Category Archives: Vegetables

Creamy Eggplant-Tahini Pasta Sauce

eggplant pasta

Until this past week, when we had below-freezing temperatures, my eggplant was still producing. It was a late-bloomer, as I didn’t even get my first eggplant until September. But each one I grew was gorgeous. I know I’m tooting my own horn, but seriously, take a look:

eggplant

I’m pretty proud of that. Apparently, half-ignoring your garden makes purple globes of deliciousness.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to do with all of these eggplants. I made a Cheater’s Ratatouille a while back that was pretty delicious, but I’m the only one in the house that will eat a dish like that, and it was getting old. I wanted a way to enjoy the creamy texture of roasted eggplant, but also wanted to make it palatable to the eggplant-phobic members of the household.

I started to contemplate the wonders of baba ganoush. It’s creamy, garlicky, and luscious. I could eat a whole bowl of the stuff. Then I wondered – how would that luscious texture translate to a pasta sauce?

With a bit of coconut milk to thin, and a good, thorough blending to ensure a silky texture, this sauce was born. It’s creamy. It’s garlicky. It’s as satisfying as an alfredo sauce, only slightly more complex.

The sauce by itself is gluten-free and vegan, so if you’re not an eater of meat, then you could certainly serve it on gluten-free pasta and have a satisfying meal. I had some turkey thighs in the freezer, so I opted to cube the meat, brown it, and toss in with the sauce and pasta. You could also substitute chicken breasts or thighs with equally delicious results.

Part of me is sad to know this is the last eggplant of the season, but I was glad to enjoy it in a delicious, simple manner. An added bonus? The eggplant-phobe ate it. That’s a definite win.

Print Recipe

Creamy Eggplant-Tahini Pasta Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

1 large eggplant

1/3 c tahini (sesame seed paste)

scant 1 t kosher salt

2 T lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, mashed

1/8 t chile powder

1/8 t cumin powder

1/4 t smoked paprika

a half-bunch of flat-leaf parsley, plus a few tablespoons more, roughly chopped for garnish

About 1/4 c canned full-fat coconut milk

Preheat broiler of oven (or grill). Prick each eggplant with a fork several times. Char the outside of the eggplants all over under the broiler or on the grill until they look wilted, turning every few minutes.

Turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Place eggplants on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes. The eggplants should be completely soft.

Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and with a spoon, scrape out the pulp. Puree in a food processor, along with the remaining ingredients, until smooth. Scrape sauce into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking often, until warmed through. Adjust seasonings as necessary. If desired, stir in cooked turkey or chicken. Toss with pasta and serve.

Serves 4.

Cheater’s Ratatouille, or Pesto Zucchini, Tomato and Eggplant Bake

I love ratatouille. It’s an awesome dish that seems to just sing the highest notes of the end of summer and the start of fall. (Yes, I realize it’s now officially fall. Around here, however, it’s still in the mid-90s, and so it’s still very much feeling like summer.) It’s fresh, but comforting.

But alas, it takes some time. Especially if you want it to look pretty. (My recipe was more on the tasty side, less on the aesthetics.) Let’s face it – we don’t always have that kind of time.

That’s where this cheater’s version comes in. It’s not exactly ratatouille. It’s streamlined – just zucchini, tomato, and eggplant. Plus a not-so-secret ingredient:

Pesto.

I love to make pesto. It can be easily made dairy-free (like this Basil-Walnut Pesto) or you can go for the traditional basil, Parmesan, and pine nuts version. Or any version you desire, really. But often I make a great deal on the weekend, and then scramble to find ways to eat it up during the week. This “ratatouille” is one such way to make great use of pesto. If the pesto is already made, then it’s a cinch to put together – just layer the vegetables, smear some pesto in between layers, and pop in the oven.

Then, as soon as it’s not mouth-scalding hot, then devour!

So while it’s not a traditional ratatouille, it’s a flavor punch for sure. So call it ratatouille, or call it a pesto zucchini, tomato and eggplant bake if you prefer. Whatever you decide, be sure to call me to dinner when you make it.

Print Recipe

Cheater’s Ratatouille/Pesto Zucchini, Tomato and Eggplant Bake (gluten-free, dairy-free if using vegan pesto)

1/2 lb sliced zucchini

1/2 lb sliced tomato

1/2 lb sliced eggplant

Salt and pepper

1/2 c pesto (for vegan/dairy-free, try this Basil-Walnut Pesto)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Alternately layer zucchini, tomato slices, and eggplant in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and spread a few spoonfuls of pesto evenly over the vegetables. Repeat with another layer of vegetables, salt, and pesto. Keep repeating until you use all of the vegetables and pesto.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and bubbly.

