roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Winter struck hard today. (It snowed and then it rained onto the snow. So now we’ve got about an inch of snow and another inch of ice. The highlight of the day was watching cars attempt to make it to the upper level of the office parking lot.) And when winter strikes, I crave comfort. Comfort food, cozy clothing, my warm apartment, candles, books, tea.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Winter almost always wreaks havoc on my dinner choices. That craving for comfort food can kill an otherwise healthy eating day. Mashed potatoes (yum!), cheesy pasta (please!), and creamy soups (right now!) are classics – but offer so very little nutritionally.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

If it hasn’t become clear quite yet – I turn everything into a salad. (Sometimes, I even put a salad in my food.) I probably put 80% of my dinners on top of a bed of lettuce. It may be strange, but over time I’ve come to believe that almost every meal can be made healthier with a little bit of spinach.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

(Because beets make everything red, you’ll have to take my word that there are a variety of vegetables in there!)

So between my enthusiasm for lettuce and making this coconut curry sauce at least once a week, I’ve come up with a solution to the comfort food dilemma: a winter vegetable salad with a warm dressing that’s got an incredible Indian-spiced twist. Don’t ask me how it came to this, but it just works.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Though beets almost always steal the show, the real rockstar of this dish is the dressing. This dressing is so good that I ate probably two spoonfuls of it while waiting for the vegetables to be done in the oven. I have so much of the dressing left over, I have a feeling that it’s going to end up on all of my meals for the next few days.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette


yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Winter Vegetables

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 beets
  • 3 parsnips
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • sea salt & pepper

Salad

  • a bunch of spinach

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash, peel and slice the sweet potatoes, fingerlings, shallots, beets, parsnips and garlic. Toss in melted coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes – or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through, stirring them after 30 minutes.
  2. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed, for roughly 30 seconds. If needed, add more olive oil or basil and tomatoes to reach desired consistency.
  3. Allow the vegetables to cool for 5 minutes before tossing onto the spinach. Top with the vinaigrette.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

When Darren and I moved in together into a bright, sunny apartment in Portland, we discovered that we were very close to a local treasure: Rosemont Market. For those outside of the Portland/Yarmouth area in Maine, it would be hard to describe just how amazing this little store is. Almost everything in the store is local, from the produce, dairy and spices to the meat, coffee and baked goods. (Minus, of course, the vast and unique selection of imported wines.) The space is painted in colorful and bright oranges, greens and yellows.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Sunday afternoon, I took a short stroll – it really only takes me 5 minutes to walk to Rosemont – to pick up some produce. Onions, zucchini, summer squash, rainbow carrots. This is probably the best I’ve ever done “just winging it.” I created this recipe initially because I had an extra package of tofu in the fridge that I hadn’t used for a different recipe and a co-worker mentioned wanting Indian food while at work. That was all I needed. I immediately began planning my dinner for that night. I had curry on my mind.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Before I started baking, I had planned to use a Trader Joe’s curry sauce that I bought months before, (which is delicious, by the way) but I really wanted to try my hand at a homemade curry. So before even beginning to experiment, I typed up my own instructions to follow. Coconut milk, curry powder, flour, olive oil. Simple enough.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

And it was just that. Extremely simple. I’ve also been really into using my mandoline. It’s just a fun instrument and never fails to impress me with its pristine veggie-chopping abilities. My mandoline (a gift that Darren bought for me on our one-year anniversary) is my favorite kitchen appliance! Fries, veggie noodles, chips – you name it. This mandoline can do it!

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Alright so I have to admit something. Traditional curry sauce usually has fish sauce in it. I created this curry recipe to work with the items that I had in my pantry at the time and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s comprised of four ingredients and this sauce is delicious. It’s just so easy and inexpensive to make. Darren and I both took what was left to work the next day and it tasted even better! Once the sauce has had time to sit for a while, covering the vegetable noodles, the flavor really comes out!

