Soups & Salads

Roast Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and a Balsamic Drizzle

Hang onto your hats folks, we’re in for a whirlwind! My excitement over this soup is bursting out of me and it cannot be contained. The best thing for you to do is to hold on, take it all in and then get cooking. I first cooked this soup a couple years ago, but every time I make it I wonder to myself why I wait so long in between whipping it up.

I love creamy vegetable soups, but they are usually laden with heavy cream and high fat milk. A creamy soup that is low in calories and fat, but high in nutrition and flavor? Definitely a win. But a soup that also has added protein? Now that is the ultimate trifecta! A tasty tender trifecta.

Roasted cauliflower and garlic soup topped with kale chips and a balsamic drizzle. No, you don’t have to go to some fancy farm-to-table restaurant to enjoy this cozy dish; you can make it in your kitchen right this minute. Cauliflower is roasted to add depth to its flavor and tenderize it. Roasting the garlic mellows it and causes it to develop a creamy texture. While the vegetables are roasting a light roux is created then mixed with onions, carrots, celery and seasonings.

The sautéed vegetables brown and release their inner juices just before being combined with rich vegetable stock and white wine. The roasted vegetables are added to the pot and everything is pureed to a rustic creaminess. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt lends to the creaminess and provides a very subtle tang. Finally the soup is topped with kale chips for crunch and an easy balsamic drizzle for continued depth of flavor. Go make this. Now. I’ll be running to the kitchen for more leftovers before I pass out from excitement.

Roast Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and a Balsamic Drizzle
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 batch crispy kale chips
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Directions
for the soup
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with tinfoil and set aside.
  3. Cut the cauliflower into similar sized florets and evenly place on the baking sheet. Toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the tops off both heads of garlic so that almost all the cloves are exposed. Place each head of garlic in a little square of tinfoil and curve up the sides. Lightly drizzle the garlic heads with olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Seal up the tinfoil to make little packets of the garlic heads.
  5. Place the cauliflower and garlic packets in the oven. Let the cauliflower roast for 25 minutes then remove from the oven. Let the garlic continue to roast for another 10 minutes.
  6. While the cauliflower and garlic are roasting, heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and the flour and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk until the mixture is light brown in color, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the celery, onion and carrot. Stir to combine and cook until the onions have started to brown and the vegetables have started to soften.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, italian seasoning, paprika, oregano and chili powder, stirring to combine. Add the wine and water. Bring to a slow boil then cook for 5 minutes.
  9. When the heads of garlic have cooled, squeeze out the garlic cloves and add them to the soup along with the vegetable broth. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  10. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 more minutes. Using a food processor or immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Add the greek yogurt and puree until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
for the garnish
  1. Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat until it has reduced to a 2-3 tablespoons.
  2. Top each bowl of soup with kale chips and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.

Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef.

Roasted Beet, Blackberry and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette

It is January 1st. A new year is upon us! It’s time for reflecting on how we live our lives, making resolutions to do better, watching our diet and going to the gym; at least for the next three weeks. In the spirit of the new year I am going to try very, very hard to not post any desserts for the next three weeks. Joking aside I know I could certainly use a dessert detox after all the stuffing my face sessions I participated in over the last couple months.

Being the food obsessed person I am I have an extraordinarily difficult time dieting so instead I just try to keep my meals fresh, healthy and flavorful. As I have previously mentioned on Lemon & Mocha I am not a fan of salads resembling rabbit food. However, I find when salads have a cooked element instead of all raw ingredients the texture and flavor is greatly enhanced.

This roasted beet, blackberry and goat cheese salad with an orange champagne vinaigrette packs so much punch you will completely forget you are eating healthy. The beets are roasted to mellow and sweeten their flavor as well as sliced thin to keep them from overwhelming the rest of the salad. The creamy goat cheese provides a nice contrast to the tangy citrus infused dressing. Serve alongside roast chicken or as a vegetarian main dish for a fresh, flavorful and seasonal meal this winter.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette
 
Yield: 4 servings, 1 cup dressing
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 1 large beet, top trimmed
  • 1 large golden beet, top trimmed
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 cups mixed beet greens and mesclun
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • Crumbled goat cheese
for the dressing
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot, about ½ a shallot
  • ¼ cup orange champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the salad
  1. Rinse the beets, scrubbing off any dirt, then dry. Tear off 2 small squares of tin foil large enough to encase each beet. Place each beet in a square of tin foil, slightly turn up the sides and drizzle each with olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper then seal up the tin foil packets. Bake the beets in the foil packets for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the beets from the oven and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to touch, remove the skins by hand or with a paring knife. Thinly slice the beets.
  3. Wash the greens and place in a large bowl. Add the sliced beets and blackberries then toss with some of the dressing. Top with the crumbled goat cheese.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the minced shallot, orange champagne vinegar, mustard, orange juice and sugar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
Notes
*I got orange champagne vinegar from Trader Joe's, but if you can't find any you can use regular champagne vinegar and add 1 tablespoon orange zest.
*Use the leaves from the bunches of beets for the beet greens.

Dressing recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Grilled Steak and Peach Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

I am not a huge fan of having a salad as an entrée. Maybe it’s because salads get a bad rap as diet food. Maybe it’s because it’s ingrained in my brain that dinner should be a hot meal. Or maybe it’s because munching on all that lettuce makes me feel a bit like a rabbit.

But sometimes between the pasta dishes and batches of peanut butter apple bars you just need a fresh break. All the recent baking and experimenting in the kitchen left me craving a salad. Of all things. Unbelievable.

This grilled steak and peach salad did not disappoint. Peach season is ending, but there’s still time to take advantage of this sweet fleshy fruit before it’s gone from grocery stores until next summer. Peaches are delicious, but grilled peaches are like a whole new species. The outer flesh caramelizes and develops a light smoky taste while the inner peach juices form a syrupy concentrate. For those of you who have not grilled peaches before, I apologize for sharing this secret at the end of peach season.

Between the succulent grilled peaches, the tender steak and the creamy mild dressing this salad made me forget all about my salad doubts. And I didn’t even think about rabbits once.

Grilled Steak and Peach Salad with Easy Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the steak
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound sirloin tips
for the dressing
  • ½ pound cambozola cheese crumbles, or another mild blue cheese of your choosing
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon pesto
for the salad
  • 2 peaches, halved and pitted
  • 4 cups mixed romaine, raddicchio and butter lettuce, or the greens of your choosing
  • 1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
Directions
  1. Place the steak in a shallow dish. Whisk together the first 9 ingredients in a small bowl then pour over the steak. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least three hours. Remove the marinated steak from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and let it get hot. Place the steak tips on the grill pan, being sure not to crowd the pan, and let them cook 5-6 minutes per side for medium depending on the thickness of the tips. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.
  3. While the steaks are cooking make the dressing. Put half the blue cheese into a small mixing bowl with the sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, chives and pesto. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  4. While the steak is resting, finish the salad. Brush the cut side of the peaches with extra-virgin olive oil then place them cut side down over a grill pan on medium-high heat. Grill the peaches for 3 minutes then flip and grill the other side for one minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Once peaches are cool enough to touch, slice into wedges.
  5. Toss the greens, grape tomato halves and red onion slices in a large bowl. Divide onto the four plates then top with the sliced steak, peach wedges, dressing and the remaining blue cheese crumbles.

Recipe adapted from September 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine.