Paleo Recipes for Modern Day Cavemen

Archive for the category “Side dishes”

Warm Arugula and Bacon Salad

My friend Luki made this dish at a party a few months ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. So I thought to share it in case you guys needed ideas to bring to a paleo party. It was a huge hit at a family bbq I went to last weekend. Who doesn’t like bacon!? Crazy people I say…

Makes 6-8 servings
20 oz arugula
7 strips Berkshire bacon (my FAVORITE brand of bacon – no preservatives or nitrates)
5 shallots (finely chopped)
1/3 cup olive oil 
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts

Chop your bacon into penny-sized bits. In a large pan, add the bacon and chopped shallots. Stir frequently until the bacon is fully cooked and slightly crispy.  Add the arugula and olive oil to the pan and stir to help the arugula wilt.  After 3-5 minutes of stirring, your arugula should be completely wilted. Add in some fresh ground pepper and a handful of pine nuts for added texture. Best served immediately (this goes great with the onion tart and makes a fantastic brunch).  Enjoy!

Onion Tart

I’m a big fan of onions. Big. HUGE. Though I can’t bite into them like George Costanza can, I put eat them with nearly everything – in my omelettes, in my salads, in my soups… I would eat them for dessert but I’m not that crazy.  One thing I do love is carmelized onions for that really sweet and natural taste. This recipe was inspired by a post I recently saw where I just loved the pictures.  So I tried to make it more paleo friendly. I think you’ll enjoy the chestnut flour crust because it adds a slightly sweet flavor to it. Hope you like!

Makes 4 servings
For the crust:
1 cup chestnut flour
1/3 almond flour
1 egg

For the filling:
2 red onions
1 medium sweet onion
2 shallots
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
grated Gruyere cheese (optional)
salt and pepper

For the filling: Peel and slice your onions. I sliced mine very thin because I wanted the mix of onions to blend well together. Feel free to use any type of onion – I’m a sucker for red onions so I put more of that in than anything.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil on high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the onions and stir for 5-10 minutes until all of the onions have softened up. Reduce heat to medium and cook the onions for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened dramatically and are well browned.  Then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes, until all of the onions are completely caramelized. Remove from heat.

Before you make the crust, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust: in a medium sized bowl, add your flours and egg together. Hand mix until you have a dough-like consistency.  (It will be a bit tougher/harder than your typical dough but that’s expected – you’re using nut flours!). Place the dough on a large piece of parchment paper. Get your rolling pin out and roll the dough until the crust is about 1/8″ thick. Then place your sauteed onions in the center of the dough – leaving enough room on the sides so you can roll up the tart. Grate some gruyere cheese on top of the onions.

With the parchment paper, fold up the edges of the crust leaving some of the onions exposed in the center (see picture). I find that the parchment paper allows me to create the hexagon shape of the tart much easier than if I use my hands. And the flour is much harder to work with and less malleable than typical dough. So use that parchment paper!

After you’re done folding the tart sides over, grate more of the gruyere cheese on top if you want. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes and voila! You have a paleo onion tart. Perfect for brunch or a decadent snack.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

As Summer winds down and Fall approaches, I’m getting a liiiiittle excited. Ok fine – I’m getting majorly excited.  I’m not thinking of the beautiful change in seasons coming up or the autumnal colors that are about to surround me.  I’m thinking about Peyton Manning and his awesome commercials. I’m thinking of Tom Brady and wondering if he’ll be affected by being Gisele’s baby daddy.  That’s right folks – FOOTBALL SEASON!!!

I was watching Hard Knocks a few days ago and thinking this is the best show on television. This is what makes reality tv amazing.  The show pulls at your heart strings. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you feel glad that you’re sitting comfortably on the couch watching these guys while they work their butt off only to tear their achilles tendon (Ropati Pitoitua – you are my hero. I touch my healthy earlobe and it feels tender. You tear your achilles and it looks like you’re about to take a nap).  You don’t even have to be an avid football fan to watch – so hop to it and get on board the Hard Knocks Train.