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

I should also mention, for those who are interested, that this dinner is both vegetarian and vegan! If you want to make it gluten-free, all you have to do is substitute the flour in the roux with a gluten-free flour or almond flour.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

tofu curry over vegetable noodles


yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 3 medium carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Drain liquid from tofu package and pat-dry. Let it sit on paper towels while you prepare your curry sauce and vegetable noodles.
  2. Julienne your zucchini, summer squash and carrots with a peeler, spiralizer or mandoline. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan, create a roux: heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and keep moving until the flour and olive oil are mixed with no clumps. Slowly add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in curry powder and salt.
  4. Slice the tofu into small cubes and transfer to a clean sauce pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the minced garlic. Cook over medium heat, covered, for roughly 8 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable noodles and 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Once warm, remove from heat.
  6. When the tofu is browned, add the curry sauce. Stirring, turn down the heat and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Assemble your meal: put your noodles at the base of your bowl. Top with tofu and spoon curry sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

I’ve had a hankering for chicken parmesan ever since I saw a photo of something similar a few weeks ago. It may sound silly, but every time I thought about moving chicken from the freezer to defrost in the fridge, I mentally prepared for some good ol’ chicken parm.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

Chicken parmesan was a staple growing up. It was something that the whole family could agree upon. Those who disliked marinara sauce could forego it and enjoy the chicken atop some garlic noodles. Those who didn’t like breaded chicken (what!?) could still have a meal of spaghetti. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the whole shebang.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

While hiking yesterday, I decided that I was most definitely going to make some in the next few days. Because I have a tendency to go overboard with pasta, I figured I’d substitute the pasta with something more healthy. Darren brought home a zucchini from the school’s garden and it got me thinking – bingo! I have a mandoline with a spiralizer attachment that I had yet to use.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

The zucchini and mushrooms soak up the delicious garlic flavor, but the real rockstar of this dish is the chicken. If you’re going to make this, whatever you do, don’t leave out the smoked paprika. That smoky flavor is so perfect for the dish and it makes your whole house smell wonderful while it’s cooking!

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

chicken parmesan with garlic zucchini and mushrooms


yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 4 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted or 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup marinara

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick (cooking) spray.
  2. Line your chicken up on a cutting board and trim most of the fat off. If you’re using chicken breasts, (carefully!) cut each breast in half, so that each piece is thin. If using the tenders, cover with a bag and towel and pound them flat using a meat tenderizer. Aim to make each piece of chicken no more than 1/3 inch thick.
  3. In a bowl, mix the panko with the basil, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, rosemany, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Brush each side of the chicken with the melted butter or coconut oil, coat with the panko mixture, and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. While the chicken is in the oven, prepare your zucchini “pasta.” In a sauce pan, add the olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Cook on medium low, covered, for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. The garlic should be very aromatic.
  6. Using a mandoline or spiralizer (I use this one), slice the zucchini. Add the zucchini to the sauce pan. Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. In another sauce pan, heat up your favorite marinara sauce.
  8. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven. Top with the mozzarella cheese and put it back into the oven for 1 minute – so that the cheese melts.
  9. Assemble your layers and enjoy immediately!

chicken-dinner-3134

This week has been sort of a lull compared to my normal schedule. On a whim, I joined my mom and sister at a new spin class on Monday night. As I normally (yet unintentionally) do, I started out too hard and have rendered myself useless these past few days. I’m sore everywhere. I had to cut my run short on Tuesday because my quads were screaming at me and my poor, limping form was causing more harm than good. The four flights of stairs that I take every morning to get to my office have just about killed me. I’ve resorted to living room core work and dining room spinning. On the plus side, these seemingly quicker workouts have actually allowed me more time to cook real dinners.

chicken-dinner-3103

I’m not much of a meat eater – I only eat meat once or twice a week – but when I do eat meat, it’s usually chicken. I love the versatility of chicken. You can bake it, fry it, grill it, cook it in a crock-pot. You can shred it, serve it cold, eat it with vegetables, top it with marinara, dip it in bread crumbs.

chicken-dinner-3108

Chicken is so easy to cook and it’s so easy to switch up. I especially love popcorn chicken – or chicken with a crunch – but I’m not a big fan of fried foods, and neither is my body! But…you can have your chicken and eat it too. This chicken isn’t fried, it’s baked, and it’s still crunchy! I also serve it over a bed of spinach with some other healthy and crunchy veggies.

chicken-dinner-3133

This recipe makes roughly 4 servings (4 salads), depending on how much chicken you like in your salad.

chicken-dinner-3139

Baked Cajun Chicken and Spinach Salad

yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 4 chicken tenders (about 1 large chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into quarters)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • spinach
  • shredded carrots
  • cucumber, sliced
  • feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the egg and milk together in one bowl. In a second bowl, mix the panko and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Cut your chicken tenders into small nugget-sized piece. (About 1-2 inches in diameter.) First dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then coat with the panko mixture. Place coated chicken on the baking sheet.
  4. Cook the chicken nuggets for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare your salad. Assemble spinach, carrots, cucumber slices and feta cheese in a bowl. Add in extra ingredients if desired. Top with cooked chicken.
  6. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar on to each salad serving.

Sesame Vegetable and Bean Stir-Fry - Spice & Dice

This morning I participated in the Rev3 (SheJAMs) Olympic Triathlon in Old Orchard Beach. (I’ll post the race report in the next few days.) When I got home after noon, I was starving. I wolfed down a sandwich and come 5:00, I was famished again. So I decided that I wanted to make a “recovery” meal that would have lots of healthy vegetables and fill me up!

Sesame Vegetable and Bean Stir-Fry - Spice & Dice

Sesame Vegetable and Bean Stir-Fry - Spice & Dice

Normally, I don’t post one-off recipes to this blog. I prefer to test them out a few times before posting them for the world to see, but this dinner was delicious. It was so easy to make – perfect because I was exhausted from a 4:00am wake-up and swim. I pretty much just threw whatever ingredients I had into it – and I’d actually encourage you to do the same. Don’t bother going out and buying every specific vegetable that I list. The point of this recipe is just to use pantry items that you have laying around! I’ll post some suggestions for substitutions afterwards, if you’re at a loss!

Sesame Vegetable and Bean Stir-Fry - Spice & Dice

sesame vegetable and bean stir-fry

yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rice (I used Jasmine Rice)
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • a bunch of kale
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. Prepare all of your vegetables by cutting/chopping/dicing/mincing them.
  2. Cook rice according to the instructions on the box or bag. As a general rule of thumb, I use a 2:1 water to rice ratio. I cook the rice until it comes to a boil, turn the heat down on the burner, and allow it to simmer (stirring occasionally) until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked. This usually takes 10-15 minutes.
  3. Put 1 Tbsp. coconut oil into a sauté pan or skillet. Add the sweet potato and carrot slices and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally.
  4. After 3-4 minutes, add the onions and garlic, along with another 1 Tbsp. coconut oil and the sesame oil. Cook the vegetables down until the sweet potato chunks are softened.
  5. Add the frozen peas, kale and black beans to the pan – and the remaining 1 Tbsp. coconut oil. Stir in, then cover to allow the kale to wilt.
  6. Once the kale is cooked down, add the salt, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and rice to the pan. Stir until well combined.
  7. Serve while warm.

Substitutions:

  • Instead of rice, you can use: farro, quinoa, couscous, pasta.
  • You can also choose to add in these ingredients for a delicious twist: corn, edamame, salsa, spinach, eggs, chicken, sausage, tofu

Paste-Free Vegetable Lasagna - Spice and Dice

I’m a sucker for pasta. Any and all pasta. Ravioli for lunch. Spaghetti for dinner. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much, so I decided that I would get ambitious and replace pasta with another ingredient.

A noodle-free lasagna is the perfect compromise. (Compromise being a very positive word here!) Here you have a dinner that is as familiar as pasta, yet doesn’t contain any at all!

Paste-Free Vegetable Lasagna - Spice and Dice

This is the first time I made this dish and I just kind of went with whatever ingredients I felt would best suit it. It came out tasting a lot like a traditional lasagna, just lightened up. This was so delicious, I ate about a third of it myself!

(I’m going to be honest, this dish does not look very appetizing, but I promise you it is!)

Paste-Free Vegetable Lasagna - Spice and Dice

Paste-Free Vegetable Lasagna - Spice and Dice

Pasta-Free Vegetable Lasagna

yields: 9 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 16oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 Tbsp. basil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a skillet, sauté the onions and garlic until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the pasta sauce, mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Bring the sauce to a boil then remove from heat.
  3. Slice the zucchini, squash and carrots into thin strips using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, basil, oregano, pepper and egg thoroughly.
  5. In a rectangular dish, pour about a third of the sauce into the bottom. Spread evenly. Place down a layer of the zucchini, squash and then carrots. Cover with half of the ricotta mixture. Pour another third of the sauce onto the ricotta. Place down the remaining vegetables. Pour the rest of the ricotta down, followed by the rest of the tomato sauce. Cover the dish with the spinach. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes or until the cheese becomes golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to eat.

Extra details:
This recipe clocks in at just under 250 calories a serving.