Category Archives: Vegetables & Grains

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Paleo * Gluten-free  ~~

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Ironically, my dog Bella is on a Paleo diet.

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No, it’s not because I’m some paleo fanatic, but because she has itch issues and the vet has taken her off the most common allergens:  beef, chicken, and grains.  I buy her grain-free kibble but then to make it more appealing, I make ground lamb stew to stir into it.   About once a month I traipse to the the meat market that has reasonably priced ground lamb and buy about 5 pounds, then portion it out for single meals.  This month I bought way too much lamb.  As it happens, I had made the Paleo Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes the day before – so Shepherd’s Pie was a no-brainer for the extra ground lamb.

Paleo-izing the Shepherd’s Pie was an interesting challenge.  The potato topping I had already dealt with in last week’s post.  The filling traditionally uses flour (wheat, of course) to create a thick gravy.  My thinking was, instead of substituting an alternate flour for the wheat, why not just let the potatoes be the gravy as well as the topping – after all, I love to smoosh the potatoes into the meat part when I eat Shepherd’s Pie anyway.

The result is a tasty, but less thick meat stew.  I liked it very much as I sometimes find traditional recipes to be a little pasty.

About the vegetables…I confess I use frozen vegetables.  They’re easy and, frankly, I like them.  If you are more ambitious than I, feel free to start with fresh vegetables and cook them before adding them to the meat or just throw in any leftover vegetables you have from previous meals.  It doesn’t really matter what vegetables you use, or even how much you throw in – Shepherd’s Pie is very forgiving.

Though I used ground lamb for the reason stated above, I also love ground lamb; but I know there are many non-lamb eaters in the world you if you are one of them, ground beef or even ground bison would be perfectly fine substitutes.

This is a great  winter meal with protein, starch, and vegetables all in one dish – add a salad for crunch and you are good to go.

Enjoy!
Continue reading Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Paleo Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with or without Garlic

Paleo * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve ~~

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Let’s start with the question “are potatoes paleo?”   If you google that, you will find many different answers ( a good article is found here http://paleoleap.com/are-white-potatoes-paleo/).  When I started paleo, the answer was pretty much “no” BUT sweet potatoes are okay.   This didn’t suit my sense of logic because if we are discussing the diet of Mr. and Mrs. Ugh, if they ate potatoes at all, they probably did not distinguish between the two…and they certainly didn’t eliminate the white potato merely because it was too high on the glycemic index.  As time passed, many in the paleo community seemed to soften on the white potato issue.  I use potatoes as a starchy vegetable and try to avoid the clearly non-paleo versions like potato chips and French fries (I confess I’m not totally successful at this) and I don’t indulge in potatoes daily.  But when I do, I love this fairly healthy (it does have lots of oil in it) version of mashed potatoes

When I first gave up dairy, I would never have dreamed  I would prefer mashed potatoes made with olive oil over those made with lots of butter and cream.  But that is indeed the case.  These mashed potatoes are smooth and rich with added layers of flavor from the broth in which the potatoes are cooked as well as the freshness from the chopped herbs.

The amount of olive oil you want to use in the potatoes will depend on how “tasty” your extra virgin olive oil is (and for this you must use extra virgin).   You will need less of a very fruity/flavorful olive oil than of a bland one.  Start with 2 tablespoons of oil, then add more until you have the flavor profile that you like best.

Enjoy!
Continue reading Paleo Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with or without Garlic

Lightly Curried Asparagus Soup

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Paleo *  Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve~~~

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So, as happens all too frequently, I just couldn’t resist a bargain bunch of asparagus –    even though I had no particular use for them. I brought them home, put them in the refrigerator (I didn’t put them into a green bag that would have extended the life until I really wanted to use them) and 3 days later they are looking sad.  Soup, of course is the great burial ground of dying vegetables – so I took all the sad things I had in the fridge – 1 pathetic leek, 1 mangy stalk of lemon grass, and the drooping asparagus.  Sounds appetizing, yes??  Unbelievably this is now one of my new favorite soups! In my first recipe test I had red pepper flakes but it made it  pretty spicy  so I eliminated them from the recipe – you may want to include some if you like your soup spicy.  If you can eat dairy – this soup would be yummy garnished with yogurt.

Enjoy!

Continue reading Lightly Curried Asparagus Soup

Aloo Gobi Matar (Cauliflower, Potato, and Pea Curry)

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo *

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This has always been my favorite dish to order when I’m having a meal at an Indian restaurant (or when I’m ordering in from one).   It’s probably one of the only savory dishes I make that doesn’t contain either onion or garlic – which means I can serve it to my friend who is allergic to both.

