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Currently showing posts tagged appetizer

  • Rosemary & Zucchini Tart

    Dishes like this, that look quite lovely but are actually so easy to make, are great for impressing guests but also impressing yourself.  I've been rethinking what goes into making a "nice" meal lately, and have been working on meals that focus on one or two ingredients, and really let them shine. Here I make a simple gluten-free rosemary crust, press it into a small baking sheet, and layer with rows of colorful zucchini and summer squash. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, white pepper, and rosemary leaves, it really lets the fresh zucchini's taste and texture come through. What an easy dinner with a salad, or beautiful summer appetizer for a picnic or BBQ. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar after baking and serve!


    Rosemary & Zucchini Tart

    Serves 4-8 (depending on portions)

    Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients:

    Crust:
    1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free AP Flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp crushed rosemary
    1/4 cup coconut oil
    1/4 cup + 1 tsp water

    2 medium-large zucchini/summer squash (I used one green and one yellow), sliced thinly
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp white or black pepper
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lightly oil small baking sheet or pan (I used 9"x9") with a bit of oil.

    2. Combine all dry ingredients for crust in a mixing bowl and add coconut oil. Cut in using fingers or two forks until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add water in slowly, and mix until dough comes together in a ball.

    3. Gently press dough into pan, pushing from the center outwards until it's evenly pressed into all sides. Be patient, it takes a minute or so.

    4. Layer top of tart with alternating rows of zucchini and squash slices (see photos above). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake uncovered in the oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is firm and golden brown, and zucchini slices are lightly browning and cooked through.

    5. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into squares and drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar if desired. Serve immediately, or at room temperature. Enjoy!

  • Zucchini Polenta Fries & Zucchini Polenta Scramble

    From one simple thing can come many. This recipe is an accurate reflection of my cooking process and how I often come to the tasty recipes that I share with you all.  I'll explain my thought and action process briefly so you can understand how this recipe quickly evolved into two very different preparations. I had a bounty of farm fresh zucchini in the fridge (straight from the Port Townsend farmer's market) and wanted to turn them into a crispy zucchini fry type dish. I thought about possible binding options and decided I would combine the ease of polenta fries with freshly grated zucchini and see how they came out. I prepared polenta as I normally would, added some salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast for flavor, set it to cool, cut it into strips, and baked in the oven on an oiled baking sheet. It just barely worked. While they came out sort of fine, mid-way throught the baking I realized they weren't drying out as quickly as I had hoped and were quite mushy in the center. When I tried to flip them over (prematurely) they started to fall apart on the tray. I decided to give them a final chance and just left them in the oven to see if they crisped up on their own with extra baking time. Meanwhile, I looked at the remaining zucchini polenta fries I had left (not all would fit on baking sheet) and decided I would try to fry them. I don't often fry (mostly because it's messy), but I thought this was for a good cause, so I gave it a shot. I put some oil in a pan, gently placed the zucchini fries in, and let them get nice and golden brown. But as soon as I tried to flip them, they too fell apart. Even worse than in the oven. There was nothing left to do but give up on the pan fry idea. But wasting food isnt an option here, so I grabbed my spatula and turned them into a scramble, letting it get quite crispy and just scrambling away every few minutes. The oven baked fries actually turned out quite tasty in the end when left to bake for a little longer than I had expected, though not as pretty as I had hoped.The scramble, also delicious, was an unexpected creation. One that if I were to make again I would certainly add some sauteed onions and mushrooms. It's a lovely substitute for tofu scramble, and very filling as well. Here is the basic recipe I used to make both of these surprise creations. I hope it gives you a sense of my process, the freedom in cooking openly, and what can come of a recipe that doesnt turn out quite as you expect, if you let it just be itself. This happens to me constantly! Just remember to keep an open mind and try to envision what else can come of it. Here are my two surprisingly tasty variations.


    Zucchini Polenta Fries and Zucchini Polenta Scramble

    Serves 2-4

    Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: 20-35 minutesIngredients:

    1 cup polenta
    3 cups water
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
    1 Tbsp oregano
    1 Tbsp rosemary
    1 cup grated zucchini, water squeezed out
    1 Tbsp medium-high heat oil

    Zucchini Polenta Scramble Add-ins:
    1/2 yellow onion, sliced
    1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
    1/4 cup chives or green onions, chopped


    1. Bring water to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Add polenta in a thin stream, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Add salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast, if using. Add grated zucchini. Keep stirring over low heat for the next few minutes as it thickens. When thick and bubbling, pour into a lightly oiled pan (anything with a lip will work; square or rectangle baking tray, even pie plate, though 9"x9" square pan works well). Smooth out and let cool for 10-15 minutes until edges pull away from sides of pan and it's cool to the touch. Gently flip out onto a cutting board, and if making fries cut into rectangular pieces roughly 3"x1" and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay fries out on lightly oiled baking sheet (or parchment paper) and bake for 10-15 minutes, then gently flip over (if too soft to flip, bake a few minutes longer) then bake an additional 15 minutes until very crispy on the outside and soft inside. You'll know they are done when you can easily lift them from the pan with no fear of breaking them. Serve with favorite condiments of choice.

