elevating the status of the salad

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Let’s skip the small talk and get right to this salad-as-a-meal.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 package of baby kale, or a bunch of any kale will do

2 portabello mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, minced

5 basil leaves

about 1/3 cup olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar (or another sweetener of choice)

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. You’ll need to get your quinoa going first. Follow the package directions, or do it this way. I tend to use much less water than is recommended because let’s face it – soggy quinoa is gross: Boil 1.5 cups of water. Once it boils, add the quinoa, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes.
  2. While that is happening, prepare your mushrooms. You can choose to scrape out the gills with a spoon (that’s what I like to do). Then, chop your portobello mushrooms into bite sized pieces. Toss it with a small amount of olive oil, the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they are very soft.
  3. Now that you have your hot food going, it’s time prep the kale. Your kale should be washed and drained. If not, do that. Then, roll it up into a tube and cut it into slivers. Put the kale in your big serving bowl.
  4. For the dressing, it helps to have a mini food prep. Chop up the shallot and toss it in there with 1/4 cup of olive oil, basil leaves, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, sugar or honey, salt, and pepper. If you do not have a small food processor, you can just mince your pieces up really tiny and give it all a good whisk.
  5. By now, your mushrooms are probably ready and that is great because you don’t want to use a million pans. You can rinse the same pan you used for the mushrooms and toast up some sliced almonds on low in it for about 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Just watch them or they will burn! Remove from heat.
  6. Time to put it all together! Make sure your quinoa is dry enough. If not, drain it. Then, add the cooked quinoa and mushrooms on top of the kale. Stir it all together while it is still warm, and the kale will wilt a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with toasted almonds.

I know – this is supposed to be a blog about vegetables.

But, there are TWO pandemics we are dealing with at the moment – so carbs are really the least you need to worry about. Do yourself a favor, and just make yourself some bagels this weekend.

Why bagels?

I have been away from my beloved borough for three months now, and have missed many things about it. While I cannot recreate so much of what I love (choosing which of many places to get coffee from on my walk to work, impromptu kid meet ups at Carroll Park, getting my shake on at a Bar Method class in the studio, saying goodbye to my children as I drop them off at school…) There is one thing I CAN control, and that is recreating the bagels I look forward to every week.

Thanks to Maple City Market, a wonderful gem of a store in Goshen, Indiana, I was able to find high-gluten flour, and that made these circles of joy possible.

I am not going to try to improve on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which I followed very closely (minus the barley syrup) Just go check it out. What I did do, however, is use some everything bagel seasoning – which you can find pretty easily these days in the spice section.

As Maui would say, YOU’RE WELCOME. (and I would know because I’ve listened to that soundtrack about 700 times this week.)


I had some cauliflower in the fridge and homegrown tomatoes that would not last through the weekend, so this happened!

Toss some tomatoes and cauliflower with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes turn saucy, stirring once or twice. Sprinkle with basil. Put it over some grains and/or put an egg on top. Maybe add hot sauce. Don’t measure or time anything because you’re trying to pack at the same time before the baby wakes up. Call it brunch.


I was on the quest to make the perfect jalapeño margarita – heavy on the spice and light on the sweet. Maybe you are, too? Great news! You can stop your search down the Internet rabbit hole and make these tonight. They were the perfect start to a summer night that included guacamole, jalapeño corn muffins, Mexican street corn “salad”, veggie fajitas with jalapeño cashew cream, fantastic friends, and Los Lobos.

While there were several components to this meal, the two highlights were the jalapeño margaritas and the vegan jalapeño cashew cream to top the fajitas. Pretty much everything was assembled in advance, which made for a quick turnaround from my kids’ bedtime to our first margarita. Vegan Jalapeño Cashew Cream post to follow. But first, margaritas…

Jalapeño Margaritas:

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*Note – you can make the simple syrup and squeeze the limes in advance)

Put the following ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar or shaker and shake vigorously:

  • Handful of ice
  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp Jalapeño Simple Syrup (one cup sugar, one cup water in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Add 2 jalapeños cut inhalf and dump in the saucepan- bring to a boil and then lower the heat let simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Strain into a jar for storage and discard the jalapeños – or keep them in for a real kick?! I did it for about an hour while it cooled on the counter and then I took them out before putting the syrup in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 tsp diced jalapeño

Then, prepare another glass – this one can be smaller: Use a lime wedge to coat the rim of the glass, and then gently dip in a shallow bowl of coarse salt. Fill that glass halfway with ice.

Use a small strainer to pour the liquid from the large container to the small container.

Garnish with a lime wedge and a jalapeño ring. Umbrella optional but recommended.

 


This comes together in a snap with just a few ingredients, and it disappears even faster. It’s a great way to use day old bread. 

Enjoy! 
Ingredients:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 small shallot, minced 

Approximately 15 basil leaves

2.5 cups Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 T red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the cubes of bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle bread with 1-2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Put bread in the oven for 10-12 minutes until croutons are toasted. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Combine tomatoes, garlic, shallot, vinegar, remaining oil, and salt and pepper to taste. 

When the croutons are cooled, combine basil leaves and bread with tomato mixture. 


Local CSAs are starting this week and so some friends inspired me to start up again. Thanks, MK and JG!

