Weekly Winner: A Healthy Hack and Veggie Fix Combined

buffalo cauliflowerFirst things first:  I am in no way saying that this recipe will trick you into thinking your tucking into a big basket of buffalo wings.  It won’t.  However, if like me, you are trying to lighten things and find more virtuous versions of your cold weather comfort foods, this does the trick.  At least it did for me.

I am a huge fan of cauliflower and all the ways you can transform it.  To me it’s a great “blank canvas” to take on different flavors and textures.  It can be pureed to thicken soups, it can be roasted to crunchy, golden deliciousness, and it can be minced up to mimic rice or couscous.  Now, apparently it can be “buffalo-ized” as well.  Buffalo Cauliflower Salad comes from Eating Well Magazine and has all the “requirements” of buffalo wings (OK, except for the actual “wing”).  It has the crunchy carrots and celery, the tangy blue cheese and the nice spicy kick of the buffalo sauce.  And you’re eating a salad!

Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets (1 medium head)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives and/or dill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • ½ cup julienned carrots
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss cauliflower with oil and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until it is starting to soften and brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, herbs, garlic powder, pepper and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Combine hot sauce, butter and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the roasted cauliflower and toss. Return the cauliflower to the baking sheet and drizzle with the sauce left in the bowl. Roast until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes more. Stir to coat the cauliflower completely.
  5. Add lettuce, carrot, celery and onion to the dressing in the large bowl; toss to coat. Serve the salad topped with the Buffalo cauliflower and blue cheese.

Weekly Winner: All Aboard the Buffalo Zucchini Boat Bandwagon!

zucchiniI’m not even sure where to begin with this recipe.  I thought my last entry was odd.  It honestly was nothing compared to this one.  I remember thinking when I saw the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats “Wait, what? This doesn’t make any sense!  Who thinks up these things??” But something about it intrigued me and I could actually envision it working out.  I’m not sure why, but the thought the zucchini being stuffed with a buffalo-spiced chicken mixture was weird enough, that it just might… maybe… work out.

And it really did!  This is a super tasty, satisfying, amazingly easy dinner.  It feels indulgent and almost like a cheat meal since you’ve got buffalo sauce and cheese but actually it’s quite healthy.  The recipe for Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats comes from The Wholesome Dish blog which I discovered in a listing of 20 recipes using ground chicken (yeah, this is the kind of stuff I stay up nights looking at!).  Anyway, its crazy-easy — four ingredients! OK, full disclosure mine had 5 since I thought some chopped celery would be a nice addition as celery and buffalo wings go hand-in-hand.  It worked great but would be fine without it too.

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 small to medium zucchini (about 1-1/4 pounds)

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and break it apart with a wooden spoon.  Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat.  Stir in the buffalo wing sauce
  4. As the chicken cooks, cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and center out of each zucchini half, leaving a 1/4-inch thick zucchini boat.  Place the zucchini in the baking dish cut-side up.
  5. Spoon the chicken mixture into the zucchini boats.  Sprinkle the zucchini evenly with the cheese.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil.  Bake for 35 minutes.