I apologize for the long pause between posts. It’s been an emotionally and physically involved past week. But fear not, I have had plenty of opportunities to practice my food photography. The recipe that I write about today is not of my own creation – it is actually an adaptation of a recipe I found on Leigh Ann’s TheSmartsEat Blog (to which I have or will soon have a link to in the Blogs category). The recipe is exceptionally easy, a great way to incorporate a rather bland, yet healthy vegetable, and is delicious to boot. While Leigh Ann makes pairs cauliflower and sausage, I paired mine with ground turkey, sauteed onions, and mushrooms instead. Feel free to adapt this recipe to your liking, and experiment with different seasonings/spices. After I made this dish, I scooped out six portions to freeze for future consumption. I like defrosting each portion, heating it up, and adding a couple dashes of different seasonings to make things interesting – maybe some garam masala in one, some cayenne pepper in another, and maybe even some curry powder and nutmeg in a third.
Cauliflower and Turkey Casserole
While the recipe calls for canned, diced tomatoes, I didn’t have any on hand, and conveniently forgot to buy them at the grocery store. I opted for 28 ounces of garlic and herb marinara pasta sauce instead. I imagine the result would have been similar with canned, diced tomatoes – with the exception of the presence of actual chunks of tomatoes.
1 medium head cauliflower, about 2 pounds
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey (breast or lean)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
10 crimini mushrooms, diced
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
10 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup bread crumbs (make your own by toasting then grinding 1 slice of whole wheat bread)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Special Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish or large, oven-safe skillet
Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil. Remove any outer leaves from the cauliflower head and cut a deep X into the core. Boil the entire for about 10-13 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out easily. Drain the cauliflower in a colander until cool – proceed to break the cauliflower in to bite sized florets and continue to let the cauliflower air out while preparing the rest of the dish.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the turkey breast to the pan and cook until nicely browned. Sautee the diced onions, mushrooms, and garlic until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have begun to release moisture. Add the diced tomatoes and reduce until the liquid in the pan is almost gone. Taste, and season with salt and pepper accordingly
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. At this point, turn off the heat under the skillet, and gently fold the cauliflower florets and basil into the tomato mixture until evenly incorporated. If the skillet is oven-safe, sprinkle bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese directly over the casserole. If the skillet is not oven-safe, then transfer the cauliflower-turkey casserole to a baking dish and then top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 F degrees for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Look who I caught vegging out on our fence this morning. Cute little fellow isn’t he?
Anyway, onto today’s post. Recently, I feel as though I haven’t been eating enough green vegetables – I’ve been munching on sauteed spinach, blanched brussels sprouts, and some cabbage soup. Alright, so maybe I have been getting plenty of green. I suppose I just missed the simplicity of this particular soup. Creamy Broccoli Soup is an easy, nothing-complicated kind of soup that delivers a deceptively creamy mouthfeel while sneaking in a couple servings of broccoli and cauliflower. The key is to cook the broccoli and, particularly, the cauliflower until you can run a knife through the stalks quite easily.
Then, simply blend everything together until a creamy, velvety consistency is achieved. Finish this soup with a dash of white wine (only if there are no children!), a drizzle of olive or basil oil, and top with some grated gruyere or parmesan cheese. Simple, yet flavorful. There really isn’t a recipe to this soup; it’s simply thrown together. But for recipe’s sake, I will attempt to write one.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
There are a dozen different ways you could flavor and adjust this soup. Saute some mushrooms and throw it in the soup to add an additional texture. Garnish with some toasted, chopped almonds or pistachios for that extra crunch. Try finishing with different oils – basil, chili, garlic, truffle (if you have it – lucky! I don’t *tear), olive, etc. In addition to salt and pepper, try adding an interesting depth by sprinkling in some ground cumin or graham masala. Pair with whole wheat, whole grain crackers, and this soup makes for a hearty and healthy meal.
equal parts cauliflower and broccoli, washed and chopped into small pieces
vegetable or chicken broth
additional seasonings (be creative!)
Set a big pot on the stove and bring some water to boil. Season the water generously with salt. Meanwhile, set up your blender. Once the water boils, cook the cauliflower, first, until a knife can be easily run through the stalks. Scoop the cauliflower into the blender, pour in some chicken or vegetable stock, and blend until everything has turned to mush. Pour this goop into another soup pot, drop the bay leaf in, and add additional stock until desired consistency.
Repeat with the broccoli (minus the bay leaf). Stir the broccoli and cauliflower purees until the color is even throughout the soup. Season with salt, pepper, and other spices as see fit (I used garlic powder). Always remember to taste as you season! Never add copious amounts of salt on the first adjustment. More salt can always be added, but salt cannot be taken out. Be careful!
If you think the soup has almost too much flavor, or if the broth is a bit overpowering – like how sometimes I find chicken stock to be, try thinning out the soup with some water, then adjust the flavor accordingly.
I like serving this soup in mugs – it just feels like the heat keeps better, and it makes a great hand warmer that way.
Those of you that know me know that I have a policy to make anything I cook/bake healthier. While my culinary escapades lean more towards baking, I also turn on the stove and whip out the pans and pots once in a while – more so when there’s a hungry group of boys/men? to feed. My passion is in baking and experimenting with treats, but I feel that, especially after culinary school, I have a suitable amount of fundamental knowledge when it comes to the other types of cooking.
Ergo, when my brother, who has only recently begun to venture into his kitchen (his forte lies in grilling meats outside), emailed me asking for some cooking and food advice a while ago, I couldn’t help myself and ended sending him back a good hefty essay. After going over my lengthy email, he called me up from his current residency to discuss some of ideas. During our conversation, he mentioned that the contents of my email could make for a good blog entry – and that’s where the creation of blog happened.
I imagine that plenty of people share the same kinds of questions my brother had. He wanted to know how to eat healthy while saving money. He wanted to know about what kinds of staples, basic (healthy) ingredients, and types of useful tools he should look to invest in. To quote, “I’m looking for the healthiest, tastiest, and most earth-friendly stuff (organic, local, ethical farm practice, etc).” The following is what I wrote in answer to his inquiries: