Cauliflower-Carrot Bake

Cauliflower is in season!  When I pass by a pile, my hands get a sensation of yearning.  I wanna, wanna.  And, no, it isn’t just the great seasonal price.  Truly.  For example, I don’t get this needy feeling around the bins of broccoli, which are also in season and equally cheap. Maybe cauliflower looks like a comfort food?  Like mashed potatoes?  Or cream of wheat?  Whatever…I’ll leave it to the food psychologists. (Photo by FreeFoto)

Anyway…I want to buy lots of cauliflower, but what to do with it all?  I can always make soup, but variety is the spice of life.  Hence I was happy to find a cauliflower recipe by Stephanie Bostic, a fellow food-blogger and author of the newly published cookbook, One Bowl: Simple Healthy Recipes for OneHer recipe, “Carrot Cauliflower Purée,” adds a subtle flavouring of thyme, dijon mustard, and lemon to the vegetables.  Delicious.  Thank you, Stephanie.

This recipe also reminded me of a cauliflower recipe that my husband makes for meals when children, their partners, and grandchildren are coming over.  The cauliflower is baked after being first puréed with butter, milk, and parmesan cheese.  It’s a great-tasting dish, except for two problems: it doesn’t taste like cauliflower any more, and it’s loaded with calories.  But…but, I thought, why not refashion Stephanie’s recipe to bring it beyond a side dish and into a main course for lunch by baking the purée with a topping of cheese?

So here it is…with a few tweaks to the original to accommodate my taste and kitchen.

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Shirataki with Tomato and Cheese

One of my favourite quick lunches is a package of shirataki (tofu) noodles tossed with diced tomatoes and grated sheep romano cheese and cooked for a couple of minutes in the microwave.  It’s not only tasty, the noodles have hardly any calories or carbs and even better: No Weight Watcher point-value! 

Other benefits of Shirataki: 1) The noodles don’t require cooking and that’s what makes it so useful when you’re hungry and want a meal fast; and 2) it’s not expensive because it is a noodle commonly used in Asian cooking.  You can find Shirataki in Asian food stores.

If you haven’t met Shirataki before, let me introduce you.  Shirataki is made of water, tofu, and yam flour.  However, this flour is not related to the yam we see in our grocery stores.  It comes from the Asian konjac yam and does not act like other flours. 

According to eHow Health, the yam flour creates a gelatinous mass when mixed with water, and this mass is not digestable.

Rather, the gelatinous mass moves through the digestive system, stimulating the peristalsis of the stomach and the intestines.  It also acts as a diet aid…Its ability to swell when mixed with water allows it to fill the stomach. It also moves through the digestive system very slowly, making the appetite feel satisfied for a longer period of time… [The yam] has an effect on diabetes as well. Its ability to move through the digestive tract very slowly also slows down carbohydrate absorption. This slowed absorption will keep the blood sugar at a moderate level. 

Although we do not digest the flour from this yam, eHow Health says it is healthy for us:

It is an alkaline food that provides several nutrients to the body. It contains water, protein, carbohydrate, lipids, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, pantothenate, niacin, fatty acid, folic acid and dietary fiber.

You can use Shirataki in any recipe which calls for pasta.  In fact, when serving spaghetti, I have regular noodles for everyone else and Shirataki for me. Does it taste like pasta?  Not really, but it does the trick, and that’s what counts for me.  Here is the recipe for my oh-so-quick lunch:

Makes 1 serving

Preparation Tip: You must drain the shirataki noodles and rinse them thoroughly.  They have a somewhat fishy smell when they come out of the package. 

Ingredients

  • One package Shirataki (8 oz.), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes and juice
  • 2 tbsp. grated sheep romano cheese

Directions

  1. Rinse noodles and put in microwavable bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes and cheese.  Mix well.
  3. Microwave at High for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Eat!

For Weight Watchers: The package of noodles and the tomatoes have no point-value.  Only the cheese counts.  This lunch is 1 point in both the Points and PointsPlus plans. 

  

Potato-Crust Quiche, with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Quiche—that heavenly blend of crust, eggs, milk, and whatever filling—has been off my radar for years because of my lactose-intolerance.  I would go out with friends and watch with envy as they ordered the quiche and salad special for lunch.  Sigh (many times over). 

But now, no more self-pity, thank you very much!  Thanks to a helpful post from Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily on how to build a quiche, I began to re-consider my quiche options: potato instead of flour crust, soy milk instead of regular milk, liquid egg substitute instead of regular eggs, lower-calorie romano cheese instead of higher calorie other cheeses, and lots of vegetables. 

