Tomato Red Pepper Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a quintessential soup for the dog days of summer. For me, sipping a big bowlful is an enjoyable and tasty way to stay hydrated and get loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients at the same time.  Serves 8

1 ½ – 2 cups tomato juice or tomato juice blend, low sodium if possible

6 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

2 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped [about 2 ½ cups]

4 medium or 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped [about 1 ½ cups]

1 medium organic and un-waxed cucumber with skin, roughly chopped [see note below]

1 small zucchini, roughly chopped [about 1 cup]

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons capers

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 large clove fresh garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt [decrease amount to ½ teaspoon if not using low sodium tomato juice]

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ – 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Place the tomato juice, tomatoes, red peppers, celery, cucumber, zucchini, onion, olive oil, capers, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and dried oregano into the blender container. Blend on high until vegetables are fully broken down and soup is very smooth. Add the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, fresh basil, parsley, and ½ teaspoon of maple syrup.

Blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if an additional pinch of salt, sherry vinegar, or maple syrup is needed for brightness and balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Variation: for a more chunky texture stir in some diced celery or cucumber, chopped green olives, or crumbled croutons before serving
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or unwaxed product isn’t available

 

Honeydew Cucumber Gazpacho with Pumpkin Seeds and Basil

This fresh take on gazpacho is restorative, hydrating, and a perfect remedy if feeling fatigued or depleted. Members of the   cucurbitaceae or gourd family, honeydew melon and cucumber are a natural pairing. The pumpkin seeds in this chilled soup lend texture along with essential fats, fiber, and easily digestible proteins. Jalapeno pepper, citrus, and fresh herbs team up with the watery gourds to deliver a super fast, super delicious dose of  vitamin C, and potassium.                  

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups cubed honeydew melon

1 large organic un-waxed cucumber with skin, cubed [see note below]

¼ – ½ cup water

6 Tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh jalapeno

1 medium scallion, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

¼ cup roughly chopped basil

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

Place melon, cucumber, ¼ cup water, pumpkin seeds, jalapeno, scallion, lime and lemon juices, and salt into the blender container. Blend on high until very smooth. If soup is too thick, add more water in 2 Tablespoon increments to assist blending until desired consistency is reached.

Add fresh herbs and blend on high for another 30-45 seconds or until basil and parsley are finely chopped and well incorporated. Taste and see if another pinch of salt or lime juice is needed for balance. Serve chilled.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • Variation: substitute ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint for the basil and parsley, increase fresh lime juice to 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons.
  • Cucumber with skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but unfortunately these fruits are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the the cucumber if organic and/or un-waxed aren’t available.
  • Storing the melon and cucumber in the refrigerator before using them in the recipe saves time and will make this soup ready to eat in about 5 minutes.

Roasted Russet and Sweet Potato Peelins’

Potato and sweet potato peelings typically get composted or tossed. Here the peels are salvaged and re-purposed into, quite possibly, the Holy Grail of scrappy snacks. Fiber rich skins are tasty and filling, they will definitely answer the call for salty, crispy cravings. Nutrition, great flavor, costs essentially nothing in money or time, and guilt free – have you ever known a potato chip able to make that claim? And if that’s not enough here’s one more thing; they can be made in that toaster oven over there in the break room. Just sayin’….

Roasted Sweet Potato Skins

Inspiration for this recipe came from roasted Russet skins. It combines the sweetness of sweet potato with the earthiness of smoked paprika and ground cumin to mimic flavors reminiscent of barbeque potato chips.

Peelings from 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1½-2 loose cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes so that a tiny amount of flesh remains with the skin. Place the peelings in a bowl and add the oil, spices, and salt. Use your hands to mix and evenly coat the cut surfaces. Transfer the skins to a lined baking sheet and mostly spread them out. It’s ok if some of them are touching. Roast for 9-10 minutes, until crispy but not turning too dark; start checking them at about 7 minutes and every minute afterward to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes to cool.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Roasted Russet Potato Skins

These are straight up delicious; they taste like a mash up of a chip and French Fry. There’s a hundred different ways one could go with flavorings but I kept them classic and simply seasoned with sea salt and a little pepper.

Peelings from 2 medium Russet potatoes, about 1½-2 loose cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

few grinds of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes so that a tiny amount of flesh remains with the skin. Place the peelings in a bowl and add the oil, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix and evenly coat the cut surfaces. Transfer the skins to a lined baking sheet and mostly spread them out. It’s ok if some of them are touching. Roast for 9-10 minutes until crispy but not turning too dark. Remove from the oven and let stand a few minutes until cool.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Kale Chimichurri

Zucchini Noodles with Kale Chimichurri and Toasted Walnuts

Serves 4

This week the hospital garden was flush with kale for the garden giveaway and I was feeling, truthfully, a bit ho-hum at the prospect of demo’ing another saute or raw salad. Suddenly chimichurri flew in to my head. Chimichurri is a fresh herb based, vinegary, spicy, Argentinian green sauce that is typically served with meat. In this version kale stands in for the herbs; and gets tossed with spiraled zucchini noodles and toasted walnuts. The class loved it! However don’t let the veggie forward use here dissuade you – this sauce is also delicious spooned over flank steak, burgers, chicken, roasted potatoes, and yes…eggs.

  • 1 medium bunch kale, ends trimmed then roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 zucchini, spiraled or shaved into ribbons
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale and blanch for about 1 minute. Drain over a strainer then rinse with cold water to cool. Using your hands squeeze the kale to remove as much water as possible. When it’s wrung dry, either chop kale very finely and put it in a bowl, or transfer it to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the pressed garlic, vinegar, salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, and olive oil; tossing [or processing] until well combined. Set sauce aside to allow the flavors to mingle.

Prepare zucchini and walnuts as directed. Add the zucchini to the bowl with the chimichurri sauce and toss until well coated. Taste to see if vegetables could use another splash of vinegar or pinch of salt. Add the walnuts and toss again. Serve right away.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • For delicious variations; add either ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint or 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano to the kale at the point when adding the garlic and remaining ingredients.
  • Wait until you are ready to serve before combining chimichuuri with zucchini. Otherwise the zucchini will begin to release its water and dim down the sauce’s assertiveness.
  • To bank flavor and nutrition for the future, don’t throw away the kale cooking water. It will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days or freezer for 6 months. Use it to make soups or for cooking grains.

 

Broccoli with Edamame and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Recent conversation came up around Eating the Rainbow so I thought it would be fun to develop a series of recipes based on color. This one represents one of my interpretations of green; a yummy one pan, veg-centric, dish that comes together in under 15 minutes.

2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic [about 3 large cloves]

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

8 ounces, about 1½ cups, frozen edamame beans, thawed

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs blend

1 pound broccoli

½ teaspoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons water

2 scallions, sliced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place pumpkin seeds in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Toast, shaking the pan often, for about a minute, until seeds are puffy and lightly browned. Be careful to not let them burn. Remove seeds to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and red chili flakes, cooking and stirring until fragrant, 30-40 seconds.

Add the edamame beans, a pinch of salt, and dried Italian herbs, stirring to coat the beans. Saute for 1-2 minutes then add the broccoli and salt.

Cook, stirring often, until broccoli turns bright green and becomes just tender crisp, about 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water at a time to the pan if it becomes dry before broccoli is done. [Note: The steam created also assists the cooking process]

Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Add the lemon juice, stirring to combine and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking tips:

  • Take color green to the extreme by combining leftovers with baby spinach or arugula and diced avocado for a fantastic lunchtime salad.
  • Substitute kale for broccoli
  • If you prefer fresh herbs, substitute 1 Tablespoon fresh for the dried and add when you add the scallions. Basil, parsley, thyme, a bit of oregano would all work.

Avocado Toast with Egg

A favorite breakfast or snack of mine is avocado on whole grain toast. Much of the time it gets topped with scrambled egg to which I’ve added shredded cabbage, scallion and a drizzle of sriracha. But diced pepper, zucchini, kale, almost any veggie and/or fresh herb works. Best thing is it takes less than 5 minutes to make. This picture is one of my uber fast home versions with egg and baby spinach. 

And… life happens. When I find myself in a bigger than ever, gotta get out the door NOW kind of hurry I just make the toast and schmear on the avocado, wrap that up, grab a handful of baby spinach or arugula, my portable sea salt and black pepper container thingie and a hard boiled egg. Later on the greens go down and the egg is sliced on top.

Either way it’s made avocado toast with egg is a delicious, sustaining, and nutritious treat!

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