February 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
I tend to be overzealous about a number of things (ie. an empty email inbox, books (of non-electronic varieties), election cycles, coffee, citrus and cocoa powder, to name a few). Last week, after gabbing with farmer friends and ogling over the bounty of winter grub, I came home with four, enormous cloth bags of spicy winter greens. I can’t help myself.
With only two, lonely cubes of garden, basil pesto in the freezer (and wanting to save those for a rainy day), I decided to do a riff off of traditional pesto and use spicy greens for the leafy base instead. After a few trails, this recipe is my favorite. (A close second had a few squeezes of meyer lemon blended in at the end.)
4 cups arugula (packed)
1 clove garlic, large
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional, if desired)
1/2 cup asagio cheese, grated
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
Pulse arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese in a food processor. Slowly add olive oil and blend to desired consistency. Freezes and thaws well.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free
March 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
If I were cast away to a deserted island and had to choose two foods (heaven forbid) to consume until the rescue mission, I think I’d eat my mom’s sourdough beer bread and pesto for the rest of my days. Today, I’m going to talk about the later.
Typically my mom whips up gigantic, 9 cup batches of basil pesto a few times each summer, harvested straight from the prolific plants we tend in the backyard. We recently planted this year’s spring garden — (take a peek at our garden overhaul) — and our basil plants are spindly and puny. We’re about a month away from our first summer harvest and winter’s stockpile of frozen pestos has reached a distressingly low count. I’ve been craving the taste of olive oil and herbs, Parmesan cheese and garlic and last week, my mom reminded me of an old favorite — a pesto we used to make so often it rivaled basil pesto. Bring in a new herb: CILANTRO! (I’m so sorry if you’re a cilantro-hater. If you are, try parsley!)
Cilantro pesto is finger-lickin’ good. As a matter of fact, I ate a couple finger-fulls of cilantro pesto, right out of the food processor before I took this photograph. But when you marry this green, speckled slurry with noodles, tender winter greens and a handful of heirloom tomatoes (or if you live in a frostier neck of the woods and can’t find tomatoes locally — skip them for now), this dish is downright delicious. Feel free to use any kind of pasta you like. Lately I’ve been cooking with brown rice noodles (gluten-free and they taste just like whole wheat pasta), so that’s what I suggested on the ingredient list below.
Ingredients for Pasta Salad:
5 cups brown rice noodles, dry
pasta cooking water
6 cups winter greens (arugula, rainbow chard, spinach, etc.)
1/2 cup baby onion/scallion, chopped
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro pesto (recipe below)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Ingredients for Cilantro Pesto:
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Reduce heat to a simmer, salt the water and add pasta and cook according to instructions.
2. Meanwhile, combine all pesto ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a blender or food processor. Blend until finely chopped. Slowly add olive oil and continue blending. Taste and add additional olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet, saute scallion/baby onion until wilted and slightly brown (about 7 minutes). Add winter greens, reduce the heat to medium-low and put a lid on top of the pot. Steam until bright green and wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove lid. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until heated through (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat.
4. When pasta has finished cooking, using a slotted spoon, scoop pasta into the sauteed vegetables, reserving the pasta water. Add cilantro pesto to the pasta and stir, adding a ladle of pasta water to the dish as necessary to create a light sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Eat warm or at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free
February 11, 2011 § 4 Comments
If you were to take a peek in my recycling bin on any given day, you’d likely see a few glass tea bottles, a cardboard box or two and at least half a dozen empty jars of chunky, all-natural peanut butter. I can’t think of a day in the last eight months when I haven’t eaten PB scooped on top of oatmeal, shmeared on a muffin or scooped from the jar via spoon (favorite). I’m a peanut butter fanatic. As such, I’ve been tweaking one of my all-time favorite sauces: you got it! PEANUT SAUCE. This recipe has been four months in-the-making and I’m grinning at this very moment, because I’m awfully exited to finally share it.
Side note: I’m not a vegan, but if you’re trying to convert your loved one to veganism, good heavens — start with warm noodles and veggies, dredged in peanut sauce. This dish is hearty, healthy, gluten-free, comforting and delicious. After the photo shoot (above), I served my mom this plate and between bites she smiled and said, “Reg! I just don’t want it to end!”
Before we begin, a couple recipe notes:
(1) There are few foods on earth that I truly cannot stand, but ginger and green peppers are two of them. The later is irrelevant, but ginger is often a used in peanut sauce recipes. If you can’t live without ginger, go ahead and throw in a minced teaspoon or two.
