What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

September 5, 2010

Pretty In Pink: Mixed Green Salad with Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing, Feta and Pecans

Filed under: Fruit,Salads & Dressings,Sides,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 12:59 pm

Every year, it seems our garden has a superstar.  You know, that one “stand out” performer that is most prolific. 

Last year, our cucumbers did really well.  I was able to make Refrigerator Pickles many, many times last summer.  This year, I was out of cucumbers before I could even get to a fourth batch.  I seriously thought about buying pickling cukes at the market just to get one last batch in, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!

Some years, it’s been the tomatoes that have been most abundant, providing me with plenty of fruits for Bruschetta, Super Savory Summer Salsa, and Marinated Tomatoes with Basil.  There was also usually tomato harvest leftover to giveaway and go into our freezer.  This year though, our tomatoes got a late start and haven’t been nearly as abundant.  We are canning some of the tomatoes this year – since we’re out of freezer space – and only hope we are able to preserve enough of a supply to make it through the winter for inclusion in our Love Soup.

So, pickles and tomatoes are singing backup this summer.  This year, the star of the show is the Raspberry.

My Raspberry bushes produced a bit several weeks ago and I enjoyed them for a few days atop my Granola, and even froze a small bag or two.  Then they were gone.  But they are having a second wind and are back with a vengance so I am out in the garden every single day picking a pint of the sweet red berries.  Raspberries happen to be my favorite fruit, but I can only eat so many of them!   So, it’s time to get creative so I can include them in more meals than just my breakfast!

Today, I made this dressing, and drizzled it atop a perfect salad for lunch.  I’m thinking about having the same meal for dinner.  It’s that good.

For the dressing, you’ll need:

1/2 cup fresh Raspberries, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp Honey

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1/3 cup Canola Oil

Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Cold Water, if needed

Poppy Seeds (Optional – I didn’t use this time but they would be a great addition)

What to do:

Place Honey, Dijon, Vinegar, and a couple grinder turns each of salt and pepper into a Blender or the bowl of a Food Processor. 

Now, add Canola Oil.

Pulse a few times, then add Raspberries.

Blend until smooth and creamy,

and pour into serving jar.

If you wish to add Poppy Seeds, do so after pouring the dressing into your jar and just shake the jar to combine.  Likewise, if the dressing is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time, then shake until it reaches the desired consistency. 

Now, let’s build the beautiful salad that will wear this dressing! 

You’ll need:

Mixed Salad Greens (I used Romaine Lettuce tossed with Assorted Baby Greens)

Pecans or Walnuts (I wanted to use Walnuts, but found I was plum out so I used Pecans instead)

Fresh Rasberries, rinsed and drained

Red Onion, thinly sliced

Feta Cheese

What to do:

First, we need to toast the nuts. 

Place nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. 

Cook stirring and tossing occasionally, just until the nuts start to release their fragrance.  Now, remove from heat and cool. 

While the nuts are cooling, find a pretty plate. 

This one happens to be a hand-painted plate from my mother-in-law’s Aunt who passed away several years ago.  It seemed well-suited to this salad, so I took it off of it’s dusty shelf.  Don’t worry, I did wash the dust off!

Start with your greens, then add Onion, Nuts, Raspberries and Feta Cheese. 

Top with a couple grinds of fresh black pepper and drizzle with the dressing.

Dig in! 

Wouldn’t this be a pretty salad for a baby shower luncheon – especially if it’s a girl – or at a wedding shower?  It’s both delicate and flavorful, and topped with a sliced, grilled chicken breast it would make a good main dish.  You could even marinate the chicken in the dressing for added flavor.

I just love the combination of sweet/sour dressing, salty feta and crunchy nuts in this salad.  I’m sure I’ll be making this often, at least until my raspberry crop runs out.  After that, I suppose I can still use my frozen berries for the dressing, and just leave the fresh fruit off the salad as we go into the winter months. 

I can’t believe I’m even talking about the winter months.  Is it really September?  I refuse to believe it.

