Shhhh … they aren’t really “noodles” … they just look sort of like noodles. They don’t really taste like noodles either, but I love the noodley look of this colorful vegetable medley. The Pesto Rosso (a.k.a, sundried tomato pesto) really complements the sauteed veggies too, especially when you add some crumbles of cheese on top.
It was getting very close to bedtime last night when I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to have a big, heavy meal right before bed, but I didn’t want my stomach waking me up in the middle of night either. So I decided at the last moment to cook up something light and healthy but filling enough to tide me over till morning. I’ve been toying with the idea of using zucchini and summer squash as noodles with sauce over top, but when I went to make it, I thought “why just zucchini? why not toss some other vegetables too?” … and so I did.
For me, this was a late night snack, but I could envision these lovelies as a beautiful bed for meat, fish or chicken. Can you imagine how appetizing that would look? Or you could eat them as is for a wonderfully healthy vegetarian dinner. If you want a heartier meal, toss them with some whole grain fettucine or linguine. The wonderful thing about eating vegetables for dinner is you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt or worry.
Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”
This makes about enough for 1 hearty plateful or two side servings. Multiply if you have more mouths to feed!
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 of a small sweet onion
- 1/3 of a large bell pepper (I used a yellow one)
- 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (yielding a heaping cup or so of zucchini “noodles”)
- 1 roma tomato
- About 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used Basil and Terragon)
- A splash of wine (or water)
- About 1 Tablespoon Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto … recipe here)
- About 1/2 Tablespoon white wine (or water)
- To top: crumbled feta or queso fresco — or thin “shards” of freshly cut Parmesan & a cherry tomato or sprig of fresh basil or parsley, for garnish
- Peel and chop the garlic finely and, in a small bowl, mix it with the olive oil. Set aside to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil while you chop up the vegies.
- Slice the vegies into thin noodle shapes. For the onion, slice it vertically and very thin. The zucchini: slice it in half, then slice each half into very thin slices. Cut the slices into noodle-sized strips. The tomato: cut it vertically, then slice like you did the zucchini. The bell pepper: just cut it into very thin strips.
- Now heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic with olive oil, onion and bell pepper and sautee until the onion is soft. Then add the zucchini and tomato and sautee until the zucchini “noodles” are tender. If the pan gets dry while you are cooking, add a splash of white wine (or water) to keep the vegies moist and tender and make sure they don’t stick to the pan.
- Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
- Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.
This is one of those salads that came to me in the middle of the night. I was trying to think of something different to do with cucumbers beyond the regular cucumber salads … hadn’t come up with anything, but then about 3 a.m., I woke up and thought “Pesto! Pesto would be awesome on cucumbers!” So yeah, I guess I never stop thinking about food, even when I’m sleeping.
I have a bunch of English cucumbers my mom gave me from her garden. They are the BEST cucumbers, so crunchy and sweet, tiny little seeds that are never too big, and no sharp bitter taste at all. She had brought in a box of them and said to me “this is today’s pick … tomorrow we will have another bunch like this. So you may as well take them all.”
I found a bit of buttermilk in my fridge and thought I should use that up, so I mixed it with the pesto along with some yogurt to make the dressing. Together they made this lovely creamy blend that made me smile. I had actually intended to put some chickpeas in this salad as well, but I completely forgot about them until the salad was gone. Oh well, the chickpeas will go into something else!
Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad
with Tomato, Feta Cheese and Pinons
- 2 cups chopped English cucumber (or other fresh garden cucumber … )
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or chopped fresh tomato
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Pinons, toasted
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (if desired)
- 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons pesto (my recipe is here)
Chop up the cucumber and toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes, saving a few tomatoes for garnish on top of the salad. Mix up the buttermilk, yogurt and pesto till smooth and then toss the cucumber/tomato mixture with enough dressing to just coat the vegies. Top with feta cheese crumbles, pinons, the reserved tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and serve.
This was the salad I had in mind when I created the sundried tomato ranch dressing. A super simple, very tomato salad bursting that really focuses on the tomato. I forgot to put the feta cheese on BEFORE I took the pictures … ooops! But don’t forget to add the feta. The tangy salty feta is so good with the juicy tomatoes and ranch.
Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad
You could add other fresh vegies to this salad as well … this recipe made enough for two meals for me, but I’m not a big eater.
