Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream - The Clean Gourmet

Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream (Dairy Free)

This is one of the easiest things I make- easily done in 20 minutes, start to finish.  It’s pretty, too.

Instead of dairy cream I make a quick cashew cream.  The cashews can be soaked in cool water during the hours while at work, ready to go by dinnertime.  Otherwise, soak them for for 20-30 minutes in very hot water for times when planning ahead doesn’t work out.  Unlike almond milk/cream, cashew cream does not need to be strained, so it’s really just a matter of throwing soaked cashews in a blender with a bit of water and running it on high.

Try to find the thinly sliced big rounds of pancetta, otherwise just use prosciutto.  You really want those satisfying bites of umami scattered in your bowl, not the minced up pancetta that’ll just blend in with everything else.

As with any nut based sauce, cashew cream thickens with time, so if you’re making this knowing it’s going to sit for a bit before being enjoyed, add a little more of the broth at the end than is called for, up to 1/2 a cup.

Ingredients:

½ cup cashews

⅔ pound pasta (I used Jovial brown rice casarecce)

½ tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon butter (or neutral oil, such as avocado oil, for 100% dairy free version)

1 medium/large leek, white part only, small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces thin pancetta rounds or thinly sliced prosciutto

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

¼ cup broth or water

Salt and black pepper

Fresh thyme or chervil, to serve

What to do:

Make cashew cream:

Soak cashews in cool water for 2-5 hours (or 20-30 minutes in hot water if you haven’t planned ahead).  Drain cashews and blend on high setting with 1 cup water and ⅛ teaspoon salt.  Set aside.

Prepare the pasta:

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.

In a medium pot or high sided sauté pan, sweat leeks and garlic in olive oil/butter mix over medium heat.  Try to avoid any browning.

Reduce heat to low and add pancetta/prosciutto to pot, twirling them so they cook up into little bundles.

Add cooked and drained pasta, cashew cream, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to pan with leeks and prosciutto.

Remove pan from heat, taste, and adjust for salt and pepper.  Loosen sauce with broth or water and finish with fresh thyme or chervil just before serving.

 


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Creamy (Creamless) Summer Corn Soup

This soup is a celebration of summer corn- with few ingredients the creamy, sweet corn flavor really is what it’s about.  Adaptable for a fancy first course, a simple summer dinner, or a side for summer grilling, Creamy Corn Soup is a handy chameleon to have in your recipe bank.

This weekend, it was a simple Sunday dinner, accompanied by a Boston leaf, radish, and walnut salad.  I also made a quick sea bean chutney to dollop into the soup, as well as seared tempeh cubes for light protein.

For another winning dinner, drop in some seared okra chunks and serve it alongside this pork dish.

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Creamy (Creamless) Summer Corn Soup 

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter or avocado oil (or better yet, half of each- butter for flavor, avocado oil for cooking properties)

1/2 onion or 1 large shallot

1 whole clove garlic, peeled and quartered

2 ears corn

1/3 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 1½ cups florets)

⅛ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cups water

¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

⅛ teaspoon white pepper or finely ground black pepper

Fresh thyme, for serving
What to do:

Remove kernels from corn cobs.  Do not throw out the cobs!

Sweat onion and garlic in butter/oil. Add corn kernels, cobs, cauliflower, thyme and water.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Remove corn cobs from soup, as well as thyme sprigs if using fresh.  Blend soup in high speed blender until very smooth.

Pour into soup bowls and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Serving suggestions:  Top with a dollop of green bean chutney (pictured); chili seasoned seared tempeh cubes; seared okra chunks; or make it a side for roasted/grilled pork loin.

 


Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

Breakfast Beets - The Clean Gourmet

This is the sweet breakfast for savory breakfast fans, but a healthier, yet satisfying alternative for those who prefer a sugary start to their day.

Personally, I don’t tolerate much sugar, including fruit, first thing in the morning, but beets have a low/moderate effect on blood sugar (a.k.a. glycemic load).

If you exercise often, then I highly recommend regularly incorporating beets into your diet, as they’ve been shown to aid in muscle recovery, thereby boosting future performance.

For a dairy-free version, replace the yogurt with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

3 medium beets, steamed until tender and cut into quarters

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon unhulled sesame seeds

Juice of 1 lemon

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup whole Greek yogurt (dairy-free version: 1 tablespoon cold-pressed flaxseed oil)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped toasted pistachios, plus a few whole for serving

What to do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately, or store in an air tight container.  Top with a few toasted pistachios just before serving for extra crunch.


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Saffron Braised Purple Artichoke (Carciofo Viola Brasato allo Zafferano)

Spring is fleeting and in full force, so besides asparagus, ramps, and sunchokes,  I’ve been reveling in artichokes.  So far, this is my favorite way to enjoy them.  It’s a twist on this recipe, but more simple to prepare.

Don’t let the long cooking time dissuade you.  In fact, the long cooking time makes the recipe that much easier and more forgiving.  You can get the dish going before the rush of dinner prep and forget about it until it’s time to eat.  Simply set and forget- all you need to worry about is flipping the artichokes a couple of times during cooking.  I also love to make this on lazy Sundays as an appetizer that everyone can gather around, sopping up the juices with fresh bread while marveling at how soft and flavorful the leaves are- all that normally unattainable meat comes right off!

If you’re really afraid of anchovy, add a couple of whole green olives instead to get a similar salty/savory element.   That said, you really don’t taste anchovy in the end result- it just adds a nice umami flavor that balances the mellow sweetness of saffron.  So, I recommend you go for anchovy if you’ve ever enjoyed a Caesar salad or strive to become a centenarian

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Gorgeous purple artichoke interior

Saffron Braised Purple Artichoke

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 artichokes, ideally purple or “sangria” variety

3-4 tablespoons high quality, good tasting olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 anchovy fillet

1 greenhouse beefsteak tomato (the best way to enjoy fresh tomato in the spring), sliced 1/4″ thick

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2/3 cup dry white wine

good pinch saffron

a few grinds black pepper

1 lemon, cut into wedges

handful minced parsley

What to do:

Halve artichokes and remove pith.

Warm olive oil in a medium or large dutch oven and gently sauté garlic and anchovy over medium heat until garlic is golden.  Add tomato and salt. Continue to cook until tomato begins to soften and anchovy is mashable and incorporated into the sauce, about 5 minutes.

Add artichoke, white wine, saffron and black pepper.

Cover and simmer on lowest flame (ideally with a flame tamer) for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, flipping two or three times during cooking.  The artichokes should be starting to fall apart and, even then, you can keep it on another 30-40 minutes if you’re not quite ready to serve them.

Adjust for salt and finish with a good squeeze of lemon and some minced parsley.

Serve with a glass of wine and the highest quality crusty bread for soaking up those juices.


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Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

This is a real muffin.  As in, not a breakfast cupcake.  As in, not that wolf in sheep’s clothing you see at Starbucks or your local bakery.  This muffin is barely sweet and is full of protein and fiber, so you avoid a morning insulin spike and imminent sugar crash, followed by sudden hunger pangs.

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There are 10 grams of protein within a modest 191 calories per muffin.  Not that I’m into calorie counting, but just to give you an idea…

Fluffy and deceptively flourless, these muffins have a gluten-free and highly nutritious base.  Just plant protein, coconut, oat bran and flax (if you’re celiac, make sure the oat bran is certified gluten free, as oat products are often cross-contaminated with wheat).

I love oat bran and flax, because they are extremely high in soluble fiber, a gelling agent that removes cholesterol from the blood stream and makes you feel full for a very long time.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

High quality protein powder, combined with MCTs (a.k.a. medium chain triglycerides, a.k.a. metabolism supporting fats) in the coconut gives you energy and keeps your blood sugar stabilized.

