Broiled Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Spears

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[UPDATED May 18, 2012: This ain’t a new recipe (it’s from over a year ago), but it continues to be popular and the old photos were all kinds of horrible, so I updated this post with new pics. Enjoy (again!)]

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Broiled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears are a quick and delicious app that’s perfect for any Paleo party. The prosciutto crisps up like bacon while the sweet asparagus in the middle gets soft and tender. When you drizzle aged balsamic vinegar on the roasted spears, you end up with a dish that satisfies your sweet, salty, and sour cravings. Plus you get veggies and meat all in one morsel that you can just pop in your mouth with your hands.

Here’s what to assemble to make enough spears to feed 10 hungry adults:

  • 3 bunches of asparagus, stems trimmed 2 inches from the bottom
  • 2 four-ounce packages of prosciutto di parma
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Avocado oil or fat of choice (update 4/22/13: I use 2 tablespoons melted ghee)
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the broiler to high (with the rack 6 inches from the heating element) and assemble the ingredients.

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Divide the asparagus evenly onto two large baking trays…

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…drizzle some avocado oil over the spears, and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t go crazy with the salt because the prosciutto is plenty salty.

Cut each slice of prosciutto into 3 thin strips and wrap one strip around each asparagus spear. 

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Pop a tray under the broiler for ~5-8 minutes (tossing the spears at the halfway point) or until the prosciutto crisps up and the asparagus is tender. Repeat the process with the second tray.

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Plate the spears when they’re finished and drizzle on some aged balsamic vinegar.

Yes, my friends — it’s that easy.

Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice

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Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Since the start of Chinese New Year (an occasion marked by the sudden appearance of craploads of “lucky” oranges and tangerines on our kitchen counters), I felt somewhat compelled to make an Asian-style fried cauliflower “rice” dish tonight for dinner. Plus, XFit Mama just made a bunch the other night, and reading her her post made me crave Chinese faux fried rice. (BTW, XFit Mama is one badass mother — despite being pregnant with her second peanut, she manages to do just about all of her WODs at CrossFit Palo Alto as RX’d and FAST.)

Traditional Chinese fried rice is basically a dish made from leftovers you have rotting in your fridge, which makes dinner prep a breeze. Dice or chop everything small and uniform and your actual cooking time will only be 10-15 minutes. To make my cauliflower fried rice more “Asian,” I added bacon, scrambled eggs, minced ginger, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, fish sauce, and coconut aminos. Okay, the bacon part isn’t Chinese but it’s intrinsic for the dish. Feel free to change up this recipe by substituting whatever you have lying around. Try adding some leftover meat to make a complete, one-bowl meal.

Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Here’s what I assembled to serve 4-6 people:

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, separated in florets
  • 3 slices of uncured bacon, cut into small dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, grated with a microplane
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped mint
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Splash of coconut vinegar (optional)
  • Splash of Red Boat Fish Sauce (not optional)

Here’s how I made it:

First, I pulsed the cauliflower in a food processor until the pieces were the size of rice and chopped the rest of the ingredients. 

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I tossed the diced bacon into a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and fried until the bits were crispy.

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While the bacon was cooking, I whisked the two eggs in a small bowl with some salt and pepper to taste.  When the bacon was done, I removed the crunchy swine to a separate plate.

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I poured the whisked eggs into the hot bacon grease and fried a thin egg omelet. I took the egg out of the pan, sliced it thinly, and set it aside.

I always keep a large knob of ginger on hand in my freezer. It keeps really well. When I need to use it, I take it out of the freezer, peel off the skin with my vegetable peeler, and microplane it. It’s almost like making ginger-flavored shaved ice.

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The microplane is the best tool for grating ginger — no stringiness and the ginger blends in really well into your dish. (The microplane is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. If you don’t have one, stop reading this post and get one immediately.)

I cranked up the heat for my cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and added the chopped onions (along with a dash of salt and pepper). Once the onion softened, I tossed in the sliced mushrooms (along with yet another sprinkle of S&P) and stir-fried everything until the mushrooms were browned. 

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After adding the ginger and stirring it around for 30 seconds, I threw in the cauliflower and even more salt and pepper.

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I put a lid on the skillet and lowered the heat to low and cooked it covered for about 5 minutes. When the cauliflower was tender (but not too mushy), I added the coconut aminos, the herbs, and the sliced egg omelet. You can also add a little coconut vinegar to add a tiny bit of tang to the dish. And splash on some fish sauce for good measure!

Before serving, I tossed on the reserved crispy bacon bits. Voila!

Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

This dish was velly tasty. (That’s terrible of me to type. I really shouldn’t make fun of my mom’s accent like that. AND you can only laugh at that line if you’re Asian…)

Hawaiian Fire-Spiced Mushrooms

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Even though I’m on vacay, I care enough about you, dear reader, to post a new recipe. Okay – this recipe is super simple and involves my favorite go-to cooking technique (roasting) but why mess with a good thing?

I’m seriously crushing on the spice blends and salts from Aloha Spice Company. Most are Paleo-friendly and/or organic and the flavor combinations are spot-on. Pele’s Fire Hawaiian is a smoky and spicy salt blend that perfectly seasoned these roasted, meaty, umami-laden ‘shrooms.

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Keep reading for the recipe…

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Stir Fried Napa Cabbage with Mushrooms and Bacon

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To celebrate Chinese New Year, I finished off my hunk of Fatted Calf slab bacon by making a Napa cabbage stir fry with diced bacon, thinly sliced onions and cremini mushrooms. Doesn’t sound like a Chinese dish to you? Tough. Gung Hay Fat Choy, buddy.

