Category Archives: Vegetables

Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomato Casserole and Meal Plan May 30-June 3

Hope those of you here in the United States enjoyed a wonderful long weekend. I know we did…but it goes by so fast!

Here is another version of the squash casserole I made the other day. I can’t decide, honestly, whether I like this one better than the previous one – but they were both satisfying and delicious. This one had a lovely combination of sweetness from the sun-dried tomatoes and freshness from the herbs. It took some considerable self-control not to eat the entire casserole in one sitting. I even enjoyed some of the leftovers for breakfast. (Of course, I’m a big fan of just about any tasty leftovers for breakfast!)

This week’s meal plan is somewhat short, and not quite as organized as usual. We’re eating a lot of what’s already on hand – we have some meat in the freezer, a lot of swiss chard that I pulled from the garden today, and the pantry holds quite a few goodies. In addition, we have activities that aren’t allowing for much in the way of dinner preparation time. So while I’ve written down a few things, it’s mostly a chance for me to wing it a bit.

Monday:

Breakfast: Teff and Millet Pancakes (I thought they were pretty tasty, but the family didn’t agree. Still trying to come up with a whole grain pancake recipe that everyone else likes!), fruit smoothies

Dinner: Shepherd’s Pie (made with slow-cooked shredded lamb shoulder), Sauteed Swiss Chard (without onion, but with a bit of carrot and celery)

Also making hard-boiled eggs and beef jerky for the coming week

Tuesday:

Breakfast: leftover pancakes with nut butter, 1/2 banana, and maple syrup

Lunch: leftover shepherd’s pie, swiss chard

Dinner: grilled chicken on salad

Wednesday:

Breakfast: gluten-free cornflakes with almond milk, raspberries, hard-boiled egg

Lunch: grilled chicken with salad

Dinner: Quinoa pizza with spinach or swiss chard

Thursday:

Breakfast: green smoothie with spinach, pineapple, and mint

Lunch: leftover pizza

Dinner: Lettuce wraps (made with turkey, and omitting oyster sauce, using gluten-free soy sauce)

Friday:

Breakfast: gluten-free cornflakes with almond milk, banana, hard-boiled egg

Lunch: leftovers or egg or tuna salad sandwich with gluten-free bread, baby carrots, celery sticks

Dinner: the husband might be in charge of this one for the kids, as I have a soccer game during dinner time

Snacks include baby carrots, oranges, Tanka bars, and brown rice cakes

 

Alright, I’ve kept you long enough. Here’s the zucchini and sun-dried tomato casserole!

Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomato Casserole

2 T olive oil

4 c sliced zucchini

1 t chopped fresh sage

1 T chopped fresh parsley

½ t chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ c soaked and chopped sun-dried tomatoes

½ t smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T ghee or olive oil

¼ c almond flour

½ c cheddar cheese alternative (I used Daiya)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish and set aside.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Saute zucchini for about 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Add herbs and sun-dried tomatoes and continue to sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a paper towel, squeeze the excess juice from the vegetables (otherwise, you’ll end up with a wetter casserole than you desire) Transfer the vegetables to the casserole dish. Top with Daiya cheese.

Melt the ghee in a small microwaveable bowl for 30-45 seconds. Combine ghee and almond flour along with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Blend together with a spoon until crumbly. Spread over the Daiya evenly.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

This meal plan post is linked to Gluten-Free Menu Swap over at Celiacs In The House.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Meal Plans, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Cucumber Herb Salad

Salads are an area where I tend to have a “kitchen sink” mentality. The more vegetables, the better – I tend to throw in anything and everything that looks fresh and tastes good. More than one type of greens? Check. Radishes? Check. Tomatoes? Check. Cucumbers? Why not? Sometimes, even squash, olives, pumpkin seeds, picked peppers, and pickled okra all show up in the salad. And with some source of protein, such as grilled chicken, steak, or beans, these are good salads for meals (I’m enjoying such a version today for lunch, in fact), but they’re not really composed. There’s something to be said for a lovely salad that is restrained and highlights just a few fresh ingredients.

That’s precisely what this salad does. It’s not fancy, and it takes practically no time. Just some fresh cucumber, chopped fresh herbs, a bit of vinegar and salt, and what arises is a refreshing, light accompaniment to a meal. I loved how bright it was (we enjoyed this alongside a creamy pasta dish with sausage, which was heavy), and it didn’t hurt that it was a very low-calorie way to add some interest. I definitely need to remind myself how enjoyable a salad like this can be, especially as the temperatures start rising in the next few months!

Cucumber Herb Salad

5-6 Kirby cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 T chopped fresh mint leaves

1 t chopped fresh tarragon

1 T rice wine vinegar

Pinch or two of salt

Toss the cucumber slices with the herbs, vinegar, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

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Squash and Chard Casserole

Do you remember squash casserole? If you’re from the South, it’s likely you’ve had it before (or quite often) – a cheesy, buttery, creamy casserole filled with squash that has been cooked within an inch of its life, topped with buttery crumbs. I didn’t grow up eating such a casserole (my parents aren’t from the South), but I definitely enjoyed it a time or two, typically in local diners that also served other Southern favorites, such as fried okra, chicken-fried steak, collard greens (with lots of ham or bacon), grits, and lots of biscuits and gravy. While tasty, it’s definitely not something that is friendly on the waistline or to those of us with gluten and dairy issues.

