Artisanal Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Chip Sandwich

(Photos by Shashank Jain)
6 Ingredients and one delicious sandwich! Why? Simple ingredients are treated right! The crunchy kale chips with the roasted (extra-virgin olive oil infused) cauliflower makes this recipe so delightful. One day I had a large head of cauliflower, I was not quite sure what to do with it. Of course, it sparked an idea of why not a sandwich? Almost anything goes really well in between two delicious slices of bread. I realized the subtle flavors will go well together.  I also had a nice batch of kale chips that I had made a day before. It is such a kid-friendly sandwich because its so difficult for kids to eat raw or sautéed kale (Adults alike). However, Kale chips are just fun and delicious and take away the fact that you are actually eating a super-food. Whynotspicy blog as I had mentioned earlier was not to create heat in your meals but to create a composed flavorful dish. Some of my previous dishes such paneer in béchamel sauce or sweet and savory stuffed biscuits were not spice heavy dishes. However, the flavors came together and created a whirlwind of happiness. This one is similar to that idea. I am quite tolerant of heat and I am also a collector of the world's hottest sauces and spices but that is not required everywhere. Especially not in this.
This was a great Sunday lunch for us and so easy to make. I know for sure that I impressed my sandwich-obsessed husband with this treat

1 Cup of Kale Chips (Follow recipe)
1/2 Head of Cauliflower (Chopped into small florets)
4 ounces of Parmesan Cheese (Thin slices peeled)
2 Artisinal Fresh Whole Wheat Bun
4 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a baking sheet place the cauliflower florets.
3) Pour Olive oil over it and mix well.
4) Sprinkle some salt and pepper and place in the oven.
5) Will take 30-40 minutes to be tender, flip a couple of times in between.
6) Cut the artisanal bun and lather with mayonnaise on both sides.
7) Carefully place the roasted cauliflower and kale chips with the shredded parmesan.

Bon Appetite!


The World of Avocado Toasts

What is this new hype? Avocado? Yes, a fruit that in the recent years has been well popularized in the United States. It has been incorporated in various menu items in franchised restaurants such as Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain etc.  I ask, why shouldn't it be? Its nutritious and delicious. Usually a combination that is not found together. Many times I have heard the saying that it is "nature's butter" and it surely deserves that title when being so creamy.
About 15 years ago it started as a rarely eaten fruit (yes its a fruit!) and now is part of the usual grocery list for east and west coast combined.
It is surely a crowd-pleaser...blah, blah, blah. We have all had it at many get togethers in the form of store-bought guacamole or in a salad. But do you dare to serve your guests an avocado toast? Of course we will fancy it up a bit and in this recipe it will be in four different forms but still different than our traditional appetizers. Place a name tag in front of each individual toast and voila you have a created a fancy appetizer. No one will know how easy it actually is to create. This recipe requires three ripened (not too mushy) avocados.
Please use artisinal bread it will surely elevate any average joe toast. The avocadoes will be cut 4 different ways as seen in the above picture. Cubed (1/2 inch x 1/2 inch), Horizontal 2 inch slices, mashed and two large (2inch x 3 inch) slices.
I am really writing this recipe for my friend Chryssa who asked ever so innocently how to use avocados. Surely her question invogorated my wild recipe side. Today, you are seeing a few examples of how to use fresh avocadoes however this will not be the last of it and you can blame my friend for it.
Now, being in Endocrinology I have to mention avocado is a great source of good fats but also is high in calories. Eating half a medium avocado can give you up to 200 calories. Therefore mindfully eat them!
I served up these appetizers when my parents came over for dinner. They were so pleased and it was such a dinner conversation starter on who will try which type of avocado toast. It was a great time and surely the chief guest was the avocado. Follow the recipes listed below and you are not going to be disappointed.

Greek-style Avocado Toast
1/4 red onion (Finely chopped)
1/4 cup low-fat crumbled feta cheese
Good quality 5-6 black olives (Chopped)
3 Sprigs of Parsley (Chopped)
1/2 Medium Avocado (Sliced in 1 inch horizontal slices)
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
4 Slices of Artisinal Bread (Your choice)

-In a separate bowl combine onion, olives and parsley.
-Whisk together honey and olive oil in a small bowl and mix into the above-mentioned combination.
-Place 3-4 slices of avocado on your bread slices neatly.
-Carefully place the above mix on top of the avocado.
-Top with some fresh feta cheese.

Dominican Style Avocado Toast
1 Plantain (Green) cut into thin slices
1 Dried Chipotle pepper (Chopped)
1/2 Avocado (Cubed)-1/2 inch x 1/2 inch
2 Teaspoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 Slices of Sliced Artisinal Bread

-On a skillet on medium heat, pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
-When oil appears to be heated, carefully place the plaintain slices.
-Cook 1-2 minutes on each side of the slices or until appearing golden-brown and then flip over.
-When both sides are cooked, remove from heat and placed in a plate with a paper towel covering the plate (This will soak up the excessive oil).
-On the sliced bread, place 3-4 slices of the cooked plaintain
-Top with avocado and sprinkle chipotle pepper and salt

Mango-Red Pepper Avocado Toast
-1 Unripened Mango (chopped into cubes)
-1/2 Avocado (Coarsely Mashed)
-1/2 Red Onion (Chopped)
-1 Teaspoon Cumin
-1 Teaspoon Honey
-1 Teaspoon of crushed red pepper
-2-3 Sprigs of Cilantro
-4 Slices of Artisinal Bread

-In a separate bowl, combine the unripened mangoes, onion, cumin, honey, crushed red pepper.
-On sliced bread, carefully  lather the mashed avocadoes.
-Top with the mango mixture and add some fresh cilantro on each toast.

Goat-Cheese Pistachio Avocado Toast
-Fresh Goat Cheese into 1inch round slices (4 ounces)
-1/8 cup of Dried Cranberries
-1/8 Chopped Pistachios
-4 slices of Artisinal Bread
-Avocado (Large slices)

-Place two large slices of avocado on each slice of bread.
-Place three slices of fresh goat cheese on top of the avocado.
-Carefully stick the cranberries and pistachios on the goat cheese (They stick well on top).

Bon Appetite!


Cuban Gluten-Free Breakfast

Who knew five ingredients could bring together such a beauty! This recipe goes out to all people who want to eat gluten free for breakfast and still want the same satisfaction that comes from a warm toast. This meal is not only delicious but high in protein and complex carbohydrates. My favorite part surely is when the yolk breaks into the spicy black beans. The spinach brings together the fresh balance to this recipe.

The black beans that I used were Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans which makes the whole breakfast process so much easier since it already contains the seasoning. A touch of ketchup brings in the perfect sweetness and crushed red pepper is the final kick.

For anyone who works early hours it becomes hard to have breakfast at home. If something takes more than 15 minutes to make in the morning then it will likely not happen for most of us (I am guilty too!). The reason this recipe works so well is because its the least amount of ingredients, maximal flavor and under 15 minutes to create.

However, nothing is better than the fact that a serving of this recipe is only 365 calories. Not only do you start off your day with a meal that I would label "delish" but you have not digressed off your diet plan. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Can of Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans
2 Tablespoons of Ketchup
2 Teaspoons of Crushed Red Pepper
2 Cups of Spinach (Sauteed)
2 Eggs

1) Heat a skillet on the stove on medium heat.
2) Pour in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
3) When the oil appears heated, add in the cuban black beans.
4) Pour in the ketchup and mix well and then sprinkle in the crushed red pepper.
5) Heat a separate non-stick skillet on medium heat.
6) Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and when it appears heated, crack an egg into the pan.
7) If the oil starts to spit up then it would be too hot and the heat can be lowered.
8) Cook until the egg white portion appears set yet still runny.
9) In a plate, place the sauteed spinach in the center and then place the cuban black beans surrounding it.
10)Top with the sunny side egg and enjoy your breakfast!

Serving Size: 2

Bon Appetite!!


Rosemary Infused Lentil Polenta with Sweet Pea Puree

This vegetarian receipe is quite a delight and provides a full fine dining experience. Polenta is classically known as a starch to a protein however this recipe is a full meal with lentils incorporated within the polenta in addition to vegetables.
A vegan/vegetarian can have a hard time finding the complete fine dining experience in Las Vegas (Including me!). Wynn Las Vegas
and Tal Ronnen have teamed up to create a vegan menu for their diners so that anyone visiting their hotel can have the finest culinary experience despite their dietary limitations.  This recipe is a twist to one of their menu options that I was challenged to take up.

This dish is simple however the layers of flavors are unbelievable. The star of this dish is definitely rosemary which is infused subtly through the sweet pea puree and the polenta.

Lentils and spinach are incorporated in the polenta and with every bite of the polenta you will taste the admixture of lentils. The saltiness of the dish is from the parmesan cheese that is shredded on top. The pea puree brings the entire dish together with its sweetness.
Polenta is a side in many restaurants as a starch to steak or any other protein. It is almost never considered as a main dish. The protein from the lentils and parmesan cheese makes this dish into a main course. The iron from the peas and lentil adds to additional health benefits of the dish.

For the lentils I used steamed lentil that are readily available at Trader Joe's. It will not only make your life easier but they are perfectly cooked. I have started to make polenta with other proteins for dinner and it is an excellent lower carbohydrate alternative to rice or pasta. This dish is also gluten-free for people closely watching the gluten in their diet.
My husband who I would definitely consider a picky eater was quite pleased with this dish and went for seconds. I am a big believer in spice and for sure rosemary lives up to its name here. I would definitely consider this a successful lunch date!

1 3/4 Cup Cornmeal
1 1/2 Cup Steamed Trader Joe's Lentils
3 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Teaspoons of Salt
6 Cups of Water
1 Cup of Fresh Ready to Cook Spinach
3-4 Sprigs of Rosemary (Removed from Stem)
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
1/2 Cup Finely Shredded Parmesan

Sweet Pea Puree
1 Cup of Peas
1/4 Cup Low-Fat Milk
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 Cup Water
3-4 Sprigs of Rosemary

1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
2. Sprinkle in two teaspoons of salt
3. Slowly pour in the cornmeal into the boiling water and whisk the mixture continuously.
4. Continue to stir for 10 minutes on low heat.
5. Slowly add in the steamed lentil and continue to whisk
6. Drop in the fresh spinach and whisk for another 2 minutes.
7. In a separate bowl, melt salted butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and then add in rosemary and thyme.
8. Before removing the polenta from the stove, pour in the rosemary & thyme infused butter and whisk in.
9. Pour the hot polenta into a large square pan and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
10. For the sweet pea puree, in a blender add in all the above ingredients and puree for 2-3 minutes (or until the mixture is homogenous).
11. When the polenta has cooled off, cut into 2x 2 inch squares and place on a baking sheet.
12. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
13. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh rosemary and drizzle the sweet pea puree. Serve Immediately!

Bon Appetite!!https://www.flickr.com/photos/shankypics/17100395278/in/dateposted-public/https://www.flickr.com/photos/shankypics/17100395278/in/dateposted-public/


Paneer in Cardamom Bechamel Sauce

This recipe truly came to me on the fly. I had been thinking of using up some left over paneer for a few days. In the meantime, my husband who was on a hard cardiology rotation said he was coming home a few hours earlier than expected. I realized he was probably super hungry and I wanted to make something delicious but quickly made. Somehow in the randomness of mind,  I was thinking of Bechamel sauce. I know that really does not go with an Indian cheese such as paneer but with a fusion of flavors it worked perfectly. This sauce was delicate and with layers of flavor and became my instant favorite recipes. Usually homemade or restaurant Indian food has "in-the-face"spice so I would say this is definitely something different from the usual Indian delicacies. Its subtlety of flavor reminds me more of the French than the Indians but I surely did not mind creating a fusion for sure. If you have read this blog before you would know how obsessed I am with paneer and I will come up with as many ways as I can to consume it. 
I think the thick sauce of course is amazing but the star of the show is the cardamom. The flavor of the cardamom comes in about a second after you take the bite but is truly heavenly. I would recommend having this dish with toasted bread, naan or chappati. It really was hard to resist this dish for too long and we finished a large serving in just one sitting. I can tell you it was worth it. Usually I do not make a certain dish more than a few times but this will be a recurrence for sure. I made it in about 15 minutes and it was not any less than any restaurant delicacy. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. For the non-vegetarians reading this I am sure instead of paneer chicken can also be used and would create the same effect. 


2 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
2 Tablespoons of All-purpose Flour
2 Cups of Milk
1 Cup of Thawed Peas
1 Cup of Kale
14 Ounces of Paneer (Cubed 1 inch x 1 inch)
1 Tablespoon of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon of Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
10-15 Basil Leaves (Chopped)
6 Whole Cardamom Seeds (Opened and chopped)
Salt & Pepper

1)In a saucepan on medium heat start by melting the butter.
2)When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the all purpose flour.
3)Whisk together the roux and do not let it get brown. 
4)When roux is mixed well (within 1-2 minutes), pour in the milk. 
5)Whisk for 3-5 minutes until a thick sauce appears. Set aside.
6) In a separate skillet on medium heat, pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
7)Add in the peas & kale and stir. 
8)Sprinkle in cardamom, nutmeg and cumin. Add salt & pepper to taste. 
9)Finally, toss in the chopped basil leaves and mix well for 1-2 minutes. 
10)Pour in the above made bechamel sauce into the skillet. Toss in the paneer cubes. 
11)Simmer the sauce for approximately 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to come together.
12)Serve with bread or naan.

Bon Appetite!!