Fresh and Sweet: Tomatillo Salsa for Cinco de Mayo

Tomatillo sauce cinco de mayo

Tomatillos are a berry

I don’t love super spicy food. But, it’s Cinco de Mayo weekend – so spicy is the drill. To temper your spicy tacos, enchilada, burritos or whatever else you’re making, muchachas…Try this fresh and mild-ish tomatillo salsa.

Tomatillos are a berry. They come wrapped in a papery skin that needs to be removed and then they are sticky. Sounds gross. Isn’t. So just peel the skin off and wash them before using.

Fresh and Sweet Tomatillo Salsa (serves 6)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  • Make ahead and chill in the fridge to save pre party counter space for margarita making
  • Wash your hands WELL after handling the jalapeno – the oils on your hands from the pepper will burn your eyes or any super sensitive areas…nuff said

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium Tomatillos – peeled, washed and quartered
  • 1 jalapeno – remove seeds and vein if you want to diminish heat – quartered
  • 2 Garlic cloves – smashed
  • 2 small onions – quartered
  • 1 ripe Avocado – peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 TSP kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 TSP lime juice – just to freshen it up even more!

1. Put the onion, jalapeno and garlic in a Cuisinart food processor and finely chop

tomatillo salsa recipe

Love my Cuisinart

2. Add the tomatillos, avocado, lime juice and salt and pulse until chopped – but not totally smooth

avocado tomatillo salsa recipe

Add the green things

3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro

tomatillo salsa recipe

Stir in cilantro

Serve with the Skirt Steak from yesterday’s entry.

tomatillo avocado salsa recipe

Deliciously fresh salsa side

Adios! And, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Souper Season: Vegan Butternut & Avocado Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup. Bowl by DG designs

At 10:48am this past Saturday, it began. Fall is officially upon us. Try as you may, you can’t stop the seasons from changing. All you can do is hope against a repeat of 2011’s Snow-Tober and embrace the cooler, darker mornings, the earlier sunsets, the changing leaves and all that comes with fall.

A few positives about the onset of autumn – The return of boots – wrestle them out of their summer hiding places – backs and tops of closets and wear them proudly! Sweaters, fashion tights, football, the NYC Marathon, season premieres of your favorite shows. Oh yes! Fall is filled with wonderful things.

The chill in the air also ignites a desire for sipping, savory soups.

Let me just be honest: a bowl of soup does not a meal make. Those girls in their Manolos and Pashminas who would smile as they popped a head into my office at lunchtime and say: ‘Hey, I’m going to get some soup, wanna come?’ drove me insane. Hot soup is a starter. Cold soup is a pallet cleanser. Neither is a meal.

I don’t care if it’s loaded with rice or pasta or jam packed with vegetables and infused with cream. Soup isn’t a meal. OK, yes when the proportion of protein – beef, chicken or turkey NOT tofu or egg – far outweighs the amount of liquid, it can be a meal. But that’s a stew or a chili – not a soup.

So, to celebrate the season of soup and kick off #SquashWeek….A Souper Starter:

Vegan Butternut & Avocado Squash Soup (serves 4-6)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1. Cut a 3lb Butternut Squash in half and remove the seeds….The 3lbs is a guideline and unless you have a food scale, you may never know how heavy your squash is as under 5lbs generally won’t register on a regular scale. Because I was curious, I stood on my bathroom scale and weighed myself and then weighed myself with the squash – exactly 3lbs. Just lucked out on this.

OK, splitting the squash is the hardest part and requires patience, strength, courage and the right tools….sharp knife and knife resistant glove. These tools do look like murder weapons, but the only thing murdered was the squash I assure you….

Squash Splitting Tools. Not murder weapons…

Butternut Squash hacked in two and de-seeded

2. Drizzle the cut side of the Butternut squash with Olive Oil and a little salt and place cut side down on a rimmed baking dish lined with tin foil

3. Cut an Avocado Squash in half, drizzle the cut side with Olive Oil and salt and put cut side down on the baking dish with the butternut squash

Avocado Squash: purchased at local farmer’s market

NOTE: The avocado squash added another layer of flavor. It’s sweeter and a bit more delicate. The seeds are small, and since I was going to puree the soup, I left them in…

Butternut and Avocado Squash ready for the oven

4. After 30 – 35 minutes, remove the Avocado Squash from the oven and allow to cool.

Avocado Squash Roasted and Ready for Scooping

5. Once cooled scoop out the flesh from the squash and set aside

6. The Butternut squash will take longer to soften – closer to :60 minutes. You will know it’s done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove from oven, allow to cool and then scoop out the flesh and set aside

Butternut Squash, roasted, softened and ready for scoopin

7. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of Olive Oil and then add in two diced shallots and saute until fragrant and softened – about :06 mins

Shallots Sauteing and Softening

8. Add the squash flesh, 1 qt of Vegetable Stock and 1 1/5 tsp of Curry Powder and bring to a boil – I used mild, but you can go as spicy as you like

Bringing the mixture to a boil

9. Reduce to a simmer and cover for :10mins until the squash flesh is broken down

10. Remove from heat and allow to cool for :05 – :10 minutes

11. Working in batches, transfer some of the mixture to a blender and puree. If you like a little chunk in your soup….just chop, don’t puree. Transfer post-blended soup to a new saucepan on the stove and keep over low heat. Repeat until all of the mixture is blended and soup-ified

BE CAREFUL! If the soup is too hot…it will blow the top off of the blender – seriously, let it cool!

