Tag Archives: cauliflower

Work-Week Vegetarian Favorite Recipes

30 Jan

As a follow-up from last week’s post on my friend Kate’s experience on transitioning to a more veggie-full lifestyle, I asked her to please share with us her fave KarmaFree Cooking recipes.

Something I always tell my non-vegetarian friends, whom are many… is that you do not need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the recipes in KarmaFree Cooking. Most of the recipes are made with ingredients easily available in your neighborhood supermarket. Only a few are made with “fake meats” and even those, could works without them either.

Here are 3 of Kate’s, the workweek vegetarian, favorite KarmaFree recipes… maybe it’ll give you a chance to give some of these recipes a second chance too.

Kate and her handsome husband, Alessandro


One thing about eating vegetarian that I didn’t realize was a factor is that there is a LOT of fried food recipes. I mean WOW. Really? I went vegetarian during the week to help my high cholesterol! So I suppose that one has to be picky and choosey in any diet scenario.    KFC – Kate, remember KarmaFree Cooking is written by a Puerto Rican, and “frituras” are part of our culinary vernacular. Sorry about that…

KarmaFree Cooking really gives me great ideas. I use the recipes posted, but I bookmark many that are easily adaptable. One that I have actually printed out and keep in my cookbook is the Cauliflower Cheese and Mac.  When it’s cold outside and we want something a little rib-stickier I can take out the Cauliflower and sub for potatoes and cabbage!


It’s pretty insane that my husband has gotten to the point where he ASKS for certain dishes that are meatless. One that he asks for often are the Yellow-Mustard Fingerling Potatoes.  I usually put them alongside a big omelet (1 yolk for every two eggs) filled with sautéed onions and peppers and mushrooms.


Another recipe that I’ve been able to adapt into just about anything is the Leek Rice.  OH MAN. I LOOOOVE Leeks. I should get that printed on a trucker hat or some mud flaps for my car because I really do. They’re such a misused ingredient. Italians are so NOT into Leeks that they’re one of the cheapest vegetables at the market. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!? Ugh. So I make Leek Rice for just about anyone who comes over for supper. If it’s one of the rare evenings that I eat meat, it’s really perfect to put with anything. I especially like it with poultry, but during the week I pile it high on my plate with some Broccoli Rabe and Walnuts or Cashews.


I am so glad to know some of our recipes have changed someone’s perception of vegetarian food and cooking. That someone who before shied away from something vegetarian, now asks for it. I feel like I am accomplishing my goal with KarmaFree Cooking then. Please share your favorite recipes with your family and friends. We would love to have them around to visit us often.

What are your KarmaFree Cooking favorite recipes??? Please share with us too…

Broccoli and Cauliflower Stuffed Shells

24 Jun

  A few weeks back I was figuring out what to do with the broccoli I had gotten in my CSA box…  I like it steamed or as part of a salad… but the farmer had told me the leaves are really good and I just was not sure how to cook them.  In Puerto Rico, or maybe it’s just me, we are not too fond of cooked leafy greens.  It’s just not part of our regular culinary vernacular.  But lucky enough, I saw this recipe for stuffed cannelloni from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home.  It was just the recipe I needed to use up a lot of broccoli in one single recipe.

The broccoli I get in my CSA box is small… sometimes I questioned if it was really broccolini or even broccoli rabe.  So that’s why I used a few bunches of my CSA broccoli, but the recipe calls for ½ a broccoli stalk.  I guess you could use it all if you wanted.  This CSA broccoli came with lots of leaves, so that’s why I really wanted to use up and not waste.

CSA - Brocoli

When I am trying out new recipes, I rarely like to cook them just for myself.  Some people call me brave because I am willing to test and try out things I have never cooked before on my friends.  So I invited my friends Annie Mariel and Laura to try out this recipe with me… these were the brave and lucky two who got to try this one first.  Since then, I have made this recipe a bunch if times… they loved it!!!  When my mom tried it she thought the filling had cheese in it…   it’s so creamy.

But don’t be intimidated by the ingredient’s list…  I looks like there are too many ingredients, but if you think of it in components in the dish, it’s neither that long nor very difficult.  You’ll see…

  Stuffed Shells - Broccoli 3


½ of a large head of broccoli, chopped into medium sized pieces, including the stem and leaves
½ head of cauliflower, chopped into medium sized pieces too
2 tbs olive oil, divided for the filling and the tomato sauce
6-7 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
A pinch of Red pepper flakes – you can add more if you like the heat
About 12 -16 brown-rice pasta shells – I use the Tinkyáda brand
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Devon double cream – it’s a Jamie Oliver-inspired recipe, I had to use English cream…
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fried tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
About 1 tbs vinegar – I’ve used white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Basil leaves – optional
  1. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil. 
  2. While the water boils, chop the cauliflower and broccoli.  Make sure you peel the outer skin of the broccoli stalks and chop the leaves as small as possible.  Do not use the stems of the leaves, just the leaves.  The stems will never puree well… I tried. 
  3. P1070371
  4. Add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower to the salted boiling water and cook for about 10 -15 minutes.
  5. When the broccoli and cauliflower have been for about 5 minutes already in the pot of water, heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a medium sized pan with tall sides.  Add the garlic slices and the red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, but not browned or bitter.
  6. Very carefully pass the broccoli and the cauliflower to the pan where the garlic and pepper flakes are.  Drain the vegetables as much as you can before placing in the oil, because the oil WILL SPLATTER.  I usually have a splatter guard in hand to make sure the oil does not catch me.  Mix the veggies with the garlic and pepper. 
  7. brocoli y coliflor blanched
  8. Add some salt and pepper to season and cook covered for about 30 mins, until the vegetables turn into an unrecognizable mass where they no longer retain their vegetable shape.  The leaves will not disintegrate…
  9. While the veggies cook, let’s prepare the sauces…
  10. For the tomato sauce, mix together the tomato puree, salt, pepper, vinegar and a small drizzle of olive oil.  Set aside. 
  11. For the white sauce, mix together the double cream, sour cream, most of the parmesan cheese and season with some salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  12. Also, bring again the large pot of water (with new water please…) to a boil.  Add salt and add the pasta shells.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they have grown in size a bit, are flexible to the touch, but still not fully cooked.  Drain the pasta shells and rinse with cold filtered water to stop the cooking process and cool them enough to handle.  Set aside.
  13. Shells - Par Boiled
  14. After the veggies are cooked, use an immersion blender to turn the veggies into a puree.  Make sure all the leaves are pureed and remove any stringy parts that may be around…
  15. Now we assemble… in your baking dish pour the tomato sauce on the bottom.  Using a small spoon, fill each shell with the broccoli/cauliflower puree and place in the baking dish. 
  16. Stuffed Shells - Broccoli 2
  17. After all the shells are filled and placed on the baking dish, spoon the white sauce over the shells.  If you want, now is the time to add some basil leaves, put I have made it without and the dish doesn’t need it…  now sprinkle some additional parmesan cheese on top of the white sauce and finish with pieces of fresh mozzarella on top.
  18. Now we assemble25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden brown.  As always… when the time is up, just turn the oven off and leave it there for about 10-15 more so it finishes cooking.

  Stuffed Shells - Broccoli 1

I served this with a very simple tossed salad and sweet baked plantains.  We had mango sorbet with kiwi pieces for dessert…

Cauliflower and Cheese Mac

28 Apr

This is another one of the recipes described in my Foodbuzz 24,24,24 – A Very Veggie Experiment post…


A few weeks ago I tested my Undercover Carrot Mac and Cheese as a way to “sneak in” some added veggies into my niece’s, Mariana, dinner.  A reader suggested me to try it too with cauliflower.  So this is my version of mac and cheese with added cauliflower.  I also used Jerusalem artichoke pasta to add to the nutrition and unknown vegetables used.

                                                          cauliflower      jerusalem-artichokes-2

I usually make mac and cheese with a white cheese sauce. I thought it would be something different the kids would enjoy – steering away from the orangy sauces they’re so used too. 




½ a head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
½ a box of macaroni pasta, I used De Boles Jerusalem Artichoke pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbs sofrito
1 ½ cups of soy milk
4 oz of cream cheese
¼ cup gruyere cheese, shredded
¼ cup pecorino romano cheese, shredded
2 handfuls of Italian-blend grated cheeses
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
Kosher salt and Black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water as if if were sea water.  Add the cauliflower pieces and cover for about 10 minutes. 


Meanwhile, we need to prepare the cheese sauce…

  1. In a medium pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil and sofrito.  Cook for about 2 minutes until the sofrito doesn’t look raw anymore.  Add the soy milk and heat up. 
  2. When the 10 minutes of cooking the cauliflower had passed, add the macaroni pasta to this same water.  Move all well so the pasta does not stick and boil all contents for about 8 minutes more.
  3. When the soy milk is heated start adding the cheeses – I use this order cream cheese, gruyere, pecorino romano.  Whisk them all to make sure they melt well into the milk.  Finally I add the Italian blend of cheeses and I take it off the heat. 
  4. Strain the pasta and cauliflower and return to the pot.  Add the cheese sauce and mix it all together.
  5. macaroni-coliflor
  6. Transfer to a baking dish and top with parmesan cheese.
  7. Place in a 350F oven and bake until the top is golden brown about 30 minutes.


Mariví was amazed that this has cauliflower and was so good.  Ignacio felt there was something more in there than just mac and cheese and kept asking me how I made it…  Diego just didn’t care and started shoveling it in.  The two little ones did not understand how a mac and cheese was white instead of orange.  So I convinced them to try it again after I mixed in a few slices of American cheese into their portions – bringing to the cheese total to 6 – the cheesiest I have ever made a mac and cheese before.   

                                        kamila-eating     diego-eating-2


The learning…   you make mac and cheese from scratch for the little ones, make it ORANGE with regular orange-color cheddar cheese.  They’ll find it more familiar and will not look at it as funny as Kamila and Daniel did.

Foodbuzz 24,24,24: A Very Veggie Experiment

26 Apr

When I was a little girl I was a very picky eater… so much that my parents put me in a school where they offered lunch to see if I would expand my eating horizons.  For 2 years I ate white rice and ketchup for lunch.  True… my mom would ask me everyday what I had for lunch and I would reply – Arroz con ketchup!  Proudly…

But my pickiness never came because my parents never offered me a wide variety of foods.  They always instilled in me I had to TRY EVERYTHING BEFORE I could say I didn’t like it.  In my former life, before I became a vegetarian, there used to be a time where I would only eat the paella rice and not eat anything else in it.  I would only eat the sauce of stewed beans and still remember how my dad tried to teach me to swallow oysters with cocktail sauce… never did it, but became a fan of the sauce and horseradish.  Also, when in a ballet summer camp, they made us go on a diet where we ate steamed broccoli and cauliflower…  I hated the taste, the smell, the texture, but now I eat them regularly.  I also remember how in my Quinceañero I spent the whole evening eating these delicious “onion rings”.  When I told my mom how good they were, my mom told me there wasn’t any onion rings on the menu… that they must have been the calamari rings!!!  I never took the calamari off the paella anymore after that.  And I remember the first time I had marinated tofu in a sandwich and fried gluten… that fried gluten tasted like pork “chicharrones” rinds and I was “scared” that someone at the yoga center got confused and made something not suitable for the vegetarians at the party.

                   calamari_in  Don’t they look like onion rings???

 My point… people, kids and adults alike are many times prejudiced with what THEY THINK something tastes like.  They think they do not like to eat something because of its color, its appearance, their idea of its taste.  Something I have learned throughout the years is that you might not like a specific ingredient in a specific preparation… but if you give it a few tries you might like it prepared differently.  For example, I much prefer eggplant battered and fried than stewed.  I very much prefer garbanzo beans in a hummus than in a bean salad… you would “never” see me eating a bean salad.  That’s something I have not been able to conquer or think I will…



Being such a finicky kid, believe it or not, I was not the finickiest…  My friend Mariví was worse than me.  We have a LOT of history together.  And it was not until we were late in high school that she came to eat at her first salad bar.  We went to Ponderosa to eat and she asked me if she had to eat the salad… I said emphatically “OF COURSE!!!, why else would we come to Ponderosa if not for the all-you-can-eat salad bar???”  She confessed, with her salad plate in front of her, that she thanked me because it was the first time she had tried lettuce, tomato and corn.  I could not believe her mom had not taught her to eat salad…  It was so far-fetched to me, as finicky as I was…


Now time has passed… Madelyn is vegetarian and Mariví has 5 kids!!!  Yes, that was not a typo…  5 kids – Ignacio who’s 11, Diego who’s 10, Kamila who’s about to turn 8, Daniel who’s 4 and the newest one, Sergio who’s just 3 months old.  They’re as finicky about eating as Madelyn and Mariví were when growing up…  the thing is that by having also a finicky mom, it’s my theory they’re not as exposed to as many foods as they should be…  And this might be my own impression, but I see plain hamburgers without an ounce of lettuce, tomato, or even ketchup at their birthday parties… and when I mention certain things to eat to my goddaughter Kamila, she makes faces at me…


So I decided to hold a little experiment…  I would prepare a meal for Mariví and her 4 oldest kids without telling any of them what is in any of the dishes.  They will eat them, enjoy them, hopefully even LOVE them and then afterwards tell them what was in it…  to prove to them that they do indeed like to eat more than what they’re exposing themselves to and to expand their eating horizons.   It is my belief that kids learn mostly by example and what better example than their parents habits.  If the parents do not eat something or do not expose kids to certain things they will not gain an appreciation for them.

They came over without knowing of the experiment… I did not want them to prejudice themselves knowing I am vegetarian.  I explained to them I had made dinner and I assured them they would love it all.  And if they wanted to know about how anything was made, I would tell them at the end of the meal.

Here was last night’s menu:

Asparagus Party Sandwiches

Cauliflower and Cheese Mac

Breadfruit Tostones

Lettuce, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberry Sauce


Asparagus Party Sandwiches


    I can remember the first time I ate an asparagus sandwich at a birthday party.  I just ate it thinking it was a regular “sandwichito de mezcla” just rolled into a different shape and loved it.  It was not after I had eaten about 10 of these little sandwiches that someone told me it was asparagus.  I was hooked.

I knew Mariví’s kids would be surprised about liking them too…  I just make a mixture of jarred asparagus and egg-less mayonnaise and spread it onto whole-wheat bread.  I flatten the bread so I can roll the sandwiches and give them a fancier look.  Sometimes people place a whole asparagus spear in the center and then roll the bread around it, but because I knew these guys are finicky, I just made a puree out of the ingredients to avoid any apprehension before they tasted them.

Both Ignacio and Diego smelled them before putting them in their mouths… so typical of a finicky kid!!!  Ignacio, Diego, Kamila and Mariví all loved them.  They were all trying to figure out what was in them.  Ignacio and Diego had about 4 each and even told me they would love to have them again…

 ignacio-esparragos  This was Ignacio’s face when I told him the sandwiches were made from asparragus – HUH?!?!?

Cauliflower and Cheese Mac


A few weeks ago I tested my Undercover Carrot Mac and Cheese as a way to “sneak in” some added veggies into my niece’s, Mariana, dinner.  A reader suggested me to try it also with cauliflower.  So this is my version of mac and cheese with added cauliflower.

I usually make mac and cheese with a white cheese sauce. I thought it would be something different the kids would enjoy – steering away from the orangy sauces they’re so used too.   I cooked the cauliflower in the same water as the macaroni.  I used Jerusalem artichoke pasta instead of the regular semolina pasta.  I then combined it all with a cheese sauce made from soy milk, gruyère, pecorino romano, cream cheese, an Italian-blend grated cheeses and Parmesan.  I baked it all in the oven for about 30 minutes to get the crust golden brown.

Mariví was amazed that this has cauliflower and was so good.  Ignacio felt there was something more in there than just mac and cheese and kept asking me how I made it…  Diego just didn’t care and started shoveling it in.  The two little ones did not understand how a mac and cheese was white instead of orange.  So I convinced them to try it again after I mixed in a few slices of American cheese into their portions – bringing to the cheese total to 6 – the cheesiest I have ever made a mac and cheese before.   The learning… when you make mac and cheese from scratch  for the little ones, make it ORANGE with regular cheddar cheese.  They’ll find it more familiar and will not look at it as funny as Kamila and Daniel did.

ignacio-eating          kamila-eating

Breadfruit Tostones


Tostones in Puerto Rico are typically made from plantains… but you can make tostones also out of Breadfruits.  We call them PANA in Spanish.  Breadfruits are very polarizing – people either love them of they hate them.  There’s a breadfruit tree behind my grandma’s house and I decided to expose Mariví’s kids to breadfruit.

These were a complete hit!!!  Everyone wanted to be in the kitchen with me when I fried them and everyone gobbled them up.  Even the little ones went for the tostones first before they started on the fixed-up mac and cheese.