I’d forgotten about squash casserole, truth be told, until Sunday evening, when I was staring down some fresh yellow squash I’d picked up at the farmer’s market. I had unimaginative plans for it as a side dish for roasted chicken, figuring I’d saute it just until tender, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and call it good. But then, out of nowhere, squash casserole popped into my head. Also faced with an overabundance of swiss chard from my garden, the wheels started turning. I could make a squash casserole that would be tasty, but not a guilty pleasure. Something that could still be considered a vegetable. It could be possible to make something gluten-free, casein-free, and even low FODMAP-friendly.

And so this dish was born. It was still creamy from the Daiya cheese I used to top it, but not overly so. The vegetables were tender, but not overcooked. There was still a buttery flavor from the “crumb” topping. The chipotle chile powder added a lovely boost of flavor, so you really felt like you had a treat without a bunch of heaviness. I even enjoyed some leftovers for breakfast. As squash season hasn’t even really begun yet, I’m sure this won’t be the last time this dish graces our dinner table.

Squash and Chard Casserole (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free)

1 bunch swiss chard

2 T olive oil

3 c sliced yellow squash

½ t chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c Daiya cheddar cheese (or other vegan cheese alternative)

1 T ghee or olive oil (if you can’t tolerate ghee or prefer to make this vegan)

¼ c almond flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish (mine was an oval one about 9″X6″) and set aside.

Cut the swiss chard leaves from the stalks. Thinly slice the stalks and set aside, and chop the leaves.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Saute yellow squash and the swiss chard stalks for about 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Add swiss chard leaves and sauté until wilted, another 2-3 minutes. Season with chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper to taste. Using a paper towel, squeeze the excess juice from the vegetables (otherwise, you’ll end up with a wetter casserole than you desire.) Transfer the vegetables to the casserole dish. Top with Daiya cheese.

Melt the ghee in a small microwaveable bowl for 30-45 seconds. Combine ghee and almond flour along with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Blend together with a spoon until crumbly. Spread over the Daiya evenly.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw

I love spring. While I’m really not fond of knowing that our unrelenting Texas heat is just around the corner, I feel like the bounty of fresh produce that starts arriving in the farmers markets makes up for it. As I mentioned before, it just seems like I become inspired with fresh, quality food. Like kohlrabi. I picked some up from Good Earth Organic Farm (this makes twice now, actually, and I plan on getting more tomorrow morning!), and used the greens in smoothies (the greens are mild on these kohlrabi, so they work well in smoothies!). But I wanted to do something special with the kohlrabi themselves. I love it raw – it’s crunchy and relatively mild, kind of like jicama and broccoli stems rolled into one. (If you can imagine that…) I poked around for some ideas on how to highlight that crunchy flavor, and came across a slaw over at A Veggie Venture. (A hint – if you ever are at a loss for vegetable ideas, check out her blog. She has so many wonderful ways to cook countless numbers of vegetables.) Of course, I’d have to make it dairy-free, but that came easily enough, with the help of a bit of coconut milk.  I had some Fuji apples lying around, so I brought out my mandolin slicer (which makes quick work of the kohlrabi and apple, but you can use the shredder on your food processor or cut it by hand if you’d prefer) and went to town.

Within a few minutes, I tossed everything together, and stuck it in the fridge to cool for a bit, but I already knew the verdict: it was delicious. Cool, creamy, crunchy, and sweet – this was definitely a different slaw than those vinegar-heavy or mayonnaise-laden varieties, and I loved it. The parsley and mint heightened the freshness of the slaw. I enjoyed a generous helping as a side dish, and also loved it atop some mizuna as a salad, where the spiciness of the greens could contrast the cool and sweet slaw. I’ve made this twice already in two weeks – and fully intend to make it a third time, for Easter dinner, alongside a ham.

Dairy-Free Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw, adapted from A Veggie Venture

1/4 c coconut milk

1 T tahini

3 T lemon juice

1/2 T dijon mustard

1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 T chopped mint

1/2 t honey (you can use agave nectar to make it vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste

3 kohlrabi (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into batons (or shredded)

2 Fuji apples (Granny Smith would also be good here), cut into batons (or shredded)

Combine everything except the kohlrabi and apples in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Cut the kohlrabi and apples and toss immediately in the dressing (if you wait, the apples will start to brown). Adjust seasoning as needed, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Simple Sauteed Swiss Chard

Many, many of the recipes on this blog aren’t simple. I know that. It might lead one to believe that I endlessly slave in the kitchen, making intricate things with lots of ingredients, every night of the week. Truth is, while I’d love to spend all day in the kitchen, reality (a.k.a. chores, errands, projects, a full-time job, step-kids, or otherwise life) gets in the way. (It’s just that when I do spend all day in the kitchen, and something comes out well, I want to share it with you!) So on those hectic days, when I’ve just stepped in the door after commuting for over an hour from the office, I rely on fresh ingredients, prepared as simply as possible, to provide us a nutritious meal (and keep my sanity in check). Many times, this means some sort of quick-cooking protein such as chicken, fish, or the occasional steak (or even leftover protein from the day before, if I’ve planned well), and a variety of vegetables, such as baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, a tossed salad, or sauteed greens, such as collards, kale, or swiss chard.

Swiss chard has to be one of my favorite greens. That’s saying a lot, since I love greens of just about every kind, and eat them nearly every day. To me, swiss chard is slightly sweet, and doesn’t need much adornment, particularly when it’s at the peak of freshness. This particular chard in the photo was as fresh as one can get – I picked it from my garden. I’d never planted chard before, so I was excited to watch it grow and flourish (I’m pretty much a novice gardener). There’s something about eating something you’ve grown yourself. It nearly always tastes better, simply because of its freshness. But there’s more to it than that. It’s as if it deserves much more respect, care, and love than any “other” vegetable. It’s almost like it’s your “baby”, if that makes sense. While I’m still learning a lot about how to grow vegetables, I love the experience, from preparing the soil, to planting the seeds, to caring for them until it’s time to harvest and enjoy. It connects me to the Earth, to the seasons, to nature. I feel balanced and at peace.

But you came to read about swiss chard. So here you go. Like the title suggests, this is a simple, easy recipe, and I enjoy chard and other greens in much the same manner several times a week. A bit of onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper, and your greens are ready for your enjoyment as a delicious, simple side. Feel free to use other greens in this recipe as well – collards substitute well here.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

1 T olive oil

1/4 c chopped yellow onion

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 large bunch of swiss chard, rinsed well and stems and leaves chopped

pinch crushed red pepper

2 T water

salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add swiss chard and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute. Add water and cover pan, and allow to “steam” for another 2-3 minutes, or until swiss chard is wilted and the leaves are bright green. Remove the lid and season to taste with salt.

Serves 3-4.

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Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Gluten Free For Good and Sauteed Lettuce and Brown Rice Bowl

This month, Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger kind of snuck up on me. Lexie at Lexie’s Kitchen was hosting, and I read her announcement a week ago. I realized I hadn’t picked a blogger to adopt, and I knew that I was going to be swamped with a training class for work all week, leaving next to no time to cook. I really wanted to adopt Melissa at Gluten Free For Good, so I started scouring her site for recipes. I’ve made a version of her red chile enchilada pizza before with Udi’s crust (a deliciously evil treat!), but I didn’t have time for that. A long while back, I’d made a version of her sweet and spicy moroccan stew, and the warming spice blend in that recipe really tugged at me, but there was no time for that either. And then I came across her sauteed lettuce and brown rice bowl. I had lots of leftover romaine lettuce in the fridge that needed to be eaten, and while I was regularly incorporating it into green smoothies (a great alternative to the in-a-hotel conference/training breakfast, which usually consists of some variety of pastry or donut – while everyone else was likely crashing from an overload of sugar, my brain was primed with a nutrient-rich breakfast), there was more available than I could feasibly blend before it went bad. I decided that I’d whip up this recipe one evening for dinner – it wasn’t complicated, and it came together very quickly.

I already had cooked brown rice in the fridge (this is an often occurrence for me), so preparation simply consisted of chopping a bit of vegetables. I omitted the cheese in the recipe to make it dairy-free, but generously topped it with toasted sunflower seeds and some chopped parsley. It was a light dish, with a bit of crunch left in the ribs of the lettuce, but the wilted portions were silky and gave the dish a lovely textural contrast. The sesame seed (gomasio) topping really elevated the dish, reminding me of a lighter version of an Asian-style sauteed bok choy or other green. I enjoyed the leftovers the following morning, cold, topped with a bit of cold sliced egg omelette. Delightful, and it kept my belly happy all morning.

Melissa’s blog is one that I always enjoy reading. She shares recipes, sure, but perhaps even more valuable are her nutritional and health-based stories. I loved her “fuzz” post – worthwhile reading for anyone looking to keep their bodies free from stiffness and inflammation and generally happy and healthy. And her “does my butt look big” post was not only entertaining, but so much so that I couldn’t help but share with my husband. (who responded with a non-chalant “yeah, I already knew that” type of response – as if he always knew his “big-butt” wife was smart. I didn’t complain.) Melissa is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to health, nutrition, fitness, but most importantly, overall well-being, and she has a knack for making this information readily available to the average Joe. I still have more of Melissa’s recipes that I’d love to try – her pumpkin pecan boyfriend bait being my first choice. (I’m a sucker for anything pecan.) Soon, I hope, this will appear in my kitchen – because for me, pumpkin and pecan are year-round good!

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Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup)

Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.

Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.

I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food

2 T olive oil

2 medium white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 t sea salt

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)

2 t sugar

5-6 basil leaves

2 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1 t ground black pepper

1 qt vegetable broth

5-6 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.

At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.

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