Nom Nom Paleo

Pressure Cooker Crispy Potatoes

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"But…but…but…potatoes aren’t Paleo!"

(7/18/14 UPDATE: White potatoes are now Whole30 approved!)

Once again, with feeling: It all depends on what you mean when you say “Paleo.” There is, after all, no such thing as one definitive Paleo diet. Potatoes may not have been available to cavemen, but I really don’t care. Historical re-enactment ain’t my cup of tea. (Besides, it’s not like our prehistoric ancestors snacked on dark chocolate bars, either.)

My personal template for Paleo eating focuses on nutrient-packed whole foods that don’t hurt me. For me, potatoes fall into that category. After checking out Bill and Hayley’s post on the Paleosity of potatoes, listening to the safe starch debate, and soaking in Mat Lalonde’s talk about nutrient density at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium (during which Mat pointed out that peeled potatoes are actually more nutrient dense than sweet potatoes, save for the beta-carotene in the latter), I’ve decided that an occasional portion of peeled potatoes are a-OK on my plate. Your circumstances may be different; for instance, if you’re on a super-low-carb protocol at the moment, you’re probably not looking to down a bowl of spuds.

Blah, blah, blah, science, science, science, blah, blah, blah.

With that pesky business out of the way, let me show you how to use a pressure cooker to make spuds with crispy exteriors and fluffy interiors in no time flat.

Ready?

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Here’s what to gather to make a side dish fit for four folks:

  • 1 pound fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform 1 - 1½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee or favorite animal fat
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • ½ medium lemon

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Roasted Green Beans

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Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Before anyone gets on my case about whether green beans are Paleo, I eat them when they’re in season because they’re more pod than bean, and because Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Whole9 say it’s a-OK. So there.

My favorite way to cook these green pods is to roast them in a hot oven after they’ve been tossed with melted fat and lightly drizzled with fish sauce. When they come out of the oven, they’re tender yet roast-y, and a spritz of citrus ties everything together. 

Here’s what to gather to feed 4 people as a side dish:

  • 1 pound green beans, stem ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, ghee, or fat of choice
  • 1 teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from half a lime or lemon

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Grab your washed and trimmed green beans and make sure they are bone dry.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Throw them on the baking sheet and coat the green beans with fat, fish sauce, and a few grinds of pepper.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Arrange the beans in a single layer on the tray…

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing the beans at the midway point.

The beans are ready when the skins are wrinkly and dotted with browned spots. Squeeze on the juice from half a lime or lemon and serve immediately.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots

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Everyone should eat kale. That statement’s irrefutable because it’s uber-healthy, versatile (e.g. chips, salad, stir-fry), and ‘cause I said so. Still resistant? Well, here’s another quick and easy method to cook kale where you’ll end up with a bowl of tender greens and carrots in about 15 minutes. Grab your pressure cooker and let’s get some dark leafy greens in your belly already.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 10 ounces of kale, roughly chopped (including stems)
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2” slices
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

I love buying organic produce at the farmers’ market but when I need a quick veggie side, I just grab a bag of washed and chopped kale from Trader Joe’s.

Once you cut open the bag, you’re ready to go. There’s no tedious washing, spinning, or removing ribs.

Get your 6-qt or larger pressure cooker and melt the ghee over medium heat.

Toss in the chopped carrots and onions…

…and saute until softened.

Throw in the garlic and stir until fragrant (~30 seconds). Pile in the kale, pour in the chicken broth…

…and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you still have at least 1/3 of the head space at the top of the pot or it just might go kablooey.

Increase the heat to high, lock the lid in place, and wait until the cooker reaches high pressure. Once high pressure is achieved, decrease the heat to low and maintain high pressure for 8 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, take the pot off the heat. You can let the pressure drop naturally (10-15 minutes) or if you’re impatient like me, activate the quick release valve and the steam will hiss right out.

Remove the lid, give everything a swirl, and taste for seasoning. Splash on some balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on some red pepper flakes if you want some heat.

Ladle it up and dig in.

Oven-Roasted Escarole

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Roasting is my go-to method for cooking veggies — so why should a head of escarole be any different? I got the idea for roasting these greens from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers’ Markets. In her version, she uses a head of radicchio but any chicory will do. Roasting mellows out the bitterness and also adds some nice crunchy bits. 

Here’s what I gathered to serve four people as a side dish:

  • 1 large head of escarole, cut into quarters (or 3 heads of radicchio, cut in half lengthwise)
  • 3 tablespoons of ghee, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Sunny Paris seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar

Here’s how I made it:

I preheated the oven to 400 F and grabbed a 9x13” glass baking dish. I coated the dish with ghee before putting the escarole in a single layer. I drizzled the remaining ghee over the top of the greens and seasoned with Sunny Paris, salt, and pepper.

I roasted the greens in the oven for 15 minutes before flipping them. After an additional 8-10 minutes, the escarole was finished — tender yet crunchy on the edges.

Before taking the dish to the table, I drizzled on some aged balsamic vinegar.

I can’t wait to roast some radicchio, too!