I’m really looking forward to zucchini season coming around again. I use it in so many recipes that it makes me sad to see the miniature little organic zucchinis that are available this time of year. That said, grab a bunch of them, because this is one of the tastiest, most delicate side dishes you can make.
These were, in my opinion, the recipe standout during the South Beach Diet craze. With the inclusion of (small amounts, but still) butter, heavy cream, and a dollop of Boursin cheese, a little richness gets added, but these still stay much more on the side of “healthy” than traditional mashed potatoes ever would. I actually think these are better than mashed potatoes – see if you can sneak them in as a substitute and see if anybody notices the difference.
CAULIFLOWER MASHED “POTATOES” – serves 3-4
– 1 large head cauliflower (organic, preferably)
– 1/4 c. heavy cream or half & half
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 2 tbsp Boursin – we use shallot & chive, but any flavor you like will work
– Kosher salt & pepper to taste
– 2-3 bay leaves
1. In a deep pot, boil about 3 inches of water & add a couple of bay leaves. The bay leaves will infuse the water, and consequently the cauliflower as it steams, with more of a “potato” sort of flavor.
2. Wash a cauliflower, then cut it into chunky florets. The easiest way to do this is to cut the cauliflower in quarters, then cut out the middle stem. The florets should naturally fall away, and you won’t get tons of chopped up pieces of cauliflower all over the counter.
SHAVED CAULIFLOWER & RADICCHIO SALAD WITH HONEY-TOASTED WALNUTS & A MEYER LEMON VINAIGRETTE (makes a really big bowl of salad – adapted almost exactly from the lovely Happy Yolks)
– 1/2 a head of cauliflower (not cored)
– 1 head radicchio, cored
– 4-5 celery stalks, with leaves
– 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
– 1/2 c. honey-toasted walnuts
– 1-2 tbsp honey
– 3 meyer lemons, juiced
– 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
– 1/4 c. EVOO
– kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1. Cut a head of cauliflower in half, then shave it either with a julienne, a food processor, or a very sharp knife. Include the stem of the cauliflower. Throw this all into a big bowl.
2. Core a head of radicchio, and shave that as well. Do the same with the celery sticks, and also roughly tear the celery leaves. Add to the bowl. Chop the chives and the parsley, add to the ingredients, and stir everything to combine.
3. For the meyer lemon vinaigrette, juice the lemons, then add (in this order, to help it all blend together) kosher salt, pepper, dijon mustard. Whisk together (or shake it up, if you’re using a little mason jar), then add the olive oil. Whisk or shake it to combine, then add to the salad (or keep separate if you’re planning to eat this over the next day or so, too).
3. To make the walnuts, drizzle them with honey and then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake for approx. ten minutes at 350. Remove, let cool slightly, then top the salad with these. Serve and enjoy.
In the last post I mentioned that I’ve made some of my favorite chicken salads with avocado as a substitute for mayo, so I thought I would post that recipe this time around. This, again, is a super easy recipe – very light and flavorful, and really healthy too. It’ll keep for a day or two, but it’ll probably be gone before then!
AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD (makes approx. 2 servings)
– Shredded cooked chicken, approx. 2 cups
– 1 avocado, cubed
– juice of 1 lime (a Rosle Citrus Reamer works great for this)
– 1 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
– 2 scallions, chopped
1. Cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, and dice it. Add to a bowl and mash roughly with a fork to break it up a bit.
2. Once the avocado is mashed, add the cilantro, lime juice, scallions, and kosher salt/pepper (a pinch of each to start – then add more to taste). You want to kind of make a guacamole base, and then add the chicken to it.
3. Add the shredded chicken to the mix, then stir to combine.
4. Taste, season, then taste again. Delicious!
I felt like Maria von Trapp making this, because: Chickpeas? Avocados? Feta? These are a few of my favorite things…
Avocado is a great substitute for mayo – I’ve made some of my favorite chicken salads with avocados as a base – but mashed with chickpeas, combined with a little feta, lemon/lime juice, and cilantro, this was beyond delicious. The citrus keeps the avocado from browning, so you can keep this for a full day in the fridge for a healthy snack, or a sandwich filler, or a scoop on top of some salad greens. You get the picture. It’s healthy, it’s filling, and it’s ready in no more than ten minutes, tops. Enjoy.
CHICKPEA, AVOCADO, & FETA “SMASH” (serves 2-3)
– 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I use Eden Organic beans, because they’re fully organic, their cans are BPA-free, and they’re only slightly more expensive but significantly better for you than the alternatives)
|those are some balancing skills, right there!|
I’ve been dying to try anything with Meyer Lemons for over a year now. They only show up around here is in January – February, so when I saw a bag at Wegman’s the other day, I knew the time had come. Meyer Lemons are kind of a cross between a clementine and a lemon (my friend Klob calls them “lemontines”), so they’re a little lighter and sweeter than traditional lemons. The vinaigrette plays well against the roasted butternut squash, the feta adds a little saltiness, and the toasted walnuts add a little heartiness and crunch. The spinach pulls this all together for a super satisfying, really easy salad.
SPINACH, ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, FETA, & TOASTED WALNUT SALAD WITH A MEYER LEMON VINAIGRETTE (makes 4 individual side salads)
– 1 9 oz. bag of spinach
– 1/4 – 1/2 Roasted Butternut Squash
– 1/4 C. crumbled Feta
– 1/4 C. toasted walnuts
MEYER LEMON VINAIGRETTE
– 2 Meyer Lemons, zested and juiced
– 1 tbsp. honey
– 1/2 – 3/4 C. EVOO (start with 1/2, then add more to taste)
– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Roast the butternut squash. Basically, turn the oven to 400, throw in the squash for maybe 15 minutes, then remove to cut off the bottom and slice it in half easily. Scoop out the seeds, rub a little olive oil on both sides, then place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Remove from the oven, peel off the skin, and cut as needed. I has some leftover from the other night’s chicken, kale, roasted butternut squash, and black bean enchiladas, so I just used that.
2. Add the spinach leaves to a large bowl, then and add a little kosher salt or Herbamare (lettuce is a vegetable, and should be dressed like one). Stir to combine.
3. In a small pan, toast walnuts over medium-high heat. This should take about 5 minutes – just watch the pan closely, and shake it around a lot to flip the walnuts evenly. You’ll see (and smell) when the walnuts are toasted – just be careful not to burn them!
4. Add toasted walnuts, cubed butternut squash, and crumbled feta. Mix gently to combine.
5. In a smaller mason jar (or similar), combine the ingredients for the Meyer Lemon vinaigrette. Put a lid on the jar, shake well to combine, then season to taste if necessary.
6. Pour about half the dressing over the salad, mix gently to coat. Add more dressing if you like, or refrigerate for up to 3-4 more days. Yummo.
I would eat this every day, if it didn’t kind of make your kitchen smell like you were roasting tupperware. That said, please open a window and try this, because it’s one of the healthiest, simplest, tastiest snacks you’ll ever have.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH LEMON (serves 4 as a snack or side)
– 1 large head cauliflower
– 2 lemons, zest of 1
– 1-2 tbsp EVOO
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Wash and thoroughly dry the cauliflower, then cut into florets. The easiest way to do this is to cut the cauliflower into quarters, then cut out the middle “stem” part. The florets should fall away naturally, and you won’t end up with teeny pieces of cauliflower all over your kitchen.
3. In a small bowl, combine the juice of 1/2 a lemon and the salt, mixing to combine. Then, using a Microplane, add the zest of two lemons (just the yellow – zesting the white part, or the “pith”will make this really bitter) and the EVOO, and mix that together as well.
4. Pour this lemon/EVOO mixture over the cauliflower florets, and toss to combine. Arrange the florets in a single layer on an ungreased roasting sheet and put in the oven.
5. Every 10 minutes or so, take the cauliflower out of the oven, squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon over them, and flip them with a spatula. Repeat until the edges of the cauliflower are deep brown and caramelized – this should take approx. 30 minutes.
|Cauliflower, after the first flip.|
6. When roasted, remove the florets from the oven, squeeze the juice of another lemon half over them, then serve. This is fantastic either hot or cold.
Ok – I literally did not know there was an “s” at the end of “brussels” until just this minute. That still looks weird to me, but it’ll stay. It fits, though, because much like getting used to the “s” at the end of the word, brussels sprouts themselves also took some getting used to. As a kid, I wasn’t a fan, but as an adult, they’re one of my favorite sides. Roasting them in a pan caramelizes them somewhat, and the light dusting of parm gives them a salty little kick. I swear these are better than candy.
PARMESAN CRUSTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS (serves 2-4 as a side – via 101 Cookbooks)
– 20 brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (choose ones that have tighter leaves – these will be fresher)
– 2 tbsp EVOO
– kosher salt
– freshly grated parmesan cheese – a microplane works well to shred the parm into superfine little wisps
1. Wash and trim the brussels sprouts – peel away a few of the looser outer leaves, trim the stems. Then, cut them in half and toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon of EVOO.
2. Heat the other tablespoon of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, arrange the brussels cut-side down, sprinkle with some kosher salt, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
3. After 5 minutes, uncover, raise heat to medium high, and cook until the brussels are browned and caramelized. Using a spatula, toss them around the skillet a few times to cook the sides and the edges.
4. Turn off the heat, then dust the brussels with the parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, and watch your guests become brussels sprouts converts.
I can’t even tell you how simple, delicious, and pretty this side is. It’s perfect for entertaining – put it alongside a cheese plate, and you have a lovely little spread of hors d’oeuvres. Roasting the grapes brings out their natural sweetness, but that’s balanced by the thyme, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. We love this. Love this. Love this.
ROASTED RED GRAPES WITH THYME (orginial recipe found on Noble Pig)
– 1 bunch seedless red grapes (organic, if you can find them)
– 4-5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
– 1 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
– EVOO (approx. 2 tbsp)
– Parchment paper
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Wash grapes and dry thoroughly.
3. Gently combine thyme leaves, EVOO, kosher salt, pepper, and grapes, then arrange on a single layer of parchment paper.
4. Roast for approx. 10 minutes, shaking the pan once about halfway through to rotate the grapes a bit. The skins of the grapes will split and wither slightly – this is when you know they’re ready to come out of the oven.
5. Serve warm or cool alongside whatever other hors d’oeuvres you have, or just enjoy on their own!