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Category Archives: Palate Pleasers

Palate pleasing meals that are both yummy and inexpensive for the prudent pocketbook

Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Sausage and Quinoa (Gluten Free)

I don’t eat exclusively gluten free, but I have dabbled for periods in the past and are often subject to these dishes when dining with family and friends with the sensitivity. Most gluten free recipes are pretty healthful in and of themselves, so I try to incorporate gluten free recipes into my┬árepertoire every now and again. This was a good meal for getting some of my half eaten veggies and canned peppers and olives used up in the fridge, not to mention the half used pesto container from the night before’s homemade pizza (but I really would advocate for making some fresh pesto if you have the ingredients and a few extra minutes, as it’s more flavorful and comes together so quickly in a food processor).

I didn’t intend to make this dish gluten free, but it was a nice little afterthought when I started realizing that all of the foods I was pulling out of the fridge were of the sort. I was actually going to make this dish with noodles or pasta, which would have been delicious too, but I am glad that I chose quinoa as it is so yummy and it’s very healthy for you too, full of protein and fiber. I also love that this dish doesn’t ‘taste’ gluten free, so nothing about it makes you think you are missing out. This meal was delicious so I deemed it blog worthy (as did my husband – although he has to say that, right?). Not only is this yummy it’s also pretty healthy (with a few substitutions that I will note, you can cut more calories if you want), it cooks very quickly and even a novice cook can get this right on the first shot.

This is one of those recipes that you can eye-ball (except for cooking the quinoa) so put away your measuring cups and just start cooking ­čśë

I made this recipe for 4. There was enough for 2 of us for dinner and then enough for leftovers/lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (will make about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Tb. of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of fully cooked chicken sausage in casings, sliced into medallions (I used Al Fresco brand sun dried tomato chicken sausage, which is gluten free and has no nitrates)
handful of canned pepperoncinis, stem and seeds removed and sliced
1/2 cup greek pitted kalamata olives, halved
A few Tbs. of homemade or store bought pesto (I used about 1/3 of a 6 oz package)
crumbled feta cheese, enough for garnishing each dish
zest from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: dried red chili flakes (I like adding a little spice to my own plate, so I sprinkled a little of this on my own)

Instructions

1. Rinse the quinoa in water and discard rinsing water (A strainer might be helpful here). Add quinoa to saucepan and add in the water or broth. Turn on to high heat. Once it starts boiling put a lid on it and turn it down to a simmer. Keep covered and cook for 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from the heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, start preparing the rest of the dish. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan or an enamel coated cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to get golden colored.

3. You might want to add another Tb. of olive oil if your veggies sucked up all the oil. Add your fully cooked chicken sausage medallions and cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes to give a good sear to the sausage.

4. Turn off heat and stir in the pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and pesto sauce.

5. Open lid of quinoa and fluff with a fork. Dish the quinoa onto plates first, top with the sausage and veggie mixture.

6. Top with a shake of crumbled feta and some fresh lemon zest

Cutting Calories? Consider omitting the pesto sauce and add some fresh chopped basil leaves at the end.

If you are using this recipe and sensitive or allergic to gluten, please verify each individual product label you use for this dish is free of gluten.

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Let me know how you like it ­čśÇ

Thai Meatloaf with Peanut Sauce & Crispy Garlic Green Beans

At this point you have read the title of the post and already have an opinion of the entree. Meatloaf. You might even be judging it like it did something to you. You probably grew up with some version of it and it elicits strong memories. You might have an aversion to it, or you might delight in the memories of home cookery. Whatever side of the fence you stand on the idea of meatloaf, I propose that you reconsider your stance this one time. This is no ordinary meatloaf. It’s loaded with wonderful bright thai flavors like garlic, ginger, basil, chili, and lime and it’s iced with not ketchup nor tomato sauce, but sweet chili sauce and served with a dose of homemade peanut sauce. The flavors all blend together beautifully and create a super flavorful dish that your mom’s meatloaf doesn’t even hold a candle to (too much? I’m willing to bet…).

I just created this dish for the first time last night, but really it has been a product of obsession in the back of my mind for at least the last couple months. For some reason I just hadn’t gotten around to making it. Oh… and there was this time period where we were eating mostly vegetarian, so a loaf of meat doesn’t really fit in with that.

I knew that the base should include a mix of meats, as the best meatloaf (and for that matter, meatballs as well) come from adding some ground pork into the mix. I guess I just ruined this post for all my Kosher readers. I do a lot of thai cooking at home… many stir fries, noodle dishes and curries and always have a stockpile of asian cooking supplies in my kitchen. It also happens that we live in Seattle and are fortunate to have an abundance of asian cooking stores nearby that we can purchase the ingredients quite inexpensively. So really I have no excuse to not have cooked this sooner. It turned out even better than I had planned, and even as I am writing this a day later, I am one word closer to drooling all over my keyboard thinking about the leftovers that I GET to eat ­čśÇ .

I really hope you enjoy it too, and if you do try it out, please leave a comment and let me know what you liked, or didn’t or any substitutions you made.

Thai Meatloaf

Servings: 4-6 people

3/4 lb. ground turkey
3/4 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (could substitute regular breadcrumbs)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
zest of 1 lime
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil (thai basil is preferred)
1 Tb. grill seasoning (I used a mix that I think was Montreal steak seasoning)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (Medium spiciness, level 3 at a thai restaurant – adjust accordingly)
1 Tb. green curry paste (this is optional, but I had it, so I used it)
Sweet Chili Sauce (I used probably about 1/2 cup, but enough to cover the top of the meatloaf)

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 375┬░
  • I placed a foil lined pan below to catch any drippings from the sauce.
  • Combine all ingredients except the sweet chili sauce in a bowl and mash together with your hands until all ingredients have been properly distributed throughout the meat
  • I checked my seasonings at this point by taking a tablespoon of the meat mixture out and cooking in a pan with a little oil. My seasonings were to my liking, but if they aren’t for you, tweak the seasonings above.
  • Put all of meat mixture into an oiled loaf pan. I used sesame oil because I had it, but you can use any type of oil you have. Spread out the meat and press into the pan so that it is even on the top.
  • Pour the sweet chili sauce over the meat so that it covers it
  • Place into oven on the rack above the foil lined pan you placed below. If I had opted for a larger loaf pan, I probably wouldn’t have needed the foil lined pan.
  • Cook meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165┬░. This took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for ours to cook.
  • Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Sauce

I make my Thai peanut sauce using the ratios below. If you have more than 2-3 people eating, you will want to double or triple the recipe below.

1 rounded Tb. of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, but make to use a natural kind like Adam’s)
1 Tb. soy sauce
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

Warm up the peanut butter in a bowl in the microwave until it is just softened. Add the soy sauce and sweet chili sauce and mix until combined. Serve with the meatloaf.

Crispy Garlic Green Beans

Ingredients:

Green beans, 1 lb. (I used whole frozen green beans)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (but really, the more the better)
kosher salt
1 Tb. peanut oil (or another oil with a high smoking point)

Slice up your garlic.
Pour the oil into a pan and heat it on medium-high heat.
Add the garlic into the oil. Saute until they start to turn a little brown.
Add green beans and saute until cooked through. Season with kosher salt to taste.

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