Valentine’s Day is coming up so I thought it would be fun to make gluten free heart-shaped crackers. Before making these crackers I had never used red lentils but I’d heard about them and thought they might produce a cracker in honor of Valentine’s Day that was some shade of red. Well, it turns out red lentils are not red at all, but more orange in color. I thought I could fix this by adding some beets and was encouraged when the dough mixed up to a beautiful deep, ruby-red color – perfect for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately the crackers lose that beautiful deep red color when baked. I was going to rework the recipe to omit the beets but they give the crackers an earthy quality that would be lacking without them and, more importantly, everyone that tried the crackers said they were delicious as is and that I shouldn’t change a thing.
Once you try this recipe it’s highly unlikely you will ever buy ketchup at the grocery store again. It’s so simple to prepare and you won’t believe the difference it makes in the way your food tastes. There is none of that harsh tang and excessive sweetness you get with store bought ketchup. It is simply the essence of tomato with a few savory additions that heighten the natural tomato flavor. It’s great on burgers and fries but also makes a delicious cocktail sauce for shrimp (just add horseradish if desired) and is a great base for barbeque sauce too. Pretty much anything you’d put store bought ketchup on will taste better with this as a condiment. And it’s a lot healthier too. It’s no secret that most ketchup is made with high fructose corn syrup – a refined sweetener that is unhealthy to consume. More and more food companies are replacing high fructose corn syrup with less refined, more natural sweeteners, yet it’s still found in most mass produced ketchup. All the more reason to make your own! One tablespoon of this ketchup has less than 1 gram of sugar versus 4 grams of sugar in your typical store bought ketchup. It also has 50% less sodium. Once I discovered this recipe I started buying the 6 oz. cans of tomato paste by the case at my warehouse store. Since the rest of the ingredients are, for the most part, pantry staples, I almost always have what I need on hand to make this.
You probably already have most of what you need to make this ketchup in your pantry right now.
Drizzle olive oil over the head of garlic before wrapping it up in aluminum foil. Some recipes will tell you to slice off the top of the head of garlic prior to roasting. This isn’t necessary. The garlic roasts just fine left intact so I eliminate this step to simply the recipe.
The right balance of colors on a plate can rouse the senses before even the first morsel of food is put into your mouth. We taste with our eyes first. This salad is a perfect example of how just seeing a dish can fire up your taste buds and ready them for a delicious meal. Whenever I’m serving an entree that’s lacking in color I can always count on this salad’s bright and vivid ingredients to make an otherwise bland looking plate come alive. Using the peppers as a serving vessel provides an extra pop of color and makes beautiful presentation.
If you prefer, you can serve this salad without the pepper cups, as pictured above. In this case, you’ll only need 1 orange bell pepper for the recipe.
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white part and green parts)
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons organic blue agave
cilantro (optional garnish)
Place the frozen corn in a microwave safe container, microwave on high for one minute, and then blot with a paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the lime citrus vinaigrette. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, agave, cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the top off of each of the four peppers. Remove the stems, ribs and seeds from each pepper and then chop the tops only.
Rinse and drain the black beans and add to a big bowl along with the chopped pepper tops, corn, avocado, grape tomatoes, and scallions.
Re-whisk the lime vinaigrette and pour over the black bean mixture. Combine thoroughly.
Spoon some of the black bean salad into each of the four peppers and garnish with cilantro if desired.
Serves 4 in the pepper cups with an additional 10 - 6 oz. servings. If you don't want to serve the salad in pepper cups simply eliminate all of the peppers except for the orange bell pepper. Then chop the whole orange pepper (in lieu of 4 pepper tops) and present the entire salad in a serving dish. Honey or maple syrup may be substituted for the organic blue agave.