- 1 cup dry cellentani pasta (rotini, bowtie, or penne would work well for this too)
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
- 2 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Mixed greens
- 1/4 cup sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here)
- Several sundried tomatoes, chopped into bits
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Leftover grilled meat (optional … I tossed in some of my Spiedies) … or try some cooked chickpeas (or other beans) instead and maybe some sunflower seeds?
- For garnish: Green onion, snipped
First, make the dressing and set it aside while you create the salad.
Cook the pasta in boiling water till done, then drain. In a bowl, mix together the pasta, sweet onions, tomatoes and ranch dressing.
Cover your salad plate (or bowl) with a layer of mixed greens, then add a healthy bunch of the pasta salad mixture. Top with the chopped sundried tomatoes, chunks of meat, feta cheese crumbles and snipped green onions.
Enjoy! (I did take ONE photo after I added the feta … I had already started in on devouring the salad by then though …)
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I was scrounging for lunch again yesterday … my body was so hungry for something good, delicious, healthy. My organic salad greens in the fridge were almost gone. There wasn’t much to be had in the fridge except some cut fruit and a bit of cheese.
But I ALWAYS have plenty of food in the freezer. AND I have a yard full of edibles! I went out and collected some wild violet and dandelion leaves, a bit of fresh basil, some Johnny Jump Ups (as my mom calls them … they are also known as Violas), cooked up a frozen chicken patty, toasted some pecans from the freezer and voila! I had a beautiful salad definitely worth jumping up for.
Jump Up Chicken Orange Salad with Feta and Pecans
- Greens (I used wild violet and dandelion greens)
- Cooked chicken, cut into chunks (I used a breaded chicken patty, but grilled chicken or even rotisserie chicken would work too)
- Orange, peeled and cut into small chunks
- Toasted pecans
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Viola flowers (Johnny Jump Ups … preferably from a source that isn’t sprayed with herbicides or pesticides)
- Fresh basil leaves
Fill your bowl most of the way with greens. Tuck in the chicken, orange pieces, sprinkle with pecans and feta. Add the flowers and the basil and drizzle with a pleasing vinaigrette. I used my Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette, but I think the Tequila Lime Vinaigrette would be lovely on this salad too … I need to make some more of that beautiful dressing.
on Wild Greens with a Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing
We made rainbow fruit kebabs for my daughter’s birthday party. Both of her parties, in fact (one for her school friends, one for her dance friends). The second party was smaller, so now my fridge is filled with fruit. Fruit in literally all the colors of the rainbow.
That just screams for a salad, doesn’t it?
Now, you could arrange all these pretty fruits over the greens in the shape of a rainbow I suppose. I just wanted a sprinkle of fruit amongst my greens, though. And a crunchy nut flavor with some salty, creamy cheese. The best part of this salad, I think, was each time I encountered a new fruit, the taste was a little different. But the greens, the dressing, the cheese and the walnuts held it all together so it was a constant symphony of taste with changing fruit highlights. Sort of like different singers singing the same melody, or different instruments playing the same tune. It felt a little like listening to a really good orchestra playing a beautiful piece of music … like being at the Symphony.
Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad on Wild Greens
with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese
- Greens of your choice (I used dandelion greens.)
- Fresh blueberries
- Honeydew melon
- Chopped fresh pineapple
- Fresh orange, peeled and cut into chunks
- Fresh strawberries
- Toasted walnuts
- Feta cheese
Fill your salad bowl most of the way with greens. Tuck the fruits in amongst the greens, sprinkle with a few toasted walnuts and a bit of crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing.
Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing
Okay this isn’t really a NEW salad dressing recipe … it’s a salad dressing transformation. I wanted that honey lemon, but I also wanted a bit of creaminess, a bit more sweet citrus taste, and some poppyseeds, so I just added them. I think you could get away with using the Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette as is. Or you could go a different direction and just add some honey to the orange juice, yogurt and poppyseeds.
- 1 Tablespoon Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette
- 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon plain yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon poppyseeds
Mix all ingredients and drizzle over the salad.
Enjoy the symphony.
I’m guest blogging over at Nutri-Savvy today! Lauren challenged me to create a recipe with a set of unusual ingredients for her Mix it Up Mondays. The list included salmon, capers, tomatoes, kale, and feta … that sounded to me like it would make a perfect pizza!
And it did.
Pop over to Nutri-Savvy for the recipe.
This recipe was shared at Mealtime Mondays.
I am guest posting at Full Belly Sisters today! Justine is one of my favorite facebook foodie friends and when she asked me to share a fish dish, I immediately thought of this one. I’ve been meaning to blog it forever because it’s one of those dishes I have made over and over again over the years …
So head over to Full Belly Sisters for the recipe! I think you’re going to love it …
Yesterday my little blog reached a new milestone: 5,000 “likes” on my facebook page. I was so excited I took a screenshot! … I have met sooo many wonderful foodie friends through this blog. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me. My foodie friends take me on culinary journeys all over the world, but not only that, they lift me up when I am down, they always have a cheery good morning and a good night, a cup of hot coffee, and oh the amazing foods we share. We have parties together, share stories, food, music, drinks … They are my inspiration, but more than that, they are my friends … I want to do something to celebrate and thank all of you but I wasn’t quite sure what to do. One of my friends suggested “5 different things” … we tossed around some ideas for that … at first I was thinking party foods, but I think I will go with 5 favorite foods.
First of Five Favorites: Salad. One of my very favorite foods is salad. I loooove salad! I think I could eat salad every day. Salads are often meals for me. I dress them up with all sorts of things, and I love to make my own salad dressings. And I love sharing my salads with my foodie friends.
For this salad, I wanted to do something like an Italian Bread Salad with my sunflower spinach parmesan bread, but I didn’t follow a recipe. This salad just sort of “happened”, like a lot of recipes in my kitchen do. I just wing it. Most of the time it turns out pretty good. This one was really good, but I’ll warn you it’s super garlicky. Personally I like that. One of the things I want to do before I die is to get to the garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. I already have two garlic cookbooks from there and they are very well used. We drove through Gilroy once. You can smell the amazing garlic from inside the car. For a couple minutes, our car smelled like an Italian kitchen. I bet everyone in Gilroy cooks with a LOT of garlic. I think I’d fit right in …
Bread and White Bean Salad with Feta & Basil
Makes 1 “meal-sized” salad or 2-3 side salads. Multiple if you are cooking for more people!
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 2 slices of french bread or Sunflower Spinach Parmesan Bread
- 1/2 cup cooked Great Northern, Cannellini or other white beans
- 2 whole canned tomatoes
- Granulated garlic
- Red Robin seasoning (or seasoned salt)
- Italian seasoning
- Mixed greens
- Red onions, thinly sliced
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Fresh basil leaves
- Sunflower seeds, toasted
- Lowfat garlic ranch dressing (I used this one) … or I think a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette would be nice on this salad too …
- In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and granulated garlic. Cut the bread into cubes, and brush lightly with the olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 – 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and crunchy.
- While the croutons are baking, put the beans in a small bowl and crush the tomatoes over them, allowing the juices to drip into the beans, then add the tomatoes. Season to taste with garlic, Red Robin seasoning and Italian seasoning. Heat the beans in the microwave or a small pan till they are hot.
- Assemble the salad: in a salad bowl, toss the greens with the onions, beans, and croutons. Sprinkle with feta, basil leaves, and sunflower seeds and drizzle with the dressing.
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with cilantro, cucumber, and toasted pinons
I couldn’t stop eating this salad. It was one of those find-things-in-your-fridge-and-toss-them-together kind of meals … but once I got it all together, I could not believe how good it tasted.
I was telling my yoga friend about this salad and she asked how it is that I have all these strange things “on hand” in my kitchen … I think what I do is I just collect interesting ingredients and let them flow together. Oh, yes, there are times when I buy things specifically to make a particular dish, but it quite often doesn’t work out that way. Life gets in the way. My plans get thrown out the window. I have learned along the way that plans are only a point of departure, and you have to be ready at any point in life to make new ones. I find myself doing a lot of that.
In any case, this was a very happy accident.
Black Bean, Feta and Avocado Couscous Citrus Salad
with Cilantro, Cucumber, and Toasted Pine Nuts
If you haven’t got any kumquats, you could try substituting other citrus fruits.
