Zucchini “cannelloni” with kohlrabi filling and red pepper sauce

I made this raw vegan dish after hosting a dinner, having some leftover lemon basil pesto and myself feeling really “heavy” with all the cooking and also eating and drinking…. So the next day I really wanted to have a very light dinner and also making good use of my leftover. Raw vegan pasta reminiscent dishes use a certain vegetable that can be cut into the shape of the original pasta. In this case green summer squash, aka zucchini replaced canneloni. Or lay it down and call it ravioli. The filling was finely chopped kochlrabi marinated in the lemon basil pesto. Then rolled up and sat on a bed of pepper sauce.

This recipe yields for 2, it is your date night dinner 🙂

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Ingredients (yields 2 portions)

  • 2 smaller green and/or yellow summer squash (zucchini) (sliced on mandolin into 1-2mm thickness)
  • 1 medium size or 2 small kohlrabi (chopped into smal cubes)
  • salt, pepper, olive oil
  • to garnish and serve: finely chopped pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, micro greens, edible flowers, garlic blossoms

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For the lemon basil pesto

  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemoon
  • 1 red thai chili minced well (or chili flakes)
  • 1-2 tsp nutritional yeast

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For the red pepper sauce

  • 1 red california pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/3 cup of soaked cashew
  • olive oil, salt, black pepper

Instructions

  1. Start making the lemon basil pesto. Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix them well.
  2. Chop the kohlrabi, season with salt and pepper and mix into the pesto. This will be the filling in the canneloni.
  3. Blend all the ingredients of the pepper sauce in Vitamix or other high power blender.
  4. Slice zucchini on mandolin about 2 mm thickness. Season lightly with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Set them on a sheet for a few minutes to marinate. This will also help the zucchini soften up a bit, make it easier to digest.
  5. For plating spoon some pepper sauce in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Roll up zucchini, place on top of the sauce and fill with the kohrabi lemon basil pesto. If you can only lay them, like an original canelloni dish, that is fine too. Sprinkle with chopped or ground pine nut/ pumpkin seeds. I really liked it with the pumpkin seeds.
  6. Decorate your plate with micro greens, herbs and edible blossoms.

ENJOY!

 

Plum financier

Next to the madeleine, the financier is probably the most popular little French cake, common street food for morning or afternoon snacking. The cake’s name probably comes from the fact that a financier resembles a solid gold brick. Curiously, as popular as they are, financiers seldom appear in recipe books or in French literature.

The secret to a good financier is in the baking: For a good crust, they must begin baking in a very hot oven. Then the temperature is reduced to keep the interior moist. Placing the molds on a thick baking sheet while they are in the oven is an important baking hint from the Left Bank pastry chef Jean-Luc Poujauran, who worked for months to perfect his financiers, which are among the best in Paris.” – Epicurious

My version has plums in it, because I need to use those beautiful, flavorful market plums and it is such a great fruit when it starts baking. And it goes so perfectly with the almond taste of these little cute financiers.

You can of course experiment with any kind of fruits but make sure the one you choose will not release too much juice, and ruins the texture of the financier.

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Ingredients for 9 financiers

  • 3 1/4 oz unsalted butter, plus some extra for greasing the tin
  • 4 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 10 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 plums, each sliced into 8 slivers, sprinkled with cinnamon and golden cane sugar if very tart (you will have a few slivers left)
  • icing sugar and toasted almond to serve

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Instructions

  1. Prepare a muffin tin with at least 9 holes and grease them very well with butter. This will help in developing a nice crust on the outside of your petit financier.
  2. Melt butter completely and transfer into a small bowl and let it cool a little bit.
  3. In a bowl mix egg whites and almond extract. Don’t have to whip the egg whites, just mix properly.
  4. In another bowl add flour, almond flour, sugar and pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add egg whites to the dry mixture, mixing well.
  6. Gradually pour in the melted butter, mixing constantly, to achieve pancake batter texture.      TIP      I suggest to have some extra melted butter and almond flour by hand in case you need to adjust batter. In baking the variables are endless, and anything that works at sea level in my dry kitchen with my home grounded almond flour, will very well may not be exactly the same in your home!
  7. Pour butter in muffin tin, filling each hole only to 1/3. You want some pretty short financiers.
  8. Arrange 3-4 plum slivers in each one.
  9. Start baking in a hot oven, around 410 F. Bake only for 8 minutes, keeping an eye on it. If you see any quick browning around the edge, turn the heat down.
  10. After 8 minutes turn the temperature to 320F and finish baking. From this point they will need around 8 more minutes.