July 13, 2010

A Passage to India – Part 2: Indian Cauliflower

Filed under: Recipes,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 4:28 pm

Before this Indian Cauliflower came along, we’d eat our Spicy Lentil Dal with our Spicy Green Beans (recipe to follow soon).  It was a great meal, but the discovery of this sweet and flavorful cauliflower dish completes it perfectly, and now my husband won’t let me forego this dish on Indian Night, even if I’m feeling lazy.

You’ll need:

1 Large Head Cauliflower

1 Large or 2 Medium Sweet Onions (like Vidalia)

3 cloves Garlic

Pinch of Mustard Seed

Pinch of Cumin

1 tsp Powdered Ginger (or 2 tsp minced fresh)

1/2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Chili Powder

Vegetable Broth (Leftover from Spicy Lentil Dal recipe from yesterday)

Chopped Cilantro for garnish

To Make:

First, wash and cut the cauliflower into florets.  Set aside.

Measure the dried spices, except the Mustard Seed, into a small bowl.

Chop Garlic.

Cut off the stem end of the onions, and cut in half from root end to cut end.  Then, peel the papery skin off each half…

…and slice the length of each onion.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp Canola Oil.

Add a pinch of mustard seed. 

When seeds begin to pop, add the remaining spices, garlic and onion and stir.

Cook until onions begin to wilt, adding broth as necessary so they don’t burn, then add Cauliflower to pan, along with a bit more broth.

Stir until cauliflower is coated in spices.

Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Cauliflower is tender.  Sprinkle with Cilantro before serving.

Enjoy! 

As for me, I’m off to make Zucchini Au Gratin for dinner again, as our garden overfloweth!

July 10, 2010

Zucchini Au Gratin

Filed under: Recipes,Sides,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 9:39 am

This is my favorite dish to make with Zucchini.

This is one of the very first things I ever cooked after being married (not counting the burned stew incident), and this is most definitely the very first recipe I ever invented myself.  We’ve been enjoying this great summer Zucchini dish for well…let’s just say…MANY years!

First, slice a large Vidalia (or other sweet) Onion.

Then, slice 2-3 medium to large Zucchini.

Cover bottom of 9 x 13 glass caserole with a layer of Zucchini, overlapping like this:

Follow with a layer of onion rings.

Repeat the process, layering Zucchini and Onion again.

Okay…you caught me!  I used the same photo as above, but you get my drift.

Finish with a layer of Zucchini.

Just because this is so complicated , let’s be sure you’ve got it:  That’s Zucchini, Onion, Zucchini, Onion, Zucchini.

I’m feeling a little sarcastic this morning, can you tell? 😉

You can cover with aluminum foil and bake in an oven at 350 degrees until Zucchini is fork tender, OR if you are in a hurry like I was last night, you can cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 7-10 minutes until tender.  You’ll want to be able to easily pierce the squash with a fork.

Here’s what it will look like once the squash is cooked and ready for the next step, which happens to be my favorite part:

You can see them beaded up with all the sweat from their little trip to the sauna.

Now, cover the whole darn thing with cheese –  glorious cheese!   I used mozzerella, but colby or cheddar works great, too.

Then, top with bread crumbs (Gluten Free, of course!). 

Do you know how to make your own bread crumbs?   I just cut or tear my gluten free sandwich bread into small pieces, run it through the food processor and then bake in the oven at 350 degrees, stirring every 5 minutes, until they are lightly browned and dry.  I store in a ziploc freezer bag in my freezer and they last for months this way.  You can take out what you need and place the bag back in the freezer for the next time.  No stale crumbs ever!

Okay, now pop the pan into the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, just until the cheese is starting to brown up a bit.   This is what it should look like when finished:

Let cool for a few minutes before cutting with a spatula to serve. 

My hubby likes this with ranch dressing.  I like it as is, simple and delicious!  This is sometimes served as our main dish (like last night) and sometimes sits on our plate beside pasta, grilled chicken, or fish.  However you decide to eat it, I hope you enjoy it!

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