Valentine’s Dinner: Charred Pepper Salad W/Eggplant Chips & Basil Cream, Butternut Soup, Cauliflower Steaks

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With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to provide you with a delicious homemade gourmet meal that is suitable for most diets out there (gluten free, grain free, can be dairy free) and pleasing to different tastebuds. Large thick slices of purple cauliflower make beautiful steaks, a warm smoky salad with light basil cream dressing, and a piping hot butternut squash soup that can also serve as a puree base for your cauliflower. Look at my rainbow of groceries above ­čÖé

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Thinly sliced eggplant drizzled generously with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper made fantastic crispy chips.

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Softened, charred roasted red peppers added vivid red to the presentation and sweetness. Complimented with toasted pine nuts and basil cashew cream.

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My butternut squash soup is super simple and only requires one herb but the aroma is lovely.

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After boiling it all together, a quick whirl in the blender produces the perfect consistency.

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I love all the colorful cauliflower out there these days. The purple deepens as it cooks and looks gorgeous.

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I found this cauliflower at Trader Joe’s.

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Served on the side, top of the salad, or on the soup were all delicious ways to eat the cauliflower steaks.

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Charred Pepper Salad W/Eggplant Chips & Basil Cream

Charlotte Veggie

GF, GRF, NF, can be DF if you omit the butter

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

4 tbsp olive oil, divided in half

1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced (no need to peel)

1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, cut into large slices or chunks

1/4 cup pine nuts

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant and peppers on an oiled or parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle or brush on olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, turn, and bake for 20 more minutes. Heat a pan over medium low heat, add pine nuts, and allow to toast for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Layer eggplant and peppers in indvidual plates and top with pine nuts and the dressing below.

 

Basil Cashew Cream

Charlotte Veggie

GF, GRF, DF

Makes about 1.5 cups

 

Blend the following together:

1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for a couple of hours in hot water if you don’t have a high speed blender)

1 cup hot water

basil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

 

Butternut Soup

Charlotte Veggie

GF, GRF, NF, can be DF if you omit the butter

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter OR double the olive oil

12 oz bag or about 2 cups chopped butternut squash

1 yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 bay leaf

1/2 tbsp dried marjoram

salt and pepper

4 cups vegetable broth

 

Directions:

Heat olive oil and butter in a pot. Saute onions, garlic, and celery for 5 minutes.

Add marjoram, butternut squash, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir together and cook for 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

Then turn down heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Puree in your blender being careful to allow steam to escape.

 

Cauliflower Steaks

Charlotte Veggie

GF, GRF, DF, NF

Makes 4

 

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, remove leaves, cut off stem, and slice into four to five 1.5-2 inch slabs

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush oil on to both sides of each cauliflower slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

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