Nom Nom Paleo

Mango + Avocado Salsa on Pan-Seared Salmon

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Mango and Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As the defiant second child growing up in a multigenerational household, I made it a point to assert my contrariness whenever I could.

You want me to wear a coat because it’s 30°F outside and the windows are frosted over? No way! I’m wearing a TANK TOP. And the reason my teeth are chattering is ‘cause I’m sooo HOT.

The power struggles spilled over to the kitchen table, too. My parents and grandparents loved tropical fruit—papaya, guava, durian—but I would cross my arms and turn my nose up in disgust. I don’t want to try that mango. Papaya and durian? YUCK. I despise tropical fruit! Blech! [Insert gagging, retching noises here.]

I hate to admit it, but I should’ve listened to my elders. Especially about mango—I crave that fragrant, tender fruit now, especially the golden Ataufo variety from Mexico, which is similar to the Manila mango (a.k.a. champagne mango).

(I still can’t stand papaya and durian, though. Gross.)

Mango and Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

One of my favorite summer dishes is pan-seared salmon topped with a tangy and refreshing mango and avocado salsa—it’s quick, simple, and delicious. It’s easy on the eyes, too.

Mango and Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

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Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Half a lifetime ago, I moved to Berkeley to attend college at the University of California—the birthplace of the countercultural revolution of the 1960s. I missed the action by a generation, but even as a wide-eyed freshman in the early nineties, I saw that the hippie flag still flew proudly. Aging Deadheads, Telegraph Avenue panhandlers, and hackey-sacking students alike reveled in the free-wheeling, anything-goes spirit of the community. For many of us who were living on our own for the first time, the intoxicating scent of freedom was in the air. (The air smelled like other things, too. We’re talking about Berkeley, after all.)

And why not? College is the time for experimentation. Some of my peers dabbled in mind-altering substances. Others explored alternative cultures, music, religions, sexual identities, and politics. Some took off all their clothes and strolled around campus naked.

Me? I was just there for the food.

Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’d never tried African cuisine before college. But not long after my newly-laminated student ID was in my wallet, one of my friends—an oh-so-worldly sophomore—invited me to dinner at The Blue Nile, a now defunct Berkeley institution (right next to People’s Park!) that served up rich, spicy Ethiopian stews and a sweet honey wine called tej.

There, in the restaurant’s dark and cozy dining room, I was introduced to a multitude of fragrant, assertively spiced dishes, from yebeg alicha (a hearty lamb stew) to siga tibs (beef sautéed with onions and tongue-tingling spices). These long-simmered stews came served atop a thin layer of soft injera bread. My friend showed me how to tear off bite-size pieces of the spongy, sour bread and use them to scoop the stews into my mouth. Everything was lip-smackingly delicious. I was hooked on Ethiopian food.

After that, I made a point of seeking out Ethiopian and Eritrean joints. Wherever I happened to be—from Berkeley to Harlem, San Francisco to Boston—I’d make sure I wound up seated before a wicker mesob, hungrily tearing into a platter of slow-cooked meats, vegetables, and lentils.

Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Henry never really understood my all-consuming obsession with this cuisine. The glacially slow service at my favorite Ethiopian restaurants in San Francisco always drove my impatient husband nuts. Still, when prodded, even he would admit that the dishes are worth the long wait.

We both especially love doro wat—a slow-simmered spicy stew with fork-tender pieces of fall-off-the-bone chicken meat. Sadly, most Ethiopian restaurants only serve one or two chicken drumsticks with each order.

That’s one reason I decided to create my own Paleo-friendly doro wat recipe: I wanted to load up this fiery stew with as much chicken-y goodness as possible.

Doro Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken Stew) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Chunky Monkey “Ice Cream” Bon Bons

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Who’s in the mood for a frosty, nutty, chocolatey treat?

Chunky Monkey "Ice Cream" Bon Bons by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

By merging together two of my favorite recipes—The Kitchn’s One Ingredient Ice Cream and Irvin Lin’s homemade Magic Shell—I came up with this simple, bite-sized confection.

Chunky Monkey "Ice Cream" Bon Bons by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The steps are easy, but timing is key. You must wait for the “ice cream” to freeze completely (twice!) before proceeding, and then you gotta work fast. Otherwise, you’ll end up with melty brown lumps.

Six Ingredients + Patience = Happy Little Monkeys.

Chunky Monkey "Ice Cream" Bon Bons by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Here’s what to gather to make 24 bite-sized Bon Bons:

  • 3 medium ripe bananas, frozen and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons almonds or walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (Chunky Monkey ice cream typically contains walnuts, but I prefer almonds)

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Swiss Chard with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Porkitos

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Swiss Chard with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Porkitos by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Swiss chard's like the Jennifer Lawrence of the produce aisle—it's more than just a pretty exterior. This gorgeous vegetable's also nutrient dense (with a whopping ANDI score of 670), quick-cooking, and delicious in so many different preparations.

Swiss Chard with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Porkitos by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Although there are numerous ways to serve chard, my favorite is the classic Catalan approach, in which the greens are wilted in a pan with sizzling minced garlic and then tossed with toasted pine nuts and golden raisins. I also crumble on a few Porkitos to add a salty, swiney crunch to each bite.

Here’s what to gather (serves 4):

  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 pounds Swiss chard
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  •  2 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from ½ lemon

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Paleo Sausage Egg “McMuffin”

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Paleo Sausage Egg "McMuffin" By Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In honor of Father’s Day, I created this recipe for my Pop. He’s a lifelong fan of breakfast sausage and eggs…and, um, English muffins. But who needs bread when the filling’s the best part?

To make this breakfast sandwich resemble those from a certain fast-food joint (you know: the one with the freaky clown mascot), you’ll need some special equipment—namely, stainless steel biscuit cutters—but if you’ve got ’em, this recipe’s a snap. Plus, you can totally eat these sammies with your hands.

Paleo Sausage Egg "McMuffin" By Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Here’s what you’ll need to make one “McMuffin”:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee, divided (plus more for greasing the biscuit cutters)
  • ¼ pound bulk raw pork breakfast sausage
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon guacamole (optional)
Here’s what to do:
Grab two stainless steel 3½-inch biscuit cutters, and grease the insides well with melted ghee. Place one cutter on a plate and fill it with the sausage meat. (You can also easily make your own bulk breakfast sausage. Here’s Jen Cereghino’s recipe. I also have a Maple Breakfast Sausage recipe in my forthcoming cookbook.)

Paleo Sausage Egg "McMuffin" By Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(If you don’t have bulk sausage handy, just cook up some bacon. I just Instagrammed a photo of a Bacon Egg “McMuffin” this morning—and if you’re not already food-stalking me on Instagram, you really should.)

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