Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quinoa Pesto Trapanese

I decided to have some friends over on Saturday night to watch the Olympics and flex my somewhat underutilized entertaining muscles.  Entertaining is one of my greatest pleasures.  I love bringing people together in the hope that they'll become new friends.  To be perfectly honest, I also love all the "oohs, aahs, and yums!"

So, on Saturday morning, I hit the farmers market to get my favorite seasonal goodies:  peaches, blackberries, basil, and tomatoes.  Once I had an idea of what I wanted to make, I hit the grocery store for quinoa pasta, cream, eggs, and cheese. 

Inspired by another recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which was in turn inspired by a recipe from Gourmet, I made some fancy sounding pasta, which - given the response from my guests - was super impressive.
Pesto Trapanese (Pesto with Tomato-Almond Pesto)

1 lb quinoa spaghetti
6 plum tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic
handful of basil
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of pecorino romano, grated
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2/3 cup of almonds, pulsed in the food processor until the shape of grated cheese

Pulse the basil, salt and garlic in the fridge.  Add the tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, and almonds.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, scoop a cup of the starchy water out and reserve.  Drain the pasta, add the sauce and the pasta water and toss.  Serve with some crusty bread, and top with more pecorino.

If you want to make it vegan, omit the pecorino and put in a little bit nutritional yeast and a squeeze of lemon juice instead.  If you want to make it raw, use zucchinni "noodles."  It will be delicious regardless. I promise.  

I'll post later about the homemade ice cream and peach-blackberry crisp.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Cake Waffles

My friend, Gena -- brilliant vegan food blogger, busy post-baccalaureate pre-med student, and all-around awesome person came over this morning. And I decided to treat her to some dessert for breakfast.  Inspired by a pancake recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, I decided to health up the "zucchinni cake for breakfast concept" a bit by veganizing it and using non-gluten flours. And then I made it a waffle instead, which doesn't make it healthier, but I just happen to prefer waffles.   

As a relative newcomer to gluten-free baking/cooking, I was apprehensive to experiment my way into a recipe.  I've had some extremely dense and horribly bland gluten-free baked goods, and it sometimes feel inordinately complicated to substitute for gluten (the protein in wheat flour that gives baked goods their structure) because you're mixing a bunch of different, unfamiliar flours with a little bit of hope.  But I know that Gena would be a pretty forgiving audience and I could just feed her a kale sald if the waffles turned out horribly, So, I decided to try out Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour because I've heard it's pretty good, and Bob does all the mixing for you.  I'm happy to say that the waffles turned out extremely well.  Sweet and fluffy on the inside, crispy and crunchy on the outside.  Maybe someday I'll get the courage to try something more challenging, like a cookie. 

For her part, Gena brought an amazing avocado, tomato, mango salad as a side.  She also whipped up a cherry sauce and brought some almond milk yogurt for toppings.  

Zucchini Bread Waffles (or Pancakes) 

1 large zucchini, grated
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 T olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup "soured" almond milk (to sour, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the measuring cup, then add almond milk to measure 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons maple syrup or other sweetener to taste
1 - 11/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
1/4-3/8 teaspoon xanthan gum -- according to how much flour you use
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Coconut oil spray for waffle machine or griddle

Heat up waffle machine or griddle.  Mix dry ingredients into large bowl.  Mix wet ingredients into smaller bowl.  Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Spray the griddle or waffle maker. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer instructions or scoop batter onto griddle in 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup sized dollops -- depending on how large you want your pancakes.  

Slather with whatever toppings you fancy and enjoy! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pesto Kale Salad

Pesto pasta salad is one of my favorite summer treats. Kale is one of the staples of my diet. On Saturday, my favorite summer treat informed one of my dietary staples, almost entirely by accident. I went to the Mt. Pleasant Farmer's market on Saturday morning, where some of the most awesome summer produce (I.e., peaches, basil, melons, tomatoes) was in full swing.  I also picked up some curly kale.  

Then I proceeded to have a kind of lazy Saturday.

When dinner rolled around, I was tempted to stay with the lazy Saturday theme and order in, but decided to tap into kitchen intuition instead.  I started with a marinated kale salad base, added a nutritional yeast and walnut based pesto, sprinkled on some tomatoes, and a truly fantastic meal of a salad resulted. Take advantage of the in-season basil right now, and make this salad. 

Pesto Kale Salad

1 large bunch of kale
2 T olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt to taste
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1 handful of walnuts
1 large fistful of fresh basil
Garlic to taste
Heirloom tomatoes, chopped

Rip the kale off the stems into small pieces. Massage kale with olive oil and sea salt. Set aside.  Put remaining ingredients, save the tomatoes, into a mini-food processor and process until pesto-like.  Put the sauce, which might have the texture of a nut pate depending on how many walnuts you use, on top of the kale salad along with the chopped tomatoes. Try to savor instead of inhale.

(Oh, and the brown liquid isn't scotch whiskey. It's home brewed kombucha, which I will post about later, I promise!)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

  On Sunday night, I attended a truly exceptional gathering of DC healthy foodies.   Gena graciously hosted AnneVictoria, Valerie, Dasha (who works for my favorite food chain --sweetgreen) and myself in her backyard on a perfect evening.  The District is experiencing some unseasonably temperate weather, so it wasn't muggy or buggy enough to confine us to air conditioning.  We had a spirited and laughter-filled conversation, surrounded by the first fireflies of the season.  Gena provided appetizers and kombucha-sangria (which I will be reproducing in my own kitchen many times this summer), Anne brought a gorgeous barley salad, Valerie brought a fantastic beet-quinoa salad (topped with vegan scallion cheese), and Dasha brought a beautiful arugula salad topped with nectarines in balsamic vinegar and fresh corn.  Victoria brought a mostly raw brownie bottom, peanut butter pie (OMG!), and I decided to bust out the ice cream maker for the first time this season.  The results did not disappoint.  More ice cream will follow.

Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream (vegan, gluten-free)

2 pints strawberries
2 tsp. evaporated cane juice
2 cans for full-fat coconut milk (light will crystalize in the ice cream maker --gross)
1 c. evaporated cane juice or stevia to taste
about 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot
1/4 tsp. salt
2 t. vanilla
4 cardamom pods (optional) 

Freeze the components of your ice cream maker than need to be frozen.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Quarter the strawberries and put in a rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan.  Sprinkle 2 tsp of evaporated cane juice and toss to coat.  Roast the strawberries for about 25 minutes.  Cool completely and then puree the berries (optional).  

Dissolve the evaporated cane juice in the coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (Skip this step if you're using stevia and just gently heat the milk). Add the vanilla, salt, and cardamom pods (if using).  Whisk the arrowroot or cornstarch into the coconut milk slowly.  (You may need to add more to get your desired thickness).  Once the mixture has a texture of a custard, take off the heat, remove the cardamom pods, and chill the mixture completely --in the fridge overnight or the freezer for a few hours.

Once the components are chilled thoroughly, begin freezing the custard according to the ice cream maker's instructions.  About halfway through the freezing process, add the strawberry mixture.  Once the mix has the texture of soft serve, put it into an airtight container and freeze until almost ready to serve.  Try not to get your tongue stuck to the ice cream maker. Really try. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Orange Olive Oil Cookies

Fresh baked cookies are totally awesome. And whole grain, vegan cookies, made with a healthful oil are even more awesome. If you're willing to try some cookies that are a little out of the box, you are going to love these cookies. Don't get me wrong, these are cookies for grown ups. Not that they contain any booze or other illicit substances, but they are more subtle and lightly flavored than the more in-your-face favorites. The olive oil gives them a hint of savory, and makes the citrus flavor pop. It also gives a crispy, crumbly texture that you usually can't get without eggs. These were the perfect afternoon snack for several afternoons last week, they went perfectly with my afternoon licorice tea.

Orange Olive Oil Cookies

Makes 12-16 cookies


  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 C + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest (zest the orange before you peel it for best results)


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and sea salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer), beat together sugar, olive oil, orange juice, vanilla and orange zest.
  • Slowly pour flour mixture into olive oil mixture and blend until just combined.
  • Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. (be sure to leave plenty of room – approx. 3″ – between cookies as they will spread)
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly until firm on baking sheet then remove to wire rack.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vegan Fennel and Leek Gratin

One of my favorite pre-vegan dishes is a vegetable gratin. Something about drowning vegetables in cream sauce and/or cheese and topping it with bread crumbs makes simple veggies company worthy. Normally, I prefer my vegetables simply steamed or roasted. But this weekend, I wanted some Sunday dinner-worthy vegetables. I took it upon myself to veganize one of my favorite vegetable dishes. Since, this was a special vegetable dish, I decided to use earth balance to make my bechamel. (Bechemel is one of the three mother sauces in French cooking.) I don't usually like franken-foods, even vegan franken-foods, but I used the soy free Earth Balance, and only a couple of tablespoons. It was totally worth it!

Vegan Fennel and Leek Gratin

2 cups almond milk, heated gently on the stove
2.5 T soy-free earth balance
3 T wheat flour
salt and nutmeg to taste
1T nutritional yeast
2 heads fennel, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
Vegan panko bread crumbs to taste (I like a lot)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the Earth Balance over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until it thickens. (This will take longer than you think it should). The sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the spices and nutritional yeast.

Pour about a third of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Put the veggies on top. Pour the rest of the sauce on. Finally, top with panko crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

FYI, the leftovers make a great tortilla pizza topper.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Salad with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Fries and Massaged Kale Salad. Two of my favorite things. One naughty. One Nice. But when you put them together, they are nothing but sugar and spice. (Yeah, I just rhymed.)

Sweet Potato and Kale Salad (Serves one very hungry person)

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 small shallots, diced
salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon, to taste
spray coconut oil

1 head of kale
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
lemon juice

Heat up a saute pan over medium heat, spray with coconut oil and saute the shallots until they are a bit soft. Add the sweet potato cubes and spices. Stir occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are crispy. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, tear up the kale massage it with olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice.

When the sweet potatoes are crispy, dump them on the kale and gobble it all up.