Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie {Recipe ReDux}

When I say PIE, you say…

Shepherd’s Pie (??)

To be honest, I’ve never actually had Shepherd’s Pie until today, but when the ladies of Recipe ReDux tasked us with showing our “Pie Love,” I wanted to go savory. And that’s where Shepherd’s Pie comes in.

I have been taking more of a paleo approach to my eating as of late, and eating more healthy fats and less carbohydrates. Most importantly, though, I’ve been trying to cut sugary foods out of my diet. At one point in my life, I was very addicted to sugar, and felt that I had to have dessert after every meal, with my snacks and really any time I could get my hands on sweets. While I still like sweeter foods, I’ve been working to cut junk out of my diet and eat real foods — e.g. fruit instead of cookies and donuts. I found that when I stopped eating a low fat/high carb diet and learned to embrace healthy fats, my sugar cravings naturally improved.

Thus, this is less of a traditional “pie” and more of a meal that you can eat time and time again, switching up the protein, seasoning, or mash (in this case, an amazing sweet potato-parsnip mash that is delicious in its own right).

mediterranean_shepherds_pie

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie (Gluten-Free, Paleo)

Grass-fed lamb adds a delicious flavor, and is pure perfection when combined with the natural sweetness of raisins and the freshness of mint, then topped with a delicious sweet potato-parsnip mash. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed lamb
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potato and parsnips well and cut into ~1/2″ cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, and roast (I roasted mine in a cast iron skillet) for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Add roasted sweet potato and parsnips to a food processor, add butter (it should melt from the heat of the roasted vegetables) and process 2-3 minutes. Add beef stock and seasoning (cumin, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper) and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  4. In an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the lamb and saute until the cooked through. Add in the canned tomatoes and raisins and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Turn the heat off, and stir in the mint. Level out the lamb mixture.
  6. Spread the sweet potato-parsnip mash in a thin layer over the lamb, making sure the mash reaches the sides of the skillet. If desired, use a fork to make a design or write a message in the mash. Sprinkle the green onions around the outside of the skillet and press them into the mash slightly.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.

paleo_shepherds_pie

This is a great dish to make when you’re having company (a set and forget kind of thing) or as a part of meal prep, for a satisfying dish that will last you the whole week! Serve with green veggies, such as sauteed green beans or spinach, and you have yourself a complete meal!

For more PIE LOVE, click the link below!

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Mediterranean Cremini Mushroom Tacos with Tahini Sauce {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Post}

Mmm, umami.

What is umami you ask? It’s the fifth, and often unrecognized, type of taste bud. It’s the taste bud that senses savory deliciousness (and my personal favorite of all the tastes). Examples of umami-rich foods include meat/seafood, tomatoes, cheese — especially Parmesan, seaweed, soy, potatoes and of course, MUSHROOMS!

So imagine my excitement when I discovered that the folks at the Mushroom Council were sponsoring this month’s Recipe ReDux. They challenged us to use their “Trend to Blend” technique to either blend chopped, diced or minced mushrooms in place of at least half of the meat in a recipe using their blendability technique (you should seriously check it out, it’s genius!). Or, we had the option to forgo the meat altogether and make a purely vegetarian dish.

After some serious pondering, I took the latter route.

mushroom_tacos1

Side note: if you, too, love mushrooms, you can enter your own recipe in the Mushroom Council’s “Swap It or Top It” contest. Just submit your favorite burger recipe that either uses the blendability technique described above, swaps out meat completely for mushrooms or your favorite burger recipe topped with a delicious mushroom creation. The Mushroom Council is giving some top-notch prizes, like $5,000 cashola to the Grand Prize Winner. Not too shabby!

Besides delicious umami flavor, mushrooms are packed with nutrition. They’re low in calories (20 calories for 5 medium sized shrooms!), fat-free, cholesterol-free (that one’s kind of a no-brainer), low in sodium and also provide important nutrients, mainly selenium, potassium, vitamin D and more.

For vegans and vegetarians, mushrooms are a great way to bring some umami (read: satisfying) flavor back into meals. And for the meat-eaters, myself included, mushrooms can help you switch up your meals a bit (meatless Mondays, anyone?). I promise you won’t even miss the meat on these bad boys.

Recipe: Mediterranean Cremini Mushroom Tacos with Tahini Sauce

The tahini sauce is a perfect complement to lend creamy deliciousness without the use of dairy/animal products. You can find pre-made tahini sauce (Trader Joe’s has a new one that I’m OBSESSED with), or make your own as I did below by blending tahini (sesame paste) with lemon juice and garlic. A third option would be to top with hummus.

Mediterranean_Mushroom_Tacos

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Mushroom Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Yield: 4 tacos

Ingredients:

For mushroom blend:

  • 1, 10 oz. package Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed using a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For tacos:

  • Sauteed mushroom blend (ingredients above)
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4 corn tacos

Directions:

For mushroom blend:

  1. Wash mushrooms well and dice using a chef’s knife.
  2. Heat 2 cloves minced garlic in 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil for one minute.
  3. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add turmeric, basil, cumin, pepper and salt to mushrooms and saute an additional 1-2 minutes.

For tacos:

  1. Mix 1 clove minced garlic with lemon juice and tahini to form the tahini sauce.
  2. Heat corn tortillas in microwave for 15-20 seconds, until soft and pliable.
  3. Place 1/4 of the mushroom blend on each tortilla.
  4. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers and 1/4 of tahini sauce mixture.

mushrooms

Mushrooms all diced and ready to go into a saute pan…

diced_mushrooms

Sauteeing away — see how the turmeric gives the blend a gorgeous golden color?!

sauteed_mushrooms

In goes the mushroom blend…

mushrooms_tortillas

Then the tomatoes and cucumbers…

mushroom_tacos

Finish it off with delicious tahini sauce…

Mediterranean_Mushroom_Tacos

Check out more delicious ways that Recipe ReDuxers used mushrooms by following the link below!

Mediterranean Lamb Tacos with Tzatziki Sauce {Gluten-Free}

Let’s be honest. I didn’t make this recipe for the lamb, though I was pretty excited to find 100 percent pasture-raised ground lamb at Whole Foods. Nor did I make it for the mint. Or to have a new take on tacos.

Nope. It’s all about the tzatziki sauce (pronounced sat’ziki for those of you that have never quite known how to say it).

Hot damn I love that stuff. Made from Greek yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice and not much else, it’s delicious as a topping, dip, dressing or to just eat straight out of the bowl. It’s also ridiculously easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients already on hand. Here I used it in place of sour cream for Mediterranean-style tacos.

You can also enjoy this recipe as a salad, which I did.

Lamb_Taco_Salad

Mediterranean Lamb Tacos with Tzatziki Sauce

These tacos are a perfect way to change up taco night with a Mediterranean twist. You could easily make them with ground turkey or chicken, or make them vegetarian by using crumbled tofu or tempeh in place of meat. The fresh mint really adds to the dish, so don’t skimp.

Makes: 6 tacos (feeds 2-3 people)

Ingredients:

For tzatziki sauce:

  • 2 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt, preferably organic (non-fat Greek yogurt would also work)
  • 1 cucumber, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For tacos:

  • 1 pound pasture-raised (AKA grass-fed) ground lamb
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 small corn tortillas (like El Milagro)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Garnishes of choice, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kale/greens and olives (choose your favorites!)

Mediterranean_Taco_Garnishes

Directions:

Mix all tzatziki sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the rest of the dish.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground lamb to the pan and cook, mixing constantly, until the meat is browned. Stir in ground pepper.

Heat corn tortillas in the microwave for 25-30 seconds (you can also pan-fry them according to the package directions, but microwaving is so much easier). Assemble tacos using garnishes of choice and cooked lamb. Top with tzatziki sauce and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint.

 

What other taco variations do you enjoy?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Yes, prosciutto and chicken on Good Friday…I never claimed to be a good Catholic. This recipe was inspired by a recent dinner at State in Chicago. On Fridays, every menu item is $5.99! Plus they have 100 beers on tap (or close to it). Naturally, my boyfriend Dan and I are pretty obsessed (even though it’s a total DePaul/college bar). He ordered their Stuffed Chicken
(marinated chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, Medjool dates, goat cheese, organic grain rice, seasonal vegetables, spicy plum sauce). It was [obviously] delicious – I mean bacon and goat cheese! How could it not be delicious?

I am eternally searching for new chicken recipes, so the idea of stuffing a chicken breast got me thinking. And this entree included many of my favorite flavors. So, here’s my take on State’s entree. It’s lower in fat and calories because I used WAY less oil than State uses. Plus, thinly sliced prosciutto is lighter (and fancier) than bacon. Enjoy!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Goat_Cheese_Date_Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz)
  • 1 (6 oz) log goat cheese
  • 6 dates, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil for one minute in medium-sized pan. Add minced shallots and saute for 3-5 minutes, until shallots are trasnparent. In bowl, combine shallots, goat cheese and chopped dates.

