Sweet Surrender Grape Preserves

Sweet Surrender Grape Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

I haven’t had a classic PB&J in years because, honestly, I’m not into grape jelly.  Any jelly, really.  Preserves, which contain the whole fruit, are much better.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find grape preserves anywhere.

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Small fruits like grapes, figs, and berries are my favorite, since I prefer to graze on fruit a bit at a time and can never eat a whole apple, pear, or citrus in one sitting.

When I tasted Sweet Surrender grapes after purchasing them for the first time, I was blown away by their flavor and sweetness.  To be honest, it was a bit much for me, as I’m pretty sensitive to sweet.  There was no way that I could get through the whole bag before they spoiled and I will never waste anything if I can help it.  So, with all that natural sweetness in the flesh and pectin in their super thick skins, I figured they’d be perfect for preserves!  No added sugar needed, with just an apple to provide extra pectin for natural gelling power.

The grapes’ robust flavor is further intensified when reducing it to a preserve, which makes it stand up really well to complementary flavors.  I chose to use clove, star anise, and bay leaf.  If you don’t have such spices on hand, I’m sure classic cinnamon and clove would be delicious as well :).

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I don’t know if this recipe is appropriate for canning, as there is no added sugar.  That said, in regards to flavor, the variety of grapes has so much sweetness that you don’t need any added sugar, and the pectin from the apple provides all the thickening you need.

Makes about 1 cup preserves

Ingredients:

2 pounds (1 bag) Sweet Surrender grapes, or other dark, thick skinned sweet grape varietal, such as Concord (see note if using grapes with seeds)

1 small apple, small dice (do not peel)

2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1/2 medium lemon

1/4″ piece bay leaf

2 whole cloves

1/2 star anise

Procedure:

Bring all ingredients to a simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, reduce heat to low, preferably over a flame tamer, and simmer, uncovered, 45-60 minutes.  Stir occasionally and poke the grapes with a fork to help them break down.  When ready, the grapes will be broken down and the liquid syrupy.

Remove bay leaf, cloves, and star anise (unless using a food mill).  Blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor until uniform, but not completely smooth (unless you like that, in which case you should use a blender).  If you are using Concords or other grape varietal with seeds, pass the stewed grapes through a food mill.  You won’t need to remove the spices prior to using a food mill.

Pour into sterilized glass jars, seal, and refrigerate.  I do not know if this recipe is appropriate for shelf stable canning.  Just keep refrigerated for up to one month, or portion and freeze in airtight plastic containers for later use.

 


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 :).


Saffron and Ginger Kabocha Soup with Black Salt and Sesame Seeds

I made this when I was visiting family in California and found some fun ingredients in the pantry.  Stuff like crystallized ginger, this World Salt Tower and black sesame seeds.  Not to mention an excellent spice selection and hyper local produce from New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay.

Warm and hearty, this soup tastes like a decadent cream soup, but is actually more of a detox soup in that there is no dairy, little oil and is lightly spiced.  You’ll also get lots of carotenoids (great for the eye health) from the squash and extra minerals from the black Cyprus salt, which is Mediterranean sea salt mixed with volcanic charcoal, a natural detoxifier.

Serves 6

What you need:

1 kabocha squash (about 2.5 pounds), halved and deseeded

2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

1 stalk celery, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 small (4-inch diameter) celeriac (a.k.a. celery root), peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes

3 cups chicken broth or light vegetable stock

pinch saffron

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

To serve:

crystallized ginger, very fine dice

black sesame seeds

black Cyprus salt

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Rub kabocha flesh with olive oil or avocado oil and place cut sides down on parchment.  Pour orange juice into pan and place in oven.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the skin and flesh.  Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium sauce pot, sauté the ginger, onion, celery and garlic in the coconut oil, along with the salt, over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent browning.  Once the onions are translucent, add the celeriac, broth, saffron and remaining spices.  Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and add to the soup.  Raise heat to high, bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Ensure that the celeriac is fork tender and turn off the heat.  If time permits, allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Put contents in blender, working in batches if your blender is small, and blend on high (though starting at LOW) until silky smooth.  Return to pot and rewarm over low heat, adding water if necessary.  Adjust for salt, keeping in mind that you will be topping with black salt just before serving.