    2. If making into a scramble, lightly saute onions and mushrooms in a skillet over medium heat. When browning, crumble polenta/zucchini block into pan (as you would tofu) and let cook, mostly undisturbed, for 10 minutes or so over medium heat, scrambling occassionally for even browning. When done, stir in green onions or chives if using. Serve alone or with a nice green salad. Very filling, enjoy!

  • Red Cabbage & Jicama Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

    Most folks who've gone out for Thai or Vietnamese food have had these delicious fresh spring rolls and loved them, and thankfully they're not at all hard to make at home. They're wonderful because they're amazingly versatile, beautiful and nutritious. You can fill them with virtually any vegetable, so long as they're thinly sliced. Additional fillings you can try are strips of fried tofu, sauteed/roasted mushrooms, vermicelli noodles, carrot strips, and avocado. The possibilities are endless. Jicama, if you're not familiar with it, is a most delicious tuberous root vegetable from Mexico. It's flavor is mild, slightly sweet, with a one of a kind texture and crunch. Worth seeking out, it can be found in most grocery stores, or try your local Asian or Mexican market. If you can't find it you can substitute carrot, radish, or broccoli stem strips. The spring roll wrappers can be found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores, get the 8 or 9" ones. The one thing you do not want to leave out of these guys are the fresh herbs. They MAKE the flavor of these rolls. Any combination of fresh mint, cilantro, parsley, or basil will work, but I'd go with at least two, our favorites being mint and basil. The dipping sauce is easy to whip up, and can be made in larger quantities and stored in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. It's tasty on pretty much everything, and if you're a peanut fan like we are you'll see why. If you make these to bring to a party, make them as close to party time as possible, and cover the plate with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to ensure the rice paper wrappers do not dry out. These will become a recipe staple for you once you give them a try, they are that good.


    Red Cabbage and Jicama Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

    Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free

    Makes 12 rolls

    1 package of "spring roll skin wrappers"
    1 cup thinly sliced red (or green) cabbage
    1 cup thinly sliced cucumber strips
    1 cup thinly sliced jicama (or carrots, radish, or broccoli stems)
    1 cup fresh mint leaves
    1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    1 cup fresh basil leaves

    Peanut Dipping Sauce
    1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
    3/4 cup warm water
    1 Tbsp rice or white vinegar
    1 Tbsp sugar or agave syrup
    1 Tbsp coconut aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp fresh shallot or onion
    1/2 tsp (or more) fresh thai chili (optional)


    1. Thinly slice all veggies into strips and place in separate clusters on large plate. Remove herbs from stems and add whole leaves to plate as well.

    2. Boil water and fill very wide bowl or pie plate about half way full, let sit for a few minutes to cool ever so slightly. One at a time, soften spring roll sheets by dipping them into the hot water, using your fingers to move them around. Depending on hotness of water, it will take about 2-10 seconds for them to soften. They should be pliable but not mushy and falling apart, think al dente pasta, as they will continue to soften even out of the water. Layer two softened spring roll sheets on top of one another on cutting board (wood works well here) and fill bottom third with a a bit of each veggie and herbs, do not overstuff! Less is more here. Roll up like you would a mini burrito, tucking in sides and rolling up tightly. It will conveniently stick to itself, making this very easy. Cut in half and place on serving plate.

    3. In a blender combine all ingredients for peanut sauce and process 10-20 seconds until creamy. Transfer to small bowl and top with chopped scallions or additional chopped chili pepper, if desired.

  • Cauliflower Crisps & Tangy Tahini Dressing

    I don't fry food that often, but when I do, I make sure it tastes amazing. This is one of those instances. A picnic in the park with some dear friends warranted a creation of some serious summer comfort food. Cauliflower florets are coated in cornmeal and mediterranean spices like oregano and sesame, then served with (or directly dipped in) a tangy tahini dressing flecked with fresh parsley. It would make a really lovely appetizer, side dish, or snack. Be sure to use a high heat oil for any type of frying (oils with a lower smoke point are heat damaged, and potential carcinogens can form) avocado oil is our favorite high heat oil (up to 500 degrees), but grape seed and organic canola oil would also work. Enjoy!


    Cauliflower Crisps & Tangy Tahini Dressing

    1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

    2-3 Tbsp rice flour

    2-3 Tbsp cornmeal

    1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

    1 tsp sea salt

    1 Tbsp oregano

    2 Tbsp sesame seeds

    pinch cayenne pepper

    1.5-2 cups avocado oil

    Tangy Tahini Dressing

    1 clove garlic, smashed

    to taste sea salt

    1/2 cup tahini

    2 Tbsp lemon juice

    water as needed

    1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

    to taste black pepper


    1. Break/cut cauliflower into uniform bite sized florets. In a large bowl toss with both rice flour and cornmeal, salt, oregano, sesame seeds, n. yeast, and pepper.