Butternut and Avocado Squash Mix in Blender

Butternut and Avocado Mixture to Soup Staging Area

12. Once heated through, garnish with parsley and a drizzle of Olive Oil and serve hot.

NOTE: If you are not Vegan, you can add a dollop of Sour Cream

Fall is here. Celebrate it! And with the dawning of fall, Squashweek has officially begun. So, get some colorful squash from your farmer’s market, grab a sweater, put on those boots, tune in to football or the newest episodes of your favorite TV shows and start any fall meal with this Souper Squash Soup.

No Need to Be Afraid of Vegan Alfredo

Vegan Fusili Alfredo with Roasted Vegetables

We are all afraid of something. I mean, as New Yorkers, we’re afraid of more things than people from other cities – quote ‘Rent’ ‘I’m a New Yorker. Fear’s my life.’ But, everyone is afraid of something.

Some of these fears are totally rational: falling, heights, being buried alive, cockroaches, zombies.

Michael Strahan Kelly Ripa

Pain-O-Phobic Michael Strahan

On Live! With Kelly and Michael, Michael Strahan admitted that he is afraid of needles and, oddly, pain. In spite of the fact that the ex-Giant must have endured great pain and doled some out as well during his football career, Michael Strahan fears pain.

Some people are afraid of things that crawl; mice, rats, gophers, gerbils etc. Some fears are so common that they can draw huge audiences at the box office – Fear of spiders, Arachnophobia. Fear of snakes – Snakes on a Plane. Fear that your house was built on a cemetery where the builder ‘moved the headstones but not the bodies’ : Poltergeist.

It’s amazing where our heads can go in times of great fear. One minute everything is fine and safe, then, a loud noise in the distance and you think ‘Gun fire! Take cover!’ Generally just a car engine backfiring, but, sure, it could have been gun fire.

Scary Evil Witchy Poo

Growing up I was most afraid of Witchy Poo. She was the evil witch on HR Pufnstuf’s television show that ran in reruns on Saturday mornings in our house.

I spent my nights shaking in fear, waking in a pool of sweat from the nightmare of Witchy Poo. I mean, look at her…very scary.

Some fears, however, are less than rational. In California, it’s pretty common to have an awareness and fear of earthquakes – because they happen out there with relative frequency. This is a geographically rational fear.

Earthquakes in New York, however…not so common. We had an earthquake in New York last summer – like summer of 2011. I was home and the building started to just shimmy shake a little. Then, I heard a rattle-y noise and noticed that the handles on my dresser were shaking. I thought it might be an earthquake, but my head went to a completely different place. At that moment, as the rolling 5.8 earthquake rolled through my apartment, shook my floors and rattled the handles on my furniture, I thought….

‘ALIEN INVASION!’…..uhm…What?

Another fear that is not wholly rational is a fear of Vegan cuisine. Last night I went Vegan for no reason and made…

Vegan Fusilli Alfredo with Roasted Vegetables (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

1. Cube 1 medium sized sweet potato and cut the florets from one stalk of broccoli  into bite size pieces. (Note you can save the broccoli stalk for vegetable stock if you so choose.)

SuperFood Sweet Potatoes Cubed

Broccoli

Broccoli Florets in Bite Size Pieces

2. In a bowl, toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper…you can use Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt as well. Just toss enough to lightly coat the veggies.

3. Arrange the vegetables on a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for :20minutes, turning the vegetables about halfway through the roasting. Once the veggies are softened and gently beginning to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Pretty Roasted SuperFoods

4. Once the water is boiling, drop in about 1 cup of fusilli per person. Then season the water generously with salt and a little olive oil.

NOTE: Waiting to add the salt until the water is boiling will help prevent salt stains on the bottom of your pot.

NOW – time to make the sauce…

Vegan Alfredo Sauce Mise En Place

5. While the pasta is boiling…In a food processor, puree 1/4 cup of raw cashews until fine.

Finely Ground Cashews

6. Add in:

  • 1 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 TSP of Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 TSP of Soy Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBSP of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 cup of boiling water from the Pasta Pot
  • 1/2 cup of Almond Milk (at room temperature)

Puree until creamy – you’ll see gentle bubbles of frothiness form. This can take about a minute or so…

Vegan Alfredo Sauce Frothy

7. Drain the pasta, but reserve at least one cup of the pasta water

8. Put the pasta back into the pot over low heat and pour the sauce over it. Stir to combine and heat through. If the sauce is too thick, use the pasta water to thin it just a bit.

9. Once heated through, transfer to a serving bowl and add the vegetables on top. You can also add some sliced cherry tomatoes. Very pretty!

Pretty Vegan Fusilli Alfredo With Veggies

10. Toss and serve. I served with a side of garlic bread and should have served a salad as well…but didn’t.

When I was about 10, I awoke from a dream in which I had witnessed the exile of Witchy Poo. In the dream, the evil witch was sent off to an island in the middle of the ocean. With her in exile, I took back the nights and could finally sleep without fear.

Last night, my guests for Vegan dinner were two cautiously supportive friends. When I served the Vegan Fusilli Alfredo, they each politely took about a spoonful and a half onto their plates. Each smiled through their fear as they went in for the first bite…I waited.

We had a back up plan to order in if the meal proved to be inedible.

‘Wow. It’s actually good.’ One of my friends finally said with surprise breaking the silence and the mystery aura surrounding Vegan cuisine. The other agreed and each helped herself to and finished a real portion of the dish.

I admit…I was skeptical too. I am not a Vegan, but wanted to give this dish a shot. And, I’m glad I did. It was a great, low-calorie option…And, more importantly, I am no longer afraid of Vegan Alfredo.