Turkey Meatballs + Basil Pesto (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

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Meatballs! Since I don't eat tomatoes or pasta, I almost never make these little things anymore. What am I thinking, right? They're so tasty and delightful. My new solution: basil pesto and spaghetti squash. A nice healthy meal for those time when I'm missing spaghetti and meatballs. 

For Cameron and I, I picked a small spaghetti squash. To cook it: cut off the stem, stand the squash on its new flat end and halve from navel to stem end. Scoop out seeds. Lightly rub cut sides with olive oil. Roast cut sides down on a lined baking tray in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes (small squash) to an hour (larger squashes). Flip over and shred with a fork, Discard skins. 

To make this AIP, omit almond flour or substitute with coconut flour. 

Serves 6. 

Turkey Meatballs + Basil Pesto

for the meatballs

2 lbs ground turkey 

1/4 cup almond flour

1 yellow onion, grated

5 cloves garlic, peeled, grated

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

for the pesto

1 large bunch basil, leaves only

2 garlic cloves

juice of one lemon

1/2 cup olive oil (I like half olive oil, half avocado oil, personally)

salt, to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Mix well. Form into tablespoon sized balls and arrange on prepared tray. Roast 15 minutes, flip and cook 15 minutes more. 

While meatballs are cooking, make the pesto by blending all pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve with meatballs. 

Pickled Red Onions

This is possibly the quickest, easiest way to transform your meal into something special. It's true - imagine a simple taco, now imagine said taco with pickled red onions on it. Let's think outside this taco for a minute and explore what else you could improve with these onions. Sandwiches, salads, grilled cheese, fried rice, quesadillas, hot dogs - there are many more but I'm starting to get too hungry thinking about it. 

I like to keep a jar of these in the fridge and put them on everything. Since I can't have hot sauce, (why are you a nightshade, chile pepper???) I use these instead. They're not spicy at all but fulfill the same need with their sharp, briny punch. 

Feel free to add more aromatics if you like -  bay leaf, chiles, other seeds. I leave everything free floating in the jar but you can wrap the aromatics up in a piece of cheesecloth to keep things tidy. 

Pickled Red Onion

1.5 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 cup or so white vinegar

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Add kosher salt, sugar, peppercorns and vinegar to a 12-16oz jar. Shake or whisk to dissolve. Add onion slices to jar, pressing down to fit if needed. Top off with water so onions are covered in liquid, if needed. Leave them alone for one hour. After that, they are ready to eat. Store in fridge. 

Zucchini Salsa (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

No tomatoes?  No problem!  How much have you missed salsa?  I can't even tell you how much better life is now that this salsa is here.  I'm going to put it on everything!  (Especially an AIP taco bowl that I'll post later this week.)  After looking everywhere for a nightshade free salsa and not finding one - I knew i was going to have to make my own.  If you're skeptical, don't be.  I'm not the biggest fan of zucchini but this salsa is great. 

Makes 1 pint.

Zucchini Salsa

splash cooking oil

2 zucchini, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

juice of one lime

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup water

In a medium saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add zucchini slices and garlic.  Cook until browned and very soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to blender and blend with cilantro, lime juice, onion, salt and water.  

Easy Kimchi

Kimchi is a popular Korean side made from fermented vegetables and spices.  It's flavorful, spicy and crunchy.  It can be eaten on its own or incorporated into other dishes.  (Kimchi fried rice coming soon!) 

I realize this may not be an authentic kimchi so let's just call it my version.  It's easy to make and vegetarian.  Recently, I picked up Sandor Katz's book The Art of Fermentation and highly recommend it if you're looking for another cookbook to add to your collection.  

Fermenting foods doesn't just help preserve them but adds health benefits, too.  They are full of healthy bacteria and probiotics.  Specifically, they're really great for you digestive or 'gut' health. If you want to know more about this, with specific citations to medical studies, check out chapter 2 of Katz's book.  

Some more fermented foods you probably eat on a regular basis: kefir, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, wine., miso, soy sauce, vinegar, coffee, yogurt, kombucha...

