Tzatziki: Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Dip

There’s nothing like a cool dip on a hot summer day!

tzatziki

Tzatziki: Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

2 small cucumbers (English, Japanese, or Persian), peeled, seeded and diced small

1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated on a Microplane

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint

1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon red wine vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Garnish with dill.

Serve with grilled meat, pita crisps and/or freshly cut vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers and cucumbers.

Summer Squash Salad with Pecorino Romano and Capers

Summer Squash Salad with Pecorino Romano and Capers

Summer Squash Salad with Pecorino Romano and Capers

Yield: 6 servings

 

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced finely (3 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Salad:

3 small zucchini or summer squash (mix of both, preferably)

Kosher salt, to taste

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

 

1. In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Using a mandoline or your vegetable peeler, carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/16-inch thick slices lengthwise. The slices will resemble wide pasta noodles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Place the zucchini in a medium bowl.

4. Whisk the olive oil into the shallot mixture and add the capers. On a plate, loosely arrange some zucchini slices into a small pile, then spoon some of the caper vinaigrette over the top.

5. Lastly, using a vegetable peeler, top with some shavings of cheese and some of the parsley.

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Nathan Lyon Strawberry Canteloupe

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

½ cantaloupe, seeded, rind removed, and sliced into 1-inch sections

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tablespoons of balsamic OR white wine vinegar*

15 medium-sized fresh mint leaves, chopped finely

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

1. Gently toss the cantaloupe, strawberries, vinegar of choice*, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl.

2. Add the feta and chopped mint to the bowl just prior to serving and toss.

*Note: If you prefer the flavor of the strawberries to pop, go with a nice balsamic. If you’re more of a cantaloupe person, go with the white wine vinegar. Both work great.

Wakame Avocado Puree

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Wakame Avocado Puree

Try this as a spread on Asian style tacos or as your next avocado toast…

 

½-ounce dried wakame

¾ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons grated (grated on a microplane) fresh ginger

2 small cloves garlic, peeled and grated on a microplane (1 teaspoon)

1 large avocado, pit removed and flesh scooped out

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Place the wakame in a blender and blend on high to turn into a fine powder. Remove wakame powder and set aside.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in 2 teaspoons of the wakame powder. (Reserve remaining wakame powder for sprinkling over fish, rice or popcorn.)

 

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

lemon--herb-kefir-spread-image

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

(Look for kefir in the yogurt section of your grocery store.)

2 cups plain whole milk kefir
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated on a Microplane
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pour the kefir into a nut bag or a triple layer of cheese cloth. Place the nut bag in a strainer. Place the strainer inside a bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 16 to 18 hours.

Discard or reserve the whey (clearish liquid) in the bowl. Transfer the strained kefir from the nut bag into a small bowl. Add the preserved lemon, lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slather on a piece of your favorite toasty bread and serve!

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine!

Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

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Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Try my delicious veg & fruit packed stew recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!

braised-spiced-chickpeas-with-swiss-chard-sweet-potatoes

photo by Ronald Tsang

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

2 small fennel bulbs, stems and bottoms removed, diced small (2½ cups)

¼ kosher salt, plus more to taste

7 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (3 cups)

3-ounces dried figs, tough stems removed and quartered (9 figs)

3-ounces dried apricots, chopped roughly (11 apricots)

3-ounces dried plums, chopped roughly (12 plums)

1 tablespoon honey

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 pound rainbow chard (leaves and stems), chopped roughly

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

Add the olive oil, onions, fennel and ¼ teaspoon salt to a 5.5 quart dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the sweet potatoes, dried fruit, honey, chickpeas and chicken stock. Cover and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are barely tender.

Stir in the chard. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and top with fresh cilantro for a delicious garnish. (Pairs well with brown rice, quinoa, chicken, etc.) Tip: make this dish vegetarian by swapping out the chicken stock for veg stock.