Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spring into Summer deliciousness

salad with cajun spice shrimp and cumin lime vinaigrette

tofu shitake stir-fry

farro salad with asparagus, peas and radish

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bright Spring Supper

Although I do wish the weather was warmer, this extended wet spring has really done wonders for the garden. We're having trouble keeping up with our huge patch of beautiful lettuce (little gems, romaine, red leaf, butter) and arugula and now the peas have started coming in. I was getting a little tired of the typical green salad and wanted another way to tie arugula into a simple one-dish spring supper and this is what I came up with. This would be great with any combo of green spring veggies, including asparagus, peas, baby green beans, baby zucchini, etc.

Spaghetti with Spring Veggies and Breadcrumbs
½ cup breadcrumbs (store-bought or make your own)
Olive oil
2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lb spaghetti (regular or whole wheat)
½ lb asparagus (about 10 stalks)
2 handfuls snap peas
4-6 cups loosely packed arugula
Juice of 1 lemon
Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes

Combine the bread crumbs in a small saucepan with a bit of olive oil. Cook and stir until golden brown and toasted. Stir toasted breadcrumbs with parsley, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Set aside. While salted water comes to a boil, chop asparagus and peas into ½ to 1-inch pieces. Boil pasta according to package instructions.

Two minutes before pasta is al dente, add chopped veggies to pot with pasta and finish cooking. Reserve ¼ cup water. Drain but do not rinse pasta and veggies to hot pot. Add pasta cooking water, lemon juice, arugula and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir well until arugula is wilted.

Turn pasta into large serving dish and top with breadcrumb mixture. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring has Sprung

It's that brief but glorious time of year here in Northern California when we are still enjoying the last of winter citrus and have fresh spring veggies like asparagus at the farmer's market. This recipe combines both with farro, a delicious whole grain that has become one of my favorites.

Farro and Asparagus Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
4-6 servings for light meal
1 cup farro
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
2 1/2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, from about 1/4 orange
2 tablespoons minced shallot
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, add the farro, 2 teaspoons salt, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Check a few times while it is cooking, you want it to be al dente. Remove from the heat, drain any excess water, and set aside to cool. While the grains are simmering steam the asparagus and make the dressing. Steam asparagus for about 2-5 minutes to cook, depending on size and freshness. As soon as it turns bright green, remove and cover in cool water to chill. Whisk together the orange zest and juice, shallots, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside. Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the farro with about half of the dressing. Add asparagus, arugula and toasted almonds. Toss again, adding more dressing as needed.

This would be great with a little sprinkle of feta cheese on top, but since MO doesn’t like feta this version was vegan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ice cream in February? Indeed!

In the past month or so we’ve made 3 different frozen concoctions…orange sherbet, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and meyer lemon sorbet. They were all mighty tasty but I have to say that the orange sherbet was my favorite. We used some big juicy organic navel oranges from the farmers market and I used this recipe. It tasted like a creamsicle and it was the perfect summery escape during the cold days we’ve had in January and February. The ice cream attachment for my kitchen aid mixer has worked pretty well so far and the best thing about having an ice cream maker is that you can create fun and crazy flavors, and control what goes in (fat content, amount of sugar, organic ingredients, etc). I can’t wait to experiment some more, but I might wait until Spring comes. What ideas for ice cream/sorbet/froyo flavors do you have?

I heart homemade pizza

For Valentine's Day MO and I made pizza... heart-shaped pizza! MO made the dough (per Fat Boy's scribbled notes) and I prepped the toppings. We made cheese pizza with mushrooms (MO's favorite) and white pizza with red onions and rosemary (my favorite), pictured here. And since it was Valentine's Day, we shared. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Adventures in Argentina

When we told people about our recent travel plans, I was asked, “Why Argentina??? You don’t eat meat and you don’t speak Spanish!” I’m here to tell you that there is much much more to Argentine cuisine than beef (and not speaking Spanish only added to the adventure)!

Our Argentine adventures included exploring, site-seeing, museum-going, hiking, glacier trekking, sunbathing, and – of course – lots and lots of eating and drinking.

this vegetarian's favorite foods of Argentina:

Empanadas. These delicious stuffed pastries are everywhere. Although ground beef may be the most traditional filling, we found many delicious vegetarian varieties including cebolla y queso (onion and cheese), verdura (usually a spinach mixture), choclo (corn), and caprese. Our favorites were the cebolla y queso empanadas at a little bakery in El Chalten in Patagonia.

Ice Cream. Argentines love their ice cream, especially in BA. There is literally a helados store on every corner. In addition to the 10 different takes on the dulce de leche flavor, fruit flavors are common as well. Our favorite combo – lemon mousse and strawberry - was discovered by mistake when MO’s pronunciation of vainilla (vanilla) was mistaken for frutilla (strawberry).

Wine. Ok, wine is not a food, but it is plentiful, good and very inexpensive in Argentina. Even in restaurants it is typical to find many good wines priced under $12 us per bottle. Needless to say we tried a lot of wine. I enjoyed lots of delicious Malbecs and Cabernet Sauvignons, but I also discovered a new varietal that is perfect for the hot summer days we had there: torrontes. Torrontes is a fruity floral white wine, crisp but not overly acidic.

Oh yeah, MO said the beef was excellent, too. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soup's on!

It's that time of year again when I can't get enough soup. Nothing is better on a damp wintery (wintry?) night than a steaming bowl of hot homemade soup. I've already blogged about some of my favorite soups: Butternut, Tortellini so this year I am going to expand my horizons a bit. On my list of soups to make this year: cauliflower, potato leek, carrot ginger, tomato...what are your favorite soups?
One that I've always secretly loved is Tortilla Soup, but have never had a vegetarian version so I decided to craft my own. It's sort of a vegetarian blend of my favorite parts of tortilla soup (large chunks of veggies, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla strips) and posole (hominy, lime), with the addition of chipotle flavors just because. You can make it as spicy as you'd like with the addition of more chipotles or hot sauce and it is vegan without the topping of cheese.

Tortilla Soup with Hominy and Chipotle (vegetarian)
Serves 4-6 as main course
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can hominy
3 carrots, chopped into ½ inch pieces
¼ of a small green cabbage, chopped into 1-2 inch strips
6 small corn tortillas
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Toppings: shredded cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro, diced tomatoes, sour cream, hot sauce

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder and cook 5-10 minutes, until onions are tender. Add the tomatoes and chipotle peppers and stir to combine. Add broth/water, hominy, carrots and cabbage, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15-20 minutes.

2. While soup is simmering, prepare the tortilla strips. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut tortillas in half and then into ¼ inch thin strips. Toss in bowl with 1-2 tsp. oil, just until coated but not “soaked”. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring at least once so that the strips cook evenly. When strips are golden brown, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

3. Serve hot with small bowls of toppings.