‘Undressed’ Poppyseed & Orange Chicken Salad with Green Beans

Perfect for a picnic or any sunny day, this chicken salad leaves the mayo behind.

Gluten-free; easily made paleo if you switch the green beans out for something like crispy cauliflower nuggets or broccolini.

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‘Undressed’ Poppyseed & Orange Chicken Salad with Green Beans

2 chicken breasts
1/2 c. celery
1/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. chives
12 oz. haricots verts
Juice of 1 orange
2 tsp. dijon (grainy to be whole30 compliant)
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
2 big pinches grey salt
Other citrus juice (optional)
3 Tbsp. coconut oil

Chop the chicken into roughly 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sautee until golden brown and delicious looking.

Pull out your haricots verts, and chop into roughly bite-sized pieces.

In a separate pan, heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil until melted. Add the haricots verts and cook until blistered and wilted.

While all that is working, slice the celery into thin half moons, toast the pecans in a dry pan until starting to brown and become fragrant, and chop or snip the chives. Add each new prepped ingredient to a large bowl as it is ready.

In a separate smaller bowl, make the vinaigrette. Whisk the orange juice, dijon, poppy seeds and grapeseed oil together until an emulsion forms. Taste. Add a big pinch of grey salt and taste again. If the flavors aren’t already sparkling, add another big pinch of salt. If your orange is still kind of dull tasting, hit it with a squirt or two of other citrus juice until the flavors sing.

When the chicken and/or green beans are done, add to the large bowl and toss to combine. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss. I was fine with the dressing level here; if you need to, add the rest.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch.

Fresh Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Sprouts

This is a fabulous little fresh spring salad – full of bright crunch from the snap peas, balanced with nice bite from the radish and kicked up a notch by the addition of some nice flaky salt. A fresh, bright side for something decadent – like the lamb chops I served it with.

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Fresh Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Sprouts

Snap peas (about 4 cups ?)
4 large radishes – I used plain old regular red radishes
1/4 cup sprouts – I used broccoli sprouts, though I bet the hot variety would be nice as well
3 Tbsp. almond oil
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 big pinches flaky grey salt
Black pepper (a dusting)

De-tip your snap peas and cut into rough fork-sized chunks.

Slice the radishes thin, stack the rounds up, and cut into match sticks.

Add both to a medium bowl with the sprouts.

Whisk together the oil, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Add the salt and taste – add some more if the tastes don’t pop.

Pour the dressing over the salad and work in, using your hands to toss and separate the sprout threads.

Dust with black pepper and serve.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch as a side dish.

Sundried Tomato Basil Meatballs with Walnut Pesto and Broccolini

This is a great little weeknight dinner and this pesto is something you will want to have on hand. It’s great here, as well as on chicken or beef, or when used as a mix-in for all sorts of “basic” ingredients to give a little kick. Paleo friendly and gluten-free.

A note on coconut cream: Coconut cream is easy to source. Take a can of full fat coconut milk, place into a container with a lid and chill a few hours or over night. A thick layer of cream will rise to the top and solidify. This is coconut cream and it is tasty.

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Sundried Tomato Basil Meatballs with Walnut Pesto and Broccolini

Based on Sun Dired Tomato Meatballs with Creamy Pesto from Everyday Paleo

For the meatballs:

2 lbs. ground beef (or a mixture of beef, veal and pork depending on your particular culinary inclinations)
4 scallions
1 big hand full basil
1/2 c. sun dried tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
Big pinch salt
Black pepper
1 Tbsp. coconut oil

For the broccolini:

1 bunch broccolini
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

For the pesto:

1 c. walnuts
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 c. basil
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes
1/2 c. coconut cream
Big pinch salt
Big pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp. white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375. While you are waiting for the oven to heat, prep your broccolini by chopping the cut ends off, placing the stalks on a cookie sheet, and drizzling with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. When your oven comes up to temperature, add the broccolini and set the timer for 15 minutes.

Bring a cup or two of water to a boil. Place the sundried tomatoes in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let reconstitute 15 minutes. If you are using oil packed tomatoes, skip this step.

While your tomatoes are reconstituting, mince the scallions, garlic and basil for the meatballs.

When your tomatoes are reconstituted, remove from the water and mince. Add the meatball portion to a large bowl along with the other meatball ingredients (minus the coconut oil).

Mix the meatball ingredients together and form into ping pong ball sized meatballs.

Heat the coconut oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs and brown on all sides.

When your broccolini timer goes off, flip the broccolini and return to the oven and cook an additional few minutes until browned but not burnt.

When the meatballs are all browned, slide the pan (if it is ovenproof, otherwise use a cookie sheet) into the oven and bake an additional 7-10 minutes.

While the meatballs are working, make the pesto. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and whiz until smooth and pesto like. Taste and add more salt/vinegar/pepper as needed until your desired taste balance is reached. You’re looking for a bright and lively pesto – something you want to eat more of before dinner. If it is too thick, thin with a bit of the tomato water if you have any on hand, or regular water. Don’t forget to adjust your seasoning after thinning. I went for a thick sauce – more of a paste – and it was delicious.

To serve, pile meatballs on top of broccolini and top with pesto. And more pesto.

Serves 2-4 for dinner (meatballs and pesto – if you’re serving 4, double the broccolini quantity) or 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch with more pesto left over.

Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

This dish is tasty. Like deeply tasty, with layers of flavors, which is good ‘cuz it isn’t quick. It is however, fully satisfying and filled with stealth veggie goodness. Paleo & gluten-free.

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Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

Adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple’s Sesame Chicken and “Rice” with Fiery Ginger and Chile Sauce 

For the chicken:

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 per serving)
2 cloves garlic
4 slices ginger
4 scallions
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. shallot
Salt & white pepper to taste

For the rice:

1 head cauliflower
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
5 shallots
5 cloves garlic
3 c. chicken stock
Salt & white pepper to taste

For the chili sauce: 

2 Tbsp. sambal olek
3 Tbsp. ginger
3 Tbsp. shallot
3 cloves garlic
3 limes
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. chicken stock
Salt & white pepper to taste

Garnish:

1/2 cucumber
Big hand full parsley
Sesame oil

First, let’s prep the massive amount of shallots and garlic you’ll need. You will need roughly 7 shallots in total, all minced. Mince those babies up, dividing into 3 separate bowls (one for each component of the dish). Mince and divide a total of 2-3 inches fresh ginger and 10 cloves garlic. Divide these as well by component.

Once all this mise is done, split your scallions in half and slice into small moons. Juice your limes. Dice your cucumber. Chop your parsley. Gather the rest of your ingredients and break your cauliflower down for easy adding to your food processor.

Let’s start with the “rice”, since this takes the longest to cook. Add your broken down cauliflower to your food processor a little at a time and process until it looks like crumbly rice. This may take a few batches.

Add the coconut oil to a wok or large pan over high heat. Add the shallot and garlic (from your separated cauliflower rice bowl of mise) and stir-fry until beginning to brown and fragrant. Add the cauliflower and stir fry about 4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add 3c. chicken stock and cook 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Salt & white pepper to taste and set aside if the rest of the meal isn’t done yet.

While the “rice” is going, make your chicken. Cut the thighs into 1 inch cubes. Heat 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the ginger slices, chicken portion of shallot & garlic and chicken cubes and stir-fry until cooked through and beginning to brown. Add your scallions and stir-fry 2 minutes more. Season with salt & white pepper.

On to the sauce. Add the sambal olek, chili sauce portion ginger, shallot & garlic, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar to the bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, until a paste is formed. Add the chicken stock and whiz again to combine. Season with salt to taste.

When all your components are done, add the “rice” & chicken to a large bowl and toss to combine. Top with the cucumber and parsley and toss again. Add half of the sauce and taste. Add more if needed. To serve, place in bowls and drizzle with a little sesame oil to finish.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch with a little extra sauce.

Creamy Squash Ribbon Red Pepper Pasta (Paleo)

This paleo-friendly, gluten-free & vegan pasta is a diabolical way to sneak zucchini and other soft squashes past the squash texture-averse. By cutting the squash in ribbons, the squishy texture disappears and they become more palatable (even for Southerners who grew up hating the gloppiness and squeek of squash casserole). The ribbons also look like pasta; more important than looks alone, your belly is also tricked into thinking it has just consumed a mound of pasta. Yum all around. The creamy sauce helps with this as well and doesn’t taste like coconut – with the nut butter, peppers and other spices, it ends up tasting savory and rich.

I loved this pasta; my squash-averse DH ate it warily, but didn’t have any real complaint about it other than he knew it was squash. I’m sure the presence of a big ol’ slab of London broil on the side did wonders for the pasta’s begrudging acceptance.

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Creamy Squash Ribbon Red Pepper Pasta

Adapted from Paleo Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Steak and Pasta from PaleOMG

2 zucchini
2 yellow summer squash
1 roasted red pepper
1 bunch spinach
1/4 c. almond butter (to be paleo, use almond butter – I happened to only have peanut on hand, so I used peanut. The original recipe called for a full half cup almond and would be thicker with the full amount. I halved because I was using the wrong nut butter)
1/2 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. golden mustard (or your favorite mustard – I use Golden’s spicy)
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
Salt & pepper to taste

First, prep your noodles. I used a wide speed peeler to make long, wide noodles. If you can use a mandoline without slicing off a digit, the julienne setting makes nice matchstick noodles. I prefer less blood in my dinner, so I went the slow route. It didn’t take that long. If you’re not into wide noodles, stack those babies up and slice lengthwise.

Make your creamy sauce. Add the coconut milk, almond butter, spices, garlic, aminos, red pepper and mustard to the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until thoroughly combined. Taste. Add salt and pepper (and any additional amounts of spice) until you’re satisfied.

In your largest skillet over medium – medium-high heat, add the squash noodles. A dry pan is fine here; you’re going to be adding the sauce momentarily. Toss the noodles a time or two so each is kissed by heat. Add the spinach and sauce and toss (carefully with tongs or you’ll break all your noodles up and throw the spinach around the room) frequently until it all looks cooked. You’re not cooking the noodles to death and you’re not serving them raw – think al dente with wilted spinach. This process should take 5-8 minutes, depending upon how hot and crowded your pan is.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch.

Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw with Beet Horseradish

This is a great little sturdy slaw that works great as a topping for pork burgers or sausages, or as a crunchy side for any other late-summer dinner.

Seriously? I think Lasik might be in my future… I thought this was in focus.

Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw

1/4 Granny Smith apple
1/4 bulb fennel
1/4 head red cabbage
2 Tbsp. beet horseradish
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. spicy mustard
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Shred the cabbage, julienne the apple and slice the fennel into wafer thin arcs, depositing into a large bowl as you go. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, mustard, vinegar and horseradish into a dressing. Pour over the salad & toss. Salt & pepper to taste.

Serves 2 for dinner as a side, 4 or more as a protein topper.

Sweet Summer Sunshine – aka Tomato, Peach & Basil Salad with Chili

Sometimes I try to pretend that I don’t wait for this season all year long with varying degrees of patience. Some years, I’d like to think that it’s the corn I’m really after. The berries. Burgers on the grill. But who am I kidding? It’s tomatoes. Tomatoes are what I crave in the deep recesses of winter – tomatoes are what I pine for. Sweet, umami-laden globules of liquid sunshine.

This salad highlights their peak season glory perfectly – and lucky for me, I’m the only tomato worshipper in the house. It’s a dead simple thing to whip up for lunch – barely a recipe, really.

Mine… all mine 😀

Sweet Summer Sunshine – aka Tomato, Peach & Basil Salad with Chili

Mixed heirloom tomatoes – a cup, cup and a half – thinly sliced
1 ripe peach, pitted and sliced thinly
1 tsp. thinly sliced basil ribbons
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. sambal oelek (hot garlic chili sauce – I use the brand with the white chicken – it should be located near the squeeze bottle sriracha with the same chicken and comes in a clear plastic jar with a green lid) – sub for Whole30 sriracha if going that route

Your favorite finishing salt – I used some grey sea salt, but I could see black or Maldon salt being fabulous here, or even citrus-infused kosher

Arrange your tomatoes on a plate. Scatter peaches about until you have something that looks exciting and alive. Sprinkle with basil.

In a small bowl, mix the grapeseed oil and sambal oelek. Beat with a fork to combine.

Drizzle oil mixture over salad. Sprinkle with salt to finish.

Serves 1 for lunch. Feel free to scale up to feed a crowd. If you are making for a party, prepare as close to go time as possible. This salad is best at room temperature (I would never suggest refrigerating fresh tomatoes as it kills some of their taste) or even a little above.

Update: After writing this, my DH came home from work not hungry in the slightest for dinner. I ate this salad again for dinner beefed up with slivers of fennel, crumbles of feta and citrus salt. Yum. I might just have to hit the greenmarket this weekend so I can try a version with rosemary-infused olive oil, smoky cheese and orange….

No Tato Salad

This is a vegetarian-ish, gluten-free and paleo-friendly version of that perennial Summer favorite – potato salad. I went German with my inspiration, but curry or hot spice versions would be great as well. This really does end up tasting like potato salad. You don’t get the density of potatoes, but if you’re trying to avoid them and Summer just ain’t Summer without some homestyle potato salad (and a big ear of corn and some brats), this salad is for you. It’s also pretty quick to whip up and makes a great side dish for a nice big steak.

