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/
This spicy Szechuan roasted okra recipe is super easy and perfect for spice lovers. I used a bottled Szechuan sauce you can find in any Asian grocery store isle and a sprinkling of crushed red peppers. You can leave the okra whole or slice them in half if you want more seasoning-to-okra ratio. They roast up beautiful and tender; even the larger ones that seem tough when boiled. As for the “slime” okra is famous for, you won’t even notice it when you roast them up. They are sweet and delicate and have a delicious okra flavor.
I was an okra lover before, but now, roasted okra is my new favorite snack. Okra has been available in my grocery store for the past month now, and I’ve been bringing a bunch home every week, trying new flavors and combinations.
So far, I made soy & garlic glazed okra. A Parmesan and garlic okra recipe will be posted soon. I can’t figure out which one is my favorite, but this recipe for spicy Szechuan okra was my husband’. He is not an okra fan, but he ate these like candy, so I must be doing something right! They make a great side dish or unique appetizer everyone will talk about. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/190 degrees C
Wash and dry okra. Cut off stems just above the line where the stem attaches to the body of the okra. Slice in half or leave whole.
Place the okra on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and Szechuan sauce. Toss with your hands to coat. Place into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning once. (If roasting whole okra, you may need another 5 minutes). Remove from the oven when okra is lightly browned and tender.
Toss with crushed red pepper flakes and salt (optional) to taste.
Roasting vegetables has become my “thing”. It’s my go-to for cooking just about anything–like this Burrata cheese and roasted vegetable stack– because the flavors are so good. When you roast something, the flavors intensify because the liquid is released and flavors concentrate. Very little fuss is needed beyond a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil to bring out the best in any vegetable.
The opposite happens when you boil or steam a vegetable. Do it too long, and you end up with a waterlogged, bland and floppy excuse for a veggie on your plate. No wonder so many people don’t like to eat their vegetables.
Whether you love to eat your vegetables or not, this recipe will blow your mind. There’s the creamy-sweet taste of eggplant, mild zucchini and yellow squash, and an intense zing from the tomato, all combined with deliriously-buttery Burrata cheese. Combine that with a drizzle of 18-year-old Balsamic vinegar and I guarantee clean plates. It’s a Meatless Monday (or any day) recipe everyone will love. I served mine with a side of angle hair pasta tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs. It’s that simple.
It’s also a meal you will pay a good amount of money for in a good restaurant. Instead, you get to eat your roasted vegetable & Burrata cheese stack in your pajamas on the couch, while catching up on past episodes of Game of Thrones. The baby is sleeping and your husband leans over to kiss your cheek saying, “kiss the cook,” because that’s what he does every time you cook a good (or bad) meal. Who could ask for more?
More roasted vegetable recipes:
Try this Burrata appetizer recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/190 degrees C
Slice the eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini into 1/2-inch discs, crosswise. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat.
Note: You may need to use two sheet pans to roast all of the vegetables depending on size. In that case, use more olive oil. The tomatoes release a lot of liquid, so it's best to cook them separately.
Place the vegetables in the oven to roast for 20 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove the vegetables from the oven when they are lightly browned and tender. The tomatoes should be shrunken in size and collapsed. Plate them warm, or allow to cool to room temperature.
Stack the vegetables on serving plates, alternating each type so you have 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of yellow squash, 1 tomato (or 4 cherry) and 1 green onion per plate.
Slice the Burrata in half and scoop onto the stack using a spoon. Drizzle the plate with balsamic vinegar.
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).
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.