Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Squash Lasagna - Dairy free and gluten free!

Well, just finished ANOTHER homework assignment...and now I think my recipe creativity is pretty used up for a while...but here's one of the recipes! I cooked this for a family who I am teaching gluten free baking too, and they LOVED it! it was very very good, not gonna lie... ;-)

Summer Squash Lasagna

Inspired by Christine Ruch

Servings: 8

Serve this lasagna to your gluten and dairy eating friends, and they’ll never even miss their noodles and cheese! Thinly sliced zucchini make a great substitution for traditional noodles, and blended cashews make a quite convincing ricotta cheese substitute. Delicious fresh out of the oven, this dish is even better as leftovers!



  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into lasagna noodle-width sheets
  • ½ an eggplant, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into half moons
  • 4 heaping cups fresh spinach

“Ricotta Cheese”:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/3 – ½ cup water
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stem removed
  • 2 large basil leaves, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Red Sauce:

  • 2 32oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion, minced
  • ¼ cup finely shredded fresh basil
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced, stem removed
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds ground bison (substitute mushrooms for vegetarian option)


  1. Once you have sliced zucchini into thin sheets, lay sheets in single layers on top of paper towels or absorbent kitchen towels and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Lay another towel on top of the zucchini, and place a large heavy object on top, to squeeze out the water. Change the towels out every 20 minutes for up to an hour, to be sure zucchini is mostly dry.
  2. Meanwhile, place cashews in a bowl and cover with water; soak until you are ready to make the “cheese.”
  3. Pour crushed tomatoes into a large pot and add garlic, bell pepper, ½ of the minced onion, basil, rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and allow to simmer over medium/low heat until ready to assemble lasagna.
  4. In blender or food processor, blend cashews, water, rosemary, basil, garlic powder, and salt. “Cheese” mixture should be smooth, but slightly chunky, like ricotta cheese.
  5. In a large skillet, brown ground bison over medium/high heat. Add to red sauce and stir well.
  6. To assemble the lasagna, first put a layer of sauce in a 9x13 inch baking pan. Add a layer of chopped eggplant and carrots, then a layer of zucchini “noodles.” On top of the noodles, spread a layer of cashew “ricotta cheese,” then add a layer of fresh spinach. Repeat the layering until all ingredients are used.
  7. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.
  8. After 40 minutes, uncover lasagna and bake for 10 more minutes.
  9. Slice and serve hot, alongside some polenta bruschetta.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Show and Tell!

So, every 2 weeks, I write about 6 recipes. For whatever, reason, I kinda JUST realized I should post them up here! The ones I've made are always good (we are required to actually MAKE 1 of the 6 we write), so I would assume the others should be good too. Just as a disclaimer, though, I can't guarantee they're all winners, because most of them I wrote sitting at my laptop, not by cooking them! BUT the one from today, I have made, and let me say......I've made lentil burgers before, and they were NASTY as heck - to quote my dear friend Nasty Nate, "Why are you eating a plate of dog poop?" Yeah......they kinda tasted like that too.

THESE, however, are different. I wrote them for our Ethnic Cuisine homework, so they are inspired by Levantine cuisine - and they are GOOD, man! I cooked all of them and just kept them in the fridge, so they were easy to grab, even really quick and eat them cold in the morning for breakfast. You can go crazy with the toppings - caramelized onions and mushrooms, avocado and tomato, the saffron mint yogurt (which I partially stole from Heidi Swanson) creative!

Enjoy! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, and how they turn out! I'm still learning too, so any suggestions you have are more than welcome! :-)

Levantine Lentil Burgers with Mint Saffron Yogurt

Inspired by “Vegetarian Lentil Burgers” by Heidi Swanson

Servings: 8 burgers

These burgers are a hearty, protein packed and flavorful option for vegetarians, or those simply looking to cut back on their meat consumption. The mint saffron yogurt adds the extra kick to make these burgers something special!


