Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cabbage "Rice"

A while back I posted a recipe for Hidden Vegetable Fried Rice. The idea behind the dish was that by chopping up the vegetables very fine, they were almost unnoticeable among the starchy rice. This is a great technique to use if you’re trying to get your kids to eat more vegetables.

Along this same concept, a couple of weeks ago, I shredded green cabbage very fine and then sautéed it until it was tender. For me, texture is everything and I’ve been finding lately that especially with tough veggies like cabbage, I’m more likely to eat them if the pieces are small (I do this with my fermented veggies as well). A nice scoop of finely-chopped, sautéed cabbage was wonderful as a side dish and I used it as “rice” under my other sautéed vegetables. It’s also much higher in fiber and nutrients and lower in starch than rice.

To prepare, simply chop cabbage into large chunks, then process in the food processor until fine.

Heat skillet or Dutch oven to medium, then add a small amount of grapeseed oil to the pan.

When the oil is hot, add the cabbage, sea salt, and pepper, and sauté until tender and slightly brown. Add additional seasonings if desired.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Polenta with Salsa

I love polenta, even though I haven’t prepared it so much lately. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, polenta is basically corn meal that has been cooked with water until creamy. Actually, if you’ve got the time, you can make your own polenta which is a fairly simple process, however already prepared is good too.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered this quinoa polenta that incorporates black and red heirloom quinoa into the cornmeal so I decided it was time to make it again.

In the past, my favorite method for cooking polenta was sliced and layered with black beans, chopped tomatoes, seasonings, and a sprinkle of cheese, then baked in the oven. But this time, I made a simple salsa that I used to layer the lightly browned polenta rounds. It was light, delicious, and quick and simple.

Polenta with Salsa

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

1 large cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

a splash of lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 package of polenta, sliced into ½” rounds

grapeseed oil

Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, lemon, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and chill.

Heat a skillet to medium high and coat the bottom with oil (the polenta will soak up the oil so only use what is necessary).

Lightly brown the polenta rounds on both sides - it should take a few minutes each side. Drain on a paper towel-lined dish.

To serve, spoon the salsa on top of the polenta and enjoy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Raw Red Lentil Hummus

It was a scorcher here the other day and the last thing I wanted to do was heat the house with the stove or oven. I had soaked some red lentils (which are actually a salmon color) for several hours to make hummus and found after testing them that they were already very soft. Red lentils are unusual in that they will cook very quickly. I found that the hard way the first time I cooked them and they turned into mush!

So after rinsing this batch several times and soaking them for several hours, they were very tender and easy to chew, so I decided to use them raw. Rather than substitute the lentils in a traditional chickpea hummus, I used and adapted a recipe that I found on a site called Sweet Potato Soul (the recipe was actually adapted from a cookbook called The Artful Vegan by Eric Tucker and Bruce Enloe. So here I go, changing it slightly again based on my own preferences and what I had available. But isn’t this what cooking is all about?

Also, after examining the nutritional content of tahini, I noticed that it’s very high in omega-6 versus omega-3, ~57x higher. Since it is actually this lop-sided consumption of omega-6 versus omega-3 in our diets that has been implicated in so many inflammatory diseases, I thought about how to increase the omega-3 content a bit without changing the taste too much and there were several options, including hemp seeds or ground flax seeds (by the way, flax is an excellent choice because of its nutrient content and its 6:3 ratio is 1:4).

I had recently bought Salba, which looks like a white chia seed that has a 3:1 ratio of omega–6:omega–3. It also has omega-9, which makes them similar to hemp seeds. So to boost the omega-3, I added salba, but this is completely optional.

Raw Red Lentil Hummus

1 cup red lentils (soaked for several hours until tender - change the water 2-3x)

1/3 c tahini

2 T ground salba (optional)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 T red miso

2 T balsamic vinegar

2 T lemon juice

1 T olive oil

1 t cumin

½ t coriander

sea salt and pepper to taste

minced jalepeno and or hot pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If it’s too thick, add additional water, lemon juice, or vinegar.

Enjoy with cut up fruit, veggies, on toast, a wrap, or with a healthy cracker like Mary’s Gone Crackers. Yesterday, I placed a dollop on baby lettuce leaves and folded up the sides, which makes an easy and cool appetizer.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vidalia Onion and Asparagus Soup

Last week, I combined two seasonal veggies to make a simple and delicious soup: Vidalia onions and asparagus. Together, they make a mild, creamy “green” soup that’s light enough for this time of year but warming if the weather dips, as it’s been doing intermittently over the last couple of weeks.

I also want to offer a safe way to blend hot soups if you don’t have an immersion blender, which is the safest way to do it. A couple of weeks ago, I burned my arm when the pressure from the hot soup inside popped the lid off the blender. I guess I’ve been lucky up until this point because I’ve been able to successfully blend a blender-full without it exploding. Maybe this time it was simply too hot.

For the soup:

Vidalia Onion and Asparagus Soup

Grapeseed oil

2 large Vidalia Onions, sliced thin

1 lb asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped into 2” pieces

vegetable broth, heated


Carmelize the sliced onions in the oil in a Dutch oven or fry pan by sautéing over medium heat until the onions are tender and “thicken” and begin to turn brown. I added some fresh chive flowers, but those are optional.

Combine the asparagus and onions in a medium saucepan. Use some of the hot broth to deglaze the onion pan and transfer the liquid into the pot. Add just enough additional broth to cover the vegetables. Simmer uncovered until the asparagus is tender.

Blend the soup in batches, then return it to the pot and season with pepper and additional herbs if desired.

I actually garnished my soup with dulse flakes and it was delicious.

A trick I found for safely blending hot soups: Add a small amount of the unblended soup to the blender. Put the cover on and turn on the blender. As the soup is blending, partially remove the cover and slowly add ladles-full of additional soup, until it reaches a safe level that won’t spill over. When the soup is completely blended, transfer it into a bowl.

Continue this way until the entire pot of soup is blended. I found that it’s much better to blend large volumes rather than small and this can be accomplished with hot liquids by building the volume up slowly without the top on so that the steam can escape. Hopefully you’ve not had the experience of burning a body part in the kitchen!!