Nothing says al fresco dining than a classic French bistro salad featuring a combination of leafy lettuces topped with a light tangy dressing and served with creamy poached eggs or warm quiche on the side! This beautiful and inspired summer salad features just four simple ingredients that are complex in flavor and vibrant in color and texture. Delicate frisee, peppery radicchio, thinly sliced fennel, and hints of bright fresh mint are tossed with a zesty lemon vinaigrette, making for an elegant brunch side dish or main staple for your evening picnic at the park. It pairs perfectly with assorted cheeses, sliced fruit, eggs, crusty French bread, and a clink of wine or champagne to enhance your tasteful meal that everyone is sure to devour. A votre sante!
½ fennel bulb, stalks and base removed and slivered into very thin half moons
4 cups chopped radicchio
5 cups frisee (or curly endive lettuce)
½ cup French mint leaves, torn into small pieces
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of ¼ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix salad ingredients together in large salad bowl. In a small side bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside on the counter for 1 hour prior to allow time for shallots to marinate. Toss salad well with vinaigrette when ready to serve.
Photos from a recent visit to Mackinac Island, Michigan with my mom… my first vacation in years!
With the recent turn in cold weather following the first day of Spring, I was craving a hot bowl of soup rich in Asian flavors. This savory miso tahini broth absolutely nailed it! Tahini has this creamy nutty sesame flavor that marinates into a delicate creamy soup base enhanced by the salty miso paste without adding any cream or butter. A fresh array of roasted shiitake, oyster and baby bell mushrooms add a deep umami earthy flavor. If you don’t have the Japanese seasoning nori fumi furikake, it is an absolute must have for your spice cabinet that contains toasted sesame seeds, nori seaweed bits, salt, sugar, and miso powder that adds authentic Japanese flavors to any dish. Stir in a simple block of ramen noodles right from the packet before serving, or for a low carb and low calorie version try shiratake noodles which are readily available at in the refrigerated section near the tofu. Top with sliced hard boiled eggs for serving. This really is a truly no-fail recipe that will impress your family with endless possibilities for ramen night!
6 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 TB white miso paste
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds of mixed mushrooms, roughly torn or chopped (I used shiitake,
4 cups baby spinach
2 cups bok choy, chopped
4 – 6 hard boiled eggs
1 block of tofu, cubed
Furikake seasoning, or use a scissors and cut up a sheet of maki seaweed for topping
Sliced carrots and green onions, for serving
Asian chili paste, optional
In a large soup pot, combine the broth with water, soy sauce, vinegar, tahini, miso paste, ginger and garlic. Set over medium heat, then bring to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss your your mushrooms in 1 TB olive oil and roast at 400 degree for 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and tofu to soup and simmer another 10 minutes, then add ramen noodles to broth and let simmer another 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach and bok choy, then serve immediately topped with eggs, sliced carrots, green onions, furikake, and Asian chili paste. I also added air fried tofu and hard boiled eggs for protein. Even my kids loved this!!
1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed and bottom trimmed
1 – 15 oz can of chickpeas
½ cup green olives
2 TB olive oil
1 TB paprika
1 TB cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup of slivered almonds
1/2 cup tahini
1 garlic clove
1 cup fresh parsley and cilantro combined
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
4 – 5 TB water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the cauliflower into ½’’ slices down the middle (rather than in florets) and place flat on a nonstick sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and coat generously with paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder. Roast in oven 25-3 minutes. While roasting, mix the chickpeas and green olives in a separate bowl and set aside. These will be served fresh, not roasted. Meanwhile toss your raw slivered almonds in a nonstick pan on medium heat, turning frequently for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown then remove to cool. The herb tahini sauce can easily be prepared in a food processor or Vitamix by combining all ingredients and blending until it is smooth and creamy with a vibrant green color. This sauce will last all week in the fridge and makes a great marinade or dressing. Once the cauliflower is browned and crispy on the bottom, remove from oven and arrange on your serving platter. Pour your chickpea olive mixture over the top, sprinkle with some fresh parsley, then top with your crunchy pan roasted almonds. These add an unexpected nutty bite to the creamy herb dressing and the sweet roasted cauliflower – a perfect vegetable side dish or main attraction!
Last week I visited Costco for the first time in over a year. As I pulled in to the packed parking lot late on a Saturday morning I immediately regretted my decision and developed a paralyzing sense of agoraphobia. For those of us that have been holed up online shopping for the past year, this reaction should be expected and the notion of “exposure therapy” came to mind. My mantra today was to be gracious and kind as I maneuvered through the manic highway of Costco shopping carts that simultaneously drive at full speed AND park in both directions of the main aisles. So I parked the end of the lot, masked up, and set out to navigate the sea of tantalizing packaged goods.
After a fruitful hour, I proudly pulled up to the check-out aisles, arriving at the same exact moment another woman with her two young daughters pulled up to the same spot from another direction. I said I was waiting in line to check-out, and she quickly shouted “NO you weren’t I was here FIRST!” and then pushed her cart closer to push mine out of the way. Gracious and kind. Gracious and kind. Deep breath. I asked her to move up then so I could pass to another line on the side. “OOOH” she continued. “Nope. I’m not gonna move for you.” The way she snapped and stared at me with those piercing eyes in her tight pink jogger shorts, white sneakers and white fitted hoodie as her two pretty little girls watched on. The way she held up her pointer finger and punctuated “not gonna move FOR YOU” in this decisive and precise moment of putrid hate. I immediately regretted my mantra. “It’s common courtesy, you know?” I said, raising my voice a little. “You’re blocking the aisle” I pointed to an elderly couple trying to push through to the vitamin aisle from behind her. They were watching me with pleading eyes. It was like Disneyland on Christmas Day but with no joy. “Go around the aisle!” she said to me, pushing her cart to block me even more, but this was said loud enough so the elderly couple behind her sadly pushed their cart backwards for a long way to get and around another aisle before disappearing into the abyss.
I swiftly jumped to an opening in an aisle that suddenly shortened to my left, defiantly keeping my back to her even as I awkwardly held two large storage bins in my left arm held up with my knee while pushing a cart full of groceries with just my right hand. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to do it with a dancer’s ease. But before I knew it I was already putting my items down and swiping my credit card and she hadn’t even moved one inch in her line. “Mommmyyyyyy!” I heard one of her girls whine. “She’s checking out before us!” I could feel the searing heat on my back. I heard this above all the noise of the cashiers beeping and the chip bags rustling and the credit card swiping and the shopping carts rattling and the hundreds of voices in the cafe ordering pizza. I finished checking out in silent victory and I looked back to give her a quick shrug and a smile. Gracious and kind, right?
GREEK BLACK LENTILS
Lentils are an excellent pantry staple because they are quick-cooking and work well in almost any type of cuisine. Beluga lentils, also known as black lentils, have a shiny round black shape that often remind people of caviar but with a delicate earthy flavor and are an excellent source of protein. This dish combines the Mediterranean flavors of a vibrant Greek salad with earthy lentils with and is finished with a sunny and bright lemon and mint dressing. This is a hearty dish for Fall that lasts all week in the fridge.
2 cups beluga cooked lentils
1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ seedless cucumber, diced in quarters with skin on
½ pint of cherry tomatoes, diced in half
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, whole
½ cup fresh feta cheese
Mint Lemon Dressing
Juice from 2 large lemons
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (flavored oils make a great addition to this dressing)
3 TB fresh mint, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a medium pot of water to boil then and add lentils. Turn down to medium heat and cook for 25 – 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and let cool to room temperature. In a large serving bowl, add salad ingredients to lentils, then pour the dressing over and toss to mix. Let salad rest for 30 minutes before serving to allow the lentils to soak up the flavors.
There is something magical about shopping for farm-fresh produce, cheeses, baked goods, and flowers from your local farmer’s market, and now is truly the best time of year to explore these markets and road-side stands because there is such an enormous bounty of produce in season. I love a no-lettuce salad, and this simple Farmer’s Market Farro Salad combines the flavors of warm grilled vegetables, salty olives, fresh sweet peaches, and tangy citrus dressing. Farro is my favorite quick-cook grain as it’s high in fiber, protein, and nutrients and has a delightfully chewy and nutty flavor that makes it ideal for warm or cold recipes. This dish is highly adaptable depending on whatever ingredients you pick up at the market, so don’t be afraid to experiment with produce and herbs and throw in what you have!
1 pound of Farro, cook al dente according to package in a medium pot or rice cooker (typically 10-15 minutes)
1 can chickpeas, drained
3 cups mixed grilled vegetables (this week I used eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, asparagus)
1 cup mixed pitted kalamata and green olives
1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
2 TB fresh parsley, diced
2 peaches, chopped
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB Dijon mustard
½ tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
Cook Farro according to package and then let cool to room temperature. Chop vegetables into 1” cubes and toss to coat with olive oil, then grill on a sheet pan in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or grill over BBQ in large slices then chop smaller once fully cooked. Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add warm vegetables, fresh peaches, chickpeas, and parsley to a large bowl with Farro, drizzle with dressing then toss well with to coat. Serve immediately, and salt to taste.
We celebrated our 13th anniversary last month with a museum visit to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit, vegan and fish sushi, cocktails, cupcakes and a hike!
Father’s Day with a back yard knight’s templar scavengar hunt and escape room activity! More fun for dad than kids methinks, but still a fun find on Etsy. Managed to find some to relax and in the heat.
These last few weeks have brought a lot of emotional milestones to our lives. Last day of school. First time eating at a restaurant. Good-byes to friends who are moving, but also hellos to family we haven’t seen in 15 months. And also… summer weather!
I would like to introduce you to my new favorite summer recipe that has been buzzing around the internet lately – the Roasted Corn and Snap Pea Salad. This addictive and versatile dish can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes for a quick and easy standalone meal or served as the perfect side dish to your summer BBQ. Warm sweet roasted corn, cool and crunchy snap peas, and salty feta are all combined with a lush orange citrus vinaigrette that demands you sit outside and bask in that summer garden sun! This easy recipe is full of unexpected flavors and will quickly become your new go to shareable summer salad.
2 ears of corn
1 bag of sugar snap peas, sliced
½ cup crumbled feta
1 TB olive oil
Juice of 1 naval orange OR 2 mandarin oranges
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice snap peas taken fresh from refrigerator and place in a salad bowl. Using a knife, remove kernels from the fresh corn cob and sauté in pan on medium heat with olive oil, turning constantly until slightly caramelized. Alternatively, you can grill the corn, carefully turning until fully toasted and then slice off cooked kernels. Add warm corn kernels to the snap peas and top with the crumbled feta. In a small bowl, whisk together the champagne vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, and garlic, then toss salad to coat with the vinaigrette. Top with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve fresh.
Pomegranates represent eternal life and fertility in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, but over the centuries this divine red fruit has also come to symbolize power in cultures across the globe. Today, pomegranates play an important role in Middle Eastern and even Chinese cuisine and their juices have been used in everything from Oriental carpet dyes to the Indian Ayurveda system of traditional medicine because of their rich vitamin and antioxidant healing properties. Pomegranates are even consumed during the Jewish New Year as the fruit supposedly contains the mystical number of 613 seeds corresponding with the commandments in the Torah. With all this rich history of symbolism throughout history, this often underrated fruit also happens to add a delightfully sweet and tart crunchy bite to any dish. You may want to double up on ingredients if you are serving a crowd!
INGREDIENTS: 1 ruby red grapefruit 1 navel orange 1 blood orange 2 clementines 1 handful of fresh mint leaves, diced with a few sprigs for serving ¼ cup of chopped pistachios, unshelled and salted 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 2 TB honey
Working with one fruit at a time, slice into 1/4’’ thick rounds, discarding the top and bottom and trimming off the peels with a sharp knife to remove all the bitter white pith. Arrange these rounds into a colorful overlapping pattern on a platter, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pistachios, pomegranate seeds, mint, and salt. Chill in fridge for about an hour before serving.
Polenta is an Italian dish that refers to the traditional preparation of coarse ground cornmeal cooked steadily over medium heat into a mildly creamy porridge. It is typically made fresh, but if you’ve ever wondered about those polenta rolls sold in grocery stores I am here to tell you that they are marvelous and will quickly become your new favorite staple in the kitchen. Because they are pre-cooked, you simply slice and reheat by roasting, sautéing or even grilling to caramelize the outside and then pair with any sauce that you would otherwise throw on pasta.
The secret of this rustic yet sophisticated Polenta with White Beans and Homemade Marina dish is the dreamy marinara that is full of vibrant tomato flavors and made with only five simple ingredients. Best of all you can add in any grilled vegetables or protein of your choice to the polenta base for a new twist on Italian night.
1 tube of polenta
14-oz can cannellini beans
28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
2 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 handful of fresh basil or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In medium saucepan combine the entire can of tomatoes along with the halved onion, garlic cloves, 2 TBS olive oil and oregano. Bring the sauce to a bubble then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the entire onion after 30 minutes and discard or reserve for another recipe. Use a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes and smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot. This should result in a slightly chunky and flavorful sauce. Add salt to taste. Meanwhile, slice the tube of polenta cut into ½ ‘’ rounds. Preheat large pan on medium heat, add the remaining 2 TB olive oil and cook polenta rounds 4-5 minutes per side until soft and golden. Serve warm polenta rounds on a plate then spoon over the homemade marinara and top it off with white beans, freshly diced basil or parsley, and parmesan cheese.
Heirloom tomatoes come in an array of colors and flavor profiles, and while they are often typecast as a summer cold salad ingredient, they also cook down into a wonderful homemade marinara that bursts with rich juicy flavors. The pale yellow and striped bright orange heirlooms in particular have a low-acid, mildly sweet flavor with a soft meaty texture and when pureed with tiny sweet orange cherry tomatoes along with the humble sweet onion you get this golden rich and creamy tomato sauce that is totally addictive. If you are growing your own heirloom tomato garden in the summer this is a perfect recipe to show off your beautiful bounty. Fortunately even here in the Midwest you can get your hands on a multitude of tomato varieties even in the winter. Interlace your gold tomato sauce with spicy red pepper flakes and fresh cherry tomatoes and basil leaves for an elegant yet simple pasta dish.
2 lb golden heirloom tomatoes, diced into large wedges
1 pint orange cherry tomatoes, whole
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 sweet yellow onion, slivered
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pinch chili flakes
2 fresh basil leaves
3/4 lb spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onion with olive oil until translucent. Add the minced garlic then mix in your heirloom tomato variety and your orange cherry tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not be tempted to add liquid as these tomatoes will collapse and release sweet concentrated tomato juice for an incredible sauce. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to directions. When tomatoes are cooked down, use a hand blender to puree into a hot soup or ladle into a blender to process. Toss your pasts to coat with sauce then garnish with your fresh basil, red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes.
The New York Times featured an article recently titled “7 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed How We Shop for Food”. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Americans are spending more money at the supermarket today than at restaurants where other people prepare their food. Amidst this rise in home cooking, people are also moving to more complex ways of cooking, which includes a variety of grains, a staggering 600% increase in sales of yeast, and an uptick in demand for dried beans which has remained through the summer even after the initial “stock the pantry” craze of the spring. I admit, I purchased a 10 lb bag of rice that I’m stilling working on.
There is no downside to having a 10 lb bag of rice in the pantry. We love experimenting with deconstructed and mixed rice and grain bowls in our house. And my favorite kitchen gadget HANDS DOWN is my Instant Zest Rice and Grain Cooker. This little love has multiple settings that adjust timings for the types of rice or grain you are cooking. I literally switch it on to help the kids with remote learning or finish up a work Zoom or lock myself alone in the bathroom and cry and it makes perfectly hot, fluffy rice every time.
This week I thought I’d try a short-cut version of a paella swapping out the meat for a variety of Mediterranean vegetables. Traditional paella requires cooking the rice directly in a cast iron skillet and simmering it for a long period of time without turning it creating a thick, crunchy rice crust. This quick version infuses the rice with smoky and salty flavors directly in the rice cooker, and highlights all the complex flavors of smoky Spanish saffron, briny olives, sweet fennel, roasted peppers and hearty artichokes but with much less effort. So while this Vegetable Spanish Rice is not a traditional paella, I wasn’t at all disappointed with the results.
2 cups brown rice
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups jarred or whole artichokes packed in water, quartered, rinsed and patted dry
1 yellow and 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed and cut into thin slivers
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 TB olive oil
2 TB lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
Salt and pepper
In the rice cooker add rice, vegetable broth, tomatoes, paprika, and saffron. Stir to combine then close lid and turn on cooker. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss artichokes, peppers and olives with 2 TB olive oil on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast about 20 -25 minutes, or until vegetables are browned around the edges. In a large skillet or dutch oven (I used my Staub), add 2 TB olive oil and minced garlic with fennel and onion and cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat, add the roasted vegetables and peas to that same dutch oven and combine. Stir in the hot cooked rice and top with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Serve hot.
My son and I both recently celebrated our birthdays and enjoyed the tail end of summer with beautiful views, great food, and home cooked meals.