Friday, January 18, 2013

Rachael's Veggie Surprise: A Paleo Review Original Recipe

I am the first to admit that I lack imagination in the kitchen.  I need a recipe.  However, I think I may have actually created a recipe.  I was telling my friend Martha about my side dish and asked her what I should call it.  "Whatever you do," she said,  "don't call it 'surprise' anything."  I couldn't think of a good name for this possible recipe, so until I do or y'all help me (see giveaway below), here is Rachael's Veggie Surprise. 


1 Bunch Kale (approximately 4 cups) - I prefer using Lacitano Kale when I make this but have made it with the regular curly kale.  
2 Large Carrots Julienned  
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth 
1.5 cups Spaghetti Squash- Steamed and "Noodled" before hand
1 cup Tomato Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

First, I  remove the thick stems from my kale.  I do this by holding on to the stem with one hand and starting just below the where the leaf begins, I form a circle with my fingers around the stem with my other hand and pull the stem through the circle to strip the stems from the leaves.  I saw this method on television at some point and looked for a link to demonstrate it but I found nothing.  The next time I do it, I'll take pictures and add them to the post.  Of course, you can just  cut them out.

Once your stems are removed, wash the kale and spin it dry.  I then cut it down into thin strips, say 3/4 inch.  The thinner the pieces the better they break down in the pan.  I don't like kale when it still has stiff chewy tough texture to it, but that's just me.

This kale is still a little large for my taste.  
Next, I use my julienne peeler on my carrots.  If you are afraid of julienne-ing your fingers, use a fork, as I sometimes do, to hold your carrot in place.  Either way you'll end up with a bit of carrot that you can't force through the peeler.  I either chop these up and add them to this dish or use them in my random veggie saute that I make for breakfasts.  

The fork saves my fingers. 
Get a large saute pan that has a lid, and heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth (approx. 30 seconds-1 minute) on medium high.  I used my Le Creuset braising dish on this occasion, but usually use my 12" saute pan.  Add your kale and carrots to the skillet, put the lid on and let the veggies steam saute for about 4 minutes.  If it looks like your pan is drying out, add more broth.

Once the kale and carrots are softened, add 1.5 cups of steamed spaghetti squash to the pan and stir it in until its heated through (approx. 2 minutes).  

At this point, you have what could be a complete side dish.  On the night I made this batch, I had just made some meat sauce, so I added that.  

This could be the complete dish.  
However, usually, I add about a cup of tomato sauce to the dish.  

On another night with "regular" kale in my 12" saute pan. 
I mix in the sauce and leave it on the heat just long enough to heat through (approx. 1-2 minutes).  I add a little salt and pepper if I think it needs it.  

Here is my side dish with a little meatloaf for a complete meal.  

Cost and Accessibility of Ingredients: You should be able to find everything you need for this dish at your big box grocery store pretty inexpensively.  The brand I used for this batch is my favorite, but it's a little on the pricey side for tomato sauce in my opinion (just under $5.00 jar).  There are clean sauces out there for less.  

Preparation & Cooking Time: 

If you already have spaghetti squash ready, as I did, it took me a total of 10 minutes to prepare the kale and carrots and another 10 to cook this dish.  If you need to steam spaghetti squash (see instructions below), you'll need to add another 13 minutes to your prep/cooking time (or less, if you get your squash into the microwave while you prep your kale and carrots).

You can reduce your preparation time even  more by using bagged kale and bagged julienne carrots.  I have erred on the side of more time than less in giving the 10 minute preparation time.  I'd rather be given a high estimate and be pleasantly surprised it took less time than the other way around.  I know the more I make a dish, the quicker I get at it.

Clean Up:  If you read this blog, you know I'm not a fan of a lot of clean up.  Everything I used except for my knife and saute pan went into the dishwasher.  

The Paleo Review: Thumbs Up!  What I like about this dish is that it is quite filling. I like the variety of vegetables and colors in the pan.  The spice/seasoning in this recipes comes from whatever tomato sauce you use.  If you want something more spicy, I bet you can substitute salsa or add any seasoning you like.  I'm going to try salsa next time I make this.

Another great thing I like about this recipe is it's easy to turn into a complete meal.  At the beginning of the week, I usually brown a pound of ground beef to have on hand ready to eat.  I often take some of that browned ground beef, heat it into the veggies for a complete meal.  If the meat I've used is lean, I would add half of a small avocado on the side for fat. Really, I think you could add any most any pre-cooked meat to the dish and it would be fine, e.g. chicken or turkey.

Honestly, before going into the kitchen to make this for the blog, I had never measured the ingredients while I cooked this dish. I listed above by measuring as I went along one night.  So take these measurements as guidelines only.  For me, I usually fill the pan with kale and then just add the other ingredients so that the dish looks "balanced" and appealing to me.  It never comes out the same twice for me, so I guess there is an element of surprise!   If you want more kale, carrots or squash, do it!  It's your kitchen!  

You you have a better name for this vegetable creation?  Well here's your chance to give me some suggestions and enter to win a copy of Melissa Joulwan's Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat .  I had been holding out to give this copy of her book away when the blog's Facebook page hit 100 fans, but thought this might be more fun.  Sorry, but entry is limited to those 18 and up who live in the Continental US.

So tell me, what would you call my side dish?

Post Script:  How to prepare Spaghetti Squash:  Steaming spaghetti squash is super easy.  If you search the internet, you'll find many guides/recipes as to how to do it.  For what it's worth, here is how I do it in my little paleo kitchen.

First, I cut of the top of the spaghetti squash.  This gives me a nice flat bottom to make slicing the squash in half easier.  It also usually makes it easier to fit into the covered casserole dish I like to steam them in.

The next step is to remove the stringy/seed matter from the squash.  I like to run my knife around the edge of the solid melon and the stringy/seed matter to make it easier to scoop it out with a spoon.  

I lay the squash into my casserole cut side down and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the casserole dish.  After putting the lid on, I cook it in the microwave for 10 minutes.  Your cook time will vary depending on the power of your microwave.  My microwave is 1200 watts.  The squash might actually be done before the 10 minute mark, but I've found that amount of time is for it to be done without my having to go check it and add time.   

When it's done, the squash's skin will be tender/bendable.  When you put a fork into the flesh of the squash it will easily come apart in "noodles."

I've learned to not let the squash sit in the casserole for too long once it's done cooking.  If you do, it might get soggy.

Be careful when you remove the squash from the casserole.  It will be hot! I like to use tongs to noodle my squash.  That way I can break up the flesh of the squash and easily transport it to storage in one step.    

Prep/Cook Time time:  3 minutes to prepare for the microwave.  Cook: 10 minutes in microwave.  3-5 minutes to scoop out the "noodles."