily. Radicchio adds a nice bitterness to all the “umami” from the mushrooms, onions and eggplant. I added some basil from our garden at the end, which gave the vegetables a nice aromatic lift and freshness. The result was a kind of light, tomato-less ratatouille, and we had it as an accompaniment to a simply grilled coho salmon — delicious!
Whole Foods had a big sale on wild sole last week, which inspired me to think of an easy way to eat a lot of the delicious fish. I happened to have a lot of fennel in the fridge, and so I experimented with cooking the sole and fennel together — and discovered our new favorite way to cook sole! The fennel and lemon pair perfectly with the fish. Baking the fennel brings out a lot of the vegetable’s flavor and sweetness, and the lemon and garlic add a nice zesty quality to the dish. The sole is so moist and flavorful! This dish should typically serve about 4 people, especially when accompanied with another side vegetable, but, truth be told, it was so light and delicious we ate the whole thing when I made it last night! This recipe will be a nice addition to my work-week dinner roster, as it is so simple to make and healthful, too!
A high school friend of mine and his girlfriend are on the raw food diet and are also vegetarian. A while back over drinks, they told me about the wonders of the spiral slicer that can create beautiful spirals of vegetables — a perfect gadget for raw foodists, who, with it, could make raw vegetable “pastas” from carrots, zucchinis and the like. The idea of the spiral slicer stayed on my mind, and so I finally purchased one recently. There are a few types of spiral slicers out there, but I went with the Gefu Spirelli — and I LOVE it!
Sometimes, we just feel like eating a nice big piece of fish for dinner. Wild sockeye salmon is one of our favorite weekday fish, because it is so quick and easy to cook. It takes less then 10 minutes to pan-sear sockeye salmon filets to crispy-skin perfection. Sockeye salmon is firmer than your regular salmon, with deep, orange-red color and rich, full, salmon-y flavor. It is leaner than King Salmon, and less expensive. I think sockeye salmon is best cooked simply — just make sure to not over cook it, as it will dry out. Since David and I try to avoid eating farmed salmon as well as salmon with “added color” (usually goes hand in hand), sockeye salmon has become our favorite salmon variety to cook at home (along with coho salmon, which, when in season, is also delicious). Currently, sockeye salmon found in super markets tend to be “previously frozen” (i.e. not in peak season), but we think they still taste delicious!
Here’s how I pan sear my sockeye salmon filets:
My Spicy Lemon Paprika Chicken Thigh recipe is one of the most frequently visited posts on my blog — I think because we all love a simple but flavorful way of oven roasting skin-on chicken thighs (and indulging in deliciously crispy chicken skin). I recently created a variation of the recipe, a marinade with more spices — I wanted to layer on more flavor in the marinade and see what happened. The result was excellent, and also different, so I hope everyone who has tried the Spicy Lemon Paprika recipe will try this new recipe, too! What I like about this new marinade is the slight sweetness from the cinnamon, as well as the aroma of fennel seeds as well as a hint of cloves.
Seven years go, David and I lived for a couple years in the Upper Eastside. A time long before our gluten-free days, our favorite neighborhood place for Chinese food delivery was Café Evergreen (which, it seems, has now closed). One dish in particular remains in my mind, mostly because it was so simple yet surprisingly satisfying: sauteed enoki mushrooms with spinach. I recently had 2 bunches of enoki mushrooms and spinach sitting in my fridge that I needed to use, so I decided to make my own interpretation of the Café Evergreen dish. This veggie dish is very simple, quick, and delicious. The enoki mushrooms almost feel like “noodles.” I didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand, so I used ground ginger, which worked fine — but next time, I’ll probably use fresh grated ginger instead. Continue reading