Rainbow Peanut Noodles

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Can I confess to you that I am a Pinterest freak? I mean, yes, I realize that Pinterest features a lot of made up stuff that most of us will never do because we are busy having actual lives, but really. I’m like a moth to a flame. Occasionally, I will actually try to tackle a craft/home improvement/gardening/deep cleaning project, but mostly I just like to look at the pretty pictures. Guilty pleasures, I know. Sometimes those photos are accurate portrayals of what recipes will really look like, but often “they’ve had work done.”

Not so with this recipe. When I saw a photo of this dish from Give Me Some Oven, I thought no way will the real dish look so vibrant and lovely. I was all prepared for something less than stellar, and was pleasantly surprised when I ended up with something that looked like the photo! Thank you, Give Me Some Oven! I think it is one of my new favorite dishes. Healthy, vegetarian, easy to make and so darn pretty to look at, this recipe is a winner all around. In fact, the Give Me Some Oven site is full of rainbow recipes and they all look amazing so check out her site and get cooking!

The original recipe is HERE. I did some make some changes. I used my Spicy Peanut Sauce instead of the peanut sauce in the recipe. Mine is not sweet and has more kick to it. If you are making this dish for little ones (or family with a sweet tooth), I would use the original peanut sauce recipe. I did make it and it’s delicious, but I like more sass and less sweet–just a personal preference. I also used some fresh, local vegetables like local early garlic, local spring onion and sugar snap peas instead of edamame. You could really use whatever you want as long as you balance out the colors! I also used fresh rice noodles instead of pasta and that worked well, so if you’re gluten free, no worries!

The trick to this dish is to do all of your vegetable prep ahead. Once you start cooking, you have about 5-7 minutes until dinner is on the table, so have everything ready to go before you heat your pan. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Rainbow Peanut Noodles (Serves 3-4)

Spicy Peanut Sauce (makes about 1 cup)

  • 4 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha chili paste
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2cup olive oil (you could also use peanut oil)
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper

Rainbow Vegetables

  • 12 ounces fresh rice noodles (or pasta)
  • 1/2 head of organic purple cabbage, washed, drained and shredded
  • 2 small bulbs of fresh, organic spring garlic (or 1 garlic clove), minced
  • 1 pint fresh sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, washed, trimmed and sliced very thin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Optional toppings: peanuts, sesame seeds, chopped scallions
  1. Combine all ingredients for peanut sauce in a blender or the bowl of an immersion blender. Blend together until creamy and set aside.
  2. Heat water for the noodles. When water boils, cook the rice noodles for 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium high heat.
  4. Saute the rainbow vegetables for 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently. Turn off heat.
  5. Add noodles and 1/2 of peanut sauce to the vegetables in the pan and stir to combine.
  6. Serve immediately with toppings of your choice!

Asparagus and Cauliflower Rice Bowl

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Spring is here, and in North Carolina that means one thing–the return of the dastardly yellow pine pollen. It coats everything in its smothering path. Cars. Sidewalks. Window screens. Our cat. When we finally have rain, the roads feature yellow rivers of stormwater. Lakes start to resemble chemical waste spill sites. Our dog (a hound mix) lives for sniffing everything, so she spends about a quarter of her waking hours sneezing. In my book, there is little to celebrate about this crazy tree sex business. Except aspargus.

Yellow pine pollen season, while annoying, is a visual marker of the seasonal change from winter to spring. It also means fresh, local asparagus is due at the farmer’s markets, and that is definitely something to celebrate. I love fresh asparagus in stir fry, steamed or sauteed. But my favorite way to eat asparagus is to roast the spears with a little olive oil and salt. Simple and easy. If we eat outside on the deck, they also get a slight dusting of pollen, but we won’t complain.

This bowl meal is easy to put together and is really delicious. If you haven’t tried making cauliflower rice, give it a go–it is very easy and a great, grain-free substitute for rice. The eggs give this dish some needed protein, but you could replace them with sautéed tofu for a vegan meal as well. We are hearty eaters, so this recipe fed two of us, but you could add more vegetables and stretch it out to four servings (it could also serve four if you have lighter appetites than we have!).

Spring is here! Clean off the deck furniture, wash off the pollen and enjoy a fresh season of delicious fruits and vegetables!

Asparagus and Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Serves two hungry adults

1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
4 farm eggs
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 tablespoons homemade vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Trim the asparagus stem ends, removing the tough bottom 2 inches, if necessary. Add asparagus to the baking sheet.
Add the cut bell pepper to the baking sheet.
Toss the asparagus and pepper with the olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange vegetables in an even layer.
Roast vegetables for about 10 minutes or until your desired level of roasting.
While vegetables are roasting, wash the cauliflower and trim the florets of the stem and leaves.
Add cauliflower florets to the bowl of a food processor (you may need to do this in two batches).
Process the florets on low until the cauliflower is in rice-sized pieces (about 30 seconds or so).
Heat he coconut oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and cook for 7-8 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked and slightly soft, but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Remove vegetables from the oven and keep warm.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil and cook the eggs until your desired doneness (I like the yolks to be a bit runny).
Assemble your bowls by dividing up your cauliflower rice, topping that with the asparagus and peppers, and topping all of that with the eggs.
Drizzle the bowls with the dressing and a bit of grated cheese.
Serve immediately.

Southwest Power Bowls

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Yes, we love our Power Bowls. Easy to pull together and super healthy, these entree salads are a delicious option for busy weeknights. Now that fresh lettuce and other produce is coming to market, these bowls of goodness are also a terrific way to feature local, seasonal foods!

This bowl has all the amazing flavor of our favorite southwest dishes without the fat and salt. The cumin rice is delicious, but you could substitute cilantro if that works for you! We used grilled, spice-rubbed chicken, local lettuce and baby spinach, local corn from our freezer and fresh, local hothouse cherry tomatoes. You can add a dressing if you like, but the creaminess of the guacamole was enough that I didn’t miss having salad dressing.

Take this for a spin, add what works for you and enjoy the Power Bowl!

Southwest Power Bowls (serves 4)

8 cups fresh lettuce, kale, baby spinach or other greens
2 cups cumin rice (cooked rice mixed with salt, garlic powder and cumin, to taste)
2 cups cooked chicken (we used grilled, spice-rubbed chicken)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernals
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup shredded low fat Mexican cheese
1 cup guacamole or 2 mashed avocados

Line 4 large bowls with the greens, making a small well in the center of each bowl.
In the well, add 1/2 cup of rice to each bowl.
Around the rice, arrange equal measures of the remaining ingredients.
Serve immediately!

Chicken Hummus Power Bowls

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Sing with me…

I like big bowls and I cannot lie,
We running mothers can’t deny
When a meal has power and yummy, yummy taste
And helps you trim your waist
We feel young!

Apologies to Sir Mix a Lot. Truly. And to you, because now you will have Baby Got Back stuck in your brain for some time.

But back to big bowls. Big bowls of happy, healthy goodness have our tastebuds singing these days. These one bowl power meals are super hot on the west coast and I can see why. They are healthy, easy to make and the delicious combinations are endless. This power bowl was based on a meal I had at Panera recently and it was a hit with everyone! It uses roasted chicken, hummus, cucumber and a nice helping of ancient grains to give us a terrific protein boost with a fresh taste. Just what we need to help get our spring miles in now that the weather is warming up.

Try this and adapt it to your taste preferences. We’ll add more bowls as we create them!

Chicken Hummus Power Bowls (serves 4)

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
8 cups fresh greens (baby spinach, baby kale, fresh lettuce)
2 cups cooked ancient grains, quinoa, sprouted rice or other high protein grain
1 cucumber, washed and sliced
1 tomato, washed, cored and chopped
1 cup washed and chopped sugar snap peas
Sliced onion
1 cup hummus
2 lemons

Assemble the dish in four large salad bowls (we use the ginormous, restaurant sized bowls, but this will work in whatever you have).

First, divide the greens between the four bowls, making a little well in the center for the grains.

Next add the warm or cold grains to the center of the bowl.

Working your way around the bowl, add each of the remaining ingredients except the lemon.

Lastly, cut each lemon in half and add a lemon half to each bowl. Serve immediately.

Squeeze lemon over the bowl and dig in!

Pumpkin, Sausage, Sage Pizza

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We are big fans of pizza in our house. Homemade pizza is very easy to make, economical and gives you a great way to use up small amounts of leftover meat or vegetables in the refrigerator. I love to try new pizza combinations, although this is not always popular in our house. Sometimes you just want what’s familiar. This pizza was terrific–I will definitely make it again!

In full disclosure, this pizza elicited more teen jokes than any other meal I’ve prepared. Trying to be “artsy,” I made a flower design with the sage leaves. My daughter thought it looked like a marijuana leaf. I’m always glad to be the source of amusement. And really, no more trips to Spencer’s Novelty Shop. Really.