My most successful experiment, thus far, has been quiche with broccoli, mushroom, and onion, and this is what I am posting today.  In this quiche, I follow Shirley’s lead by using grated potato for the crust.  However, you could also use use mashed potatoes or potato slices.  If you do, please do some Internet research on how those crusts are prepared and cooked.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
    • 1 bunch broccoli florets
    • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder plus ½ cup water
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms, any type (in the quiche in the photo above, I used enoki mushrooms)
    • ¾ cup liquid egg substitute (approx. 3 regular eggs)
    • 1 cup sheep romano cheese, grated
    • ½ cup soy milk or other alternative milk
    • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Grate potatoes (you should have approximately 2 cups).
  2. Spray 9″ or 10″ pie plate with cooking spray.
  3. Using your fingers, spread the grated potatoes around the pie plate and as far up the sides as possible.
  4. Spray completed crust with cooking spray.
  5. Bake crust in pre-heated 425° F oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is brown and crusty around the edges. 
  6. While crust is in the oven, make the filling.
  7. Steam broccoli until soft (about 10 minutes) and then chop florets into small pieces.  You should have about 1 cup of florets.
  8. In small frying pan, heat chicken broth-water mixture until bubbling.  
  9. Sauté onions and mushrooms in broth-water mixture until soft.
  10. In a large bowl, mix together egg substitute, ½ cup of the cheese, milk, broccoli, onions, and mushroom. (If your mixture seems too thick, you can add another ¼ cup of egg substitute or milk.)
  11. Pour into cooked potato crust.
  12. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese.
  13. Bake in 425° F oven for 10 minutesLower heat to 350° and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: One serving (1 of 8 pie slices) is 2.5 points on the Points plan and 3 points on the PointsPlus plan.  Note: If you want to add ¼ cup more egg substitute or milk, the addition will not significantly affect the point count.

Faux Lasagna, with Tofu and Carrot Noodles

This faux lasagna tastes like the real deal: tomato-y, cheese-y, and just plain delicious.  It was inspired by a lasagna that I saw at a vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa, The Table.  To make it gluten-free, the chef had replaced lasagna noodles with long carrot slices. 

For the first time, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a lasagna that would not upset my food sensitivities or have a calorie count in the stratosphere.  All I had to do was re-think the usual ingredients.  The result not only has carrots in place of noodles, it also has soft goat cheese in place of ricotta and tofu instead of ground beef.  Plus, in the spirit of “vegetables are good,” I added grated zucchini and sliced mushrooms to the tomato sauce.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large, fat carrots, sliced lengthwise (I used a Japanese mandolin slicer to achieve long, wide slices.  Since only the middle of the carrot yields that kind of strip, you’ll end up with a number of extra strips.  I cooked all of them and used the extra as just cooked carrots.)
  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder and ½ cup water, mixed together
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 9 oz. medium tofu, diced small
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 90 grams soft goat cheese
  • ½ cup grated sheep romano
  • 1-2 tbsp. sugar, if grated carrot has not sufficiently reduced acidity of tomatoes (although it usually does)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Tomato sauce: In a large saucepan over medium high heat, begin tomato sauce by sautéeing onions and spices in chicken broth-water mixture.  (Add more water if pot goes dry.) When onions are just tender, add crushed tomatoes, grated zucchini, grated carrot, and sliced mushrooms.  Bring to boil and then lower heat until sauce is simmering.  Taste and add 1-2 tbsp. of sugar if tomatoes are too acidic.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Carrot noodles: While tomato sauce is cooking, create the carrot noodles.  Cook carrot strips until tender.  (You should be able to easily pierce the carrot slice with a fork.)  I put mine in a glass baking pan with some water and covered with plastic wrap, microwaving them for 10 minutes.
  3. Goat cheese: Using a knife, spread one side of each of the 8 best carrot slices with goat cheese.
  4. Constructing the lasagna: Spray a shallow baking pan (mine is 10″ by 10″) with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of tomato sauce, then put down 4 carrot slices covered with goat cheese.  Sprinkle with ¼ cup of sheep romano cheese (see photo).  Add the next layer of tomato sauce and then the remaining 4 carrot slices covered with goat cheese.  Cover with tomato sauce and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of sheep romano on the top.  (Note: I had about 1 cup of leftover tomato sauce so I should have added more in the layers.)
  5. Bake in 325º F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and cheese on top has melted.

For Weight Watchers: The only ingredients with point-values in this dish are the tofu (total value: 6 points), goat cheese (total value: 6 points), sheep romano (total value: 4 points), and sugar if you’ve added it to the tomato sauce.  I needed 2 tbsp. of sugar (total value: 2 points) because (confession!) I had forgotten to add the grated carrot as I usually do. 

  • With only carrot and no sugar: Each of the 4 servings is 4 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans. 
  • With 2 tbsp. of sugar: Each of the 4 servings is 4.5 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans.