Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Take me to the recipe!

So, I have to confess something: I’m not sold on the pretend-cauliflower-is-the-same-as-carbs trend. I’ve had the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi and it’s good, but it’s not gnocchi. I’ve resisted cauliflower pizza crust because…I just…can’t. I like cauliflower rice, but only with other strong flavors.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

However, I do like cauliflower, especially when it’s covered in cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs.

Cacio e pepe purists may hate this recipe, but hear me out. The best part of cacio e pepe is the creamy sauce that’s achieved by mixing the starchy pasta water with cheese. But when you roast cauliflower, the stalks and larger pieces actually do get a little creamy.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

And my kiddo likes things with a crunch more than things that are soft and creamy, so throwing in a little panko is a nice textural counterpoint to the softer cheese and veggies.

Add a drained can of chickpeas and you have an actually filling vegetarian meal or a hearty side.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

1 large head of cauliflower
1 can chick peas; drained, rinsed, and dried
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds of freshly ground pepper
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (3 oz)
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup panko
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425.

Drain and dry one can of chickpeas. Set aside.

Remove the leaves from your cauliflower, but leave the central core intact. Chop into 1-inch slices. You’ll probably get between 2 and 4 intact steaks and the rest will fall into florets, which is fine.

Place the cauliflower steaks and chickpeas onto your sheet pan and then fill in with cauliflower florets.

Brush the steaks, florets, and beans with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the steaks are just fork tender. (You don’t want mushy cauliflower, but this is the majority of the cooking the steaks will do, so use your best judgment about how cooked you like your veggies.)

While the veggies and beans are roasting, pulse the cheese in a food processor until it’s in coarse crumbles (if not using pre-grated). Add the garlic, panko, salt, and pepper and pulse until the garlic is minced and everything is mixed together. Set aside.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven. 

Spread a thin layer of mayo over the steaks and any of the larger florets of cauliflower. Top liberally with the cheese, panko, salt, and pepper mixture. Press lightly into the steaks to get the cheese to stick.

Return to the oven and roast for another 10-12 minutes until the cheese is brown and crunchy. Keep an eye out that the cheese doesn’t burn.

Yield: 4-6 side dishes, 2-3 main dishes

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Chicken meatball and cauliflower rice banh mi bowl

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So, this is technically a recipe for a banh mi bowl, but the components can be customized in zillions of ways. The chicken meatballs can go in any direction, as can the cauliflower rice.

But first, banh mi. It's technically a Vietnamese sandwich with pickled carrots and daikon radishes, cucumbers, cilantro, a spicy mayonnaise, some sort of pate or liverwurst, and another cooked meat. Availability of great Banh mi is the one thing I miss about living in Brooklyn where we used to order these sandwiches at least once a week. That's also possibly why I gained a lot of weight when we lived there.

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Now when a craving strikes, I like to incorporate banh mi flavors in a cauliflower rice bowl. 

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I have mixed feelings about carb and starch substitutes. Unless whatever you're eating with the cauliflower rice is really flavorful, I don't think it passes for regular rice. However, while not really rice, I love this cauliflower on its own merits. It's really simple: sauteed onions, garlic, and salt are all you need. M even eats it and he is a traditional rice devotee.

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Now, the meatballs. I have experimented A LOT with chicken meatballs. As a perfectionist, I really really want them to be round. I've gone down the rabbit hole of meatball-making tips and so far, none of them have been entirely successful. I've tried adding more and less filler, more and less liquid, more and less fat, cooking directly in a sauce, roasting, sauteing, and chilling in various ways. The most successful tip I can offer from my trials and tribulations is that making them very very small is the key to quick cooking and maintaining a round shape. So if you care about roundness in your meatballs, use 1 teaspoon or less per ball.

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A couple of other notes:
- I've found that cheese is a better agent for adding moisture than milk because it doesn't make the mixture too slack. But while there is cheese in these balls, they don't taste cheesy at all, which makes the flavor more adaptable.
- I encourage you not to overcook these. Since there isn't a lot of fat or filler in these balls, they can dry out if left on the heat for too long. Using a meat thermometer is your best bet for cooking things fully, but not overdoing it.
-Speaking of cooking, I equally like roasting and sauteing these balls. I don't find that it makes a difference in the taste, texture, or shape of the final product. However, it's currently summer here on the east coast of the USA and hot as hell, so I don't always have it in me to turn on the oven. Either cooking method is great, so do what feels best (and least sweaty) for you.