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You can serve the financiers warm, with a little bit of caramelized plum and tarragon sauce on the side. If you wish so, here is my version. Don’t be scared of combining plum and tarragon. It is a really great match! If it is really new for you, add just a little tarragon first, and taste after a bit of cooking and you will see if you like the combination and if you want to add more of this fragrant herb.

Ingredients for caramelized plum and tarragon sauce

  • 1 pound of black plum, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup of golden cane sugar
  • 1/2 lemon – juiced
  • chopped tarragon – according to your taste, I suggest 1 tablespoon

Instrucions

  1. Sprinkle sugar evenly in a thick bottom pan. Put on medium heat and without stirring let it melt and then caramelized. Be careful, not to burn it!
  2. Once it is caramelized, add plums and lemon juice and give it a stir.
  3. Once starts bubbling, reduce heat, add tarragon and start cooking without lid on.
  4. Cook it to a texture you want, depending on whether you want to have chunks of plum or you want it more sauce-y.
  5. Taste at some point and add more lemon juice or tarragon if needed.

 

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Summery spinach and herb gnudi

 

Last year I attended a farm to table bootcamp at the Culinary Institute of America, in St Helena, Napa Valley. It was a really great experience that taught me a lot about sustainable farming and wine making. I also got to spend every day at the CIA kitchen, cooking farm fresh, California produce driven dishes. Coming out of this program I have a definite favorite recipe that I am ready to share with you. I have cooked it so many times and each and every time I am totally in love with the flavors. I always make it with roasted tomato beurre blanc but I realize this might be a bit too much of work for most of you. Hence, I came up with my own recipe that allows you to make it quicker and achieve a very similar taste. Also this recipe uses lardons. If you want to keep the dish vegetarian just remove the lardons and use some very strong, good quality smoked salt and it will bring  some smoky flavor to the plate 🙂

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First you will make a dough for the gnudi with sauteed spinach and fresh herbs, then cook the corn and roast the tomatoes. Before serving fry some lardons and sage in butter, cook the gnudi and transfer everything into a skillet.

Ingredients (yields 4)

  • 1 cup of blanched, chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp of mixed chopped fines herbs  (chive, parsley, chevril)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour (and some more for the rolling)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 2 corns
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup lardon (smoked thick bacon)
  • cold butter
  • 10-15 sage leaves both chiffonaded and in whole
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt, black pepper

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 Instructions

  • Blanch the spinach in boiling, heavily salted water for just a few seconds. Immediately transfer into a big bowl of iced water, to stop cooking and retain color. Drain and squeeze out all the water. Then chop the spinach very well.
  • Chop some chive, parsley and chevril to have enough of at least 3 teaspoon of chopped herbs. More is better.
  • In a big bowl mix 2 egg yolks, ricotta, chopped spinach and herbs, parmesan and season with salt and black pepper. Let it rest in the fridge until you are ready with the remaining components.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish (so you can save the juice), drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt. Roast the tomatoes at 450F until they start to fall apart. Be careful not to over roast, so they are still juicy!
  • Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the corns. Rinse them with cold water and keep them in warm water. When you are ready to use it, cut the corns off the kernels.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter and lardons in a skillet and pan roast the lardons . Add the sage and the minced shallot and sautee them for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it, not the burn the onions. Add the cherry tomatoes and when everything is very hot, add the vinegar and make sure you keep it on high heat and carefully stirring for a minute, to cook down the vinegar a touch. Finally add the corn kernels that you cut off the corn.

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  • In the meantime bring salted water to a boil for cooking the gnudi.
  • Place the gnudi dough on a very well floured surface. Divide it into 3-4 manageable portions. Roll each mixture into a rope shape, (about 1 inch in diameter) adding as much flour as needed to be able to JUST work with it! Not more because you will end up with a hard, chewy, floury gnudi.
  • Dust your hands with flour and start cutting the gnudis with a bench knife (about 3/4 inch long). You can transfer the gnudi from the floured board in the boiling water.
  • Cook gnudi for 2-3 minutes. They will come to surface very quickly, you will need to cook a bit more than that.
  • Drain the cooked gnudi and immediately transfer into the skillet with the warm sage lardon mix. Add tomatotes and corn kernels. Carefully mix everything so it covered fully in the sage butter and also some juice that the cherry tomatoes are releasing.
  • Serve with fresh, tiny herb leaves of sage and chevril and/or chopped chives.

ENJOY!

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