Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs

Cauliflower isn't one of those "stand up and applaud" kinda veggies, is it? Not a lot of people like this cruciferous vegetable. It is so very healthy. Great for digestion & it fights against estrogenic compounds found in our food supply and environment. (These compounds are found in, among other things, soy products, food additives, pesticides, and hormones in factory farm raised animals. They are prevalent in our environment from pollution. These compounds wreak havoc on our health and will upset our delicate hormonal balance.) I know.. blah..blah...blah.... boring. And cauliflower can be boring depending on how it is prepared.

I love it oven- roasted. A lot of people mash it up and dress it like mashed potatoes. I never really got on board with that one. I think the roasting brings out the unique flavor of this "clean as a white sheet" in color vegetable. But, as always, please don't roast it to death. Only about 10 to 12 minutes tops in the oven. You still want the pure white color and you want it crispy... and you want to maintain all the nutrients.

In this recipe, normally I use fresh herbs.... but as it is a lazy Sunday afternoon... I reached for the dried herbs. They work really well, too.

As always, I DO organic as much as possible!

Let's get to it!

After preheating your oven to 450 degrees, you will need the following:

Roasting pan
one head of cauliflower
1.5 T. of garlic olive oil. (I make mine with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 6 to 8 cloves of garlic in the bottle)
1 T. Tarragon
1T. Rosemary
1T. Oregano
1/2t. black pepper

Break up the cauliflower into florets. Place in pan. Drizzle oil all over the top and toss until well coated. Bake for 5 minutes, then toss mixture and place back in oven for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Now, sprinkle herb mixture on top and gently toss. Place back in oven for a couple of minutes.

For those vegetarians out there.... you can sprinkle shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese over the top and toss around.

This is great to serve with baked sweet potatoes decorated with raisins and pecans and with a little drizzle of Agave over the potato.

This is what we are having for dinner tonight! I will probably add some steamed Brussel sprouts tossed in red pepper oil to complete this delicious meal.

For another roasted cauliflower variation..... I call it Confetti Cauliflower....... roast the same as above, use the same herbs, but sprinkle finely chopped red, yellow and orange bells all over the top of the cauliflower after you sprinkle the herbs. Roast for another 2 minutes. This makes a really brilliant looking dish... the bright colors against the white cauliflower.... very nice and very tasty!

Until Next Time......


Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweet Pear Guac

My my..... Spring has come to Texas. Our pasture is full of beautiful wildflowers the color of the rainbow. The post oak trees are budding out.. which for one in particular.. is a miracle. After two months of triple digit temps last year..... I knew that tree was doomed and dead. But the cool spring temps and bright sunshine.. along with a LOT of rain the past month... has brought the old tree back to life.

This has nothing to do with preparing guacamole.... but as I sit here at the computer looking out the window... I just had to enjoy the spring time beauty for a moment. Ok, back to the point of this blog!

Growing up in northern New Mexico, I was raised on guacamole..... and not just plain 'cados and tomatoes with a few peppers thrown in..... but on many flavorful and odd variations. This is one of my favorites. This is made with ripe, sweet pears. And the organic Bartlet pears right now are just heavenly! Sweet, juicy and so ripe!

The one I used in this recipe is as ripe as it can get without spoiling. And this is the pear you want in this guac. Take the sweetness of the pear, the "sting" of the fresh pressed garlic, your favorite salsa, the heat of fresh jalapenos or New Mexico Hatch green chiles and the tartness of the lime.... you've got an explosion of flavors in your mouth that is completely off that boring beaten path of restaurant guacamole. I was out of cilantro... or you would have seen some of that in it as well.

Try other fruits with your 'cados, too. Fresh, sweet, organic pineapple with a little cayenne pepper is so very good. As is organic green grapes and organic chopped pecans. Just let your imagination run wild... get creative with your next guacamole!
As always..... I DO organic as much as possible

This is so simple and so quick.... here is what you will need:

*couple of avocados, peeled and pitted. Sliced in half and placed in a dish

*1 medium sized soft, juicy lime

*couple cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped

*your favorite salsa. I make mine by tossing fresh tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, jalapenos, fresh garlic, fresh lime juice in a food processor. Very easy.

*1 medium size ripe and juicy pear, finely diced

Squeeze the lime juice all over the 'cados... soaking them.
Take a knife and fork or potato masher and smash up the 'cados. I like mine with chunks in it.
Add the garlic, about a tablespoon of salsa and mix.
Gently fold in the pear. And that's it!

You are ready to serve this with your favorite chip, cracker or sliced cukes, jicama, or carrot & celery sticks. This is also great to serve on top of your favorite Mexican dish.... Veg*n enchiladas, tacos, tamales. Or for you non-Veg*nz...... serve on grilled salmon, tilapia or shrimp!

