Chicken and Vegetable Japchae

The usual quandary of what to cook tonight was worse than normal…I felt really stuck today! I think this was because we came back a week ago from our trip to Japan, which was amazing, but we ate so many gourmet and LARGE Japanese meals, and then on top of that this past weekend we went to Sonoma and ate an incredible 11 course meal at Single Thread, I just feel stuffed and want something light but also teen son friendly. Uninspired, I took my daily trip to the grocery store and bought some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, since I have mostly been eating fish (a lot) and beef.  I really had only a vague idea of what I was going to do with them, maybe some generic asian marinade, leftover brussel sprouts and rice? Not exciting by any means. Then a delicious Korean recipe popped into my inbox from The Woks of Life.  I made a few changes, such as doubling the recipe, exchanging chicken for the beef, using the vegetables in my refrigerator, and using shirataki noodles instead of the traditional dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles).  We all really liked it and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

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Chicken and Vegetable Japchae

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: pretty easy
  • Print

Fairly quick and healthy Korean vegetable, chicken and noodle dish.

Credit: Japchae: Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry from The Woks of Life

Ingredients

  • 2 – 7 ounce packages of shirataki konjac pasta (I used Miracle Noodle brand that I bought at Whole Foods)
  • About 3/4 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced very thin
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 teaspoons of coconut palm (or whatever kind you prefer) sugar, divided
  • ~1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 7 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
  • oil of choice for cooking (a neutral oil is best, like safflower oil)
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 3 stalks of celery, julienned
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • handful of lacinato kale, de-stemmed and sliced into thin strips
  • 5 scallions, cut into 2-inch long pieces and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Rinse the noodles in water and cook according to the package directions. Drain. Mix together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pour onto the noodles and mix well. Set noodles aside.
  2. Mix 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a medium bowl. Add the sliced chicken, stir well and set aside.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil to pan and spread. When oil is hot add the carrot, celery and onion to the skillet and cook until tender but still a bit crunchy. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add a little more oil and cook the mushrooms until browned. Remove from pan and place in bowl with carrot mixture.
  5. Add a little more oil and cook the bell peppers until tender but crunchy, add the remaining garlic, kale and scallions. Cook until kale is wilted, then remove from pan and add to the carrot mixture in the bowl.
  6. Turn the heat up to high, and add a little more oil if needed. Cook half the thinly sliced chicken until slightly browned, then add to the bowl of vegetables.  Cook the other half of the chicken and add to the bowl.
  7. Add the noodles and sesame seeds to the bowl.
  8.  In a small bowl whisk together 4 teaspoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 4 Tablespoons soy sauce and 1 Tablespoon sesame oil. Pour into the vegetable, noodle and chicken mixture and stir well.
  9. Serve in bowls. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I made this with the vegetables in my refrigerator – carrots, celery, kale, cremini mushrooms and brussel sprouts, and it was delicious. I think the vegetables you use are pretty flexible, good dish to make to clean out the produce drawer.
  • This traditionally is made with dangmyeon – which are sweet potato starch noodles. I made this with Shirataki noodles, feel free to use what you like and experiment.
  • This also is traditionally made with a little thinly sliced beef, I really enjoyed it with chicken though. I think it would also be delicious vegetarian as well (maybe add tofu or egg strips).

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

April 17, 2019

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Lemonade Layer Cake

This has been a family favorite since my children were small. One of the few baked items I can successfully make but I forgot about it for the last few years and just bought cakes for birthdays. This year for my son’s 15th birthday I made it, not once but twice! He somehow has celebrated his birthday three times this year – once when his grandmother was at our house, second the day after his birthday because he went skiing on his actual birthday and again today with his friends. Lucky kid! Lemonade Layer Cake is based on an old Cooking Light recipe. I have always been troubled with the frozen lemonade concentrate in the original recipe, so I have finally changed that part and added some lemon extract and fresh lemon juice. Totally delicious, cuts down on the sugar and eliminates whatever artificial and strange unpronounceable ingredients that might be in frozen lemonade concentrate. I also reduced the sugar in the frosting by a whole cup, and my whole family still loved it! I honestly think 3 1/2 cups sugar in the frosting would be way too sweet.

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Lemonade Layer Cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Light and delicious lemon layer cake with a rich and creamy lemon cream cheese frosting.