To serve, ladle soup into warmed bowls and top with crystallized ginger (they will sink), black sesame seeds and a few flakes of black Cyprus salt.


Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela)

If you went apple picking like me and got a TON of apples, I’m sure you’re coming up with all kinds of uses for those apples.  I always to try to keep the skins on when I’m cooking and baking with apples, but unfortunately, some recipes just don’t work with the skins.  In my case, I wanted pectin-free creamy applesauce so I had to peel my apples.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to throw away the most nutritious part of all those apples!

While it is important to buy all or as much organic produce as possible, it is especially important to buy organic apples.  The Environmental Working Group, who puts together the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Lists, has put apples as the most chemical-contaminated produce this year!  Sure they cost more, but you’ll probably save on doctor’s bills in the long run anyway buy buying organic apples instead of conventionally grown ones.

Like most fruits and vegetables, the majority of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are found in the peel, which will help control blood sugar and protect you from various diseases.  Apple peel’s unique attribute is that it’s very high in ursolic acid, which promotes muscle growth and reduction of body fat, with a higher proportion of brown fat to white fat (which is beneficial for diabetes prevention and healthy aging).  For more information, check out the links below*.  If you want to enjoy these health benefits of the peel without a side of pesticides, I again stress that you buy organic.

This is probably the easiest recipe I’ve posted so far, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it!  Note that I put the apples into a cold oven and then turn the heat on, as this allows for some low temperature dehydration.  I then turn the oven off and wait for it to cool completely before taking the skins out for the same purpose.  I do not have a dehydrator and this method is working for me, but I imagine you could use a dehydrator to get similar results.

*Main Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/never-peel-apple_n_4791328.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2000392/Apple-peel-helps-build-muscle-control-weight.html

What to do:

Peel your apples and arrange the peels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven.  Turn oven on to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 30-40 minutes, tossing once or twice.  When the skins are mostly dry and crisp, turn the oven off and leave pan in there until oven cools down to ensure full dehydration.

Enjoy alone for snacking, steeped in hot water as a “tea” or as a crunchy topping on salad, oatmeal or whatever you can think of!

Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela) - The Clean Gourmet

Come fare:

Sbucciate delle mele e spargete le bucce su una teglia foderata di carta pergamena e infornate (il forno deve essere freddo).  Accendete il forno e impostate a 150 gradi centigradi e lasciate per circa 30-40 minuti, girando una o due volte.  Quando le bucce sono abbastanza essiccate e croccanti, spegnete il forno e lasciate infornate le bucce finché il forno non sia raffreddata, così per essiccare bene le bucce.

Graditele da sole per spuntini, nell’acqua calda come una tisana oppure come un condimento sull’insalata, sui cereali caldi or qualunque cosa alla quale riuscite a pensare!


Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves (Conserva di Prugne alla Vaniglia con Kuzu)

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Plums are in season and we’ve been getting a lot of them through our CSA.  These Damsons have that quintessential “prune” taste, so they become very rich when reduced to a preserve and do not need much sweetener.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Instead of the usual 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, I added a little blueberry juice (that’s whole organic blueberry juice, with no added sugar or preservatives) to get the plums going and to lend bit more depth of flavor, along with a touch of maple syrup.

Since I use very little sweetener and the fruit is quite juicy, I use kuzu to help set up the preserves, especially since plums are not particularly high in natural pectin.  If you are not familiar with kuzu, it’s a starch that’s also known as Japanese arrowroot and it looks like a white clumpy powder.  Kuzu is commonly used in macrobiotics for therapeutic purposes, including (but not limited to) the treatment of expansion headaches, upset stomach, blood circulation, skin disorders and fever.  (Perhaps a post on kuzu remedies is in order…) It’s good stuff.

If you’re not suffering from any of these ailments, it’s still not a bad idea to put some kuzu in your homemade preserves, if nothing else for culinary purposes.  Just be sure to make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in a little water and then bring whatever fruit you’ve added it to to a boil, or else the kuzu won’t be able to work its magic.