This year the theme of the garden is food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Basically, we’re growing a salad. Take a look!
Bell and jalapeños


Cherry tomatoes

Lettuce and spinach 

Basil

Look! Our first sugar snap pea arrived. Isn’t she/he adorable?


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The garden is exploding with cherry tomatoes, and this recipe is a quick way to turn them into a warm meal. The sauce is spectacular over pasta (I used orzo with the kiddo and he liked that texture more than other pastas), and it can also be used as a spread on crackers.

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate–adjust any ingredient to taste):

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced onion or shallot

1 clove minced garlic

pinch of salt-optional

pinch of sugar-optional

8-10 torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese-optional (Really isn’t everything optional? These are all merely suggestions!)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds to a minute), stirring constantly.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes (you can add them whole) and use a fork or spatula to squish them. If you want to have less fun, you can always cut them in half or quarters prior to putting them in the skillet, but squishing them while I go is my preferred method–just remember to wear an apron or some other sauce-friendly shirt)
  5. Once all tomatoes are squished, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer and stir until it thickens a bit. If it is sticking a lot, add a few spoonfuls of water.
  6. Add salt and sugar to taste, if using.
  7. Once it seems like a sauce-consistency, throw in the basil, stir it up, and turn off the heat
  8. Pour the sauce on your favorite pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Fellow cheese lovers, don’t despair. You will not miss the parmesan in this pesto. The trick here is to soak the cashews for at least four hours so they become velvety smooth when pureed. You can freeze the extra pesto in small batches such as ice cube trays.

I used Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta, and I highly recommend it.

For the record: My child, who refuses chicken nuggets and even mac-n-cheese from a box, could not get enough of this pasta today. Maybe it was the fact that I let him hold a fork, but I like to think that he just sometimes chooses to go vegan and gluten-free.

Thanks to Farm to Harlem for the cooking inspiration!

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Ingredients:

Quinoa pasta (I used Ancient Harvest veggie curls)

1-2 cups of basil

1/2 cup cashews (soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours or overnight)

1 small clove of garlic (or 1/2 clove-your preference)

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Get the water boiling for the pasta and follow the directions on the box.  (sometimes I forget to start the water for pasta so here’s a friendly reminder!) NOTE: reserve a bit of the cooking water from the pasta.

1. In a blender, puree the cashews until smooth. Add water so that it becomes the consistency of smooth peanut butter.

2. Add the basil and garlic to the blender and pulse a few times.

3. With the lid of the blender closed and the blender running, slowly add the oil through the hole in the top. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender. If you feel like you added a lot of oil already, switch to a few spoonfuls of water.

4. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to combine.

5. Top a small amount of this sauce on hot pasta. A little bit goes a LONG way so start with one teaspoon at a time. Add some of the pasta’s cooking water so that it will mix more easily.


IMG_1106 IMG_1121To celebrate the historic SCOTUS ruling, let’s enjoy these rainbow fruit and vegetable pops. I love berry season, but fresh berries have such a short shelf life. This technique preserves the fleeting berrylicious flavors of early summer. As an added bonus, these are made with raw kale and carrots too. You can use any combination of fruits and vegetables that you happen to have around. Let me know if you have any favorite combinations! Here’s what you do: Put the following in a high-powered blender: -handful of blueberries -handful of strawberries -handful of frozen chopped kale -handful of carrots -1 cup of water Blend on high until smooth, adding water as needed until it liquifies. The consistency should be quite thin. Pour into ice-pop molds and freeze overnight (the ones pictured are made by munchkin and make the perfect size for little ones. However, we still cut the pop into little pieces for our little munchkin–its just less messy that way). Enjoy!


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This substantial pie will fill up even the hungriest of people, and it looks pretty, too. The phyllo is intimidating at first, but then you just smother it in butter and know that everything is going to be OK.

Thanks to Peter Berley’s The Flexitarian Table for this recipe. (also found on epicurious)

Ingredients:

TOFU:
1 pound extra firm tofu
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 garlic cloves, mashed
pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt
VEGETABLES:
1 1/2 pounds kale or other leafy winter green
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons butter
8 ounce package phyllo, thawed (I used an entire 16 oz package, but a lot gets trimmed off the edges at the end.
paprika for dusting

Directions:

VEGETABLES:
1. Steam greens for 3-4 minutes, until they turn a bright green. Drain, and set aside to cool. Carsely chop once they are cool enough to handle.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, cook until browned around the edges, 3-4 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Increase heat and cook, stirring until mushrooms caramelize, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in greens and sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from heat.

TOFU:

1. Mash the tofu in a bowl.

2. Add rest of ingredients, stir until combined and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE PIE:
1. Brush a 10 inch spring form pan or pie dish with butter. Place 5 sheets of phyllo down, brushing with butter between each layer. The extra pieces that hang over can be trimmed off at the end, or folded over.
2. Spread the vegetable layer, and cover with 2 more phyllo sheets, buttered in between.
3. Spread the tofu layer and top with 8-10 more phyllo layers, again, brushing with butter between each layer.
4. Brush top with butter. Lightly score top into 6 slices, taking care to only cut phyllo layer. Sprinkle with paprika.
5. Bake until browned, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.