Cajun-Roasted Cauliflower

cauliflowerFor a recent party, we served Po’Boys and for my vegan friends I made them with Cajun-roasted Cauliflower. It was crazy easy and makes a wonderful sandwich.

4 cups cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Emeril’s Rustic Rub (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oil and Rub in a large bowl. If you like things really spicy add 1/2 tsp more of Rub, but generally 1 tsp Rub is plenty.

Add cauliflower and toss well to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake 25 – 30 minutes tossing occasionally. You want the edges of the cauliflower to start browning up. Serve immediately.

Emeril’s Rustic Rub (From Louisiana Real and Rustic Cookbook)

8 Tbsp paprika
3 Tbsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp onion powder
2 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme

Blend well and store in an airtight jar. Will keep for a couple of months.

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Pan-Roasted Frozen Veggies

Ever commit to a giant container of something and then think, “Nope!”

I bought a huge bag of stir-fry veggies that just felt mushy to me when I stir-fried them. Rather than pitching the bag, I froze my fingers for 10 minutes sorting out the carrots, onions, peppers and mushrooms, then the green beans, and finally the broccoli and snow peas.  (I did toss out the water chestnuts which are kind of awful when frozen, and will cook the broccoli and snow peas tomorrow.)

This recipe is my fallback for veggies – it’s simple and always good.  Just needed to tweak it a bit to allow for the frozen veggies.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
1/2 onion, chopped into 1/2″ strips

Frozen veggies, rinsed and well-drained:
1 1/2  cups of frozen carrots
a little chopped frozen red pepper  – 2 Tbsp?
1/2 cup chopped frozen mushrooms
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans

1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
several grinds of black pepper

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Toss in the onion and cook for a few minutes. If you are using all frozen vegetables, next add them all except the green beans. Reduce heat to low, and saute for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrape up the bottom.

Add the green beans, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and black pepper and stir gently. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

The frozen veggies which feel very limp when cooked for a short time take on a brightness and sweetness with the longer cook time that’s pretty remarkable.

Note for fresh vegetables:

If you are using fresh vegetables, cook the carrots and green beans for a few minutes in a saucepan with water. Drain before adding to the skillet. If using fresh mushrooms, add them to the pan right after the onions and cook until they have released their moisture and then a little longer until it’s dried up a bit. Continue as directed.

Ina’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

broccoliJust back from Niobrara, where we had some amazing meals in our cabin, especially the dinner where Ali grilled steaks!

These were ridiculously good steaks – and since we’re from Nebraska, that’s saying something.  I need to ask Ali to share his method – they were so delicious.

Anyway, nothing goes better with a great steak than Ina’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (I’ve included the original link for those who want it, but am including the version I made below.)

Even if you don’t like broccoli, you will love this. My kids are not huge broccoli fans and they gobbled it up!

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs. broccoli, cut into florets
4 big garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one large lemon (1 1/2 Tbsp?)
Juice of that large lemon (2-3 Tbsp?)
1/3 cup chopped, pan-roasted walnuts
1/3 cup good Parmesan Cheese
4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut broccoli into 1-2″ florets, leaving a longer piece of stem on each one. You’ll end up with about 8 cups of florets. (Don’t throw away the leftover, big stems!  Instead peel them and munch on them raw or roast them, too.  They have a lovely, delicate flavor.) Lay all out on a large baking sheet, and sprinkle the garlic slices on top. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper.

Roast for 25 – 30 minutes until the broccoli is crisp-tender and bits are just starting to brown. (Test the florets – I ended up needing an extra 5 minutes or so.)

While the broccoli is roasting, heat the walnuts in a sauce pan on medium heat, shaking frequently (think popcorn) until they start to get a nice, toasty smell. Remove from heat and put in a medium-sized bowl.

Once the walnuts have cooled a bit, add a Tbsp or so or Olive Oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice, reserving about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir gently.

When Broccoli is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and spread it out on a large platter. Drizzle the walnut mixture over and gently toss the broccoli. Then sprinkle the fresh basil and Parmesan on top, with an extra squeeze of the lemon juice. Delish!

Sauteed Cabbage

I have never really loved cabbage.  It’s okay – but I can’t tell you how much cabbage I’ve thrown away over the years.  You need 2 cups for a salad, and then what?

But I’ve changed my tune after making sauteed cabbage.  Just like roasting brings out the mind-blowing deliciousness of so many vegetables, sauteing turns cabbage into sheer nirvana.  It gets a sweetness yet retains a nice bite.  And it’s ridiculously easy.

Ingredients:

1 cabbage, cut into 1″ squares (They will all fall apart so no need to be precise.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and as soon as it is mostly melted (happens quick – watch carefully) dump in all the cabbage and start stirring. If it won’t all fit in the pan, that’s okay.  You can add it in stages.

Sautee for several minutes until the cabbage is reduced and edges are starting to brown very slightly. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Taste and check seasonings.

Serve. Devour. Yum.

That’s it. The simplest ingredients and method turn a plain Jane vegetable into a star. Leave out the butter for a vegan version.

Lemony Green Beans

Our friends Gary and Dorie always have amazing vegetable gardens, with surplus enough to share. I have vegetable garden envy – since our backyard isn’t sunny enough to produce much more than leaves…

Anyway, I made green beans last night that Gary and Dorie shared with us, and they were so good and fresh!  (I often just cook the green beans with the stems on and just cut them off on my plate.)

1 lb. whole green beans, washed
1 Tbsp butter or bacon drippings (I used a bit of both.)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp kosher salt (Skip if cooking in pasta water.)

Bring a pot of water to the boil. (I had just cooked a pound of pasta, so instead of draining the pasta, I used a big strainer spoon to remove all the pasta, and just cooked the beans in the pasta water.)

Add the green beans to the pot and let them simmer for about 3 minutes. Drain the water, add the butter and/or bacon drippings, garlic powder, salt, lemon juice and pepper and toss the beans in them. (Skip the salt if you cooked the beans in the pasta water.)

It was a lovely summer supper.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

caprese salad

Nothing is more beautiful than tomatoes, mozarella and basil, drizzled with a tangy, sweet balsamic vinaigrette!  And takes almost no time at all.

4 tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 ball of fresh Mozarella, cut into 1/4″ slices
Handful of fresh basil leaves

Vinaigrette Recipe:

3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (Costco’s is amazingly good)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix vinaigrette up in a mason jar, and shake well.

Layer tomatoes with Mozarella and basil leaves on a broad serving dish, and drizzle the vinaigrette over. So good.

Pepper, Mushrooms & Eggplant on Pasta

We had roasted eggplant a couple of days ago, and had some leftover.  I also had peppers in the fridge and a bunch of mushrooms, so we threw together a lovely dish. A little parmesan would have been good, but we were out. It was delicious as is.

Maya wanted “hodge-podge” pasta tonight. (We keep a large mason jar with the tail ends of all different pastas. Even if they cook at slightly different times, they’re usually close enough to be fine, plus it’s fun to have all different shapes.)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp of bacon drippings (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
8-10 large mushrooms, sliced fairly thinly
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Roasted eggplant
Pasta

Start water boiling for pasta. When you start the mushrooms, you can start the pasta and it comes out about the same time.

Meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add peppers to oil and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down a bit, and loosely cover the pan with a lid. (I used a lid that was smaller than the pan, but still covered the peppers.) After a couple of minutes, I uncovered them, and stirred again. Back on with the cover for another couple of minutes.

Stir again, and remove the peppers. Wipe out the pan in case anything was getting close to burning. Add butter to the pan, and the bacon drippings. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook them the same way you did the peppers. Stir fry, then cover, stir again, cover and stir again.  For the final cook, you’ll want to leave them uncovered until most of the liquid dries up.

Add the peppers back into the pan, along with any juices. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh out of the roasted eggplants along the edge of the pan. Break up the eggplants into smaller chunks. Some parts will be stringy, but that’s okay. Toss with the peppers and mushrooms to warm and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

I added another little pat of butter to my pasta since I love butter!