UPC’s Paella Mofongo!

SeafoodMofongo

This weekend, my wife and I are headed back to Washington DC to catch the Magnolias, Cherry Blossoms, and some more of the sight seeing. We were so impressed with our trip last weekend (it was our first time together) that we just couldn’t pass up an airline deal taking us there this weekend again. We’re going to be a little more careful about our sleep, and bring our cameras everyone with us. And hopefully next week you’ll get to see a couple of posts on Washington DC food! If things go really well, perhaps the Urban Paleo Chick will put together a post on running tours of the Capitol, and some of the other sites we’ll see.

UPC’s Paella Mofongo

I’ve been messing around in my mind with the Traditional Puerto Rican Mofongo recipe for some time now. This is part of my “process” – I think about things for a long time before taking action on them. And some of the time it ends up looking like I’m really impulsive, which is amusing, because often the seemingly impulsive action or meal is something I’ve been actively mulling over for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. This Mofongo post was started, and has been in various stages of draft form, for more than 3 months now. So it’s exciting for me that I’ve finally settled on a recipe that I wanted to cook, and share!

This is a rough combination of two traditional meals, both of which I like very much! This turned out to be a decent approximation of both dishes, but is certainly not precisely either of them… Paella is a rice dish, and until cooking it as a Mofongo, I didn’t have a good way to replicate the dish without using grains. Mofongo, unlike Paella, is actually a Paleo recipe in it’s traditional form, and it’s great! But as I mentioned, I’ve been working on a Paella idea for a while, and cooking it as a Mofongo turns out to be really quite effective! This recipe has really given me ideas, so you’ll likely be seeing more versions of Paella and Mofongo in the future!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb mixed wild-caught Seafood (mine is mostly shrimp and octopus)
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 1 large Zucchini, chopped
  • 4 Plantains, 1-inch slices, browned then mashed
  • 2 Plantains, chopped
  • 1 heel Garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (or fresh herbs, if you have them)

Serves: about 4; Cook and Prep Time: about 35 minutes

First slice the 4 Plantains, put them in a large soup-pot with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, and fry them on low heat. If you have a cover for the put, you can use it – we want these to cook through, not just brown. I cooked these with the heat on about 3 out of 10, so that the cooking process was more thorough, without too much chance of burning. This also allowed me to focus on the other pieces of the meal while I was letting this cook, with the occasional stirring.

In a pan, put the seafood mix, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and cook on high. Like the Plantains, I would cover this too, if you have a cover for this pan. If you’re using a frozen mixed-seafood bag like I do (wild caught, of course!) then there should be plenty of water in the seafood to cook down as the seafood is cooking. By the time we get to the next step, the seafood should be fully cooked, and there should still be just a big of the seafood water left in the pan.

While the two pans are cooking, take the chance to prepare the remainder of the meal. Slice up the carrots, chop the zucchini, and most importantly, dice the garlic. All of these will be used, almost simultaneously, during the final few minutes of cooking, so it’s good to get the prep work out of the way as soon as you can – there won’t be time to be chopping these when you need them. Don’t forget to keep stirring the plantains in the pot. Finally, chop up the last two plantains.

After about 20 minutes of cook time, put the carrots in another pan, and cook on medium heat, covered. This dish is much better with the carrots softened by cooking them a bit. You can add a bit of coconut oil to the pan to reduce the chances of burning. You can also add just a little bit of water, which can speed up the process. And you can add both… The flavor of the coconut oil is great on cooked carrots, and of course, it won’t stick out in this meal!

At the same time, add the zucchini, garlic, and remaining plantains to the seafood pan, keeping the heat on high, and stir it in. The Plantains should suck up the remaining water pretty quickly, so you can only ignore this pan for another 30-60 seconds once you add them in. Turn the heat off for the plantains in the cook pot. Again, you only have 30 seconds, so don’t turn your mind to a new task – stir some things, especially the carrots, to spend that time. Once you hear the sizzling that indicates the water is all absorbed, turn off the heat immediately. As the pan cools, start stirring it vigorously, until the pan is cool enough that nothing in the pan will burn.

Now add the olive oil and spices to the pan, cover, and let the olive oil warm up. This will be added to the Plantains and carrots in a few minutes. You can now mash the plantains. I used a potato masher, since I didn’t have a proper Puerto Rican wooden mortar and pestle, but this dish came out amazing! I think a potato masher is fine, if you don’t have the mortar and pestle to do it “properly”.

Once the Plantains are mashed, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

SeafoodMofongo1

Serving:

This is a stand-alone dish. Since I’ve added the zucchini and carrots, I don’t really expect this to be served with a salad or some sort of green vegetable on the side. Be careful about which vegetables you decide to switch the zucchini for; flavor and texture are very important for this dish, and if they don’t mix quite right, it may offset the delicious flavors of the rest of the meal! My wife and I have had the beautiful wooden dishes that you see in the picture sitting around waiting for the right chance to use them. If you have something like this, it will compliment the presentation of the meal tremendously! If not – eat the meal from a bowl – it will still be delicious!

For more “What’s For Dinner” and “What’s For Breakfast” posts, check back daily! If you have anything to ask, request, or comment on, please post it in the comments – I love to hear from you!

What’s For Dinner? – Coconut Calamari & Shrimp with Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash over Arugula

PaleoCalamari

My wife and I took a trip over to Washington DC this past weekend, hoping to catch the first couple of Cherry Blossoms peaking out of their buds for some spring sunshine. We were in luck, because that is exactly what we got! We saw about 2 trees which were fully in bloom. They probably had the perfect amount of sun exposure, through the tall buildings, and just the right amount of root-warming from the sidewalks in front of them. They were gorgeous! I love cherry-blossom festivals, and the other spring flower festivals that happen all over the country!

It’s a long drive home from DC. With traffic, it took us about 5 and a half hours, and the driving was not fun. Half the time we were cruising along, light traffic, good speed. The other half the time we were caught up in bumper-to-bumper, 25mph creeping traffic, on a 4-lane highway. And there is nothing I want more when I get home from something like that than some quality comfort food! I was seriously craving my White Wine Coconut Shrimp – but it was not to be… I was out of shrimp. Fortunately, I had a mixed bag of frozen wild-caught calamari and shrimp which I had been saving for just this sort of occasion!

What you’ll need:

  • Shrimp and Calamari
  • 1 pound wild uncooked calamari (or the calamari and shrimp mix which I used)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or the constituent ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash
  • 1 rutabaga, chopped
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cubed (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons crushed walnuts (pecans work too)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Start the Butternut Squash first. The whole meal takes a bit of preparation, but it’s worth every minute of it! First cube the Butternut Squash, put them on an oiled baking sheet (this is where you use the coconut oil) and lightly season them with the Italian seasoning. You may like to add salt and pepper to this as well, but do it for flavoring purposes, and keep it light and even. Put these in the oven on 250 for 60 minutes.

After 35 minutes of bake time, start the Mashed Rutabaga. Chop this up as finely as you can stand and put it in a pot. With the rutabaga in the pot, fill with water up to the top of the rutabaga, add the coconut butter, and turn it on high. If the rutabaga is pre-chopped, start this process about 20 minutes before the butternut squash is finished, or after 40 minutes of bake time.

Once the Rutabaga is cooking, start the Shrimp & Calamari. I used a 1 pound bag, and this was good for about 2 servings. Empty the bag in to a large sauce pan, add the seasoning and coconut butter, turn the heat on high and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the Butternut Squash is finished, stir both the Shrimp & Calamari and the Rutabaga. Things are going to happen fast now, so keep on your game! Leave the Shrimp and Calamari uncovered. Now is the time when we want the liquid in the pot to boil off, leaving the coconut butter and the spices behind to stick to the shrimp and calamari. The flavor you will get from the coconut butter, the spices, and the wild-caught seafood is a great combination of the fresh, crisp seafood flavor with the thick rich flavor of the coconut butter and Italian seasoning. Mash the rutabaga at about 2-3 minutes remaining on the bake clock. You’ll want this to be pretty well mashed, so take your time.

As soon as the Butternut Squash is finished, add it to the mashed Rutabaga, as well as the crushed walnuts, and stir thoroughly. Give this another 2-3 minutes of cook time before serving. While it’s in the final phase of cooking, make sure that the Shrimp and Calamari are being stirred regularly, and don’t get stuck to the pan. You can turn the heat down at this point, if it helps. And this is the time to get the plates ready, and put down the bed of Arugula.

Serving:

I know this is takes a bit of prep time, and it’s an involved meal to make, but trust me when I tell you: It’s worth it! As I said above: put the arugula down first. I didn’t put any dressing on the arugula. Now serve the rutabaga and butternut squash over the arugula, and the shrimp and calamari along side.

PaleoCalamari1

And enjoy! For other “What’s For Dinner?” Meals, check back daily to Urban Paleo Chef!