Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Fiesta In My Mouth and Everyone's Invited: Mango Avocado Salsa and Spanish Cauliflower Rice

So Cinco de Mayo is a few weeks away, and your friends may be having some kind of party. Wondering what tasty goodness you can bring along that your friends won't scoff at? Tired of being limited to gaucamole and tequila because you don't eat tortillas, corn, cheese, beans, or rice? Well, these recipes should quiet even the most Paleo-Resistant people, and will keep you full, satisfied, and not dejectedly longing for tacos all night.

I was feeling particularly experimental on Monday, so I tried out 3 new recipes I found online - all 100% Paleo. Two of them were most excellent, and one still needs a bit of tweaking before I'd consider it share-worthy. But in the meantime:

Spicy Chicken with Mango-Avocado Salsa and Spanish-ish Cauliflower Rice

Now I know I promised easy, effortless recipes, but these ones are well worth the time spent chopping. For me, there is something oddly aesthetic (and disturbingly domestic) about cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables. Yes, I'm weird like that.

The first recipe I found on Epicurious, which is actually a really good place to search for recipes, ideas, and inspiration. Many of the recipes are unintentionally Paleo, or can be easily modified. This salsa is good as a stand-alone dish, or can be used to top chicken, meat, or fish, and it's full of all those good fats everyone's always talking about. Personally, I can't wait to try this with mahi mahi:

Mango-Avocado Salsa

1 ripe mango, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 c. lime juice (about 2 1/2 limes)
1 jalapeno, mince
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, diced

  • Combine first 5 ingredients in bowl. (Can be made 3 hours ahead; refrigerate.)

  • Closer to serving time, stir in diced avocado and season to taste with salt and pepper. *Salt is not Paleo, so if you choose to use it here, be conservative.

The second recipe is my own creation, inspired from different recipes on the web: Spanish Cauliflower Rice. Cauliflower rice is just cauliflower chopped up in a food processor, the end product looking very much like, well, rice. Check it out:

1 cup of cauliflower rice is approximately 81 calories, 7g carb, 4g of fiber, not to mention 119% of your daily recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C (as opposed to 1 cup of white rice, which is 212 calories, 44g carbs, and less than 1g of fiber..oh. And 0% Vitamin C).

Since cauliflower is a very neutral-tasting vegetable, it just kindof absorbs whatever flavor you put with it. I've made it a few times already and have found that you can use it in place of rice in a lot of rice pilaf-type recipes. You just have to adjust cooking times. One cup of uncooked rice = 2 cups cauliflower rice.

To make it, place cauliflower in food processor and pulse until it looks like the picture above. Don't go too crazy or it'll look more like couscous. unless you want it to look like couscous, that is. Anyway, I use a blender, and just put a big handful of cauliflower in at a time. Scoop it out, repeat.

Then, put it in a dish with a lid, and stick it in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Do NOT add water, as this will turn it to mush. When it comes out will be slightly tender, but still kind of firm. You're going to cook it more in the skillet, so don't overdo it unless you're just going to eat it plain. I like to make extra and keep it in the fridge--it's very versatile and good for whipping up quick lunches and dinners.

Spanish-ish Cauliflower Rice

1/4 c. olive oil
1 1/2 small Vidalia onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (you can just use standard green bell pepper if you want)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (more if you want it spicy)
2 stalks of celery
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of cauliflower rice
1/4 teas. ground black pepper
1 T cumin
1/2 teas. oregano
Salt to taste

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add onions, peppers, and celery. Saute until soft, about 3 mins.
  • Add garlic, and cook for another minute while stirring, then add cauliflower and pepper, cumin, and oregano.
  • Cook until cauliflower rice is tender
Now, the chicken I made just turned out so-so. It was spicy and had an ok flavor, but didn't really go well with the mango salsa. The salsa has enough flavor on its own, and would probably pair up better with something with little or no seasoning on it.

Two out of three ain't bad though.

Also worth mentioning - If you're ok with the amount of prepwork involved, making quick, simple salsas are a good way to replace the condiments/commercial sauces for meat and fish. With a little bit of internet-search savvy, you can find a bazillion different salsa recipes that fit perfectly into the Paleo diet without having to adjust them at all. I'm definitely a fan, so look forward to more tasty salsas in the future.

Hasta la vista, baby.


Farhana said...

I love your blog!!! :)

Made the Spanish-ish Cauliflower Rice today, it was lovely.. only thing I changed was the olive oil - used clarified butter instead, because I don't like heating olive oil.

Look forward to trying out your other recipes :)

libidiny said...

I always thought that olive oil was supposed to have a somewhat high smoke point, but now I'm finding that isn't really the case. I'm probably going to go through and revamp some of these recipes using ghee or pasture butter in its place.

I get frustrated sometimes with all of the conflicting information out there.

but thanks for reading, glad you dig the recipe!

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