Gazpacho Andaluz

Gazpacho Andaluz - Under the Monkey Bars blog

La Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

After a few years of tweaking, I’ve finally perfected my recipe for Gazpacho Andaluz, a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold. You’ll love this easy, naturally gluten free and vegan recipe!

Gazpacho Andaluz - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Don and I took an amazing trip to Paris and Madrid in 2013. I hadn’t been back to Madrid since college. So much of the city had changed, yet the food stayed the same: gazpacho, paella, sangria, patatas bravas, tortilla espanola.

For me, gazpacho is summer in a bowl.

As soon as we got home, I started experimenting with different combinations of vegetables to make my gazpacho taste exactly as did in the Plaza Mayor. I needed to recreate that experience of sitting under a misting umbrella with cobblestones underfoot and a sangria in my hand. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what ingredient I was missing. Finally I realized that the secret ingredient to Gazpacho Andaluz is white balsamic vinegar! 

Gazpacho Andaluz - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Gazpacho Andaluz - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I made Gazpacho Andaluz a few weeks ago when I was a guest chef at Mandarava Kitchen. Newburyport Olive Oil graciously contributed their robust white balsamic vinegar to cook with that night. It definitely elevates the flavor! If you haven’t tried their oils and vinegars, it’s quite an experience! I have a few more favorites, which I’ll be sharing soon in my next recipe post from our Mandarava tapas menu.

It only takes 15 minutes to make this soup without a stove or pot in sight. Don’t peel anything and only cut each veggie into chunks. Let the blender do the work for you! Once you quickly chop each ingredient, toss it into the blender. When the soup is ready, the only clean up should be a cutting board, knife, blender and spatula — don’t leave behind a drop!

This type of gazpacho is the traditional preparation you would experience if you visited the southern region of Andalusia in Spain. Gazpacho is particularly popular during hot summer nights because it is refreshing and cold. The color is perfection.

Gazpacho Andaluz - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Photo credit: Meg Manion Photography

Gazpacho Andaluz is a recipe that the whole family will enjoy. You can make it ahead and store it for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Serve it as is or with toppings to stir in, such as cucumbers, peppers, red onion, parsley, and croutons. It’s the perfect summer recipe for a no-stress dinner.

When I studied abroad in Madrid during college back in 1998, my Señora Encarna would say, “Cómelo todo!” at dinnertime. It translates to, “Eat it all!” I sometimes say it to my monkeys with a smile, remembering that incredible experience. That’s why I include “Cómelo todo!” at the end of my recipe posts as a tribute to the lovely lady who made sure I was well fed all those years ago in Spain.

Try this Gazpacho recipe and let me know how you like it in the comments or click on the stars to review it. Cómelo todo!

Gazpacho Andaluz
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Ingredients
  1. 2½ pounds tomatoes (about 8 medium)
  2. 2 medium cucumbers
  3. 2 small sweet red peppers
  4. 1 yellow or white onion
  5. 3 cloves garlic
  6. 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  7. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1-2 tablespoons of honey or agave
  9. 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  10. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  11. Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash the vegetables and cut into chunks, leave the skin on the cucumber.
  2. If you're using a large high speed blender, everything should fit into one batch. Otherwise purée in small batches until smooth.
  3. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  4. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge. The garlic flavor will become stronger over time. Serve chilled.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients when possible.
  2. - Yields 48 ounces.
  3. - This gazpacho will keep for 4 days.
  4. - Newburyport Olive Oil's white balsamic really boosts the flavor in this recipe.
Adapted from Farm Girl Fare
Adapted from Farm Girl Fare
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup recipe - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I always crave soup this time of year. This Potato Leek Soup really warms both the heart and soul. You’re going to love it!

Seemingly French inspired, this soup is actually an Irish recipe. I found it about 4 years ago after taking the advice of one of my doctors to cook with my roots in mind. I’m Irish, so we’re not shy with potatoes at our house. Potatoes get a bad rap but they’re actually pretty good for you because of their fiber, protein, vitamins B6 + C, and potassium.

Add the folate, vitamins K, A + C, and fiber from the onion and leek, and this soup packs a nutritious punch! Think about Potato Leek Soup as healthy comfort food. You won’t believe how rich and creamy it tastes without dairy.

Potato Leek Soup is a staple recipe in our kitchen. The monkeys request it frequently and often pack the left overs in a thermos for school lunch. With 7 basic ingredients, the recipe is super easy to make and really flexible. Add an extra potato and some extra broth and no one will notice. We end up eating it at least once a month. Everything in moderation, right?

If you don’t have one already, this immersion blender is fantastic. It’s a lot faster than transferring the soup to a blender and then back to the pot. I make quite a few soups that require blending and absolutely love the speed and simplicity of it.

Try this Potato Leek Soup recipe and let me know how you like it in the comments or click on the stars to review it. Cómelo todo!

Potato Leek Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 leek, chopped
  3. 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  4. 6 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  5. 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  6. Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the vegetables. Use only the white part of the leek.
  2. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until soft, 8–10 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring just to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft, 30–35 minutes.
  5. Purée with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients when possible.
  2. - Try different kinds of potatoes. We like a combination of yukon and russet.
  3. - Serve with a green veggie like kale salad, sautéed zucchini or green beans.
  4. - Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or scallions.
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

New year…new recipes! If you’re looking for dinner ideas, you’ve found the right post. Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce with pasta has been a favorite weeknight meal at our house for the past 6 years. Everyone devours it!

When the monkeys were toddlers, I diced up the eggplant really small so that a bite or two would sneak into their picky, little mouths. Now eggplant is Bean’s favorite part of the dish! Small Mommy victories like these keep us going, right?

Eggplant is full of antioxidants, low in calories, and high in fiber. It protects against inflammation and disease formation — including cancer. Eggplant helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. Plus, it’s shiny and purple. Plenty of reasons to pick up some eggplant next time you’re at the market!

This recipe for Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce comes together quickly with only 8 ingredients, most of which can be kept in the pantry or freezer. The sauce is naturally gluten free if your sausage is gluten free. In fact, it tastes best with sausage from a local farm or butcher. We love the sweet Italian pork sausage from either MEat (Kittery, Maine) or Lilac Hedge Farm, which is available at farmers markets across Massachusetts including Boston Public Market.

Serve this Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce over any kind of pasta or pasta alternative. Choose Jovial or Andean Dream pasta to make it gluten free. For a veggie packed meal, try this recipe over homemade zoodles like in the picture above. It’s a great way to eat more vegetables. I use this spiralizer to make the noodles from zucchini. Sweet Pea loves to crank the lever to help make noodles.

Leftovers freeze well or pack it up for tomorrow’s lunch. Cómelo todo!

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 eggplant, diced
  2. 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  3. 1/2 cup red wine
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves, diced
  5. 1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  6. 25 ounce box of chopped tomatoes
  7. Olive oil
  8. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a dutch oven, saute eggplant and garlic in olive oil until eggplant is soft, stirring frequently. Remove to a plate.
  2. Cook the sausage in the same pot. Add the red wine and scrape up any brown bits. Reduce the liquid.
  3. Add broth and tomatoes. Return eggplant to the pan and salt to taste.
  4. Simmer up to one hour until the liquid has reduced slightly and sauce has thickened. If you're short on time, crank it up and cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve over hearty shaped pasta, zoodles or steamed broccoli.
Adapted from Cooks.com
Adapted from Cooks.com
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Did you catch last week’s post about Ceia Kitchen + Bar? If you can’t make it to Newburyport, you can experience a taste of Ceia in your own home with this delicious recipe for Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree from Ceia’s Executive Chef, Jeremy Glover.

I’ve made these brussel sprouts twice since Jeremy shared the recipe with me. You are going to love them! Brussel sprouts are so decadent roasted this way. With the sweet and tangy puree on top, Bean couldn’t get enough of it! 

I’m not going to pretend Schmaltz was part of my culinary vocabulary. I had to look it up. Wikipedia says it’s “rendered chicken or duck fat used for cooking in European cuisine.” You can skim the fat off homemade bone broth, or cheat like I did and pick up a container of duck fat at a local market like Grand Trunk World Market or Whole Foods. For a vegan option, just roast the sprouts with olive oil and follow the rest of the recipe for the shallot puree. Chef Jeremy recommends this olive oil.