- 2/3 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
- 1/2 of a large cucumber, sliced and cut into small chunks
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- Roughly 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 2 kumquats (about 2 inches in diameter, add more to taste depending on how large your kumquats are), sliced thin and chopped (reserving a few slices for garnish)
- About 2 cups of green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped fine
- About 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
- About 1/3 cup of toasted pinon nuts
- 1/2 of an avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
- Prepare the uncooked couscous according to the package directions and make the dressing.
- In a medium bowl, toss everything but the avocado until mixed.
- Toss the avocado in the dressing to coat (the kumquat juice in the dressing will help the avocado from turning brown), then toss the avocado and the dressing into the salad and stir gently to combine.
- Garnish the top of the salad with extra feta crumbles, slices of kumquat, cilantro leaves and a few pinons.
- 2 Tablespoons of kumquat juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
and a Kumquat Ginger Yogurt Dressing
This is an intense salad, with bursts of contrasting flavors all over the place. Smoky salty prosciutto contrasting with the sharp cheese, nutty almonds, onion, and then those kumquats come along and blow your taste buds away. Top it all off with some a tangy sweet kumquat ginger yogurt dressing and oh my your taste buds will start dancing.
Not for the faint of heart … this salad is bold and feisty.
First make the dressing and let it sit while you mix up the salad …
Kumquat Ginger Yogurt Salad Dressing
This dressing has an intense ginger taste. If you are not a ginger fanatic, or if you are not sure if you are, I would recommend seriously toning down the amount of ginger in the dressing.
- 1/8 cup plain greek yogurt (nonfat or lowfat)
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger root (if you’re not a ginger fanatic like me, cut it down to 1/2 – 1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon kumquat syrup (from making candied kumquats … you could substitute orange marmalade)
Mix all ingredients until well blended.
Kumquat & Prosciutto Salad with Toasted Almonds, Feta, and Romano Cheese
- Mixed greens
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Thin sliced prosciutto
- Kumquat, thinly sliced
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Shards of fresh Romano cheese (slice off very thin slices of the cheese)
- Toasted almonds
Fill your salad bowl about 3/4 of the way with the greens, then add the rest of the ingredients as you please. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy the party in your mouth.
Felafel is a traditional middle eastern food: usually deep fried little balls of spiced chickpea batter. Crunchy, delicious, and actually healthy for you, even if you fry them.
These felafel are baked, though, so they are even better for you. Packed with protein and vegies and all kinds of good herbs and spices. Don’t even try to fry them. I had a few that didn’t fit on my little baking sheet, so I tried frying them in olive oil and just trust me on this one, the baked ones were SO much better.
I hear there is a lot of controversy over felafel. It seems many Palestinians believe that Israelis have stolen falafel, a traditional Arab food … personally I don’t understand why we need to fight over food.
I am more of a peaceful soul who likes to enjoy good food … I really don’t care who invented it … just as long as it’s good. And these little babies are definitely good.
Fabulous Baked Felafel
Adapted from Shutterbean
Makes 10 – 15 or so felafel
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans)
- 1 small onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (alas, I had no cilantro, so I substituted basil …)
- Juice of 1 kumquat (or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Put all the ingredients into a handy chopper or food processor and blend till everything is chopped fine and forms a paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Form into small balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches diameter and flatten into patties. Place your lovely little felafels onto a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).
Felafel are typically served in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and a tahini sauce. I had them for lunch today with a bit of onion, lettuce, tomato, Mia’s fantastic avocado hummus and some feta cheese. I really wanted some tzatziki to go alongside, but alas, I had no cucumber. They were still pretty dang fabulous.
They are quite nice just to munch on as a little appetizer too. Just be careful … they are slightly addictive.
with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
Do you see the kiwi in there? It’s a master at hide-and-seek …
Yesterday I walked into my kitchen looking for some lunch … I am trying to eat up that big tub of herb organic salad mix my mom and dad got for me, so I thought I’d make a salad. And I’m trying to clean out some of the things in the freezer, so I added some chicken nuggets. And then I found some feta cheese and a red onion from Dad’s garden. But it sounded boring … what else could I add to my salad? Aha! a bunch of kiwis my daughter hasn’t eaten yet … and some basil …
That’s how this salad came to be. I just kept finding things to put in it. Some of my best recipes are born that way.
I told my daughter that I put Kiwi in my salad today and she said yes, of course, it goes great in fruit salad. I said no, I used it in a green salad with chicken and cheese and red onions. She said that’s just weird.
Well, yes, maybe it is a little weird. But it is also really good. The taste of the crispy chicken, the sweet juicy kiwi, the salty cheese, the greens, and the herbs — it is just a really good flavor combination. You will just have to try it and find out for yourself.
Kiwi & Chicken Salad with Feta, Basil, and Mixed Greens with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
- Mixed Organic Herb Mix or Mixed Greens (including fresh dill … if it’s not in the greens I do recommend adding it!)
- Chicken nuggets or grilled chicken or other chicken (this is a great use for leftover chicken!)
- Red onion, cut in small chunks
- Kiwi fruit, peeled and cut into pieces
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Fresh basil leaves (and flowers if you have them!)
First make the dressing and let it set to mix the flavors while you prepare the salad.
Fill the salad bowl 3/4 full with the organic herb mix, and sprinkle with remaining ingredients as you please. Drizzle with the Tequila Lime Vinaigrette.
Tequila Lime Vinaigrette (from Cooking Light Magazine)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- Dash of salt
- Toss all ingredients into a food processor and whir till blended. Or you can just whisk them all together in a bowl, but the food processor will chop up the cilantro really nicely. I used watermelon-infused tequila (made by soaking watermelon cubes in tequila for several days). Cover and chill until ready to use.
This recipe was shared at Tastetastic Thursdays.
I don’t know if you noticed but I was away from my kitchen last week, travelling in California. The company I work for lives out in California … everyone else who works for this company lives in California. Most of them come into the office every day. I am the lone midwestern employee, working remotely. They give me a lot of crap about the weather. My boss loves to call and tell me when he’s wearing shorts in sunny 70 degree weather and we are up to our armpits in snow. It’s all in good fun. My son and I called them all wimps when we were visiting last week and they were shivering in their jackets while we were reveling in what (to us) was lovely weather.
We got home late Sunday night, so there was no time for grocery shopping, and work began early Monday morning, so I wondered what on earth I was going to eat. But I was in luck. My parents were here to stay with my daughter for the weekend and they left me a big, beautiful tub of organic herb salad mix.
So all I needed to do was find something to go with it. I scrounged up some frozen (natural) chicken nuggets, feta, pinons, tomatoes, onion and pulled out one of my homemade dressings and haha! I had a lovely lunch.
Herb Salad with Chicken, Feta, Pinons and Oriental Vinaigrette
- Organic herb salad mix
- Chicken nuggets, cooked and cut into small pieces (I used 4 for my salad)
- Pinon nuts, toasted
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Chopped tomato
- Sliced onion
- Fill the salad bowl most of the way with herb salad mix.
- Top with remaining ingredients.
- Drizzle with dressing.
Oriental vinaigrette salad dressing
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1/2 c. rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 2 T. honey
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine OR 1/4 t. granulated garlic
- 1/2 t. ground ginger
- About 10 drops of sesame oil
- 1 T. canola oil
- 1 T. fish sauce
- 1 T. chinese mustard
Pour all ingredients into a bottle and shake well to blend the flavors. Refrigerate.
I got in a fight with my teenage son this afternoon … it was, as usual, a very emotionally charged exchange. We were both livid by the time we left the house. I was driving him to his dad’s place and yes, I was angry, but after a moment, I forced myself to calm down and breathe so I could drive safely. Still, I was fighting back the tears of rage.
I was just crossing through an intersection where the light was green on a country road that crosses the edge of the city when a lady in a silver car turned right in front of me, just as I was nearing the edge of the intersection. Perhaps she didn’t see my little gray car coming; perhaps she wasn’t paying attention. I slammed on the brakes and managed to stop without hitting her. There wasn’t anywhere else for me to go, no other lane to swerve into. But in that moment I saw both of our lives flash before my eyes. I thought to myself how miniscule our argument really was, in the scheme of things. Apparently my son had the same thought because he looked at me and said, “that really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?”
Now don’t get me wrong, we needed to fight today. There were things I needed to say to him, and he needed to get out some of the rage he was holding inside. But we also needed to remember how precious and fragile our connections to each other are. They could be broken … gone … in an instant. So often in an argument, we say hurtful things and we forget.
This stranger, in a moment of carelessness, sent us a powerful reminder.
Thick & Hearty Curried Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Roughly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 3-5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 large onion, peeled
- 2 t. olive oil
- 2 t. curry powder
- 1/2 t. smoked paprika
- 1 t. cumin
- 1/4 c. chardonnay or other dry white wine — although I think a dry red might work even better
- 2 c. black beans
- 1/2 quart canned tomatoes with juices
- 1 c. pumpkin puree
- 1 c. beef or vegetable broth
- Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 – 1/2 t. cayenne seasoning (or more to taste)
- Feta cheese crumbles and/or roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and a few whole black beans for garnish
- Whirl the onion and garlic in a handi chopper or food processor till they are in tiny chunks (or chop into small bits with your knife).
- Over medium high heat, sautee the chopped onion and garlic with the cumin, curry, and smoked paprika in the olive oil until the onion and garlic is soft. It should be sort of a paste of onion and spices.
- Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until most of the wine has evaporated.
- Whir the beans and tomatoes briefly in the handi chopper or food processor (do them separately if your device won’t hold them all at once!) or mash with a potato masher to break down the beans and tomatoes to a sort of rough puree.
- Add the beans, tomatoes, pumpkin and broth to the pan. Season to taste with Red Robin Seasoning, freshly ground pepper, and cayenne.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the flavors have all mixed well.
- Serve hot with feta cheese crumbles and a few whole black beans and/or pumpkin seeds for garnish.
My parents came to visit this weekend and with them they brought SO much beautiful bounty from their garden: peppers, onions, potatoes, eggplant, turnips, tomatoes, yellow watermelon, butternut squash.
They brought me a jar of salsa that they had made and a box full of canned tomatoes. AND a case of dad’s homemade wine.
We debated whether we should go out for dinner or stay in and cook– but since we had SO much food in the house, well, it just seemed like we should cook up some of it!
So I took the summer squash that my friend gave me last weekend and stuffed it some of dad’s venison apple sausage, some feta cheese and a bunch of goodies from the garden. Oh it turned out good. We had a bit of soup and some bread along with some Pinot Grigio and we were well fed and happy.
Here are the squash sisters. Aren’t they pretty? The dark green one was a winter squash that had a mild sweet taste to it and smooth texture. The brighter green stripey one on the left was the one we ate last night. I am not sure what kind of squash these are since my friend says they were volunteers in her garden, but I sure love the taste of them. Someone told me they are cushaw squashes. Do you think that’s what they are?
Curried Stuffed Summer Squash
You can adjust the seasonings to your own tastes. I didn’t actually measure anything either … just threw it all together, so feel free to adjust up or down on any of the ingredients.
- 1/2 of a large summer squash or zucchini (eggplant would be good this way, too!), sliced lengthways and seeded if it has seeds in the middle like mine did
- 1 t. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 of a large bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red onion, peeled & chopped
- 3 -4 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
- 5- 7 fresh mushrooms, sliced and diced
- about 3/4 c. chopped fresh tomato
- about 3/4 c. cooked low-fat sausage (I used 2 venison-apple sausages, but turkey or chicken sausage would be good too. Peel off the casings if the sausage has them then chop. You could also leave out the sausage if you prefer just vegies.)
- about 3/4 c. breadcrumbs
- About 1/3 c. feta cheese crumbles
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- 1 – 2 t. Thai red curry paste
- 1/2 t. smoked paprika
- Scoop out the flesh of the summer squash with a grapefruit spoon, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick shell so it’s sturdy enough to hold the stuffing when it’s cooked.
- Chop up the scooped out flesh of the squash.
- Heat a medium saucepan to medium-high heat, then swirl around the olive oil in the pan. Add the squash, onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms and sautee until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in the sausage, tomato, feta cheese, breadcrumbs, and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the stuffing back into the squash shell, packing it in so it all fits. If it doesn’t all fit back into the squash, you can bake some in a separate casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of extra feta cheese and top with a few chopped cherry tomatoes if you like.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and everything is well heated through.
- Scoop out servings from the beautiful squash shell.
This is my first of a series of 31 Days of Connecting through Food.
I am on a total Greek food kick lately. I love Greek food and we have no good Greek places in town, so if I want Greek food, I have to make it. Greece is definitely on my mind. My daughter and I have been dreaming of going to Greece, but my son isn’t interested in Greece. He would rather go to Florida. Again. We went to Florida last year! Let’s go somewhere different. That’s what vacations are all about, right? I did talk him into going to Colorado this year somehow instead of going back to Florida. I have no idea how I’ll talk him into going to Greece, other than perhaps spending part of the vacation in France. But he isn’t that crazy about going to France, even though he’s taking French. Sigh. I’ve been told my daughter and I should just go without him. Perhaps we will!
So anyway back to Greece. No I haven’t been there. It’s very near the top of my list of places to go. I’ve seen pictures and studied their mythology and reveled in every Greek restaurant I could ever find in every place I’ve ever lived. I really LOVE Greek food. Garlic, oregano, feta, lemon, mint, creamy thick yogurt, cucumber, lamb. Gyros, hummus, spanakopita, dolmas, falafel, oh and that lovely Greek chicken! I love it all.
So when I saw this Greek layer dip from Avid Appetite, I wanted to make it right away. Except I didn’t have any hummus! So I had to wait until I had time to whip up a batch of hummus. And by the time I did that, I didn’t have much tzatziki left. But I used what I had to make a mini-layer dip. It was perfect for lunch/snacking throughout the afternoon … would probably be just fine for a snack for two. If you want to make a big party version, just use more stuff!
I ate this one all by myself. Just munched on it all afternoon. And now I am sad. It is gone. My tzatziki is gone. I ate what was left of my hummus for dinner. I miss them … want more. May have to start on a new Greek trip tomorrow. Wish it could be for real …
Greek Layer Dip & Pita Chips
*Adapted from Avid Appetite who adapted it from Food Network Magazine
- Whole wheat pitas or pita pockets, cut into chip-like wedges
- Aboug 1/2 c. ground lean meat (I used venison, you can use turkey or lamb or whatever you like)
- Hummus (I used my Cannellini hummus, but I think the Basil-iferous hummus would be nice too … or whatever you have on hand)
- Tzatziki (I used my world’s best tzatziki that Kalyn taught me …)
- Red onion, finely diced (ok, if you don’t have red, you can use white, but red is prettier)
- Fresh garden tomato, diced
- Feta crumbles
- Kalamata olives, chopped (I skipped the olives … not my thing!)
- A bit of mixed lettuce, chopped
- Fresh oregano leaves
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- cooking spray
- To make the pita chips, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Layer the pita wedges on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray liberally with cooking spray. You can sprinkle with salt if you like–I didn’t bother with salt on mine. Bake for 7 minutes or until crispy.
- Brown the ground meat in a skillet over medium heat. While cooking, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Set the meat aside.
- Meanwhile, chop up the onion, tomato, olives and lettuce.
- Spread the hummus in the bottom of the serving dish. (If you use a glass dish, you could actually SEE the layers unlike with mine!) Next, sprinkle on the prepared meat. Carefully spread the tzatziki over the meat. Layer the onions, tomatoes, lettuce, feta, some fresh oregano leaves and olives over top.
- Serve with your lovely toasted pita chips and enjoy!
I have a not-so-secret fascination with hummus. That creamy garlicky lemony dip with a kick of tahini … ah it is one of my very favorite foods. I snack on it, spread it on my sandwiches, would probably bathe in it if I had enough of it! Well, no, that would be a waste. Because I would want to eat every. last. little. bit. I would be licking the tub. That would not be pretty.
That is how much I love hummus. I have seen hummus made with cannellini beans instead of chickpeas, so I had to give that a whirl. Oh, it turned out delicious. Too bad it is already gone … I didn’t make enough! So I recommend you double the recipe. Or maybe triple it? I SO need to make some more.
Cannellini Hummus with Feta and Oregano
- 1 c. cooked cannellini beans
- 1 t. olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A bit of lemon zest
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 T. crumbled feta cheese
- A few sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 2 T. pinon nuts
- A few drops of sesame oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor till smooth. Add a little water if you need to for getting it to blend smooth. Serve with toasted pita chips.