Usually you find Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) on restaurant menus but I like the texture and color that the peas (matar) contribute to the dish.   Though I like the peas, if you are strictly paleo you may want to leave them out. When cooking this, it’s hard to tell how juicy your tomatoes are going to become, so you may or may not need additional water.  Using boiling potatoes will ensure that your potato cubes remain pretty intact. You don’t want mashed potatoes; you want the dish to be just a little saucy.

Aloo Gobi Matar

Stir this dish occasionally as it cooks to make sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate completely.

1 tablespoon olive oil  

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Ground red pepper to taste

2 tablespoons water + additional if necessary

3 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup cubed new red or Yukon gold (boiling) potatoes

1 cup tomato wedges

1/2 cup peas, optional

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro + additional for garnish

Salt to taste

In a 3-quart pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the ginger and cook, stirring 30 seconds.

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Add the curry, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and ground red pepper; stir until absorbed.

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Stir in the 2 tablespoons water; add the cauliflower, potato, and tomatoes.  Stir until vegetables are coated with spice mixture.

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Cook, covered, over medium heat 5 minutes until mixture starts to steam.  Stir; reduce heat and cook, covered 10 minutes longer.  Stir and see if any additional water is needed (adding 1 to 2 tablespoons as necessary).  Continue cooking 10 minutes, covered or until potatoes are cooked through.

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Add peas and cilantro, adding water if necessary.  Cover and continue to cook 5 minutes longer.  Season with salt to taste.

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Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.

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Makes:  4 cups    Serves:  4

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No Potato Home Fries (paleo)

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo

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Breakfast is my favorite meal.  I’m happy having breakfast for lunch or dinner or a snack.
When I first started on Paleo, white potatoes were not “legal”.  That was actually my first deviation from strict Paleo.  I thought of the logic of stone age gatherers finding both white and sweet potatoes and throwing away the white ones but consuming the sweet potatoes.  Taking this image to an even more absurd height, I envision the conversation between mates:  “Ugh dear, look what I brought home” and Ugh replying “don’t eat the white one, it’s too high on the glycemic index!”

That being said, you would think I have no objection to everyday home fries…and in fact I don’t, but I was wondering what someone who doesn’t eat white potatoes could do to substitute for home fries.  My answer is jicama and fennel.  YUM!  A good choice even if you do eat white potatoes.

Enjoy! Continue reading No Potato Home Fries (paleo)

Sweet and Sour Unstuffed Cabbage

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free *  Paleo ~~ 

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My grandmother made the world’s best stuffed cabbage.  I have the recipe and have made it occasionally but it’s such a pain to make the cabbage rolls that it’s enough to discourage all but the most determined cook – and frankly I’m rarely that determined.  Here is where my sister comes in.  She is a natural out-of-the-box thinker and she created unstuffed cabbage.  You make the meatballs and just cook them in the same sauce as the stuffed cabbage, but add lots of shredded cabbage.  YUM and easy!

The challenge of converting this recipe to paleo was the meatballs because grandma always put rice in with the meat and since I don’t eat rice, I needed something the give the meatballs more interest and keep them from becoming too dry.  After many tries I finally came up with this recipe that I just love.

First I added pork to the beef to add moisture (grandma definitely did not use pork as she was kosher).  Then I added the cauliflower and potato flakes to capture the moisture and make the meat fluffier.  Onion and garlic – well I don’t have to tell you what onion and garlic do.  A little tomato sauce also adds to both texture and flavor.

I am so happy with the results I have to restrain myself from going back not just for seconds, but also for third and fourth servings.

Now that I have totally convinced you that Unstuffed Cabbage is the way to go, for anyone who still likes their cabbage stuffed, just use this filling and roll it up in parboiled cabbage leaves and cook according to the recipe

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BTW I freeze these in individual servings and when I need a quick dinner just pop one in the microwave.

Hope you love this as much as I do.
Continue reading Sweet and Sour Unstuffed Cabbage

I Love My Julienner – Zucchetti (Zoodles or Zucchini Spaghetti)

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There are many ways to julienne vegetables.  If you have divine knife skills, you need nothing more than a sharp knife and a cutting board.  The chef or gourmet cook probably uses a mandoline – a very sharp and scary instrument that sits in my closet, never used.  There are many types of mandolines varying in price from a few hundred for the classic stainless steel ones to $20 for a plastic one.  Of the less expensive mandolines, I prefer the box type mandoline because it collects the shredded item in an attached container (box).  If you are interested in the box model, Amazon is including 2 ebooks and a video in the $19.99 price…and BTW I couldn’t resist and bought one just now when I went to find a link for you!  Okay, so let’s say I LOVE this mandoline, what about the julienner I writing about in this post.  Will I still LOVE it?

I think the answer is yes.  Yes, because it’s small and doesn’t take up much storage space.  Yes, because you don’t have to clean a bunch of parts just to julienne one zucchini.  Yes, because it does an awesome job and for zucchini it makes really long shreds and I won’t know about the box mandoline until I get mine and try it.

So let’s talk about Zucchetti aka Zucchini Spaghetti.  As you can see, it’s long thin strands of zucchini, cooked and used instead of spaghetti.  It surprises me to tell you that I prefer zucchetti to spaghetti.  The lightness and freshness of the flavor makes real spaghetti seem clunky and heavy in comparison.

Be sure to saute the zucchetti just long enough for it to be softened.  Over cooking it tends to make the strands collapse into each other…still edible but less appealing.  You can saute it in olive oil and garlic for a simple dish.  Or you can add any sauce that you usually like on pasta.  I find meat sauce (recipe coming next week) my favorite but pesto or mushrooms are also delish.

Have fun and enjoy this healthy dish.
Continue reading I Love My Julienner – Zucchetti (Zoodles or Zucchini Spaghetti)

Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free *  Paleo ~~

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I’m publishing this recipe at the request of my friend Paula W.  We had a dinner date this week and I realized  I’d been doing a lot of cooking and had a refrigerator full of recipe tests in need of a taster (beside myself).  I’m happy to report that they were all delicious!

This particular dish was Paula’s favorite and she has already called me for the recipe…so Paula, here it is.

Hope you love it too.  Enjoy!
Continue reading Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

Out-of-This-World Company Salad

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~        

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What is company salad?  Salad that is a little too bothersome to make for just myself (too many ingredients, too much prep time, or too expensive) but is perfect to impress company.  So  who did I want to impress with this salad?

Let’s take a step back.  Those of you who know me well may want to sit down before reading on…I went out of town this weekend.  Shocking, I know.  It’s only taken me ten years to leave the city and visit my friend Lorraine and her husband Pete at their home on one of the finger lakes in upstate New York.

I got there Friday night and the visit was timed so I could attend the Howard Day Parade, an annual event that Lorraine, as town librarian, participates in.  It was a short but sweet parade, a bunch of tractors, vintage cars, the library group and a float from the Howard Historical Society.

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The next event was a dance recital followed by cake in the library.  It was fun meeting the library staff and other of Lorraine’s friends.  Following the recital was the annual “chicken lunch” served in a local hall (we took ours home to eat).

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Then Pete drove us to a wonderful farm stand they frequent.  The tomatoes were divine, we bought beautiful wax beans, sweet-sweet blueberries and I can’t remember what else.

Being a good guest, I brought them NYC bagels and a brisket (I think a good brisket is really hard to find).  So Saturday night I was the cook.  In addition to the brisket we had fresh local corn, Roasted Green Beans with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (that I posted 2 weeks ago) and Company Salad.

When I started to prepare the dinner we discovered that the wax beans (I was using the yellow beans instead of the green beans) had either been left at the farm stand or lost somewhere on the way home.  Pete insisted on going back to the farm stand to get more beans for us.

Lucky for me Lorraine has a home filled with lots of healthy goodies.  She had a pile of beets she had roasted before I came, avocados that were ripe, 2 oranges (though I used just one of them), a few lovely bing cherries, and a box of organic salad greens.  Of course she had lots of other things I could also have used but I was really good about editing myself.

The pistachios were the only thing I wanted that wasn’t in the house so we called Pete and asked if he would pick up the nuts while he was getting the beans.

Dinner was delicious but the star of the show was the out-of-this-world salad.  Hope you love it as much when you make it!
Continue reading Out-of-This-World Company Salad

Roasted Green Beans with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~       

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Another recipe straight from my expedition to the farmer’s market .  The green beans just looked too perfect to pass up and the grape tomatoes were sweet as candy.  These are great served warm or cold and are another of those recipes perfect to bring to a picnic or pot luck.

I’m feeling kind of stuck here for a longer narrative to share with you about this recipe or these ingredients, but this is just a straight forward recipe I created because I had great ingredients on hand.

It may not be an especially beautiful dish but it’s taste makes up for its looks.  You’ll love it – really!

Enjoy!
Continue reading Roasted Green Beans with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar