I’ve been working on eating more vegetarian meals, which is difficult when my husband gets disappointed when there isn’t some sort of animal on his plate. When I told him this freekeh, parsley and garbanzo bean salad was dinner, he said, “No feta cheese? Just this?”
Yes, just this.
I’ve been hearing a lot about freekeh lately. It seems to be the grain du jour—the quinoa of 2014 (quinoa is technically a seed, but I digress). Freekeh is green wheat; an ancient grain popular in the Middle East and North Africa. Harvested early, the moist grains are sun-dried, and then set on fire to burn off the chaff. The roasted grains are then beaten and cracked into uniform pieces.
It’s this early harvesting that is the key to freekeh’s nutrition, retaining more nutrients than grain allowed to fully mature. Freekeh has more protein, vitamins and minerals than brown rice, a low glycemic index and as much as four times the fiber as brown rice.
With all of the positive press, I had to give freekeh a try! It’s easy to cook—just like any grain; I simmered it on low heat in some water with a bay leaf added for flavor. The result was bland, with a texture softer than brown rice, but much like any grain–nothing extraordinary here. I allowed the freekeh to cool and tossed it in a salad with parsley, garbanzo beans, good olive oil and lemon.
This freekeh, parsley and garbanzo bean salad has all the flavors of tabouli—one of my favorite Middle Eastern salads. Garbanzo beans give the recipe more substance. They add a creamy mouth-feel that turns this salad into a main dish–without the addition of cheese. The mint and tomatoes are light and fresh. The texture of the freekeh is just perfect. After a few bites, even my husband was won over.
Give this recipe a shot for Meatless Monday—or meatless any day. You can find freekeh on many supermarket shelves or buy freekeh on Amazon.
In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together freekeh, beans, parsley, tomato, mint and green onion. Toss with the vinaigrette and taste. Season more to taste. Chill for half an hour before serving/
Cauliflower has been called one of the trendiest vegetables of 2014. Epicurious magazine called it the vegetable of 2013, so I guess it’s having a good run of popularity. The only reason I know this is because I’m wrapped up in the great big food blogosphere and keep track of these things.
I can honestly say I eat more cauliflower now than I ever did (not to be trendy–I know how to cook it now). I eat it in soups, like this roasted cauliflower soup. Its great mashed or in curries too, but cauliflower is at its best simply roasted with a dusting of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. I like cutting it in great big slabs before throwing it in the oven. It’s easy to do and so addicting, I’ve been guilty of eating it with my fingers while standing in the kitchen.
You can serve roasted cauliflower as an easy side dish with just about anything. It’s a great substitute for starchy potatoes and pairs well with both seafood and red meats. It also makes a great main dish, especially thick-cut and served as a “steak”. The nutty/sweet flavor it acquires from roasting is completely different than the tasteless, limply-steamed versions served up in restaurants around the country. If you passed on cauliflower before, this recipe will make you a believer.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 190° C
Wash and dry the cauliflower head. Using a large knife, slice through the entire cauliflower to make 1-inch thick slices. The ends will crumble into florets, but you should get 2-4 intact slices. Lay the slices and florets on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and optional spices. Turn cauliflower to coat in oil, seasoning both sides.
Place into preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven when the cauliflower is browned and the stems are easily pierced with a fork.
Fennel is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. It’s delicious raw in salads, like this fennel and apple slaw. It’s also incredible when roasted. It’s a little sweet with the texture of cooked celery. Roasting brings out a nutty flavor along with the subtle anise flavor fennel is known for.
This easy roasted fennel side dish takes only a few minutes to prepare. It’s one of those recipes to bring out when you don’t have a lot of time, but you still want to get a healthy, home cooked meal on the table. I usually make roasted fennel when I’m cooking a chicken. The carrots, onion, celery, potatoes and fennel all go in the bottom of the roasting pan and I cook the chicken on top. Our family (and guests) all look forward to “roasted chicken day” because it’s such a delicious meal.
When I’m not roasting a chicken, I use this recipe to roast fennel on its own. I like how the large quarters look on the plate (plus it’s less work). A simple toss in good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and you are done. When you use good ingredients, they don’t need a lot of preparation to taste amazing.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 190° C
Remove the fennel stems and any damaged outer stalks. Quarter each fennel bulb lengthwise, keeping the core intact. Drizzle the fennel with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Arrange the fennel on a baking sheet and cook in the oven, turning once, until lightly brown and crisp on the edges, 45 minutes to an hour.
Taste for seasoning and top with grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
The first time I ate Brussels sprouts that were really good was at a trendy restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard called The Federal, Food Drink and Provisions. It’s only a month later, and I’ve cooked them twice more at home, because they were that yummy.
The Federal is located in the recently designated historic district called, “MiMo,” short for Miami Modern Architecture. Located along the upper east side corridor of Biscayne Boulevard between 54th and 77th streets, this is an up-and-coming area for trendy shops and restaurants. Only a few years ago, this area was better-known for drug dealers and hookers, frequenting the seedy, modern-era motels. The motels now have a new coat of paint and (most) of the hookers are gone. Instead, there is a Farmer’s Market, and restaurants pop up faster than we can try them all.
South Pacific Motel Image: Historic Preservation Miami
The dinner at The Federal was a blur that night. We met another couple for an “adult” dinner with our tired baby in tow. I ended scarfing down what I could of a the prix fixe Miami Spice menu, in between wrangling a squirmy, screeching baby and sitting outside. The Federal isn’t a family-friendly restaurant. The restaurant only had one high chair and it was occupied. I’m not complaining. All restaurants don’t need to be baby-friendly. And I will return, sans baby, so I can actually enjoy the food. Apparently, we tried about ten dishes between the four of us, and nothing on the menu even looks familiar.
I do remember the Brussels sprouts. They were roasted in a molasses vinaigrette with pickled apples and onions. I remember them being almost black — or maybe it was just dark in the restaurant. I was on the fence about Brussels sprouts before, giving them a chance every year, but never really “loving” this cute little cabbage. Now, I’m in love.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 200° C
Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with pepper and half of the salt. Drizzle again with balsamic vinegar. Use your hands to toss until coated.
Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning 2 times during cooking. They should be nicely browned. Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with the remaining salt before serving.
One of the few pre-packaged baby foods my little one eats on a consistent basis is Happy Family’s organic Amaranth Ratatouille. It’s slightly textured with grains of quinoa and filled with yummy vegetables. I decided to make something similar at home and it tastes even better than the one in the store. This homemade baby food quinoa ratatouille is filled with zucchini, eggplant, sweet peppers, squash and tomato, with the addition of quinoa.
If you haven’t jumped on the quinoa train yet, making it for your baby is a good start. It cooks quickly and is full of protein, fiber, iron, antioxidants and other good-for-you stuff. The tiny seed is small enough for baby to eat, which is why you find it in many of my recipes, and in the store brands as well. Did you know The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Nations named 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa?” I just found that out.
Back to the ratatouille. This is the same dish featured in the movie by the same name, and the baby food version is yummy. I tried some, my husband tried some. Grandma would have eaten the whole bowl if we let her. It’s really flavorful and healthy too!
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, eggplant, sweet pepper, zucchini, tomato, tomato paste, quinoa and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa has "sprouted" and the vegetables are tender. Add more broth if necessary during cooking.
Remove from the heat and stir in fresh herbs and cheese. Puree in a food processor until you reach the desired consistency, adding additional vegetable broth or water if needed.
When I think of cauliflower dishes, I think of curries. Spicy curried cauliflower with tomatoes and coriander is one of my favorites. I actually prefer cauliflower to its more cabbage-y cousin, broccoli. It’s delicious and nutty when roasted, and I often use it in soups. I’m eager to try it in shaved in a salad (any recipes out there?). Cauliflower has a presence lacking in many veggies. There’s just something about it that makes me pause and consider before diving in.
This roasted cauliflower and almond soup is creamy and comforting, punctuated by the warm, earthy taste of cumin and floral coriander. The roasted cauliflower pairs beautifully with almonds, and the soup has a velvety, rich texture. You can easily make it vegan by substituting almond milk for the cream.
Epicurious magazine rated cauliflower the front runner vegetable for 2013. Yep. The lowly cauliflower is trendy, and you better start eating it before it becomes passe’. Its’ boring white façade can now be found at your local farmers market in bright purple and orange. No longer smothered in orange cheese, this nubby vegetable is making its way onto some sophisticated plates. Browsing the blogger sphere, I see it fried, pickled, frittered and jerked. It’s a popular substitute for cream, rice, eggs and even mashed potatoes. Endlessly versatile and delicious, cauliflower deserves its place in the spotlight. Now does anyone know where I go to nominate okra for 2014’s vegetable of the year?
If you don’t have heavy cream, a good substitute is sour cream or plain yogurt. Just thin the sour cream or yogurt out with milk and mix into the soup after you have removed the pan from the heat.
To make this recipe vegan, skip the heavy cream altogether and thin the soup with a little bit of unsweetened almond milk at the end.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Drizzle sliced cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of oil and arrange on a large cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 10-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is nicely browned.
Blanch the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes and drain. Rinse under cold water and pop off the skins,
Using a food processor, grind the almonds until they reach the texture of sand.
Saute onion, cumin and coriander in the remaining oil in a large stockpot. When the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the roasted cauliflower, almonds and stock to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered.
Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the cauliflower mixture. Add heavy cream and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with slivered almonds.