If you can’t find kuzu or don’t want to wait to get it, reduce the preserve for a longer period of time over the heat.  Regular arrowroot powder is an option as well, but the consistency will get stringy-gummy, which I don’t find appetizing at all.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

I kept mine simple this time by leaving out any spices in order to let the vanilla stand out.  In the past, however, I’ve made it warm and spicy by adding cinnamon, star anise and clove.  See what suits you and feel free to play around with it.  I imagine fresh ginger would be a nice addition as well.

Makes about 16 ounces

Ingredients:

1 quart Damson plums, pitted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup good quality blueberry juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon vodka, lemon juice or red wine vinegar

Optional Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves

2 teaspoons kuzu + 2 teaspoons water

What to do:

Place all ingredients, except for kuzu, in a medium pot (heavy-bottomed is best) over medium-low heat.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

 

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, until the plums have broken down and the liquid has reduced.  Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is no sticking to the pot.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in the 2 teaspoons of water.   Add to simmering plums and mix thoroughly.  Bring plums to a low boil and let continue for about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced enough.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick and/or star anise, if using, and pour cooked plums into blender and run until smooth.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Pour into a sterilized jar (or several small jars), seal and refrigerate.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Spread on toast, grain-free biscuits (as pictured) or dollop onto local grass-fed yogurt.  Keeps for 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Rende circa 450ml

Ingredienti:

800 grammi di prugne Damson, snocciolate e tagliate a cubetti

90 ml di succo di mirtillo

1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia o metà d’un baccello di vaniglia, dimezzato

1-2 cucchiai di sciroppo d’acero

1 cucchiaio di vodka, succo di limone fresco o aceto di vino rosso

Spezie Facoltative: 1 bastoncino di canella, 1 anice stellato, 4 chiodi di garofano

2 cucchiaini di kuzu (oppure di amido di mais) + 2 cucchiaini d’acqua

What to do:

Mettete tutti gli ingredienti (tranne il kuzu) in una pentola media (meglio una pesante) sul fuoco medio-basso.

Fate bollire la miscela e abbassate la fiamma quanto possibile e lasciate sobbollire per circa un’ora, finché le prugne non siano molle e il liquido sia abbasstanza ridotto.  Girate circa ogni 15 minuti, stando attenti che le prugne non s’appiccichino al fondo della pentola.

Fate una malta fluida col kuzu ed i 2 cucchiaini d’acqua.  Aggiungete alle prugne cotte e mescolate bene.  Fate bollire lentamente per 5 minuti.  Riducete la fiamma un’altro pò e lasciate sobbollire per altri 20-30 minuti, giusto per far addensare e ridurre abbastanza il liquido.

Togliete dal fornello caldo la pentola e lasciate raffreddare 10-15 minuti.  Togliete il bastoncino di canella e l’anice stellato, se usando, e versate le prugne cotte in un frullatore e fate andare finché la consistenza non sia liscia.

Versate la conserva in un vasetto sterilizzato (o alcuni piccoli), chiudete e mettete in frigo.

Dura circa 2-3 settimane in frigo.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet


White Root and Pear Soup (Zuppa di Radici Bianche e Pera)

This soup is all about fall.  Right now, I am all about fall so this soup makes me happy.  I just spent the weekend in upstate New York among friends and we did all the quintessential fall stuff: apple picking, walks through the fall foliage, sitting by a wood-burning stove and making apple pie.  Fun as it was, by Sunday I was ready again for balance.  That means meals that are nutrient dense with low oil, light protein and complex carbs.  That does not mean, however, no yum.  Luckily when I came home I had some good produce in my fridge that came together really nicely.

The celeriac, turnips and pears are low starch, but have enough to make the soup creamy when blended.  I used light homemade chicken broth- just some chicken bones, celery leaves, garlic, onion and thyme.  If you use vegetable broth, make sure to use one that doesn’t have tomato added to it, not only because of its flavor, but because of its color as well.  I added tomatillos because they become citrusy when cooked, which meant I wouldn’t need to add lemon.  However, if you can’t get your hands on tomatillos, a little lemon juice at the end should be perfect.  I used two Seckel pears, which are small green and red pears that become very sweet and soft when fully ripe.  If you can’t find Seckel pears, Comice is a good substitute.  Fully ripe pears are key for flavor, as well as for lending texture to the soup.

White Root and Pear Soup (M) - The Clean Gourmet

A note on nutrition: It’s important to eat a variety of colors for optimal nutrition.  White is part of that nutritional “rainbow”.  There are nutrients in white produce, such as quercitin in pears, vitamin C and calcium in turnips, vitamin B-6 and magnesium in celeriac, not to mention plenty of fiber.  I could go on.  Basically, you should eat all the colors, including white (I know…white is not a color, but you get what I mean).

Everything in this soup is seasonal and can be purchased at your farmer’s market (at least here in the Northeast).  If you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, this soup is very vegan friendly.

Serves 3-4

What you need:

1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil (can sub half with grass-fed butter)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1 medium head celeriac (5-6 inches in diameter), peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

4 medium turnips, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

5 cups chicken stock or light vegetable broth

1/4 head green cabbage, light inner leaves, cut into 1 inch chunks

3 tomatillos*, quartered

2 Seckel or 1 Comice pear, well-ripened, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (reserve half for serving)

3 sprigs thyme

To serve:

5 leaves sage, very finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper

eggs, medium boiled (1 per person)

100% rye bread slices, toasted

grass-fed butter, for bread (optional)

What to do:

Sweat garlic and shallot in oil with salt over medium heat in a medium/large pot or dutch oven.  Stir frequently and cook until soft but not brown (lower heat if any browning begins to occur), about 3 minutes.

Add the celery, celeriac and turnips.  Sauté 4-5 minutes to soften the celery and the root vegetables.  Add some water (or white wine, if you have it!) if any browning or sticking begins to occur.

Add stock, cabbage, tomatillos, half the pear and thyme sprigs.  Cover, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs and transfer soup to blender.  Start on LOW speed, then gradually raise to high speed and let run until very smooth.  (Thirty seconds with a Vitamix or high-speed blender, about a minute with a regular blender.)  Transfer soup back to the pot and re-warm over low heat while you prep to serve.  Adjust for salt (*and add lemon juice if you didn’t use tomatillos).

Ladle soup into bowls, top with remaining pear chunks, black pepper and a sprinkling of minced sage.  Serve with rye bread and a light smear of grass-fed butter for omega-3s and drop in a medium-boiled egg for protein, aminos and more omega-3 if you’re not vegan.

Leftovers: This soup will last about three days in the refrigerator, but it will thicken.  Reconstitute with a little water and reheat over medium-low flame, stirring frequently.

White Root and Pear Soup (M) - The Clean Gourmet

Zuppa di Radici Bianche e Pera:

3-4 porzioni

Ingredienti:

1 cucchiaio di olio d’oliva (potete sostituire metà col burro)

1/2 cucchiaino di sale marino, più altro a piacere

2 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

1 scalogno, tritato

1 gambo di sedano, tagliato a pezzi

1 sedano rapa media, pelato e tagliato a cubetti

4 rape medie, pelate e tagliate a cubetti

1,25 litri di brodo di pollo o di verdura leggero (sennò usate dell’acqua)

1/4 del cespo d’un cavolo verde

3 tomatillo, tagliati a quarti (*oppure del succo di limone fresco)

2 pere Seckel oppure 1 pera Comice, tagliate a cubetti (tenete da parte metà dei cubetti)

3 ramoscelli di timo

Per servire:

5 foglie di salvia, tritate

pepe nero

uova sode (uno a testa)

fette di pane integrale di segale (100%), tostate

burro grass-fed, per il pane (secondo la vostra dieta)

Cosa fare:

Saltare in una pentola media/grande l’aglio e lo scalogno nell’olio col sale su fiamma media.  Agitate frequentemente e fate cuocere finché non siano teneri (attenti a non far rosolare), circa tre minuti.

