Zoodles and Crispy Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Zucchini noodles (zoodles) were one of the first things I planned to make when I got my spiralizer a couple years ago. And then I proceeded to spiralize potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets many times for a number of recipes, but not zucchini. As much as I wanted to replace my pasta with zucchini noodles, I just couldn’t—it was a cooked zucchini texture thing.

Even with the suggestion of doing half pasta and half zoodles, I still resisted. It wasn’t until I came across a few recipes where you—wait for it—leave the zucchini raw, that I saw the zoodle light. They wouldn’t be mushy, they wouldn’t be soggy. It would be an al dente experience and I was on board!

Making just a few tweaks to this Pinch of Yum recipe, we’ve got a new summer favorite that’s quick enough to pull together on a weeknight and there are always leftovers for brown-bagging the next day. When packing your leftovers, keep the sauce separate and mix it in just before eating, otherwise the zoodles will absorb the sauce and you’ll lose the creamy sauciness that makes for a truly special dish. Enjoy!

Zoodles and Crispy Tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Adapted from this Pinch of Yum recipe

One 15 oz. block of extra-firm tofu (I like Trader Joe’s organic)

1 tablespoon peanut oil

3-4 medium zucchini, ends trimmed (a combination of green and yellow zucchini looks especially nice)

Sliced scallions, for garnish

Sesame seeds, for garnish (I like the look of black sesame seeds, but white are just fine)

Spicy peanut sauce:
½ cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural (or make your own, recipe here)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (then add water to measure 1/3 cup)

1/3 cup tamari (wheat free) or soy sauce, reduced sodium if you have it

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons Asian chili paste such as sambal oelek

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 heaping teaspoon of fresh grated ginger root

To remove excess moisture from the tofu, place the tofu block between a couple layers of paper towels and set on a cutting board. Top with another cutting board and weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes or a couple cookbooks. Let sit for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile spiralize your zucchini and set it aside.

To make the spicy peanut sauce, place all sauce ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.

Cut pressed tofu into bite-sized pieces. Heat peanut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add tofu to pan and cook one side of tofu pieces until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Turn pieces and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add ½ cup of the spicy peanut sauce to the tofu and let simmer for a few minutes. Using a spatula, turn tofu pieces, scraping sauce and any brown saucy bits from the bottom of the pan. Repeat the simmer, turning, and scraping a couple more times until tofu is crispy brown.

To serve, place zucchini noodles in individual bowls and top each with a ¼ cup of spicy peanut sauce, stirring to coat the zoodles. Top with some tofu pieces, sliced scallions, and sesame seeds. Makes 4-6 servings.


Chocolate Chambord Mousse Parfaits (vegan!)

Thanks to my dear friends, another crazy and wonderful girls’ night dinner party is in the books. We ate and drank and talked and laughed the evening away. So much fun—we really need to do this more often!

After hearing about carb-free Fridays from Lori and Dawn’s Paleo diet, I decided to gear our menu in that direction. A white bean dip, spiced up with a little sriracha, was served with matchstick veggies as a starter with glasses of an outstanding Conundrum 2011 red blend (thank you Lori!). Then it was a pizza and salad dinner consisting of this kale salad, minus the farro, and several different pizzas made with this cauliflower crust I blogged about recently. Dawn was in heaven—it’s been so long since she’s had pizza! Who knew pizza could be paleo!?!

But the biggest hit of the evening was dessert, a vegan chocolate mousse, spiked with Chambord and made into pretty parfaits with some fresh berries and coconut whipped cream. When something tastes this rich and creamy and provides the antioxidants of dark chocolate, super foods berries and avocado, plus the health benefits of coconut, why on earth would you ever want the traditional version loaded with saturated fat? The mousse is adapted from this Giada de Laurentiis recipe that will have you wondering why you don’t use avocados in dessert all the time! Enjoy!
Parfaits 3

Chocolate Chambord Mousse Parfaits (vegan!)

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard, but any good quality brand works)
3 medium (about 8 oz. each) ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup agave
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup Chambord (or use almond milk for an alcohol-free version)
Coconut whipped cream (recipe follows)
Berries (I used organic blueberries and raspberries, but strawberries would be good too)
Fresh mint (for garnish)

Melt the chocolate chips and let cool slightly. Place melted chocolate, avocados, cocoa, agave, vanilla, salt and Chambord in food processor and process until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides and process again, making sure all the avocado is completely incorporated and your mixture is totally smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for several hours or until the next day.

Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer. Open the can of coconut milk, being careful not to shake it up. Spoon only the solids that have formed on the top into the chilled bowl. Don’t use any of the coconut water, just the solids, or the cream will be soupy. With mixer, beat coconut milk solids until the consistency of whipped cream. Add sugar and vanilla and beat a little longer. Chill for several hours or until the next day.

To assemble, place some berries on the bottom of parfait glasses, wine or water goblets. Spoon in a chocolate mousse layer, followed by a coconut whipped cream layer. Repeat, finishing with extra berries on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Makes about 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your glasses. Indulge!

Parfaits 2

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Pizza sliced
I love pizza! For its comfort, for its versatility, for its downright deliciousness and its ability to pretty much make everyone happy by a tweak of the toppings. Quite a few variations are in my pizza repertoire, but almost all of them have been built upon a whole wheat crust. Till now.

My dear Swedish “niece” Sarah shared a recipe on Facebook the other day from a blog called The Iron You. Intrigued by the title, I poked around the blog and found a bunch of mostly vegetarian recipes, many vegan, and lots of them gluten-free. Other terms listed next to recipe titles were Paleo (which I’ve heard of) and Primal (which I have not). A paleo, gluten-free pizza with a crust made from cauliflower just had to be made.

I deviated little from the crust part of the recipe (but did bake it on a stone instead of a baking sheet), and changed up the toppings, but since everyone has their favorites in that regard, the real takeaway is the crust. Very thin, crispy and beautiful, I think it will stand up best when lightly topped, and you’ll feel so good inside knowing that funny looking, but oh so healthy vegetable you probably turned your nose up to as a kid, is the star of the show!
Cauliflower CrustPizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

1 head cauliflower
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Pizza sauce (homemade or good quality store-bought)
½  of a medium onion, finely chopped
½ of a medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
A sprinkling of pizza seasoning
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Place a pizza stone on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove leaves and core from head of cauliflower and roughly chop into like sized pieces. In batches, process in food processor until the consistency of rice. Put cauliflower “rice” in a microwave safe, non-plastic container and microwave uncovered for 8-10 minutes, until cooked.

Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel. Spread it out a bit and let cool for a few minutes. Bring corners of towel together and twist it to squeeze the moisture from the cauliflower. There will be a lot of water to squeeze out. And when you think you’ve squeezed it all out, squeeze some more. If you don’t get enough of the moisture out, you won’t end up with a crispy crust. Once the cauliflower has all the liquid squeezed out, transfer it to a bowl and mix in the egg, mozzarella, salt, oregano and pepper.

Lightly oil a sheet of parchment paper. Place cauliflower mixture onto parchment and press it into a very thin 10-12” round. Carefully transfer to the pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through baking time for even browning.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add toppings, except for crushed red pepper flakes. Bake 5-7 more minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and cut into wedges. Makes 2-3 servings. Enjoy!