Hope you enjoy this!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

My favorite part of the market is the produce section! I just LOVE all the wonderful varieties of fruits and veggies.... especially now that my local grocery has an awesome ORGANIC section! I have to admit, there are still a lot of veggies that I have not had the guts to try yet. For example this one squash. I always just walk past this gourd-like vegetable with a tough, hard shell. Well, once I stopped and picked up one just to look at it and feel it. I heard spaghetti squash was really tasty.... but I just thought it was too much work. I was under the impression that I had to use a hammer and chisel to break thru that hard skin and then, I had to try and peel it and then julienne it to make the spaghetti strips! LOL!!! Little did I know that preparing this jewel was much easier than I anticipated.

Vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, spaghetti squash, noodle squash, and squaghetti. All are name for a variety of squash or marrow (Cucurbita pepo) that looks like a small yellow watermelon, with flesh composed of long thin spaghetti-like strings. It averages 9 inches in length and may weigh 2 to 3 pounds. When cooked, the crisp, tender, spaghetti-like strands yield a mild lightly sweet and fresh taste. Keep in mind that the larger the vegetable, the thicker the strands and the more flavorful the taste.

I decided to pick up a squash this past weekend and "tackle" the preparation. I went online and found a great video that explains what to do with squash. I was happily surprised to see that after it is cooked.... the squash meat IS the spaghetti! Who knew? Certainly not me. LOL! I had so much fun making up this delicious pasta dish and the spaghetti squash really adds flavor, interest, and great texture. You can make it with your favorite veggies... and for you vegetarians... topping it off with your favorite shredded cheese would be delicious!

For this dish, I chose brocolini (baby broccoli,) orange bells, the spaghetti squash, TONS of garlic, spices and I tossed in some peas and carrots I had left over in the frig. And for my dish, I topped it off with chopped, fresh organic mango & served it up with some of my delicious oven roasted asparagus spears. Mmm Mmm Good!!! This turned out to be a beautiful dish in its presentation and so flavorful. You have the sharp spiciness of the garlic, the uniqueness of each spice and the sweetness from the mango. Really makes a nice combo.

If you’ve been reading my recipe blogs for awhile, you will remember how I feel about cooking the life outta vegetables. And SO many cooks do just that. They boil the color, the nutrients, the texture... literally.... the life outta the veggies. Personally, I never boil my veggies. I either steam them for a short 2 to 5 minutes depending on the veggie or oven roast them for a very short time. I like my veggies brilliantly bright with color, extra crispy and full of nutrients.

Ok, let's get started! And as always....... I DO ORGANIC as much as possible.

This is what you'll need:

About 3 cups of uncooked curly pasta. I used brown rice curly pasta for this dish, but you can use any kind.
1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 large orange bell, sliced in one inch slices
1 small bunch of brocolini, chopped one inch pieces
TONS of garlic
Pinch of fresh chopped rosemary, thyme and nutmeg
Chopped fresh mango
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large bunch of asparagus

Wash the squash and dry. Place in microwave oven on medium for 2 minutes, This will soften the shell so you can slice it open. Remove from microwave and place on wet cloth. This will secure the squash and make if safer when slicing it open with your BIG, sharp knife. Just slice it lengthwise. Then take a large spoon and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Place each half in a baking dish, sprinkle a little olive oil and black pepper over each half. Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. The squash is done when the shell is slightly soft and there is a little brown crust on top. When the squash has cooled, take a fork and begin pulling the pulp. You can see how it comes out like spaghetti! That is just the coolest thing ever!

Ok, now while the squash is baking for those 45 minutes, you can cook the pasta and set aside.

In a large sauté skillet, add some olive oil and TONS of pressed garlic. I used 4 to 5 cloves. Sauté over medium heat, but don't burn it. Add the brocolini & the orange bell and sauté just a minute or so. Then add one half of the squash and the pasta. Carefully toss till everything is coated with oil and now sprinkle the spices on top and gently toss again. Turn heat down to low, place lid on skillet and allow to steam for about one minute till hot.

Now, take the asparagus, cut off the ends, wash it and dry each piece as the olive oil will not work with wet asparagus. Place asparagus, single layer, in cookie sheet. Brush each one with either olive oil or garlic olive oil or basil olive oil, or roasted red pepper olive oil. Place in 400 degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes and it is ready! Look at that gorgeous brilliant bright green color!

Dish up a nice serving of pasta, top it off with the chopped mango and serve it up with your roasted asparagus. WOW!! Beautiful and deliciously healthy!

Until Next Time....


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Meet Up

The next Vision Voice Veg*n'z for the Brazos Valley meet-up is Wednesday, March 10th 6:30pm at Village Cafe. Our speaker is Jenn Atkins. She is a certified nutritional consultant, a massage therapist, and a student of herbology. The topic of discussion will be "Living Sustainably".

Right now, Franchesca Garza and Tuxedo Mask are watching over our group (and have done an awesome job) while I take a little break. I look forward to returning to the leadership position in late June.

I invite you to check out the groups blog as I have updated some of the upcoming events!

Until Next Time.....