Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread

If it's even possible to get zoodeled out, I have on more option for you to use up the farmers markets' seemingly endless zucchini supply. A loaf for late-summer loafing, try this Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread: a truly delightful, savory twist on the beloved baked good.

We all know what to expect in a standard dessert bread—eggs, sugar, flour, and butter or oil lay the foundation for the added shredded veggie of choice; an appurtenance of nuts and/or chocolate chips are always well-received. As if to counteract the presence of produce, these breads are generally cloyingly sweet—a firm reminder that despite the presence of nutrition, this bread is meant to serve your sweet tooth.

All that changes with this recipe.  After halving the sugar, adding wholesome nutty flax seed and whole wheat flour, and using heart-healthy olive oil and yogurt to ensure proper moistness, I was left with a perfectly versatile bread: sumptuous enough for dessert, yet also hearty enough for breakfast or snack without going into a sugar coma—or the associated guilt.  Food 52 (are you familiar with this site? If not, check it out—it's my go-to cooking blog for likeminded kitchen enthusiasts; and the community is fantastic) describes it the best: "a rosemary and orange-scented loaf cake that feels both indulgent and virtuous."

Oh, it does. The rosemary, pointedly sophisticated outside of its usual Thanksgiving milieu, balances the earthy zucchini wonderfully; a pleasing savory opposition against sunny orange juice and zest. You can hardly taste the olive oil, but the barely there hint of grassiness is just right. This loaf is truly best describes as the sum of its parts; individually, the ingredients are slightly curious. But it works, ebulliently hearty and delicious—and freezes well too!

Rosemary Orange Zucchini Bread (adapted from Food52)
Makes 2 loaves

2 large eggs + 1 flaxseed egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal stirred with 3 tbsp water)
1/2 cup of plain yogurt (preferably low-fat)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of sugar*
2 cups of zucchini; shredded
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary; finely minced
Zest of one orange (preferably Valencia)
Juice from 3/4 of the orange 
3 cups of flour (I used 2/3 whole wheat; 1/3 white)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of toasted pecans; chopped

*I eliminated 3/4 cup of additional sugar from the original recipe. This cut may be drastic for some, so if you are sugar-inclined, add 1/4 cup more (you can taste the batter as you go.)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set them aside.
2. In a large bowl beat the eggs (plus flaxseed egg). Mix in the yogurt, oil, and sugar. Then mix in the shredded zucchini, rosemary, orange zest, and orange juice. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add toasted nuts.
5. Once the batter is well combined divide it evenly between the two loaf pans.
6. Bake the loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Start testing if the loaves are done at 45 minutes, and every 5 minutes after that until a tester, such as a knife, comes out clean.)

7. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes inside the loaf pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve plain, or with your favorite jam.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Ginger Peach Sauce

Well isn't this just peachy: a new study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that the nutritional benefits of peaches—low in calories/glycemic index, stellar source of vitamins, phytonutrients and fiber, and potential cancer-fighting properties—are only amplified when canned. Picked and parceled at the peak of freshness, canned peaches let their [cell] walls down, freely distributing greater levels of vitamins (specifically, vitamin C, antioxidants and folate) than when fresh.
So, should you make this Grilled Chicken with Ginger Peach Sauce using canned peaches? No! It's summer, dum dum. Eat this iconic summer stone fruit now, when the fuzzy is fresh. I'm just telling you because this sauce is so good you're going to want to make it all year round, so in the winter when you're craving any connection to summer, you don't have to feel guilty for buying your main ingredient a la can. (No added sugar though. That ruins everything.)

Hailing from Better Homes and Gardens (my favorite magazine, despite owning neither a home nor a garden), this recipe appeared in the August edition highlighting dishes featuring peaches. At only 41 calories per serving, it truly is summertime light. Biting ginger and crushed red pepper perfectly offset the honeyed peaches, while the soy sauce, fish sauce and rice wine vinegar add subtle Asian flare. Slow simmering the peaches makes the flesh delicately soft and tender to the touch; yielding a liquid that is literally drinkable.
I served the Ginger Peach Sauce atop grilled chicken; I think it would work with grilled shrimp, salmon, and tofu as well. Alternatively, you can serve as a dipping sauce for rustic, crusty bread. Either way, these peaches could not be more palatable—a must-try during peak season of the sensational stone fruit.

Grilled Chicken with Ginger Peach Sauce (from Better Homes and Gardens)
Makes 2 cups

1 tbsp Grapeseed oil
¼ cup chopped yellow or red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
3 cups peeled chopped peaches (can also be frozen and thawed)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like heat)

1. In a midsized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and ginger; cook and stir for 1 minute.
2. Add peaches, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and fish sauce to the saucepan; bring to simmer.
3. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until peaches soften. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper.
4. Serve atop grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or tofu.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spaghetti'd Zucchini with Lentil Marinara

Move over immersion blender, step aside olive oil spritzer: there's a new kitchen gadget in town! Front and center in my kitchen cabinet, I proudly introduce to you "The Spiralizer"; paramount to today's Spaghetti'd Zucchini with Lentil Marinara recipe.

Obsessed with the idea of zucchini noodles—I love any dish that replaces a well-known ingredient with a healthier, more calorie-conscious counterpart—I made my first batch of zucchini noodles (affectionately named zoodles) with a vegetable peeler. Two band-aids and a hand cramp later, I decided there would be no more faking my zoodles. Perfection was principal. I didn't want peeler slivers, I wanted spaghetti. Right then and there I decided (insert rap video slow entrance music into Bed Bath and Beyond here) that it was time to invest in a spiralizer.

I was deciding between the Paderno Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer and my Gefu Spirelli Spiral Slicer, but ultimately, the latter won out because it was small—an essential for any cramped NYC apartment kitchen. The Gefu may not spiralize firmer vegetables like carrots (thats ok, coodles sounds weird) and is a bit of a pain to clean, but for $29.99 (minus 20% if you bring a BB&B coupon!) it totally gets the job done. My zoodles are as spaghetti'd as can be. (A larger blade gives you the option of linguini-ing your zucchini too.) And you really get bang for your buck: estimating one zucchini for each serving, it really makes—yes I am going to say it—oodles of zoodles!!

So, have you noticed the variety of squash overflowing the farmers market right now? The Spiralizer is your way to try them all! From golden yellow squash to evergreen zucchini to the sage-colored tints in between, there's no denying the copious quantities of summertime courgettes. I usually sauté them up with onions until they sweat, but to most closely mimic the texture of an al-dente pasta, you only need to flash-cook these bad boys. The firmer texture is a really enjoyable and refreshing departure from their regular preparation.

At first, I envisioned a rich ground turkey bolognese to top my zucchini noodles, but decided to stick with the food-fooling theme, achieving "meatiness" and protein instead with lentils. (This recipe is 100% vegan.) The lentils blend wonderfully with the sweet, acidic tomatoes; a hearty, chewy enrichment to the sauce. To really beef it up, I think I'll try adding mushrooms and carrots to the sauce next time as well, or maybe sun-dried tomatoes.

Another great thing about this recipe is its extremely adaptable to your schedule: As the zoodles themselves take about 8 minutes total to prepare—less time than it takes to boil and cook a pot of pasta—you also have the option of buying cooked, refrigerated lentils and prepared marina sauce, for a meal that will truly be ready in minutes.

Twisting each strand of "spaghetti" around my fork in classic Lady and the Tramp style, I decided I was in love with this recipe. In the way that only comfort food can make you feel—satiated in appetite and spirit—I was so excited to realize that this dish was probably as healthy a bowl of noodles as could ever be. So, are you ready to zoodle your noodles? I'm eager to hear what you think!

Spaghetti'd Zucchini with Lentil Marinara (adapted from In Sonnet's Kitchen)
Serves 2

1/2 cup dried French lentils (or 3/4 cup precooked lentils)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or 1 15 oz can tomato sauce)*
1 teaspoon sugar*
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar*
1 teaspoon dried basil*
1 teaspoon dried oregano*
½ teaspoon dried thyme*
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 large or 3 medium zucchini, spiralized into pasta
salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley, for garnish

*Omit if using premade marinara sauce. (I prefer Antica Cucina or Rao’s Homemade)

1. In a medium pot, bring lentils and 1 cup of water to boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until lentils are tender and liquid is evaporated, about 20 minutes. (It’s ok if they aren’t cooked through—they will cook more later on.)
2. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic cloves and sauté for an additional minute, until fragrant.
3. Add the tomatoes (drained, if not using sauce), sugar, vinegar, basil, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.
4. When lentils have absorbed the water (but are still slightly firm), add them to the sauce and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
5. In a separate pan, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the zucchini pasta for 2- 5 minutes. Err on the side of underdone—you don’t want to overcook them, because they may become liquidy. 

6. Divide the pasta into two portions and top with lentil marinara.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Did you know that we get 20% of our total water intake from food? Fruits and vegetables are naturally waterlogged —some contain more than 90% water by weight! In the height of summer, when I am perpetually thirsty, I find myself gravitating towards the produce with the most water retention: watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, grapefruit, cantaloupe. While nothing beats a cold glass of H20, this Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas certainly helps in the hydration department, keeping you as cool as, well, a cucumber.

Cucumbers, along with iceberg lettuce, contain more water per serving than any other vegetable: 96%! Swimming alongside crisp red onion, red peppers, and ample cilantro in an invigorating rice wine vinegar and sesame oil dressing, the cucumbers in this salad truly seem almost drinkable. You could stop right here—a perfectly cool summer side—but combining with roasted spiced chickpeas elevates the dish to a filling, protein-packed main. The juxtaposition of the bronzed, savory chickpeas—superbly crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside—against the brisk cucumber salad is really spectacular. The chickpeas have a fun, snacking feel: I popped handful after handful into my mouth with the same addictive fervor as if they were Doritos, minus the guilt.

This salad only gets better with age. I made two batches and ate the latter half two days later, finding that the Asian flavors had really seeped into the veggies, enhancing them substantially. If you can, try to make the salad the day before eating it. In keeping with a Thai theme, I definitely recommend topping the whole bowl with a healthy serving of chopped honey-roasted peanuts (I am partial to Planter's); playing up the sweet vs spicy theme. If you want to bulk up your salad with more "hydrating" vegetables, try adding chopped mango, radishes, or watermelon to the mix.

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas (adapted from Oh She Glows)
Serves 2


1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1.5-2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Dash of Sriracha sauce, more if you like spice
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 medium field cucumbers
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

1 (15-oz) can chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a medium baking sheet with tin foil.
2. Rinse, drain, and dry the chickpeas. (This process can be expedited by rolling them around in a paper towel a few times.)
3. When chickpeas are completely dry, transfer to the baking sheet along with the oil, salt, and rest of the spices. Mix thoroughly.
4. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and roast for another 20 minutes, until golden brown and lightly charred.
5. While the chickpeas cook, prepare the salad. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside.
6. Peel cucumbers and chop into "half moons": slice cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and chop halves into 1/8 inch pieces. Dice the red pepper and onion. Place cucumber, pepper and onion in a large bowl. 
7. Add dressing and cilantro to large bowl, toss thoroughly. Let the salad sit for minimum 30 minutes; but preferably overnight. (Note: this only applies to the salad. Chickpeas are best [aka most crunchy] when eaten immediately after roasting. They do last a few days, but lose their crunch.) Before serving, add roasted chickpeas and sprinkle chopped honey-roasted peanuts atop salad if desired. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad

This Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad defines summer to a T. Featuring farmers market fresh ingredients, crisp, cool raw vegetables, and a peppery crunch with every bite; this salad will satiate your appetite while keeping your body temp in check on even the hottest days. You know those +90 degree days where the heat is so oppressive, your appetite basically disappears? (Aka today?) This is the type of meal you want.

I stumbled across the recipe after purchasing radishes and fresh snap peas from the Greenmarket on a whim. Wanting something new and different, I googled both veggies for some recipe inspiration, and came upon a similar recipe from Saveur that swapped my tofu for Ahi tuna. (Both proteins are excellent options, I just had the more wallet-friendly tofu on hand.) After adjusting the recipe for a healthier take by eliminating most of the oil, I set to work. I was so pleased with the result: aesthetically enchanting was a given with the magenta hue of the radishes* against the emerald green snap peas, but the taste was just as amiable. The Asian inspired dressing is flavorful yet light, evoking a Japanese style ginger dressing that packs a bit more of a peppery punch.  When plating the tofu, make sure to layer each piece slightly on-top of one another, like a carefully cut fillet sliced to display the inside flesh: it yields quite the impressive plate.

*As evidenced by the photos, I did not use watermelon radishes. If you can though you should—they are beautiful! Fun fact: Watermelon radishes are technically heirloom Chinese Daikon radishes. A member of the mustard family along with arugula, broccoli and turnips, and generally larger than a regular radish, their exterior is creamy white with greenish hues—only the interior flesh is radiantly pink.

Watermelon Radish, Tofu, and Snap Pea Salad (adapted from Saveur)
Serves 2

1 tbsp. soy sauce
1½ tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
1½ tsp. white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 (2”) piece ginger, peeled, grated and minced
1 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
7 oz extra firm tofu
8 oz. sugar snap peas
3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. black sesame seeds, lightly toasted (optional)
2 watermelon or 3 large regular red radishes
Shredded green cabbage (optional)

1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey, mustard, sesame oil, ½ tsp of white sesame seeds, the garlic, ginger, pepper, and 1 tbsp canola oil in a small bowl. (For a smooth consistency, puree in a blender.)

2. Drain tofu, and then further remove excess water by microwaving tofu block, wrapped loosely in a paper towel, for 1 minute. Cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces, and set aside in a large shallow bowl.

3. Pour 2 tbsp of dressing over the tofu. Let marinate, turning once, while you assemble the rest of the salad.

4. Chop the vegetables: Cut snap peas crosswise into 1” pieces, removing stems first; halve and thinly slice the radishes; roughly chop the mint. Place chopped veggies in a large bowl. Pour reserved dressing over veggies, mix thoroughly.

5. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place tofu squares in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turn, and cook on other side for another 2-3 minutes. (To prevent burning, add the remaining marinade to the pan before flipping over). Remove from heat when tofu is golden brown.

6. Plate salad: on a bed of shredded green cabbage (optional) place a generous portion of radish and snap pea mixture. Top with tofu squares. Sprinkle plate with remaining sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce

A good veggie burger is one of my absolute favorite meals. Unfortunately, the plant-based patty is easily prone to a bad rap due to three common shortcomings: bland, cardboard-like taste (blah), rubbery, processed consistency (ew), or loose ingredients that crumble upon touch (grr.) These inferior qualities can turn burger-lovers against the veggified version for good, and if you're one of the haters, I beg you to here me out. A solid veggie burger is fantastic, and this Moroccan Yam Veggie Burger with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce proves my point.
A base of shredded yams and crushed chickpeas hold these burgers together in both texture and substance, and a range of rich spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and coriander add distinctive Moroccan flavor. Flour made from rolled oats and flax seed adds a nutty, wholesome nuance, and using sesame oil instead of traditional olive oil adds another unexpected but well-received flavor to the mix. 
Now lets talk about the sauce, which I am going to suggest right now to double in quantity because its equally important as to why this veggie burger rocks. Tangy and herby with ample cilantro and lime, the tahini almost gives it a green goddess-like quality (so obviously I'm obsessed.)  Because the burger itself is pretty earthy, the tangy dressing really makes it pop. 
Baking the burger yields a perfectly crisp exterior and appropriately soft, chewy inside; no weird consistency issues here! The yam and oats mean the batter is pretty starchy, so feel free to skip the "bun" here and serve with a big helping of shepherd's salad chockfull of tomato, cucumber, and onion instead. 
Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce (from Oh She Glows)
Makes 6-8 patties
Prep time: 25 minutes, cook time: 35 minutes

For the burgers:
1.5 cups grated yam or sweet potato 
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 small piece of fresh ginger (1 cm cube), peeled
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
2 tablespoons ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour (use gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

For the cilantro-lime tahini sauce (makes 1/2 cup):
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

Make the burgers: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Peel the yam/sweet potato. Grate (by hand or in a food processor) until you have 1 1/2 lightly packed cups. Place into large bowl.
3. In the same food processor (no need to wash), mince the garlic, cilantro, and ginger until finely chopped.
4. Add drained chickpeas and process again until finely chopped, but leave some texture. Scoop this mixture into a large bowl.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the flax and water. Add to large bowl.
6. Grind the oats into flour using a blender or the food processor. Add flour to large bowl.
7. Stir in the oil, soy sauce, salt/pepper, and spices to batter until thoroughly combined. Adjust to taste if desired.
8. Shape 6-8 patties, packing the mixture firmly together. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip, and bake for another 18-23 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on pan.
Make the cilantro sauce: 

1. Mince garlic in a food processor, followed by the cilantro. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.