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Meatless Mondays! Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl with Toasted Walnuts, Basil and Blueberry Balsamic Sauce (Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Roasted Veggie Rice Bowl with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Roasted veggies and sweet tangy blueberry balsamic sauce with toasted walnuts and chiffonade basil

I’m not sure what it is with me and cooking gluten and/or dairy free lately, because it isn’t something that is compulsory for my health, however, I do feel pretty good when I eat this way. The last couple gluten and/or dairy free recipes that I posted have occurred by chance, and not at all through planning. Last night was one of those nights that I didn’t think I would create anything worth a damn in the kitchen, but I surprised myself. Yet again! We are nearing the end of our rations at this point and really need to get to the grocery store, but I am playing that game of trying to stretch as many meals out of what we have in the fridge. It’s quite a fun game, and something I have become pretty good at I must say. I think living on a budget has made me a better cook; a more resourceful steward, and definitely provided a stage for improvising ingredients when I need to use something up or don’t have something I want to use.

We have lots of half used veggies in our fridge right now (and of course fresh basil) that need to be used up in the next few nights. My hubby and I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our repertoire, so last night seemed like a good night to do that especially since it was Monday… ahem… Meatless Monday 😉

As I started cooking last night the only thing I knew was that I needed to use up some broccoli, a quarter head of cauliflower, a handful of some mini bell peppers, as well as some fresh basil. Recently I was informed through my Pinterest (and namely through the blog http://www.amateurgourmet.com on behalf of the Barefoot Contessa‘s book Back to Basics) that I have been cooking broccoli wrong my ENTIRE life! How could I be so ill informed?! I’ve always pretty much just steamed or sauteed broccoli and that was the extent of it… until now. Have you ever roasted your broccoli? Well, I gotta tell you… it is AMAZING! It caramelizes it and gives it a nutty flavor that beats all other water logged broccoli you’ve ever had to date! Armed with my new found broccoli cooking method, I hit the kitchen with my remaining veggies and got to roastin’.

After I started the rice and got the veggies into the oven to roast, I figured I would just pour some balsamic vinegar over the dish and call it good… but then inspiration came over me. (cue angels singing) I recalled that I had about a half cup of blueberries in a bowl in the fridge that I had been telling myself to make a smoothie with since I made pancakes over the weekend. Aha! Blueberry balsamic reduction sauce it is! Balsamic is a great vinegar to use with fruit and it reduces beautifully to create a wonderful fruity, slightly tangy sauce. Sidenote: In addition to using balsamic in this sauce, I often times put a tsp. or so into the fruit mixture when I do fruit crisps and it turns them from great to AWESOME – it’s something in the caramelization of the fruit.

The dish ended up with a lovely mixture of sweet, tangy, nutty, roasted flavors. The sauce along with the toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and the fresh chiffonade of basil (I love to say that word, chiffonade, but let’s be real here.. it’s just shredded). You will hardly notice that you are missing meat! But… if relinquishing your rights to meat is a big deal for you, then by all means you better cook up some chicken or salmon with this meal…I would hate to see you famish. 🙂

Servings: I made enough for 2 and some leftovers for lunch

This is one of those meals that you can estimate measurements of the veggies.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
pinch kosher salt
Small crown of broccoli, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/4 crown of cauliflower, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/2 bell pepper, cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, smash it open and mince it
small onion, roughly chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling (couple Tbs)
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
basil chiffonade
feta cheese (optional, but not dairy free)

Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tb. honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. water
pinch of kosher salt

Cooking Steps 

1. Prep all veggies as instructed above. Preheat oven to 425°

2. Put water and rice in pan. Place on stove on High heat. Once water starts boiling, cover and reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed all liquid.

3. Place broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, onion, garlic in a foil lined roasting pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until veggies have good roasted color.

4. While veggies and rice are cooking, start the Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat add olive oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add blueberries and cook for 2 minutes, until skins are bursting. Add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. In a glass cup, mix the cornstarch with the water and then add this into the pan. Reduce heat and cook uncovered so liquid reduces. Keep this on low while you prepare rest of meal.

5. Heat a pan on medium heat (I find a cast iron pan works well for this). Add roughly chopped walnuts to pan and toss for a few minutes until they are nice and toasted. (Make sure you keep an eye on this pan as they go from barely toasted to blackened in seconds… trust me, I know.) Take toasted nuts out of pan and set aside to cool

6. Chiffonade your basil (check out link for how to chiffonade). Once the veggies and rice are finished cooking plate on a dish and drizzle with the blueberry balsamic sauce. Garnish with chiffonade basil, toasted walnuts and (optional) feta cheese.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of this dish!