 

Chicken meatball and cauliflower rice banh mi bowl 

Chicken meatballs
1 lb ground chicken
¾ cup panko
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp full-fat ricotta (optional, as it may make the meatballs flatten slightly, but adds more moisture)
1 egg
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

If roasting, preheat the oven to 425.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix minimally with a spoon, spatula, or your hands, just until the ingredients are incorporated.

If sautéing the meatballs, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and heat over a medium-low flame. 

Using wet hands, scoop out between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture and roll into a ball. Add to a baking dish or the hot pan.   

If sauteing: Over medium-high flame, brown on one side and then turn the meatballs over to brown on the other side (about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on the size of your meatballs). Turn the flame to low and cover the pan. Cook until a thermometer inserted reaches 165 degrees or the meatballs are firm when you press on them and no pink remains in the middle, about 4-8 more minutes, depending on size.

If roasting: Cook for 8-10 minutes (again, the larger your meatballs, the longer they’ll need to cook) and check the meatballs (again, they’re done when the internal temperature reaches 165 or the balls are firm and no pink remains in the center).

Yield: 54 mini meatballs (1 tsp) or 24 small meatballs (1 Tbsp)

 

Cauliflower rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ small onion, chopped (a heaping ½ cup)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb cauliflower rice (either pre-riced or use a 1 lb [usually a small] head of cauliflower and chop in a food processor)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over a medium-low flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower rice and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce the flame to low, cover, and cook for 13-15 minutes or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I like a little bit of crunch to the rice, so I prefer to cook for slightly less time.

Yield: 4 cups

 

Pickled carrots and daikon radish
Adapted from The Banh Mi Handbook
1 medium daikon (about 1 lb)
3 large carrots (about 1 lb)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup warm water

Chop your vegetables into thin sticks and add to a large container.

In a separate large liquid measuring cup, add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Mix with a whisk and microwave on high for 30 seconds and whisk again. Repeat as needed, microwaving for 10-15 seconds at a time, to dissolve the sugar.

Pour over the chopped vegetables and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one month.


For the rice bowls:
Meatballs (see recipe)
Cauliflower rice (see recipe)
Pickled vegetables (see recipe)
Fresh cilantro, torn from the bunch
Cucumber, sliced
Scallions, sliced
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Mayonnaise (optional)

To assemble the bowl, use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. We usually get about two adult-sized portions and one kid-sized portion from the cauliflower rice with meatballs and pickles left over. If your family is larger, increase the rice as needed and adjust cooking times. Your onions and garlic may need another minute each and the overall cooking time for the cauliflower may be slightly longer as well (but test often after the above instructed 15 minutes to avoid overcooking).

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Veggie waffles

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Who resolved to eat more vegetables a few weeks ago? Who's still doing it? I'm going to be optimistic and say, "Good for you!"

I, for one, didn't make any resolutions this year, so I haven't broken any. However, I did make a list of cooking goals. For someone who cooks a lot, there are still many things I want to learn and master. Like bread. I've never made bread! How that possible?

Until then, these savory waffles are delicious for breakfast, but even better for lunch as a swap for sandwich bread. The veggies are held together with gluten-free garbanzo flour, eggs, and a few tablespoons of potato starch. The waffles are sort of latka-adjacent and as such, the potato starch makes them a bit crispier when they're first cooked. (In case you didn't know, potato starch is the secret to crispy latkes) However, once they cool, they get softer and more bread-like, so the starch isn't strictly necessary.

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After giving all of the veggies a rough chop, you want to pulverize them in the food processor. This keeps the final product from being too chunky. Also, releasing some of the veggie liquid makes the batter more batter-y, so don't worry if the blended vegetables look too wet.

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Veggie waffles

¾ lb potatoes (about 1 large or 3 small potatoes)
½ medium onion
½ cup cauliflower (heaping)
½ cup broccoli (heaping)
1 medium carrot
1 large garlic clove
¾ cup garbanzo flour
2 Tbsp potato starch (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat your waffle iron.

Roughly chop all of the vegetables and place in a food processor. Process until all large chunks have been emulsified. Dump out into a large mixing bowl.

Add the garbanzo flour, potato starch (if using), salt, pepper, eggs, and olive oil and stir well to combine.

Grease your waffle iron with olive oil or avocado oil (spray is the easiest) and spoon about ¼ cup of batter into each opening of your waffle maker (ours makes two medium-sized waffles at a time). Cook until done according to your machine.

Top with fried eggs, cheese, ham, turkey, avocado, etc.

Yield: 9 waffles

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Burgers! Burgers! Burgers!

Buffalo chicken burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner or game day snacks. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #gamedaysnacks #buffalochickenburger

Buffalo chicken and cauliflower burgers and salmon and sweet potato burgers are on heavy rotation in our house, especially during Whole 30. Throw an egg on top and it's breakfast. Add some roasted veggies or a mashed sweet potato and it's lunch. Chop one up and throw it over a salad for some extra protein with more flavor than plain old chicken or salmon. See? Versatile. Also, both of these are M's favorites.

Salmon and sweet potato burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner and has a hint of sweetness for those sweet cravings that plague every Whole 30-er. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #salmon #salmonburger #sweetpotato

I especially like eating the buffalo chicken burgers on Sundays because they feel like a game day indulgence. If you're heading to a party, make these into sliders or meatballs and bring them with you. No one will know they're Whole 30 and you'll have something great to eat so you can fearlessly be social while also sticking with this re-set you've taken on.

The salmon and sweet potato burgers are clutch when I'm craving sushi. We're lucky that M loves salmon, so it's not hard to stack his diet with Omega-3s. But I hate the way the salmon smell lingers in our small apartment when we cook it on the stove, so this recipe utilizes canned wild salmon that, frankly, doesn't necessarily smell better, but definitely smells less.  

Buffalo chicken burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner or game day snacks. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #gamedaysnacks #buffalochickenburger

Did I mention that I FINALLY had success making my own pickles this weekend? I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe, but swapped out dill for a few cloves of smashed garlic because I hate dill.

Salmon and sweet potato burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner and has a hint of sweetness for those sweet cravings that plague every Whole 30-er. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #salmon #salmonburger #sweetpotato

On the side, we've been serving sweet potato, purple carrot, and delicata squash fries. To roast, heat the oven to 425, cover your pan with parchment paper, spray the paper with olive oil, toss your vegetables onto the trays, add a few glugs of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt, and roast for 20-25 minutes, until you get the browning you want on the outside. I check them after about 10-15 minutes and give the tray a good shake to flip some pieces over. I've heard that one trick to getting crispier oven fries is to heat the pans ahead of time, but I never notice enough of a difference to warrant the extra step. But if you try this, let me know how it works!

Buffalo chicken burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner or game day snacks. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #gamedaysnacks #buffalochickenburger

Buffalo chicken burgers (Whole 30)

1 lb ground chicken
1 cup riced cauliflower
½ medium red onion
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup almond meal
1 egg
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp clarified butter
3 Tbsp Frank’s hot sauce

Add chicken, cauliflower, onion, garlic, almond meal, and egg to a large bowl and combine using your hands or a spatula. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the hot sauce and stir to combine. Form into 6 equal patties using a 1/3 cup measure.

Coat your pan with 1 tsp clarified butter and heat over a medium low flame. When hot, add chicken patties and turn up the flame to medium. While the first side is browning, sprinkle some of the clarified butter/hot sauce mixture onto each patty. When the first side has a good sear, flip the burgers over and coat the other side with clarified butter/hot sauce. After 2-3 minutes, check the sear. If brown enough for you liking, turn the flame down to low, cover, and let cook for 8-10 more minutes. When meat thermometer has reached 165, your burgers are done. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the meat reabsorb some of the juices. 

Yield: 6 burgers

Buffalo chicken burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner or game day snacks. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #gamedaysnacks #buffalochickenburger
Salmon and sweet potato burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner and has a hint of sweetness for those sweet cravings that plague every Whole 30-er. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #salmon #salmonburger #sweetpotato

Salmon, sweet potato, and sage burgers

2 cans boneless, skinless wild caught salmon, 6 oz each
1 large sweet potato, roasted or microwaved (7-8 oz)
2/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp dried sage
2 eggs
2 Tbsp dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and smash with a fork. Mix very well. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium flame. Shape into 6 patties using a 1/3 cup to scoop out equal amounts for each patty and sear on one side. Let cook until there is a good browning on one side and then carefully flip. Cover the pan and turn the flame down. This will allow the burgers to steam a bit and cook through while also browning the outside.

Yield: 6 burgers

Salmon and sweet potato burger | Me & The Moose. This Whole 30-compliant burger is perfect for lunch or dinner and has a hint of sweetness for those sweet cravings that plague every Whole 30-er. Throw an egg on top and it could also be breakfast. #meandthemoose #whole30 #whole30recipes #burgers #easydinner #quickdinner #dinnerrecipes #lunch #lunchrecipes #salmon #salmonburger #sweetpotato