Quinoa Pilaf with Lemons, Shallots, and Herbs

1–2 shallots ( or 1/4 of an onion) – very thinly sliced – see notes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed, drained ( rinsing removes bitterness)
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use 1–2 minced garlic cloves with the shallot)
1 teaspoon dried oregano ( or italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence, or similar)

Garnish:

lemon zest from one small lemon,
sprinkling of fresh herbs ( italian parsley, dill, basil, cilantro)
2 tablespoons slivered almonds ( optional- other nuts & seeds are ok, or just leave off)
sautéed shallot ( see notes) or crispy shallots
drizzle of good olive oil– optional but good.

In a medium pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallot in the oil, until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. If you want, set half aside for the garnish. Add rinsed/drained quinoa, water, salt, cumin, granulated garlic and dried herbs, and give a good stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover well, and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see that quinoa has soaked up all the water. If not, continue cooking 2-5 more minutes. If it has, turn heat off and let it sit covered 5-10 more minutes.

Fluff with a fork, place in a serving bowl and toss gently with lemon zest, sprinkle with fresh herbs and, sauted shallots and optional nuts. Don’t over mix.

For extra richness a drizzle of good quality olive oil is really nice touch.

notes

When serving this as a side dish all on its own, I like to use two sautéed shallots, half for cooking with the quinoa, and the other half for sprinkling over the top as a garnish. If batch cooking for the week, you may not need the garnish.
Rinsing the quinoa is imperative. It really does help remove the bitterness.
If making a smaller batch or bigger batch, my general ratio of water to quinoa = 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water.

Play around with this and embellish it as you please.

A easy way to turn this quinoa into a meal….is to serve it with simple roasted veggies and tahini sauce. Or these roasted parsnips! Add this make-ahead kale salad if you like. It really doesn’t have to be complicated! Simple real food -the best kinds of meals!

Perfect for meal prepping and batch cooking!

Chicken Soup (with Slow Cooker and Pressure Cooker Variations)

1–2 tablespoons olive oil
one large onion, diced (or sub 2 fat shallots, or two leeks)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
4–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped (I like 8)
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or use regular)
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless ( or use breasts- if very large, cut in half)
——–
lemon juice to taste
pinch chili flakes
scallions, cilantro or Italian parsley
drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional, tasty)

Optional: 2-3 cups of cooked grain or starch of your choice like… Quinoa, rice or soba noodles, pasta, rice, 1 can whitebeans.

STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat oil in a big pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to med- low and continue sauteeing until golden, 3-4 more minutes.

Add the chicken stock, water, salt, white pepper, bay leaves and skinless chicken. Bring to a boil. Cover, and lower heat so it’s gently simmering, covered for 20 mintues. If using breasts, check at 15.

Test a piece of chicken for doneness by pulling meat apart with two forks. It should come apart easily and look opaque. If done, shred the rest of the chicken, then return to the pot and simmer gently for 5 more minutes.

Squeeze with lemon, taste and adjust broth. You can add more salt of needed, or if too salty for your taste, water down with a little water. I prefer ours salty, lemony and unctuous, especially if adding a starch (like rice, noodles or beans) which will temper the salt quite a bit. Up to you. If the soup tastes bland, it needs salt.

Ladle it over cooked rice or noodles or just on it’s own.

Garnish with scallions or cilantro (or both) a drizzle of sesame oil if you like and chili flakes (or chili paste or sriracha). Or you could add some cooked or leftover rice or quinoa. You could add white beans or cooked pasta.

Or if going low-carb- leave all the starch and grains out keep it simple and keto-friendly. Cauliflower rice would also work well here too!

Notes:

Soup will keep 4 days in the fridge, or freeze.

You could ladle it over a mound of rice noodles, then finish with sesame oil, sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro

Feel free to add 1/2 cup rice or quinoa to simmering soup. Or add a can of whitebeans. You can also add pasta ( about 4 ounces) but I prefer to cook pasta and rice noodles separate and ladel the soup overtop cooked noodles. Up to you. Feel free to toss in veggies, kale, spinach, etc.