These muffins are gently sweetened with bananas and raisins.  No sugar or liquid sweeteners added. If you do prefer a sweeter muffin, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of honey to the batter, or just put a smear of your favorite fruit preserves.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

Yield: 9 muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups oat bran

¼ cup ground flax

¼ cup Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla Protein Powder (or other protein powder, preferably without stevia)

¼ cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins or 1/3 cup dried currants

1 cup milk or nut milk, room temperature

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 cup mashed very ripe banana, from about 1 1/2 bananas (don’t need to mash if you use blender for liquid ingredients)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted

Optional: 1-2 tablespoons honey, if you prefer a sweeter muffin

What to do:

Heat oven to 400º. Line a muffin tin with 9 muffin cups. Whisk together oat bran, flax, protein powder, coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and raisins/currants in a medium/large mixing bowl.  Whisk together remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl, or simply blend in a blender to get an extra smooth consistency and not worry about mashing your banana!  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and fold until fully incorporated.  Fill muffin cups with batter until almost full.

Bake 20 minutes, or until a knife poked in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin tin 15 minutes and remove.  Store at room temperature for one day and in the refrigerator for up to five days. (These are also very freezer-friendly!)

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

 


Sweet and Smoky Rosemary Pretzel Mix

Sweet and Smoky Pretzel Mix - The Clean Gourmet

The holidays aren’t over yet!  Whip this up for 2016 New Year’s Eve bash or make it for you to keep all for yourself.

Be warned though- this crunchy snack is super addictive and will go FAST, thanks to the satisfying combination of sweet and salty, followed by a subtle kick of smoky spice.

To up the nutrition, I recommend using Newman’s Own spelt pretzels. If you’re gluten free, don’t let that stop you- gluten free brands, such as Gratify or Glutino, work perfectly.

Note: If you don’t have flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, reduce salt to 1 teaspoon.  For smoke lovers, up the smoke factor by substituting half the salt with smoked sea salt.

More importantly: I strongly recommend serving with rosemary gin martinis or a good IPA;).

Sweet and Smoky Rosemary Pretzel Mix

300 grams (about 3 cups) small pretzel twists, preferably unsalted

250 grams (about 2 cups) mixed nuts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil

5 tablespoons organic sugar crystals

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

3 tablespoons minced rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Weigh/measure pretzels and nuts and mix in a large bowl.

Melt butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat or in a small bowl in the microwave.  Stir in sugar, maple syrup, cayenne, paprika, rosemary and salt.  Pour over pretzels/nut mixture and incorporate with a large spoon.

Spread onto lined sheet pans and bake for 40 minutes, stirring at least once, until glaze is set.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on pan before serving or storing.

Sweet and Smoky Pretzel Mix - The Clean Gourmet

 

 


Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet

Best Ever Vegan Mac

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet

I’ve been holding onto this for a while now, but I’ve been getting a lot requests for the recipe lately, so it’s time to share!  Most of my clients are dairy-free (I’ve actually been avoiding dairy as well in order to cut back on inflammatory joint pain), which means comfort food that they can enjoy within their dietary restrictions is a very important part of my repertoire.  Vegan mac is definitely a “go-to”.

This mac satisfies all kinds of cravings, with a super savory sauce and crunchy topping, but it’s very nutritious.  Instead of cheese, butter and flour, the sauce is made of cashews, nutritional yeast and spices (turmeric!!).  Thus, instead of empty carbs and loads of saturated fat, you get protein, fiber, anti-inflammatory anthocyanins and healthy fats!

Bring this to your next football party or serve it to vegetarians at your Thanksgiving dinner with a side of cranberry sauce😉.

COOKING NOTES:

Do not skip the cauliflower!  Cauliflower is not a randomly added vegetable.  It has a deep umami flavor that makes the mac more “cheesy”.

Since the sauce is nut based, you’ll need to thin it out quite a bit with pasta water, as it will thicken over time.  If you accidentally throw out the pasta water, don’t worry, you can use regular water or broth to thin.

Best Ever Vegan Mac:

Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small/medium head cauliflower

12 ounces pasta (brown rice pasta is best for gluten-free, as it’s thicker than quinoa or corn based ones)

1 cup pasta cooking water

½ cup parsley, finely chopped (can make extra for garnish)

salt and pepper, to taste

For the vegan “cheese” sauce:

1½ cups raw cashews, preferably soaked 2-3 hours and strained

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Dijon or yellow mustard

panko or crumbled potato chips

turmeric and paprika, for garnish

Heat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend all of the ingredients for the “cheese” sauce in a blender until smooth, about a minute.

Sweat shallot and garlic in a large pan. Add cauliflower with ½ cup water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until just tender.

Cook pasta in salted water until it’s about a minute undercooked. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and strain.

Mix the pasta, cauliflower, parsley and “cheese” sauce.  Place in oiled 9×9 baking dish.  Place in oven and bake until crispy, about 20 minutes:

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet

Remove from oven and, if using panko, top with panko and spray/drizzle with oil.  Place under broiler for 2 minutes, until browned.

If using crumbled potato chips, skip the panko/broiler step and just sprinkle the top with chip crumbs just before serving.  Dash the top with turmeric, paprika and parsley to garnish.

Best Ever Vegan Mac - The Clean Gourmet


Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto - The Clean Gourmet

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto Integrale alla Zucca)

Yes, I am one of those people who get pumpkin fever, without fail, every fall.  If I drank coffee, pumpkin spice latte would be MY JAM.  For me, and I think for many people, pumpkin spice brings back memories of putting on your hat, running outside and jumping into a pile of leaves before they get bagged up.

If you’re overloaded with pumpkin bread and PSL (pumpkin spice lattes), try this savory option for a change.  This recipe is special, as it’s a recipe that I learned while living in Marano sul Panaro, a remote town outside of Modena, Italy eleven(!) years ago.

Since those years, however, I’ve swapped the white Carnaroli rice for brown rice or farro.  Not only do the whole grains heighten the nutrition and reduce the glycemic load, I think they add wonderful flavor and body as well.  (Do not use long grain rice for any risotto, as it’s delicate and fluffy and will turn to mush.  Long grain and jasmine varieties are best suited for pillowy pilafs.)  If you decide to use farro, just note that your risotto will no longer be gluten free.

I like to use fresh creamy almond or cashew milk as a finisher rather than whole milk.  However, in Italy we used extremely fresh milk from grass-fed cows that lived next door- if you’re gonna have dairy, that is definitely the way to go.

Finishing with fresh cilantro sounds incredibly non-Italian, but this is traditional!  Cilantro really brightens up the mellow sweetness of the pumpkin and the earthiness of the nutmeg- don’t skip it.  (If you hate cilantro, fresh parsley or sage will do.)

Happy fall and buon appetito!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto - The Clean Gourmet

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or grass fed butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion or 2 shallots, minced

1 cup sweet brown rice, short grain brown rice or farro

1 bay leaf (sage leaf or orange leaf are great alternatives)

2 cups light vegetable broth or chicken stock

1 cup water

2/3 cup pumpkin purée from kabocha, sugar pie, red kuri or blue hubbard pumpkin (instructions below)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup creamy unsweetened nut milk or organic whole milk from grass-fed cows

1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper (about 5 turns on a grinder)

grated parmesan, to serve

cilantro, to serve

What to do:

For the pumpkin purée (can be made up to four days in advance):

First prepare the pumpkin mixture.  Cook pumpkin of choice by cutting in half and placing, cut side down, on an oiled parchment-lined sheet pan and baking at 400  degrees F.  Cook until a fork pierces the skin easily, more or less 40 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin.  Remove from oven and let cool.

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

Scoop flesh from pumpkin and purée in a food processor or push through a ricer or food mill. For this recipe you’ll need about one cup of purée.  Use remaining pumpkin for other purposes (Pinterest “pumpkin recipes” and you’ll see that there is a lifetime of possibilities) or plan on doubling, tripling or quadrupling the recipe to make croquettes out of leftover risotto;).

