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sauce

Pumpkin Seed-Herb Sauce

TIME: 15 MINUTES; SERVES: 1 PINT

This sauce was born from having an excess of wilting cilantro in my fridge. I was going to make zhoug, a spicy cilantro sauce that’s made with fresh jalapenos and garlic, but I wanted to beef it up to serve alongside salmon. I was looking through my assortment of seeds and nuts for pesto inspiration, and thought the toasted flavor and color of pumpkin seeds would be perfect. With further research, I discovered a traditional sauce from the Yucatan region called Sikil P’ak, taken from the Mayan words for pumpkin seed and tomatoes.

This adaptation swaps tomatoes for rehydrated, smoky chipotle peppers. I added half an avocado for extra creaminess as well. Now it’s a staple in my fridge—I eat it alongside fish, roast chicken, or slathered on veggies. It’s delicious stirred into crème fraîche for a rich accompaniment to soups or stews.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup cilantro, stems and leaves
1 cup parsley, stems and leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tbls. sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbls. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. each ground coriander, cardamom, and cumin
1/2 avocado (opt.)
2 dried chipotle peppers, or 1 whole jalapeno pepper, seeded (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the chipotle peppers and let sit for about 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Remove from the water, (but reserve water for thinning the sauce), cut in half and discard the stems and seeds. Roughly chop.

  2. While the peppers are re-hydrating, spread the pumpkin seeds evenly in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast until they start to sizzle and pop, stirring often to avoid burning. Remove from heat.

  3. Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Thin with the chipotle water if necessary.

  4. Spoon into a jar and drizzle olive oil on top. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

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Zucchini Noodles with Walnut Pesto

TIME: 30 MINUTES; SERVES: 2

Zucchini noodles, or ‘Zoodles’, have become somewhat of a mascot within the low-carb food community. I have a tendency to approach most food trends with a level of skepticism. Food marketing generally operates from a profit-forward standard, rather than nutritional or ecological. So when a fancy new super food promising “antioxidant-rich!” “sugar-free!” or “healthy!” pops up, I have three main standards on whether it’s worth investigating: 1. Can I grow this? 2. If not, can it be purchased locally? 3. If so, is it grown or raised organically/responsibly?

“Zoodles” pass through all these hoops for me. Even though I wouldn’t label summer squash a nutrition powerhouse, it is yummy and we do grow it. Zoodles have become a gluten-free answer to that slurpy, noodly craving that can hit without warning.

Granted, I’ll eat grilled or roasted zucchini any day alongside a rich pesto dip, but this is a fun way to mix it up. Zoodles can also shine in a light, savory broth, or with a cream-based sauce. I purchased a 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer, and even though it takes up a fair amount of kitchen space and is a little bulky, it’s so easy to use and clean, I have no hesitation busting it out.

I use the word “pesto” very loosely in this recipe. Feel free to make it dairy-free by cutting out the optional Parmesan, or substitute different nuts, seeds, or herbs.

INGREDIENTS

Zoodles
1 large zucchini or 2 medium (Even though the smaller squash generally taste better, I’ve found the larger ones easier to “spiralize")
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. high heat oil, bacon grease, or butter/ghee
(Dairy-free) Walnut “Pesto”
2 cups packed Italian basil (I use the whole plant: leaves, tender stems, flowers, etc.). You can substitute parsley or arugula for some or all of the basil.
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup walnuts or favorite nut (pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
Juice from 1 lemon, to taste
1 - 2 tbls. water to thin, if necessary
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (opt.)

METHOD

  1. For the pesto, put all ingredients except water into a food processor and process until very smooth. If not using Parmesan, it is important to use a generous amount of salt—start with less and add to taste after blending. If it’s too thick, add a tbls. at a time of water. You will need to use enough oil to coat the noodles in a smooth sauce.

  2. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a mandolin with a julienne blade or a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons. You can even julienne by hand if you’re confident in your knife skills.

  3. Sprinkle the zoodles with salt and let sit for a few minutes in a colander.

  4. Heat cooking fat in a large skillet. Sear the zoodles in a single layer. Do not stir, rather let them slightly brown on one side and then flip over. It is very important they don’t crowd the pan so that they sear quickly. Crowding results in soggy, overcooked zoodles. Transfer to a wide serving dish.

  5. Top with the pesto and mix very gently to incorporate. Serve topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and chicken, or alongside a few slices of bacon and crumbled goat cheese

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Turmeric Mayonnaise or Aioli

TIME: 15 MINUTES; SERVES: 1+ CUP

Homemade mayonnaise & Aioli are other pantry staples that require hardly any time and have far superior flavor, especially if you source high-quality ingredients. A bit of turmeric creates a beautiful golden hue which is stunning alongside roasted vegetables or grilled meats. Turmeric also has incredible anti-inflammatory properties, found in the compound curcumin, so I try to incorporate a dash or two wherever I can. Black pepper boosts the absorption of curcumin, so make sure to add a few grinds as well.

Many folks choose to emulsify the oils and eggs by hand with a whisk. Even though I appreciate the art of emulsification, I choose to use an immersion blender. You can also use a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, a food processor or standing blender.

INGREDIENTS

1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup neutral oil (I use 1/4 cup avocado or high-oleic sunflower oil + 1/4 cup MCT oil)
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 - 2 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar of choice
2 - 3 garlic cloves, pressed or mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt (opt.)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (opt.)
1 - 2 tbls. cold water
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. If using an immersion blender, add the egg yolk, lemon & Dijon mustard to a pint jar.

  2. Mix oils together in a measuring cup, or other vessel that will be easy to pour without spilling.

  3. Blend the egg, lemon & Dijon while consistently and slowly drizzling in the oil. Once the sauce begins to thicken, you can drizzle a little more quickly. Adding too much oil at once will cause the emulsion to “break” and will result in a curdled mess.

  4. Once very thick, add the garlic, turmeric, salt & pepper to taste. If still too thick, add the cold water, 1 tbls. at a time.

  5. If not already in a glass jar, transfer to one and let sit for about 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Use immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to a week. *The addition of garlic will lose its fresh flavor after a week’s time.

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