Sunny Sunflower Sprouts

St. Patty’s Day has come and gone, but we’re still celebrating our green veggies here at Saucy. There are just so many great ones to choose from! Today I wanted to highlight another one that’s a little lesser known: Sunflower Sprouts. You can usually find these at your local farmer’s market or at a natural foods store. They can be a bit pricey, so I recommend shopping around for the best deal because once you try them, you’re gonna’ be hooked.

A sunflower sprout is just that — it’s the very first sprout of a sunflower from its seed. Once they get big enough, they are cut from the seed or pulled along with the seed. I don’t mind the seed casings in mine, but The Man does not like them in his. If you get a batch with seed casings, you can usually put them in a colander and kind of shake them free to separate them from the sprout itself.

The first question people usually ask me is, “What do they taste like?” The best description I have come up with is that they taste a bit carrot-like. They’re slightly sweet with a nice earthy flavor to back them up.

Sunflower Sprouts are rich in stress-fighting Vitamin B & antioxidant-packed Vitamin E.

The next question I’m usually asked is how I cook them. My first response is that I often don’t! Because of their sweet carroty nature, they make a great raw snack. They have a smooth texture, so they’re good by themselves or added to a salad. Plus, eating them raw keeps them fresh and intact, helping you reap all of their nutritional rewards.

When Sunflower Sprouts are cooked, they behave similarly to spinach. You can have a massive pile and once it’s wilted down, you wonder where it all went! Bear that in mind when making my next favorite way to cook sprouts: a simple sauté with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It makes a great side or base for layering different flavors.


Sunflower Sprouts provide a whopping 25% protein which helps rebuild muscle and they’re high in hormone-balancing zinc.

And then there’s stir fry. Throw all your favorite veggies in a sauté pan or wok, starting with those that take the longest to cook and then adding the quicker cooking items — like sprouts — at the end. My latest quick weeknight stir fry was super easy and consisted of just chicken, red peppers, scallions, mung bean sprouts, and sunflower sprouts. I made a sauce by mixing to taste oyster sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, S&P, garlic, onion, and ginger powders, and olive oil.


Once you get the hang of cooking sprouts, you can also step out on a limb and get creative! I found some mini chicken wontons and created a Chicken Wonton Soup with zucchini and carrot noodles, sunflower spouts, and fresh parsley and ginger in chicken broth. It was pretty darn amazing.

Sunflower sprouts are just some of the out-of-the-box deliciousness that’s in season this Spring. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I encourage you to venture out to your fresh markets and try something different. You might just discover a new favorite!


Oodles of Zoodles

In the world of healthy eating, zucchini noodles have been all the rage for some time now. Maybe you’ve tried them, maybe you haven’t, but this is one veggie craze that is well-deserving of its fanfare.

Zucchini by itself probably doesn’t seem all that exciting. But consider this: it’s fat-free, packed with vitamins, and full of water and fiber. One zucchini has more potassium than a banana (wow!) and it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.

Here’s something I didn’t know:

Botanically, zucchini is a fruit!


Sheer craziness.

Zucchini has a nice mild flavor, so it can easily be transformed or combined with stronger flavored ingredients, and since it’s not so heavy, you can pile it on your plate guilt-free.

Anyway, back to the zoodles. Similar to spaghetti squash, you can use zoodles in place of pastas, create stir frys, or serve as a side. The overall process couldn’t be easier. Select a medium to large zucchini. Spiralize. Done.


The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is with a spiralizer. I have a Hamilton Beach Spiralizer/Food Processor that I use pretty regularly. I highly recommend the moderate investment. Of course, there are much simpler (read: less expensive) versions out there. Just make sure you read the reviews. One bad experience can send your dinner plans spiraling out of control! (See what I did there??)

NOT READY TO COMMIT?
No Problem.
YOU CAN FIND PRECUT
ZOODLES IN MANY PRODUCE
SECTIONS NOW, TOO.

While this seems like a very simple concept, it only takes one hot second to overcook your zoodles and turn them into pure liquid. Like, they just disappear. I’ve learned the hard way to add them in at the very last minute, quite literally. The longer they stay in the heat, the softer they will get. My latest trick has been the easiest: microwave them lightly covered for about 3-5 minutes. They are hot, but still somewhat al dente, and ready to serve.


Parmesan Zucchini Noodles

  • 2 medium/large zucchinis
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese per zucchini, or to taste
  • salt & pepper

Spiralize your zucchini and put them in a microwave safe bowl. (You may want to cut your zoodles a little, as they are pretty long and can be tricky to serve.) Add the diced butter, spacing it evenly on top of the zoodles. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top. Cover lightly and microwave for 3-5 minutes, depending on amount of zucchini. Gently mix ingredients until butter and cheese are combined – creating a sauce of sorts – and thoroughly coat the zoodles. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will give you a simple side dish for about 2-3 people.


🍀 Feeling Lucky? 🍀

Got the hang of it? Wanna get a little fancy?? I’ve made this next side dish 3 different times for 3 different people and they all RAVED. I served it with chicken, but I bet it would go well with some corned beef this Sunday, too.


Zoodles with Summer Fresh Alfredo

  • 3-4 medium/large zucchinis, spiralized
  • 2 medium vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup of corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 2/3 grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • salt, pepper, onion & garlic powders
  • protein of choice

Layer zoodles, half of the butter, and 1/3 cup of the cheese. Next, layer tomatoes, corn, other half of butter, and remaining cheese. Add seasonings as desired. Cover lightly and microwave for about 5 minutes. Again, gently mix ingredients until the cheese and butter have created a sauce. It’s more of a faux alfredo, but it works with the lighter Summer fare. Top with your protein of choice. Honestly, it goes great with just about anything. Makes about 4-6 servings.

🍀 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!🍀

Blarney! Broccoli Rabe is Back!

Ahh, March. The month that tells us, despite a lingering chill in the air, that Spring is right around the corner. The month where we focus on all things green for St. Paddy’s Day. And the month when broccoli rabe shows up! I found some just this morning at my local natural foods grocery store … and it was on sale! You know I love a good bargain. 😉

I totally stocked up!

Green is clearly the color of the March, so I’m going to center this month’s recipes around a few of my favorite green veggies. There are so many great ones to choose from, but since broccoli rabe is only around for a small window of time, I wanted to do a repost of my absolute favorite broccoli rabe dish. I will seriously eat this at least 4 times in the next 2 months with absolutely no regrets. It’s just that good.

—-> Linguini with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage <—-


Fun Fact: Broccoli rabe is an absolute power house of a green. It’s super high in vitamins A, C, and K; contains fiber for digestion, lutein to aid eyesight, and sulfur to help out your liver; and it has some great anti-inflammatory nutrients, like folate.

Aside from the recipe in the link above, you can also do a simple sauté with a little olive oil, S&P, onion & garlic powders, plus a splash of chicken stock – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Serve as a simple green side, or get creative!

One idea: Try adding it to a sweet potato hash with some red peppers for a beautiful contrast of sweet and bitter.

Another idea: Make a “risotto” using quinoa instead of arborio rice, folding in finely chopped broccoli rabe, diced tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese. Let the heat from the quinoa and sauce mix wilt the rabe and sweat it down. The result is a flavor similar to horseradish from the rabe, combined with the creaminess of the Parmesan cheese and acid of the tomatoes. This pairs amazingly well with steak or lamb!

Keep trying new things or sticking with the old … until the rabe runs out!

The Kindness of Strangers

Back in November, I shared on my Saucy Facebook page that I had some pretty amazingly feel-good news.  At that point in time, The Saucy Tomato page was coming up for renewal, but after a crazy and expensive year, I was dubious that I would ever get back to blogging.  I had ended up having hernia surgery in February.  Shortly afterwards, my husband developed a blood clot in his leg in April.  It wasn’t life-threatening, but he grew increasingly uncomfortable and was unable to work.  After weeks of testing, they scheduled him for bypass surgery in July.  The very same week of his surgery, my daughter had a freak accident that resulted in emergency room stitches and our dog ate a rag that unravelled in his intestines, resulting in emergency surgery.  Somehow, I managed to remain unscathed, so long as you didn’t count my mental state.

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I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and very in debt.  I honestly didn’t know if it would be worth the time or money to invest in a renewal.  The day before Saucy was due to expire, I was talking to a complete stranger about my blog.  I told them how much I enjoyed doing it, but how I’d fallen behind on posting and still had too much on my plate (no pun intended) to keep making it work.  I commented that I couldn’t justify spending the money to renew the blog.  I would miss it, but I felt this was the right move.

The person – who is a blog aficionado themselves – went online and checked out my page.  The first thing they said was how much they loved the name.  (I know, riiiight?? 😄)  After taking a further look, they said my site was “really fantastic” (a pretty big compliment from someone like them!) and asked if I could picture myself going back to it.  I said I would love to at some point.  So this person – a complete stranger to me – gifted me with a year’s extension on my blog.  I could now take my time getting life in order again without the pressure of a renewal deadline looming ahead.  They said: “I just could not let the Tomato go.”

I was speechless.  I could not thank them enough.  There are still some pretty amazing people in this world, and I was absolutely blessed by one of them that day.

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While this is such a small thing in the scheme of life, it was a huge gesture to and for me, and it reignited the Saucy flame within.  It has taken a bit to catch my breath, but I am elated to announce that I am kicking off a refreshed Saucy this month.  I thank all of you who are still with me, and I can’t wait for our next food adventure together. Here’s to you, here’s to me, and here’s to Saucy! 🥂 Cheers!

Happy May 1st!