 

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra

 

In late Texas summers, when it’s been hot and dry for weeks on end and the tomatoes and strawberries have long wilted under the sun, what’s still growing without fail? Okra.

And boy, how does it grow!? I just have a modest number of plants, but I go outside every afternoon to water, and find a handful of pods ready to be picked. It seems they appear almost overnight. A bud one day, a 3-inch okra pod the next. Not that I’m complaining. It gives me plenty to pickle, share with friends, and eat in all sorts of ways.

This time, I opted for grilled.

Grilling okra is a speedy way to get flavor into this unique veggie without making it slimy – a texture that often is off-putting to okra critics. It takes just a few minutes to do, and with a simple sauce brushed over, it’s divine. Especially when that sauce involves Sriracha.

If you have not become acquainted with the wonders of Sriracha sauce, I highly encourage you to seek it out. I’m not often a big proponent of store-bought sauces, but this is definitely an exception. It’s spicy and adds that perfect punch to just about anything – scrambled eggs, fried rice, and of course, pho. I’ve always wanted to make my own – one day I will – but until then, it’s the “rooster” sauce for me. Combined with lime and ghee in this quick sauce, it’s a bold wake-up for your taste buds, which pairs perfectly with mild okra. It’s quickly becoming my go-to way to prepare it.

Print Recipe

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra (gluten-free, casein-free)

About 20 tender pods okra

1 T Sriracha

Zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon)

Juice of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

1 T ghee, melted (can substitute vegan butter or coconut oil for dairy-free/vegan)

Salt to taste

Heat a grill to medium heat. Skewer the okra pods so that there is a little space in between each pod. In a small bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, lime zest, lime juice, and ghee. When the grill is hot, place the okra on the grill. Brush one side with the Sriracha mixture. Allow to grill until lightly browned/blackened in spots, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over and brush other side. Grill another 2 minutes or until browned and the okra pods are softened/tender. Flip once more and brush any remaining sauce over. Remove, salt to taste and serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

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.

Swiss Chard with Orange and Pepitas

Earlier this month, we did some renovations to our kitchen. For about a week, I was kitchenless. As in, I couldn’t cook. There were even two days where we could barely get water from the fridge. (Seriously. We had to tear away some plastic sheeting to get to the water and ice, and if I wanted into our pantry, I had to suck it in and squeeze between the fridge and the wall in what amounted to less than 10 inches of space.)  When we finally scheduled for the work to start, we only had about a day’s notice before I had to clean out the cabinets. I went into a state of half-panic. I would starve! I thought. After all, I pretty much prepare all of my meals myself. I didn’t have time to make much of anything in advance. How would I survive? Well, needless to say, I managed. I’m grateful for some trustworthy gluten-free restaurants and my arsenal of snacks that I stashed in my desk drawer at work. And now we are back in the new kitchen. Let me tell you, it’s awesome. I am so excited.

In fact, I’m so excited that I definitely need to take some photos for you and share. I have a few, and I’ve shared a bit on Instagram, but I really need to get some decent (read: non-iphone) photos for you! Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, my garden didn’t stop growing just because we weren’t cooking. In fact, the lettuces, radishes, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula and even some mizuna were all in need of harvesting. But I left them there, as I didn’t really have a way to wash or prepare them. Once we were back in business, I pulled radishes (some of which had grown to the size of golf balls!), cut what was left of the good lettuce (much of it has bolted), attempted to take control of the cucumber beetles, and harvested some of the Swiss chard for this easy little side dish.

Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens. It’s so pretty – especially the rainbow chard, with the colorful red, pink, yellow and white stems. It’s also milder in flavor than some other greens, and it cooks quickly – nearly as quickly as spinach. And the stems are tender, which is a bonus. I love munching on them raw. They have a texture somewhat similar to celery; crunchy and crisp.

This dish highlights that freshness that chard offers by throwing in a hit of citrus. It’s bright and light. I served it alongside some roasted chicken, but I imagine it would go extremely well with grilled pork, shrimp or any poultry. The pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds) add a nice crunch and nuttiness.

This recipe should serve 3-4; unless you’re me and love greens. In that case, I’d say it’s enough for 2.