Credit: Lemonade Layer Cake by Cooking Light/Ann Taylor Pittman

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (one lemon juiced)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • cooking spray

Frosting:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (one lemon juiced)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, set aside.
  3. Beat together at a medium speed the sugar, butter, lemon rind, lemon extract and lemon juice until well blended.
  4. Add eggs and egg whites one at a time to the mixture and beat well after each egg addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda, stir with a whisk.
  6. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into the two round pans, sharply tap pans on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pans 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Prepare frosting by placing butter, lemon rind, lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and cream cheese in a bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed just until blended – do not overbeat. Chill one hour.
  10. Frost the first layer, top with the remaining layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!

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March 23, 2019

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Frosting

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Vegetable Lo Mein

 

Mid-March and it is like spring here in the SF Bay area! I am really loving the weather since we have had a very rainy winter here, yes, we needed it, but I am really over it by now. Since it is so warm and beautiful I started to plan a salad for dinner, but then I decided a vegetable stir fry dish is similar, lots of fresh vegetables, but more likely to be accepted by my teen.  I made this last week with shrimp, like the original recipe was written, but today I feel like something vegetarian, maybe because we celebrated my son’s birthday yesterday and had a very meat and pasta-centric dinner out? Thank you The Woks of Life for the recipe, it is delicious! I made a few changes, such as doubling the sauce, using shirataki noodles  instead of traditional lo mein noodles, and lastly adding more vegetables, 2 eggs and some tofu. If shirataki noodles are not your thing, and I am still learning about them, then use lo mein noodles or whatever noodles taste good to you. Enjoy!

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Vegetable Lo Mein

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Quick and healthy Chinese vegetable and noodle dish.

Credit: Shrimp Lo Mein Just Like Chinese Takeout by The Woks of Life

Ingredients

  • 2 – 7ounce packages of shirataki konjac pasta (I used Miracle Noodle brand that I bought at Whole Foods)
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar (or whatever you prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of white pepper
  • oil of choice for cooking (a neutral oil is best, like safflower oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 small can of water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Mirin
  • 3 cups shredded napa cabbage
  • 8 ounces extra firm high protein tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
  • 2 scallions, split and cut into 2-inch long pieces

Procedure

  1. Rinse the noodles in water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix the soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the two eggs with a dash of soy sauce, sesame oil and a pinch of black pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil to pan and spread. When oil is hot add the egg and cook. I like to make it a flat omelet and then slice it into long strips. Set the egg aside.
  5. Turn the heat up to high, add a little more safflower oil and cook the garlic for about a minute.
  6. Add the mushrooms, carrots and water chestnuts and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Pour in the mirin and add the cabbage. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  8. Add the noodles and stir it into the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add the sauce mixture and stir for 30 seconds.
  10. Add the tofu, egg, snow peas, bean sprouts and scallions. Mix well for about 2 more minutes.
  11. Serve in bowls. Good with a little chile sauce!

Note: You can make a chile sauce with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon each of Chinese chile sauce, hot water, rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

March 18, 2019

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Shirataki noodles
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sauce on the right and the eggs with soy sauce and sesame oil

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Cooking the vegetables

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Soboro Donburi – Gingery Ground Beef and Mushrooms with Fresh English Peas

I am going to Japan soon and have become a bit obsessed with cooking Japanese food lately. My most recent find is this crumbled beef and vegetables over rice dish. Pretty quick and easy to make, and the flavors are really nice how they work together and add quite a bit of depth to this simple dish. It passed the family test, everyone liked it and said I should add it to the cooking rotation, so that is good. This dish is traditionally crumbled chicken or beef or any kind of meat , sometimes with eggs and served over white rice. I made it more healthy by adding mushrooms for some of the beef, and adding kale and fresh english peas. I also used a wild rice and whole grain brown rice blend instead of white rice to boost the nutrition.  I actually came up with the idea for this dish when I was shopping and I came across fresh local english peas, and I thought, what can I make with fresh peas… then I found a Food & Wine recipe that this is based on.

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Soboro Donburi (Gingery Ground Beef and Mushrooms with Fresh English Peas)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Quick and simple Japanese rice bowl with added vegetables to make it lighter and more healthy.

