Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

This Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower recipe was inspired by my Nonna. It was she who introduced me to Bagna Càuda, a traditional Italian warm dipping sauce made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. Translated literally as ‘hot bath, the dish is typically eaten during the autumn and winter months, served hot in a communally with raw, boiled or roasted vegetables.

She prepared Bagna Càuda in her electric skillet for family gatherings. As the butter melted into the olive oil, the garlic would soften and the warm pool would eventually dissolve the anchovies and transform into a heady, salty and nutty sauce of umami goodness. The aroma was as unique to me as it was captivating. I knew I was smelling ‘the Old World’ before I even knew what that phrase meant.

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Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale

Vegan Winter PestoPesto isn’t just for summer! Using avocado as the base, substituting greens for basil and nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese, this vegan recipe is flavorful, rich and can be enjoyed year-round. You won’t miss the cheese. Your body will love this heart-healthy, low-glycemic and fiber-rich ways to dress pasta.  Continue reading

Vegan Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower SoupCurried Cauliflower Soup was the last thing on my mind when she started talking. But, I soon became riveted, with recipe inspirations running rampant. In fact, she had me at ‘vegetables’.

The setting was the Q & A session following the opening of the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. An attendee asked the keynote speakers, James Beard Award-Winning authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg what they thought would be the hottest new trend in food. In the spirit of ‘everything old is new again’, Karen declared simply, ‘vegetables!’ She then went on to discuss her latest book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’.

I was already a fan of their previous book, “The Flavor Bible,” a book which could not be named more appropriately. It is not a cookbook. There are no recipes. Rather, it is an invaluable compendium of alphabetical listings of foods that are paired together. Perfect for free-form cooks, those of us who like guides more than recipes.

After purchasing it, the book quickly became indispensable. It was like an old friend I could ask for ideas when pondering how to made a dish more distinct, or even where to begin. So, when I saw the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby during a conference break, I made a bee-line to them. I stood a bit star-struck among a small group chatting with them. As they had recently become vegetarians, my work as a nutritionist gave us common ground for an albeit short, but rewarding conversation. I then trailed off from the group satisfied.

Fast forward two months and three thousand miles away to New York City. I discover that Barns & Noble was hosting a “Flavor Bible” book signing with Karen and Andrew moderating a panel of chefs discussing vegetarian cuisine. When I approached them to get my book signed, imagine my surprise, shock really, that they remembered me! These two are really something special. They were so kind and sincere to all the panelists, so grateful for the leadership they had shown in vegetarian cuisine and such gratitude to their supporters. My only regret about the event is never downloading my book signing photo with them off their website! I can’t find it now.

Back home with my “Flavor Bible(s)”, the original and the vegetarian version, I set to work improv-style in the kitchen. The result is this simple curried cauliflower soup recipe. My intention was to create something very flavorful and nutritious, with enough fat and protein to make it somewhat hearty. Want to take the comfort food factor up a notch? Simply add  extra cashew cream. You can also add more garbanzo beans for more protein and heartiness.

I have tried roasting the cauliflower first. But, I didn’t notice enough difference to merit the effort. But, it simply might be that any subtle flavor doesn’t really stand up to the garam masala, a great addition if you like your curry a little on the hot side. Omit it if you don’t.

To get the most health benefits from this soup, use fresh cauliflower, not frozen. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Then, let sit for about 40 minutes before cooking, one of the strategies outlined in a prior post about gaining the benefits of raw crucifers even when cooked. This recipe also supports improved bioavailaiblity of the curcumin in the curry powder, as detailed in another prior post.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Serves 6-8.

Curried Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond or rice milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (or one 16 ounce bag, frozen)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (1 15 oz can) organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup chickpea croutons for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cover raw cashews with filtered water and let sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes. Then, drain off the water, add the almond or rice milk and blend until smooth.

  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Then add the curry powder and garam masala (if using) and stir to cover the onions and garlic thoroughly.

  3. Add the chopped cauliflower, then cover with the broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the garbanzo beans and coconut milk.

  5. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or process in blender in batches.

  6. Stir in the lime juice, adjust salt, if needed, and serve warm topped with chickpea croutons.

Gluten-Free Cornbread Recipe

Gluten-Free Cornbread

If stuffing is a hot topic at your house and you are the gluten-free cook, a gluten-free cornbread is the answer. But, to the GMO-aware, having cornbread on your menu may feel like having Satan himself at your table. Fear not. Bob’s Redmill makes an organic corn flour.

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Sweet Potato Mash with Maple Carmelized Onions & Mint

Sweet Potato Mash with Carmelized Onions and MintLike many food lovers, visits to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen typically end with my attempts to mentally deconstruct my latest menu favorite. Wishful plans to recreate it at home assume that guesswork will be on the ingredient list. But, in the case of the restaurant’s now famous Squash on Toast, the New York Times made my day and published the recipe, inspiring this unique sweet potato mash recipe. Continue reading

Radicchio Salad with Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette

Raddichio SaladIn 1988, I moved to Napa Valley with dreams of launching a catering career. I had no job and no local industry contacts to help me get one. But, I had my college friend Heidi. A native of the Valley, Heidi introduced me to Jamie, the executive chef for Inglenook winery. It was a good start. Continue reading

Radicchio: The Other ‘Green’.

RadicchioWith tightly bound, magenta leaves, radicchio is a striking vegetable. But, at the market, it often receives an admiring gaze, then is passed over for the more familiar, less bitter and less intimidating bins of greens. While radicchio (pronounced similar to Pinocchio), looks like a small cabbage, it is actually a member of the chicory family, cousins of lettuces and dandelions. Also known as Italian or Red Chicory, radicchio is very versatile to use, nutritious and is as simple to prepare as your usual green suspects. Radicchio is nutritionally rich, but has several distinguishing health benefits, which set it apart from typical salad greens. Check out this impressive red-head!

Digestive Health: Chicories, like radicchio, contain inulin, a non-digestible carbohydrate [1]. Through fermentation, inulin acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the intestine. Inulin also helps regulate blood sugar levels [2]. In addition, the bitter quality of radicchio increases bile salts, which can improve digestion.

Bone and Neurological Health: Radicchio is uniquely rich in vitamin K, with 100 grams providing 212% of daily recommended values. Vitamin K promotes the formation and strengthening of bone. Further, research shows adequate dietary vitamin K may limit naturally occurring neuron damage in the brain. As such, vitamin K has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s [3]. 

Visual Health: Radicchio’s vibrant red color is an eye-pleaser, in more ways than one. The brightly colored leaves are an excellent source of phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds protect eyes from age-related macular disease (ARMD) by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays [4]. Sunscreen for your eyes!

When selecting radicchio, look for compact, bright-colored heads with prominent ribs, free of bruises and brown or withered leaves. The smaller, younger heads will be less bitter. Store the heads refrigerated, but eat as quickly as possible as they will become more bitter with time. To reduce the bitterness, soak the leaves or quarters in cold water for 10 to 30 minutes.

Radicchio Leaves Soaking

Substitute radicchio in recipes calling for chicory or endive. Using radicchio raw, tear or chop the leaves into small pieces, and combine it with other salad greens for a flavor, color and texture accent. The individual leaves can also be used as elegant and low-carb serving cups or wrappers for appetizers. Cored, but not quartered, the sturdy leaves are excellent grilled or roasted. Radicchio pairs especially well with balsamic vinegar. Try tossing the soaked and dried leaves with a balsamic vinaigrette, with an optional topping of shaved parmesan. Balsamic vinegar also combines well with grilled or roasted radicchio. Following is an adaptation of Michael Ruhlman’s Grilled Radiccchio recipe.

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4-8.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium heads radicchio, quartered lengthwise, core intact
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette

Radicchio Quarters

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place radicchio wedges in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Place each wedge, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast the wedges, turning once, until the leaves are wilted and just slightly charred, about 12-15 minutes.
  6. Season both sides of the wedges with salt and pepper.
  7. Before serving, drizzle balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette over the top of each wedge.

REFERENCES:

[1] The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia – Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating, by Rebecca Wood
[2] Niness (1 July 1999). “Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?”Journal of Nutrition. 129 (7): 1402 (7): 1402. PMID 10395607. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
[3] USDA National Nutrient data base
[4] nutritionandyou.com – Radicchio

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash

 

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower MashTemperatures are atypically hovering around 70 degrees. While I’m ready for fall, I’m not quite ready for my favorite fall recipes such as cauliflower mash, aka faux mashed potatoes -a quintessential comfort food fake.

But, cauliflower is in season -now! As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower is a true ‘super food’. While over-used, cauliflower is actually worthy of this term. Rich in sulforaphane, indoles and isothiocyanates, cauliflower supports multiple body systems; detoxification, antioxidant, and the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system [1].

Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C, with one serving providing 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C [2].  It is also high in fiber, and pretty much all the nutrients as it’s more popular and colorful cousin, broccoli. That is, of course, except chlorophyl. But, cauliflower has an edge over broccoli inside its cell walls, pectin. Just as pectin in apples provides thickening and gelling properties to applesauce, the pectin in cauliflower makes it creamy when cooked.

I love this recipe for its seasonal-neutral contrast of light citrus and subtle heat from the pepper flakes. The recipe is simple and quick to prepare, can be served warm or at room temperature and the texture is the same the next day. You can enjoy this and other cauliflower mash recipes year-round as the preparation works equally well with fresh or frozen cauliflower. However, keep in mind that while still nutritious, commercially packaged frozen cruciferous vegetables may lose many of the health benefits found in their fresh counterparts [3].

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, chopped into florets (or 1 pound frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil or butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 head roasted garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest (optional)
  • A few tablespoons coconut, almond or rice milk, if desired for texture

Steaming Cauliflower

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place chopped cauliflower into a steamer insert inside of a saucepan or stock pot with an inch or two of water.
  2. Cover and steam until very soft when pierced with a fork. For fresh cauliflower, this will take 10-12 minutes. Frozen cauliflower will take less time.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the heat.
  4. Allow the cauliflower to rest in the steamer for another five minutes.
  5. Transfer steamed cauliflower into a food processor or blender.
  6. Add all other ingredients, except the zest to the blender and process until smooth.
  7. Add rice or almond milk, if needed for a smooth texture.
  8. Readjust seasoning to taste, if needed. 
  9. Top with lemon zest and serve.

REFERENCES:

[1] Nation Cancer Institute
[
2] World’s Healthiest Foods, Cauliflower
[
3] nutritionfacts.org – Video

What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower? Let me know!

Cabbage & Avocado Slaw

Cabbage and Avocado Slaw

If cabbage and avocado are good, then coleslaw and guacamole must be even better! This variation on a classic Chilean salad is simple to make, refreshing to eat and a powerhouse combo of fiber and healthy fats with mashed avocado replacing the mayonnaise in traditional coleslaw. Generously salting cabbage for an hour or more makes it tender and withdraws the bitter juices. Add lemon, and mashed avocado and you are picnic ready. Continue reading

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple

Salmon and Ginger Braised Cabbage with AppleIf I lost you at ‘Braised’… hold on. For years, I equated the term ‘braise’ with ‘boring’. I assumed it was the official cooking technique for tough meats and items otherwise inedible by any other method. Items no one cared to eat in the first place. Skirt steak anyone?

Braising connotes a Fall-Winter tone. Yet, it is almost April and the mercury is still hovering in the 30s. So, while we are ready for asparagus and artichokes, there is still time to celebrate cabbage, especially for those of us stuck in the Polar Vortex. Continue reading