Instant Pot: Set Instant pot to “saute” function and heat the oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger and saute 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add broth, water, salt, pepper, bay, white pepper and chicken thighs, give a stir. Pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. (If using breasts, pressure cook 8-10 minutes depending on size). Manually release. Shred chicken with two forks. Season with lemon juice. Taste, adust salt. Follow the rest of the instuctions above.

For a slow cooker version, cook as stated above then cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on High for 3 hours.

Quick Pickled Zucchini and Summer Squash

1 lb patty pan, crookneck or zucchini squash-or enough to fill four small 4 oz jars- (pick squash no bigger in diameter than the width of the jars you will be using).
1 small onion or shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon salt
1 garlic clove, sliced – per jar
1 T fresh dill -per jar
1 tsp mustard seeds– per jar
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns– per jar
1 small red chile, sliced thin

Pickling Liquid

1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar (or sub more white vinegar)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Using a mandolin, carefully slice the summer squash. If using a knife, make sure to cut pieces as evenly as possible, to the same thickness. Thicker slices will result in a crunchier pickle. Paper-thin will be softer.

Slice the small onion, or shallot. Toss both onion and squash in a bowl with a tablespoon of salt and let drain in a colander or strainer over a bowl for 2 hours or overnight. Pat dry.

Make the pickling solution: In a small pot, bring white wine vinegar, water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves, let cool slightly.

In each 4 oz jar, add about a tablespoon of fresh dill, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, a few slices of chile pepper and sliced garlic cloves. You could also try experimenting with other seeds like whole coriander, cumin, or fennel seed. Then layer the squash and onion in jars, and top off with the pickling liquid.

Press down on the squash. Seal, and let cool in the fridge.

notes

These will keep for up to 2-3 weeks.

Harissa Paste (Regular and Quick)

4 oz dried chilies – (an assortment mild, med, hot, smoked)
6–8 garlic cloves
1 T cumin seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 T coriander seeds
3 T olive oil
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 T fresh lemon juice ( or finely minced preserved lemon, and you can add more to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika ( optional)

Bring chilies to a boil in a large pot of water, turn heat off, cover, let sit 1 hour or overnight.

Toast spices and grind them. When the chilies are soft and rehydrated, drain and remove seeds and stems ( you can rinse them under running water to get them cleaned up . Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. If you like a “looser” style add more oil.

To store, place in sealable jar and drizzle olive oil over top after each use, to preserve. It will last 1-2 months in the fridge.As long as it’s covered with a layer of oil , it should keep well.

notes

The preserved lemon, is especially authentic and delicious if you can find it.

FOR a Quick harissa paste, simply mix the following together in a bowl. Not authentic, but a tasty quick option!

3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine)
2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons smoked paprika
1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne or chipotle powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
10 garlic cloves, finely minced

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Enough Fresh Raw Veggies to fill 2 Quart size mason jars (about 5-6 cups)- beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, cucumbers, okra, green beans, asparagus, red onion, zucchini or summer squash, cauliflower florets, bell peppers, garlic scapes, fennel bulbs, cabbage, rainbow chard stems

1 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoons mustard seeds
6– 10 cloves garlic- sliced thickly
1/2 an onion sliced (optional)
few sprigs fresh dill ( optional) or other herbs

Other optional additions- whole cloves, dill seeds, whole allspice, fresh ginger slices, fresh chilies or chili flakes, celery seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, star anise, other fresh herbs.

Pickling liquid:

2 Cups vinegar- white, red wine, rice wine, apple cider (any of these, or a combination)
2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
4–6 Tablespoons sugar ( sugar is added for flavor, so feel free to cut back you like)

Prep your veggies. Wash them well and slice, quarter, or cut into spears, or leave whole ( like with green beans, asparagus, okra etc)

Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a small pot, and in the mean time pack the jars with the prepped veggies.

In two quart size mason jars, divide the garlic and whole spices.

Begin adding the veggies and if your are including the onion ( which I recommend), layer a few slices in with the veggies along with any fresh herbs you would like to include ( you can also layer the garlic this way too, or put it in first, your choice) leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot liquid into the jars, making sure to submerge all the veggies, pressing down on them with the end of a wooden spoon. You may be able to add more veggies at this point, just make sure the liquid completely covers the veggies leaving at least a half inch of room between the liquid and lid.

