Vibrant Collard Green Rice and Bean Rolls

I really like collard greens. I grew up in the South, well if you can count Florida as “the south”, as eclectically diverse as it is. My grandmother cooked them down until very soft, but only in water so they weren’t unhealthy. She had a jar of spicy jalapeno vinegar to splash on them and they were so filling and satisfying. You don’t need to cook them down so much to enjoy them as so many people are catching on to the delights of gently steamed or shredded raw collard greens. For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked Brown or Bhutanese Red rice (preferably organic when cooking with rice)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (can use chicken stock or water)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (Chick peas), drained
  • ½ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup  prepared cole slaw (cabbage and carrots)
  • ¼ cup chopped pitted black olives (can substitute green if you prefer, I like Cerignola olives particularly)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup vegan soy mayonnaise (can substitute thick strained plain Greek style yogurt)
  • 1-2 teaspoons your favorite seasoning blend (Jane’s Crazy salt is always a winner)
  • 8 collard green leaves, washed and dried

To make the collard wraps:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice with the broth and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then you want to reduce the heat  to a gentle simmer on low, covered, for approximately 40-50 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and soft.
  2. Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except the collard leaves. Mix well and set aside to cool.
  3. To prepare the collard leaves, you will need to trim off the stems. You can do this by laying each leaf out on a cutting board and running a small paring knife down the thick central stem in a V-shape towards the middle of the leaf. You do not want to cut the entire leaf in half, just remove the thick vein and stem.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and add 2 or 3 collard leaves. Boil for a minute or two, until dark green and tender. Remove with tongs and transfer to a colander to drain and cool. Repeat with remaining leaves.
  5. Take a cooled collard leaf and lay it stem side facing up. Place 1 cup of rice-bean mixture in the center and roll the collard leaf around the filling to make a wrap. Do this for the rest of the collard greens.

This serves 4 people with 2 wraps each. I recommend a bright and tangy Tahini dipping sauce with this.

Tahini Saice

  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste easily found in a grocery store)
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

Combine the ingredients in a food processor or a blender and whiz together into a nice dressing consistency. Adjust the seasoning to your liking, and thickness by adding a little water if you want to thin it out.

 

Easy Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Crunchy Veggies

Spring rolls are a snap to make once you get the basics down. You may have eaten them at an Asian take-out restaurant before, or have seen them on a buffet somewhere. They are light and fresh and can be filled with almost anything you like.  I like to add whole grains like Bhutanese Red rice for an earthy, chewy texture which contrasts excellently against the succulent, salty-snap of fresh shrimp. I include powerfully nutritious green herbs in this recipe which will align well with your diet plans, and I hope you will make it and enjoy it.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (toasted if you can find it)
  • 4 each 8-inch diameter rice paper rounds (you can use brown rice rounds if you can find them)
  • 1 cup cooked Bhutanese Red rice (cook per package directions)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cole slaw mix prepared (you can find it at the grocery store and it has shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 small avocado halved and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh Thai basil (regular sweet basil will work if you cannot find Thai)
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 8 each cooked and peeled (deveined) shrimp (medium or large) cut in half horizontally
  1. To begin have a bowl or shallow dish of warm water with a splash of the rice vinegar on hand, as well as a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels at the ready. You will soak the rice paper wrappers to soften them in the warmed water and lay them out on the paper or towel to drain off excess water.
  2.  Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together with a little sesame oil until the sugar dissolves. This will serve as your dipping sauce, which you can divide into four small portions.
  3. Soften a spring roll wrapper until it is soft and pliable enough to wave gently in the liquid. Remove it to the towel gently, and add several slices of avocado, then two halves of shrimp. Next add some of the cole slaw filling and the green herbs.
  4. Leave about an inch and a half at the top of your spring roll and at the sides. Make sure you place the filling toward the bottom edge of the wrapper.
  5. Now fold the sides up and roll your wrapper like a burrito up and around the filling, pressing gently at the seam. Set your spring roll aside and finish the others in the same manner.
  6. When you have finished, slice each spring roll at the center in a diagonal slice.

You should have 4 servings of an appetizer portion of these delicious spring rolls. Now that you have the technique figured out the sky is the limit for what you can add. Steamed or grilled chicken slices and a creamy, citrus peanut sauce would be a filling treat, as would a spring roll chock full of crunchy veggies alone! If you cannot find fish sauce, or do not particularly enjoy it, feel free to omit it and instead substitute 1/8 cup tamari sauce with 1/8 cup of citrus juice; such as lemon, lime or orange, or even some stock if you have it handy.

