Saturday, December 25, 2010

Arugula, Avocado + Citrus Salad

This is a wonderful and simple winter salad right when citrus is at its peak. The almonds add a nice crunch and the olives a good salty bite that pairs well with the creamy avocado. 

Arugula, Avocado + Citrus Salad
Serves 2

1 bunch baby arugula, washed and dried
1 clementine, peeled, separated into segments and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 avocado, pitted and diced
black kalamata olives, sliced
slivered almonds, toasted
4 Tbsp, or more, extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

To make the dressing, combine the dijon mustard and the lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until it emulsifies. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the arugula, avocado and olives in a bowl. Toss with dressing and top with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Maple Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Shitake Mushrooms

I threw this dish together on a whim, so feel free to play with other flavor combinations that you think could work or that you might have on hand. I used this maple vinaigrette from a recent salad experiment and it complimented the flavors really well.  This hearty dish is perfect on a cold night. Serve with a fresh citrus and avocado salad or a shaved raw Brussels sprouts salad for a complete meal.

Maple Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Shitake Mushrooms
Serves 3-4 as a main dish

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup quinoa
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 onion, cut into small dice
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
handful of pine nuts, toasted 
handful of dried cranberries
4 Tbsp pure maple syrup
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread the butternut squash pieces out on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp of the maple syrup. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender (a fork should easily be able to slide in and out).

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa by dry toasting in a saucepan for a minute or so. Add 2 cups water and and pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

To make the dressing, combine 3 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp maple syrup in a bowl. Whisk in 4 Tbsp olive oil until combined. Add sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the garlic and onions and saute until just fragrant and the onions become translucent. Add in the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes. Then add the butternut squash, cranberries, and 1 cup of the quinoa. Stir to combine. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Spinach + Quinoa Salad with Pears, Chickpeas and Pecans

 'Tis the Season with warm, wintry flavors. I made this salad over the Thanksgiving weekend but it's festive enough to remain on your menu throughout the holidays. The bright cranberries adds a wonderful color, flavor and texture that compliments the nuttiness from the walnuts and protein punch from the quinoa and chickpeas. Drizzle with a maple vinaigrette for a seasonal touch.  You could use pears or apples in this recipe- either one will work.

Spinach + Quinoa Salad with Pears, Chickpeas and Pecans
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 cup quinoa 
2  handfuls of organic baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
1 large ripe pear, washed, stemmed and cored, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Freshly chopped parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Dry toast the quinoa in a saucepan for a few minutes. Add 2 cups fresh water and a pinch of sea salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

To make the dressing, combine the balsamic vinegar and pure maple syrup in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until combined. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Combine the spinach, pear, chickpeas, parsley cranberries and 1/2 of the quinoa in a bowl.  Fluff to combine. Pour on the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat, adding more quinoa if needed. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Just before serving, add the toasted pecans and lightly combine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Recipes!

It's that time of year again! I know I'm a bit behind on posting this, but here are a few of the dishes that made the table at this year's Thanksgiving. There were a lot of repeats from last year, like the Brussels Sprouts and Apples and the Warm Butternut Squash and Arugula, my mother-in-law's Wild Rice Salad, Oatmeal Crunch Apple Crisp...they've definitely become staples.  I did decide to give Pure Food and Wine's raw, vegan Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart a shot and we changed up my mother's traditional "candied yams" (or sweet potatoes with marshmallows and corn flakes, of course) to a slightly healthier version. These are all great ideas for your Christmas dinner in a few weeks!
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (or less if you're not a big ginger fan)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil  
1/2 cup marshmallows
1/2 cup corn flakes

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Oil a medium-sized casserole dish. Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with a fork and place in the oven for about an hour, until each is baked through (you should be able to slide a knife through the center flesh easily). Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, then cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a large mixing bowl and mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to. 

Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm, roughly 30 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the marshmallows and corn flakes, alternating each in diagonal rows. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until the marshmallows toast and brown slightly.
Pure Food and Wine's Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart
Serves 6

For the tart crust:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup fine almond flour
1/2 cup maple syrup crystals
1/4 cup coconut butter
pinch of sea salt

In a standard mixer with a paddle attachment, mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined into a dough. You can do this by hand as well, with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Press the dough evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill 1 hour or more.

For the ganache filling:
2 1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup coconut butter

Blend all of the filling ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste the ganache to make sure it's not grainy. If needed, blend further until completely smooth. Pour into the chilled tart crust. Place in the refrigerator to chill and set at least 3 hours.

For the vanilla cream:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours or more
1 cup coconut meat
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut butter
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt

Blend all the ingredients until completely smooth. Transfer to a separate container and refrigerate to chill and set, 2 hours or more.

Cut the tart into 12 slices (running the knife under hot water between each slice) and top each slice with a spoonful of the vanilla cream. I could not get enough of this!! Unbelievably decadent.