Category Archives: Appetizers

Cucumber Salad with Tahini and Basil

My ridiculously successful cucumber season is coming to a close. I’ve eaten more cucumbers this summer than ever, and have given many away. But even still, I haven’t tired of them. I truly love cucumbers. And this year, thanks to the slightly lower temps (our usual never-ending stretch of triple digits only amounted to about two weeks so far), I’ve been able to grow cucumbers well into August. It also helps that I’ve been growing Armenian cucumbers – they seem to enjoy the heat. I will be a bit sad when they’re gone.

Before I am out of cucumbers, however, I wanted to make another unique cucumber salad. While most of my cucumbers have gone into light, refreshing salads (like this Watermelon Cucumber Salad), I wanted something creamy and a touch more substantial, but still cool and dairy-free.

Enter tahini.

I love tahini, but typically use it up making copious amounts of baba ganoush. Truth be told, the flavors in my baba ganoush were the inspiration for this salad. Tahini, lemon, garlic, and my favorite additions of cumin and smoked paprika were all at play here. But instead of my usual parsley, I swapped it out for basil. After all, that’s an herb that is also quite successful in my garden.

What resulted was a quick and easy salad that would pair perfectly with grilled chicken, some kabobs, or whatever you’d like to make for an upcoming Labor Day barbecue or picnic. It’s delicious even made a few hours in advance, and is allergy-friendly, so everyone can partake. Before summer is over for good, I highly suggest you find a reason to make this! It’s delightfully different.

Print Recipe

Cucumber Salad with Tahini and Basil (gluten-free, vegan)

About 1 lb cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 t kosher salt

3 T tahini

1 t lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

2 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1/4 t ground cumin

Pinch or two of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

3 T chopped fresh basil

Place the cucumber in a colander and toss with the salt. Allow to sit in the sink and drain while you prepare the dressing.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.

Rinse the cucumbers and allow to drain again. In a large bowl, stir together the cucumbers and tahini dressing until evenly coated. Add in the basil and stir again.

Serves 4.

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen my cucumbers. I’m growing Armenian cucumbers for the first time, and boy, are these things prolific. I love them. They seem to enjoy this Texas heat – they’re never bitter no matter how hot it gets. They are more mild than a typical cucumber, and ever-so-slightly sweet. But they certainly take over. I planted them in a 4 foot square raised bed, and they’ve filled that bed entirely, climbing up and over the trellis, nearly filling the neighboring bed and a good bit of the lawn all around. But because of their ease to grow, I’m definitely growing them again next year.

Meanwhile, however, I am accumulating cucumbers like nobody’s business. I’ve brought them to work and dumped them off on coworkers. I’ve given a few to my husband’s coworkers. People that show up at my house go home with at least one. I’ve even brought them to my soccer games, donating them to anyone who wants them. I’ve juiced them in my green juices. I’ve snacked on them, eating as much as I can handle. I love cucumbers. But even I can’t keep up – I still have two, each about 18 inches long, in the fridge right now. Good thing I also have watermelon – because that means this salad can be made.

This is one of the easiest salads I’ve made in a while. It’s only 5 ingredients. It’s lovely just snacked on by itself (which is what I did), or enjoyed along grilled chicken or fish. I love the perfectly refreshing combination of cucumber and watermelon, highlighted by the punch of basil. It’s bright and cool and the epitome of summer.

But seeing as how I’m still growing cucumbers, I think I’ll need more watermelon.

Print Recipe

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil (gluten-free, vegan)

3 c cubed seedless watermelon

1 1/2 c thinly sliced cucumber (if you don’t have Armenian cukes, English cucumbers will do)

1 T chopped fresh basil

2 t lemon juice

About 1/4 t kosher salt

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon, cucumber and basil with lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I love watermelon. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s cool, refreshing, and just screams summer. In fact, I love it so much that I am attempting to grow my own for the first time this year. I planted several starter plants in the spring, and watched as they grew and spread their vines ALL OVER my backyard. Seriously. It’s like a jungle back there, between the watermelon vines and cucumber vines. In spite of the fact that I’ve planted these in raised beds, they have overflowed and are taking over the lawn, making it so it’s impossible to mow in those areas.

Oh well. The things I do for yummy eats.

My real trouble is – I’m inexperienced in the watermelon-growing department. I have lots of watermelon babies. They’re growing (well, most of them – I had a few not make it past the softball stage and they went south…), but it seems to take forever. And as it turns out, it’s hard to tell when a watermelon is ripe to pick. In fact, I was eyeing the largest one with suspicion for a while, trying to decide when the time was right. I thumped it, listening for that “hollow” sound. Except every time I thump any watermelon, it always sounds hollow. Apparently I’m not good at hearing the ripeness. So I did more research, and found that once it ceases to grow larger, that’s another indicator. This one seemed to stop growing. Then I looked at the bottom, where the white spot is, and looked for yellow/cream color. I thought it was yellow enough, so I thought I was good to go. Hesitating a bit, I cut it.

Ta da, my first melon!

Only when I cut into it, it wasn’t ripe. It was slightly pink in the center, but definitely needed more time. Sigh. So what’s a girl to do when she’s killed off her first watermelon?

Make the most of it – use the rind for pickling!

I’ve never had or made pickled watermelon rind, but it’s something that’s always intrigued me. I mean, why not make the most of every part of summer’s favorite fruit? And I love just about anything pickled. So I gave it a go.

What resulted was something completely different than what I imagined. It’s sweet-tart, with lovely spice notes, reminiscent of the holidays somewhat. But it’s also amazing with smoked meats, making it a perfect compliment to summer barbecue. Mind you, you don’t need an unripe watermelon to make them either – the rind of any watermelon will work splendidly. Just peel the outer rind (this is easily accomplished just with a knife – just cut it away. No need to try to use some potato peeler, which seems more difficult than it should be.) and pickle away!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (gluten-free, vegan)

2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1″ square pieces

3 c sugar (I have not experimented with alternative sweeteners, but I imagine a lesser amount of honey or agave might work)

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar

3 whole cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch or two of salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the rind. Bring to medium-low heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and place the watermelon rinds into glass jars (I used 3 16 oz canning jars). Add sugar, vinegar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and salt to the same saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the rinds into the jars. Seal jars with lids and allow to cool. Chill and store in refrigerator.

 

 

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Before I went gluten-free, I would often treat myself to Vietnamese for lunch. A gigantic bowl of steaming pho and summer rolls could turn even the most difficult of days into a better one. There is something just so satisfying to me about the bold, in-your-face flavors of those two dishes. They’re addictive, but in a good way.

But after going gluten-free, I’ve had trouble finding a good pho shop. While many ingredients in both pho and summer rolls are gluten-free, there are still a lot of hurdles. The hoisin sauce often used in the pho is full of gluten. Who knows how they prepared the broth. And while most rice noodles are indeed made with just rice, some aren’t. So I usually opt to make my own.

Summer rolls, or salad rolls, are a fresh roll consisting of an assortment of vegetables, rice vermicelli, and possibly a meat or seafood, all wrapped up in rice paper, and served cold or at room temperature. They’re not deep fried like egg rolls. Not sure how they arrived at the name “summer roll”, but it fits – they are so perfect for a hot summer day. I could eat tons of them.  Like I said, they’re addictive.

These rolls take a bit of preparation, but once you have all of the ingredients ready, they’re fairly simple to assemble. And they keep well for a day or two, which is a nice bonus. They might keep longer, but I wouldn’t know – I’ve never had them last that long!

Print Recipe

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free)

For the rolls:

1/2 t fish sauce (can use gluten-free soy sauce instead)

1/2 t fresh lemongrass (can use lime zest instead)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

8 oz medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 oz dried rice vermicelli

16-18 round rice papers

1 head of green leaf lettuce, leaves separated and torn into 2-3 inch pieces

1 c julienned carrots

1 c julienned red bell pepper

1 c julienned cucumber

1 c julienned daikon radish

1 mango, cut into thin slivers

18-24 each mint leaves and basil leaves, or substitute with Thai basil, if you can find it

For the dipping sauce:

1 t olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced finely

3 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T honey

1 T chili garlic sauce

1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/4 c water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, grated lemongrass, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Marinate the shrimp for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water. Remove from heat, add the rice vermicelli and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat. Cook the shrimp in a single layer on the skillet for about 2 minutes, flip, and cook until shrimp is cooked through and pink, another 3 minutes or so. Remove and allow to cool a bit. When cool enough to handle, slice the shrimp through down the middle of its back.

Place about 1 inch of room temperature water in a large baking dish. Get all of your ingredients ready for assembly. Dip a rice paper in the water for about 2 seconds. Lift and allow water to drip off. Place on a clean, dry work surface. Blot off the top with a paper towel. (You’ll want to blot your work surface in between rolls as well)

Lay 3-4 halves of the shrimp in a line near the bottom third of the rice paper. Top with a leaf of lettuce, vermicelli, and the veggies and mango, topping with a mint leaf and basil leaf or two. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the roll tight, tucking the sides in periodically as you go, stopping halfway to tug back on the roll to tighten. Once rolled up, the paper will seal onto itself. Transfer roll to a platter and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients.

For the dipping sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add oil and garlic. Saute for a minute or until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well, until warm. If the sauce is too thick, add more water.

