Spring Veggie Fiesta Frittata

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Serve with arugula salad dressed with jalapeno, chili and lime vinaigrette for a healthy spring “South of the Border” inspired meal.

Asparagus or local fiddleheads are tender greens that shoot out of the ground in spring. Combined with leafy greens …such as the first pick of spinach planted in late fall … local ramps or native wild onions, along with chives (one of the first herbs in spring), this is one dish bursting with all the flavors of the new season.

Add red peppers, grape tomatoes, lightly sprinkled cheese (I used chevre “goat” cheese) and a sprouted grain tortilla “crust” to give this dish a healthy Mexican theme worthy of a fiesta! Serve with salsa on the side.

9 eggs
2 cups baby spinach, lightly packed
6 asparagus spears or 1/2 cup fiddleheads
1/2 cup wild or green onions such as ramps or scallions, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
4 ounces crumbled or shredded cheese of choice
parsley and cilantro to taste, chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 sprouted grain tortilla round
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium pot, boil water and blanch asparagus (ends cut off) or fiddleheads for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and immerse in an ice bath to retain their green color. Chop in large pieces and set aside. In a saute pan with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, saute onions and garlic on medium heat for approximately two minutes till just softened. Add tomatoes and saute for one more minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, nutmeg, half of chopped chives, salt and pepper.

Brush a deep dish pie plate with olive oil and place tortilla round on bottom. Add spinach and sprinkle with the rest of chives and herbs, tomato/onion mixture, asparagus or ramps and cheese. Add eggs and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until middle is just firm and slightly puffed.

 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates & Chestnuts

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For the freshest sprouts, seek out these green gems on the stalk.

I can’t get enough of these cruciferous veggies! When Brussel Sprouts are roasted with garlic, their flavor really pops.  The additional tastes and textures from chestnuts and pomegranate seeds really adds to this dish.  I highly recommend farm fresh slab bacon in this recipe, but if you can’t find it, try a natural Sunday bacon or pancetta instead.

And for gardeners, remember to harvest Brussel Sprouts after a frost or two. They are hardy enough to withstand the drop in temp which only adds to their sweetness.

1 Brussels sprout stalk (approx. 50 sprouts)
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 ounces farm bacon
1 large leek, chopped
1/2 cup chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Seeds from one-half of a pomegranate
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy skillet, cook bacon until crisp and let drain on paper towels. Trim sprouts from the stalk and cut each one in half, top to stem. In a large bowl, toss sprouts with 1/4 cup olive oil and garlic (a good quality garlic olive oil or garlic sea salt works in a pinch if you want to skip mincing garlic). Add sea salt and pepper to taste, and more oil if needed to throughly coat. Toss again.

Place on a baking sheet face down and roast for 5 minutes. Meanwhile in the same bowl, toss leeks and chestnuts with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkle over sprouts. Continue roasting until sprouts are soft and caramelized on the bottom. Top leaves will also brown and dry resembling parchment paper which adds to the texture and taste of the dish, although be careful not to over-roast or burn.

Remove from oven and toss with pomegranate seeds and crumbled bacon  in the baking sheet to warm up all ingredients. Transfer to a serving dish or platter and drizzle with an aged balsamic vinegar (I love fig balsamic vinegar on the dish). Serve.

Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Souffle

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Serve this as a sweet side dish with your Thanksgiving meal or as a dessert paired with vanilla coconut ice “cream” for an autumn treat.

This recipe is inspired by a Thanksgiving family favorite first made by my sis-in-law Abby (who probably found the original recipe in Gourmet magazine, but not sure).

Nonetheless, I’ve “freshened up” this dish by omitting butter, using gluten free flour along with non-dairy coconut milk and cut out refined sugar.

Maple syrup makes the souffle sweat – use a specialty maple syrup for an extra boost such as bourbon or vanilla bean, being mindful to adjust vanilla and almond extracts if needed. Top it all off with coconut palm sugar and pecans for a nutty crust.

Souffle
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons oat or gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Topping
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam potatoes on the top of a double boiler until tender. Transfer to a large bowl and whip with a hand mixer. Add olive oil, eggs, maple syrup, flour, vanilla and almond extract. Add milk. Beat until smooth.  If too watery, add a bit more flour. Place sweet potato mixture in an oiled souffle dish or several smaller ramekins. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of souffle. Bake large souffle for 1 hour or until set in the middle. Lessen baking time for smaller ramekins.

Smashed Turnips with Garlicky Spinach Greens

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This dish goes from ho-hum to delish with the added color and taste of garlicky spinach greens.

Rutabaga, more commonly referred to as a yellow turnip, is an autumn favorite root veggie with pairs well with olive oil instead of butter. Flavors are zapped up by cooking turnips in vegetable stock and adding freshly grated nutmeg. Milk or cream is cut out or add almond milk if you want some non-dairy creaminess.

1 yellow turnip (rutabaga)
32 ounces vegetable broth
1/4 cup plus 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup packed spinach
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Peel rutabaga, cut into cubes and place in a medium stockpot.  Add enough vegetable stock to cover the turnips and boil until tender. Drain liquid and smash turnips in the pot using a coarse masher for texture. Add nutmeg and olive oil and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. In a separate pan, saute garlic in 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil until softened.  Add spinach and saute until just wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir spinach into turnip mixture.

