Basil Thai Noodles with Bison and Zucchini + Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber

Bison (or Buffalo) is a sustainable alternative to beef, as bison don’t graze nearly as intensely as cattle and, since they are native to North America, are adapted to the American climate and natural food sources.  This means less land and energy needed for shelter/heating and we don’t need to spend gallons of water growing their food.

Aside from the ecological bonuses of eating bison rather than beef, the health benefits of bison meat include lower saturated fat, more omega 3s, more protein, and fewer calories. Another plus, it’s illegal to administer growth hormones to bison in the U.S and antibiotics are rarely needed since they’ve evolved to survive in North America.

So choose bison next time a recipe calls for beef!  Bison’s flavor is similar to, if not better than, beef and it’s becoming more and more readily available.

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Before you start working on the noodles, do the Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber.  It takes five minutes to prepare and it’ll be perfect within 30 minutes, just when you’ve finished your colorful bowl of noodles.

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This answer to take out is a fun way to enjoy ground bison, but feel free to substitute the meat with tempeh for vegetarians.

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Basil Thai Noodles with Bison and Zucchini

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 pound wide rice noodles

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pound grass fed ground beef or bison (or tempeh if vegan)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons coconut aminos, or 1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

1 large carrot, thin matchstick cut or bias cut

1 large zucchini, medium matchstick cut

1 ounce Thai basil or regular basil (about 1 cup picked leaves), stemmed and left whole

juice of 2 limes

3 scallions, bias cut (reserve some of the green cuts for garnish)

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, to finish

What to do:

Cook wide rice noodles 9 minutes (may vary depending on the brand you buy- check package directions), and toss with toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds.  Set aside.

Sauté ground meat in oil in a large high sided skillet over high heat.  Break it up as it cooks, but be careful not to agitate too much- you want to allow the meat to brown.  Season with salt and remove from pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and add to noodles, trying to keep drippings in the pan.

In the same pan you used to cook the meat, sauté onion, ginger, and garlic in drippings and remaining 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.  Deglaze pan with coconut aminos and fish sauce. Add carrot and zucchini and continue to cook, tossing frequently, about 5-8 minutes or until softened.  Add vegetables to noodles, along with basil, lime juice and scallion.  Toss and serve.  Garnish with reserved scallion and more sesame seeds or some roasted peanuts.

Great with sesame roasted broccoli and spicy quick pickled cucumber (below).

Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into quarter moons

1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled

pinch red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar

What to do:

Combine all ingredients, cover, and let marinate 20 minutes or overnight.

 


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.


Celery and Zucchini Detox Soup with Tarragon and Lime (Zuppa di Sedano e Zucchina al Dragoncello e Lime)

It’s hot and humid in New York, so I wanted something light and easy to digest.  (I’ll admit, I also had some celery and leftover brown rice I wanted to use up…)  I don’t often use tarragon, but the grassy, “anisey” flavor plays nicely with the lime and celery and is very refreshing.  Avocado adds some clean protein and healthy fat to the dish as well.  (Unfortunately we ran out before we were able to get a picture with it.)

Note:  I freshly ground dried thyme, so I used just a pinch.  However, if your thyme has been sitting in the cupboard for over six months, you’ll probably need to use a bit more.  Hence, the range of measure I provided.  In general, I highly recommend swapping any old herbs or spices for fresh ones, as the flavor of fresh herbs and spices will completely transform your health-conscious cooking.

serves 4

2 teaspoons canola or grapeseed oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, medium dice

1/2 head celery (5-6 large stalks), scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground dried thyme

4 cups water

1/3 cup cooked sweet brown rice or 1/4 cup uncooked rolled oats

1 large zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

pinch black pepper

3 sprigs tarragon (stems removed), finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)

To Serve:

avocado, sliced or cut into chunks, to serve (optional)

tarragon leaves, for garnish

 

In a medium pot, warm oil over medium heat and add shallot and onion with a pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring often.  Once beginning to soften, add celery and thyme.  Cook until celery is mostly soft and then add water, rice or oats, zucchini, salt and pepper.  Cover, bring to a low boil and turn heat to low.  Simmer 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Turn off heat, stir in tarragon and transfer to a blender (preferably Vitamix or other high speed blender).  MAKE SURE THE BLENDER IS SET TO LOWEST SETTINGS.  Working in two batches, add half of the soup to the blender and turn on at low speed.  Gradually raise to a higher speed and blend until the soup is smooth and there are no major flecks of tarragon remaining.  Pour into a bowl and repeat with the other half.

