Healthy, Vegan, but Absolutely Delicious Risotto

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I have been lucky to get my hands on a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Good. I borrowed the book and it will be a very sad day when I have to finally return it so I have been on a rampage, making my way through the recipes quickly so I can take notes on all the good ones I liked! I owe Gwyneth an apology. Well not really, because I’m sure she doesn’t care that I thought she was a big old snob and I might have made fun of her for pretending she knew anything about cooking because every celeb thinks they can write a book or worse a cookbook. Most cannot but G.P. really can. Sorry for doubting you, G.P.!

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Cold Avocado Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil

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Philadelphia has been in the midst of a major heat wave so I had been planning on making chilled soup. The Jersey corn on the cob at the Farmer’s Market looked so good that I bought enough to have two nights in a row. One night we cooked it on the grill, in its husks Bobby Flay style–which was seriously the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had. Remove most of the husks but leave just enough to protect the corn from getting burnt. Soak it for a while in a pot of water and then put directly on the grill. The result is the most delicious corn ever. Try this immediately!

But the soup–this was equally as impressive as the corn on the cob. When I saw the recipe called for a serrano chile, my first instinct was to remove the seeds, even though the directions said otherwise. Please for the love of anything listen to whoever wrote this recipe because he/she KNOWS what he/she is talking about.

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Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

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The Smitten Kitchen never lets me down. I have been using way too many of Deb’s recipes as of late and know I should branch out already but they just never let me down! I made her Raspberry Buttermilk Cake again this weekend because it was so delicious the first time–except this time I forgot to add the egg. The egg! How do you forget this!? I realized it right when I put the cake in the oven and in an “oh shit what do I do now” moment, I took the cake out and whisked in the egg. All that delicious sugar that was on top intended for the crispy topping got mixed in with the egg and I sulked. I sulked again a few minutes later when I realized I forgot to add more sugar for the topping now that the intended sugar was mixed into the batter. Aghhh!

Luckily, cooking this dinner went a lot smoother. Other than a lottttttt of chopping, this was a super easy meal to make! The prep on this alone took me almost 45 minutes but most of the can be attributed to the fact that I’m so slow at chopping veggies. It can take me 10 minutes to chop garlic sometimes…

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Salmon with Brown Sugar and Dijon Glaze

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I love salmon and my favorite way to make it is simple with some lemon, salt and pepper and maybe a little white wine. But not everyone is as fond of the fish as I am and this is the perfect recipe to bridge the love-hate gap of seafood. Promise. This is like the non-seafood, non-salmon lovers dream…in salmon form. It’ll make any seafood hater and believer in the good stuff from the sea!

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The glaze will make you lose your mind! It’ll make even the least likely of salmon eaters savoring every last bite. It’s that good. Brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, Dijon…can you go wrong here!? No!

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Simple Mushroom Soup

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Since winter is refusing to go away much to my dismay, hot foods are remaining a necessity to me.  The only silver lining is that the cold weather is at least offering me tons of opportunities to make soup!

This is a riff on a mushroom recipe I found on 101 Cookbooks. I’ve changed it enough, but the basic elements should be credited to her recipe. I just wanted a simple, no frills soup with chunks of potatoes in it. The original recipe only called for water but I wanted to bump up the volume a bit with vegetable broth. I only substituted half of the water for broth so I could make sure I retained the mushroom flavor.

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Spinach and Zucchini Soup

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For the holidays, we got a whole bunch of new kitchen gadgets and I’ve managed to use most of them so far except for the immersion blender! I was waiting until I found the perfect, healthy soup that would require one. I turned to the healthiest food blog I know for this one: 101 Cookbooks for her Spinach and Zucchini Soup!

It tasted so fresh! I’m not a huge fan of cilantro unless it’s concealed enough within other ingredients that it doesn’t takeover my taste buds. In this soup, it literally made the soup taste fresh and clean. I think my body felt better after consuming so much “good for you” food! The only bad thing in here was salt…and of course the bread and butter…but this was a conscious choice to ruin a perfectly healthy meal with the obvious accompaniment…and I don’t regret it. Even if it takes away some of the healthy cred I tried to establish with posting this recipe!

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This soup is hardy enough to eat as a meal, I think. I was full after one bowl….and many pieces of the beget (maybe that’s why I was so full…) Either way, this soup is delicious and chock-full of healthy ingredients that your body will love. I think anything that’s green has to be good for you right? And the soup turned out to be the prettiest shade of green I’ve seen! As always, my terrible iPhone pictures do it no justice…

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups potatoes (2 medium) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups zucchini (2 medium), loosely chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup cilantro, loosely chopped
  • one lemon

Directions: 

In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes along with pinch of salt – just until they soften up a bit. Stir in the potatoes and zucchini. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft throughout, roughly 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, and wait for it to wilt, just ten seconds or so. Now stir in the cilantro. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Whisk in a big squeeze of lemon juice. Now taste, and add more salt if needed. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Grilled Summer Squash & Brie Sandwich

The sandwich (and store-bought pasta salad) served on my finest China

Like most people I know, I think samples are the best thing about any trip to a grocery store. I used to put up with the most hectic family trips imaginable to Costco because of the free food. (I still say, Costco on a Sunday is the scariest place in any suburban community.) And even though Whole Foods is considerably more expensive than most markets I shop at, the free stuff on Saturdays makes it more than worth my while.

Usually I scarf down the sample and listen to the Whole Foods employee go on and on and on about how wonderful what I’m eating is, and how I should buy it. I keep nodding…and keep eating while pretending to be interested but we both know that I have no intention of purchasing this treat, no matter how delectable.

That was until I tried a sample of  a Grilled Summer Squash and Brie Sandwich. I was actually searching for something to whip up for lunch and then I spotted a Whole Foods lady making the sandwiches–grilling away with brie oozing out of every end. She informed me where the brie was and that it was on sale and I was S-O-L-D.

I picked up the rest of the ingredients, went home and made this immediately. And you should, too. Because it was really freaking good. And kinda good for you. Probably not really, but there are vegetables involved, so we can pretend.

Ingredients:

2 zucchini or medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons of EVOO
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thick-cut slices of round country bread
1 large garlic glove, split
10 ounces of Brie cheese, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced
1 cup sunflower, radish, or other sprouts

Directions

Prepare the grill for medium-high heat cooking or preheat the broiler. Brush squash with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil, turning once or twice, until tender and nicely browned, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

Grill or broil bread until just lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Rub bread on both sides with garlic; discard the garlic. Cover tops of slices with Brie; place on a cool part of the grill and cover the grill or broil until the cheese is somewhat melted. Top with grilled squash, tomatoes and sprouts. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.