Kale Tabouli

kaletabouli1 Did you know that kale is such a nutritional rockstar that it has its own day?  Yep, October 7th is National Kale Day! Ok, it’s a bit crazy but hey, everything else seems to have its own “National Day” so why not kale? Kale is really amazing in the nutrition department boasting so many vitamins and antioxidants for your body that it just boggles the mind. Here’s my top 5 good for you facts about kale….

  1. It is only a mere 33 calories per cup.  You can chop it up and add it to your dishes for an almost calorie-free nutritional boost.
  2. It is loaded with antioxidants.  It contains a lot of beta carotene (Vitamin C) which is known to reduce oxidative damage in the body.  Oxidative damage is believed to lead to aging and many diseases including Cancer.
  3. Kale contains substances that bind bile acids to lower cholesterol levels. Steamed kale is particularly effective for this.
  4. It contains Vitamin K which is crucial for blood clotting.  This is good if you’re an accident-prone gal like myself (hello tree-trimming incident this Fall).  So, your cuts heal faster without as much blood loss.
  5. Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin.  People who have diets rich in these two nutrients have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common eye disorders as we age.

Kale is quite easy to add to your diet.  Try chopping it up small and adding it to your salads like the tabouli salad I’m sharing here.  It is also great in smoothies, its taste disappears and it adds tons of nutrition. chicken.kofta4

5.0 from 1 reviews
Kale Tabouli
 
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Recipe type: Vegetarian main course, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa or couscous - cook according to package directions
  • ½ of an English (seedless) cucumber - diced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes - diced
  • ½ of a red onion - diced
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf parsley - chopped (flat leaf parsley works also)
  • ½ bunch of kale, stems removed - chopped (see notes below on stem removal)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To de-stem the kale:
  2. Fold the kale leaf in half length-wise so that the stem runs along one side. Run your knife right next to the stem to remove it in one piece.
  3. Cook the quinoa or couscous according to package directions and place on a plate to cool.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. For the salad:
  7. Mix all the remaining ingredients into a bowl along with the cooled quinoa/couscous.
  8. Add the dressing and toss it with the salad to combine.
  9. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

So you go kale…..I’m polishing your crown as we speak.

Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing

 

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This chopped vegetable salad is crunchy, colorful and really delicious.  There is just something about Asian inspired flavors that remind me of Spring and eating light.  This Thai Peanut Dressing is creamy and has a bit of a bite to it with the chili sauce.

I have made this salad many times and sometimes I really spend a lot of time chopping all the veggies to the same size matchsticks and other times I just chop it all up different sizes.  It’s all in the presentation I guess but either way it tastes the same…..Yummy!  I tend to serve this salad with fish, the flavors work perfectly.

This dressing is also great over rice noodles with some bean sprouts and chopped snap peas or as a sauce for pasta with shredded chicken and green onions.

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Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing
 
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Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 3 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into strips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • Note: I served mine over a bed of chopped kale, stems removed (optional)
  • Dressing
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup all natural creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until the dressing is smooth in texture.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat.
  4. To serve, pile a helping of salad onto a plate over the kale (if using) and garnish generously with more cilantro and peanuts. The salad gets better as it sits and will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Spaghetti Squash Two Ways

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Spaghetti Squash, what’s not to love about it?  It’s wonderful as a main course for a satisfying dinner that will make you feel like a sinner but you’re really a saint.  I’ve shown it here two ways.  The squash in both dishes is prepared the same; by roasting it on a sheet pan.  One is served with a simple tomato sauce and the other with roasted Brussels sprouts and a drizzle of spicy harissa oil.

Once you know how to cook the spaghetti squash the possibilities are truly endless.  I like it with chick peas and roasted red peppers, mushroom gravy and served aglio olio style to name a few.  It’s a great vegetarian meal for a Meatless Monday Main course.  You could of course, add your favorite meatball or meat sauce or serve it along side a chicken breast or piece of baked fish.

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It’s a low calorie and satisfying meal.  What’s not to love?

Spaghetti Squash
 
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Author:
Recipe type: What's for dinner, main course, side dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian cuisine
Serves: 2-4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash - cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over the flesh sides of the spaghetti squash halves.
  3. Rub the olive oil over the squash so that it is all evenly coated.
  4. Sprinkle the squash with Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Lie the squash halves, skin side up so the flesh is on the pan.
  6. Roast for approximately 40 minutes until tender, so a fork is able to completely pierce through the skin and flesh of the squash.
  7. Cool the squash enough so that you can handle it.
  8. Using a fork, shred the squash forming noodle-like strands.
  9. Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy.

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Spinach Tortellini Skewers

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How cute are these?  I saw the Pioneer Woman make these and just loved the idea.  They could not be simpler and they are so festive, especially for a holiday party which is what I made them for.  The hardest part was assembling them.  They were very tasty and fresh and remained good at room temperature throughout the entire night.

The dreaded has finally happened, my homemade basil pesto is gone!  I freeze several batches of homemade basil pesto in the summer so that I can have it in the winter.  But, sadly, I’ve used it all.  I used basil pesto from a jar (Trader Joes brand) for this recipe and it was delicious.

I’m all about party food that is easy to prepare, can be prepared ahead of time and that lasts throughout the life of your party so you, as the hostess, can stay out of the kitchen and enjoy your guests.  These delicious skewers fit the bill.  Plus, they fall into my favorite party food category….”finger foods,” no utensils needed here!

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Spinach Tortellini Skewers
 
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These are delicious and so festive with their red, white and green colors. A great dish to serve at your holiday gatherings. Plus, no utensils are needed!
Recipe type: Appetizer, casual main course
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Italian
Serves: 25 skewers
Ingredients
  • 1-2 packages of spinach and cheese filled tortellinis (I used 1 package but they were relatively small and there were a lot in the package).
  • 1 block of fresh mozzarella cheese - cubed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons basil pesto - from a jar or homemade
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh basil - chopped - optional, used as garnish
  • Skewers - I used bamboo
Instructions
  1. Cook the spinach tortellini according to package directions. Drain the tortellini, rinse and set aside.
  2. Assemble the skewers the way you like.
  3. Note- I put two tortellinis on each skewer with the mozzarella and grape tomato in between. I made 25 skewers total and still had tortellinis left.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. Whisk the olive oil, basil pesto and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl.
  6. Drizzle the dressing over the skewers before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil as garnish if desired.

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The Veggetti Spiral Slicer

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Is the Veggetti Spiral Slicer on your Christmas list?  No you say?  Well, it should be!  This little kitchen gadget may have a very naughty sounding name but it’s definitely on the nice list.  It takes ordinary zucchini, carrots, yellow squash and cucumbers and turns them into beautiful curly noodles and spirals either thin or thick cut.

I have been very impressed with the Veggetti but I’ll admit I haven’t tried any other spiral slicers.  There are several models on the market but the Veggetti was inexpensive, $14.99, and came recommended by my friend who is a true foodie so I knew it must be good!

It did not disappoint.  I’ve made only a couple of dishes so far but both of them have turned out really delicious.  The Veggetti works great and does what it promises.  Take a look for yourself….

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Stay tuned for my zucchini noodle recipes, they’re easy, healthy and really yummy.  I hope Santa puts a Veggetti in your stocking this Christmas.

 

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

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I’m going through one of those phases where I just don’t feel like cooking!  Yep, it happens to all of us once in awhile and now is my time.  It’s the holiday season and with that comes an elevated level of stress right?

So, ’tis the season for a super easy meal that’s delicious and on the table in a snap.  Don’t let the word casserole turn you off, this is a healthy one that’s packed with protein and whole grains….guilt free!  It’s so good for you that you won’t feel bad having a Christmas cookie for dessert!  The chicken can absolutely be omitted making it a vegetarian dish.

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The chicken I used here was, wait for it, canned chicken!  What, canned meat?  Let me tell you, it gets a bad wrap. It is all natural, preservative-free white meat chicken packed in water and it is your friend for a quick meal option.  I use it in casseroles, panini sandwiches, stirred into sauce over pasta and over greens for a nice entrée salad.

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This an extremely versatile dish, use what you have in your pantry.  Sub the enchilada sauce for salsa (I like the green salsa verde), green peas for the corn and white beans or chick peas for the black beans.  I’ve even omitted the beans all together and chopped up two black bean burgers instead.  Ground turkey is also a nice substitute for the canned chicken.  Make it your own.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
 
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This guilt-free casserole is full of flavor and so healthy. Try omitting the chicken for a vegetarian main dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: Healthy Dinner
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 13 ounce can of canned chicken (all natural, white meat, packed in water)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup frozen corn (I use roasted frozen corn)
  • 1 10 ounce can of mild enchilada sauce (or 10 ounces of salsa)
  • 1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chilis (I used ½ cup of jarred chopped mild chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro - chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • ¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 Roma tomatoes - diced
  • low fat sour cream for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water or broth according to package directions.
  4. Cook the frozen corn according to package directions.
  5. In a large bowl mix the quinoa, chicken, black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, green chilis, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste and the cilantro.
  6. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  7. Stir in ¾ cups of the cheese.
  8. Put the mixture into the baking dish.
  9. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted on the top.
  11. Serve immediately topped with the Roma tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro garnish.
  12. Store in the refrigerator for delicious leftovers for up to a week.

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Comfort Food at its Finest

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I hosted a lovely Fall themed lunch a couple of weeks ago for family and friends.  I served this roasted butternut squash soup as my first course.  On the whole, I think butternut squash soup can tend to be on the bland side.  I believe one of the reasons for that is the cooking method of the squash.  Most butternut squash soup recipes boil the squash until tender.  Instead, I roasted the butternut squash in the oven and it made for an amazing soup with a depth of flavor that was anything but bland.

This is all the tastes of Fall in one warm comforting soup bowl.  My guests are still talking about this soup, and asking for the recipe.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Comfort Food at its Finest
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Fall
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon whole nutmeg - grated on the microplane
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 pound butternut squash (1 large sheet pan full) cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place squash on a large baking plan and drizzle with olive oil. Mix the olive oil evenly over the squash with your hands. Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast the squash for approximately 30 minutes until soft, turning after 20 minutes.
  4. Add the olive oil to a soup pot and heat over medium heat.
  5. Sautee carrot, onion and celery with the cinnamon stick until softened, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the spices.
  7. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  8. Turn the heat down to simmer.
  9. Mash the squash in a bowl with a potato masher.
  10. Add the squash to the soup pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
  11. Use an immersion blender or blend in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  12. Stir ½ cup of half and half into the soup before serving.
  13. Note - this soup stores beautifully in the refrigerator for days. I often make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight. Wait to stir in the half and half until you're ready to heat and serve the soup.

 

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Here was my table décor for the luncheon; simple but elegant and very festive for Fall.

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Winter Squash, one of my favorite things about Fall

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Winter Squash is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect foods.  There many different types and all are so versatile.  They can be stuffed, used to make soups, casseroles, side dishes, desserts, and main courses.  Whether it be butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin, delicata, hubbard or kabocha they can all be roasted or baked and turned into delicious and visually stunning meals.  As far as the nutrition benefits, winter squash is one of the best plant sources for anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene that are good for boosting the immune system and warding off colds and flu.

Ok my fellow foodies, now is your chance to shine.  Please send me your favorite winter squash recipes.  I will be choosing my faves from your faves and then posting them, along with a picture of you making it if you so desire.  So get busy, I look forward to sharing this Fall classic with you!

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Roasted Butternut Squash

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I really love most of the winter squashes but by far my favorite is the butternut squash.  It’s mild taste is comforting and so delicious, I look forward to it every year!  My favorite way to prepare it roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until soft.  It’s the perfect meal with a bowl of hot soup.

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Okay Fall, I’m finally beginning to embrace you and all of the beautiful seasonal foods you have to offer.  Stay tuned for my butternut squash soup, it’s a real treat!

Roasted Butternut Squash
 
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My most favorite winter squash is by far the butternut squash. It's mild flavor is comforting and so delicious. My preferred way to cook it is by roasting it until browned and soft.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian, side dish
Cuisine: Fall comfort food
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash - peeled, cut in ½ lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay the squash on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the squash (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
  4. Mix the olive oil over all sides of the squash pieces with your hands.
  5. Roast the squash for 20 minutes then move/flip it around with a spatula.
  6. Continue roasting approximately 5-10 more minutes until fork tender and slightly browned.

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Roasted grape tomatoes

roasted.tomato.pasta.3Fall is officially upon us and this week brought chilly temperatures along with having to turn on the furnace for the first time!  Ok, and my space heater I’ll be honest.  Cold weather is my nemesis, my arch enemy to be certain.  I’m truly just cold most of the time, even in the summer!  I mean, it’s a real problem.  And it’s not just cold, it’s a chilled down to my very core type feeling.  So I wear sweaters, keep coats and blankets in the car for those just in case moments and cook!  Because, being in a hot kitchen is definitely good when you’re chilly.

In the spirit of Fall I was in the mood for a comfort food meal.  And surely, when I think comfort food, I think pasta!!!  I’m still growing those grape tomatoes and I wanted a way to use a large number of them in one recipe.  Enter my preferred cooking method….roasting!  Roasting tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them and provides such a depth of flavor to the dishes you use them in.

grape.tomato.garlic.raw.2Start by slicing the grape tomatoes lengthwise and mincing the garlic.  Mix them with olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper and place them on a sheet pan.  I actually used a spicy harissa flavored olive oil.

They come out sweet and delicious.  You can use them over pasta, as a topping for bruschetta and stirred into rice or cous cous.  You could also just eat them right off the sheet pan, they’re that yummy!

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Roasted grape tomatoes
 
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Roasting the tomatoes and garlic brings out a natural sweetness in them. Try using a spicy flavored olive oil for added flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: roasted tomatoes and garlic
Cuisine: Vegetables, Vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pints of grape tomatoes (I used red and yellow) - cut in ½ lengthwise
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil - I used 1 Tbsp of a spicy harissa flavored olive oil and 1 Tbsp plain olive oil.
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle them with the olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the tomatoes with your hands until evenly coated with the oil.
  5. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and juice forms on the pan.

I used the roasted tomatoes over a whole grain thin spaghetti that I coated with basil pesto.  I sautéed some peppers, onions and mushrooms that I added to the pasta as well.  An easy vegetarian meal that’s the perfect comfort food for a chilly night!roasted.tomato.pasta.2

 

 

 

 

 

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