Print Recipe

Swiss Chard with Orange and Pepitas (gluten-free, vegan, paleo, sugar-free)

1 T coconut oil

1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

Salt and pepper to taste

About 3 T raw pepitas, toasted in a dry skillet

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and sauté for a minute. Add the garlic and orange zest and sauté for another minute. Then add the leaves of the chard and stir, and add the orange juice. Cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to wilt for about a minute, then remove the lid and stir again. Allow the juice to reduce a little, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then remove the pan from the heat.

Serve with toasted pepitas sprinkled over.

Serves 3-4.

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes)

Okay, well, as you can tell by the photo, this sweet potato is stuffed with more than just that simple radish top pesto I made the other day. (See, I told you it was good for lots of things!) There’s all sorts of delicious, nutritious goodness stuffed in there – specifically black beans, shiitake mushrooms, and red bell peppers. It’s a filling, healthy, meatless mish-mash of flavor. Perfect for a quick little meal, or a side dish – whichever you prefer.

Never stuffed a sweet potato before? Well, don’t you fret – it’s not hard. In fact, this version of a stuffed sweet potato is just one of many (and exists merely as a result of my desire to utilize the available produce hanging out in my fridge). Hallie over at Daily Bites made a Broccoli and Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potato a while back, Gena from Choosing Raw has a super-healthy Kale and Quinoa version, and Kate from Eat, Recycle, Repeat shared a Bacon, Mushroom and Onion version as well as a sweet Chestnut, Apple and Coconut version over at Paleo Parents. Clearly, we love our sweet potatoes out there in the blogosphere!

Personally, I am partial to my version topped with my radish top pesto. That fresh, creamy pesto added a lovely flavor and texture that married all of the other ingredients together wonderfully. Back in the day, I would have reached for cheese as an easy way to achieve that result – now, it’s liberating to find new ways to combine flavors and textures and still satisfy the way cheese used to. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I miss cheese, but with flavors like this, those days are few and far between.

Next time you’re looking for an easy meal idea, try stuffing a sweet potato! This version, with smoky beans, sweet bell pepper, and the rich umami of the mushrooms, topped with pesto, is definitely a win in my book.

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes) (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

2 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender (bake in 375 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes)

1 T olive oil

8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14 oz can black beans (I like Eden Organic), drained

1 t ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Radish Top Pesto

Bake sweet potatoes. While they are baking, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute until the mushrooms soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or until garlic is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat black beans over medium-low heat, adding ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until warmed through.

Once sweet potatoes are baked through, cut a slit in each sweet potato. Open enough to expose a good amount of the flesh inside. Season with a bit of salt, and then top with mushroom-red pepper mixture and black beans. Finally, top with a healthy dollop of radish top pesto.

Serves 2.

Farmer’s Market Quinoa “Bibimbap”

While I know some of you might still be dealing with snow (even though it’s mid-April!), down in Texas, Spring is definitely here. The farmer’s markets have opened for the season, and they’re full of greens, asparagus, spring onions, carrots, beets, and more. There’s even some zucchini from East Texas. I didn’t hesitate to grab as much as we could possibly consume this week when I went this past Saturday, and possibly a little too much. I tend to get really ambitious when I see so much fresh produce, and I buy like there’s no tomorrow. Does anyone else have this issue?

Of course, in my usual fashion, I arrived home after my farmer’s market trip late in the morning, famished. I had to get something tasty in my belly that wouldn’t take a ton of time. With all the veggies in the house, and cravings lately for all sorts of Asian flavors, I suddenly had an idea strike. What if I made bibimbap?

Bibimbap is traditionally a popular Korean dish consisting of rice topped with a mixture of seasoned and/or cooked vegetables, and often beef and a raw or fried egg. The vegetables I’ve seen in bibimbap are typically cucumber, bean sprouts, carrots, daikon radish, spinach, and the like. I figured that I could take some liberty, and use what I had on hand (along with some quinoa instead of the traditional rice, just for fun) to make a unique version of this dish. I grabbed some of my wares from the farmer’s market: zucchini, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, green onions, and mizuna (Mizuna is a Japanese green, slightly peppery and spicy, although not as spicy as arugula. It’s one of my favorite greens). Next thing I knew, this new “bibimbap” was born.

This could be my new favorite Saturday meal, to be honest. It’s endlessly versatile and can be modifed throughout the season as different vegetables are available. It also helps take care of that “OMG, what will I do with all this stuff?” dilemma that so often accompanies a big farmer’s market purchase. And with an egg or two on top, plus a little Sriracha, how can you go wrong?

Print Recipe

Farmer’s Market Quinoa Bibimbap (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

1 c quinoa, rinsed

Sauteed shiitake mushrooms (see instructions below)

Sauteed asparagus (see instructions below)

Sauteed mizuna (see instructions below)

1 medium zucchini, cut into strips

2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips

1-2 T coconut oil

8 eggs

1 sheet toasted nori, crumbled

1/2 c chopped green onion

Kimchi

Additional wheat-free tamari

Sriracha

 

Prepare the quinoa as directed on the package. Once cooked, divide among 4 bowls. Prepare the shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and mizuna, and divide among the bowls. Divide zucchini and carrot strips among the bowls as well.

Wipe out the skillet used for sautéing vegetables and add coconut oil. Heat over medium heat. Fry eggs just until whites are set, 2 at a time, adding more oil as needed. Remove eggs and place on top of each bowl of quinoa and veggies.

Serve bowls with crumbled nori, green onion, kimchi, additional tamari, and Sriracha as desired.

For the mushrooms:

1 T coconut oil

1 t sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

½ lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 t wheat-free tamari

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil and sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are cooked through. Add tamari and toss to incorporate. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

For the asparagus:

Additional coconut oil as needed

2 c asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch lengths

Salt and pepper to taste

Using the same skillet, add a little additional oil if needed. Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus spears and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

For the mizuna:

Additional coconut oil as needed

1 bunch mizuna, leaves torn into pieces (can substitute spinach or another leafy green)

1 t wheat-free tamari

1 t sesame seeds

In the same skillet, add additional oil if needed. Once the oil is hot, add the mizuna and a splash of water and sauté for a minute, just until wilted. Add tamari and sesame seeds and toss. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

 

 

 

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!

Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free and Vegan) for So Delicious Recipe Contest

Who doesn’t love scalloped potatoes? While I’m not the biggest potato fan out there, (I could take or leave a regular baked potato, and mashed potatoes aren’t really a big deal to me. I know. What kind of crazy person am I?) I do love creamy, cheesy scalloped potatoes with their rich flavor and that lovely, browned top. But I can’t handle dairy anymore, so for the longest time, my life has been devoid of all scalloped potatoes.

That is, it was. This vegan scalloped potato recipe, now in my repertoire, is ready to go for all of those important meals (such as Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) or even for a nice Sunday dinner.

I’m sharing this recipe (and entering it into the So Delicious Recipe Contest) so that perhaps you, too, can enjoy scalloped potatoes once again, sans dairy. These potatoes are what you crave in scalloped potatoes – creamy, rich, golden brown on top. Full of flavor without being full of cheese. In fact, I think it’s time I find a reason to whip up another batch. If I’m nice, I might decide to share. The jury’s still out.

Print Recipe

Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

About 3 lbs gold potatoes (Yukon Gold works well) peeled and sliced thin ( I used a mandoline)

3/4 c So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk beverage

1 c vegetable broth (chicken broth can be used)

2 T vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

2 T arrowroot starch

2 T sweet white rice flour

2 T nutritional yeast flakes

½ t onion powder

¼ t garlic powder

½ t dry mustard powder

¼ t white pepper

¼ t nutmeg

3 T mayonnaise (vegan mayonnaise to keep it vegan; regular can be substituted)

¼ c white wine

1 T lemon juice

Salt to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish and set aside. (I used a dish that was 7X11 inches.)

Combine potatoes, coconut milk beverage and broth in a saucepan. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving milk mixture. (Use a sieve and a bowl underneath to catch the milk.)

Clean out saucepan and add vegan butter. Melt over medium heat and add in arrowroot starch and sweet white rice flour, whisking for 30 seconds or so, to cook the flour. Add back the milk mixture, the nutritional yeast flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, pepper, nutmeg, mayonnaise, and white wine. Continue to whisk until smooth. Continue heating and whisking until thickened. Remove from heat.

Layer about half of the potatoes in the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Pour half of the sauce over this layer. Press down the potatoes to make sure the sauce covers them all around. Add the remaining potatoes and pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Press again to ensure the sauce covers the potatoes.

Bake for an hour or until potatoes are browned on top and tender throughout. Serves 8.