(2) After whisking the peanut sauce, should you stick it in the refrigerator (or even if your house is a little chilly) it might thicken a bit. To reconstitute it, simply add hot water to the sauce a tablespoon at a time. I generally have to add between 3 and 6 tablespoons of hot water during the making of the sauce or just before serving it.
(3) To me, the very best salads not only offer great flavor, but fun textures, too. Keep this in mind when portioning the toppings: Don’t skimp. Second, depending on what veggies are in season, you may want to roast rather than stir-fry. (To me, roasted veggies pack the best flavor.) I roasted the broccoli and chopped green beans and sauteed the shredded Brussels sprouts. By combining roasted and sauteed veggies, this noodle salad offered different veggie sizes and textures in each bite.
(4) I’m a Meyer lemon nut and hunt for them every winter. Check out your local farmers’ market to see if they’ve got ‘um — but if you don’t have them at your disposal, not to worry: Try using half lemon juice, half orange juice whenever the recipe calls for Meyer lemon juice.
Ingredients for the Heart-Swoon Sauce:
2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup chunky, all-natural peanut butter (salted)
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
3+ tablespoons hot water, to loosen
1/4+ teaspoon sea salt (or more, to taste)
Ingredients for the Dish:
8 oz. rice noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts (about 12 sprouts)
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 large handful arugula
sea salt, pepper
2 cups broccoli, chopped, bite-size
1 cup green beans, chopped, bite-size
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, pepper
Ingredients for Toppings:
1/3 cup scallions, chopped on diagonal
1/3 cup salted peanuts (chopped or not chopped, depending on your preference)
3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted preferred)
few tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prep veggies. Wash broccoli and green beans; chop in bite-sized pieces. Wash arugula and rinse and shred brussels sprouts. On a large sheet pan with a rim, combine green beans and broccoli with a generous pinch of sea salt, cracked pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until al dente and slightly charred around the edges — about 20-25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook according to package instructions. (Note: I find that 7-8 oz. of noodles is a good amount for four or five generous servings of this salad.)
3. Prepare sauce: Whisk together all ingredients. Add hot water to loosen sauce as needed. Set aside.
4. In a large sauce pan on the stove, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute shredded Brussels sprouts with a pinch of sea salt and pepper until wilted and slightly carmazelized around the edges. Add juice of half a Meyer lemon and washed arugula and cook until the arugula has wilted and most of the lemon juice has evaporated — about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Prep toppings.
5. When rice noodles are cooked al dente, drain and add 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce to the hot noodles to allow them to soak in the flavor. Toss noodles with shredded sprouts, arugula, broccoli & green beans. Add additional sauce as needed, reserving a few tablespoons for individual dishes. Garnish with cilantro, sesame seeds, salted peanuts, scallions and a drizzle of extra sauce.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
November 15, 2010 § 6 Comments
I am a muffin FANATIC. I live for mornings that jump-start with mongo-muffins with cracked tops, splitting open, leaking berries and hiding clumps of nuts and oats. The other day, a new muffin-recipe caught my eye: A savory, no-sweet-stuff muffin. I’ve made savory muffins before, but mine were kind of like quiche. Heidi’s pumpkin and feta muffins, on the other hand, are real muffins: Their base is two cups of flour rather than a slurry of egg and cottage cheese, and they’re flecked with delicious-sounding add-ins.
I’ve tweaked Heidi’s recipe and included some of my most favorite flavors. These are not my standard, googly-eyed breakfast muffins bulging with dried fruit and nuts or chocolate and bananas or smelling of all spice and nutmeg. These fellas are dense, speckled with sunflower seed crunches, snappy arugula bites, sweet butternut squash hunks and loads of flavor from a couple scoops of whole grain mustard and a fluffy pile of grated Parmesan and cheddar cheese. Packed with veggies and whole grains, these guys are a stand-alone meal. While I don’t dig into them for breakfast (I cave to my sweet muffin varieties with homemade pumpkin coffee on these chillier, Fall mornings) I’ve rather taken to these toothsome, squashy-mustardy bites accompanied by a bowl of creamy tomato soup or my favorite lip-smackin’ chili.
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, pepper
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 handful arugula
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, sharp
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
3/4 cup plain almond milk (or milk preference)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast cubed butternut squash with a sprinkling of sea salt, pepper and olive oil to coat. Bake until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, mix flour, powder and sea salt in a separate bowl and gently mix with a fork. To the flour mixture, add arugula, parsley, sunflower seeds and cheeses. Toss with a fork and set aside.
3. When butternut squash is tender, remove from oven and combine with flour mixture. The heat from the squash will help wilt the arugula (and make the flavor more subtle and less bitter). Add liquids and mustard to the batter and gently stir until totally incorporated. Scoop into greased muffin tins. Depending on the size of the tin, cooking time will vary. In a 350 degree oven, cook smaller muffins (12-to-a-tin) for approximately 22-25 minutes. Larger muffins (see above photo) may take 30 to 33 minutes. Pierce muffins with a knife to test; if clean, remove from oven. Let cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes to set. Cool completely before packaging. These muffins freeze-and-thaw wonderfully and stay fresh on the counter for several days.
October 11, 2010 § 1 Comment
With subtle hints of autumn floating through my open windows, with cool winds swirling through the rest of the Lower-48, and frosty gales sweeping through the northern-most countrysides (it’s 24 degrees at my aunt’s house in Alaska!), it seems appropriate to post a hearty, comforting, chalk-full-of-good-stuff fennel-tomato-squash-peas-beans-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-stew. This recipe is tweaked from Saveur. While the majority of the recipe follows standard soup guidelines — saute vegetables in shifts, add water and seasonings, boil, simmer, re-season — the beginning of this recipe is slightly different:
Instead of sauteing an onion with soup aromatics, we pulverize the onion along with garlic, a little olive oil and a handful of herbs and then saute in an un-seasoned pot (no olive oil glug at the bottom) until all the water evaporates — all this before adding the next shift of vegetables. This technique creates a thicker broth and richer flavor. This soup is marvelously flexible. If you don’t have butternut squash, cubed sweet potatoes make an excellent replacement. Add a few cups of cheesy tortellini to the mixture; try cannelini beans instead of garbanzos for a creamier texture.
Start-to-finish, this soup can be ready in a half hour. However, I recommend prepping this soup at least 12 hours before serving (overnight is ideal). Let the pot hang-out, untouched, on the back-burner after it’s cooked, allowing the flavors to meld. When it comes time to eat, reheat, doll out ladles of stew into separate bowls and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top. Very good paired with crusty sourdough bread, dredged in butter and roasted garlic.
One final note: I prefer the taste of roasted butternut squash over boiled. Prior to making soups that feature butternut or acorn squash, I often roast the squash chunks in olive oil and sage leaves and then add the cooked squash to the stew toward the end of the cooking process. However, if you’d prefer to forgo that step — and it will still taste marvelous if you do — skip the roasting and add the raw squash when adding carrots and fennel.
2 cups cubed butternut squash
olive oil, sea salt, pepper
8-12 sage leaves
1 yellow onion, large
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup basil, loosely packed
1 tablespoon + olive oil
5-6 medium carrots, chopped
2 heads fennel, sliced
1 + 1/2 cups whole plum tomatoes + juice, roughly chopped
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked*
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
few handfuls spinach or arugula, optional
Parmesan cheese rind
1 -2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
sea salt, pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
*For those following a strict SCD diet: Swap garbanzo beans with dry white beans, lentils or black beans after 1+ month symptom-free. Soak dry beans 24 hours before cooking to remove excess starches.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cubed butternut squash with a coating of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and sage leaves. Roast for 20 minutes, until softened. (You can do this the night before or day-of.)
2. In a Cuisinart or blender, pulverize onion, garlic, basil and 1 tablespoon + of olive oil. When the onion reaches the consistency of a slightly-chunky, translucent chutney, stop blending. In a large pot, pour onion mixture and heat on medium high until all water evaporates (approximately 5 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, chop carrots and fennel. (If you choose to forgo roasting the butternut squash, chop squash now.) Add carrots and fennel (squash, optional) to pot when onions begin to turn brown. If the bottom of the pot looks a little dry, add a few drips of olive oil or a splash of water. Saute until slightly-crisp, about 7-8 minutes.
4. Add 4 cups of water, plum tomatoes and juice and 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans. Add Parmesan rind and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When carrots and fennel are al dente, add peas, roasted squash and a few handfuls of spinach or arugula to the pot and stir. Add 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1-2 minutes and remove from heat. Let sit, preferably for 12+ hours, lid on. Before serving, reheat and remove Parmesan cheese rind. Garnish each bowl with a generous handful of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)
January 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
Today is my first full day of work since graduation and I’m positively itching with excitement! Today marks the beginning of a new era: a life with packed lunches and no homework! (In Regina-lingo: BLISS!)
This past weekend I spent eons (cha-ching!) at farmers’ market booths and came home with two sack-fulls of desert winter bounty: herbs, winter squash and lettuce galore! As a result, I spent a good portion of my weekend in the kitchen, whipping up soup after salad after bread, dolling out each recipe into giant Tupperwares — prep for quick lunch-packing later this week.