Set up your puree ingredients while the sprouts are roasting. Pre-measure your olive oil. Pour the shallot vinegar and honey into the blender or food processor. I used my 15 year old Cuisinart and it was totally fine. Once the shallots and garlic were roasted, the shallot puree came together quickly. I can see myself making it with other meals for sure.

I served these Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts on a weeknight with a roast chicken, butternut squash, and quinoa.  The flavors meshed really well with the sprouts. There was plenty of shallot puree to drizzle over our plates, which we did. Maybe even more than a drizzle! It tasted amazing over the quinoa. 

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree may sound complicated, but it’s not a hard recipe to follow. Add it to the menu for your next dinner party because it will definitely impress your guests! These fancy sprouts will be a gorgeous addition to any holiday table with their festive combination of red and green. Cómelo todo!

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree
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Ingredients
  1. 24 Brussel sprouts
  2. 3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat
  3. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  4. 2 shallots, cut length wise
  5. 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  6. 2 tablespoons raw honey
  7. 4 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
  8. 12 pomegranate seeds
  9. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut sprouts in half lengthwise, smash the cloves of garlic, cut shallots, and toss together with warm chicken or duck fat and salt.
  3. Roast on sheet pan until Brussel sprouts are dark and crisp. The garlic and shallots should be soft as well. This may take 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Take sheet pan out of oven, peel shallots, place one and a half in blender with vinegar, honey, and garlic. Blend mixture until smooth. Drizzle oil slowly until fully emulsified.
  5. Arrange sprouts in a pile, petal out the half shallot that isn’t in the vinaigrette. Place vinaigrette in a few spots on the sprouts. Finish with the pomegranate seeds.
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

 

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Today I’m sharing the second post in a series of simple shortcuts to save time in the kitchen when you’re in a rush. Even when life is busy, we still need to make healthy food choices to keep our bodies and minds nourished.

White potatoes get a bad rap because they’re high in carbohydrates. But because potatoes are real food, they’re a much better choice than processed food any day. Potatoes are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B6 + C, and potassium. I love potatoes, and so did my Irish ancestors. There’s something to be said about eating the foods of your heritage. Bottom line, everything in moderation. White potatoes are a healthy choice a few times a week. 

These skillet potatoes work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a quick snack. We typically use this simple shortcut side dish on a weekday morning. I bake 4 to 6 potatoes at a time, depending on the size of the potato. Choose organic russet, yukon gold, or red bliss. You’ll need about a half of potato per person for a serving.

Anytime you’re using the oven between 375-425 degrees, throw in some whole potatoes. These guys aren’t fussy about temperature. Check them at about 45 minutes to an hour. Potatoes are done when they give in to a little squeeze. Let the baked potatoes cool; then store them in a glass container the fridge for up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to use this simple shortcut, the skillet potatoes will cook really fast because you’re skipping the step of boiling the potatoes first. You only need to sauté the potatoes enough to brown them since they’re already cooked. In the meantime, scramble up some eggs. Maybe make some veggies in another pan — like onion, spinach, and tomatoes. A nourishing breakfast will be ready in 8 minutes or less, getting you out the door on time with a full, happy belly.

Stay tuned for more Simple Shortcuts. Cómelo todo!

Skillet Potatoes
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Total Time
8 min
Total Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 4-6 Baked potatoes
  2. Pad of butter, extra virgin olive oil, or vegan substitute
  3. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  4. Fresh parsley or rosemary, if desired
Instructions
  1. Warm a skillet over medium heat with butter or extra virgin olive oil (skip the canola!).
  2. Add a shake of salt and pepper directly to the skillet instead of tossing the potatoes in a bowl. Add your favorite herbs or spices if you’re feeling fancy.
  3. Cut the already baked potatoes into cubes or wedges.
  4. Add the chopped potato to the skillet. Shake every few minutes.
  5. Devour your browned skillet potatoes and make them again soon!
Notes
  1. Choose organic potatoes and herbs when possible.
  2. Make sure your ketchup doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. Organic ketchup is the best choice.
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/