Penne Pasta with Sweet Peas Roasted Tomatoes Mint and Lemon Zest with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Yes! It’s winter and our bodies are craving those wonderful comfort foods, like l a big bowl of chili with jalapeno and cheddar cornbread or some creamy mac and cheese, but it’s good to give the digestive tract a little rest, even in the cold wintry months.

Today I was missing summer, so I decided to make this wonderful pasta and salad dish. I used one of my new favorite gluten free pastas, brown rice penne fromJovial Foods I love the nuttiness of their pasta and it holds up to it’s form.

This recipe honors a few of spring and summer’s produce, mint, lemons and sweet peas. I roasted some cherry tomatoes to give it a nice burst of smoky citrus flavor and a few pieces of mint leaves with a bit of lemon zest, well just say, it’s summer in your mouth.

The Green Apple Mint salad makes a wonderfully refreshing side. I love making my own vinaigrettes and this balsamic mint dressing could be one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy a bit of summer in these recipe.  Make sure you stay warm and Set the Table with Love.

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Brown Rice Penne Pasta with Peas and Roasted Tomatoes with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Penne Pasta 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Jovial Penne Pasta

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup organic sweet peas

2 tbsp lemon juice

lemon zest

mint leaves, for garnish

cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil on a baking sheet. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft. Once roasted set aside.

Add penne pasta to a pot of salted boiling water. Cook according to package direction. Drain and place back on the stove on low heat, add peas and lemon juice. Allow peas to just heat up and remove from heat.  Add pasta, peas and roasted tomatoes into a bowl, add lemon zest, mint leaves and gently toss. Drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Brown Rice Penne Pasta with Peas and Roasted Tomatoes with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Green Apple Salad

Ingredients: 

1 medium green apple

Bib lettuce or your favorite leafy greens 🙂

Cranberries

Pumpkin seeds

Sunflower seeds

Baby mint leaves, as garnish

Instruction:

Cut the apples, as desired. Gently tear the bib lettuce into desired pieces and place in a bowl, top with the cut apples, cranberries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add drizzle with the Balsamic Mint vinaigrette.

Balsamic Mint Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon finely minced shallot

3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place the shallots in a small glass jar with a secure lid.  Add the balsamic vinegar, the salt and the pepper. Pour the olive oil into the jar. Put the lid on the jar tightly, and shake vigorously, and add to the salad right before serving.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Cauliflower Brownies

WOW!! So my amazing friend Paula gave me a challenge to make a brownie for her son that hid cauliflower inside and it taste good. Well here is what I came up with.  This was an experiment and may need a little adjusting, so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in my comment box. But I am not bragging, these bad boys were pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

First things first, the cauliflower puree.  You can serve the rest as a side dish or convert it into a soup. But that’s another blog. You will only need one cup for the brownie recipe.

1 head cauliflower, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

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Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Cauliflower Brownies

Instructions:

Pull the leaves off the cauliflower and cut out the core in a kind of cone-shaped section. Then pull the florets off the head with your fingers, using a knife when you need to. Break or cut the florets into smaller, regular pieces (about 1 1/2 inch) and put them in a steamer insert. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in the steamer pot, add the insert, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until you can poke a paring knife into the stems and you can feel that there’s still a little texture there. Save 1 cup of steaming water.
In batches, put cauliflower in a food processor to puree. If you are having problems getting the cauliflower to puree add a little of the cooking water but as little as possible. With the motor running, add oil and salt.

Set a side.

Brownie Ingredients:

Dry
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup ground organic raw cane sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips ( cacao chips)

Wet:

1 cup cauliflower puree
1 Tablespoons flaxmeal
3 Tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup oil, canola oil

Directions:

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Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Cauliflower Brownies

Brownies:

Over a double boiler, on low heat, add the dark chocolate chips into the bowl and stir,until melted. Once melted set aside.  In another bowl add cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, oil and mix together.

In a small bowl mix flaxmeal in the warm water and vinegar and let sit for few minutes about 3-4 minutes, this will be part of your egg, substitute. Add the flax meal mixture to the cocoa powder mixture.
In another bowl, combine all the remaining dry ingredients, stir and add to the cocoa powder mixture. Mix to combine well. Gently fold half of the melted chocolate into the mixture, you will use the other half as a glaze on top of the brownies.  If the mixture is too wet, add a little more cocoa powder. If too dry fold in more melted chocolate.
Spread the mixture into a parchment lined or greased pan. Press and even it out, using a spatula.
Bake 30-32 minutes at 375 degrees F. Bake till the toothpick an inch from the edge comes out with a few crumbs. Do not over bake as the brownie, it will dry them out and make them hard.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled remove from the parchment lined pan and cut brownies in squares.  Add the remaining melted chocolate on top of each as a glaze. You can also add more chocolate chips if you like.

Creamy Vegan Corn Soup

The weather has finally gotten cold in Georgia. I thought I was living in Santa Barbara, for a minute. The truth is, Georgia’s weather could be a little tricky. Cold one day and 78 degrees the next. But, as soon as it got cold. I was in my kitchen making this soup. Now this is a vegan version of the soup. I wanted something much cleaner, than all the heavy cream and butter I consumed over the holidays. The food was amazing and I love to eat good food and boy did I have my share. Okay, enough of my time of confession. Let’s get to the soup.

I used a roux, which is a cooked mixture of butter or other fat and flour to help thicken sauces, soups, etc.  I used olive oil and flour for this soup. Cooking the flour, gives it a nice buttery and nutty flavor, so no need for the butter, and the flour thickens it as well.

I hope my vegan version, gets you to start thinking, especially in the New Year, you can set the butter and heavy cream a side, ever now and then.

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Creamy Vegan Corn Soup

 

Ingredients:

Roux 

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 1/2 tablespoons of flour, coconut flour

Corn Soup

2-3 tablespoon Olive oil

1/2 large white onion, chopped (~1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 cups organic frozen corn

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon  garlic powder

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth , low sodium

Garnish

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup frozen organic corn

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

Cilantro

Sea salt and black pepper , to taste

Directions:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat add the olive oil for the roux. Add a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil, when it just begin to bubble. Then, whisk in 2-1/2 tablespoons of flour to form a thick paste.  Continue whisking as the roux gently bubbles and cooks, for 2 minutes. Do not let the roux bubbles vigorously or it will burn. Stir constantly. Add the onions and garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat just a bit. Add the red pepper flakes, stir. Next, Add the corn and all the spices, salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and allow to cook for another 10 minutes on a medium heat, continue to stir as needed. Add more vegetable broth if needed. Do not allow it to dry out.

While the corn is cooking, add your oil for your garnish, in another sauce pan on medium heat, once the pan is heated, add the peppers and the corn. Allow the corn and peppers to cook, until they have caramelized on some of the pieces. Remove from the heat and set a side.

Once the corn is cooked for the soup, remove it from the heat and add the mixture in a blender, Ninja or Vitamix. A very strong blender will give you a very creamy soup. Add the mixture to the blender and process, until the soup is creamy and smooth. If the mixture is too thick , add more vegetable broth. The soup should be smooth,creamy, but not thick.  If it is too thin, add more corn and blend.

Once the corn mixture is smooth, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings, add sea salt and black pepper at this time, if needed.

Remove the soup from the blender. Add it to a mesh stainer over a clean sauce pan. Strain the soup into the saucepan, use a spoon to press out all the liquid from the soup.  Once all the soup is strained away from any remaining kernel. Place the sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and heat the soup up to your preference. Add the heated soup to a bowl. Add the garnish on top and Enjoy.

You can always skip the straining process, if you like a more rustic soup.