Easy Kimchi

1 head cabbage, chopped (nappa, savoy or green)

1/4 cup course kosher salt 

2 tablespoons grated ginger

3 tablespoons grated garlic

3 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

8 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces

Toss chopped cabbage with salt.  Punch and squeeze it until it releases water.  Set it aside for 1 hour.  

(I reccomend wearing gloves for these next steps.)  Use a mortar and pestle to grind ginger, garlic, cayenne powder and soy sauce into a paste.  Toss with cabbage, cabbage liquid, carrots and scallions.  Make sure everything is covered with the paste.  Use your hands to massage paste into the veggies.  

Now, let's pack it into it's fermentation vessel.  This could be a crock, a deep bowl or a jar with a wide opening.  I used a clean, wide mouthed jar because that's what I had.  You just have to be able to fit your hand in, to the bottom with a fistful of kimchi vegetables.  

Take a handful of the vegetables.  Squeeze out what liquids you can, place it in the bottom of the jar, pushing it down as much as you can.  Continue until all the vegetables are in the vessel. Punch and push down as you go.  You need to remove all the air pockets that maybe lurking in there. Place a small plate over the vegetables and weigh it down.  This weight is going to keep the vegetables submerged under the liquid you're about the pour in.  

Pour the kimchi liquid into the jar, over the weighed down vegetables.  Cover the whole thing and place somewhere at room temperature.  Leave it to ferment for 3-5 days.  Taste it everyday to judge when you feel it's done.  It will be crunchy, spicy and acidic. 

After it's fermented it can go into the fridge.

Marmite Almonds

I just had Marmite for the first time last week and I am obsessed.  Why haven't I been eating this stuff my entire life?!  It's so perfect of toast but I also want it on pretty much everything.  I have plans to try it on pasta, popcorn, grilled cheese sandies.  

If you have not tried it, Marmite is a concentrated yeast paste.  Stay with me here - it's a salty little umami bomb.  Savory with a concentrated flavor of cook vegetables and yeasty goodness.  If you're the type of person who puts yeast flakes on their popcorn then you'll love this.  If you don't you can send your unwanted jars over to me because I CANNOT GET ENOUGH of it.  

Makes 1 pound.

Marmite Roasted Almonds

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoon marmite

1 pound raw almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  In a pan, over low heat, warm marmite and water, stirring to combine.  Add almonds, stir until evenly coated. Spread almonds out on prepared baking tray. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes or until dry and golden.  Do not let them burn!  Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in airtight container. 

Popovers

Omg, do I love a popover.  As simple as they are - basically a mix of flour, milk and eggs - they are a delight for dinner guests. Similar to yorkshire puddings but these don't require pan drippings - just a popover pan.  I'm going to be serving these with a big meat roast for Christmas Eve dinner.  I'll need something to scrape my plate with, won't I? 

They can be made with a muffin pan but won't puff up nearly as much.  A few things about making popovers:  Don't over beat the batter, let the batter rest, use a popover pan, preheat the pan and turn down the heat part way through baking.   These things all lead to sky high popovers.  While your popovers won't be ruined by skipping any of these steps, they will be much taller and lighter if you stick to the directions.   

That said, finely grated cheeses can be added for extra flavor and the herbs can be switched up as you like.  I think chive and parmesan would be so great.  

Makes 6.

Popovers

1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 egg, beaten

5 oz milk

3 teaspoons grape seed oil, divided

Sift flour into a bowl, whisk with thyme leaves, nutmeg and salt.  Fold in egg and milk.  Set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

Add 1/2 teaspoon grape seed oil to each cup of popover pan.  Place in oven.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When preheating is over, remove pan from oven.  Fill each cup equally with batter and bake 20 minutes then lower heat to 350 and bake 10 minutes more. Remove popovers from pan and serve.  

 

Sweet + Spicy Candied Pecans

I might never eat a plain pecan again.  Seriously, these are that good.  They were for a salad but never made it.  Consider doubling (or tripling!) the recipe.  

Makes 1 cup. 

Sweet + Spicy Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves

1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola, grape seed...)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a bowl, toss pecans in oil.  Add sugar, salt and chile powder, toss to coat evening.  Transfer to a parchment or silpat lined baking tray.  Roast 20 minutes - careful not to let nuts burn.

Spicy Blackened Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes about 4 pints of spicy, flavorful tomato sauce.  I had a grab bag of fresh-from- the-garden tomatoes (Thanks, Mom!) like plum, cherry and regular so feel free to use whatever you have.  I kept out one pint for dinner and the rest are labelled and headed for the freezer.  If  you do not like it SPICY, halve or omit the chile flakes.  

Spicy Blackened Tomato Sauce

small splash high heat oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 yellow onion, peeled, quartered

4 pounds tomatoes, cored as needed

1 teaspoon chile flakes

1 handful fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss garlic cloves and onion in a small splash of oil.  Arrange on large baking sheet.  Place in oven.  

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over high heat.  Once HOT, add tomatoes, starting with your larger ones if using different types.  Turn tomatoes as needed, letting them blacken on each side. Transfer them to the sheet tray in the oven as the are ready.  (They are ready when the have black spots on each side, the skin starts to peel or they start to cook down.)  Once all the tomatoes are seared and in the oven, let it all roast 30 minutes.  Everything, including the garlic cloves should be very soft and blend-able.  

Remove tray from oven and transfer contents to a heat proof bowl.  Add chile flakes, basil and olive oil.  Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Serve while hot or let cool completely, portion, label and freeze. 

 

Vegan Bowl + Dill Mustard Sauce

Vegan bowls!  I love these.  Perfect for lunch because it has a little bit of everything.  This one has flavors of dill, mustard and caraway seed.  This recipe came about after visiting the Ithaca Farmer's Market and tasting several sauerkrauts by Crooked Carrot.  They make raw, live culture products using local produce.  I picked up their Original Kraut and immediately began working on a 'bowl' recipe suitable for this pristine, classic sauerkraut.  And here you have it.  

Also, if you haven't had tempeh - try it!  It has a firm chewy texture and an earthy taste.  It's made of fermented soy beans and has more protein and fiber than tofu.  

Serves 4.

Tempeh Vegan Bowl + Dill Mustard Sauce

for the bowl

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

8oz tempeh

4 large handfuls of chopped kale

small splash olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch red chile flakes

lemon juice, to taste

1 cup quinoa

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

3 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1 cup sauerkraut

for the sauce

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

s + p

fresh dill, finely chopped

Cook the tempeh: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tempeh into 1/4 inch slices and drizzle with tamari.  Arrange on tray and bake 8 minutes or until golden brown.  

Cook kale:  Add about 1/4 cup water to a large saute pan.  Bring to a boil.  Add kale.  Cover and cook until kale wilts, about 1 minute.  Drain.  Return to medium high heat.  Push kale to one side of pan.  On the bare side, heat splash olive oil with minced garlic and chile flakes.  Cook until garlic softens and toss with kale.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  

Cook quinoa:  Combine quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small sauce pan.  Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft.  Stir in poppy seeds.  

Cook mustard dill sauce:  In a saute pan, over medium heat, warm olive oil.  Add shallots and caraway seeds.  Saute until shallots are soft and mixture is fragrant.  Turn up heat to high and add stock.  Boil until liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and stir in mustard.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Liberally, toss with quinoa and stir in as much dill as you like.  Save extra sauce of drizzling over finished bowls.  

Assemble the bowls:  Spoon dressed quinoa into bowl. Top with sautéed kale, tempeh, raw carrot ribbons and sauerkraut.  Drizzle with extra mustard sauce if you like. 

 

 

Salsa Verde

This super simple sauce goes with lots of things but I like it for chicken or steak.  It reminds me of warm weather and tastes a bit like a garden.  Fresh herbs and bright lemon.  Increase the red chile flakes for more kick.  

Salsa Verde

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/8-1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

juice + zest of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients.  Set aside for a few minutes before using to let flavors come together.

