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Tag Archive: cheese

Opa! Baba Ghanoush and Greek Salad

January 5, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I love to travel. One day–when I’m old enough or take over the world, whichever comes first–I want to traverse the globe. I want to visit a volcano in Iceland. Yodel from the top of the Alps in Switzerland. Take a stupid picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Ride a camel in Egypt. Float in the Dead Sea. Stand on an island in the Maldives before they’re below sea level. Visit a Turkish market in Istanbul (NOT Constantinople). Buy a lifetime supply of Hello Kitty accessories in Taiwan. Throw a handful of black sand in Indonesia. Hold a koala in Australia (even though they’re supposedly mean–and stinky). Heck, I’d even like to play with Emperor penguins in Antarctica.

One of the top places on my list is Greece. While I can’t understand the language very well, I’d love to visit the ruins and take a boat around the islands in the Aegean sea. The food also sounds marvelous: delicious olives, marinated and grilled meats, and best of all…baklava. Too bad there isn’t really a “paleo” substitute to filo dough…sigh.

In the meantime, while I wait for my opportunity to visit, I have made two Greek-inspired dishes: Greek Salad and Baba Ghanoush. No, neither are perfectly authentic, but they feature ingredients that are common in Grecian cooking, specifically feta cheese, cucumbers, tahini, eggplant, and olive oil. Especially in the dead of winter (it dropped below zero where I live yesterday), these dishes are a welcomed escape.

I served both with a variation of my Pesto-Marinated Lamb, but you can serve these two equally as well on their own for a vegetarian meal. Yummy!

First, let’s start off with the baba ghanoush. You’re going to need 2 eggplants–big ones. I didn’t weigh mine, but I figure I had somewhere around two pounds. Make sure they’re solid and have no soft spots.

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With a small knife or a fork, make a bunch of small incisions in each eggplant. This will help some of the water escape during cooking and prevent you from having goopy eggplants.

Heat up a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat–dry. Your goal is to char the eggplant skin; you aren’t going to be eating it, anyway, so you don’t need to worry about adding any fat to make it more appealing. When the pan is hot, add the eggplants. Press them down slightly, then step away for five minutes. Don’t prod–just leave them be.

When that side is dark brown and flattened, rotate the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this with every side of the eggplant until the entire skin is nearly black in color and the eggplant is squishy when you press down on it, about 20 minutes.

Once cooked to perfection, transfer the eggplant to a separate plate and split each open to let some of the steam escape. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, or until warm to the touch. You don’t want to burn yourself!

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When your eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Put the remaining eggplant flesh in the bowl of a food processor with 1/3 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of cumin, the juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup), 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pulse until homogeneous, about 1 minute, then taste and add more salt/oil/cumin, if necessary.

That’s it! All you have to do is scoop it up and eat it. I’d highly recommend sliced carrots and celery sticks to accompany this baba ghanoush if you’re eating it for a snack or serving it as a starter. Otherwise, it tastes great with grilled meats!

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Up next is the Greek salad. I adapted my recipe from Ina Garten’s–I added more veggies (yay!) and decreased the amount of dressing and cheese to make it a little lighter to better compliment the rest of the meal. If you’re serving this salad on its own, feel free to add a little more oil and/or feta to make it a bit heartier. (You can also add some grilled chicken, fish, or hard boiled eggs–all three would be tasty, too!)

This recipe is super easy. There’s no cooking involved, either, making it perfect for those nights when you want something a little exotic without a ton of effort.

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Put 3 heads of chopped romaine lettuce in a large bowl. Add 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 large seeded, peeled, and chopped cucumber, and 1 diced red bell pepper, then toss to combine. You can also add 1/2 of a sliced red onion, but I didn’t, because raw onions and I don’t exactly get along. (In short, while I do like onions, I don’t want to be tasting them three hours after my meal.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Once combined, pour over the salad and toss it really well–all of the leaves should be coated to perfection. Let sit for at least fifteen minutes to let all of the flavors meld.

Just before serving, add in 3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese, 1/3 cup of diced calamata olives, and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. Toss again to incorporate. If you don’t eat dairy and/or are vegan, leave out the cheese; if you don’t like olives, leave those out, too. It’s very adaptable: just add what you’d like!

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This was such a delicious meal. I highly, highly recommend you make it!

Have you ever been to Greece? If so, how was it? If not, where in the world would you like to travel to? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Zucchini Crusted Pizza with Caramelized Onions

November 14, 2013 Print this page

Simple yet full of flavor, this “pizza” is both fun to eat and super tasty! Feel free to mix and match your favorite toppings to make a unique pie.

Ingredients

Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 1 hr 10 min
Yield 2 medium pizzas (3-4 servings)

2 zucchinis (yielding about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon of salt, plus a pinch more for the onions

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons of coconut flour

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

1 teaspoon of dried basil, plus extra for sprinkling

1 teaspoon of dried oregano, plus extra for sprinkling

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 large onion, sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line two pie pans with parchment paper. Dust each with a little arrowroot powder so the crust won’t stick.

In a food processor or with a hand-grater, grate the zucchinis until you yield two heaping cups of zucchini shreds. Toss them with the salt and let sit in a colander over the sink for half an hour so the salt can help the zucchini release some of its water.

Once the half an hour has elapsed, wrap the zucchini shreds up in a cheesecloth or thin dish towel, twist the top, and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Your goal is to have the zucchini as dry as possible!

Add the zucchini into a big bowl and mix with the eggs, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, dried basil, dried oregano, and olive oil.

Divide the dough in two and put each half in its own pie pan. Squish it down with your hands and spread to all of the corners, making sure there are no bumps or holes.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly on top, about 15 minutes, then flip over and let brown on the other side for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove the pizza crust from the oven and turn it up to broil.

This time, I used caramelized onions to top the pizza. To make them, simply heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until golden brown and softened, about 10 minutes, sprinkling with salt to help release some of the water.

Top each of the crusts with the onions, extra cheese, and a sprinkle of basil and oregano.

Broil the pizza in the pan until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 or so minutes, and then slice and serve with a simple green salad. Eat with a fork and a knife, or just go for it with your hands!


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Zucchini Crusted Pizza with Caramelized Onions

November 14, 2013 1 Comment Print this page

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I haven’t eaten a slice of pizza in over a year and a half.

I know what your reaction is.

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I am proof that yes, a teenager can survive without an IV drip of greasy, cheesy goodness. It’s not that I don’t like pizza–I LOVE a good slice–but more often than not, I feel tired and a little sick after I down a few pieces. I’d rather eat some meat, chicken, or fish with vegetables, because that way, I know I’m being nourished and can feel it in my body and mind.

Let me tell you something about real-food and “paleo” eating: a lion cannot be a tiger, even if he shaves his mane and paints himself orange with black stripes. “Paleo” pizza and “paleo” cake and “paleo” pasta will NEVER be the real thing, and that’s that. Sure, they might come close, but there is no feasible way to recreate an exact version of the dishes you miss so much. My attitude (which my mom taught me) is eat the real thing, but only have a little bit, and don’t have it too often. Really savor whatever it is because it’s good, and treat it like what it is: a treat. (Now, if you have allergies or food sensitivities, this is of course a different story. Don’t ever eat anything that will actually make you sick.)

This Zucchini Crusted Pizza is NOT just like real pizza. It tastes amazing and has a good texture, but it’s not a perfect replica: I’m merely calling it a pizza because that’s what it best resembles. It passed the picky eater test: my mom absolutely LOVED it and claimed the leftovers for herself. My dad and I really liked it, too: it was hard to stop eating! The ingredients are so simple–zucchini, cheese, onions–but each one is treated perfectly to have an incredible outcome. I will definitely be making this again…it was memorable.

Ready to make some “pizza” for yourself? Good. Let’s get started.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line two pie pans with parchment paper. Dust each with a little arrowroot powder so the crust won’t stick.

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In a food processor or with a hand-grater, grate 2 zucchinis (mine were teeny tiny) until you yield two heaping cups of zucchini shreds. Toss them with about a teaspoon of salt and let sit in a colander over the sink for half an hour so the salt can help the zucchini release some of its water.

Once the half an hour has elapsed, wrap the zucchini shreds up in a cheesecloth or thin dish towel, twist the top, and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Your goal is to have the zucchini as dry as possible!

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Add the zucchini into a big bowl and mix with 2 eggs, beaten, 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. No, I don’t know if you could sub out the cheese for anything: I’ve seen it done with almond flour, but I haven’t tried it myself. And you definitely can’t skip the eggs: it’ll fall apart!

Divide the dough in two and put each half in its own pie pan. Squish it down with your hands and spread to all of the corners, making sure there are no bumps or holes.

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Bake until golden brown and bubbly on top, about 15 minutes…

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…then flip over and let brown on the other side for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove the pizza crust from the oven and turn it up to broil.

Top your crust with your favorite toppings before finishing it off under broil; I wouldn’t recommend a tomato sauce, though: it’ll make the crust soggy and icky. Your best bet is to slice tomatoes and put them on top or use a really thick tomato sauce–one made with mostly tomato paste, which has the least amount of water in the universe of tomato products. This time, I used caramelized onions (just a sliced onion sauteed with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt for ten minutes), a little extra cheese, and some more oregano and basil. You could also use…

  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Sauteed or roasted bell peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Broccoli florets
  • Pesto
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Bacon
  • Sausage (preferably sweet Italian)
  • Pineapple (because hey, why not)
  • A handful of toasted nuts (I’d recommend hazelnuts, pistachios, or pine nuts)
  • Pieces of pre-cooked chicken
  • Leaves of fresh basil
  • Chocolate (no, sorry, just a joke…)

Broil the pizza in the pan until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 or so minutes, and then slice and serve with a simple green salad. Eat with a fork and a knife, or just go for it with your hands!

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What are your favorite pizza toppings? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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