What an amazingly busy – and fattening – month April was!  LOL!  The weather in NC has finally gotten warmer, my daughter’s Spring Break wrapped up, and I celebrated both my 40th birthday and my 13th wedding anniversary.  I also gave my very first cooking presentation to my church’s women’s group at our annual beach retreat.  So much fun and excitement!  My blog has taken a bit of a backseat to all the goings-on, but the good food sure hasn’t!  I’ve been steadily cooking up a storm, taking notes, and mentally preparing some amazing blog entries…just as soon as things settle down a bit and I can get it all from my head to the screen.  In the meantime, enjoy a few pics from our festivities and stay tuned for some scrumptiousness, coming your way soon!

40th Birthday Cake
Amazing Birthday Cake for my big 40th!

 

40th Birthday Skydive 1
Hubby surprised me with a sunset skydive over the beach where we got engaged. ❤

40th Birthday Skydive 2
What a rush, and an amazing view!

Food Presentation
My first cooking presentation for my women’s beach retreat! I helped present my homemade pita chips, sweet potato hummus, and strawberry vinaigrette.

13th Anniversary
Our 13th Wedding Anniversary Dinner. We went to a local Italian restaurant and indulged in some super fun celebrating with our daughter.

Portobello Pizzas

Many moons ago, I was talking easy weeknight meals with my aunt.  She loves good food but loves not cooking.  Her motto was always that if it had more than five ingredients, she wasn’t making it.  So together, we dreamed up a pizza made in mushroom caps (no making of dough required!) with a few favorite toppings.  Easy peasy, right?  And so Portobello Pizzas were born.  I make them with a few more than my aunt’s five ingredient limit, but they can be as easy or as complicated as you want them to be.  Want to make your own sauce?  Go for it!  Prefer fresh herbs?  Perfect!  Want even more – or different – toppings?  Have fun creating!  Or take a few shortcuts and whip these up in no time using a few jarred and dried items.  The world is your pizza!  Make it any way you want!


Portobello Pizzas

  • 3-4 Portobello mushroom caps
  • 8 oz jar marinara (or fresh sauce)
  • 6-8 bacon strips
  • 1 medium green peppers
  • bag of mini pepperoni slices
  • 1 can black olives
  • Parmesan & Mozzarella cheese
  • Oregano & Basil (fresh or dried)

To get started, preheat oven to 350º and begin to fry up your bacon until crispy, then set aside.  While the bacon is cooking, clean and remove the stems and gills from your mushroom caps and spread a generous dollop of sauce inside.  Add a layer of the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.  Dice your green peppers and chop your olives (try that handy dandy egg slicer tip from my Facebook Page!) and add to caps.  Add the pepperoni.  Once bacon is cool, crumble or chop, then add to caps.

Pizza Process

Add a final layer of cheeses and top with a little oregano and basil.  On a foil-lined baking sheet*, bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness and size of caps.

EAT

*Make sure the baking sheet has a lip because the mushrooms and toppings will produce lots of yummy juices and you don’t want a mess in your oven!

Portobello Pizzas

Roasted Sunchokes

So, I have a new favorite thing.  I don’t know much about them yet, but I’m gonna’ learn because boy did they wow me.  Jerusalem Artichokes, otherwise known as Sunchokes.  Admittedly, I asked the farm stand how much they charged for their ginger.  It looked just like ginger root to me!  That’s when they schooled me, telling me these were actually sunchokes, which made for a great diabetic potato replacement because of the low sugar content.  I’m not diabetic, but I love healthy alternatives, so I was intrigued.

Jerusalem Artichoke

According to Wikipedia, “despite one of its names, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke.”  Sunchokes are reported to contain about 2% protein, no oil, and very little starch (hence the diabetic reference).

So, I whipped some up.  I did a simple roasted version with some basic seasonings.  It was a smash hit, with a flavor that reminded me of a potato with a touch of artichoke essence, and a texture akin to that of a turnip.  We just kept eating them, saying over and over, “These are so good!”  And hey, they’re good for you, too.  I feel great about that.  Give ’em a try!


Roasted Sunchokes

  • 15-20 sunchokes, scrubbed thoroughly and diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½-¾ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, to taste
  • ½ Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • parchment paper, if possible

Preheat oven to 400º.  After scrubbing the sunchokes thoroughly, dice them into small pieces.  You may consider rinsing them once more, to be sure to get rid of any leftover grit.  Combine everything but the Parmesan into a bowl and toss the sunchokes in the mixture, coating thoroughly.  Spread sunchokes onto parchment paper (preferred for less sticking) or tin foil.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Roasted Sunchokes 1

Bake for 35-45 minutes, turning once or twice for even cooking.  Once they get to be a nice golden brown and are soft on the inside, pull from the oven.  Serve immediately and be amazed.

Roasted Sunchokes 2

Many thanks to CrossIn Back Vineyard & Farm for the amazing selection of sunchokes!