No-Tato Salad

1 head cauliflower
2 stalks celery
1/4 to 1/2 c. yellow onion (~ 1/4 of an onion, preferably Vidalia or some other sweet variety)
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. mayo (I use the type made with olive oil – sub with home made to make it paleo)
2 Tbsp. capers (or good old green Spanish olives)
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard (sub with yellow mustard to make it Whole30)
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Sweet paprika (optional)

Place the eggs in a small pot. Cover with water and put over a burner on high. Bring to a boil, let go 4 minutes and cut the heat. Remove pot to the sink, drain, and fill with cold water.

While your eggs are cooking, chop/snap the cauliflower into small florets. When this is complete, add to a large pan over medium high heat with a splash or 2 of water. Cook until softened – if you want to go a little brown here, have at it. I went for just steamed to taste as close as possible to potatoes, but brown would be nice, too. Remove from the heat when done. Add to a large bowl to cool.

While that is working, dice the celery, onion, capers and parsley. Add to the bowl with the cauliflower.

When the eggs are done, cool, peel and dice. Add to the bowl.

Add the mayo, mustard, celery salt & garlic powder. Combine. Taste & add salt and pepper if needed. Dust with paprika as an optional old school garnish.

Serves 2 for dinner with a nice steak and 1 for lunch beefed up with a little chicken and the gift that keeps on giving: hazelnut gremolata (yes, this is the same gremolata that’s been kicking around the back of my fridge and popping up here and there since Easter).

Slow Dance, With Tomatoes

Tomato Jam, waiting for the crush

This is the kind of recipe that is not a recipe. More of a guideline. Serve slow-cooked tomatoes: crushed as a jam slathered on a burger or crostini; as-is as a finger food (my favorite!); chopped in a salad; tossed in with grains; or with a shot of good-quality olive oil as a pasta dressing.

Slow-Cooked Tomato Jam

Roma Tomatoes (as many as you have – I only happened to have 3 on this day)
3-5 cloves thick-sliced garlic
a sprinkling of ground cinnamon
a sprinkling of caraway seeds
Big pinch salt
Big pinch fresh cracked black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise and arrange cut sides up in a single layer on a foil-wrapped baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, caraway, salt & pepper (or other herbs and/or spices if you are so inclined).

Roast for 2 hours until tomatoes collapse a little and are browning in spots. Flip over (skin side up) and roast an additional hour and a half until the skins are puckered and the tomatoes are falling apart.

If any should make it to a bowl, mash with a fork or potato masher to make jam or slice for salads and pasta.

If you’re like me, they may not make it that far.

Variations: You can make this jam with any tomato you have on hand–I have made with slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, etc., though my favorite is the Roma tomato for this particular application. You can also add brown sugar to the mix, swap the cinnamon for nutmeg, etc. This can really be dressed a thousand different ways depending on what you happen to have on hand when you notice your tomatoes are almost past their shelf life.

Slow Dance, With Tomatoes on Punk Domestics

Greens with Eggs

Ignore the pork

When James Oseland names a dish his favorite over the past year, I tend to sit up and take notice. I don’t know about being my favorite, but this dish was a pleaser. Ignore the ham in the photo above. This shot was taken with the leftovers, which I foolishly added home-cured Canadian Bacon to. I shouldn’t have. This dish was absolutely great without it, and the smokiness ruined it the second time around. The original version also didn’t call for heirloom tomatoes, but I had a bunch on hand with no plans so I threw them in. I happen to love tomatoes cooked like this, so I liked them. If you do not, or if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to omit.

Greens with Eggs
Adapted from Wild Greens with Fried Eggs (Horta me Avga Tiganita) from Saveur

Extra virgin olive oil
5 scallions, minced
8 oz. cut n clean seasonal cooking greens
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 c. mint leaves, chopped
1/4 c. fennel fronds, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs per person
Double handful heirloom cherry tomatoes
Crusty bread, sliced on a bias and toasted (optional)

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook for 4 minutes, until soft. add the greens, parsley, mint, fennel, garlic, tomatoes and 1/2 c. water; salt & pepper to taste. Cook, stirring as needed, until the greens are tender and tomatoes have softened and split, 10-15 mins.

In a medium pan, heat a turn and a half around the pan of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Crack your eggs (1 person’s at a time) into the skillet and fry by constantly spooning hot oil over the yolks until the yolks are just set, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to de-grease and then onto your greens to serve. Serve with crusty bread.

My first batch of eggs I cooked a little longer than the second, and I actually enjoyed that more. The eggs were still a little runny, and the whites were nice and fried. Cook as you like.

Serves 2