Here’s what I assembled:

  • Small head of napa cabbage, sliced crosswise into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup diced bacon
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chicken broth

Here’s what I did:

I assembled the ingredients…

…heated a large cast iron skillet to medium and threw in the bacon.

The piece of bacon I had was pretty meaty and I sliced it pretty thick, so it was more like sautéing ham matchsticks as opposed to crisping thin slices of bacon.

Then, I added the onions (with some salt and pepper) and cooked them until they were translucent.

Once the onions were softened, I added the sliced mushrooms (with some salt and pepper) and sautéed them until the moisture had cooked off.

I put in the Napa cabbage…

…and splashed in some chicken broth.

I placed a lid on the skillet and lowered the heat to medium low. I simmered the dish for about 5-10 minutes until the cabbage softened to my preferred tenderness. I did a final taste for seasoning and adjusted with salt and pepper.

Easy and tasty. In the future, I’ll scoop out the bacon before adding the onions and mushrooms because the fatty part gets kind of rubbery. Because the bacon I used was more like ham, it wasn’t a problem. If I were using thin bacon, I’d definitely fish out the bacon and sprinkle the crispy pork bits on top after I finished the dish.

Quick and Simple Stir-Fried Kale and Bacon

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I posted Serious Eats’s recipe for Collard Greens Mineira less than a week ago and I finally had a chance to make them tonight. In the past, I blanched my hearty greens before I sauteed them — a time-consuming, multiple-pan process — so this super-quick, one-pan recipe piqued my interest.

Here’s what I gathered for the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of lancinato kale, leaves removed and thinly chopped
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4” strips
  • splash of Banyuls vinegar (the original recipe uses a squeeze of lemon)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what I did:

I washed and chopped the kale leaves…

…and assembled the rest of my ingredients.

I sauteed the bacon bits in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once they were crisp…

…I added in the kale leaves with a dash of salt and pepper.

I stirred the kale and bacon for a couple minutes and then splashed on some vinegar.

Super quick and yummy! The slightly wilted bitter greens are well-balanced with the bacon and vinegar. From now on, this speedy and simple cooking method will be the only way I make my hearty greens! Another shortcut to deliciousness…

Roasted Butternut Squash in Lard

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Butternut squash can be a pain in the posterior to cut up.  The secret to chopping it up with ease is to cut off both ends and peel the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler before hacking away at it.

Here’s how I roast my butternut squash:

Preheat your oven to 400°F.  I like to use the convection roast function on my oven because the squash comes out crisper on the outside.

Peel, seed, and chop your squash into uniform pieces and place on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of lard in the microwave (nuke in 30 second intervals until it liquefies).

Toss the squash with the melted lard, salt, and pepper.

Roast for ~45 minutes, tossing the squash every 15 minutes or so.

Yum!

Fun With Bacon Grease

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After baking two pounds of bacon in the oven yesterday, I now have a tidy container of congealed bacon grease chillin’ in the fridge. And I’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to roasting veggies and meats with extra virgin olive oil, so the bacon grease certainly came in handy today.

I had some Brussels sprouts languishing in my vegetable crisper, so I roasted them off this morning. I kept it simple, and just tossed ‘em with a few tablespoons of bacon grease, salt, and pepper. My bacon grease turned milky white in the fridge –- I’ve grabbed it a few times today thinking it was my coconut milk. Not a terrible mistake, but I’m not sure I wanna eat my Paleo trail mix with bacon fat.

To liquefy the fat, I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds and stirred it. I store my fat in a microwave-safe glass Snapware container, so there’s no need to use (and later, wash) an extra bowl. Then, I spooned some of this liquid gold over my trimmed sprouts…

…seasoned with salt and pepper…

…and popped the tray in a 400 F oven for around 25-30 minutes.

The bacon fat lends the Brussels sprouts a rich, smoky, mouth-filling flavor.

For lunch, I ate some of the sprouts along with a salad I threw together using leftover sous vide flank steak, salad greens, sliced cucumbers, and grape tomatoes.

The bacon grease left in my glass container went right back into the fridge — for another few hours, anyway.

This evening, I once again nuked the container of bacon grease and then tossed a few tablespoons of the fat with some broccoli before roasting it in the oven (400 F for 25-35 minutes). 


But wait — I found more uses for my bacon fat!

While the broccoli cooked, I reheated two sous vide chicken breasts in my SousVide Supreme (140F for 30 minutes).  After removing the chicken from the water bath, I patted them dry, and brushed on some melted bacon grease…

…before searing them in my grill pan.

I’m sorry, but boneless and skinless breasts aren’t the tastiest parts of the chicken, so basting ‘em with bacon grease is a good thing.

I sliced the chicken breast and topped it with Primavera salsa and diced avocados. I served it along with my bacon-grease roasted broccoli.

Dammit, I’m running out of bacon grease. Time to make more bacon!

Sous Vide Pork Chops and Veggies for Dinner

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Because of my crazy work schedule, I’m pretty zonked when I wake up in the evenings to make dinner for everyone. Especially when I’ve already worked five night shifts in a row and have two more to go. I can turn into a hulk, just like that. Try me.  

On Saturday night before going to work, I sous vided some pork chops and then stored them in the fridge until I cooked them off today. 

I’m totally in love with my SousVide Supreme.

While the chops came back up to serving temperature in the water bath, I baked some sweet potatoes in my toaster oven, roasted orange hued cauliflower and bacon

..and stir-fried shiitake and broccoli slaw.

Here’s my plate:

I’m tired of cooking.  Thankfully, Fitbomb will be bringing home take-out kebabs tomorrow night and we’re going out the following night.