This orzo salad, however, was simply too good for a fast back-of-the-fridge shove. As I nibbled a few bites I started to chuckle (no one heard, save my dog, who bee-lined into the kitchen, tail a-thumping). “Forget leftovers!” I thought as I promptly retrieved a small bowl out of the kitchen cabinet and ladled myself a warm, addictive meal (at only 3 o’clock in the afternoon, for Pete’s sake)! This salad was inspired by Melissa Clark (a hoot!) from the New York Times.
1.5 cups whole wheat orzo (uncooked)*
1 large rutabaga, chopped (approximately 1-1.5 cups)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice from 1/2 orange (2-3 tablespoons)
1 small shallot, minced**
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/3 cup toasted Brazil nuts, chopped
4-6 cups arugula
* For gluten-sensitive eaters, swap whole-wheat pasta with brown rice or quinoa pasta.
**I love a sharp tang of onion or shallot in my dishes. But if you’re a bit more sensitive to this flavor, instead of adding raw shallot to this salad as I’ve suggested below, you could pan-fry a few medium-shallots in a bit of olive oil until wilted and slightly crispy and add at the end, along with the feta and rutabaga. Alternatively, you can add minced shallot to the dressing (along with the garlic). The vinegar and salt will take off some of the edge.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel/cut skin from rutabaga. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste and maple syrup. Layer evenly on a baking sheet and bake approximately 25-35 minutes until slightly crisp around the edges and tender in the center.
2. Meanwhile, bring salted water to a boil on the stove. Add orzo and cook according to package instructions.
3. Prepare citrus dressing: Combine minced garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk. When orzo has cooked, drain and toss with dressing and set aside.
4. Chop Brazil nuts and toast in a dry skillet on medium-heat for approximately 7 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside.
5. Wash arugula and layer in the bottom of a serving bowl. Layer dressed orzo on top of arugula and toss slightly – the arugula will wilt a bit from the heat and take away a bit of the peppery edge. When rutabaga has finished baking, remove from oven. Layer orzo salad with roasted rutabaga, shallots, Brazil nuts and crumbled feta. Serve immediately, at room temperature or cold.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free (see asterisk)
July 24, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Last Sunday I made this gigantic salad and packaged it away in big, portable yogurt containers to tote to work for my lunches this week. Each day I’ve pried off the plastic lid, dumped the contents unceremoniously onto a large plate and I’m telling you – I’ve loved it so well, I’m seriously considering making a make-shift repeat for tomorrow with the sparse leftovers I have in the back of the fridge. This salad has won its way to my “top salad favs” list because it has a wonderful blend of textures and flavors. (This recipe was inspired by some experimental new pesto blends I’ve been whirling up and a beautiful update from Smitten Kitchen.)
If you want to try this recipe, I highly recommend three things: First, don’t short change the arugula. Second, take the time to toast the walnuts; the taste and crunch-quality of toasted walnuts is terrific, especially paired with a fork-full of potatoes! Third, if you can find fingerling potatoes, buy a pound or two. In a pinch, you can chop up a large Yukon Gold, but fingerling potatoes have terrific taste and are more fun to eat.
1 bunch arugula
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1/2 pound green/yellow beans
3 large leeks
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup basil
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (full-fat preferred)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop fingerling potatoes, coat in olive oil and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until crispy around the edges.
2. Simultaneously toast walnuts in the oven for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and golden-brown; check repeatedly to make sure they don’t burn. If you prefer, you can also toast on the stove in a dry pan.
3. Heat a medium-sized pot on the stove to blanch green beans. Meanwhile, prepare dressing: in a Cuisinart, blend cilantro, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Whirl, adding olive oil and lemon juice as needed. When the dressing is smooth, spoon in a few scoops of yogurt to thicken it up and set aside.
4. Heat a rimmed skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Wash leeks.
(Cooking Tip: Leeks are notoriously packed with dirt in-between the concentric crevices. To wash leeks I chop them first, then soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes, rubbing the chopped pieces between my fingers. The dirt will naturally settle to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks will float to the top. Scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon when oil is hot in the pan.) Saute leeks until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic. Stir. Reduce heat.
5. When water is boiling, blanch the beans for 5 minutes or until bright green and al dente. Then, combine with the leeks and garlic and saute a minute or two. Pull out the potatoes, add them to the pan. Remove from heat.
6. In a large serving bowl, tear arugula leaves into large pieces. Spoon dressing over the beans and potatoes until incorporated. Layer on top of the arugula bed. Top with toasted walnuts and serve.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free