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
October 17, 2010 § 1 Comment
Off all the vegetables I’m likely to swoon over, the watery celery stalk is dead last on the list (tied with tasteless green bell peppers). I never buy, eat or really spend any time thinking about celery. But I bit the bullet and bought a handful of celery stalks this past week for a recipe experiment.
Let me back up: I’ve been on the lookout for good pomegranate recipes (hang with me a second; celery plays a hand, I promise). It’s pomegranate harvest time in the southwest and I have six pink poms sitting on my counter top. While I love the little seeds just as much as the next person, there are only so many handfuls I can eat plain on top of my yogurt bowls. After perusing a half-dozen recipes and finding little inspiration, I asked my mom for advice. She voted for a bulgur salad, created by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. I admit, I was skeptical — none of the ingredients really “sent” me, save the toasted walnuts. But I started fiddling:
I scaled back on the celery, threw in another quarter cup of walnuts, amped up the bulgur, swapped out the pom-juice for orange juice (I like a little citrus tang) and doubled the garlic quota. I also tried scaling back on the olive oil as well as nixing it entirely — both were delicious although I preferred the texture with a spritz of oil. In the end, I loved it. While this salad throws a lot of different tastes together into the same dish, the texture is fantastic. Each bite has a different “crunch” — a crispy-snap from the celery, a beefier bite from the walnuts, a sweet surprise from the pomegranates and a nutty chew from the bulgur.
Bulgur is a whole grain, high in fiber. Bulgur purchased in grocery stores or bulk bins is often par-boiled and dried and sometimes part of the bran has been removed. There are a few different methods of cooking bulgur. Most commonly bulgur is steeped in boiling water for about an hour or simmered. I’ve tried both and prefer the simmering method (the bulgur seems less crunchy); but feel free to dabble!
1 + 2/3 cup bulgur, raw
2 cups celery, chopped on slight bias
seeds of 1 pomegranate (de-seeding tutorial)
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic
sea salt, pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
1. Cook bulgur according to packaging instructions (either by steeping in boiling water or simmering with a pinch of sea salt). Here are a few tips for some additional reading.
2. Meanwhile, chop celery, de-seed pomegranate and chop parsley. Set aside. In an unseasoned skillet, toast walnuts on medium-heat until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes).
3. Prepare dressing: Finely chop garlic. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top and pound it with a back of a fork until it forms a paste. Mix with OJ and, if using, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside. When bulgur has finished cooking, pour dressing and allow it to soak.
4. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Best served at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
April 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
I cannot begin to dole out enough effusive adjectives for this little salad. And I’d like to point out that I’m rather surprised I like it as well as I do. Generally speaking, I don’t get particularly – or even remotely – excited about quinoa, and I’m really not a big fan of mint (except in a watermelon & feta salad). But I have a surfeit of the former and an overzealous mint plant in my backyard, so I decided to cut a couple of stems, whittle-down my grain stash and dabble with a new salad experiment.
Out of all the salads I’ve made in recent months, this one may be the most addictive. While I can usually eke out four lunches from a salad this size, I happily polished off this salad in half the days. What won me over – more than the crunch of toasted walnuts and the delicate plumpness of citrus-soaked dried blueberries and cherries – was the superb flavor from the Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons have an almost-orange-like taste about them, yet they still provide a sour zing. But, if you can’t find them at your farmers’ market or local supermarket, try squeezing one lemon and one orange and using the combined juice for this salad.
Two final notes: Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper – they’re crucial for rounding out the flavor. Lastly, while this salad is tasty both hot and cold, it really shines at room temperature or just slightly warmed. I suggest preparing this salad 2 hours before serving time.
zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup dried berries (dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste
1. In a 2:1 ratio of water to dried quinoa, fill a pot with water and quinoa on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook quinoa for 15-18 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, toast walnuts on the stove in a brimmed, oil-free skillet until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes). Alternatively, bake in the oven for the same amount of time at 375 degrees. Chop in rough pieces and set aside.
3. Place dried fruit in a bowl with lemon zest. Cover berries with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir, thoroughly incorporating the liquid with the berries.
4. Chop mint and parsley. When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and dump in a large bowl. Combine with walnuts, citrus-soaked berries and herbs. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon) and several cracks of pepper. Combine with a tablespoon of fruity olive oil (or more) and taste. Add additional Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
October 17, 2009 § 2 Comments
Last Saturday I picked up a twisty-tied baggie filled with large, grade A medjool dates from a Syrian shop by my old house. Typically, I enjoy eating dates plain or I take out the pit and stuff a pecan, large walnut or scoop of peanut butter inside. Generally speaking, when I treat myself to dates, I can’t imagine eating them baked or stewed or blended into something new.
But, after my grocery rendezvous, I found an enticing recipe on the internet featuring dates! I debated whether it was worth it to hack-up my delicious dates and throw them into a batter, fearing they’d lose their luster in a tangle of cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. In the end, I decided to give it a shot. These muffins were moist and savory, and each bite had a warm, gooey piece of date or a crunchy piece of walnut. They also freeze wonderfully.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other alternative or milk)
1/3 cup molasses*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates, pitted & chopped
few pinches of extra all purpose flour
*COOKING TIP: To avoid molasses sticking to the measuring cup, simply grease the inside of the cup with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Measure desired amount of molasses into the cup. When you pour the molasses into other liquids it will slide right out and leave little-to-no residue in the bottom.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Add soy milk and vegetable oil. Grease the 1/3 cup with vegetable oil (see above note) and measure molasses. Whisk with a fork and incorporate into dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. Roll dates in flour and fold into batter.
COOKING TIP: Because dates are gooey when cut and are prone to sticking together, tumbling dates in a sprinkling of white flour and then folding them into the batter ensures they are able to move uniformly throughout the dough and not clump together.
4. Spoon batter into muffin trays 3/4 full. Depending on the muffin size, the baking time will vary. For small muffins, mine were set in the middle and clean (from the “knife test”) within 18-20 minutes. For larger muffins, the cooking time will vary between 23-28 minutes.
5. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack so they set. To remove muffins, carefully take a dull knife and run around the edge of each container and gently pry out.
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
March 7, 2009 § 1 Comment
I haven’t posted all of my granola experiments, but I’ve been buzzing around the kitchen trying to create my favorite type. In the past I’ve made sesame granola, agave granola and peanut butter granola. But I keep coming back to this blend of ingredients.
Please tweak to taste. You might like it with other things: maple syrup instead of honey, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds instead of pepitas, more quick oats, less quick oats, chocolate (heck yeah!), cashew butter instead of peanut butter…
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas (squash seeds)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter, natural
1/3 cup honey*
pinch sea salt
*If following a strict vegan diet, substitute maple syrup.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop nuts and mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan on the stove, mix peanut butter, sea salt and honey. Heat on medium-low until melted. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
3. Spread oats on two rimmed baking sheets. Put on two different levels in the oven and cook for 8-9 minutes. Swap sheets and cook for another 8-9 minutes until golden-brown. Leave on counter for at least an hour to crisp-up and cool down. Store in an air-tight container; will keep for up to a month.
Diet Notes: vegan (see asterisk), gluten-free
October 29, 2008 § 2 Comments
My Aunt K recently asked me to experiment with lower-fat granolas!
There’s no oil, no butter, less peanut butter.
Instead of sugar, my sweetener of choice was agave nectar. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is mostly fructose and can be used in place of granulated sugar in baking recipes; 1/3 a cup agave nectar can be substituted for 1 cup of granulated sugar. (Although the liquid content of the original recipe should be reduced if you plan to bake with agave nectar.) Agave nectar has a low glycemic level and doesn’t have any processing chemicals added, unlike table sugar.
1 cup rolled oats*
1 cup quick-oats*
1 tablespoon ground flax meal
3 tablespoons agave nectar
3 tablespoons natural, chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup walnuts
* If gluten-sensitive, seek out oats that have been processed in a wheat-free facility to prevent cross-contamination.
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix oats and flax together in a bowl.
2. In a pot, heat peanut butter and agave nectar. Once combined, pour on top of oatmeal mixture and mix.
3. Mix in sliced almonds. Cut up pecans and walnuts; mix into mixture.
4. Spread granola on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until oatmeal begins to turn brown. Remove from oven and let crisp and cool on a baking sheet for at least an hour.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan