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


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

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.


Breakfast Bite: Maple Chia Cherry Granola

DSC_0519You don’t have to spend a fortune on those little bags of artisanal granola you find at the market – it’s incredibly easy to make at home and customize to your liking!  When I was in Telluride last month, the hotel baked a fresh batch of chia seed-speckled granola every morning that was impossible to resist.  I came home determined to (a) make my own version, and (b) buy a home there.  I think my husband is relieved I’m focusing on the granola.DSC_0351DSC_0371DSC_0449Maple Chia Cherry Granola

makes approximately 9 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup almonds*
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios*
  • 1 cup pecan halves*
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fleur de sel or kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries**

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  1. Place oats, coconut flakes, chia seeds, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl.  Roughly chop almonds, pistachios, and pecan halves and add to the bowl.  Stir to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, cinnamon, almond extract, and vanilla extract.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread mixture evenly on a large, parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until mixture is light golden, stirring every 10 minutes during baking time.
  4. Remove granola from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt.  Allow to cool.
  5. Stir gently, allowing some chunks to remain.  Add the dried cherries and stir to combine.

*Feel free to substitute with any variety of  nuts.  It’s a great way to use up those odds and ends in your freezer or pantry!

**I add the cherries at the end because I find them to be too tough if they are baked.  This also allows me to set aside a little granola before they are added for the non-dried-fruit-granola fans in the house.DSC_0493

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

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint


If you’ve been craving bright, fresh, seasonal ingredients that taste like Spring, I have the perfect salad for you.  Sweet strawberries, creamy avocado and crisp shaved fennel are layered on delicate bibb lettuce leaves and dressed with a lime-ginger-mint vinaigrette.  Finished with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of sea salt, this salad makes a light, satisfying lunch or delightful first course for a Spring inspired menu.


Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint

serves four

  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzle (replace honey with 2 teaspoons agave if making vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn into large pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed and shaved thin with a knife or on a mandolin
  • 2 avocados, halved and sliced thin
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. Whisk oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, shallot and mint together in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Layer fennel, strawberries and avocado on lettuce leaves on four plates and dress with vinaigrette.  Drizzle each salad with honey and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  Garnish with fresh mint.

DSC_0405recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Seared Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Mushrooms

DSC_0237I am really, really crazy about salmon.  I eat embarrassing amounts of it sashimi style, make it once a week for my family, and until recently I would order it whenever we went to Francesca’s, craving the fabulous crispy sear that eluded me at home.  But guess what?  I have discovered the salmon searing trick and now I’m sharing it with you.  When you try it (and you really should) you’ll fall in love and wonder how you ever did it any other way.DSC_0211I’ve prepared salmon this way several times now, and paired it with everything from spiced lentils to noodles in a coconut curry broth.  You just can’t go wrong.  This time I came up with a creamy, lemony leek and mushroom sauce and spooned it over soft polenta, but mashed potatoes or pasta would be pretty fantastic, too.



Seared Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Mushrooms

serves 6

  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, chopped, and broth reserved
  • 3 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch segments and sloshed around in cold water to remove grit
  • 1 pound fresh baby portabello mushrooms, sliced (though any variety of fresh mushroom would work)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Sauv Blanc)
  • 1/2 cup reserved mushroom broth
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 6 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on

-For the Creamy Leeks and Mushrooms:

  1. Rehydrate dried shiitakes: place dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour one cup boiling water over the mushrooms.  Let steep for half an hour.  Remove from the bowl and squeeze excess moisture from the mushrooms back into the bowl.  Set mushrooms on cutting board and strain mushroom liquid through a fine mesh sieve lined with paper towel to remove grit. Reserve liquid and chop rehydrated mushrooms.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add washed and chopped leeks to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until leeks have softened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in fresh mushrooms, chopped shiitakes, tarragon, wine, 1/2 cup reserved mushroom broth, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is gone, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to low, stir in half-and-half and lemon zest, and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice and remove from heat.

-For the Seared Salmon (learned from this recipe):

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  1. Pat dry salmon fillets.  Rub fillets with olive oil and season tops generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a dry, heavy oven-proof skillet (I used cast iron) over high heat for four minutes.  Add salmon fillets flesh side down and cook for two minutes without moving fish.
  3. Flip salmon fillets over, place pan in oven and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Do not overcook!

To finish the dish, place salmon on a generous helping of polenta, mashed potatoes or pasta and top with creamy leeks and mushrooms.

recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

My Thai: Summer Rolls & Cashew Coconut Sundaes with Caramelized Pineapple

Shrimp Summer Rolls

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about food during my juice cleanse, including what I wanted to make when it was finally over.  A Thai inspired meal was at the top of my list as crunchy, bright, full-flavored ingredients were what I craved most while abstaining from “real” food.  (To be honest I was also craving a burger like mad, but didn’t want to ruin my good behavior in one fell swoop.)

Summer rolls are one of those snacks I always pick up at the market (and eat in the car on the way home) but never take the time to make from scratch.  They are wonderfully versatile – just fill with what you love or have on hand.  I used shrimp, red bell pepper, scallions, cucumber, carrots, and thinly sliced jalapenos.  Avocado, bibb lettuce and lightly blanched asparagus would be great additions as well.  Just don’t leave out the mint and cilantro – they are the ingredients that will elevate your rolls above the ones from your corner grocer.

Thai Summer Rolls with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

makes 16

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 inch matchsticks.  If you’ve never cut veggies into matchsticks, watch this quick tutorial on how to julienne here (a julienne cut is a smidge thinner than a matchstick cut but it really doesn’t matter).
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and cut into 4 inch matchsticks
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 4 inch matchsticks
  • 4 scallions (white and light green parts only), quartered lengthwise
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and white membranes removed, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves removed from stems
  • half bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems
  • 16 rice-paper wrappers (available in the Asian food section of  most stores)
  • Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
  1. Add shrimp to a pot of boiling water and cook until opaque, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  2. Drain shrimp in colander and run under cold water to stop cooking and to cool completely.  Dry with a paper towel, then carefully slice each in half lengthwise with a paring knife (you can do this on the cutting board if you prefer, but I find they wiggle around too much).
  3. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water and spread a clean damp dish towel out next to the bowl.
  4. Soak one rice-paper wrapper in the hot water until soft and pliable (about 15-20 seconds).
  5. Lay wrapper flat on the damp kitchen towel and place a few mint and cilantro leaves in a row across the middle of the wrapper, leaving an inch or so on each side.
  6. Lay three shrimp halves in a row on top of the cilantro and mint leaves.
  7. Lay three thin slices jalapenos in a row over shrimp, and add 1/16th of the the other vegetable matchsticks on top of jalapenos.
  8. Fold top half of wrapper over filling, then fold in the two sides. Fold bottom part of wrapper up snugly but gently to close, then pat to seal. Place pretty side up on a damp paper towel-lined platter and cover with another damp paper towel.
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 until all sixteen are complete, leaving room between each on platter so they do not stick.
  10. Make dipping sauce.

Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons chile garlic paste
  • 4-6 tablespoons water
  1. Whisk together all ingredients except water in a bowl.  Whisk in 4 tablespoons water one at a time and blend until smooth, adding more water until desired thinness/consistency is reached.

I was also really craving something creamy and sweet, so I made toasted coconut cashew sundaes with caramelized pineapple.  They were INSANELY good, and not just because I was dairy and sugar deprived.  See recipe below.


Cashew Coconut Sundaes with Caramelized Pineapple

Serves 4

  • 1 ripe golden pineapple, peeled and cored (if the bottom smells like fragrant pineapple and you can easily pluck a leaf from the top, it is ripe)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Spread chopped cashews and coconut in a sheet pan and bake for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring a few times while baking, being careful not to burn.
  2. Remove cashews and coconut from oven and carefully move oven rack to top position.
  3. Turn oven to broil.
  4. Cut pineapple into 8 lengthwise spears, pat dry and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Pack each spear with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  6. Broil for 2-4 minutes, turning pineapple over and rotating tray at least once.  Remove when most of the sugar has melted but before it burns.  This happens quickly!
  7. Place 1 warm pineapple spear in each bowl (cut in half if necessary), reserving extra pineapple for another use.  Scoop ice cream onto pineapple and sprinkle each with warm coconut cashew mixture, reserving extra for your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

P.S.  I’m thinking a splash of rum on each sundae would be pretty fantastic.  I wish it would have occurred to me then!

recipes and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

The Perfect Cookie

Okay, so perfect in a cookie is awfully subjective.  But these Ginger Sparkle Cookies are crispy on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside, spicy, sweet, healthy (comparatively speaking), and can easily be made vegan and/or gluten-free.  Phew.  And did I mention that they are insanely delicious?  As in, I cannot stop putting them in my mouth delicious?  I suppose that negates the healthy factor…

This recipe comes from a very accomplished vegan cook and close friend of mine.  If you don’t have soy milk on hand, I have made them with real milk in a pinch and they turn out just as well.

Ginger Sparkle Cookies
(makes 24-30 cookies)

  • 4 tablespoons turbinado or demerrara sugar (you can use regular sugar, but the large crystals of the above are what add sparkle and crunch to the cookie)
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour or 2 1/3 gluten free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum ONLY IF you are using gluten free flour (this aids in binding)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 soy milk or regular milk
  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease two cookie sheets or line them with silpat.
  2. Place turbinado or demarrara sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices (and xanthan gum if using gluten free flour).
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine the oil, molasses, soy or regular milk, vanilla, and regular sugar.
  5. Pour dry ingredients into wet and combine well.
  6. Roll into 1-inch balls, flatten into a disk, press the cookie tops into the turbinado or demerrara sugar and place sugar side up on prepared cookie sheet.  (Fair warning, the dough will be sticky.  I find it helps a great deal to keep a tablespoon or so of canola oil in a tiny bowl so I can continually coat my fingers and palms with it during the rolling process.  It won’t entirely prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, but it’s almost impossible without it.)
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes, then let cool for 5-10 minutes on sheet before transferring to cooling rack.