Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes (Grain-free, Dairy-free)

I can't begin to explain how excited I am about this recipe. It basically made my whole weekend. Sad, I know. But to have finally come up with a grain-free pizza recipe that is ALSO vegan....and tastes amazing? I mean, yeah. Made my weekend. So much that my husband and I made this first Friday night, and then again on Saturday. (And this wasn't eating leftovers. This was remaking from scratch).

Pizza has always been a favorite of mine (I mean, who doesn't love it?) But it also is something I have had to cut out of my diet since the tummy does not handle it well. So I'm sure you can understand my excitement with this new recipe.

The secret ingredient to this grain-free pizza is cauliflower. There are many cauliflower pizza crust recipes out there but they always turn out too mushy or soggy. After much trial and error, I am happy to have found one that both my husband and I enjoyed so much that we made it two nights in a row. And I can't wait to eat it again. And agian. And again......


Pizza Crust:

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons of almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon of oregano or favorite Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt
Makes 1 personal-size pizza crust (about 4 slices)

Pizza topping:
Vegan Pesto (can make ahead)
4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red and yellow)
1 shallot, sliced
Olive oil
Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (I use Daiya which melts great!)

Start by roasting your tomatoes (which you can make ahead if you want, even a day or two). Toss tomatoes and shallot with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and roast in oven at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and chard in spots. Set aside.

The cauliflower "dough" after it has been squeezed of all the excess liquid.

Next make your pizza crust. (My crust recipe is inspired from detoxinista.com, a great food blog with tons of healthy recipes and nutritional tips. My version however is vegan and tweaked a bit). Add your sliced cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until the consistency of rice. (You will probably need to do this in batches unless you have a gigantic food processor). Next, in a large pot, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cover. Let cook on medium for about 5 minutes and drain into a fine mesh strainer. Let it sit in the strainer for a few minutes to cool off as it will be really hot for the next step.

Now pour the drained cauliflower into a clean dish towel and twist it up, squeezing (I mean SQUEEEEZING) all of the moisture out. (Be careful because it will be very hot unless you let it cool beforehand.) You should eliminate a lot of water. This is the secret trick to making the cauliflower crust actually work. The more water you eliminate, the crisper the crust. (This is where most recipes for cauliflower crust have failed. If you don't squeeze the water out, you will get a soggy crust that falls apart when you try and pick it up). After you squeeze out all the water, you should be left with something that resembles a cauliflower "dough" rather than "riced" cauliflower.

Next, add the almond flour, egg, seasoning and salt. Mix with your hands well until everything is well distributed. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and add the dough on top. Form a circular shape or rectangle (however you want your pizza to look) that is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Make the edges a little higher so you have a more of a "crust" look. Bake for about 38 minutes on 400 degrees, or until golden and crisp around the edges.

Now doesn't that look great!? 

Next spread the pizza with Vegan Pesto (I didn't put an exact measurement since you can add as much or little as you like....I like a lot. Obviously).

Next add your vegan mozzarella cheese. (Side note: if you have not yet tried Daiya Vegan Cheese, you will be pleasantly surprised how well it melts and subs for regular mozzarella. My husband (someone who is FAR from a vegan) had his first taste of melted Daiya this weekend and started making nachos as a pre-dinner snack while impatiently waiting for the pizza to be done. Needless to say he was a fan.)

Add your roasted tomato and shallot mixture on top of the cheese and then add some more mozzarella on top. Return to the oven at 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven, slice and serve! 

Vegan Pesto

Vegan or not vegan, I love this Pesto. It's delicious on basically anything and is the perfect addition when wanting to add great flavor to your meal. Tons of basil and garlic make for a perfect topping/sauce/dressing/dip/spread especially in the Spring time. I especially love this on my Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes. Make a batch of this figure-friendly Pesto ahead of time and keep in your fridge until your ready to dress up your next meal with some awesome flavor!

2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 garlic cloves (depending on how big of a garlic lover you are)
1/3 cup of vegan parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of vegetable broth
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (I used pumpkin seeds because that is what I had)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process on high until everything is combined and mixed well. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Store in fridge (covered) and serve warm or cold atop your favorite pasta, pizza, sandwich, fish, meat, salad......the list goes on! Hope you enjoy this healthier, figure-friendly Pesto!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

This one is for all my Brussels Sprout fanatics out there. I have had these little guys a million different ways and this has to be my most favorite preparation. And best of all? There are only 4 simple ingredients. Hope you enjoy!