Credit: Soboro Donburi by Food & Wine

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon palm sugar (or whatever you have)
  • 1/4 cup dashi (or beef broth if using beef, chicken broth if using chicken, etc)
  • oil of choice for cooking
  • 3/4 pound lean grass-fed ground beef (or ground chicken)
  • 8 ounces chopped mushrooms (either cremini, shiitake or white button)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh peeled and grated ginger (or jarred)
  • fresh lacinato kale, de-stemmed and sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup fresh english peas shucked from pod (or frozen if that is all that is available)
  • hot cooked wild and whole grain brown rice
  • chile sauce if desired on the side

Procedure

  1. Mix together the sake (if you don’t have any, just use mirin), mirin, soy sauce, dashi or broth and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add a bit of oil to pan and spread. When oil is hot add the ground meat to the pan and cook through.
  3. Drain grease from cooked meat and then add the chopped mushrooms, ginger and kale to the meat in the pan, cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Add the peas and the sake mixture and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is greatly reduced, but meat is not dry.
  4. Serve in bowls over rice and garnish with chile sauce on the side if desired.

Note: You can make a chile sauce with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon each of Chinese chile sauce, hot water, rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

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February 22, 2019

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Healthy Ramen Soup

This is not Ramen from my college days, thank goodness! I remember a roommate I had in college who seemed to eat nothing but pre-packaged ramen (a serious sodium and fat bomb) and Kraft macaroni and cheese. I don’t know how he lived on this combination, but I guess he was young…but there are long-term health consequences… I won’t preach.

Well Ramen is back and getting quite gourmet from what I have read. There is a new ramen restaurant here in Palo Alto that has daily lines snaking around the corner. So popular, but I have not tried it as (1) I don’t want to wait in line to get in and (2) I am pretty certain that restaurant ramen will be loaded with fat and sodium. But curious, as I can be about a new food trend, I decided I would make this myself and add vegetables. I found this recipe on a site called Damn Delicious (catchy name). I have made this a few times with great success. So easy and so delicious! I have only modified it slightly, mostly adding more broth, miso and sometimes changing out the vegetables. It was really good with bok choy instead of spinach, but today I used what was in my refrigerator and that was mushrooms, a carrot and fresh spinach.

Healthy Ramen Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Finally, a Ramen soup that is healthy and easy.

Credit:  Easy Homemade Ramen by Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, soft or hard boiled (to your liking), sliced in half
  • Safflower seed oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (I only had some dried shiitakes so I used mostly cremini mushrooms today- but I think the shiitake are better in this soup)
  • 6 cups unsalted vegetable stock (or chicken)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • Soba noodles or Shirataki noodles
  • 2 Tablespoons light miso
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (or baby bok choy, or whatever green vegetable you have)
  • chopped chives for a garnish

Procedure

  1. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add a little oil to the pot and heat another minute. When oil is hot, add garlic and ginger to the pot and stir for about 1 minute. Add carrot slices and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Add stock, water and soy sauce, stir well and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. While soup simmers, cook your noodles according to package instructions. (I made vegetable-based, zero calorie shirataki noodles for myself and more traditional soba noodles for my son). Set cooked noodles aside.
  4. Add the spinach to the soup and stir.  Turn off the heat, add the miso and stir with a whisk to blend the miso in.
  5. Place noodles in bowl, ladle soup in and garnish with two egg halves and chives. Enjoy!

Note:  Shirataki noodles are a new find for me. The are a traditional Japanese ingredient made from the yam-like roots of plants in the amorphophallus family. The noodles are mostly made of water and have an interesting chewy texture. They have fiber and are either very low calorie or calorie-free.  This information and more is from:  Decker, Fred. (2017, July 20). Benefits of Shirataki Noodles. Healthy Eating | SF Gate. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-shirataki-noodles-11780.html

Healthy Seasonal Cooking,  February 15, 2019

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Soup with the soba noodles
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Soup with the shirataki noodles

Healthy New England Clam Chowder with Cauliflower

Happy New Year! When I made the Loaded Baked Potato-Style Cauliflower soup recently, my son and I decided that the same base would probably be really good as a clam chowder, and I could even make it completely dairy-free for those who prefer that. I love New England style clam chowder but it traditionally has a lot of milk and cream and butter…so I have not made it in many years and I am not inclined to order it in a restaurant because it is usually loaded with even more butter and cream than I would make at home. I am not lactose-intolerant, but I think that my morning latte and some cheese is enough dairy for me each day.  This soup turned out rich and creamy without any dairy! I am so amazed at what one can do with cauliflower, so my cauliflower obsession continues along with my squash obsession (check out this amazing Parmesan Crusted Delicata Squash recipe from Skinnytaste – I can’t get enough of this — crispy like a high-quality french fry but so much better for you!).  I am giving Cooking Light credit for inspiring me to create this soup from their cauliflower soup. Let me know what you think!

Healthy New England Clam Chowder with Cauliflower

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rich, creamy and still very healthy cauliflower-based clam chowder soup.