 

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Pineapple Basil Fish Cakes and Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Yummy fish cakes. Cool tangy avocado cilantro lime slaw. Yay, no mayo!

As one who grew up not eating fish very often, I sure love it as an adult. Not only is it yummy and versatile, it also cooks in record speed and is one of the most healthful animal protein sources that I know of. I love playing with sweet fruit flavors in my recipes and complimenting them with fresh herbs and spices. My favorite herb has got to be basil. Lots and lots of fresh FRESH basil. If it isn’t large quantities of garlic and onions, I am probably using fresh basil more than any other ingredient. I just wish I could keep my plant alive so I didn’t have to keep buying it at the store. I know, I know…Woah is me.

Just as I was finishing up my last post (Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles), I was trying to think of what I wanted to make for dinner next. I was feeling void of inspiration for a short moment. A cloud of anxiousness covered me…. suddenly I feared that my blog would only EVER (E-V-E-R!!!) have four posts (at least it’s more than the first blog I started). Ok, ok I am slightly embellishing the feeling I had. One thing that I love about cooking and food is that I am pretty much ALWAYS thinking about it, so it doesn’t take me long to come up with my next recipe (thus why I keep a notepad on my phone to keep notes of dishes I want to make).  There is actually a running joke in my family that whenever we eat together, I have always said, “You know what we should have had?” It’s not that whatever we are ever eating isn’t worthy of praise and interest at that very moment, I am just always forward thinking and onto the next… meal.

And… back to the topic at hand. Fish.

Fish cakes are easy, yummy and a great way to mix up the normal fillet routine. You can use fresh or previously frozen fish in nearly any variety… salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia and lots more. Plus the ingredients you put into them can be changed up to suit your fancy, but you’ll definitely want to try my recipe to get you on your way to fish cake fanaticism. The slight sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the herby basil notes and then topped with the creamy lime cilantro dressing and crunch from the slaw make for a wonderful taste combination. The slaw also absolutely does not have mayo in it, because like you will soon come to know… I LOATHE MAYONNAISE! I find it vile and so gross, so I find ways around using it, or just don’t use it at all. You’re welcome, the calories weren’t welcome in this recipe anyways.

Oh, and did I mention this recipe is dairy free and gluten free! Yeah, well it is… so also healthier, so eat up!

If you buy fish when it is on sale or in the frozen fillets, you can save big money. We happen to buy almost all of our groceries at Grocery Outlet. Most people are amazed at that, because we certainly don’t survive off Ramen and Hamburger Helper in this house, that is for sure. We definitely are on a budget, and I am able to buy an assortment of fresh and frozen organic produce most of the time as well as wild caught fish for usually about half the price of normal grocery stores. I just love it there, and they have a fairly decent wine selection too.

Tools needed:

Food processor
Zester
Knife
Mandolin Slicer (optional – I don’t have one so I didn’t use it, but if you do it will make your life that much easier to thinly slice the cabbage into airy crisp goodness)

Servings: 4

Pineapple Basil Fish Cake

Ingredients:
8 oz. fresh or canned pineapple, drained as much as possible
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 bell pepper, cut up (any color will do)
FRESH basil – a large handful
pinch of red chili flakes
zest from 1 lime
1 lb. fish thawed, skin removed (salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia… your choice)
1 Tb. vegetable oil (I tried to use EVOO but found that it started smoking when cooking)

Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (NO MAYO! YAY!)

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cabbage, shredded airy thin (mandolin slicer can assist here, but I just used a sharp knife)
1 small ripe avocado
juice from 1 lime
large handful cilantro
1 clove garlic
pinch kosher salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Enough to thin out the dressing mixture

Steps

1. Start assembling the slaw first. Put the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl.

2. Plug in food processor. Scoop flesh of avocado into food processor, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and kosher salt and blend until smooth. Drizzle EVOO into processor until thinned enough that it can be mixed into slaw to dress cabbage. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

3. Scoop dressing out of processor and toss with shredded cabbage until covered. Place into fridge while assembling rest of meal.

4. Rinse out food processor to begin preparing fish cakes.

5. Put pineapple, garlic, kosher salt, bell pepper, basil, chili flake, lime zest in processor and blend until combined and finely pureed. Add fish and again pulse until incorporated with other ingredients.

6. Heat frying pan on medium high heat with 1 Tb. vegetable oil.

7. Scoop out 1/4 cup of fish mixture and place into heated frying pan. Press the fish mixture down to form a patty. Cook about 1 minute each side. Take out and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

8. Plate fish cakes and top with a heavy helping of slaw. Enjoy!

Note: We made mashed potatoes seasoned with my cajun spice mix as the other side for this. These weren’t GF/DF, so I omitted them from the post.

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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 😀 .

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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