Now top with the little fried piggies and you got yourself an awesome side dish perfect for any occasion, any time of the year!

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces of diced pancetta
1 large shallot, cut razor thin
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil until warmed and then add the pancetta. Fry up those little piggies until crisp then remove just the pancetta (leaving the oil and drippings in the pan) to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep warm and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan first and then the Brussels sprouts, stirring till combined. Turn off the stove top and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper (be careful not to over-salt since the pancetta is naturally salty anyway). Place pan in the oven and roast. Half way through, remove pan and stir, flipping over the sprouts so they are all cooked evenly. Put back in the oven and finish roasting until golden and crisp. Serve in a medium size bowl and toss in the fried pancetta. (BE CAREFUL removing the saucepan from the oven and handling it after. Carlos and I on two different occasions have both burnt our hands badly. Wear an oven mit through the whole process - believe me!)

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seared Sea Scallops with Truffled Pea Purée

Scallops have always been a favorite of mine and whenever they are on a menu, I find it really hard not to order them. I haven't had much success of cooking them in the past - never having them match up to the melt-in-your-mouth version I always order out at restaurants.

Saturday night I had an urge to just stay in with the hubs and cook a yummy meal. I decided to try my attempt at scallops again and serving them over this to-die-for Truffled Pea Purée. And O YEAH. I can safely say that I finally conquered the restaurant-worthy scallop dish and I'm really excited about it.

This is the perfect Spring dish when peas are in season and the fresh basil brightens up the dish while the truffle oil makes it super savory at the same time. In short; this dish is a MOANER.

Serves 2

Seared Scallops

8 large sea scallops
1 cup of boiled water
4 cups of cold water
1/2 cup of salt
3 tablespoons of butter (I used whipped butter which has a lower fat content)
Salt for seasoning
Chopped basil for garnish

Truffled Pea Purée
2 tablespoon of butter (I used whipped butter which has a lower fat content)
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped
14 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of chicken broth
3 cups of peas (fresh or use frozen and thaw out)
1/4 cup of fresh shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons of black truffle oil
3 pinches of salt

Start by making a quick brine bath for your scallops. This will season them all the way through (tip from the Thomas Keller Ad Hoc cookbook :) Combine the 1 cup of boiled water with the salt in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the cold water. Next add the scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes (no longer, or the scallops may become too salty). Drain the scallops, rinse under cold water, and arrange in a single layer on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you make the pea purée. 

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add butter and coat the pan until melted. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant (about 4 minutes - the shallot should look translucent). Toss in the basil and then pour in the chicken broth and peas. Lower the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in the fresh Parmesan and stir. Pour everything into a blender and pour in the two tablespoons of truffle oil and three pinches of salt. Blend on the purée setting until smooth. Do a taste test and get ready to moan! (Feel free to add more salt or more truffle oil depending on preference). Pour into a bowl or pot with a lid to keep warm.

Next, take your scallops out of the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel. (Side note: with 8 large scallops you will want to cook them in separate skillets because you don't want to overcrowd the scallops. In order for them to get a nice sear on the outside, they can't be touching or too close to one another. The best pan to use for searing scallops is a cast iron skillet (you get the best sear from cast iron), but a regular non-stick frying pan will work too.) Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter to each skillet and warm over medium high heat. Make sure the pans are well coated (if not, add more butter). Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and add four to each skillet, being careful that they do not touch. Do not move the scallops once they are in the pan. You want to make sure each side gets a nice caramelized sear. Cook for about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes and flip (try and place each one on a part of the pan that has not yet been touched). Let caramelize and sear for another 3 minutes or so. They should be golden brown on the outside (Make sure you don't over cook! Nothing is worse than an overcooked scallop).

Heat up your pea puree if you need to in the microwave and stir. To plate, spoon a nice portion of the pea puree onto two separate plates, topping with four scallops on each plate. Drizzle with some more truffle oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.

I hope you enjoy my new favorite dish! I wish I was eating it right now....