Tostones need to be fried twice… so I had fried them for the first time earlier in the week and kept them frozen in a Ziploc bag.  I defrosted them in salted garlicky water and fried them again right before eating them.

 diego-eating Diego going first after the Breadfruit Tostones…

Lettuce, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Thousand Island Dressing


I knew this was going to be the most difficult one to “sell” to these kids.  They are just not used to eating salad. But I had to give it a try…  I used organic romaine lettuce and organic cucumbers.  I bought mini cherry tomatoes and told them these were tomatoes specially made for kids.

I made them a Thousand Island Dressing to go along with the salad.  That used to be the only dressing I liked when I was a kid, so I figured they might prefer that to any vinaigrette I could make.  I started with a Mayo Ketchup base and added some sweet pickles.

Some of them tried the tomatoes only but they were not impressed.  It was so sad to see all the salads left almost intact…  I was the only one who really ate the salad.  Everyone else, including the mom, left salad on their plates.  This was the real challenge… but I will not give up.  I will make them eat salad if it’s the last thing I do for that family…

Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberry Sauce


Recently, Kamila had told me she loved strawberry ice cream. So when this idea started I decided to make strawberry ice cream from scratch for her.  Unfortunately, I live this crazy life that I did not have time to fix it.  So I decided to do the next best thing I knew… prepare a fresh strawberry sauce to top vanilla ice cream.

This is great with any berry, in fact, the original recipe I learned from Ina Garten in her Barefoot in Paris book.  I had made it with raspberries, but strawberries are cheaper and more readily available.

Just cook some fresh strawberries with some water and brown sugar.  Mix them in a food processor with strawberry preserves and voilà!! – Fresh Strawberry Sauce.  Kamila even wanted hers with a fresh strawberry as a garnish.

Surprisingly, the little ones loved this strawberry sauce, not so much the older ones.  They exchanged it for plain ice cream.


I believe all in all this VERY VEGGIE EXPERIMENT was a SUCCESS!!!!  More thumbs up than thumbs down… overall.

Marivíand her kids were exposed to a bunch of different foods they are normally not exposed to – asparagus, cauliflower, gruyere and pecorino romano cheeses, Jerusalem artichoke pasta, pickles, breadfruit…  And out of the 5 things I prepared, they liked 4 of them with the salad being the most challenging of all.  Which I was really expecting…


I hope Mariví now has learned how exposing her kids, and even herself, to foods she might not be familiar to is a good thing.  They will in the end be healthier and better-rounded individuals.

Based on this experience, I will make an effort to invite the kids over more often to expose them to foods I know they might never try otherwise and even teach them how to prepare these dishes for their parents.

For complete directions on how to prepare all these dishes, stay tuned in the next few days to KarmaFree Cooking when I will share the recipes and instructions in detail.

Fried Cauliflower

11 Jan

We already established I like fried foods, right?

But believe me, for the amount of fried foods I have posted on this blog, I do not eat that many of them… maybe like once a week, maybe. I think it’s just that we’re around the holidays here and these are “more or less” permissible things around the holidays… eat fried foods now, diet and exercise in the new year… But I find that if you exercise and eat healthy all the time, as part of your daily routine, you can indulge every once in a while in a fried morsel of crispy goodness.


Here are my interpretation of Fried Cauliflower. I learned to eat this, believe it or not, at the salad bar at Ponderosa Steakhouse. The salad bars here in PR offer, in addition to the standard salad fare, corn sorullitos, macaroni and cheese, cooked corn, steamed carrots, and sometimes, fried cauliflower. They’re sooooo tasty. But the secret of their tastiness is in the batter. Let me show you how…



1 head of cauliflower, cut in medium sized florets
2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
2 tbs cornstarch
3 tbs sofrito
1 tbs salt or garlic salt
1 tbs Herbamare herbed salt
a few grinds of cracked black pepper
water – about 2 cups
a few sprinkles of paprika – optional
Canola oil – for frying
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch and the water. Mix the water slowly, maybe in two batches. The idea is for the batter to be the same consistency as pancake batter.
  2. Add to the batter, the sofrito, salt, herbed salt and pepper. Add paprika, if using.
  3. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Dunk the pieces of cauliflower in the batter. Clean the piece of any running batter and place carefully in the hot oil.
  5. Fry the little morsels until golden brown on all sides. It should take a few minutes – this way the cauliflower will cook/soften a bit and the batter will be golden brown and crunchy.

Eat on their own or dunk in Mayo Ketchup.

Hope you like them!!!

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