Thursday, April 2, 2015

Veggie Paella

Paella is a spicy Spanish dish, typically loaded with seafood, some vegetables, and rice. Increase the vegetables and spices, omit or reduce the amount of seafood, and you've got a tasty dish just right for meatless Mondays. If you simply can't go without seafood in your paella, I've added some suggestions for a modest amount of chicken, sausage, and shrimp.

Ingredients:
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 mushrooms, quartered
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup edamame
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
1 small yellow squash, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
1 cup cooked red quinoa, brown rice, or a mixture of both
1 Tbs. minced fresh flat leaf, Italian, parsley
1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken breast (optional)
1/2 cup sliced cooked chicken sausage (optional)
1/2 cup medium cooked shrimp (optional)
1 Tbs. minced fresh basil
1 pinch saffron
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 cup white wine or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. sea salt (if needed)

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, pepper, and edamame and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook for an additional minute or two, just until the zucchini begins to turn bright green. Add the chicken, sausage, and shrimp, if using, stirring to combine. Add the quinoa or rice, along with the herbs and the wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed and the rice and chicken pieces and shrimp are heated through, just a few more minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning by adding sea salt, if needed.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: If your family if familiar with paella, you may want to include small amounts of chicken and seafood. It's still a very healthy recipe, with all the vegetables. If you've never experienced paella, start with the vegetarian version and see what you think! 



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Whole Wheat Pizza


Pizza is one of my favorite food groups ... um, foods. I do my best to save it for special occasions, but find that special occasions calling for pizza crop up often. So, I've done my best to healthy up my pizza scene. Making my own crust means I add as much whole grain as I want. Then, I add the sauce and toppings I want, knowing that they'll be just as healthy as I make them. Here's the rather spectacular result.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup plus 2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup "00" or pastry flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast

1 Tbs. cornmeal
2-4 Tbs. pizza sauce, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, white sauce, or olive oil
2-3 Cups vegetable pizza toppings, onions, mushrooms, red peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, etc.
1/4-1/2 cup meat pizza toppings, sausage, ham, bacon, or prosciutto (optional)
1/2 cup fresh basil, spinach, or arugula (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan

Directions:

I make my pizza dough in a bread machine. It's the perfectly quick and easy way to get a wholesome product together. Just put the dough ingredients into the machine, turn on the dough cycle, and return to perfect dough 90 minutes later. Voila!

Preheat your oven to 425F, placing a pizza stone (if you're using one) in the oven to preheat at the same time. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Roll it into the shapes you'll be cooking it. This recipe makes enough dough to form two medium round pizzas or one large rectangular pizza. Today, I chose to use this much dough for one large round pizza, with the extra dough folded into a rustic edge. I formed one ball and rolled it into one large round circle. If you're making two medium pizzas, divide the dough in half and roll it into two rounds, making each round a little larger than the cookware. If you're using a rectangular cookie sheet, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 1 inch larger than your cookie sheet.

Let the dough rest while you prepare the toppings. Some toppings give off liquid when they cook. It's best to cook those toppings before they get added to the pizza. Cut your toppings into bite size pieces first, then  cook them. I usually pre-cook onions, mushrooms, and red peppers. You can either cook them in the microwave, then drain the cooking liquid, or saute them until the pan is dry. Drain olives or artichoke hearts well. Cook sausage or bacon, and drain them before cutting them into bite size pieces. Grate your cheese or cheeses of choice.

When the oven has preheated and the toppings are prepared, remove the pizza stone from the oven. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can use a round cooking sheet or rectangular cookie sheet, just don't preheat it. Top the cookware with the cornmeal. Fold the rolled dough into quarters, them move it to the prepared pan. Spoon the pizza sauce onto the pizza crust, using enough to cover the dough, add your toppings, greens (if using), then cover with meat and cheese.

Place the pizzas on the top rack of the oven and bake for 18 to 25 minutes. Placing them on the top rack ensures that the bottom of the crust won't overcook while the top attains a perfect brown color.

Serves 4-8

Stealthy Cooking Tip: The amount of sauce, toppings, and cheese has a lot of leeway in this recipe. That's because a thin crust will make a lot more pizza than a thicker crust. Use the larger amounts of toppings when you make thinner crust pizzas, and the smaller amounts when you make a more rustic pizza like the one in today's photo.