Aggiungete il sedano, il sedano rapa e le rape.  Fateli cuocere altri 4-5 minuti per far ammorbidire le verdure.  Aggiungete un pò d’acqua (o di vino bianco, se ne avete!) se comincino ad attaccare al fondo della pentola.

Aggiungete il brodo, il cavolo, i tomatillo, metà della pera tagliata ed i ramoscelli di timo.  Coprite, fate bollire, poi abbassate il fuoco e lasciate sobbollire finché la verdura non sia morbida, circa 15 minuti.

Togliete il timo e trasferite la minestra al frullatore.  Fatelo andare prima a velocità bassa, alzandola pianamente a velocità alta.  Fatelo andare finché la zuppa non sia liscissima.  (Circa 30 secondi col frullatore potente, 1 minuto col frullatore normale.)  Trasferite la zuppa alla pentola e riscaldatela a fuoco basso mentre preparate per servire.  Aggiustate il sale (*e aggiungete del succo di limone se non avete usato del tomatillo).

Servite la zuppa e guarnite con la pera rimasta, del pepe nero e la salvia tritata.  Se non siete vegani, spalmate le fette di pane col burro grass-fed per omega-3 e aggiungeteci un uovo sodo per proteine, aminoacidi ed altre omega-3.

Per le rimaste:  Questa zuppa dura circa tre giorni in frigo, ma s’addensa.  Ricostituitela con un pò d’acqua e riscaldatela sul fuoco medio-basso, agitando frequentemente.

White Root and Pear Soup - The Clean Gourmet


Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

I was blessed with these gorgeous zucchini blossoms, thanks to my mom’s contractor, who happens to have three acres in upstate Connecticut and, apparently, plenty of zucchini plants.  Just because winter is coming doesn’t mean beautiful produce ends.

I usually like to toss squash blossoms into saffron risotto at the end of cooking.  However, with such a big bag of blossoms I felt I had enough that I could do some experimenting.  I knew I wanted to try stuffing them, but usually that includes a breadcrumb filling followed by deep frying.  I wanted to make them gluten free and definitely not fried, as I prefer to avoid heating oils to such high levels.

This combo seems to straddle summer and fall, with herbs like basil, mint and thyme, heavily sprinkled into a mixture of goat cheese, lemon and sweet potato.

This is a beta-carotene-filled snack, thanks to the orange petals and the sweet potatoes.  Also, the fresh herbs have highly concentrated amounts of phytochemicals, which ward off viruses and other more serious ailments.  In particular, mint is known to calm digestion, which especially important for those who struggle with IBS.  Also, basil is an especially powerful anti-inflammatory, which is key for those who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain.  In addition, the oils in thyme are shown to be highly antimicrobial, which means consuming more thyme helps fight bad bacteria so you don’t get sick as easily.  Sounds better than that multivitamin, no?

You definitely want to serve these nutritional tasties immediately while hot, as they lose their texture a bit as they sit and the petals lose their crisp.  I think they’re great alone, but you could serve with a mildly flavored dipping sauce as an appetizer or top a salad or risotto with them.


Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

What you need:

2 medium/large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, plus more for drizzling

11-15 zucchini blossoms, stamens removed

4 ounces soft goat cheese

5 sprigs fresh thyme, picked

1/3 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (plus more, very thinly sliced, for serving)

1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

one lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon of juice)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

salt, to taste

2 eggs, lightly whipped

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toss sweet potato chunks with oil and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.

While sweet potatoes roast, mix together goat cheese, thyme leaves, mint, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

When sweet potatoes are crisp-tender (about 20 minutes), put in bowl with goat cheese mixture and mash together with a fork.  Taste for lemon, salt and pepper.  Adjust as needed and add eggs.  Mix well.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Line the same baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment and lightly grease with oil.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Using a small spoon, scoop the goat cheese-sweet potato mixture into blossoms (it’s okay if they split, just wrap the petals around the stuffing) and arrange on prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re beginning to brown and crisp.  They will also be nice and puffy :).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

Sprinkle with thinly sliced mint and serve alone or with a dipping sauce.  I like my Creamy Vegan Red Pepper and Tomato Summer Sauce ;).

