“I received free samples of Wonderful Pistachios mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not com- pensated for my time.”
Never did I dream that I would ever be posting a falafel recipe on my website. Let’s just say I had a bad falafel salad instance years ago. And I just couldn’t get myself to try it again. Until THIS YEAR. Seriously, this has been the year of falafel and I’m glad I’ve given it a second chance, because it’s AWESOME! And I’m really digging this version, loaded with pistachios!
Fancy a few superfoods? Well, then you need this Chickpea Turmeric Quinoa Bowl!
When you’re a food that’s lumped in the category of “super foods,” you must feel pretty fantastic. There’s likely plenty of publicity and notoriety along with hoards of people flocking to get your autograph. Ok, maybe it’s not quite like that, but I sure love the idea of food celebrities, don’t you? Kale and blueberries slipping into limos while shielding their eyes from the flash bulbs of the paparazzi. Fun!
Can it be? Is summer really almost over? Perhaps a Blueberry Crumble Bar could save my end-of-summer-sadness!
If you’re like me, this happens every single year. I get to the end of August and think “what the heck? How can it almost be September?” Well, of course time inevitably keeps propelling us forward, but for some reason, my mind just doesn’t accept that sometimes. I mean, I swear it was just a few weeks ago when I finally felt safe stuffing my long, dark heavy winter coat in the closet. I literally stuffed it in there too – jammed it in – as I had no interest in even seeing a glimpse of it for the next several months.
Looking to use up that dried fruit or last teensy bit of nuts tucked away in your pantry? Well, then I have a recipe for you! Spare the lives of those tasty treats by using them in my Kitchen Sink Applesauce Bread.
July is an amazing time of year in Chicago. The parks are bursting with activity, the pools are packed with every kid in the neighborhood and it seems like everyone is outside, enjoying every ray of sunshine. It’s a magical time of year here, and I love it. That energy always inspires me in the kitchen. I’ve long forgotten about those hearty winter dishes because my “palette” has been replaced with fresh, beautiful, summer produce.
That brings me to this month’s Recipe Redux theme, which is simply, use the beautiful produce that surrounds you to create a delicious dish. Challenge accepted! Seeing as I love a good salad, I turned my sights to one of my favorite greens, kale. Not just any kale though, dark green, dinosaur or lacinato kale. I love this type of kale, not just because it’s nutritious (that dark green color means it’s laden with good-for-you antioxidants!), but because it’s a bit sweeter and a little more tender than it’s conventional counterpart. It also makes a lovely salad when sliced into fun, thin little ribbons.
Kale is a good start, but then, what should I top it with? Well, of course more gorgeous produce! How about a bell pepper and oh, what about a delicious, ripe, juicy peach? And for a little crunch (and to get some healthy fats in there), how about some walnuts? Then, to keep things simple, a vinaigrette made with only five ingredients, all of which are kitchen staples. Success! (I forgot to mention the goat cheese, a definite necessity, don’t leave it out!)
Enjoy this lacinato kale salad with peaches and maple vinaigrette as a meal by topping it with grilled chicken or tofu. Or scoop it into bowls and serve it on the side with any summer meal. It can make a great appetizer too, a perfect starter that’s refreshing and just happens to be nutritious too!
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and shallot. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil, mixing until combined.
To make the salad: Remove the stems from the kale and reserve for another use (slice and use in a soup, for example). Thinly slice the kale leaves and place them in a large mixing bowl. Give the kale leaves a good massage with your hands to help soften them. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Let sit for about 10 minutes then add the peach slices, walnuts, shallot, pepper, goat cheese, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the remaining dressing and carefully toss everything together. Serve immediately.
As a newly minted member of the Recipe Redux, I was overjoyed that my first recipe theme was “spooky” spices. “Great!” I thought, “I love Halloween and I love spices!” I had a million ideas, that was until I saw the complete description of the October theme. As I read on, it became clear that they were going with a different angle. It turns out that I had to find a spice that I was afraid of or one that I had used that turned out to be a total failure.
Embarrassingly, I have had plenty of total disasters involving spices. Let’s see, there was the curried chicken dish that I served my husband that tasted like glue. Or the pot of 9 bean soup that had a flavor profile that likely resembled fresh dirt. How could I choose? I settled on cumin seed. Years ago I had made a recipe that called for toasting cumin seed. I was young and just out of college, trying to impress my friends. Thinking that I knew what I was doing, I set the cumin seed in the pan, turned the heat to high and walked away. Anyone who has toasted spices knows this is a huge mistake. Those cumin seeds went from smelling wonderful to smelling like a 5-alarm fire. It was a mess and without any back-up seeds, I had to serve a sub-par dish. So here I am, many years later, ready and willing to tackle the cumin seed again. This time, I would make soup and being older and wiser, I would stand-by, keeping an eye on those precious seeds so that they wouldn’t burn.
Ironically, I now love toasting spices. It adds so much complexity and warmth to a dish. In this recipe I decided to use red lentils as a hearty neutral base because they accept spices so well. I included a trimmed and lightly macerated stalk of lemongrass to the cooking liquid to provide a refreshing hint of citrus. And to finish, I added light coconut milk which gives the soup a delightful creamy sweetness.
Fearful no more of toasting spices, I am instead grateful for the learning experience I got from those cooking disasters. I will continue to make mistakes, but from mistakes sometimes come the best results! Bon Appetit!
Earthy red lentils cooked with toasted spices and lemongrass-infused broth then finished with a touch of light coconut milk.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped onion)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup chopped)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed*
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Set a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the celery, onion and carrots and cook vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the cumin seed, coriander and cayenne to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to toast the spices, about 1-2 minutes. Add lentils, broth and lemongrass and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are cooked and tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and cook 5 minutes more. Add lemon juice, then remove pot from the heat.
Using a stick blender or regular blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency. (Note: If using a regular blender, stay safe and prevent unwanted burns by blending in batches and allowing soup to cool slightly before pureeing.
Serve warm topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
To prepare the lemongrass for the soup, first remove the outer leaves from the stalk. Take off a few layers until you get to the more tender inner leaves. Trim off the root end and also cut off the top of the stalk, leaving about 5 inches of lemongrass. Gently smash the stalk using a meat mallet, the back of a large knife or rolling pin to release the oils and then add to the soup pot.