Roasted Butternut Squash over Wilted Arugula

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Sweet and savory with maple laced pecans and oven roasted butternut squash. Add crumbled feta or goat cheese for an extra layer of flavor.

Vibrant colors of orange and green make this dish a hit at any autumn harvest table. The added sweetness of a good quality balsamic vinegar (fig is nice) blends all the flavors together and tempers the peppery bite of the arugula.

Serve it as a salad or a side ….with what else? Turkey, of course.

2 – 3 cups cubed butternut squash
2 – 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, minced
1 bunch arugula
1/2 cup pecans
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
Balsamic vinegar (aged with syrupy consistency)
Optional: crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Split butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy fiber. Peel each half with a vegetable peeler and cut into cubes of similar size.

Place squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Toss  to evenly coat, adding more oil if needed. Sprinkle with garlic powder (I like Simply Organic’s finely granulated garlic powder). Salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender.  Some pieces should be caramelized from roasting in the pan.

Meanwhile, toss maple syrup and pecans in a heavy skillet on medium heat until syrup bubbles but does not burn. Remove and cool.

In large bowl, toss arugula with a very light coating of the Dijon Lemon Vinaigrette. Add red onion (scallions can be substituted as shown in the picture) and pecan. Place hot-out-of-the-oven squash on top of arugula and toss. Greens will unevenly wilt for nice texture. Add optional cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Flower Fritters

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Zucchini fritters or pancakes are great anytime!

The delicate zucchini flower can be used so many ways in the kitchen when these yellow beaties are brimming from the garden.

I go back to my Italian roots and make these fritters or pancakes  for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serve with extra grated cheese on top and marinara sauce on the side, if preferred.

With so many brands of gluten-free pancake mixes, use the one you like. Or use an all purpose gluten-free flour like Bob’s Red Mill and follow their suggested pancake recipe found on their website.

Optional recipe for large flowers: Omit the shredded zucchini and dip the whole flower in the batter, and make like a pancake.  Remember to first remove the thistle and any no-see-ums inside.

Of course, kids love eating “flower pancakes” with grated cheese on top so you may have to make a second batch!

2 cups gluten free pancake mix, prepared
3/4 cup zucchini, shredded
2 zucchini flowers, thistles removed and flower chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese, grated (optional)

Combine pancake batter, zucchini, zucchini flowers, basil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add shredded cheese if desired or save to sprinkle on top instead.

Coat the bottom of a cast iron or heavy skillet with olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Test a drop of batter on the skillet to determine desired heat to make perfect fritters which brown at the edges. Ladle batter onto skillet and brown on both sides.

 

Zucchini “Lasgna” Roll-Up

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Garden fresh Italian. One rollup makes a great appy, two make a meal!

When zucchini is bursting out of the garden or a nearby farm stand mid summer, make these pasta-less lasagna roll-ups.

It’s worth seeking out fresh sheep ricotta at your local farmer’s market. Heirloom tomatoes brings this dish up several notches from delish to fabulous!

1 large 0r 2 medium  zucchinis
granulated garlic powder
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups ricotta
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3-4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/8 teaspoon, nutmeg, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1-3 heirloom tomatoes, diced
aged balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Heat grill and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice zucchini 1/4 inch lengthwise. Brush with olive oil on both sides and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on hot grill and do not move to form grill marks. Flip after approximately 2 minutes and grill on the other side for 1 more minute. Remove and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta with parsley, 2 Tablespoons basil, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place heaping spoonfuls of ricotta on each zucchini slice making sure that the grill marks are on the bottom. Roll up to show grill marks.  Place in a greased oven proof  glass baking dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until ricotta filling is hot throughout.

Place diced heirloom tomatoes in individual shallow bowls and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Place a zucchini roll-up on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle the with chopped basil. Serve.

 

 

Savory Spring Oatmeal with Carmelized Onions

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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.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon

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A colorful side dish spiced with cinnamon

Local butternut squash and maple syrup are usually available this time of year at winter farmer’s markets popping up in many towns.  Drizzle syrup over oven roasted halves and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Or toss squash cubes with olive oil, syrup and cinnamon and roast till caramelized.

Ingredients
1- 3 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 8 cups)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or iron skillet, toss squash, EVOO, syrup and cinnamon to throughly coat, adding extra if needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your cubes or until a knife goes easily through the squash flesh. If the underside of the cubes have not caramelized and browned a bit, broil the tops for a few minutes, careful not to burn.  Serves 8.

Poached Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash

Waking up in darkness on winter solstice makes me want to brew a nice cup of tea first thing and enjoy a hardy breakfast while watching the sun rise.

Place a perfectly made farm fresh poached egg atop a simple hash of diced sweet potatoes (leave skins on if you choose), chopped onions, thyme, kosher salt and pepper to taste and you’ll have a wonderful sunny meal to wake up to.

To make the hash, place all ingredients (except the egg) into an iron skillet with olive oil and let the sweet potatoes caramelize a bit over medium to medium high heat to add flavor and some crunch. Stir often, careful not to burn the onions.

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Not just for breakfast, this hash makes a colorful side dish with any meal.

Break the egg over the hash and let the potatoes soak up the creamy yoke. Enjoy savoring every bite!