Herbed Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms - The Clean Gourmet

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Ginger-Spiced Carrot Soup with Kohlrabi Relish (Vellutata di Carote allo Zenzero con Insalata di Cavolo Rapa)

This meal was inspired by a box of almost impossibly fresh produce from Double L Market in Westport, CT.  I was especially motivated by the cartoonishly large carrot (2 inches in diameter and 10 inches long!) that I couldn’t resist buying.  I also picked up some mizuna, a mildly bitter lettuce I’d never tried before (it is delish).  If you can’t get a hold of this unusual lettuce, I think arugula would be a good substitute.  The ginger, too, was juicy and tender- the kind of fresh you can never get at the grocery store (nope, not even Whole Foods).  This box of vegetables and the soup it spawned was no doubt the highlight of my day.  I hope you like it too.

Please note that this soup is spicy, all thanks to the extremely fresh ginger.  It’s hard to believe there’s no capsaicin (hot pepper), but the spice is definitely there, with a bit of tang.  The bread was amazingly fresh and had been brought to the market from a bakery in New Haven, CT.  It was made with whole wheat and rye flours and without preservatives.

Serves 4-6 (Serve 4-6)

For the Soup:

6-7 regular carrots (or 1 enormous one), peeled and chopped*

2-inch piece FRESH ginger, peeled and minced

3 celery stalks, sliced

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste

salt and pepper

2/3 cup almond milk (or 2% organic cow milk if you don’t care whether or not this is vegan)

Kohlrabi Relish:

1 (~1 lb) kohlrabi cabbage head, peeled and diced

1/2 apple, finely diced

4 scallions, sliced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced

1 bunch mizuna (stalks included) or a handful of arugula, chopped

For the Kohlrabi Marinade:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg or other high quality type)

1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2-3 teaspoons white or yellow miso paste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Serve:

florets from 1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Whole grain organic bread, sliced

1 avocado, mashed

What to do:

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the kohlrabi, apple, scallions and cilantro in a medium bowl.  Toss with marinade and set aside.

Put the carrots, ginger and celery in a medium pot with just enough water to cover.  Heat over medium-low heat and allow to come to a simmer.  Be careful not to boil.

Let simmer gently until carrots are just tender.  (This is a good time to give the relish another toss.)  Purée with an immersion blender.

Turn heat to low and add coriander, miso and almond milk.  Simmer on low for 2 minutes to allow miso to melt and flavors to marry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss relish one more time, this time adding the mizuna.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with relish** and broccoli “croutons”.  Serve with bread smeared with mashed avocado.

*While carrots’ enzymes are best assimilated when cooked, carrots only need to be lightly cooked, or else the enzymes end up getting completely destroyed.  Luckily, the smaller you chop the carrots, the less you have to cook them, thereby preserving their nutrients.

**Don’t use use a slotted spoon to serve the relish, as the marinade flavors the soup :).

Vellutata di Carote allo Zenzero con Insalata di Cavolo Rapa:

Ingredienti:

Per la Vellutata:

6-7 carote, pelate e affettate*

pezzo di zenzero fresco a 5 cm, pelato e tritato

3 gambi di sedano, affettati

2 cucchiaini di seme di coriandolo macinato

1 cucchiaio di pasta di miso bianco

sale e pepe

150 ml di latte di mandorle (oppure latte parzialmente scremato, se vi va bene che non sia vegana)

Insalata di Cavolo Rapa:

1 (~500gm) cavolo rapa, pelato e tagliato a cubetti

1/2 mela, tagliata a cubetti

4 cipolline, affettate

1/2 tazza di coriandolo fresco, tritato

1 grappolo di mizuna, oppure una manciata di rucola, tagliata

Per la Marinata:

60 ml d’aceto di mele di alta qualità

1 cucchiaio di olio d’oliva o di olio di vinacciolo

1 cucchiaio di senape di Digione

2-3 cucchiaini di pasta di miso bianco

sale e pepe, a piacere

Per servire:

infiorescenze d’un grappolo di broccoli, tagliate a pezzi piccoli

pane integrale biologico, tagliato

1 avocado, pestato

Cosa fare:

Frustate le ingredienti per la marinata in una scodella piccola.

Mettete il cavolo rapa, la mela, le cipolline e il coriandolo fresco in un’insalatiera non molto grande.  Mescolate con la marinata e mettete da parte.

In una pentola media, metteteci le carote, lo zenzero e il sedano con dell’acqua che giusto copre la verdura.  Mettete sul fuoco medio-basso e fate sobbollire, facendo attenzione che non bolla.

Lasciate sobbollire giusto finché le carote non siano cotte.  (A questo punto, darei l’insalta un’altra mischiata.)  Quindi, fateci una purea col frullatore a immersione.

Abbassate il fuoco e aggiungete il seme di coriandolo, la pasta di miso e il latte di mandorle.  Fate sobbollire altri due minuti, così il miso si scioglie e i gusti si congiungono.  Insaporite con sale e pepe a piacere.

Mischiate l’insalata un’altra volta, questa volta con la mizuna o la rucola.

Servite la vellutata con mestolo e guarnite con l’insalata** e i pezzetti di broccoli.  Servite da parte delle fette di pane spalmate d’avocado.

*Nonostante gli enzimi delle carote siano meglio assimilati quando le carote sono cotte, non devi scotterle, altrimenti distruggi quegli enzimi.  Dunque, più piccole sono le fette, meno le devi cuocere, così preservando loro nutrienti.

**Non usate un mestolo perforato per servire l’insalata, dato che la marinata insaporisce la vellutata :).


Crab Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Avena Semi-Intera alla Mela Selvatica)

Crab Apple Steel-Cut Oats - The Clean Gourmet

Crab Apple Steel-Cut Oats - The Clean Gourmet

Yes!  You can eat crab apples!  They’re super cheap and, despite their super tartness when raw, are sweeter than regular apples when cooked.  The best place to find these is at your local farmer’s market (or on your neglected apple tree).  If you can’t find crab apples, one or two regular apples work too :).

4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup steel-cut oats

4 cups water

pinch salt

1 banana, mashed or thinly sliced

4-5 crab apples, cored and small/medium dice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup raisins and/or goji berries

about 1/2 cup chopped pecans or whole pumpkin seeds

Milk or almond milk, to serve

What to do:

Bring water, oats and salt to a boil in a covered medium-sized saucepan.  Once to a boil, uncover and cook at boiling for about 2 minutes and then turn heat to low.

Add the crab apples apples and banana.  Cook for 15 minutes, then and add spices and raisins.

Cook another 10 minutes, or until oats are cooked and most of the water is absorbed.  Turn off the heat and stir in nuts.

Serve with milk or almond milk and enjoy warm.

Crab Apple Steel-Cut Oats - The Clean Gourmet

Avena Semi-Intera alla Mela Selvatica:

4-6 porzioni

Ingredienti:

1 tazza di avena semi-intera

4 tazze d’acqua

pizzico di sale

1 banana, passata o tagliata in pezzi sottili

4-5 mele selvatiche, snocciolate e tagliate in pezzi piccoli

1 cucchiaino di cannella

1/2 cucchiano di chiodo di garofano

pizzico di noce moscato

pizzico di pepe della Giamaica

1/2 tazza d’uvetta e/oppure di goji

circa 1/2 tazza di noci pecan o noci, a pezzetti

Latte o latte di mandorle, per servire

Cosa Fare:

Fate bollire acqua, avena e sale in una pentola media.  Appena bollente, scoprite e continuate a far cuocere per circa 2 minuti prima di abbassare la temperatura.

Aggiungete le mele selvatiche e la banana.  Fate cuocere altri 15 minuti quindi aggiungete le spezie e l’uvetta.

Dopo 10 minuti, o quando la maggior parte dell’acqua sia assorbita, sarà pronta.  Spegnete il fuoco e aggiungete le noci pecan.

Servite con latte o latte di mandorle, oppure lasciatelo raffreddare prima di mettere in frigo.  Dura 5-6 giorni.

Crab Apple Steel-Cut Oats - The Clean Gourmet

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