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

For the risotto:

Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a medium pot.  Add onion/shallot with the salt and sweat for about 5 minutes, until translucent.  (Reduce heat if you start to see any browning.)

Add rice or farro and bay leaf and toast in pot for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 2 cups of broth, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove lid and add the remaining cup of water slowly, while stirring frequently.  When rice is halfway cooked and the liquid absorbed, add pumpkin purée, lemon zest, nutmeg and water.  Continue stirring another few minutes.  The grains at this point should be tender, but chewy (a.ka.a. “al dente”).  Turn off the heat and stir in the milk and a touch of lemon juice to finish.

Serve immediately and top with cilantro (and parmesan, if using).  A glass of dry white wine will go very nicely…just saying:).


Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce

Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

If you have tons of tomatoes, this is a great way to preserve them.  I make this sauce every August/September when I’m drowning in tomatoes and peppers, picked ripe from local vines.  None may go to waste!
Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Simmering tomatoes with olive oil makes the naturally occurring lycopene and carotenoids much more available for absorption by the body.  The longer, the better!

Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Use this as a dipping sauce, pasta sauce or eat is alone as a soup.

Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce:

Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

1 red bell pepper

1 tablespoon high quality olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

2 large heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped (include skins and guts)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 turns black pepper

1/2 cup creamy homemade almond milk or walnut milk (whole milk if you’re okay with dairy)

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Start by roasting your pepper:  Place pepper on a parchment lined sheet pan and place in your broiler.  Once you see dark browning/blackening, turn the pepper and repeat once or twice until blackened all over (should take about 10 minutes per side).  Remove pepper from oven and place in closed paper bag or covered bowl for 15 minutes to steam.  Remove blackened skins.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan until golden.  Add roasted pepper, tomatoes and salt.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.

Blend simmered ingredients on high in blender until smooth.  Add nut milk and black pepper.  Continue to purée until silky smooth.  Transfer to a container or bowl and stir in basil.

Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce - The Clean Gourmet


Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Summer is NOT over!  Make these Herbed Zucchini Cakes while zucchini is still dirt cheap at the market and your neighbors are still drowning in zucchini from their backyards.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

These really don’t take long to make and are great as an appetizer for guests or as a light main course.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

I use almond flour to bind the patties, as it lends body and more flavor than breadcrumbs or flour do.  It also happens to make this dish paleo and gluten-free:).  Just make sure to wring the zucchini out well so that when making the patties they’ll come together without having to add extra almond flour.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes with Minted Sheep's Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce - The Clean Gourmet

Don’t make these unless you plan on having some kind of sauce!  Tangy sheep’s milk yogurt and lime, along with fresh mint, is the best way to do these puppies justice.  If you’re vegan or dairy free (or not…), they’re also great with Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce.

Herbed Zucchini Cakes:

Serves 2

2 cups grated zucchini, from 2 medium zucchini

½ cup grated potato, from 1 small potato

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

2 teaspoons finely chopped mint

zest of 1 lime (about 1/2 teaspoon)

4 turns black pepper

about 1/3 cup almond flour (add more, if needed)

1 tablespoon avocado oil, for cooking

Place grated zucchini and potato in a colander and toss with salt.  Let drain in sink or large bowl while you prepare the remaining ingredients and dipping sauce.

In a large bowl, mix together egg, parsley, thyme, mint, lime zest and black pepper.

Wring out zucchini with clean dish towel- the drier you get it, the less almond flour you will need!  Add wrung zucchini and almond flour to bowl with other ingredients and combine.  Form into patties (this is where you’ll realize whether or not you need more almond flour).

Heat a large pan with avocado oil over medium-high heat.  Form patties with zucchini mixture and sear on pan, 2-3 minutes each side.

Serve with Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce or Creamy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Summer Sauce.

Minted Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1 6-oz container sheep’s milk yogurt

1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 juicy lime)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Stir yogurt, lime juice and mint together in a small bowl.