When I think of football season, I also think of food and lots of it. This will be my first football season eating paleo so I was trying to think of snack-attizers to keep my non-paleo friends happy during kickoff. This recipe is inspired by my Mom who often makes a version of these wings. They’re sweet, spicy, delicious and easy to make.

Makes 4-6 servings
3 pounds of chicken wings
1 cup of chestnut flour
1/2 cup of walnut oil (or your favorite oil for frying)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar (I put on my paleo approved list in very small doses)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (optional if you don’t want the heat).
salt and pepper
1 green onion (thinly sliced)

Rinse chicken wings under cool water and pat dry.  In a large frying pan, pour in your walnut oil and put on high heat.

In a large bowl, mix your chicken wings and 3/4 cup of your chestnut flour.  Coat all of the wings with the flour so that they can fry up evenly.  (Chef’s Note – this is the first time I tried chestnut flour.  It’s slightly sweeter than other nut flours and used commonly in desserts as an alternative to all-purpose flour.  I absolutely loved the flavor that came out of it and will use again for other crusts that need a slightly sweet kick.)  Once your wings are evenly coated with the flour, add them to the hot frying pan.  Fry on each side for about 7-10 minutes until cooked through or until golden brown and crispy.

For the sweet and spicy sauce, in a small sauce pan combine the orange juice, fish sauce, vinegar, water, Sriracha sauce, minced garlic and water.  Stir evenly and add a little salt and pepper. Stir on medium/high heat and add your remaining bit of chestnut flour. This will thicken the sauce a little bit (and is a great substitute for corn starch as a thickening agent). Stir frequently.

Once your wings are done frying on both sides and are crispy, golden brown – add your sauce and reduce heat to low. The sauce will look a bit watery once you pour it in but will thicken up nicely with the heat. Mix the wings so that all of them are coated with the sauce and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Place wings in a serving dish and top with sliced green onions. Best served immediately. Enjoy!

Guacamole with Radish Chips

Going to a party and not sure what to bring? Try this simple guacamole recipe. I brought this to a family BBQ last weekend and even had the kids loving it with the radish ‘chips’.  I love getting non-paleo people on board with healthy and tasty options.  Besides the awesome crunch and slightly spicy taste found in radishes, they are also a great source of Vitamin C.  The best part of this recipe – there’s no cooking!

Makes 4-6 servings
2 bunches of radishes
4 ripe avocados
1 medium red onion (finely chopped)
1 medium ripe tomato (diced)
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
4 tablespoon cilantro (finely chopped)
2 small limes
salt and pepper

For the radish chips – cut the radish bulbs from their green stalks. Rinse the bulbs under water and scrub off any dirt/debris. Then slice the radishes thinly (but not too thin because you want them strong enough to dip with).  Set aside.

For the guacamole – cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds.  Scoop out the avocado and put in a medium sized bowl.  Then juice 2 small limes directly on the avocados so they stay green and don’t brown quickly. Mash the avocado using a fork until the consistency you desire.  Add the chopped red onions, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your fork.  Add the diced tomatoes at the very end and mix one last time. All done!

Best served immediately with your radish chips. Enjoy!

Sauteed Spinach

A few of my friends have tried joining the paleo bandwagon but find it too difficult to find healthy substitutes for pasta or rice or beans. With work and family and friends and kids to juggle, they say that they don’t have the time to think about paleo options sometimes.  So one thing I suggest to them that’s easy to remember is to Taste the Rainbow.  (And no – I don’t mean skittles.)  I mean to add as much natural colors on your plate as possible.  Replace grains with greens!!

