Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing

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This hearty autumn salad was inspired by last week’s trip to Napa Valley. On our first day, we drove to Sonoma County and spent a lazy afternoon wandering around Healdsburg. SHED, the foodie paradise market and café, was by far our favorite spot. My friend Domonique, a San Fransisco native, mentioned that it’s probably the most instagrammed place in wine country and after seeing it for myself I understand why. SHED exemplifies Northern California culture – hyper fresh, local, sustainable, organic, simple and thoughtful. The eat-local/organic/farm-to-table movement now prevalent everywhere began in this little corner of the world, and spending time there had a profound impact on me. Continue reading

Weekend Kitchen: How to Grill a Whole Fish

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One of the best parts about a coastal vacation is the abundance of locally caught seafood, and we enjoyed it almost every night during our recent sailing trip. Returning home, I vowed to make fish a more prominent part of our diet (much to the dismay of my teenaged son, who already views our once-a-week salmon as excessive fish consumption). I took inspiration from the bluefish we caught during our trip to the Vineyard Continue reading

Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

 

DSC_0044 Isn’t this French kale beautiful?  I know, I know – the words kale and beautiful don’t normally sit side by side in the same sentence, but the dark green and purple all ombréd together and those perfect, rounded ruffles make it the ODLR of the vegetable world.DSC_0023I brought the above kale home from Elawa Farm’s garden market, tore it into bite sized pieces (which almost made me sad), massaged it with vinaigrette (yes, massaged it…we’ll get to that), and tossed it with ingredients that reside in just about everyone’s pantry.DSC_0212DSC_0237Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

serves 2 for a main course, 4 as a side

for the vinaigrette (makes 1 cup) –

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

for the salad –

  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), center ribs removed and discarded, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, from a jar or home roasted, cut into strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted almonds, store bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
  1.  Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.
  2. Add torn kale leaves to a large salad bowl.  Pour 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette onto the kale leaves and massage with your hands for a minute or two until kale begins to soften (kale will wilt in a good way and lose its bitter edge).
  3. Add the sliced roasted bell pepper, chickpeas, and a tablespoon or two more of vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.
  4. Divide salad among plates and sprinkle with honey roasted almonds.  Pass extra vinaigrette at table.

Honey Roasted Almonds

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • big pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, oil and salt in a small bowl.  Add chopped almonds and stir to coat.
  3. Spread almond mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until nuts are light golden, stirring once during baking.  (Be sure to monitor nuts carefully – they burn in the blink of an eye!)
  4. Allow to cool completely.

DSC_0014This cheery bouquet of yarrow also came home with me…how could I resist?

 

Summer Lovin’

Happy Friday!  It feels like summer is finally here to stay, thank goodness.  Don’t you love how relaxed everything becomes, from the clothes we wear to the way we entertain?  The seasonal shopping bug bit me recently, so I thought  I’d share a few of my warm-weather discoveries.  Chill the white and cue the sunshine!Does anything say summer more than seersucker?  This tablecloth arrived on my doorstep today and I can’t wait to break it out for a casual al fresco dinner.gSKj6_1-86LOCm6hLDh_YVDKc2MEz3J5ge04TLAqVvZ4G4rPmejb7HfN5jo-aEsLP2HyiGSKKLJFiLHcaxs=s1100-cThese  oyster shell salt cellars will be the perfect finishing touch to your summer table.Juliska’s rope detailed wicker caddy  is weathered and vaguely nautical without being theme-y.My official drink of summer is well chilled Lillet Blanc with a slice of orange or plum.  It’s also fantastic over ice with a big splash of Pellegrino and a little splash of Grand Marnier. But I would advise against trying to quick chill your Pellegrino by putting it in the freezer then forgetting about it.  Why, oh why, did I not set a timer?!  If anyone knows how to undo this mess, I’m all ears.  Though it is keeping me out of the ice cream, so maybe I should leave it.  I’ll be cooking from this book all summer long.  The recipes are simple, delicious, and focus on ingredients from your garden (or farmers’ market).  The roasted cherry tomato and goat cheese dip was a huge crowd pleaser at our first summer get-together.

This bad boy was my Mother’s Day present (yes, I asked for it – it was not a vacuum-cleaner-for-Christmas type situation).  So far I’ve smoked a pork shoulder and baby back ribs, both of which were amazing, the first of which took over 8 hours (getting us to the table at 11:30pm).  Lesson learned.

This raffia bag has been on my shoulder every day since the weather turned warm.  Light weight, sturdy, and roomy, it is the quintessential summer bag.Speaking of bags, I literally did a happy dance when my monogrammed clutch and laptop case arrived in the mail.  Buttery soft and beautifully made, they are the essence of simple chic.  I love the summery, grass green (obviously) but it comes in over 50 colors, monogram optional.  And the price point can’t be beat!

