Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Squash with Feta and Walnuts

Ingredients (amounts are according to your tastes):

acorn or butternut squash (you'll want to use a couple if you're using acorn)
olive oil
fresh or dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese (I used one package for 4 acorn squash)
walnuts (or pine nuts, though they are a bit pricier!) - I used about 1/2 cup


If using acorn squash, because it is more difficult to peel, quarter and remove seeds and place in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and place in cold water until cool enough to handle. Chop into chunks, removing the skin as you go. If you are using butternut, you can use this method if you want, or just peel the whole thing with a sharp knife, skipping the boiling water step. Either way, chop the peeled squash into 1 inch chunks. 

Heat oven to 375. Place squash in a baking dish (large enough to fit the amount of squash you are using). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven until fork tender. (This will take longer if you haven't boiled it first.)

Meanwhile, toast some walnuts or pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often and being careful not to burn them. 

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and toss with crumbled feta and nuts. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Simple Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

1 lb. beets, stems and skinny roots cut off, and small ones cut in half, large ones cut in to quarters (leave the skins on)
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces
a handful of fresh cilantro and/or parsley (about 2 T. chopped)
olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Toss beets with a bit of olive oil and place on one 1/2 of a cookie sheet. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven while you prepare the carrots. When the carrots are chopped, toss them with a bit of olive oil and place them on the cookie sheet with the beets, but on the other side. (This makes it easy to remove whichever finish cooking first, so you don't risk some being underdone or overdone.) Continue cooking at 375 for 40 minutes, or until they reach desired tenderness. You may need to remove the carrots before the beets.

Let the vegetables cool enough to handle. Remove the skins from the beets and chop into 1/2 inch cubes.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Chop cilantro and/or parsley. Combine with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in 2 T. olive oil. Toss with the vegetables in a bowl. Can be served warm, at room temperature, or straight out of the fridge.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

You can call this a salsa and eat it on chips, or call it a salad and eat it with a fork. :) I made a rather large batch; feel free to scale it down.

3 cans black beans, or about 5 cups cooked black beans
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 1/2 c. chopped sweet peppers, any color (about 2 medium bell peppers)
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1 small onion (about 1/3 c.)
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
3/4 t. salt (to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh lemon or lime juice to taste (I used two limes)
1/4 c. olive oil
a dash of hot sauce (we like Cholula brand)
a dash of cayenne pepper (or use fresh chopped hot peppers in place of cayenne and hot sauce)
a dash of garlic powder (or use fresh garlic)

Mix all ingredients together, adjusting quantities to taste. Couldn't be simpler!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Sauce/Spread

This recipe is flexible, simple, vegan, and gluten-free!


4-16 cups vegetables, a combination of any of the following:
--summer squash
--winter squash
--sweet peppers

olive oil and balsamic vinegar (1 T. of each for every 4 cups of veggies)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh herbs of your choice (I used rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. It's also great with just basil.)

1. Preheat the oven to 400, and line one or two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Chop your vegetables. Chop slower-cooking veggies like carrots and winter squash smaller than quicker-cooking ones, so they will all get done at the same time. Make sure you include some onion and several cloves of garlic!

3. Toss the vegetables with the oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Spread onto the baking sheets.

4. Slide baking sheets into the oven and bake, stirring every fifteen minutes, until tender.

5. After 30 minutes or so, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and roughly chopped herbs.

6. When all the veggies are tender but not burnt or falling apart, remove from the oven and cool 15 minutes. Transfer to food processor or blender and puree, adding as much filtered water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Serve as a sauce over pasta or grains, or leave it thicker and serve as a spread on crusty bread or crackers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mom's Tomato Sauce

The amounts are whatever amount you have, and whatever amount you think tastes good. Taste as you go and it will be delicious! Make a big batch and freeze it for summer goodness all winter long. :)

cherry tomatoes (opt)
red wine, if you have it
tomato paste
lots of medium-large tomatoes
sugar to taste (opt)

a large pot
another large pot or a frying pan
a slotted spoon
a clean sink full of ice water
a large colander
a large cutting board, preferably the kind meant for slicing a roast, with slots to contain the juices.

(If you have cherry tomatoes to use, you are going to make some "paste" with them. If not, still complete this step, but leave them out. You won't have to simmer it for quite so long.)
1. Wash and quarter your cherry tomatoes. Chop some onion and saute in olive oil in a large pot or frying pan (if you only have one large pot, save it for the next step). Add some shredded carrots - as much as you want (you can use the food processor to shred it). Add your cherry tomatoes if using, and a splash of red wine. Cook this down for a while (30-60 min) until it thickens and smells really good. Add a lot of minced garlic towards the end.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-quarters full of water to a boil. Wash your medium and large tomatoes. Prepare your sink full of ice water. When the water boils, carefully place as many tomatoes as will fit into the pot. Leave them there for a minute, or until some of their skins break. Remove with a slotted spoon to the sink full of water. (You will need to work in batches if you are making a big batch, so after you take out the first tomatoes, put some more in the pot and keep going until they are all in the sink.)

3. When the tomatoes are cool enough to touch, remove the skins and stem ends and slice into halves (for magic mountain or romas) or quarters (for larger ones). Scoop the seeds out into a bowl. (I don't worry too much here, I just do the best I can while trying to not take all day on this step!)

4. At this point you can either add them right to your "paste" that's been cooking down, if it was in a big pot, or put them into the pot that had the water in it and add the paste to that pot. Continue skinning and seeding the tomatoes until you've done them all!

5. Add salt and pepper and some dried oregano or Italian seasoning or whatever you think will taste good. (fresh herbs are best to add towards the end, but so that some flavor is infused while it's simmering, add some dried herbs earlier on.) Add some canned tomato paste. Simmer it for several hours. At some point toward the end add fresh oregano and "a boatload of basil" (my mom's words). Taste it and if you think it needs it, add a bit of sugar to bring out the flavor. Adjust the salt and pepper and taste until it's perfect.

6. Let it cool, and (carefully) pour into freezer jars or bags. Label and freeze!

--Sometimes I like to use this as a base for meat sauce. Just brown some grass-fed ground beef, add some sauce, and serve over pasta for a hearty meal.

--I suppose you could also add grated summer squash to this for even more nutritional punch. I'll try that next time.

--It pains me to throw away all the yummy juices that come from the tomato seeds. So I took all my seeds and skins and placed them in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Then I pressed with a large spoon to get out as much of the juices as possible. Then I froze this liquid to use in recipes (like a chili recipe I have) that call for "tomato juice."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ginger & Honey Glazed Carrots

2 T. coconut oil (or butter)
1 T. finely chopped fresh ginger
1-2 T. honey (to taste)
4 large or 8 small carrots, chopped however you want
1/4 c. water
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger and honey and stir. Add the carrots and water and stir to coat evenly. Cover and cook 8 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

A few large tomatoes, or several small tomatoes, cut into wedges or chunks
one small onion, quartered
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small or 1 large sweet pepper
1 hot pepper, seeded
a handful cilantro, chopped
lemon or lime juice, to taste

1) Preheat oven to 450. Place the tomatoes, onion, and peppers on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
2) Place the garlic on a small piece of foil and drizzle it with oil. Wrap in foil.
3) Roast the vegetables and the garlic in the oven for 25 minutes until charred and tender.
4) Let cool slightly. Place in food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse to achieve desired consistency.