This pizza is super tasty and full of fall flavor. It involves no illegal substances, although pumpkin is so addictive this time of year, it probably should require a driver’s license to purchase. We used a spicy chicken sausage, but I think an Italian sausage or sage sausage would be pretty terrific as well. Or even soyrizo if you are going meatless. I replaced our usual mozzarella with a blend of Swiss and Gruyère cheese–I think those cheeses taste great with the sage and pumpkin (and they melt beautifully).

I used organic canned pumpkin for this recipe because it is already cooked and it is very thick with little residual moisture. If you use fresh pumpkin, make sure you cook it down to a very thick paste or your pizza dough will be quite soggy (I made that mistake with butternut squash once and it was not good).

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Pizza (makes 1 pizza)

  • 1 whole wheat pizza crust (recipe HERE)
  • 8-10 fresh, organic sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. local, spicy link sausage, casing removed
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups grated Swiss and Gruyère cheeses
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil to medium high.
  3. When oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry them for about 90 seconds per side or until they are crispy, but not browned. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel to drain.
  4. Add the sausage to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the sausage until no longer pink, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Remove the sausage from the pan to a colander or paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Add onion and garlic to the pan with the drippings and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starts to caramelize a bit. Remove the onion and garlic to a small bowl.
  7. Assemble the pizza by stretching the dough (my pizzas are never round–more like rounded rectangles) onto a flour dusted baking sheet or pizza stone.
  8. Top the dough with the pumpkin, spreading it across the dough, leaving a 1-2″ crust around the edges.
  9. Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the pumpkin.
  10. Crumble up 2-3 sage leaves and sprinkle them over the onions.
  11. Top the onions with the crumbled and drained sausage.
  12. Cover the whole thing with cheese.
  13. Arrange the remaining sage leaves into a flower that will be completely misinterpreted by your family.
  14. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is just browned and bubbly.
  15. Cut the pizza and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Pepper Pizza

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It’s fall, y’all. Time to break out the boots, cozy sweaters and the fall recipe book! This recipe includes one of my favorite fall flavor combinations–locally made bulk chorizo sausage and roasted sweet potatoes. We buy our bulk chorizo from Mae Farm, a local farm that raises pigs in the highest ethical standards, with lots of room to roam and be pigs. Their chorizo is pretty phenomenal and I can’t wait for fall so we can make this pizza again! By the way, this same combination of flavors works great in a quesadilla as well! If you are feeding people who aren’t fans of spice, you can leave out the chili in adobo sauce.

This pizza is a knife and fork pizza. Or at least a two napkin pizza. It is chock full of late summer/early fall goodness, like roasted sweet potato, sweet onions, locally made chorizo sausage, and colorful, fresh bell peppers. This pizza is a meal In itself. I had originally planned to have a salad with dinner, but once I saw how huge the pizza was, I decided to save the salad for another night!

Pizza is one of those incredibly versatile meals that can make the most of whatever you have in the pantry or refrigerator. I’m including my whole wheat crust recipe because it is filling and higher in protein and fiber. You could replace it with whatever crust you like, though. I’m definitely going to make this again during football season!

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Pepper Pizza (makes 4-6 serving)

  • 1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust (see below)
  • 1 large sweet potato, roasted, with flesh removed from skin (compost the skin)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 bell peppers (I used 1 each of red, yellow and green), washed, seeded and chopped
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 1 lb. chorizo bulk chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup canned organic black beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  1. Prepare the pizza crust and let rise.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a 12″ skillet, brown the chorizo sausage over medium heat. Place a strainer over a thick layer of paper towel and pour sausage and drippings into the strainer and set aside.
  4. Return the skillet to the heat, and add the olive oil, onion, garlic and peppers. Stir together and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft and there is no liquid in the pan. Remove pan from heat.
  5. On a lightly greased or flour dusted baking sheet, stretch dough out to make your pizza shape (I prefer square pizzas, but that’s me).
  6. Spread the sweet potato over the crust and sprinkle the drained chorizo over the sweet potato.
  7. Add black beans on top of the sausage, then add the pepper mixture over all.
  8. Cover the vegetables with a generous amount of cheese.
  9. Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Cut and serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes 2 rounds of dough)

  • 1 pckg. yeast
  • 1 3/4 c. warm water
  • 4 c. whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until completely dissolved and a bit foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer (w/dough hook attached), combine flour, salt and olive oil.
  3. While mixer is running on low/med low, add yeast water to the flour in a stream.
  4. Allow mixer to knead dough for about 4 min.
  5. Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  6. Punch down dough and divide into two pieces (we divided it into 3). Each ball will make a pizza. You can freeze half for another time or let each dough ball stand covered for 20 minutes.
  7. Shape and make your pizzas according to the recipe directions.