Credit:  Inspired by Cooking Light

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb  (white bulb only), chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 large cauliflower, florets and stems chopped
  • 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock (or chicken stock/broth)
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • kosher salt to taste (the clam broth will have salt, so taste before salting)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon white miso
  • 16 ounce package of frozen clams, shelled
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fennel fronds to garnish

Procedure

  1. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add a little olive oil to the pot and heat. When oil is hot, add onion, fennel, thyme, and garlic to the pot and stir often until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, stock or broth, clam juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Ladle about 80% of the soup (liquid and vegetables) into a blender, add the miso and puree until smooth and creamy. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot liquid while blending (put a towel over the blender lid).
  3. Return the blended mixture to the pot. Add clams cook over medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds. Enjoy!

Note:  I used vegetable stock, but it made the soup a brownish-color, if you want it to be a more traditionally white chowder try using chicken stock instead.

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Onion, fennel, thyme, and garlic

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January 15, 2019

Loaded Baked Potato-Style Cauliflower Soup

Wow, this was really good. I ate it for dinner on Sunday and have enjoyed the leftovers for the last two days for lunch. I feel like we have been eating more meat than I prefer to eat so I was looking for a vegetarian dish (ok, it has bacon, so almost vegetarian is what I ended up with). I found this on Cookinglight.com and my son and I really liked it! Ok, he liked it as long as I added extra cheese and bacon to his… but hey, he is a growing teen! I love how the soup has a very rich and silky mouthfeel, with only a small amount of added half and half (I am considering leaving the half and half out next time and adding greek yogurt instead?). I give all the credit to Cooking Light, I cooked it pretty much as written. Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato-Style Cauliflower Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rich, creamy and still very healthy cauliflower soup with a bit of crispy bacon and cheddar cheese to make it seem decadent

Ingredients

  • 4 thick applewood bacon slices
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower, florets and stems chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • About 1/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place bacon strips on baking sheet and cook until crispy, about 15 minutes. Drain grease thoroughly on paper towels. When cool chop into small crumbles. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven on Medium heat. Add a little olive oil to the pot and heat. Add Leek, celery and garlic to the pot and stir often until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover ad reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the majority of the vegetables and liquid to a blender and blend with half and half and blend until smooth. Be careful not to burn your self on the hot liquid while blending (put a towel over the blender lid).
  5. Return the blended mixture to the pot. Cook over medium heat for about 5 more minutes.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cheese, bacon and chives. Enjoy!

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com    October 23, 2018

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Healthy Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms

Oh my gosh! This was so good. I have to give all the credit to Elena at HappyKitchen.Rocks! I followed her recipe with a few adjustments: I used canned pumpkin, as this was a last minute dinner idea and I happened to have canned organic pumpkin in my pantry (but not a whole sugar pumpkin lying around!), I added a half a chopped leek, just one large clove of garlic, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano instead of the chopped walnuts, chicken stock instead of vegetable broth and left off the pumpkin oil (no idea where that would come from?).  If you want to keep it vegan use the chopped walnuts instead of cheese and vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. My son made some homemade pumpkin spaghetti with his pasta machine, substituting a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin puree for the usual water and oil he would put in the dough. It was soooo good! I had most of mine with some leftover frozen spaghetti squash I had in the freezer, but I had to try the pasta as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to post this, so I am lacking in pictures, next time I make it I will update with more pictures.  I think this is the beginning of my usual Fall Pumpkin Crush (I made pumpkin granola yesterday)…

Healthy Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rich, creamy and very healthy pasta (or vegetable noodles) with sautéed mushrooms and spinach topped with a savory pumpkin sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (make sure nothing else is added, especially sugar as this is a savory dish, not pie). Or a small sugar pumpkin, roasted and puréed.
  • about 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer to make this vegan). The amount may vary a bit.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 10 oz fresh spinach
  • Fresh pasta of choice or spaghetti squash
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnishing (unless making it vegan – then try chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts or nutritional yeast).

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the mushrooms in an even layer and roast until soft and golden, about 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through. Add the spinach for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  3. While the mushrooms cook, sauté the leeks and garlic for a few minutes or until they soften and become fragrant. Add pumpkin puree and small amounts of the chicken stock, until it is thinner than a soup, but still thick enough to grab onto your pasta. Cook over very low heat, stir frequently, and periodically add stock as it thickens while you cook it. Season with salt, pepper and sage.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions (or vegetable “noodles”). Drain.
  5. Mix noodles with spinach, mushrooms and sauce. Serve in bowls with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com    October 22, 2018

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The finished pumpkin sauce (leftovers).

