The Sensitive Kitchen

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto

3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
Salt and pepper
2 medium bunches cilantro
1 Tbsp roasted garlic oil, chili oil or olive oil
3/4 cup water, as needed

In a food processor, mince garlic. Add pepitas; process until finely ground. Add cilantro in bunches, twisting to remove woody stems. Top with spices. Process until ground. Add oil, then, with motor running, drizzle in water until pesto reaches desired consistency. Store in a lidded jar. Makes 1 cup.

Confetti Quesadillas

Made without the shrimp, these colorful quesadillas are just as delicious.

1/2 tsp canola or olive oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 medium zucchini, diced
6 ozs shrimp, shelled, deveined and diced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
4 Tbsp Cilantro Pesto
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded low-fat Mexican cheese blend

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red onion; saute until translucent. Add spices, stirring. Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes. Add corn; cook 2 minutes. Add zucchini and shrimp; cook 1 minute or until shrimp is pink and zucchini is tender. Stir in cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and remove confetti to a bowl.

Construct quesadillas as follows: Spread 1 tortilla with 1 Tbsp pesto. Sprinkle on 3 Tbsp cheese. Add 1/4 of confetti. Sprinkle with another 3 Tbsp cheese, then top with another tortilla, pressing firmly. Repeat to make 3 more quesadillas. Cook in a warm skillet until cheese is melted and tortillas are browned. Serves 4 adults.

Buttermilk Balsamic Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
4 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp basil, crushed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Blend together until smooth and transfer to a sealable glass bottle. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per tablespoon: 10 Cal (28% from Fat); 0 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 0 g Mono Fat; 2 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 14 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 43 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

Shifting sands

The last five years have been difficult for me as a cook, an epicurean and a mother. Faced with my children's multiple food intolerances, and an existing vegetarian background my husband and I were unwilling to abandon, I found myself eliminating entire categories of food from my diet: dairy, soy, peanut.

This blog began as a way to chronicle the incredible freedom still to be found within such a limited diet. Or, as I once heard someone say: "I may be in a very tiny box, but I'm going to explore every corner of it." But now my younger daughter is two, and my older is almost five; and they have both outgrown the majority of those intolerances - and I am reveling in my culinary freedom.

During Sara's pregnancy I also learned so much about how my body works. I wouldn't say I was gestationally diabetic, but if I hadn't controlled my diet (fewer sugars and processed carbs, more protein and vegetables), I could have ended up so. Now, two-plus years later, I am discovering that my body seems to work this way in general. I feel healthier eating a higher-protein, low-fat, restricted-sugar diet.

Vegetarianism doesn't always jibe with this diet for me. I find myself uncomfortable eating on a regular basis many of the processed soy-protein options, let alone feeding them to my children. But I need to watch my glycemic load. And so I find myself in the curious position of experimenting with eating fish and shellfish again.

In a sense, this makes me the family pariah. My husband and children still won't touch it, and my older child peppers me with questions whenever she finds me eating fish (who killed it? how did it die? did it hurt the fish? how do they take the bones/eyes/gills/etc out? where's the blood? and so on). But I feel better, at least physically; and so the experiment continues.