Creamy Zucchini Risotto


Cheese is the accent and not the main event to this garden fresh risotto.

Aborio is short grain Italian style rice, naturally gluten free. Serve as a summer main meal with grilled zucchini on the side.

It’s also the perfect accompaniment for seared scallops or grilled shrimp off the BBQ. If desired, top with lemon zest for an extra fresh punch of flavor.

1 cup aborio rice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups zucchini grated
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth, warmed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese

In a large saute pan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion begins to soften. Add rice and saute for 2 minutes longer until rice is thoroughly coated. Add 1 cup zucchini and 1 cup broth and keep stirring until liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring adding 2 more cups broth, 1 cup at a time.

Add last cup of shredded zucchini, basil and wine (optional) or 1/2 cup water until liquid is absorbed. Rice should be soft and creamy. Add 1/2 cup water if more liquid is needed and saute until fully absorbed. Remove from heat, add cheese and sprinkle with more chopped fresh basil and lemon zest if desired. Serve.


Quinoa Black Bean Burgers


The answer for what to do with left over quinoa.

Spiced up Mexican, black beans and quinoa make a tasty burger, cake or slider. The perfect vegan addition to any Cinco de Mayo buffet (if egg omitted).

Serve with a dollop of guacamole and a side of salsa.

3 Tablespoons olive oil plus 3 more Tablespoons
1 medium onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 ounces black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4  teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 egg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop onion and red pepper. Saute in skillet with olive oil with minced garlic until onions are translucent. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mash black beans and add oregano, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in onion-pepper mixture, cilantro and mustard. Add quinoa and egg and mix thoroughly. If omitting the egg, decrease quinoa amount by 1/2 to 1 cup or burgers will fall apart.  Form into burgers or sliders.

Heat remaining olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and add burgers. Turn after approximately 4 minutes or until browned and crisp, being careful to maintain their shape – especially if egg is not used. Brown on other side and pop in the oven for approximatley 15 minutes or heated thoroughly being careful not to dry them out. Serve.

Makes 6-8 burgers or 15-18 sliders.


Savory Spring Oatmeal with Carmelized Onions


Oatmeal is not just for breakfast anymore!

Inspired for St. Patty’s Day, this savory side dish is not the usual rice accompaniment to most meals.

Asparagus and spinach with hints of lemon pair well with many entrees for spring, especially fish and poultry. Of course, for the less adventuresome, substitute rice for oatmeal and follow the recipe as is.

Note: Although steel cut oats are probably the best choice, I opted for rolled oats… the only gluten-free variety I could find.

2 cups oatmeal, steel cut or rolled
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for sauteing
1 leek, chopped
1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (parmesan or goat cheese are good choices)
1 bunch asparagus (approx. 20 stalks)
2 cups baby spinach
1 shallot, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
lemon olive oil

Heat 1/4 cup EVOO in a heavy skillet on medium and add onion and shallots. Stir until softened, about 7 minutes. Turn heat to low and stir intermittently, for approximately 20-30 minutes, until onion mixture is browned and caramelized.  Set aside. Saute leek and garlic in 3 Tablespoons EVOO until softened and set aside. Snap off asparagus ends and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water, till softened but firm. Immediately immerse in an ice water bath to retain color. Heat 3 more Tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan and add spinach, cooking only until starting to wilt, no more than one minute.

Cook oatmeal as directed on the package substituting vegetable broth for water. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Stir in leek-garlic mixture, cheese, lemon zest and salt and pepper.  Chop asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and add to oatmeal. Also add spinach by stirring carefully not to tear spinach leaves. Top off with onion-shallot mixture and a speciality lemon olive oil.

Quinoa with Chipotle Lime Dressing


Top with sliced avocado and diced plum tomatoes for extra tastes and textures

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains loaded with protien. I use sprouted artisan quinoa with it’s nutty texture and taste and prefer it to rice these days.

2 cups quinoa
4 cups organic vegetable stock
2 roasted peppers, chopped
1/2 cups scallions, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
chopped cilantro and scallions as a garnish

Chipotle Lime Dressing

Cook quinoa in vegetable stock according to package instructions. Add peppers and scallions and toss with chipotle lime dressing to taste. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.