Browsing Category: veggies

Mashed cauliflower – great low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes

pan-seared salmon on mashed cauliflower

Is there a comfort food more universally loved than mashed potatoes? A classic side for everything from meatloaf to fried chicken to Salisbury steak to Thanksgiving turkey, chances are, if you’re American, this was a regular on your dinner table growing up.

If you’re cutting back on carbs, though, you’ve got to either cut it out or restrict your serving to a tiny amount.

Cauliflower saves the day! I call it “cauli mash” for short. If you’re served this in a fancy-schmancy restaurant, they may call it “cauliflower puree.” Call it what you will, it’s yummy, and a great foil for a number of different dishes.

Besides the traditional ways to serve this dish, I love it under pan-seared salmon, shown in the main pic above. (Have you seen my video on how to make perfectly-done pan-seared salmon? It’s so much easier than it sounds!)

It’s also scrumptious as a side dish for pork chops.

mashed cauliflower side dish

 

And delicious under pulled pork or carnitas, topped with some cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

pulled pork over mashed cauliflower

cauliflower packageThe secret to getting a great texture in your cauli mash is four-fold: it must be cooked till soft, well-drained, mixed with a stick blender (unless you want it chunky), and have lots of added fat! It takes a few steps, but it’s not hard. Plus, this is a versatile side or base that goes with lots of things, and it keeps well in the fridge, so I always make enough for at least a couple meals. The 24-oz. bag is plenty to make at least six servings.

I use packaged fresh cauli already cut into florets, but if you want to save money and spend a little more time on prep, you can buy a whole head and cut it down yourself.cauliflower florets

Here’s my method…

Mashed cauliflower / cauliflower puree recipe

24 oz. of cauliflower florets

(you can include stem pieces, cut to much smaller than the florets)

1/4 cup butter or ghee*

1/4 cup sour cream (or non-dairy substitute)*

2 T. bacon fat*

2 T. cheese, your choice of cheddar or cream cheese (optional)*

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (if using coarse salt, double the amount)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/16 teaspoon dill (optional)

*See step 5, regarding the fats. It’s completely okay to adjust these to your liking.

  1. Cut the florets to somewhat-equal sized pieces, and steam them over simmering water until they can be easily sliced through with a plastic utensil, such as a spoon or spatula. I do a 24-oz. package in three batches. This ensures they steam more evenly, and helps with the next step.
  2. Drain them, press them, then dry them some more. I use the steamer section of my pan as a colander, holding it over the sink with the cooked cauli in it, gently pressing down with a large mixing spoon to force more water out. Don’t press too hard, or it will begin to mash and drip out the bottom.
  3. (Sometimes I skip this step; no big deal.) Then I put that batch in the mixing bowl and kind of spread it out, so more steam can escape. (I use the small mixing bowl from my mom’s vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster. Did your mom or grandma have one of these?)glass-mixing-bowl-300 A little bit before I’m ready to dump the next batch of cooked florets into the bowl, I reach in with a sturdy paper towel over my hand and give the steamed-out cauli a squeeze or two.
  4. Repeat till all the cauli is cooked and drained.
  5. Add the fat! You can tweak the amounts if you want less of one and more of the other, to adjust to your taste or dietary requirements.
  6. Blend well using a stick blender. Start at the top and press down while blending, then release the button and repeat again till it’s all starting to look the same. Then you can add your seasonings and blend everything together well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately, or store in a tightly-closed container in the fridge for several days. Reheats well in the microwave.

Serves 6-8.

Got leftovers? Make quick mini fritters.

what to make with leftover chicken - mini fritters

I picked up this idea from food writer Mark Bittman: he calls them “tiny pancakes.” (Here’s his original recipe.) It was born out of wanting to make himself something quick to eat, and finding some leftover scallops on hand. Don’t worry; you don’t need scallops to make this! Just about any leftovers will do, and you could do this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or brunch. Or appetizers. Or a midnight snack.

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BLT Salad with Avocado

Easy BLT salad with avocado - gluten-free, low-carb, paleo

This salad couldn’t be easier, and because it borrows the classic flavors of a BLT sandwich, what’s not to love?! Trust me: you won’t miss the bread. My hubs who’s usually all “meh” over salads even likes it! And because there’s no bread, this salad is gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb, Paleo, and Whole30 compliant. (Assuming you use compliant mayo and bacon.)

You could also add chopped cooked chicken to this and call it a one-dish meal!

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Amazin’ Asian sauce: stir-fry, broth bowl, & egg roll in a bowl

homemade stir-fry sauce, crack slaw

This started out just being a homemade stir-fry sauce, but I’ve found that the leftover stir-fry makes a great broth bowl (curry optional), and the sauce also works for egg roll in a bowl. (Sometimes also called “crack slaw” because it’s so addictive.) So it’s really an all-purpose Asian sauce: that’s what makes it amazin’!

You could, of course, also use it in a meatless main dish or veggie side dish. And made with tamari or coconut aminos, it’s gluten-free.

You might want to make a small batch, first, to figure out how you want to adapt it to your taste; feel free to improvise on my recipe! Then make a larger batch to keep on hand in the fridge for easy, throw-together meals.

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Green beans & pine nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

easy green bean side dish with nuts

This is one of my favorite veggie dishes, and if you’re looking for an easy green bean side dish, you found it! This is SO easy to throw together, I actually sometimes make it for a snack! (nom nom nom!)

But it feels just a bit more elegant than an everyday dish. There’s something about the mingling of these four simple ingredients that just works. And it goes great with so many main dishes: fish, grilled steak, pork chops, roasted chicken. Plus, if made with ghee, it’s Paleo and Whole30 friendly!

And when I say it’s simple to “throw together,” I mean it. You won’t need to dirty a single measuring cup or spoon!

green-beans-w-pine-nuts-oh-600x365

Green Beans and Pine Nuts (or Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts)
Serves 2; scale up as necessary

2 generous handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans

a splash or two of olive oil

a tablespoon or two of butter or ghee (just eyeball the amount)

1 handful of pine nuts — or your choice of slivered almonds, pecan or walnut pieces

several shakes of salt

If using fresh green beans, snap off the ends and break them into pieces of whatever length you like.

Pour water into a small saucepan, to a depth of about 1″; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. If they’re frozen, stir till the water returns to a boil. Turn the heat down a couple notches and simmer until the beans are done to your liking. Recommended: while they are still bright green, but pleasingly tender when you bite one.

Tip: To safely test whether they’re done to your liking, pull one out, lay it on a dish or cutting board, and tap it a couple times with the back of a spoon or another flat utensil, before you taste it. This will force out the steam that may be on the inside and keep you from burning your mouth!

Drain the beans and leave them in the colander for the moment. Return the saucepan to the heat and pour in a bit of olive oil; add the butter and the pine nuts to that. Stir over medium heat, until you can smell the pine nuts, or until they begin to turn toasty brown.

Add the beans back into the pan and stir to coat them with the sauce and the nuts. Add a little salt. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Antipasto salad

antipasto salad

quick easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad

Some of my favorite dishes come about as a result of being short on options. This antipasto salad that I had for lunch a couple days ago was one of those — a super quick, easy lunch!

It starts with me standing in front of the open fridge, thinking – Let’s see, what’s on hand? Mixed greens, Genoa salami, mini peppers, a block of Parm. Hmm, I could make an Italian salad out of that. Cut the salami in quarters, slice the peppers very thin, toss that together in a bowl. Shave in some Parmesan, using a vegetable peeler.

This Creamy Italian Dressing would have been nice, but since I didn’t have it on hand, I put 1 T. of red wine vinegar, 2 T. of olive oil, and a tiny squirt of dijon mustard in a baby food jar, and shook that up. Then decided some salt and pepper would be good, too, so added a few dashes of each, and shook it again. Instant vinaigrette!

instant vinaigrette for quick easy salad

Poured that over the salad, and tossed in some pine nuts. These add a bit of crunch and a little bit of sweetness. (If you like olives and have some on hand, that would be a good addition, too.)

Bonus: it’s Paleo-friendly, Whole30 compliant (without the Parm), sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb!

Pretty quick, easy lunch — and doggone good for five minutes and on-the-fly! So good, in fact, it will be showing up as a side dish at dinner tonight. 🙂

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quick, easy lunch; 5-minute antipasto salad