Scrambled Duck Egg Burrito

IMG_2037Duck eggs. Have you tried them? They are pretty awesome. It took me a while to work up to duck eggs. I mean, the chicken eggs I buy from farmers seemed so wonderful–why mess with a good thing? I decided to take the plunge at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and I may never go back.

Why?

Duck eggs are like chicken eggs times two. They have very large, orange yolks and are much richer in taste than chicken eggs. I love them scrambled or fried sunny side up, but they are also terrific in baked goods. Nutritionally, they have more omega 3 fatty acids and almost double the protein of chicken eggs. They also have more fat and calories than chicken eggs, so if you are watching your weight carefully, you’ll want to be mindful of that.

This recipe is a simple way to make the most of the flavor of duck eggs with very little added. I love this recipe for a quick breakfast or lunch, especially when I am craving protein. Of course, you can do this exact recipe with chicken eggs–just make sure they are good quality eggs!

Scrambled Duck Egg Burrito (serves 1)

  • Coconut oil cooking spray or 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 small, whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 duck eggs
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. queso fresco
  • 1 teaspoon salsa
  1. Heat a small skillet sprayed or lightly coated with coconut oil over medium low heat.
  2. When pan is warm, add the tortilla and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and warm the second side for another minute. Remove the tortilla to a plate and set aside
  3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and use a fork to scramble the egg whites and yolks.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pan and use the fork to keep the eggs moving in the pan. Cook eggs until opaque and just barely cooked–about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top the tortilla with the egg.
  6. Crumble the queso fresco onto the egg.
  7. Top with salsa. Roll the burrito and serve immediately.

 

 

Oven Baked Vegetable Soup

IMG_2035It took me a long time to learn to make a good soup. A long. Long. Time. For years, the soups I made were flavorless and disappointing. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, but it didn’t seem like soup could really be that complicated. Turns out, soup isn’t that complicated, but you do have to pay attention and follow a few simple rules. And you also need patience. Once I figured this out, I was on my way to making all kinds of simple, but delicious and nourishing soup combinations. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Use stock, never water. Homemade stock is always better than what you can buy and almost any stock is better than starting with water.
  2. Cook your onions and garlic before adding them to the soup pot. Bringing out the sweetness of onions and garlic before adding them to your soup pot will yield a richer flavor.
  3. Use herbs with abandon and salt with a generous hand. Okay, I know salt is supposed to be evil and all, but unless you have a health problem that prohibits you from having salt, use it along with an assortment of fresh and dried herbs. Use Kosher or sea salt. Don’t use table salt. Maybe ever.
  4. Make your soup a day ahead. If you have the time, make your soup a day ahead and reheat. Soup and stew both benefit greatly from allowing flavors to mingle.

This soup is almost more of a vegetable stew, and it bakes in the oven rather than simmering on a stove top. This is perfect for my favorite fall activity–watching football. The entire pot assembled quickly and baked until we were ready at halftime. The house also smelled terrific–all cozy and comforting.

The original recipe for this dish was posted to Eating Well, and I changed it up to suit my tastes. I used homemade chicken broth instead of water (see lesson #1 above), but you could make this vegan by using vegetable broth and eliminating the Parmesan cheese rind. I also altered the original recipe, substituting some fresh vegetables I had on hand and adding fresh herbs and garlic. I used my ceramic coated Dutch oven to make this–you will need a very large pot or Dutch oven. The original recipe says it serves 8, but I think it may serve more–it is a LOT of soup. This recipe comes together quickly and you could really use whatever fresh vegetables you have handy. The next time I make this (and there will be a next time), I may add some cannellini beans for protein. Whatever you choose, this is a wonderful versatile recipe for an easy, lazy weekend meal that is healthy!

Oven Baked Vegetable Soup (serves 8-10)

  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound potatoes, cubed or use tiny potatoes, cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper, divided
  • 3 zucchini, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 medium leeks, halved and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh corn off the cob
  • 4 cups artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1 2-inch piece of Parmesan cheese rind
  • 6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour oil into a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven. Arrange potatoes in a single layer over the oil.
  3. Sprinkle with half the salt and half the pepper. Add the leaves from one sprig of rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the oregano.
  4. Layer zucchini, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, corn, artichoke hearts, leaves from one sprig of rosemary, remaining oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Tuck the Parmesan rind into the vegetables.
  6. Pour the tomatoes and juice over the vegetables. Add the chicken or vegetable stock.
  7. Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 2 or 2 1/2 hours.
  8. Serve immediately garnished with cheese and accompanied by a good, crusty bread.

 

Crock Pot Chipotle Peach Chicken

IMG_2013While summers in North Carolina are known for peaches and watermelon, the sweetest peaches actually come to market in the early fall, around Labor Day. We’ve enjoyed our peaches in smoothies, in both sweet and savory jam and cooked with chicken and pork. This spicy chicken dish is made easy in the crock pot, which keeps my kitchen from getting hot during these late summer, humid days. It brings together some of late summer’s stars–sweet peaches and bell peppers–along with fresh onions and garlic. Fresh corn off the cob would be terrific in this dish as well! We have eaten this chicken in homemade tostadas (above pics and recipe below), over rice and just plain. You could also make tacos with it. It is very flavorful and a nice, spicy dish before chili weather kicks in.

I did use some canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, but you could also roast your own chili peppers and use them and that would be delicious as well!

Crock Pot Chipotle Peach Chicken (makes about 6 cups)

  • 2 Tsp. organic coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 sweet, bell peppers, trimmed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 quart fresh, ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (vary to your taste)
  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat until melted.
  2. Add onion and bell peppers, stir, and saute for about 10 minutes. Vegetables should be soft.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Put the vegetable mixture into the bowl of a crock pot.
  5. Layer the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the chicken thighs with the chopped peaches and chilis/adobo sauce.
  7. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Chicken should be cooked through and tender enough to shred with two forks.
  8. Drain extra liquid from the chicken mixture (discard liquid), shred the chicken with two forks and use in recipes as needed.

Chipotle Peach Chicken Tostadas (serves 4)

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 tsp. organic coconut oil
  • 2 cups organic black beans, cooked (or canned)
  • 4 cups Crock Pot Chipotle Peach Chicken (above), warmed
  • 2 cups Queso Fresco or farmer’s cheese
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. One at a time, add the tortillas to the skillet and cook about 1 minute on each side. Set the tortillas on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup black beans, 1 cup of the chicken mixture, 1/4 cup of the cheese.
  4. Bake tostadas for about 10-12 minutes. Cheese should be melted and the tostadas should be hot.
  5. Serve immediately topped with avocado and chopped green onion.

 

 

Eggplant Tomato Stacks

IMG_2011I think I made it all the way to adulthood with an intense dislike for eggplant. To me, eggplant was a bitter, slimy, vegetable that was typically served fried and greasy in some version of eggplant Parmesan. I’m not sure when my eggplant revelation came about, but eggplant is now one of my favorite summer vegetables. I love it grilled, roasted with garlic and especially baked in this wonderful, healthy re-make of eggplant Parmesan.

Here is the secret to great tasting eggplant–buy it fresh from your local farmer’s market. The longer eggplant sits, the more bitter it can become. Also, eggplant picked for grocery stores is often picked under-ripe, before it’s true sweetness is developed.

This recipe makes the most of fresh, local eggplant, tomato and basil–all in abundance in North Carolina during the summer. We used local mozzarella from Hillsborough Cheese Company, so only the Parmesan Reggiano, olive oil and salt were store-bought. We used some of our yummy Roasted Tomato Sauce, which is my favorite discovery from last summer (well, maybe it’s a tie with Mae Farm Bacon Onion Marmalade).

Think of this recipe as lasagna with eggplant replacing the noodles. This is no greasy, fried, chain restaurant dish–it is flavorful, nourishing and rich in antioxidants and fiber. And your house will smell A-MAZ-ING while it is baking. Tom commented several times that it is hard to believe this is a meatless dish. If you substitute vegan cheese, it would be a completely vegan dish. Like it’s lasagna cousin, this freezes and reheats well, making super tasty leftovers. Healthy, local and delicious. Win-win-win. Yum-yum-yum!

Eggplant Tomato Stacks (makes 6 servings)

  • 3 medium eggplant (we used several baby eggplant and one medium)
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 quart Roasted Tomato Sauce (or 1 jar from the store)
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated (you can use part-skim to reduce the fat)
  • 1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 c. loosely packed basil leaves, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Wash eggplant and slice into 1/4″ or so slices. Put slices on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. Roast eggplant slices for about 12 minutes–until they are fork tender.
  5. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Add one layer of the eggplant. Top with 1/3 of the tomato sauce, a sprinkling of basil leaves, 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Repeat layers two more times, ending with cheese on top.
  6. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly and golden brown on top.
  7. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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