Using a sharp knife, cut a one inch slit (horizontally) into the thick side of each chicken breast. Use your fingers to loosen the slit. Stuff 1/4 of the cheese/date/shallot mixture into each chicken breast. Wrap each chicken breast with one slice of prosciutto (be careful handling the prosciutto…it’s very delicate). Sprinkle with pepper and bake in preheated oven about 40 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

 

I served mine with sweet potato “hash” (cubed sweet potato sauteed with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika) and kale chips (a favorite).

 

 

 

Mediterranean Salmon with Olives and Carmelized Red Onions

Looking back at my previous posts, they were looking a little too vegetarian/vegan. It’s time to put some meat on ‘dem bones blog! I realize salmon isn’t meat (fret not…there will be more meat-centered posts to come), however it is an excellent source of protein along with providing omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides, regulate heart rate, slow the formation of plaque in our arteries and may help decrease blood pressure. On top of all that, they also work to inhibit inflammatory processes in our body (AKA they are anti-inflammatory).

The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3 rich fish at least twice a week (8 ounces per week), but I personally recommend eating it more than that. With lots of delicious omega-3-rich fish to choose from, plus endless preparation possibilities, why not? The way I look at it, salmon and vegetarian proteins should be your main protein sources, with poultry as a supplement and the occasional red meat thrown in. Here are some of my top picks for delicious seafood options (all are high in omega-3’s and the varieties listed are also the most sustainable):

  • Salmon (wild-caught Alaskan): Canned varieties can easily be made into a salmon cake, salmon salad or drizzled with olive oil and eaten with crackers, as-is.
  • Sardines (wild-caught, Pacific): all I am saying, is give sardines a chance. Really! There’s a tendency to give me the stink face when I mention sardines but I promise, they’re delicious! Try ones that are smoked and served in tomato or my favorite – cayenne pepper sauce. Serve over arugula or spinach for a quick dinner salad.
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed, U.S.): I find an amazing, local variety from Wisconsin at Whole Foods. It comes as a filet that I usually stuff with veggies and sometimes cheese and bake in the oven.
  • Tuna (light, skipjack, troll- or pole-caught): canned chunk light tuna (skipjack variety) is lower in mercury than chunk white tuna and also makes for a super-quick protein addition to lunch or dinner. I like it mixed with salsa and a little olive oil topped with diced avocado on a corn tortilla (add cilantro and lime for a little freshness).

For a list of the most sustainable seafood options, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guides. I LOVE their app and it makes me feel way less dorky to look something up on my iPhone rather than having to pull out a little paper brochure.

salmon_mediterranean

Though my go-to salmon preparation is salmon with Island Teriyaki sauce from Trader Joe’s, served with brown rice or quinoa and steamed broccoli (for sure would be my last meal), I wanted to venture out. Seeing that I like to cook with Mediterranean flavors, I created this recipe for Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions:

Ingredients: 

  • 16 oz wild Alaskan salmon, cut into 4, 4-ounce pieces. 
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Spread 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste over each piece of salmon and spray with cooking spray. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes, or until opaque and flaky.

salmon_tomato_paste

Used the tomato paste tube from TJ’s – hence the squiggles of tomato paste.

While salmon is baking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large sauté pan and add diced red onion.  Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until onions are carmelized. If desired, add 1 tsp sugar to the onions to bring out their sweetness. Mix red onions with chopped green olives.

Place 1 1/2 cups arugula on plate (I also had leftover black lentils, which I sprinkled on top of the arugula) and top with salmon filet. Spoon 1/4 of the onion/olive mixture over salmon, and drizzle with vinegar and oil.

Go Med! Easy and Delicious Recipes – Mediterranean Style

Being half Armenian, I have grown up with and absolutely love Mediterranean food. All of the delicious seafood and cheeses plus a veggie and nut focus – fantastic. Even better, a Mediterranean diet (with a vegetable, bean/legume, seafood and nuts/oil focus) is chalk-full of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats (unsaturated fat from the oils and nuts and omega-3s from the seafood).

The problem is, the term “Mediterranean diet,” is quite ambiguous, making the diet difficult to follow. Alas, the Huffington Post put out some great (45 altogether!) recipes to transform Mediterranean ingredients into delicious dishes. Check them out here. The post is actually from last winter but the light and veggie-filled dishes are great for the summer.

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Ain’t she a beaut??

With my tomato and basil plants thriving (not a small feat, seeing that I’m growing them on my mostly shaded patio), I am ready to create some of these recipes – and probably tweak them a little along the way!