If you notice – most refined carbs and processed foods are shades of a light brown color.  From cereals to pastas  – all have that khaki color which is a sign to me that they are processed.  So whether its delicious new seasonal fruits or fresh summer vegetables, you can always add something quick and easy to your plate for every meal.  One of my favorite go-to vegetable sides is sauteed spinach. This cooks up in less than five minutes, is low in calories, but high in vitamins and minerals.  If we all listened to Popeye – we would be better off…

4 oz spinach
1 teaspoon sesame oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

In a saute pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat until very hot. Add the spinach and cook, stirring for a few minutes. The spinach should turn a deep green and dramatically wilt.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir a few more times and voila! Sauteed spinach. Best served immediately.

This recipe is very versatile – add garlic or shallots if you’d like. Take out the sesame oil and use extra virgin olive oil instead. Just eat your spinach!

Zucchini Muffins

When life gives you zucchini, you make zucchini-ade! Ok fine – bad joke. 

This week, my local CSA gave me zucchini and I didn’t have time to cook it for a meal but wanted to use it before it spoiled.  So I figured – when in doubt – make muffins.  With this recipe, you can use green zucchini or yellow summer squash, as the two have similar tastes and textures.  

While I’m still reading about honey and agave sweeteners, I chose not to use either of them for this recipe.  Although some argue that honey and agave nectar fall under the paleo-approved category, the jury is still out in my mind. A few articles I’ve read say that agave is really just high frustose syrup in disguise and not truly paleo because of how highly refined it must be before we consume it.  And others argue that honey is acceptable in small doses. While I continue to do more reading, I wanted to make muffins that my anti-honey/anti-agave husband would eat so I used dates as a sweetener instead.  These muffins turned out great (and tastes like moist bran muffins – so don’t expect something very sweet).  I’ll experiment with other key ingredients but figured to maximize what’s in my fridge.  This recipe would also be great with pureed pumpkin when they’re in season to add that nice natural sweet taste. Stay tuned!

Makes 30 mini-muffins
6 eggs
2 cups zucchini (shredded)
2/3 cups pitted dates (approximately 9 dates)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple butter
3 cups almond flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate egg whites and yolks and set aside. Take your raw zucchini and shred them. For 2 cups worth – I used 4 small/medium sized zucchini.  Put shredded zucchini in a strainer and press or squeeze with hands to get excess liquid out. (Alternatively you can use paper towels but I find there’s so much liquid that you’re using too many paper towels and it’s a bit wasteful.) 

Blend the dates until you get a finely chopped mixture.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, dates, cinnamon and apple butter. Once those are evenly mixed, add the zucchini and almond flour and hand mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Take your room temperature egg whites and put in a VERY dry bowl. I’m not kidding – not a drop of liquid or oil or yolk because it will interfere with the process of creating air bubbles in the egg whites.  The egg whites will expand better at room temperature so you will get bigger volume from them.

With a mixer, whisk on high until a soft peak forms and the egg whites are not liquidy.  (I tried using a hand whisk but this took forever and I felt it was a harder workout then Fight Gone Bad so to make it easier and faster – use a mixer.) Once you have a Cool Whip type of texture, fold the egg whites into the zucchini/flour batter.  I do this slowly – one cup at a time so that the egg foam air bubbles are incorporated throughout the batter.

When you are done folding all of the egg whites and batter together, spoon the mixture into mini muffin pans. Bake for 30 minutes (you can always do the toothpick test to see if it comes out clean when you poke it in the center). Serve warm or at room temperature.

You might be wondering why separate the egg whites and yolks in the first place. When baking, especially for paleo recipes, you’ll need a leavening agent since baking soda and baking powder are not truly paleo. Beaten egg whites substitute as your leavening agent to make the dough rise slightly. If you didn’t do this, that’s fine too but the muffins will be a bit more dense and less ‘fluffy’. Enjoy!

Spicy Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Vietnamese food rocks. I might be slightly biased (ok – a lot biased) but I love the fact that most Vietnamese food hits all levels of tastes: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and spicy.  Having been raised on Vietnamese cuisine makes me a bit unforgiving with one-dimensional food flavors.