Cover and let sit on the counter to cool, and after an hour or two, place in the fridge. These will taste good after 6-8 hours, but much better after a couple days.

notes

These keep up to 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

If pickling firmer veggies like carrots or beets, feel free to simmer the veggies in the pickling liquid (in a pot) for a few minutes to soften them slightly. Don’t over cook them!

If you are planning to can your pickles for long-term storage, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 2 wide-mouth pint jars and their metal lids.

Place the pickling liquid in saucepan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the veggies filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top. Remove any air bubbles. Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling liquid if necessary. Tighten the lids. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight. For longer storage, place the filled jars in a boiling pot of water to can them. When the water comes back to a boil, boil the filled jars for 5 minutes then remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down.

Pickled Red Onions (with Variations)

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar, or use apple cider or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 –2 tablespoons sugar (or honey or other substitute)
1–2 teaspoons whole spices (optional- one or any combination of peppercorns, fennel seed, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, caraway, star anise, juniper, allspice.)
optional additions:
1–2 garlic cloves, cut in half
a couple bay leaves
a teaspoon dried or fresh oregano ( if using on Mexican food)

Thinly slice 1/2 red onion. (Feel free to double the batch).

Place the onion along with the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and whole spices and any optional additions in a small pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer 1 minute, stirring.

Remove from the stove and let cool.

Place onions and liquid in a clean jar and store in the fridge.

Add fresh herbs if you like.

This will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

notes:

For a Mexican version of pickled onions, add sliced jalapeno and whole cumin and coriander seeds plus Mexican oregano to the pickling liquid.

For a Nordic version of pickled red onions, add fresh dill, caraway and peppercorns.

For an Indian version of pickled onions add fennel seeds, coriander and either fenugreek or cilantro!

Chermoula

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 cup cilantro (small stems ok)
1 cup Italian parsley ( or sub more cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (a thin slice about the size of a quarter)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest from 1/2 lemon (about 1-2 tsp)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes -add more for more heat
1/4 teaspoon salt, adding ¼- 3/4 teaspoon more if using as a marinade ( see notes)

Toast seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until fragrant and golden.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined, but not too smooth.

Keep in an air tight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Fresh Tomatillo Sauce

1 lb Tomatillos, husked, rinsed ( in warm water) and quartered
1/2 bunch cilantro- leaves and tender stems OK ( 1 cup, packed)
1–2 jalapeno (or more, for more spicy) or 1–2 serano chilis ( I like 2 seranos)
1 small garlic clove
1/3 cup diced white or yellow onion
3 tablespoons lime juice plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sugar ( or agave or honey)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 T olive oil (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until uniformly combined.

Taste, then adjust salt, heat and lime. ( I find it helpful to taste with a chip, or whatever you are serving this with.)

Refrigerate until serving.

notes

This fresh tomatillo salsa will keep 4 days in the fridge.

If you like extra heat, serrano chilies are a great option.

If it ends up too spicy for your taste, you can temper it by adding cucumber or more tomatillo. Re-adjust with salt and lime.

Poblano Pepita Sauce

1 large poblano pepper
1 cup cilantro ( small stems ok)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
squeeze of lime

Roast the poblano chili directly over a gas flame on the stovetop, until blackened and blistered on all sides – or broil (or roast at 450F) in the oven, turning often, until skins blister.

Place in a paper bag or wrap in a towel to steam for 10 minutes (this will help soften the chili).

Remove the stem and seeds and most of the charred bits- a little char is good here.

Place in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients- cilantro, pumpkin seeds, oil, water, garlic, salt, coriander and a tiny squeeze of lime.

Pulse and blend until uniformly combined but not too smooth. A little texture is good here.

Taste. Adjust lime and salt. If your pepper happens to be too spicy ( they very in spicy level) you can mitigate the heat by adding more pumpkin seeds, water, oil, and then remember to reseason with more salt and lime.

Place in a bowl and serve at room temp.

notes

If making ahead, place in a sealed container and refrigerate for 2-3 days. The top (exposed to air) may discolor over time, so if making ahead, I like to pour a little olive oil over top to keep the herbs submerged and preserve the color.

Preserved Lemon Gremolata

1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped finely (about 1 cup packed)
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemons, rind and flesh
1/2 cup olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, finely minced
pepper
chili flakes or aleppo or urfa

Place chopped parsley, preserved lemon, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Give a stir.

Taste and add pepper and chili flakes if desired.

For a more pronounced flavor, add more preserved lemon to taste.

For a “looser” sauce, add more olive oil.
notes

This will last 4 days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin

ingredients

2 medium cauliflower heads (about 10 cups, 20 ounces florets)
2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
——–
2 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced or sub 2 fat shallots)
6–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage (or 2 teaspoons dry sage, or sub rosemary or thyme)
Bechamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gf flour)
2 cups milk, hot
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated is nice)
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese- (or mozzarella -plus 3 Tablespoons for the top)
¼ cup grated Parmesan or pecorino
Optional Additions:

¼ cup crispy bacon bits, or crispy pancetta
¼ cup vegan “bacon bits”
bread crumb topping (see notes)
instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Roast the Cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil (just enough to lightly coat) salt and pepper and place on one (or two) parchment-lined sheet pans ( in a single layer) and bake until tender and golden, about 20-25 minutes.
Saute the onions: In an extra large skillet saute the onion over med- high heat in olive oil until tender and fragrant, stirring often, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sage and lower heat to medium and sauté 3-4 minutes, until fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Take your time here and make sure onion and garlic are golden and tender. Set aside.
Make the Bechamel Sauce: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir until butter just begins to become golden and becomes nutty and fragrant. Add flour. Stir and cook flour for at least 1 minute. Whisk in ½ C hot milk making sure to whisk all the flour from the corners and sides of the pot. Add another ½ C milk, whisking well. Add the final cup of milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and just comes to a simmer. Turn heat to low and whisk in cheese and set aside.
Assemble: Use a greased, oven-proof 10 inch cast iron skillet, 8×11 inch baking dish or greased individual ramekins. Toss the roasted cauliflower with the Bechamel sauce and onions/garlic/ sage mixture. Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting to your liking.
Top with optional bread crumbs (see notes), optional crispy bacon or pancetta (or vegan bacon bits) a few sage leaves or a little more cheese. You could refrigerate this overnight at this point if making ahead (perhaps not in the cast iron). If refrigerating, be sure to bring to room temp before baking.
Lower heat to 375 F and bake uncovered in the oven, until golden and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

Mexican Pinto Beans

1 lb dry pinto beans (2 1/2 cups dry), soaked 6-12 hours, then drained
1 teaspoon salt
——-
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 dry Mexican Guajillo Chile (optional, see notes), seeds removed, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves (optional)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)

Place pinto beans in a med bowl, and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and let soak overnight – or for a minimum of 6 hours. Drain.

After soaking: In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the dried chili, cinnamon stick and all the spices. Saute one minute to toast the spices. Add the water, tomato paste and DRAINED beans. Stir in the 1/2 salt and bring to a rapid boil.

Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer (on low or medium low) and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, until beans are tender.

Stir in the tablespoon of Chipotle Adobo Sauce and the vinegar.

Taste, adjusting salt if needed.

Notes:
Feel free to substite 1-2 canned chipotle peppers (chopped) instead of the dried Mexican chili. Or leave out both for a milder version. Or experiment with other dried Mexican chilies taking not of heat level. One Guajillo chili makes this MEDIUM SPICY.

Using the The Adobo sauce from the Canned Chipotle Peppers really elevates and adds a lovely smokiness to the whole dish. Freeze the leftover chipotle chilies (individually) for later use!
You could also use a little smoked paprika for the smoky flavor without the spiciness.

INSTANT POT: Cook according to above, using the saute function for sauteeing. Reduce water to 4 cups. Pressure cook the soaked pinto beans on high for 25 minutes, naturally release. If you’d like to reduce liquid further, cook on saute function for a few minutes until it thickens up.

HAM HOCK: Feel free to add a smoked ham hock to the top of the simmering beans. After it’s tender, shred the meat and stir into the beans.

Basic Roasted Vegetables

2 large carrots, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved into half-moons
2 parsnips, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved
1/2 – 1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks, or wedges
1 sweet potato cut into ¾ inch cubes
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
generous, 5 finger pinch of salt and pepper
optional additions: other veggies of course, fresh herbs -thyme, rosemary, sage

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Cut veggies and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. If your sheet pans are small, use 2 pans.
Cut veggies and place them in rows.

drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and using tongs give a light toss.
Place in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, rotate, toss again, and continue cooking until fork tender, another 10-15 minutes.

Place in a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Tips:

Choose veggies that take roughly the same amount of time to roast. Root veggies (vegetables that grow underground) like carrots, parsnips, beets, and potatoes, are relatively dense compared to other veggies and take the longest to roast, 30-50 minutes, depending on what size you cut them. Winter squash are medium-dense so take less time, when peeled and diced.

If someone were to ask me which veggies are best to roast? I would say, hands-down, root vegetables! Their natural sweetness and earthiness both get enhanced and elevated through roasting.
Cut veggies so they are the same thickness. This ensures they roast quickly and uniformly. I try to keep root veggies at ½ inch thick.

Roast vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet pan – and use an extra-large one! Or use two! They like space.

Group different veggies separately on the sheet pan (instead of mixing them all together) just in case you need to remove some and not others.

Keep it simple, with a light drizzle of olive oil, sprinkling of salt and pepper. This allows the flavors of the veggies to really shine.

Use a hot, 425 F oven, middle rack.

Check at 15 minutes, rotate pan and give a quick toss, continue cooking 5-15 minutes or until fork tender.

I always like to include an onion and bell pepper for flavor. (Just a personal preference)
Of course you can add a herb – thyme, rosemary, sage- all work well.

Basic Cauliflower Rice Pilaf with Variations

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
2–3 garlic cloves ( optional, or sub 1–2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder)
1 shallot, finely chopped ( optional)
pinch salt and pepper
zest from one small lemon
1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley (or thyme, cilantro or basil, or sub other herbs, see below)

Trim the leaves and stem off the cauliflower and cut into smaller pieces. (If using a box grater, cut into quarters and see notes)

Working in 2 batches, place 1/2 the cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until it is uniformly and coursely ground. Place in a large bowl, lined with paper towels. Repeat with the second half.

Pat the top with paper towels, squeezing out any excess water.

To cook, either roast or saute.

To roast, preheat oven to 425 F. Remove the paper towels and place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, chopped shallot, finely minced garlic and the zest of one lemon. Toss and spread out. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden, giving it good toss halfway though. Garnish with fresh parsley.

To saute on the stove top, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until golden and fragrant. Add cauliflower, garlic, salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes until you begin to smell the garlic. Turn heat down to low, cover and let this steam a bit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Uncover, continue stirring, and add lemon zest. Cook until it starts to get golden. Sprinkle with herbs right before serving.

Feel free to make other variations to go with your meals:

Mexican – lime zest, cilantro, chili powder, cumin or coriander
Spanish – add smoked paprika
French – fresh thyme
Italian – garlic and basil
Indian – add curry powder
Asian – garlic and ginger, a small splash of soy and srircha at the end ( or Szechuan Sauce)

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata

1 large cauliflower-Sliced into ¾ inch slices
1 bunch Italian parsley- finely chopped- 1 Cup (or use part mint or cilantro)
2–3 garlic cloves- finely minced
1/3 C olive oil
Zest of one large lemon (1 ½ Tablespoon) finely chopped
1/8 C fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Remove cauliflower leaves and trim sides of the stem, leaving the length. Slice Cauliflower into ½ inch to 3/4 inch thick slices. ( See photo). Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and a little pepper. Roast in the oven, uncovered until golden and tender, about 30 minutes (check at 25 minutes). The thicker the slices the longer you will have to roast.

While cauliflower steaks are roasting, make the gremolata.

Chop Italian parsley ( some stems are ok) finely, to make roughly one cup, and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

When Cauliflower is tender, arrange on a platter, and drizzle gremolata over top.

Black Rice Pilaf

2 tablespoons olive oil ( or butter)
1 shallot – chopped
1 1/2 cups forbidden black rice
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme ( or 1 teaspoon dry)
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon broth or stock ( veggie or chicken)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 bay leaf
pinch salt and pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds ( save 2 tablespoons for garnish)
Garnish: 1-2 tablespoons Italian parsley

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the shallots, stirring until golden and fragrant, about 4 -5 minutes.

Add rice and thyme and saute 3-4 minutes.

Add stock, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and 1/2 the almonds. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cover, turn heat to low and cook 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and rice is tender.
Garnish with remaining almonds and parsley.

Baked Ginger Tofu

16 ounces tofu- organic, firm or extra firm, non-GMO
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce– or gluten-free Braggs Liquid amino acids ( tamari will be too salty)
1 tablespoon miso (or sub 1 more tablespoon soy sauce)
3–4 slices thin slices ginger- peels ok
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (optional)
1–3 teaspoons chili paste (all optional)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400F

Blot tofu well with paper towels, pressing down gently. Cut into desired shapes (strips, cubes, squares).

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet

Blend marinade ingredients (except sesame seeds) together in a blender until smooth, pour over tofu, coating all sides well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 40-50 minutes, and for extra crispy broil for a few minutes.

Asian Peanut Chili Crunch (Seroendeng)

6–10 dried Thai red chiles, crushed (or sub 2–4 tablespoons chili flakes)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (skinless)
1/2 cup crispy shallots (available at Asian markets, or see notes)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional additions: toasted coconut, coconut or palm sugar, dried shrimp or anchovy powder, dried lemongrass or kefir lime leaf, dried mushroom powder – remember to start conservatively and add more to taste. Play around and have fun!

Remove chili stems and crumble chilies and dry fry over medium heat until toasted, about 3-4 minutes.

Place in a food processor (or chop) and pulse. Add roasted peanuts and pulse a few times. ( or chop)

Place in a bowl with the crispy shallots and salt. Feel free to embellish to your taste.

notes

To make homemade crispy shallots, heat 1 cup vegetable or peanut oil in a small saucepan.
Slice 3 shallots into thin 1/8 inch rings and cook them over medium heat for about 15 minutes lowering heat if they seem to be getting too dark.

Using a strainer over a bowl, strain well, and spread out on a paper towel-lined plate, blot, sprinkle with salt and let cool. They will crisp more as they cool. Feel free to reuse the flavorful shallot-infused oil!

You could also use dehydrated shallots with no oil.

Green Harissa

1 cup (packed) Italian parsley or cilantro ( a combination is nice)
1–2 garlic cloves
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño, sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, more to taste
1 teaspoon coriander (or cumin)
1/2-teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 cup plain yogurt (or silken tofu, or sour cream- see notes )

Place all ingredients except yogurt in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly until finely chopped. Add yogurt, pulse again until combined, but not too smooth. Taste, adjust salt and heat.

You can also blend all ingredients in a blender but note that yogurt will get a little runny. It will firm up some in the fridge. It still tastes good, but with a thinner consistency.

You can swap out sour cream or silken tofu for the yogurt.

If making the vegan version with silken tofu– blend it in a blender and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, increase the salt to taste and add squeeze of lemon or lime or splash of apple cider vinegar.
notes

This will keep a week in the fridge.

Zhoug (with Yogurt Variation)

1–3 whole jalapenos, sliced ( start with one, if unsure)
2 fat garlic cloves
1 bunch cilantro, small stems ok
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon ( or whole, see notes)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, more to desired consistency
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (Aleppo chili is nice), more to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients ( except oil) in a food processor and pulse until it’s uniformly chopped. Add oil and lemon juice process into a coarse paste. For a looser version, add a bit more oil.

Taste for salt and heat, adding more if necessary. Add chili flakes if you like.

Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week.

notes

Feel free to use whole cardamon seeds, whole cumin seeds and peppercorns– toasting and grinding. Caraway seeds are a nice touch too. Jalapeños are not traditional, yet produce a very consistent and milder heat. You can swap them out for hotter chilies. Feel free to swap out the cilantro for flat-leaf parsley, or even fresh mint. You can also do a blend of all three! The cardamom is the star here, so make sure you use enough so you can taste it.
To Make Zhoug Yogurt, mix 1-2 tablespoons with a cup of yogurt. Taste, adjust salt.