Once all of the soup has been blended and consolidated, stir in lime juice.  Pour into bowls and top with whole tarragon leaves and/or avocado, to serve.  The soup should be warm, but not piping.

Celery and Zucchini Detox Soup with Tarragon and Lime - The Clean Gourmet

Zuppa di Sedano e Zucchina al Dragoncello e Lime:

4 porzioni

2 cucchiani di olio di colza

1 scalogno, tritato

1/2 cipolla picolla, tagliata a pezzi

5-6 gambi grandi di sedano, puliti bene e tagliati in pezzi a circa 1 cm

pizzico di timo essiccato macinato

1 litro d’acqua

30 grammi di riso integrale cotto oppure 23 grammi d’avena cruda

1 zucchina grande, tagliata in quarti e poi in pezzetti

1/2 cucchiaino di sale, o a piacere

pizzico di pepe nero

3 rametti di dragoncello, tritato

1 cucchiaio di succo di lime (da circa 1 lime)

foglie di dragoncello, per guarnire

avocado, per servire (facoltativo)

 

In una pentola media, riscaldate l’olio sul fuoco medio e aggiungete lo scalogno e la cipolla con un pizzico di sale.  Fate cuocere circa 4 minuti, agitando spesso.  Appena cominiciano ad ammorbidire, aggiungete il sedano e il timo.  Fate cuocere finché il sedano non sia abbastanza tenero, poi aggiungete l’acqua, il riso o l’avena, zucchina, sale e pepe.  Copritela, fate bollire e subito abbassate il fuoco.  Fate sobbollire 10-15 minuti, finché la verdura non sia tutta tenera.

Spegnete il fuoco e uniteci il dragoncello.  Trasferite tutto nel frullatore (idealmente uno potente, come il Vitamix).  ASSICURATE CHE IL FRULLATORE SIA SISTEMATO ALLA VELOCITA’ PIU’ BASSA.  Lavorando in due lotti, mettete la metà della zuppa nel frullatore e accendete, cominciando dalla velocità più bassa.  Pian piano, alzate la velocità e fatelo andare finché non ci siano più pezzetti noti di dragoncello.  La consistenza dovrebbe essere abbastanza liscia.  Quando finita, versatela in una zuppiera e ripetete col resto.

Dopo aver passato tutto per il frullatore e tutta sia consolidata, aggiungete mescolando il succo di lime.  Servite calda, ma non scottante, e guarnite con foglie di dragoncello e, se volete, delle fette d’avocado.


Minted Zucchini Soup (Vellutata di Zucchini alla Menta)

This is a very quick and easy soup that’s also oil free.  I usually have it warm, but it’s also great chilled on a hot summer day.

What you need:

4 zucchini

2 shallots, roughly chopped

½ yellow onion, roughly chopped

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

5 oz fresh baby spinach (about 4 handfuls)

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to serve

goat cheese or yogurt (not 0%), to serve

torn mint, to serve

What to do:

Throw zucchini, shallots, onion and broth into a pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiled, turn heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are soft.

Stir in mint leaves, spinach, lemon, salt and pepper.  Purée in blender or with an immersion blender.  Adjust lemon, salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and top with goat cheese or yogurt, pepper and a sprinkling of torn mint.  (Great cold too!)

Vellutata di Zucchini alla Menta:

Cosa Serve:

4 zucchini

2 scalogni, spezzettati

½ cipolla gialla, spezzettata

4 tazze di brodo di cipolla o di verdura

1 manciata piccola di menta fresca

4 manciate di spinaci freschi

succo di 1 limone

1/2 – 1 cucchiaino di sale

1/4 cucchiaino di pepe nero

formaggio di capra o yogurt intero, per servire

menta fresca strappata, per servire

Come Fare:

Mettete zucchini, scalogni, cipolla e brodo in una pentola e fate bollire.   Quando bollente, abbassate la fiamma e fate cuocere finché siano cotte le verdure.

Serve immediately and top with goat cheese or yogurt, pepper and a sprinkling of chopped mint.

Aggiungete la menta, gli spinaci, il limone, il sale e il pepe.  Frullate tutto nel mixer e aggiustate il limone, il sale e il pepe.

Servite immediatamente e metteteci sopra una cucchiaiata di formaggio di capra o di yogurt, un pizzico di pepe e un pò di menta strappata.  (Buonissima anche fredda!)

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