It’s hard to come up with recipes that hit on all cylinders (mostly from lack of time on my part). But here’s one simple salad recipe that I love because it provides my tastebuds with quite a party.  It’s not a Vietnamese salad but it’s just as sexy.  You can take out the red pepper flakes if you can’t handle the heat.

1 large red grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mint leaves (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt

To cut the grapefruit, slice the top and bottom of the fruit. Then carve away the peel with your knife so that you are left with just the fruit, making sure you cut away all of the white pith. Then cut between the white membranes to release the grapefruit slices. Set grapefruit aside and keep any leftover juices.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed and vertically slice the avocado into pieces. Combine the avocado slices, grapefruit, any remaining grapefruit juice, olive oil, mint leaves, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.  (Feel free to make this spicier with more pepper flakes – I just like a hint of heat in this salad).  Stir together and enjoy! Best served immediately.

Tomato and Red Onion Salad

It’s official. It’s summer.

What better way to celebrate than having a simple and refreshing salad. My husband has been craving tomatoes lately so I’ve been thinking of other ways to serve it.  This is a super simple yet satisfying salad for any summer side. (That’s your alliteration lesson for the day)

Makes 2 servings
4 roma tomatoes (quartered)
1/2 medium red onion (julienned)
1/2 anjou pear (julienned)
1/2 avocado (diced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Mix ingredients together and serve! You can add anything you want to this salad. I like the combination of red onion with the anjou pear to have that slightly bitter/sweet combo.  I love avocado and added some in here as well but feel free to take out. Enjoy!

Leek Fritters

World Cup 2010 starts TODAY!!

For those of you as excited as me, you won’t have much time for cooking. You’ll want to focus on the games and World Cup Fun Facts.  Did you know the last time the U.S. met England in the World Cup was sixty years ago in 1950? The game came to be regarded as one of the greatest upsets in the history of World Cup soccer- the so-called Miracle on Grass.  Did you also know that the U.S. goalie, Tim Howard, who is really cute and incredibly talented – was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at the age of 9!?  Talk about rising above adversity – we have no excuse not to do grueling workouts like this.

This recipe is easy breezy and will cook up in minutes.  It’s the perfect paleo snack and can even satisfy non-paleo diners at your World Cup brunch party.  Enjoy the games!

4 large leeks
1/2 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

Chop the leeks coarsely – I cut mine in 1/4 inch pieces.  Place in a medium size bowl and rinse under cold water.  I find that there’s a lot of hidden dirt in the leeks after I cut them so a quick rinse is necessary unless you like eating mud.  

Place the washed leeks in a pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes until tender.  Drain and set aside.  Once the leeks have cooled a bit, hand mix the leeks with almond flour, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper. Form small patties and arrange on a tray to fry.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and pan fry until golden (usually 2-3 minutes on each side).  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Holy Ramps!

It’s spring time and that means ramps are in season.  For those of you who don’t know what they are – these are ramps:

They look like scallions (green onions) but have a larger white bulb and leafier green leaves.   The taste is very different than scallions as the greens taste a bit more like spinach and the bulbs have a wonderful garlic flavor to them (which I love since I am a huge garlic fan).  You can put them in your omelettes, your salads or mix them with your favorite veggies.   Here’s an easy and delicious side dish to accompany any spring time meal.

Ramps and Broccolini

1 bunch ramps
1 bunch broccolini

Clean your ramps by rinsing them quickly with water (the bulbs and leaves always seem to have a dirt film on them) and do the same for the broccolini.  Once clean, cut them into about 3 inch pieces.

In a saute pan, heat on medium/high heat with some extra virgin olive oil.  Once the pan is hot enough, add the ramps and broccolini and salt and pepper.   Saute for 5 minutes, or until the ramp leaves have cooked down and the broccolini is tender.  Remove from heat and serve.

Easy breezy. Enjoy!

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