Portobello Pizza with Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes

Tis the season for muffin tops, tight pants and our on-going battle of the bulge. The last three months of the year make me cringe. My love affair with food is always one sided with me in the negative. I crave pizza! What healthy concoction can I whip up that will satisfy the taste buds as well as keep our line of latitude in check? It will need to be palatable enough to entertain my vegetarian foodies (minus the meat of course). And since it’s the holidays, it’s got to be a sufficient amount to feed a small army of friends. Instead of dough, use portobello mushroom as the base. No tomato sauce, no problem. Substitute sauce for roasted garlic and tomatoes. The taste of canned tomato sauce pales in comparison to the aroma and flavors of fresh roasted garlic and tomatoes. What’s left to complete the pizza are more toppings (meat or vegetables), a sprinkle of cheese along with basil and parsley.

To remove or not remove portobello gills? If the recipe is for stuffed mushrooms, gills are removed to make ample room for stuffing. More often, gills are removed because the liquid emitted, when cooked, will stain the other ingredients. For instance, lovely white goat cheese will look like it’s been dragged through mud. Others say the gills taste a little bitter, but I actually like gills. The presence of gills can make a nice reservoir for whatever flavorful baste you’re using.

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Shrimp pesto pasta is a favorite recipe of mine this summer. It’s quick, easy and best of all it’s full of summer flavor. For this recipe, I used my own spicy Asian pesto (click here for recipe). The combination of Thai basil, cilantro, lime and chili peppers give the pesto a nice bite. I think the spicy pesto pairs very well with seafood.

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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Green Chutney Hot Dogs

Just the other day, I happened to catch Bobby Flay’s hot dog Throw Down and thought, how could we do an Asian style dog? I mean, hot dog! Easy enough – let’s find a low calorie hot dog (found these at Whole Foods – 110 calories per serving), wheat buns, and fresh veggies. The green chutney is common – I found this recipe online. Chutney was very easy to make and certainly packs flavor. I’d estimate 2 hot dogs topped with fresh veggies and green chutney around 500 calories. Give this quick recipe a shot – and don’t forget to let me know what you think!

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Green chutney hot dog

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Chicken Satay Sandwich (with Indian spices)

Satay is marinated thin strips of meat, skewered and grilled over wood or charcoal. Often associated with Thai food, satay’s real origin is Indonesia. Skewered meat or shish kabob was introduced to Indonesia by the Arabs around the 19th century. Its popularity spread from Indonesia into other neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Beef and chicken were mainly used for satay. Nowadays, one can use just about anything that can be marinated and threaded onto skewers. If chicken is unavailable, substitute with pork, shrimp, or tofu. Satay gets its nice yellow tint from tumeric. Common spices used to make satay are turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galanga, fish sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice. My recipe is Thai based satay infused with Indian spices.

The idea to serve chicken satay in a hotdog bun came from my friend Erik. While Erik was grilling the satay, I happened to glance over as he placed a hotdog bun on the grill and I blurted out, “You better put another bun on for me!” That’s how the chicken satay sandwich came about. I didn’t get a chance to garnish my sandwich because we were experimenting. Next time, I would add diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a squirt of Sriracha sauce. If satay is a dish you really like, then you’re not going to want to pass on trying this dish.

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chicken satay grilled

Grilled chicken satay on skewers

chicken satay sandwich

Chicken Satay Sandwich

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Korean Cold Noodle Soup (Janchi guksu)

My favorite summertime soup for the past couple of years has been a Korean cold noodle soup called “janchi guksu.” It’s made with thin, white wheat noodles and a light broth consisting of dried anchovies and kelp (or “dasima” in Korean and “kombu” in Japanese). The Korean word “janchi” translates to banquet or feast (special events or gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties) and “guksu” means noodles. The noodles are typically served with julienne vegetables, thinly sliced omelet, and/or beef along with a spicy sauce made with garlic, scallions, Korean red pepper powder, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

For those who don’t know, kelp is a large seaweed belonging to the brown algae group. If you’re still a bit fearful of kelp, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s used as a stabilizer in many of our favorite foods such as ice cream, chocolate milk, and peanut butter. Click here for additional information on kelp.

Beef broth or dashi (a Japanese broth made with bonito flakes and kombu) can be substituted although the flavors will not be as authentic. This a very refreshing dish to have on a hot day. I hope this cold noodle soup becomes your favorite summertime noodle dish too!

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Ingredients for cold noodle soup
Ingredients for cold noodle soup. Clockwise from top: Japanese cucumber (julienne), kelp, dried anchovies, Thai chili peppers, and garlic

korean cold noodle soup janchi guksu
Korean Cold Noodle Soup

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Thai Chicken Udon Soup

Udon soup is a Japanese dish consisting of dashi broth (made with bonito flakes and kombu), soy sauce, mirin, and salt. Udon noodles are thick and contain wheat flour and salt. There are several types of udon soup, but I usually like to order the nabeyaki udon because it comes with tempura, soft boiled egg, and vegetables. My soup is a milder version of the traditional tom yum gai (Thai chicken soup) with shitake mushrooms, spinach, scallions and carrots.

Like many Asian noodle soups, they’re served cold in the warmer months and hot in the winter months. What’s served with the soup depends upon what vegetables or meats are plentiful during that season. Try chilled noodle soup in the summer if you haven’t yet.

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Thai Chicken Udon Soup

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