    2. Heat a deep skillets worth of oil over medium high heat. When hot add cauliflower florets, one batch at a time and fry 4-5 minutes until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in oven if necessary.


    3. In a mortar and pestle (or small bowl), smash 1 clove garlic with the sea salt. Add tahini and lemon juice and stir. Add water in a thin stream, stirring until thin and creamy consistency is reached. Add parsley and black pepper and season to taste. Serve cauliflower with dressing, either as a dipping sauce or drizzled over top.
     

  • Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties with Spicy Avocado Mayo

    These little patties are so simple to whip up, amazingly versatile, and almost fool-proof. They come together in no time, and you can change up the ingredients based on what you have in the fridge. They are great on top of a salad, as an appetizer with a nice dipping sauce, or make them slightly larger and serve on a bun as a tempting veggie burger. The possibilities are endless. To boot, they are extremely nutritious, filled with lentils and amaranth which are packed with plant protein, and both of which are great for metabolism and heart health. A good dose of parsley adds a punch of Vitamin K (77% of your daily needs in 1 tablespoon!) Feel free to play with the veggies which are added, though I find the russet potato works wonders as both a binder and a starchy crisp agent. Don't bother to peel it, leave the skin on for extra nutrition, just grate it up. Amaranth is carried in most natural food stores with a bulk section, near the quinoa. It is very similar to quinoa nutritionally with a complete profile of all amino acids, but it's about half the price and easy to digest. If you can't find it, quinoa will work in these as well. Give it a try!


    Red Lentil & Amaranth Protein Patties

    1/2 cup amaranth, (uncooked)

    1/2 cup red lentils (uncooked)

    2 cups water

    1 medium russet potato, grated

    1 small onion, chopped

    2 garlic cloves, chopped

    1/2 cup parsley, chopped

    1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

    1 Tbsp mustard

    2 Tbsp ketchup

    2 Tbsp rice flour

    2 Tbsp coarse cornmeal (or regular)

    1/2 tsp cumin

    1 tsp paprika

    1 tsp sea salt

    1/2 tsp black pepper

    Spicy Avocado Mayo

    1 ripe avocado, mashed

    2 Tbsp Vegenaise (or any vegan mayo)

    1 tsp balsamic vinegar

    1 tsp olive oil

    pinch sea salt

    good pinch cayenne pepper


    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 1-2 Tbsp of high heat oil (avocado, organic canola, grape seed) on a baking sheet and spread evenly.

    2. In a medium pot, place amaranth, lentils and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover pot, and reduce to a simmer. Let cook undisturbed for 10-15 minutes until water is absorbed and amaranth and lentils are cooked. It will be porridgey, let it cool.

    3. While amaranth is cooking, grate the potato into a large mixing bowl. With your hands squeeze the shredded potato over sink to release excess water. Return to bowl and add chopped onion, garlic, and parsley. Add cooked amaranth/lentil mixture and mix well with your hands. Add mustard, ketchup, spices, cornmeal and rice flour. Mix well.

    4. Form into small patties, then place them on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.

    5. While cooking, make avocado mayo. Simply mash avocado in a small bowl with the back of a fork. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Serve atop the patties, or on the side as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

  • Colcannon Cakes

    These savory oven-baked cakes were created due to my love for the Irish dish Colcannon, which is traditionally a mix of potatoes, kale or cabbage, onions, parsley, & butter. These cakes are easy to make, only using the simplest of ingredients, and are both vegan and gluten-free. They make a comforting snack these early days of spring, and are full of fiber and potassium. I served them with a side of spicy dijon dipping sauce, and a bit of fresh red cabbage on the side for some extra crunch. Feel free to play with the ingredients and come up with new combinations. Cornmeal instead of rice flour, sweet potato instead of russets, broccoli instead of cabbage. You can also add grated carrots, shredded zucchini, or slices of mushroom. They'll be a step away from the traditional Colcannon, but still quite delicious. Feel free to play!


    Colcannon cakes

    Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Makes: 10 cakes

    4 small Russet potatoes (or 3 medium), diced

    1/2 red onion, chopped

    1/2 cup red cabbage,  chopped

    1/2 cup green cabbage, chopped

    1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

    1 tsp salt

    2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

    1/2 tsp ground rosemary

    1/3 cup rice flour (or wheat flour, if not gluten-free)

    pinch cayenne pepper

    1/2 cup water

    2 Tbsp high heat oil of choice, avocado oil is great


    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Saute onion, potatoes, and cabbage together in a deep skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cover the pan. Let cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat, until potatoes are soft and mashable.

    2. Using a potato masher, thoroughly mash potato/cabbage mixture and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the parsley, salt, nutritional yeast, rosemary, rice flour, and cayenne. Stir to combine.

    3. Coat a baking sheet with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Form mixture into small palm sized patties and place in rows on baking sheet.

    4. Bake for 7-10 minutes on each side until lightly browned and crispy.

    5. Serve with any dipping sauce of choice, I used a spicy dijon mustard mixed with a tsp of ketchup. Enjoy!