 

Lucky Peas and Kale

The year is almost up and if you’re just beginning the diet, or an old hat by now, you will want to prepare some of these black eyed peas for your New Year. Lucky or not they are sure good for you!
You will need:

  • 2-cups Dried Black Eye Peas
  • 1-medium white or yellow onion, minced
  • 1- large, fresh Bay leaf, dry is ok too, I prefer fresh
  • 2-good cloves of garlic, smashed and minced (about 1 teaspoon if using prepared garlic)
  • 2-Tablespoons Olive oil, or Grapeseed oil
  • 1 -6 ounce can chopped tomatoes, organic if possible
  • 4-cups Kale, washed, rinsed and chopped or 1 ready to use bag
  • 2-Tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1-teaspoon smoked Paprika
  • 1-teaspoon ground Cumin
  • Juice of 1-sour orange, or 1/4 cup of a blend of lemon and orange or lime and lemon
  • Fresh black pepper in a grinder, about 1 teaspoon
  • 2-teaspoons sea salt
  • Optional sliced Serrano, or Jalapeno chili.

In a pot have your soaked beans at the ready in double the amount of water to beans. 4 cups water to 2 cups beans in this case. To quick soak you can boil the peas in water and set the cover off the heat and let it sit until room temperature again. This takes about an hour or two. Or you can soak overnight, or even use canned, but drain and wash well due to the excess sodium that tends to be used in canned peas. Dried are best and easy if you just soak and drain them prior to use.

Depending on  how you like your kale add it at the beginning or the end. I prefer it to be tender and silky in a dish like this, so I add it with the dried peas at the beginning with the garlic, onion, spices (except salt) Bay leaf, oil and tomatoes to the pot. You will want to sweat the onion in the oil first on medium-low heat. Then add the spices and garlic and stir until fragrant and add the peas, tomato and water. Bring it up to a boil and skim off any scum that arises.  Bring it down to a simmer and gently cover with a little ventilation. Cook for about 45 minutes until the peas are nice and tender as you like them. Don’t add salt until the end when cooking beans and dried peas. When it’s ready for the salt test and add the citrus juice and vinegar. That should brighten things up and not necessitate more salt, but just in case, taste again and add it if you like. Let it sit to cool some and serve over wild rice or brown rice if you like, or just as it is.

Makes about 6 hearty servings

Variation: Use same amount of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or stock in lieu of water.

Corn Tomato Chowder

Summer is coming to a close and tomatoes and corn are abundant in the markets for several more weeks. This is an easy and delicious way to utilize nature’s bounty.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions ( Vidalia are good, so are white or yellow)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • fresh ground black or white pepper to taste

In a soup pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook them, stirring occasionally to ensure no scorching, about 5 minutes until they are softened.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, cut the corn off of the cob, ( if you are using frozen corn about 2 cups-though the crunch and taste of fresh summer corn is ideal) by setting the cob on a cutting board horizontally and slicing the corn off with a sharp knife, rotating the cob as you go. This is easier than setting the corn upright vertically and is easier to control the knife. After the kernels have been removed, you want to scrape out any of the milky liquid from each cobb and use this in the soup as well. Add all of the corn kernels and milk to the pot with the onioins and garlic.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Stir and add the salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Take off the heat and add the cilantro. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy with a dollop of sour cream if you desire.

Serves-4

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

So you may have seen this leathery, hot pink or fuscia fruit with it’s strange curly spikes at the grocery store more frequently, and thought to yourself “now what is that and what would I do with it?”

Dragon fruit has a flavor and texture similar to kiwi fruit. It is a member of the cactus family (think prickly pear). The skin of the fruit is inedible, but the flesh is white and flecked with little black specks that look like vanilla or poppy seeds.

Select ripe fruits without bruises. You can just slice them in half with a sharp knife and scoop out the fruit with a spoon by running it around the inside of the skin. Then you can eat it right away or dice it up and add it to fruit salsas, fruit salads, or smoothies. It is versatile and mildly succulent.

You will need:

  • 4 ripe Dragon fruits, scooped out of the skin, and diced
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 fresh mango, diced
  • 2 cups soy or almond milk
  • honey to sweeten if preferred (shouldn’t need it)
  • 1/4 cup ice

In a blender add all the ingredients and puree until smooth and creamy.

Serves-4

Salmon Cakes with Bitter Lettuce and Fennel Salad

These salmon cakes are a breeze to make with a food processor. I enjoy the contrast of the robust and fatty salmon against the bitter greens and sweet, pungent fennel root. Fennel pairs so well with citrus as well and I have included the use of orange segments in the salad, as well as pomegranate seeds for a tangy crunch.

For the Salmon Cakes you will need:

  • 1.5 pounds of fresh or frozen and thawed wild caught salmon (pat dry with a paper towel) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced herbs such as tarragon or parsley or both
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • sea salt to taste, about 3/4 teaspoon
  • freshly ground pepper about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or old bay seasoning
  • Olive oil to brush onto the salmon cakes, about 1/4 cup

To prepare pre-heat the oven to 400°F and have a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper ready to bake the salmon cakes.

In a food processor add the cut up salmon and pulse until you have small, fine bits, but not a paste. You want a little under 1/4 inch chunks. In a bowl combine some of the  Panko breadcrumbs and the herbs, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon and seasonings. About 3 tablespoons of Panko just for texture. Once the salmon is processed add it to this mixture and fold it all together well. Now you are ready to form the salmon cakes into disks about 3 inches or less across and about an inch high.

The remaining Panko crumbs can be put onto a plate to use to coat the cakes as you form them. Just press them gently into the crumbs as you shape them and try to get an even coating. You should be able to get about 8 cakes at this size, with 2 cakes being served per person.

With a pastry brush or grill brush gently brush some olive oil over the formed salmon cakes and set them onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes until done. They should be firm and lightly golden brown on top.

Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the bitter greens and fennel salad.

For the salad you will need:

  • 1 small bulb of fennel root, washed and shaved on a mandolin or thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange segments, supreme is preferred
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cups mixed greens such as radicchio, mizuna, and endive
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons good Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients in the bottom of the salad bowl you will be using and whisk well until incorporated. Then toss the salad ingredients well with the mixed dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Serve 2 salmon cakes each on top of a plate of this delicious salad and enjoy!

If you like you could substitute 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar for pomegranate molasses if you can find it. Also adding toasted walnuts would be an excellent addition to this salad.

Serves-4

 

 

Kale and Lentil Salad

Red Lentils are quick to cook, and very filling. This salad can be served warm as a side dish, or chilled until cool and eaten as a cold salad. You will need:

  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons good vinegar such as balsamic or sherry
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dinosaur kale, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • fresh basil, minced or chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts or other nuts like hazelnut
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salad have your ingredients ready and warm a skillet or sauté pan gently over medium heat and warm the oil and garlic until it softens, about 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure no sticking or burning. Add your vinegar and kale and wilt the kale, stirring to coat the greens with the warm garlic dressing. Once wilted remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix this with the basil and nuts and tomatoes while still warm but not hot. Squeeze a little lemon over the salad and toss gently ensuring an even coating. You may serve this chilled or warm as it is and it is a lovely summer dish. This is excellent with a grilled fish as an entrée.   Serves-4

Broiled Scallops with Beet Vinaigrette

  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 6  tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh sea scallops, muscle tabs removed
  • 1 bag pre-washed mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup julienne carrots
  • 1/4 cup julienne Daikon radish ( can substitute Jicima)

To prepare the beets simmer them in a heavy bottom pot with acidulated water (water with acid like lemon juice) until they are tender and can be pierced with a knife. When they are cool enough to handle peel and chop them.

Place the beets and vinegar in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the olive oil, dill and salt and pepper. If necessary thin with a little water. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Dry the scallops well on a paper towel, season with salt and pepper if you wish, and broil in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, but not rubbery.

To serve assemble the salad and add scallops atop the dressed salad.

Serves about 4

 

Green Papaya Salsa

This is a Vietnamese inspired salsa which can be served over fish, chicken or vegetables. Select a firm papaya, without blotches or soft spots. You must peel a green papaya before using it. A vegetable peeler works just fine for this. Halve the Papaya lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and discard them. You can then cut each half into quarters lengthwise and use a knife to cut off the whitish membrane where the seeds were encased. Now you can dice up your green papaya. If you cannot find a green one, an under-ripe one that is slightly yellow will still work. This salsa can be made with a ripe papaya, and does not require heating in this case. Mango is also an excellent substitution.

You will need:

  • Green Papaya, peeled and diced (about a cup)
  • One medium tomato, diced
  • One small Vidalia onion, diced
  • One small or medium Jalapeno chili, seeded and diced (alternatively you may substitute a canned chipotle pepper if you prefer)
  • One half of a fresh orange, juiced (about two or three tablespoons)
  • Juice of half a fresh squeezed lime
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • Sea salt to taste

To prepare the salsa:

  1. Combine the Papaya, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and juices in a skillet. Warm gently over medium heat.
  2. When the salsa is warm, remove from the heat and add the fresh chopped herbs and salt. Check for taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Easy Mixed Greens and Chicken

With Spring arriving the weather is permitting some al fresco dining in some regions. If you’re lucky to be living in one of those warmer regions you may enjoy dining outside. Fire up the grill and make this delicious and easy salad full of anti-inflammatory ingredients like blueberries and garlic.

For the salad:

  • 1 bag of pre-washed organic mixed greens
  • 1 medium sized red onion, small diced
  • 1 seedless orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed well
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (may substitute fresh parsley)
  • 2 6-ounce skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
  • Grapeseed oil

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Good quality extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar or balsamic (may substitute freshly squeezed orange juice)
  • 1 garlic clove smashed and minced well
  • Sea salt about a teaspoon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Wisk all the ingredients together for the dressing and check the seasoning. Take about 3 tablespoons of it and rub over the chicken and let it marinate in a dish in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Set the rest of the dressing aside and assemble the salad mixing the onion, oranges, blueberries and herbs together. Grill the chicken breasts until they are cooked through, about 3 minutes a side. Ensure you rub some grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper before you grill them so there is no sticking. You may use other high-heat tolerant oil if you do not have grapeseed. While the chicken is resting and cooling some, dress the salad tossing gently. Slice the chicken and serve about half a breast for each guest.

 

Serves 4