Makes about 4 servings.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Almond Dip

Sometimes, you just need a dip. Something to bring the crowd together. Something to munch on. Something to make your lunch a little more delightful. Whatever the reason, this dip might just be the answer. It’s smoky and creamy. It’s unique. It’s great with raw veggies, such as celery sticks or cucumber slices, but also delicious with tortilla chips or crackers.

What I also can appreciate about a recipe like this is that there is no cooking. Zero. Zilch. And when it’s hot outside, especially 100+ degrees hot, anything I can prepare without having to cook is a definite bonus. One could definitely make this part of a meal, along with some crackers, assorted pickles, and maybe something special like a terrine, and a glass of wine or a gluten-free beer. It also only takes a few minutes to whip up, so I would encourage you to do so at your first chance. It’s that good.

It’s safe to say, it’s my new favorite thing.

Well, as far as dips go, anyway. I’m sure I’ll have a new favorite next week. Until then, enjoy.

Print Recipe

Fire-Roasted Tomato Almond Dip (gluten-free, vegan)

1 c roasted, salted almonds

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes

Salt to taste (1/4-1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 t smoked paprika

3-4 T extra virgin olive oil

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground and starting to clump a bit. Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and paprika and continue to process until everything is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Turn the processor back on and drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to process until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with crackers, raw vegetables, chips, or even gluten-free bread. Makes 6-8 servings.

Join us tonight, July 1, at 8PM Eastern Time for a free LIVE CHAT where we will be discussing how to travel on a gluten-free diet. There will be prizes, courtesy of Udi’s!

Strawberry Salsa at The Balanced Platter

 

It’s berry season! At the farmer’s market, I’m finding tons of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries everywhere I turn. I try to exercise some restraint, but this past weekend, I came home with some of each. I consider it a victory – I haven’t come home with a dozen pints just yet.

Most of the time, I just open the fridge, and there the berries are, staring at me. They are usually just munched on a little at a time, every time the fridge is opened. (So, in other words, they’re there for like, three days, tops.) But once in a great while, they actually make it into a recipe. Most recently, they made it into some salsa.

Strawberry salsa? Why, yes! If you haven’t tried it before, you’re in for a real treat. You might just make it every week until strawberries are out of season. It’s that tasty.

Head on over to The Balanced Platter to check out my recipe for strawberry salsa!

Kettle Brand Chips – Gluten-Free and NonGMO


If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll start to realize that I am all about real, whole foods. It’s even in my logo – “real food recipes”. I love knowing my recipes are nourishing. I’m a proponent of eating local, organic, sustainable food when we can. I’m also most definitely not a fan of genetically modified foods.

I’m also no stranger to treats. I do eat sugar sometimes. I make gluten-free Ding Dongs, I make cookies, and I even fry things on a rare occasion. I’m a big believer that the only way to really keep a happy, healthy relationship with food is to allow yourself treats. Most of my treats I make myself, and they often are healthier version, but sometimes, a store-bought treat is needed.

That doesn’t mean I am left with only junk to eat though! Kettle Brand Chips are made with real, all-natural ingredients. They’re also the first potato chip to be verified by the NonGMO Project. While I would never go so far as to say that this qualifies potato chips as “health” food, it’s a treat I can definitely feel more comfortable with. Combine that with the fact that Kettle Chips are super-crunchy and delicious (I’ve long been a fan of Kettle Chips!), and I think that if I am looking for a little salty treat, I can reach for something like these.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips are also all gluten-free and processed in a gluten-free environment. (Their TIAS chips are gluten-free as well, but processed in a facility that makes gluten-containing products. Same with their nut butters.) I appreciate that they disclose this information, as it helps consumers like me make an informed decision. They also have been using non-GMO ingredients since they were founded in 1978. They have chips that are verified by the NonGMO Project. I’m glad that they are taking the steps necessary for this verification. I truly believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms – and amglad to see companies such as Kettle Brand Chips getting on board.

What are GMOs? GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, there are restrictions or bans on GMOs. For more info on GMOs, check out The NonGMO Project.

Of course, I’ll continue to eat (and share!) real-food recipes – that’s the way we live from day to day. But for special events or treats – for example, for a crawfish boil/barbecue party we’ll be hosting soon – I’ll have store-bought treats available as well. Kettle Brand Chips are definitely on that list!

Why are real ingredients important in your recipes?Share! Each reply will be entered for a chance to win $250.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kettle Brand. The opinions and text are all mine.

A Gluten-Free Mother’s Day Ebook

 

A Gluten-Free Mother's Day: Recipes for Moms by Moms from Attune Foods

Mother’s Day is on the horizon. Attune Foods wanted to help you make this year’s celebration extra special with a FREE ebook filled with recipes any mom would love.

They gathered eight incredible gluten-free, allergy-friendly mom food bloggers (including yours truly – and yes, I lumped myself into that “incredible” category – let’s just go with it…) and asked them each to develop a recipe to make the occasion deliciously memorable.

Within the pages A Gluten-Free Mother’s Day: Recipes for Moms by Moms, you’ll find gluten-free dishes with simple ingredients for breakfast in bed, brunch, recipes designed specifically for cooking with kids, and those you can make ahead of time. We’ve included something for every type of dietary restriction, too. Mom can choose her favorite and hand the recipe off to Dad, or she can bring her kids into the kitchen and let them help prepare a meal to celebrate her.

A Gluten Free Mother's Day from AttuneFoods.com

The recipes include:

  • Blueberry Breakfast Pudding with Granola Topping from Kim Lutz (vegan, tree nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free)
  • Turkey Strata Muffins with Orange Slices and Balsamic Glaze from Beth Hillson (tree nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free)
  • Corn Flake Quiche Lorraine from Karen Morgan (tree nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free)
  • Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Tart from Kelli Bronski (vegetarian, tree nut-free, peanut-free)
  • Blueberry Scones with Vanilla Lemon Sweet Cashew Cream and Homemade Blueberry Chia Seed Jam from Maggie Savage (vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, peanut-free)
  • Peanut Butter Crunch French Toast with Maple-Peanut Butter Syrup from Alta Mantsch (vegetarian, dairy-free, tree nut-free)
  • Chocolate or Carob Tart with Dairy-Free Whipped Topping from Adrienne Urban (vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free)
  • Strawberry Streusel Oatmeal Breakfast Cake from Kim Maes (vegetarian, dairy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free)

I’m delighted to be a part of the creation of this ebook. Download your FREE copy of A Gluten-Free Mother’s Day: Recipes for Moms by Moms, and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Radish Top Pesto with Walnuts and Hemp

Radish tops – have you ever eaten them?

Up until recently, it never occurred to me that you could. After all, when you visit the grocery and buy a typical bunch of radishes, the green tops are usually wilted and past their prime, and really, they don’t look the least bit appetizing. I just assumed they were something you threw away.

Once I started purchasing radishes from the farmer’s market, however, one of the farmers mentioned to me that the tops were delicious as well. Eat the tops?, I thought. What a novel concept. I sautéed them once or twice after then, but never really thought them anything special. I’d eat them, sure, but if I was to choose between them and another leafy green, chances are I’d choose arugula, kale, or chard over radish tops. But this weekend, I was faced with a huge bunch of radish tops after harvesting radishes from our garden. (A side note: If you are new to gardening, I suggest planting radishes. They’re easy, and they go from seed to harvest in what seems like record time. These took a little over a month.) They were better-looking radish tops than even most I’ve seen, even at the farmer’s markets. I’m not trying to brag on my gardening skills, which are far from spectacular; it’s just that they were perfectly green, healthy-looking, with no blemishes to speak of. I felt I really needed to highlight them, not just throw them in a skillet and sauté. So, I put a shout-out on Instagram and Twitter. After I received the suggestion from Ali at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen to throw it in smoothies, I made plans to add a good amount into my green juices. But I still had plenty left.

And then, like magic, it came to me. Why not make pesto? I’ve seen basil pesto (and have even made some), arugula pesto, and even kale pesto. Radish tops could be made into pesto too! The next thing I knew, the food processor was out and in a matter of minutes, this pesto was born.

This little condiment is a bit milder than a basil or arugula pesto – there isn’t that overly herbal or peppery bite to it. Instead, it adds a lovely freshness to anything it graces. It would be delicious in a sandwich, in a chicken salad, on top of eggs, in potato salad, on a burger, or as a dip for raw veggies. I could keep going. Basically, I think pesto could be added to everything. Because, well, why not?

If you happen upon some lovely radish tops this spring, don’t just toss them – give this pesto a try!

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto with Walnuts and Hemp (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

4 cups radish tops/greens, packed

1/4 c walnuts, toasted in a skillet

1/4 c hemp seeds/hemp hearts

1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes

1 T green garlic (young garlic – 1-2 cloves of regular garlic can be substituted), roughly chopped

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t black pepper

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Place radish tops, walnuts, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the leaves are broken down. With the processor going, drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until everything is pretty smooth and no large chunks remain. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Makes about 2/3 cup. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Roasted Beet “Hummus”

It’s no secret I love beets. I’ve proclaimed my love for them before. Well, here I am again, sharing yet another beet recipe with you all. But this one’s different. Yes, you still get that vibrant, amazing color, and yes, you still get all the nutritional benefit of beets, but this “hummus” has a more approachable flavor than some other beet-centric recipes. Dare I say, it’s one of those that could convert a beet-a-phobe!

Check out this recipe and more over at The Balanced Platter today!