Sardine Pate

I really like sardines and find myself making this easy pâté regularly.  Sardines are named after Sardinia, the Italian island where large schools of these fish are commonly found.  These small, saltwater, silvery, soft-boned fish are at the bottom of the aquatic food chain, feeding mostly on plankton.  As a result, sardines do not concentrate heavy metals, such as mercury, and other contaminants, as do larger fish.  Sardines are fairly inexpensive but extremely nutrient-dense.  They are an excellent source of vitamin B12 and the mineral selenium, and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D and phosphorus.  Sardines also contain calcium, iodine, copper and choline.  When buying canned sardines look for those packed in water or olive oil, avoiding those packed in vegetable oils, such as soybean oil.  

1 (4 oz.) can sardines, drained
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 scallion or ½ small onion, minced
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Using a fork, mash together cream cheese, butter and sardines until smooth.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled on your favorite crackers or toast.  I prefer this spread atop slices of a medium-boiled egg.

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I always knew mushrooms were good for me, but it wasn't until I read Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, that I resolved to start eating more mushrooms!  Mushrooms play a vital role in keeping the immune system strong.  They contain immune-supporting compounds that help the body react quickly and effectively when exposed to disease-causing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.  Some other compounds found in mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties which help combat autoimmune diseases.  

White, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake and reishi mushrooms have all been shown to fight cancer by preventing DNA damage and slowing cancer growth.  Mushrooms’ immune strengthening effects are further enhanced when they are consumed together with onions and green vegetables.

So here is a quick, easy and delicious mushroom dish.  The stuffing is actually a salad I made several times this summer.

Mushrooms
4 Portobello caps
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt

Stuffing
1 cup cooked quinoa
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
¼ feta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
Juice of ½ lemon 
Handful fresh basil, chopped
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place mushroom caps open side up in a shallow baking dish.  Brush with olive oil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt to taste.  Bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the stuffing.  
Remove mushroom caps from oven and fill with stuffing.  Bake an additional 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and cheese is melted.  Allow to cool before serving

Tomato and Herb Goat Cheese Tart

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Tomato season is coming to an end, at least in the Midwest.  The cooler temperatures are not allowing the larger ones to ripen as quickly.  However I did manage to gather a bowl of cherry tomatoes the other day and decided why not make a savory tart!? I also just happened to have some crust dough frozen from last week’s baking and a package of goat cheese in the fridge.

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I like tarts.  They are easy and versatile.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated entirely to tarts, if you’re ever interested in taking a peek.  The crust for this recipe is not gluten-free.  It is made from organic spelt four which is an ancient grain that's free of cross-breeding, hybridization and genetic modifications, unlike modern wheat.  This crust recipe is from my mom and makes enough dough for two large or three small tarts, depending on the size of your pan.

Crust
1 3/4 (14 Tbsp.) sticks cold butter, cubed
3 1/3 cups spelt flour
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of sea salt

In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt.  Next, cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in the sour cream and combine well.  Divide into two equal portions, cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.  Unused dough can be frozen for later use.

Tart Filling
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
8 oz. plain goat cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp. dried herbs of choice
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Roll out and press the dough into a well-buttered tart pan. Pierce crust a few times with a fork. Bake for 5 -10 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.  Mix together the goat cheese, dried herbs, sea salt and pepper.  Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust.  Top with sliced tomatoes.  Return to the oven, bake for additional 15 – 20 minutes.  Can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.

Eggplant Caviar Spread

Don't let this dish's lack of visual appeal fool you. It is so good, I can eat it all in one sitting!  This is a version of a Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, which is meant to be served as a spread with pita bread or a dip with raw veggies.  However, I prefer to eat it as a side, as it pairs well with almost any protein entree.

The garlic and onion in this dish can be left raw, but I prefer to lightly sauté these ingredients to tone down their strong flavor, making this dish more kid-friendly.  If you decide to leave them raw, I would cut down the garlic to 1 - 2 cloves.  This spread tastes best when made a day or two in advance.

As this dish calls for mayonnaise, I thought this a great opportunity to talk a new mayonnaise I recently discovered at my local Whole Foods Market.  Just Mayo is the best tasting, creamiest and smoothest mayonnaise I have tried so far.  More importantly, all of its ingredients are non-GMO.  The main ingredient, canola oil, is expeller-pressed, which means it is extracted without the use of chemicals solvents or high heat.  Those with food intolerances will be happy to learn that this product is free of gluten, soy, eggs, dairy and lactose.  The small amount of modified food starch in this product, I came to learn, is actually corn starch, and once again comes from non-GMO corn.  If you have any questions about this product, contact the company directly; they have great customer service.

Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
1 small onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp tahini (optional)
¼ tsp ground cumin (optional)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Mayonnaise, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Sea salt/pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 F.  
Place whole eggplant in a shallow baking sheet and roast until soft, about 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.  
Meanwhile sauté the onion in a tablespoon of coconut oil until transparent, add the garlic, stir and remove from heat.  
Peel the cooled eggplant and chop roughly.  Place in a food processor or blender, along with the onion and garlic (sautéed or raw), tahini, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and mayonnaise.  Blend until desired texture.  
Season with additional lemon juice and/or mayonnaise, sea salt and pepper to taste.  
Transfer to a serving dish drizzle with olive oil and garnish with parsley.  
The dish can be refrigerated for up to five days prior to serving.

Sprouted Quinoa Pizza Crust

We like our pizza like everyone else, so I’m always looking for wheat-free/gluten-free crust alternatives.  This is a quinoa crust recipe which I’ve made many times with great success.  I enjoy the nutty taste of this gluten-free seed, which actually belongs to the same family as beets, Swiss chard, and spinach.  Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, thus it is considered a complete protein. It also contains healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids.  It is high in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and E.  Quinoa is also a source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, cooper and selenium.  To reap all the benefits of this healthy seed it needs to be soaked in water overnight.

For pizza toppings I used mozzarella, feta, tomatoes, red onions, olives and fresh arugula, which I added right as the pizza was coming out of the oven.  This recipe is from Henry Happened blog.

Ingredients
1 ½ cups quinoa, soaked overnight in water
½ cup water
1 tsp dried herbs of choice
½ tsp sea salt/pepper
½ tsp garlic power or 1 small garlic clove
2-4 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 F.  Drain the soaked quinoa in a mesh sieve. Rinse well with fresh water. Place quinoa in a blender with ½ cup water, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth. The batter should be thick but still pourable.  Line a baking sheet with well-oiled parchment paper (don’t skimp on the oil or the crust will stick).  Pour the batter onto the sheet and spread out to desired thickness.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and carefully flip the crust over.  Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until desired crispiness.  Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the crust.  Remove from oven, add desired toppings and return to oven for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly prior to serving.