Veggies Snacks

Cooking with Cathie

editorial@sierrastar.comSeptember 24, 2013 

For some reason (or perhaps for no reason at all), sometimes I find myself wanting to skip full meals and just nibble on some snacks. Not chips, crackers, candy or popcorn snacks, but fruits and vegetables. I am not sure why I am getting like this, but I thought I might share some recipes for anyone else who feels like cutting back on the cooking and serving of big meals. It can be very handy on those days when you've spent most of your time running errands, keeping appointments, etc. On such days, a simple approach to the evening meal can be very welcome. Let's see what's cookin'!


Cauliflower bites with dipping sauce

This is a non-fried version you bake in the oven.

  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 5 cups fresh cauliflower florets with an inch of stalk
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons water

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole wheat flour
  • 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a wide, shallow dish, whisk the egg whites, mustard, water and a couple pinches each of salt and pepper together. In a separate, wide shallow dish combine the panko, bread crumbs, Parmesan and Italian seasoning together.
  3. Dip the florets one at a time by holding onto the stalk end first into the egg mixture allowing excess to drip off then into the bread crumbs twirling them to coat evenly all the way around. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until all are coated. Discard any leftover egg and bread crumb mixtures.
  4. Bake 20 to 26 minutes or until a fork pokes into them easily and the outsides are lightly golden.
  5. To make the sauce, whisk the milk, mustard and flour together in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer whisking often. Reduce heat to low, stir in Cheddar cheese and parsley and continue stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Sweet potato fries

Oven-baked, not really fried. I am leery of cooking anything at this high of a temperature, so when I made these, I kept it at 400 degrees. Just being overly cautious to avoid burning! I get distracted sometimes.

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam
  • Sea salt (coarse), to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper (coarse)
  • Good quality olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450. The potato can be peeled or not. If not peeling, be sure to wash it very well. Before you add the olive oil, make sure the potato is not wet. If the sweet potato has skinny ends, cut those off. If the potato is very large, you may want to cut it in half (not lengthwise).
  2. Take one half of the sweet potato and cut it into large, crosswise slices about 3/4-inch thick. You'll then cut the slices into fries. Your fries should be 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Repeat this process for the other half.
  3. Arrange fries in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides (jelly-roll pan). Sprinkle a good pinch of sea salt over them, and then apply as much freshly ground black pepper as you like. Drizzle fries with olive oil (maybe about 1/8 cup). Mix all together on the baking sheet, being sure to scoop up all the salt and pepper. Before baking, make sure the fries are not piled on top of each other. They will be crisper if they are not even touching each other. Also, you just want the fries to be glossy, and not sitting in a pool of olive oil.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then flip or turn them over with tongs or a spatula. Continue baking for an additional 10 minutes. The resulting fries will be dark brown and crispy, but if you prefer them a lighter color, just don't bake them as long.

Tips: These will not turn out very crispy at all if you're cooking anything else in the oven, or if the fries are crowded too close together. They'll sweat instead of crisp. Also, a lighter colored baking sheet is preferable so they won't brown too fast. Feel free to cut them smaller and cook them for less time - 10 minutes for the first side and 8 for the second works well for thinner fries.


Chickpea salad

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked and rinsed (or canned ones, drained)
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • Handful dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shelled, fresh edamame

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In bowl, toss chickpeas, bell pepper, carrot, cranberries and edamame. In another bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  2. Pour dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss well. Cover and marinade overnight. Serve cold. Makes 4 servings.

Spinach pinwheels

I like to add some coarsely chopped marinated artichoke hearts and roasted garlic to this recipe.

  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Puff pastry sheet (can use frozen and thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 package (10-oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  1. Heat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable spray. In a medium-sized bowl stir together the Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan, chopped green onions, garlic powder and sea salt.
  2. Prepare a work area by sprinkling it with flour. Lay out the pastry on the floured surface. Stir together the melted butter and milk and brush mixture over the top of the pastry sheet, reserving some for the slices.
  3. Next, spread the cheese mixture over the buttered pastry sheet. Add the well-drained chopped spinach over the cheese mixture.
  4. Begin at the side closest to you, and roll the pastry sheet like you would roll cinnamon rolls. Use a serrated knife to cut 1/2-inch slices. Place sliced pieces on the prepared pan and brush the sliced pieces with the remaining butter mixture.
  5. Bake slices in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pinwheels are a nice golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving warm.

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