I picked up this striped jersey maxi skirt for a song.  Super soft and flattering (even with the horizontal stripes), it will go over my swimsuit as a quick cover up, or out to dinner with a knotted-at-the-waist white button-down.  And it’s an extra 25% off the sale price online right now with code SUMMERTIME.Warm weather begs for a LWD, and this one can go from casual Saturday night barbecue to dressed up Sunday brunch.And finally, it wouldn’t be summer to me without hydrangeas.  I’ve had great luck with the Endless Summer variety – each year I plant them in big pots on our porch, then transfer them into the ground before the first frost.

Images 1-4, 7, 8,10 & 11 from corresponding highlighted retail sites; 5, 6 & 9 via me,  12 via Martha Stewart.

Seasonally Inspired: Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

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Rhubarb is in season right now, so catch it while you can.  Instead of making the usual suspects (pie and crisp), why not try this simple, delicious, sweet-tart compote?  It can be spooned over ice cream, big meringues with whipped cream, pudding or pound cake, or swirled into your morning yogurt if you’re feeling virtuous.  I’m having a friend for lunch tomorrow and plan on serving it over panna cotta that’s chilling as I write this.  I’d planned on making something else for dessert, but abandoned those plans as soon as I spotted those crisp, rosy stalks at Elawa Farm’s garden market this morning.

Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 5 medium stalks rhubarb chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries (1 small container)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Cut bean in half width-wise and save other half for another use.  Cut bean-half length-wise and scrape seeds out by running knife along length of pod.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb, raspberries, vanilla bean seeds and the pod you just scraped them from, lemon zest, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Stir.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until rhubarb has softened.
  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash some of the softened rhubarb pieces and stir to distribute.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Remove vanilla bean pod.
  6. Spoon warm over ice cream or allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.  Compote will thicken as it cools.

 

 

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Crispy Kale and Quinoa with Roasted Broccolini and Red Peppers

DSC_0112A few months ago I decided to integrate Meatless Mondays into our weekly menu plan in the name of health and diversity.  The problem is, I have relied heavily on pasta which is not the healthiest option nor is it diverse.  This week I branched out and made veggies the star.  I love that it comes together in less than half an hour and that it’s delicious served at any temperature, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics.  (And if you aren’t going meatless, this dish is an excellent accompaniment to teriyaki salmon or chicken.) DSC_0035Quinoa is a complete protein which makes it a great meat replacement, and it’s packed with fiber that will keep you full.  Red bell peppers add a dose of sweetness to the dish, balancing out the kale which becomes crispy, smoky and slightly charred under the broiler.  Broccolini, the other main component, is one of my favorite vegetables.  It’s available in most grocery stores but if you can’t find it, regular broccoli works well too. DSC_0081Crispy Kale and Quinoa with Roasted Broccolini and Red Peppers

serves 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 2 sliced thin
  • 2 lemons, one zested and juiced, one cut in half and reserved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Eden Shake Sesame and Sea Vegetable Seasoning (available in the Asian section of your grocery store.  You can sub other sea seasonings and mix with black and/or white sesame seeds or use plain sesame seeds if you can’t find it) + more for sprinkling 
  • 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound), each stalk sliced in half lengthwise or two heads broccoli, broken into very small florets
  • 2 bunches kale of any variety (about 12 oz), large ribs removed and leaves torn into two inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • toasted sesame oil
  1. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well.  (Don’t skip this step or your quinoa will taste soapy and bitter).  Cook according to package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, whisk together the 2 minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Eden Shake, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. When quinoa is done cooking, stir the mixture from step 2 into the still warm quinoa and set aside.
  4. Preheat broiler to high. Spread the broccolini, red bell peppers, kale and the 2 sliced garlic cloves between two baking sheets.  Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per sheet) and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  5. Broil each sheet for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring well half way through.  If both trays do not fit on top rack, rotate trays from top to bottom half way through.
  6. Remove from oven and squeeze reserved lemon halves over the roasted veggies.
  7. Divide quinoa mixture and roasted veggies between four plates.  Drizzle each lightly with toasted sesame oil and sprinkle on a bit more Eden Shake and red pepper flakes.
  8. If making ahead, drizzle the veggies lightly with toasted sesame oil (a little bit goes a long way) when they come out of the oven and toss to coat.

inspired by a recipe from Sarah Copeland’s cookbook Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, discovered on the Sunday Suppers site

BLT Chicken Salad with Basil and Grilled Avocado

DSC_0001 This recipe is for my sister Kath, who said the world could use a new chicken salad recipe – specifically one with crunch that does not involve celery.   It’s a spin on all of those BLTs we ate growing up, and will hopefully remind you of summer during this seemingly endless deep freeze.  Crisp-cooked bacon will add that crunch you’re looking for!DSC_0010BLT Chicken Salad with Basil and Grilled Avocado

serves 6

  • 5 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • zest of a lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup packed basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, one finely minced, one peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (less if table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 avocados (ripe but firm), halved lengthwise, pitted and peeled
  • 3 small tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 9 slices crisp-cooked bacon
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, split
  • Bibb or Romaine lettuce
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, basil, the minced garlic clove, kosher salt and pepper.  If mixture seems too thick, whisk in one more tablespoon lemon juice.  Add the cooked, shredded chicken and stir until thoroughly combined.  Taste for seasoning.
  2. Brush cut side of ciabatta halves, avocado halves, and tomato slices with olive oil.  Heat a grill pan to medium-high.  Place avocado halves flat side down on grill pan and leave undisturbed for a minute or two.  Flip and do the same on other side.  Remove from pan and cut into thick slices.
  3. Add tomato slices to grill pan and cook for a minute on each side or until tomatoes soften and begin to char.  Remove from pan.**
  4. Add ciabatta halves cut side down and grill until warm and lightly toasted.  Remove from pan and rub still-warm rolls on the cut side with garlic clove halves.
  5. If serving immediately, assemble sandwiches with the chicken salad, avocado, bacon (1 and 1/2 slices per sandwich) and tomatoes, adding lettuce if desired.  If making ahead, crumble the bacon slices, cut avocado and tomato slices into chunks, and stir into chicken salad.

*Roast chicken is in regular rotation at our home, and I often roast two at once.  There is plenty of room in the pan so why not?  This way I can serve one for dinner and shred the second for enchiladas, salads, barbecued chicken sandwiches, or a quick dinner of quesadillas.  Store-bought rotisserie chickens are a time saving alternative.

**Grilling or roasting winter tomatoes concentrates and sweetens their flavor, making them taste much more like summer tomatoes.  It is a worthwhile step!DSC_0005

Game Day Chili

DSC_0042 This chili comes together easily and tastes even better the next day, leaving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the game.  Extra points for the bubbly cheese.DSC_0050 DSC_0075

Game Day Chili

makes 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow or white onions, small diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 poblano pepper, small diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion beef base (found in most grocery stores near the broth) or 2 beef bullion cubes, dissolved
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha hot chili sauce (depending on heat preference)
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 avocado, small diced
  • tortilla chips
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, poblano, and jalapeno and cook until soft, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add both chili powders and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add ground sirloin and raise heat to medium high, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon and cooking until meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add broth, bullion, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, kidney beans, salt, pepper, sriracha, and half of cilantro. Stir.
  5. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent chili from sticking to bottom of pot. Test for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and sriracha if needed.
  6. If desired, place filled oven-proof chili bowls on two baking sheets, top each bowl with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and broil until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 1 minute. (You’ll need to do one sheet at a time).
  7. Top with crushed tortilla strips, avocado and remaining cilantro.DSC_0083

Delicata Squash with Apple Pecan Quinoa Stuffing

DSC_0688 Delicata is sweet with an edible skin just like acorn squash, but the texture is much smoother and creamier.  I love this dish as a vegetarian main course served with mixed greens or as a side dish to accompany pork tenderloin.  Filled with the flavors of fall, this is comfort food at its healthiest.

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Delicata Squash with Apple Pecan Quinoa Stuffing

serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in dice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, each cut in half
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, cider vinegar and dijon mustard.  Set aside.
  2. Cut both squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove all seeds and pulp.  Place two of the four halves flesh side down in an 8×8-in microwave safe dish.  Fill pan with 1/2 inch of water and microwave until squash is tender all the way through, 8-10 minutes.  Repeat with second squash.  Place all four squash halves in a rectangular baking dish flesh side up,  drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mash lightly with a fork, leaving skin and a 1/2 inch rim of squash completely intact.
  3. While squash is cooking, rinse quinoa well in a fine sieve.  Place rinsed quinoa, salt , and 1 and 3/4 cups of water in a pan with a tight fitting lid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover, cooking for 12-15 minutes or until all water has evaporated.  Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.  Fluff with fork.
  4. Toast pecans in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes or until nuts are warm and fragrant.  Set aside.
  5. Wipe saute pan clean with a paper towel, removing all nut skins and pieces.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, apples, and garlic to pan and saute until onions are translucent and apples have softened, about five minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add cooked quinoa, pecans, cranberries, sage, and the maple/cider vinegar/dijon mixture to pan, season with salt and pepper, and stir until ingredients are thoroughly combined and warmed through.
  7. Stuff each squash half with 1/4 of the mixture and cover with 2 provolone halves.
  8. Turn oven to broil.  Place squash pan under broiler for one to two minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.

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