Flower Power

Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries and Crispy Onions

Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries and Crispy Onions

Cauliflower is a beautiful thing!!  With its bunches of tightly clustered florets snuggled into green leaves, cauliflower looks somewhat like a flower.  Cauliflower comes in colors other than white–and with added nutrients.  Orange and green cauliflower provide us with beta carotene.  Green cauliflower also has a little more protein.  Purple cauliflower  gets its color from anthocyanins, said to improve memory.  Since its color fades with cooking, you will get the most benefits by eating it raw.

Cauliflower has been called the “skinny starch”.  It has 16 % less carbs and 79 % fewer calories per 1/2 cup than potatoes.  It also has lots of pectin– the same stuff that thickens jams and jellies–so pureed cooked cauliflower has a velvety texture that adds body to soups, and mimics potatoes when mashed.  Cauliflower may also be shredded or finely chopped, then lightly sautéed to make a low-carb “rice” or “couscous”.

If you prepare cauliflower with a sense of adventure, its mild flavor and unique texture allow it to take the place of other higher calorie, higher-starch foods in  winter dishes.  Forget basic steamed florets.  In this recipe you will see that roasty-browned cauliflower mixes well with dried cranberries and crispy French fried onions to make a side dish that goes well with just about any main entree.

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CRANBERRIES AND CRISPY ONIONS

Yield:   Makes 6 – 8 servingsIMG_6629

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup French Fried onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, divided
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.

2.  Cut cauliflower into small bite-size florets.  Place on a large baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.   Roast for 10 minutes.  Remove cauliflower from oven.  Add 1/2 cup of the French fried onions to the cauliflower on the baking sheet and toss to mix.  Place the remaining 1/4 cup onions off to one side of the baking sheet (these will be used as garnish.)   Roast mixture an additional 10 minutes or until cauliflower reaches desired tenderness and onions are brown and crispy.

3.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Set aside 2 tablespoons each of dried cranberries and pistachios ( these will be used as garnish).

5.  In a medium bowl, toss warm cauliflower mixture with dried cranberries and pistachios.  Spoon ricotta mixture on top and fold gently, leaving large bits of ricotta.  Garnish with reserved cranberries, pistachios and crispy onions.  Serve immediately.

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SOURCE:   Eating Well

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Pear and Pineapple Salad (Sesame Dressing)

Pineapple and pear salad with sesame dressing.

Pear and pineapple salad with sesame dressing.

What gave me the inspiration for this salad was a ripe pear that was sitting on my kitchen counter, and in the refrigerator, the remains of a fresh pineapple.

I had prepared a baked casserole for dinner and wanted a light citrusy, fruity salad to go with it.  So, out of the refrigerator came some lettuce–iceberg and romaine, the pineapple, crumbled goat cheese and from my cupboard, some dried cranberries  because this salad seemed to need a pop of color.

IMG_6773 So, I started by chopping a mixture of lettuces and made a bottom layer on salad plates.  Then I placed a slice of pineapple on top of the lettuce and cut it into wedges.  Over that I put pear slices, arranged in spoke fashion, scattered a few dried cranberries on it, and crumbled the goat cheese on top.  Very pretty!   Now,  what to use for dressing??

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Something with an Asian flavor, I thought.  Thumbing quickly through one of my vegetarian books, I found this recipe for a sesame dressing.  Yes, perfect!   The dark sesame oil, the sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar provided an interesting flavor that paired especially well with the fruits and lettuces.  Sometimes the greatest ingredients just seem to find each other and blend so well.  I’m recording this recipe here so I don’t forget it.  Keep it in mind when you want a light, refreshing, fruity salad with a subtle Asian flair.

PEAR AND PINEAPPLE SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING

Makes 2 salads.  Adjust ingredients accordingly for more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 leaves iceberg lettuce, and 2 – 3 leaves romaine lettuce.  Heavy ribs removed, leaves sliced into ribbons.
  • 2 slices fresh cored pineapple cut into wedges
  • 1 ripe fresh pear, cored and quartered, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberriesIMG_6770
  • 2 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese

For the salad dressing:    Makes 3/4 cup

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • dash of salt to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar or shaker with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake vigorously to combine and chill until ready to use.  This dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or more.

To assemble the salads,  layer the ingredients in the order given.   Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

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SOURCE;  for the dressing;  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

 

Happy First Day of Spring, Everyone!

Cranberry Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich

Sandy has come and gone, but certainly won’t  be forgotten.  Good-bye to a not-so-nice lady!  I’m so thankful that we came through it in good shape.  Our only hardship was the loss of electricity for about 48 hours. Compared to other families who suffered extensive damage and even loss of life I feel particularly lucky.  The shorelines of Ct., New York and New Jersey were devastated and it will take a very long time- if ever- to get things back to normal.

In preparation for the super storm and the  likelihood of not having any power for some time, I roasted a chicken so I would have some meat to work with in creating other dishes. That worked out well because  I have a gas stove so we were in pretty good shape.   One of the lunches I fixed was this recipe for chicken salad sandwiches.

Cranberry Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich

Usually, when I make chicken salad I put in a little dried tarragon, along with the chopped celery, and green onion.  But this time I also added some dried cranberries.  The inspiration for this came from the fact that on my last trip grocery shopping I found a loaf of Cranberry Wheat bread.  This is available for a limited time from now through the Holidays, and I thought it would be good toasted,  but it also worked out very well as a backdrop to the chicken salad.

I served these yummy sandwiches with some sweet potato chips and apple cider.  For two people in the midst of a hurricane, this was quite a good lunch, if I do say so.  If you decide to try this, try to find bread or rolls with either cranberries or orange in it.  That seems to elevate the sandwich to something a little more special.

CRANBERRY TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH

YIELD:   makes 4 sandwiches

This is what you do;

In a medium-size bowl, mix together all of the following:

  • about 2 cups chopped cooked chicken,  white and dark meat mixed
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped, leaves included
  • 1 scallion, sliced,  white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 Tablespoon dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or more as needed to moisten it all.

Bread or rolls of choice, preferably with added cranberries.

Sweet potato chips make a nice accompaniment.

Substitute some of that left-over Thanksgiving turkey in place of the chicken, for another variation on this sandwich.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original

Eat Your Veggies

There are members of my family who are not particularly fond of vegetables, and they were going to be present at a family end-of-summer cookout.  I was asked to bring a salad.  Whenever this happens I try to bring one that includes vegetables in an appetizing, attractive form, hoping to entice them to eat their veggies.  This salad was a winner with everyone.  Once I placed it on the serving table it began to disappear very quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of the whole salad.  What you see here is the small amount that was left.     This is one salad  I know I will be making again and again.

Most people seem to like raw vegetables with a dip and my salad is a riff on that idea.  All the vegetables are raw plus there are cranberries for a little sweetness, peanuts for some extra crunch, and bacon for that smoky, salty taste.  For a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon.  The slightly sweet dressing pulls everything together and enhances it beautifully.

RAW VEGETABLE SALAD WITH CREAMY DRESSING

SERVES   10 – 12

INGREDIENTS–SALAD

  • 3 cups chopped raw broccoli
  • 3 cups chopped raw cauliflower
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, or raw peanuts
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

INGREDIENTS–DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cup mayonnaise

TO ASSEMBLE

1.  Combine all the vegetables and cranberries in a large salad bowl.

2.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

3.  Pour the dressing over the salad.  Add the bacon and peanuts.  Toss to coat with dressing.  Serve chilled.

SOURCE:  All-Recipes.com