How to toast pitas into chips:
Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the pitas into wedges and arrange in a single layer on the pan. Spray liberally with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.
with Feta and Basil Vinaigrette
Oh it was one of those crazy busy emotionally exhausting days when you barely have time to think, let alone cook. Lunch was a scramble, grabbing whatever I could find in the kitchen. My body was worn out from all the emotional ups and downs life has thrown us lately and was crying out for something super-nutritious. I have a bunch of those gorgeous cherry tomatoes from my friend and some organic spring mix that really needed to be used up. I bet I was in the kitchen 5 minutes. Maybe 10. And back to work. Whoosh!
So what goes with tomatoes and lettuce? Duh, BACON!
Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Salad with Feta and Basil Vinaigrette
So this is what I found:
- 2 strips of lower-fat bacon, fried crisp, drained on a towel and crumbled
- A bowl full of assorted spring mix lettuce
- A bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved
- A bit of chopped onion
- A good sprinkle of tomato-basil flavored feta cheese
- Chipotle-flavored sunflower seeds
- Just a few fresh basil leaves
- Basil Vinaigrette
I topped it with a basil vinaigrette I made the other day after a trip to my friend’s basil “field” … really she doesn’t have that big of a garden but the basil has gone CRAZY this year.
Basil Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
I found this recipe on Farm Fresh Living when I was looking for a way to use up some of my plentiful basil (besides pesto!). I used a LOT more basil than the recipe called for. And I adjusted it quite a bit … like I always do …
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 tablespoons Garlic peppercorn mustard (or Dijon)
- 1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- Juice from 1/2 orange
- 1 small tomato diced
- Several BIG handfuls of basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra- virgin organic olive oil
Toss all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Drizzle it over your favorite salad toppings.
I love the color in this salad. It was such a relief on a crazy, crazy day.
We went camping at a folk festival this weekend. This is something I haven’t done in years, so I had forgotten what it’s like to live without computers, internet, blogging, twitter, facebook, electricity, hot water … even cell phone coverage was iffy and all our phones worked so hard trying to find a signal they all went dead. We were only there maybe 24 hours, but it feels much longer than that (and at the same time shorter? if that makes any sense), almost like we left the planet or entered a different dimension.
I remembered what it’s like to eat cold food out of the cooler, cook sausages and hot dogs on sticks over a hot fire, eat cereal out of a plastic cup, stay up late just talking by the fire, hike in the woods, stare up at the stars, heat water on a campstove for tea–and all of this was set to the beautiful sounds of some amazingly talented musicians singing late late into the night. We could hear them from our campsite. I have no idea how long they kept playing … they were still singing long after we crashed I bet.
We ate good of course … we had Basil Lime pesto (my friend’s version!) over cold bowtie pasta, hummus with corn chips, the kids had hot dogs and the grownups had these lovely chicken sausages on these awesome bakery buns, chocolate peanut butter muffins, fresh fruit, and one of the vendors was making stone-fired pizzas … and of course we made s’mores. We had fruit and tea, milk stout (my new favorite kind of beer!), water, juice, tea, Pinot Grigio … but no, there weren’t any fancy plates. No napkins even.
I saw wildflowers, amazing big oak trees, beautiful puffy white clouds, more stars than you can imagine.
There was a stick bug about 5 inches long … I’d never seen anything like it before! It was crazy, like something you would see only at a zoo.
And the forests called to us …
Ah it was lovely! But back to reality.
We managed somehow to get home today around 4 pm. Even though I stayed up most the night, I woke at my normal time this morning, and there was much to do around the house when we got home. I did laundry, dishes, mowed the lawn, went grocery shopping … and all of this while I am dead tired from lack of sleep …
And now I’m hungry. But I have no energy to cook. Yet I want something civilized after the wilderness-eating.
Good thing I thought to pick up some salad greens and pita bread while we were at the grocery store. And I have the first fresh tomato of the season! And some hummus left as well. I was in dire need of something saladicious.
Pita with hummus, mixed greens, goat cheese, feta, tomato & toasted pinons
So here’s what you do to make one of these beauties:
- Take a whole wheat pita pocket and slice it in half.
- Spread the inside with hummus. (I used my basil-iferous hummus.)
- chopped vidalia onions
- mixed greens
- chopped fresh tomato
- tomato-basil feta
- toasted pinons (pine nuts)
- crumbled goat cheese.
Ah! It’s good to be home!