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups cooked black lentils (reserve ½ cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (1 tablespoon reserved for sautéing onion and eggplant)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ eggplant, chopped
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • ½ cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 mint leaf, finely chopped
  • 8 small mint leaves and parsley sprigs, for garnish


  1. In a small saucepan, heat ½ tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat. Add cumin and stir, and heat approximately 5 minutes, to toast spice and bring out the flavors. Remove from heat. Add paprika after oil is removed from heat, as it tends to lose its potency as it is heated.
  2. Add 1 ½ cups black lentils, eggs, ½ cup rice, and spice oil mixture to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a bowl, and add the remaining ½ cup of lentils and ½ cup of rice, thyme, parsley, and salt. Mix well and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a large heavy skillet (cast iron works well) over medium heat. Shape mixture into patties approximately the size of your palm, about 1 inch thick. Add the remainder of the ¼ cup coconut oil to skillet and cook patties covered, 4 at a time, for 7 to 10 minutes. If the bottom has not browned after 10 minutes, turn up the heat. Flip patties and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until browned on both sides.
  5. While patties are cooking, sauté chopped onion and eggplant in coconut oil until tender and browned, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. To prepare yogurt sauce, place pinch of saffron threads in 1 tablespoon boiling water – allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  7. Take yogurt and add the chopped mint leaf. Add saffron water and stir well.
  8. After all burgers are cooked, top with sautéed onions and eggplant and add a large dollop of saffron mint yogurt to the top. Garnish each patty with a mint leaf and parsley sprig, and serve warm.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Culinary School Midterms

Wellllllll, it's been a while, huh??

Life's been pretty crazy - I just finished my last day of midterms today, praise God! I was SO freaked out about them. Because listen to a description of them:
DAY 1:
  • 125 question written midterm
  • Ingredient ID (walk into the kitchen, and 25 random spices, flours, grains, vegetables, etc. are laid out and you have to know what they all are. Including different KINDS of seaweed. Tamarind paste? Asafoetida? Kombu? Yeah.)
  • Knife skills
DAY 2:
  • Impromptu cooking - pick out of a hat a type of grain and a type of sauce (pureed, dairy-free white sauce, gluten free roux, nut and seed sauce, etc.) and use whatever's in the kitchen to make a sick-wicked dish to showcase your skills.
DAY 3:
  • Impromptu cooking 2 - Make a soup, either carrots or cauliflower as a base, and a salad to showcase your skills.
  • After cooking, we had to perfectly plate a serving, present it to our instructor and tell her what it was, and then leave her with her big evaluation sheet about our dish. Then, we were called back in one by one and told her evaluation. Think...Iron Chef. ;-)
Sooo........this sounded kinda scary to me. Luckily, everything went very smoothly (thank you St. Joseph of Cupertino and St. Martha!!!)

The first day of cooking, I drew pureed sauce and polenta. SO I made this roasted tomato and garlic romesco sauce to put over a spicy pepper polenta stuffed in a roasted green pepper. It turned out very well, and my instructor REALLY enjoyed it! And.......if ya's the recipe!!

Spicy Polenta Stuffed Roasted Pepper
  • 1 poblano chili, sliced in half
  • 3 heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • bottom half of 1 green pepper, de-seeded and de-veined
  • 1 onion + 1/2, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • a few leaves fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • ancho chili powder and cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. Slice all tomatoes in half and place skin side down in a pan with at least 2" sides. Add poblano chili and green pepper half. Sprinkle on 1 onion, then nestle smashed garlic cloves underneath the tomatoes, so they don't burn. Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs.
  2. Roast at 450 degrees for about 20 mins. After 20 minutes, the green pepper half should be done. Remove from pan, set aside, and place pan back in oven for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta. Boil the 4 cups water. Once it is at a rolling boil, add the polenta in a small stream, stirring constantly. Reduce to low heat and stir almost constantly. If you don't stir frequently, it will make huge lumps.
  4. Sautee the 1/2 onion chopped and add to polenta.
  5. Remove poblano chili from roasting pan, return pan to oven, and chop the chili and add it to the polenta. Add in red peppers, cayenne, and ancho chili powder. Salt and pepper to taste. If it needs more kick, give it some!
  6. Cook until it has reached desired consistency - approx. 30 minutes if you want it thick.
  7. After 45 mins-1 hour, the vegetables should be done roasting, and the pan should be pretty juicy. Remove from oven.
  8. Remove woody stems (from the herbs), and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin into the pan - discard skin. Setting 1 tomato aside, carefully pour contents of pan into a good blender or food processor. You may want to add some fresh herbs and garlic at this time! Process until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and squish the remaining tomato into the sauce (this makes for an earthier sauce, which I like - if you want it smooth, puree it all!) Taste and adjust seasonings.
  9. Place on stove to reduce if you want a thicker sauce, or add some veg or chicken stock if you want it thinner.
  10. Place roasted green pepper back in oven for a few minutes to heat back up.
  11. Remove from oven and fill with your polenta. Pour some of your delicious roasty sauce over the top, and garnish with some fresh basil, thyme, and tarragon.
  12. Enjoy!

Now.......TODAY......was AWESOME. It was a bit stressful during it, b/c it was taking wayyy longer than I expected to make a freaking soup and salad, but I ended up finishing right on time! And.....during my critique, my instructor said my soup was their FAVORITE out of the whole group, and it was the only one they wanted to eat the whole bowl of! I had achieved an amazing depth of flavor, but not one of the ingredients overpowered any of the others. YAY!!!!! SO exciting to hear!!! So want this recipe too? ;-) It is SUPER good, not gonna lie. I'll try to give it to you as accurately as possible, though I didn't actually measure while I was making it.

Coconut Lime Carrot Soup
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 Tbsp chili paste
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small potato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3 cups veg stock
  • 1.5 cans of 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 1 generous pinch cayenne pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of 1 lime
  1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil over med heat. Add cumin and chili paste and cook for 1-2 mins, till you can smell the flavors - be careful not to burn it!
  2. Add all chopped veggies and caramelize - approximately 10-15 minutes. You'll know they're done when they're brown and wonderful looking and smelling out of this WORLD!
  3. Add veg stock and coconut milk, stir well, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until all the veggies are tender. Taste at this point and adjust seasonings to your liking. I added salt and cayenne pepper at this point.
  4. After veggies are done, remove from heat, carefully pour into food processor or blender, add lime zest, and puree (if you want chunkier, don't puree long).
  5. Pour back into pot and stir in lime juice. Taste and again adjust for seasonings - more lime if you want it, more ginger, more cayenne, etc.
  6. Serve with a cilantro leaf and some curly lime zest as a garnish. SO GOOD!!! :-D

And salad! I made a Pomegranate Citrus Roasted Asparagus salad. My instructor also loved this, and said I achieved the perfect balance of sweet and savory in the dressing! Unfortunately, I have no idea what proportions I actually used in, but I'll try to recreate it for you!

Pomegranate Citrus Roasted Asparagus Salad
  • Asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Any greens you like - spinach, arugula, random baby greens, lettuce, etc.
  • walnuts
  • maple syrup
  • pomegranate molasses
  • cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs water
  • dried currants
  • 1 pink grapefruit, juiced
  • 1-2tsp red blush raspberry vinegar (I think that's what it was
  • a touch of pomegranate molasses
  • 3 Tbs? olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. First, place asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, toss, and roast in oven at 450 for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, wash greens and put together dressing - simply whisk together all ingredients, and adjust to taste.
  3. Next, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in some maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, and a bit of water if needed. Add some walnuts and stir constantly until heated and nuts have soaked up most of the liquid, and liquid has begun to become sticky.
  4. Remove walnuts from pan and place on a plate to cool.
  5. When asparagus is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  6. To assemble salad, shred greens if not already bite-sized, add asparagus (saving some spear tops for garnish), and toss. Add some dried currants and the walnuts and pour on some dressing. For garnish, try placing 3 asparagus spears side by side and wrapping with a curly-q of grapefruit zest. Sprinkle smaller zests around the top. Voila!

Ok...phew. And now I have to go work so I can afford to eat this month.

Enough recipes for you? ;-)
Let me know what you think of them if you make any!