 

Turkey Tomato Sauce + Zucchini

Not your typical tomato sauce.  Full of veggies and lean ground turkey.  It's perfect over roasted spaghetti squash, zoodles, pasta or used for stuffed zucchini.  

To make the stuffed zucchini: Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out seeds, making a well for the sauce and arrange on a baking dish.  Spoon prepared sauce into zucchini.  Place in oven and roast 20 minutes.  Top with grated cheese while it's still hot. 

Makes about 1 quart.

Turkey Tomato Sauce 

small splash olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced

2 stalk celery, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground turkey

28 oz canned tomato puree

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs, stems discarded

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add diced onion.  Cook until soft, 5 minutes.  Add bell pepper, celery and garlic, cook 5 minutes.  Add turkey: cook, breaking up meat, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Stir in tomato puree, bay leaves, thyme, worcestershire sauce and cayenne powder.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  

 

Gluten Free Romesco Sauce

I just realized I've been calling this stuff 'romanesco' sauce.  Ugh.  Silly me.  This romesco sauce is a spanish sauce made from toasted nuts, roasted garlic, tomatoes and red peppers. Typically, toasted bread too, but we're leaving that out so keep things gluten free. I can eat it on anything. Sandwiches instead of mayo, roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, seafood.... so many things are better with a bit of tasty romesco sauce.

Cam and I are thinking about going 100% gluten free for the month of April to see how it goes. I'm hoping it will help me with my late night cracker addiction and keep my appetite focused on more healthy things.  Are you gluten free?  Do you like it and have you noticed any improvements to your health?  

Makes about 1.5 cups..

Romesco Sauce

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 small tomatoes or 1 large, cut in half, seeds and stems removed

2 garlic cloves, skin on

1 red bell pepper

 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1  1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne 

s + p

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place almonds on a tray plus tomatoes and garlic on their own tray in oven.  Remove almonds after 10 minutes, let cool.  Roast tomatoes and garlic 20 minutes more.  Set aside to cool.  Remove skins from each.

Place whole red pepper on open flame of gas range.  Turn occasionally until all sides are completely black.  Place on plastic bag and seal.  Let steam in bag 10 minutes.  Blackened skins will wipe off easily.  Discard skins, stem and seeds.  

Chop red pepper, tomatoes and garlic.  Set aside.

In food processor, fitted with a S-blade, process toasted almonds to a fine crumb.  Add pepper, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar, paprika and cayenne.  Process until smooth and not gritty, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Yum!  Pretty simple to make and so many possible applications like snacking with veggie sticks or crackers, hummus and vegetable wraps, smeared on toast or tossed with pasta... you have some options.  I'm going to use it as a cheese substitute of vegan quesadillas - i'll let you know how it goes.  

I prefer to use dried beans when I have the forethought (although, I almost never do.)  3/4 cup dried chickpeas ends up being about 1 1/2 cup cooked which is equal to one 14oz tin of chickpeas.  If you use canned chickpeas, just drain and rinse them.  

Makes about 2 cups.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

3/4 cup dried chickpeas or 1 14oz tin chickpeas

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon cumin

1 garlic clove, peeled

juice of 1 lemon

salt

dash olive oil

Place dried beans in a bowl, cover with 3 inches of water.  Let soak 8 hours.  Drain water.  Place chickpeas in a pot, cover with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Strain.  

Roast red pepper by placing it directly on a gas burner set on high.  Rotate occasionally to cook each side.  Once all of pepper is charred black and flaky with the pepper itself softened, remove from flame.  Immediately place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand about 10 minutes or more.  Remove charred skin, stem and seeds.  

Place cooked chickpeas, roasted red pepper, tahini, parsley, cumin, garlic clove, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process to desired consistency, adding olive oil to loosen things up as needed.  Season with more salt and lemon juice, to taste. 

chipotle aoli

Second to hot sauce, my new favorite condiment.

Chipotle Aoli

1/2 cup mayo

1 garlic clove

juice of 1/2 lime

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

salt

Mix everything together. easy.