Friday, April 11, 2014

Grain-Free "Lasagna" Bake (dairy recipe)

I created this recipe because I wanted a kid-friendly vehicle for spinach. When I was little I couldn't stand the chopped parsley that abounded in the ricotta layer of our family lasagna recipe; I still have a parsley aversion to this day!

I decided to chop up baby spinach and use it as a parsley substitute. I think chopped frozen spinach would work too, but I just didn't have any on hand. I used Italian sausage from Whole Foods, but grass-fed beef would make for a tasty meat layer as well.

My kids both devoured this one and didn't miss that traditional pasta noodles one bit. It's easy to throw together, loaded with flavor and yields a ton of leftovers.

Grain-Free "Lasagna" Bake 

1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casing
4 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
1 lb. ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
12 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups organic tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook sausage until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up. Drain any excess grease.

Combine ricotta, eggs, seasoning and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in chopped spinach.

Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with half of ricotta mixture, smoothing out with a spatula.

Top with 1/2 of sausage and 1/2 of remaining sauce.

 Repeat layers and finish with shredded mozzarella.

 Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool a little before serving.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad

I definitely have a case of spring fever and just couldn't wait to whip this one out! It will taste even better in a couple of months when I'll be able to make it with freshly-picked strawberries, but it was pretty awesome regardless.

The original recipe called for red onion, but I subbed what I had on hand (green onion) instead. I do think the bite of the red would taste even better here. If you're primal/do dairy I also think the bleu cheese or even some feta would add a delicious contrast. Chicken or turkey would add a nice hit of protein!

I made the dressing with avocado oil and loved it! I will definitely be using it for other salads. I'm writing the proportions I used to make one salad with some dressing leftover for future use.

Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad
adapted from Gimme Some Oven

4 cups baby spinach
1 small avocado, peeled & diced
2-3 large strawberries, cut thin
small handful raw almonds (I toasted mine)
2 tbs. chopped red onion

poppyseed dressing:
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 1/2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. raw honey
1/2 tbs. poppy seeds
pinch of dry mustard
salt & pepper, to taste

To make salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl. Taste for seasoning and use to dress salad.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paleo Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in "Cheese" Sauce

My kids used to love a Rachael Ray recipe for florentine meatballs, which were served smothered in cheese sauce. Over the years I've adapted the dish more and more, until finally I've made it enough times I can throw it together without a recipe and they declare it my best version yet.

I usually prefer beef to turkey meatballs, but something about the turkey paired with the spinach really works. I do still use a little Parmesan cheese in the meat to both bind it and add flavor, but the "cheese" sauce I use to finish it off is completely dairy-free.

I serve my meatballs and sauce over zucchini noodles, but they'd taste nice with cauliflower rice as well.

Paleo Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in "Cheese" Sauce

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 10 oz. bag of frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
2 minced shallots
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 egg
1/4 cup organic chicken broth or coconut milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup almond meal
salt & pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
pinch of ground nutmeg
olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400.

Place ground turkey in a large bowl. Add spinach, shallots, garlic, egg, broth or milk, cheese, almond meal and seasoning. Mix until combined.

Form into large balls and place on a foil or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until brown.

Dairy-Free "Cheese" Sauce

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
2 cups cold water
1 tsp. salt
garlic powder & black pepper, to taste
2 tbs. cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Put water in a large sauce pot. Place over medium heat and add in salt, starch and nutritional yeast. Stir with a whisk to combine.

Continue whisking as the sauce thickens and comes to a low boil. Reduce heat and cook for one minute.

Stir in butter or olive oil and mustard. Cook one minute more then remove from heat. Season to taste with black pepper and garlic powder.