Brussels Sprout Slaw with Feta and Candied Cashew Dust

I started shaving raw Brussels sprouts into salads a few months ago because I liked the slightly bitter flavor they add to fresh greens, and I wanted to work in some additional protein, iron, and potassium to my diet.

For this recipe, I decided to go all in and make the sprouts the focus of the slaw by having the creamy feta cheese and the tangy balsamic dressing bring the flavors together. The added crunchy sweet cashew dust was a perfect finish.

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Gnocchi

It’s hard to imagine the same bright summer heat that ripens tomatoes could still infuse its warmth offseason, but that flavor really comes through here.  I used minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, which not only infused that delicious warm tomato flavor into the dough, it gave the gnocchi great color as well.

These little nuggets have so much flavor all they need is a light toss in some toasted garlic olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan and chopped basil.

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Pineapple-Plum Habanero Salsa

pineapple-plum-habanero-salsa

My spicy pepper choice this summer was all about habaneros; specifically chocolate, spicy mustard and the rare and elusive white habanero. As any home gardener knows, once you commit to planting edibles in your garden, you spend the next several months watering, chasing bunnies, pruning, staking, and relocating them to different sunny spots for maximum exposure. Last week my patience finally paid off, and I’ve harvested an amazing crop of peppers. So off to the kitchen I went to create some new spicy, flavorful dishes while they were plump and fresh.

Advanced warning, the next several weeks of recipes are going to be all about peppers and delicious spicy heat so get ready!

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Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Here’s another perfect weekday dinner that comes together in about an hour. And if you make a big enough pan, you’ll have enough leftovers for another night. The creamy Fontina cheese is a nice change from the traditional Mozzarella, and mixing the half-and-half into the sauce adds another layer of depth and richness in flavor.

It’s also a perfect meal for vegetarians, much to the chagrin of my daughter. Halfway through our dinner, she asked me, “This is really good, Mom. What kind of meat is stuffed inside the pasta?” When I told her there was no meat, just carrots, fennel, onion, garlic and radicchio, she paused, thought about that for a moment and then kept eating.

That’s a success in my book!

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Warm Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

Wam Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

You know how a sandwich or a salad tastes better when someone else makes it? The reason is a combination of your visual perception along with a psychological response to the exposure of the ingredients. If you’re the one making the salad, your mind is thinking about how the finished dish will taste, so in the end, the resulting pleasure isn’t as strong as if someone else prepares and presents you with the finished dish.

Either way, this salad still tastes as delicious as my mind tells me it will, whether I make it or not. The warm roasted mushrooms and asparagus add a deep, earthy layer to the salad, and the dressing has just the right level of acidity to give your taste buds a bright pop of flavor.

And just a suggestion, go the extra step and buy a nice aged Parmesan and grate it yourself for this dish. The inherent nuttiness and buttery flavor of an aged Parmesan works well here.

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Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

I had one of those moments the other night, where I found myself staring blankly, into the pantry, trying to decide what I had a taste for.  I kept waffling back and forth between pasta and veggies, until I finally just decided to make them both!  As it turned out, I was very pleased with the results.

The creamy chickpeas and feta cheese added a healthy dose of calcium and protein; the cashews and crisp broccoli contributed a nice crunch, and the dried fruit and shredded carrots gave just the right amount of sweetness against the tangy curry and rice wine vinegar marinade.  It satisfied both of my cravings and the colors made for a very pretty dish!

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

This recipe is one of those visually tricky dishes that make you think you’re eating pasta, when you’re really not.  Unfortunately, my noodle-head of a daughter wasn’t fooled the first time I served it so when I make this dish for the family, I still have to make traditional noodles for her.

If you haven’t prepared spaghetti squash before, be forewarned, it’s a bit weird at first.  Admittedly, it took me a few tries to get the level of cooking tenderness down to a science, but once I did, I discovered that I really enjoyed making it.

You can prepare this recipe completely vegetarian by using a jarred marinara sauce from the store, or if you happened to recently make the ‘Braciole with Meat Sauce’ recipe from my post on June 16th and had sauce left over, this would be a great opportunity to use some of that sauce!

To see that recipe, click here.

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Crispy Sesame Ginger Tofu

Crispy Sesame Ginger Tofu

I tend to get mixed responses from people when I mention the word tofu.  I’ve found that people either really like it, or they think it’s gross and won’t even try it.  Personally, I enjoy tofu.  It’s low in calories and saturated fat, and is one of the healthiest choices for a protein when you want an alternative to meat.  And because there are so many different ways to prepare it, you can experiment with different textures and flavors until you find the combination you like.

This crispy, oven broiled version, infuses the tofu with miso, sesame oil, fresh garlic and ginger, giving it a rich, tangy, authentic Asian flavor.

Break out the chopsticks, steam up some veggies and you’ll have a delicious, healthy dinner!

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Crisp and Crunchy Summer Vegetable Salad

Crisp and Crunchy Summer Vegetable Salad

This heart-healthy dish has become my summer go-to salad.  It’s always a hit with company and rarely do I have leftovers afterwards.  The cumin and lime juice in the marinade perfectly compliment the creamy black beans and chick peas; and brightens up the spicy red onion, the crisp bell peppers and the fresh sweet corn. Once you take a bite, it’s almost impossible to stop eating it!

I also love the beautiful colors.  They really make the salad stand out, especially when you put it on the table next to all those boring mayonnaise based pasta salads, deviled eggs and dried out veggie trays and ranch dip.  Bring this dish to your next gathering and I guarantee your friends will be asking you for the recipe!

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Tortellini Portobello in Garlic and Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Tortelloni Portobello in Garlic and Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Traditional French and Italian cuisine used to lean towards heavy, cream based sauces referred to as ‘Haute Cuisine.’  Then in the 1980’s, ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ emerged, placing an emphasis on natural flavors, using the freshest possible ingredients and less heavy sauces, so you could actually taste all of the ingredients in the dish.

This version of garlic and sage browned butter sauce uses light butter; which has 50 calories per tablespoon, versus 100 calories of regular salted butter.  Toasting the garlic brings out an inherent nutty flavor and the sage leaves delicately fragrant the butter as it cooks.

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