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Farro with Roasted Mushrooms, Corn and Cauliflower

I don’t post many side dishes but I thought this one was interesting. I made salmon yesterday and was trying to come up with a different side that my whole family would eat and that was healthy. My teenage son will eat salad, but he always complains and I often serve salmon with a salad and rice, so I combined my vegetables with farro, a healthy whole grain. The result was pretty good. I think tomorrow I will eat the farro vegetable mix by itself with some added spinach and melted cheese for lunch!

Farro with Roasted Mushrooms, Corn and Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Healthy and Delicious Autumn Side Dish

Ingredients

Farro:

  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 3 cups water
  • salt

Vegetables:

  • About 2 cups of thinly sliced mixed mushrooms (today I used 8 shiitakes and 4 big white button mushrooms)
  • 1 small shallot thinly sliced
  • 2 ears of corn, cooked and sliced off the cob
  • 1 cup cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. While oven is heating boil water in a medium pot. Add salt if desired.
  3. When water boils add farro and boil for 20 minutes, or until farro is soft, but firm in the middle, al dente (like pasta).
  4. While farro cooks, spread mushrooms and shallots on a large baking pan. Drizzle olive oil and toss the vegetables. Add salt, pepper, oregano and thyme to the vegetables. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Add the cauliflower with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast another 15 minutes or until vegetable are soft and slightly browned.
  6. Drain farro.
  7. In a large bowl combine farro with all the cooked vegetables. Add salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com    October 17, 2018

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Spaghetti Squash with Vegetable Ragu

I am obsessed with spaghetti squash. I forgot about it all summer, but now I am seeing it on the grocery shelves and I had to buy one this week. It is just my “pastaterian” (I made that up, or a friend did, meaning he would only eat pasta if I let him) son and I for dinner tonight, and I decided I would make a big pot of vegetable ragu and add ground beef to a portion of the ragu to make it Bolognese-like for him.  This way everyone is happy with little extra effort. This provided plenty of leftover sauce to freeze for later use.

Part of  my obsession with spaghetti squash is that when cooked it really shreds like spaghetti! On top of that it is healthy – one cup is only 42 calories, it has fiber, vitamin A, several B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K.  This is pretty much the same recipe as Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with Vegetable Ragu but I am making it a separate recipe so people can find it easily. Basically the difference is baking the dish in the squash shells and topping with mozzarella cheese versus with this recipe I scoop out all the spaghetti squash and serve it like a pasta with sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

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Amazing how it shreds like spaghetti!

Spaghetti Squash with Vegetable Ragu

  • Servings: variable
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Fun and healthy twist on spaghetti with a vegetarian pasta sauce using spaghetti squash and a hearty vegetable ragu.

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into a small dice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 24 oz. can low-sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 24 oz. can low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano (or fresh if it is available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry basil (or fresh if it is available)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Squash Preparation:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (or more if you are feeding more than 2 or 3 people)
  • olive oil (spray if available)
  • salt and freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Carefully slice the squash in half from top to bottom.  Remove the seeds with a spoon by scooping them out and lightly scraping the inside of the squash to get it completely seed-free.
  3. Spray or rub a little olive oil on the inside of the squash and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender and slightly golden on the cut sides.
  4. While the squash cooks, prep the vegetables and make the sauce by heating some olive oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat.
  5. Sauté the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and chopped bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the vegetables are softened.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes, herbs and a little more salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if desired. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes, longer if possible so the sauce gets thick.
  7. When the squash is tender remove it from the oven and let cool slightly.
  8. Run the fork along on the inside so it divides up like spaghetti and put in a bowl. Discard the squash “skin.”
  9. Serve squash strands with the vegetable ragu and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Notes: 

  • You can slice the very top and bottom of the squash to make it easier and safer before cutting it in half, or you can microwave the squash for a minute or two (poke a hole in the squash first) to soften it slightly before cutting.
  • You can save time by using jarred pasta sauce, but I think that the sauce plays a very important role here, so I prefer to make my own. This recipe actually makes much more sauce than you will need, so I freeze the rest for another use. Make once and eat many more times! I put mine on homemade pizza the next day!

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com    September 26, 2018

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Scooping seeds out of raw squash
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Shredding the cooked squash
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Prepping the vegetables for the ragu
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Sautéing the vegetables
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Finished Vegetarian Ragu
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Ragu with meat added
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Spaghetti Squash with Vegetable Ragu
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Pasta with Beef Ragu