I think my favorite thing to make on the planet is a big beautiful salad. I’m pretty much in a constant state of awe when it comes to the beauty and variation found in fruits and vegetables. I love that they can satisfy hunger, look like works of art with doing pretty much nothing and taste incredible. This Spring Market Salad is a celebration of spring. I would pair this with thick slices of fresh crusty bread slathered with salted butter.
Ingredients 6 c. baby greens (kale, spinach, arugula, etc.) 1 seedless cucumber 6 radishes 5 spring onions 1 c. peas (snap or snow peas would work also) 5 asparagus ¼ c. mint leaves, thyme, leaves pulled off the stems and torn.
for the vinaigrette: 2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil 1 t. herbes de provence 1 T. dijon mustard 2 t. honey salt and pepper, to taste parmesan (for garnishing)
Prep the veggies by washing the greens.
Thinly slice the cucumber and radishes.
Slice the spring onions on a bias.
Thaw the peas in hot water then drain if using frozen.
Cut off the woody bottom part of the spear and discard. Slice the tips of the asparagus and then use a vegetable peeler to peel strips from the spear. all will be used for the salad.
Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, oil, herbes de provence, dijon, honey and salt and pepper.
Make the salad: toss the baby greens with some of the dressing, just enough to lightly coat and taste great. Season with salt and pepper.
Build greens on a large platter and arrange the vegetables over the top.
Using a spoon, drizzle more dressing over the top.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel curls of parmesan and sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.
Component in Action
-pair with grilled chicken, lamb or fish
In this story, the hero is my Aunt Jessie, Grandma, Great Grandma and all my other aunts spread across New York’s boroughs back in the day. This is the cold eggplant dish that was a staple for any special family gathering. This is the exact recipe that has been in my family for years. I have been trying to replicate it but just recently my mom found a photocopy of the actual handwritten recipe and it puts my other versions to shame.
I love that this recipe is completely opposite of how I would typically go about making it if left to my own devices, cooking in aromatic layers of flavor taking into consideration each ingredient. I LOVE how this recipe is like “Oh, you’re a chef? That’s nice. Take a seat and let me show you how an Italian grandma gets it done.” Sometimes it really is as simple as throwing everything in a pot and letting the ingredients and fire do the work.
Caponata is the Sicilian version of ratatouille. You can fill lettuce cups, spread it on garlic toast (my favorite), on sandwiches, etc. You could also go wild and eat warmed up with some pasta. shhh..don’t tell my mom:)
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 c. mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
⅓ c. olive oil
1 can tomato paste
½ c. water
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
1 T. granulated sugar
1 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot over medium heat combine eggplant, green bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms, garlic and olive oil. cook for around ten minutes, stirring occasionally. season with salt and pepper.
2. Add tomato paste, water, red wine vinegar, olives, sugar and oregano and cook over low heat covered for around 30 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
3. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
4. Let cool.
Component in Action
-serve as an appetizer on toast, crackers, along side cheese and/or sliced meats
-make it a salad with fresh greens and a lemon vinaigrette
-caponata sandwich anyone?! yes please. with some fresh mozzarella and bread like toasted ciabatta
This avocado feta dip is good with so many things: raw veggies, pita, tortillas, chips, on tacos, sandwiches, in lettuce cups, grilled chicken, fish, etc. You can dip, spread, dunk, smear. Speaking of smearing, I almost forgot bagels! It would be so good on a bagel with turkey breast and sprouts. Wow. It’s almost midnight and I’m making myself hungry. Happy lunching folks!
Ingredients 1 avocado 2 scallions, sliced ½ c. feta, crumbled 1 lemon, juiced ¼ c. fresh mint leaves ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste
combine all ingredients in a food processor. blend until as chunky or smooth as you like.
if you don’t have a food processor no worries! Just use a fork to smash the avocado and feta, fold in sliced mint and scallions and fold in the rest of the ingredients with a rubber spatula. It might not look as smooth but I can guarantee it will taste just as good!
Component in Action
-use as a dip for raw veggies (aka crudites)
-spread on toasted pita
-use as a filling in tacos
-move over mayo. spread on sandwiches
-spread on romaine cups. crunch crunch yum.
-pair as a “sauce” with grilled veggies, chicken or fish
Sometimes the best recipes are so simple, it’s almost easy to overlook them as not being important enough for a whole blog post. But mastering these simple building blocks are how you learn to really cook. I recently made a pot of this quinoa to mix in with a crunchy Vietnamese inspired salad of purple cabbage, kale, carrots, cilantro and mint (hence the photo). We ate this every day for lunch and never got tired of it.
I love to make quinoa risotto-style. This means starting with olive oil, then adding aromatics (the ginger and garlic), the adding the grain (quinoa) and toasting it for a few minutes. Then deglazing with liquid. I’m not gonna lie, making risotto might be a little more fun because there is parmesan cheese, wine and whipped cream involved. But hey, that’s for another post. The point is, even before you dress it up with your favorite accompaniments, there is A LOT of room to make a pot of quinoa amazing on its own.
You could add onion, jalapeno and lime for a taco filling or to pair with avocado and salsa.
You could add shallot, garlic, white wine and fresh thyme to pair with roasted veggies or chicken.
You could add raisins, nuts, cinnamon and a nut milk to make a hearty breakfast.
Ingredients 2 T. extra virgin olive oil 1” piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 t. ground turmeric (or 1 T. fresh, peeled and chopped) 1 c. dried quinoa 2 c. water or veggie stock
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
Add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
Add turmeric and cook another minute more.
Add quinoa and stir for a minute.
Add water, bring to a simmer and cover cooking on low for around 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
Fluff into a bowl with a fork and let cool.
Component in Action
-Use as a taco/wrap filling
-Spoon into a bowl of soup or stew
-Enjoy as a hearty breakfast
-Add cold to salads
-Add hot over greens that just need a bit of wilting, like kale or spinach. drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over, sprinkle with toasted nuts…a perfect side.
If summer was a team in the basketball finals, I’d name hummus MVP. You can dip, drizzle, spread and smear on burgers, raw veggies, in dressings, on pretty much anything grilled.
There are two ways to make hummus. You can used dried chickpeas which take a bit more time to soak and cook, but result in a richer, more flavorful puree. Or you can used canned chickpeas and will be done from start to finish in less than ten minutes. I make both versions, depending on what I have the time for. Don’t waste a second feeling bad if you use canned chickpeas, just know there are two options to choose from depending on what’s working for you at any given time. This week I’m going right to the source, sharing a recipe adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks that came out on Ten Speed Press by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi entitled Jerusalem (2013).
You can make it thicker to dip and thinner to drizzle (less water/more water). You can add other ingredients like jalapenos, cooked beets, extra garlic or fresh herbs like basil or chives to spice things up.
After a few times making it, you’ll probably have the recipe memorized which is pretty sweet when you need to whip up something fast. It not only plays well with others, but when you take hummus off the bench it’s consistently a slam dunk. It doesn’t get much better than this when your putting together your summer line up of essential recipes. Cheers all around for summer and hummus<3.
1 c. dried chickpeas or 1 can (15 oz.) cooked chickpeas
1 t. baking soda (only if you are using dried chickpeas)
1 c. tahini (sesame paste)
4 T. fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
6 T. cold water
salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top (optional)
1.) The night before: If you are using canned chickpeas, put your feet up with a glass of wine and see you tomorrow. If you are using dried chickpeas, put them in a large bowl and cover them with enough water to double in volume. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Ok, now put your feet up with a glass of wine:) Easy peasy.
2.) If you soaked dried chickpeas over night, drain them and put them in a big pot with the baking soda. Stir and cook them for about three minutes.
3.) Add about six cups of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off foam and skins as they come to the surface. The chickpeas will take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple hours to fully cook depending on how fresh they are and how long they soaked. You want them to be break easily when pressed between your fingers. Drain. If you used canned chickpeas, drain and rinse.*
4.) Put them in a food processor or high powered blender (I use my nutri-bullet for hummus and it works beautifully. Blend for a few seconds until they break apart.
5.) Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
6.) Process, blend or pulse until smooth, adding water a Tablespoon at a time until the hummus is silky smooth. Check seasoning and add more salt as needed.
7.) Cover and refrigerate for a half hour or so before serving. Drizzle with high quality olive oil before serving.
*Its important to mention that at this point you could peel the chickpeas. It will make your hummus extra smooth and velvety. It will also take you about ten minutes to gently squeeze the chickpeas between your fingers and the skins will pop right off. Totally optional.
Component in Action
-use as a dip for raw or cooked veggies, toasted pita or even apples
-drizzle over salads, grilled steak or chicken, even fish
-add a spoonful to lemon vinaigrette for creamy salad dressing
-spread on crackers, cucumber slices, toasted bread or even sandwiches
Tonight I needed to make dinner fast for many reasons. Fox is four months and teething and River is four years and wanted to put together every puzzle in the house…together. This is what life is made of. This is what I’ll think of longingly 20 years from now I’m sure, yet I always feel like I am trying to do stuff so I can go do other stuff. For some reason the other stuff seems more pressing, like dishes and laundry and even making meals. But today we made all the puzzles, I nursed the baby so many times I lost count and Hans was able to come home for a quick dinner before heading back out again. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, i was feeling stressed by the time five rolled around. After all, I had been trying to make a cup of tea since 1pm. All of this is to say that we have to make choices everyday and sometimes those choices need to include more time with family and less time in the kitchen.
There are a few things I try to keep on hand in the pantry and fridge: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, lemons, coconut cream or milk, fresh dark greens like spinach or kale and turmeric. It just so happens that these ingredients saved the day. But just because these specific ingredients saved my day, doesn’t help you much if your fridge and pantry tell a different story. This is why learning how to build a one pot wonder is so much more important than just following a recipe. You are the pot stirrer. You are the flavor expert for you and your people. Once you know what blocks to use, then you can start to riff in the kitchen and feel more confident.
You build a one pot wonder from the pot up. A hearty glug of olive oil over medium heat and then you begin building, stirring as you go.
a couple T. of fresh ginger and garlic (chopped) a heaping t. of curry powder
a t. of ground tumeric (or if you have fresh add it chopped with the ginger and garlic)
salt (to taste)
big splash of white wine (optional)
juice from half a juicy lemon
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 head of chopped cauliflower (or riced cauliflower)
around 10 dates (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. frozen peas
a bunch of fresh spinach (washed well)
1.) Add onion (chopped or sliced)
2.) Add some aromatics, in this case I added finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
3.) Add dried spices. Tonight I added curry powder, ground turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
4.) Deglaze. This means add a bit of liquid to release everything from the bottom of the pot. I had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge so I added a big splash of wine, a half a lemon juice and a can of coconut milk.
5.) Add in hard vegetables and anything you want to cook. I added a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and some chopped dates. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
6.) Now add anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added a rinsed can of black beans and a cup of frozen peas.
7.) A few minutes before you sit down to eat, throw in a bag of fresh spinach (or other cooking greens) and put a lid on for five minutes. Boom!
Component in Action
-In addition to adding the onion at the beginning, you could also add carrot, celeriac, celery or tomatoes, bell peppers or even bacon.
-some other options for aromatics? try lemongrass, fresh tumeric, rosemary (finely chopped or whole sprigs so you can pull out later, fresh thyme finely chopped)
-Instead of curry, you could add herbs de provance, or even dried chilis or chili powder. You could also skip this step and wait until the end and add lots of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or parsley or chives.
-for deglazing you could also use stock or even a few big splashes of cream.
-Instead of cauliflower you could add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, soaked dried beans…
-Instead of canned beans and frozen peas you could throw in towards the end other green vegetables like broccoli
-Instead of a bunch of spinach at the end you could also throw in other greens like swiss chard, rapini or kale.
It’s been one of those weeks where on Thursday I was sure it was Tuesday, and small tasks like going through a stack of paperwork on the desk was the big project of the week. Such is life with a six week old baby and we are soaking in every moment of getting to know our sweet Fox. This week we learned that he likes to have his arms raised above his head and he rewards us with the biggest smile each time, which is pretty much the best thing ever. When River was born (who is almost four now), I was always looking ahead, eagerly anticipating the next phase or shift in development. I have thrown that anticipation to the wind with Fox, because now I know how freakishly fast it all goes. So it’s been blissful and exhausting all jumbled together. All of this is to say, it took me three days to find a window of time to throw this soup together and it took less than an hour!
This week, when planning out our meals, I knew a soup would be easy and would last for a few lunches and dinners. I had a butternut squash and a big yellow onion that needed to be used. I checked the cupboard and saw a box of chicken stock hiding behind a box of ziti. I opened the fridge and saw there were a couple apples with bruises, and Oh! I found a can of coconut milk too… This is how soups can be a great way to save food from going to waste. This is also a perfect playground to let yourself wander away from a rigid recipe, enabling you to practice trusting your instincts and taste buds.
Ingredients 1 butternut Squash (halved and seeds scooped out) 2-3 T. olive oil (or butter) 1 large yellow onion (cut roughly into 1 inch pieces) 1-2 Apples (peeled and cut roughly into 1 inch pieces) 1 t. ground turmeric (or 1 T. fresh peeled and sliced) 1 t. Ground cinnamon 2 T. brown sugar (optional) 1 can, unsweetened coconut milk or cream Vegetable or chicken stock to cover by one inch
1.) Rub both inside halves of squash with olive oil and season with salt. 2.) Roast in the oven at 400 f. Until tender when pierced with a knife. 3.) While the squash is roasting, heat 1-2 T, of olive oil or butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot. 4.) Saute onions and apples over medium high heat, stirring frequently until they turn a golden brown. 5.) Add brown sugar if you want, turmeric and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another minute. 6.) Pour in the can of coconut milk to deglaze, and with a wooden spoon scrape all the caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pot. 7.) Once the squash is roasted, scoop the squash into the simmering pot. 8.) Cover by one inch with stock. 9.) Bring soup to a simmer and season with salt to taste. 10.) Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!
Component in Action
-substitute the butternut other kinds of squash or pumpkin
-use a little less stock to make a thicker version and use as a base under grains like quinoa or brown rice
-use as a sauce under fish or scallops
-spread on toasted garlic bread
-use as a warm dip for pita chips and apple slices (great for kids)
I grew up in a country crock house. It was the 80’s-90’s and butter substitutes were the rage and thought to be healthy compared to the real thing. I still remember with fondness the brown tub with the friendly looking barn logo, and smearing the golden spread on warm slices of amish friendship bread. I’m sure until the end of time we will continue to learn and have new theories popping up about what is healthy, so I’m not judging (hi mom!). I’m just thankful now we know that soybean and palm oils are not great for our bodies or the environment.
I actually remember the first time I tasted butter. I’m sure I technically tasted it before at our house or somewhere else, but I’m talking about the first time I really tasted it. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade and my family was at a graduation party for a high school student from our church. I remember standing at the buffet table out in the yard, streamers and balloons weighted down with 2-liters of pop to keep them from blowing away. I remember looking at the assortment of cake, veggie platters, chips and dips, sloppy joe simmering in a crock pot, and then there were dinner rolls with butter in a glass butter dish.
The butter wasn’t too soft or hard. It spread perfectly on the roll and it was then I noted it’s absolute superiority to butter spreads. It was like a wave. First I tasted the salt, then quickly followed by sweet cream all of which rolled over and through the soft and yeasty dinner roll. This was one of those “When I grow up moments” where I internally promised my middle school aged self that when I grew up I would always have real butter in my house. So I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t grow up during World War II where butter was carefully rationed. To this day I still have a bit of a love affair with the real thing and thankfully it still tastes like a treat whether spread on toast, a ham and cheese sandwich, or melted to make these croutons.
This is also a great way to stop bread from going into the trash. Sometimes I’ll make these as soon as I notice a partial loaf of bread has been hanging around for a while. I can promise that these won’t go to waste.
2 c. bread (your favorite kind, diced or torn into pieces)
1/4 c. melted butter
Salt (to taste)
1.) Preheat oven to 350 f.
2.) Line a sheet tray (aka cookie sheet) with a silpat, parchment or foil (easy clean up!)
3.) Toss bread and melted butter in a bowl.
4.) Spread out into a single layer onto the sheet tray.
5.) Sprinkle with salt.
6.) Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until croutons are crisp and golden brown.
Component in Action
-sprinkle on soups and salads
-use odds and ends of bread hanging around your kitchen…a great way to stop them from going to waste.
-when tossing bread with butter, add various spices and/or grated hard cheese for a flavor boost:
-add grated parmesan cheese before baking for tomato soup
-add dried oregano for a salad of tomato, cucumber + feta
-add a bit of cinnamon and black pepper for a butternut squash soup