Festive fall kale salad (gf + v)

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I bought some gorgeous organic kale on sale and let the season’s colors and flavors inspire this wonderful salad that will surely be a hit on your holiday table! This colorful and festive dish is as healthy as it is delicious, a rarity among holiday foods. The persimmon and pomegranate provide oodles of antioxidants. The acidity of the simple lemon dressing helps to soften the kale and tone down its slightly bitter edge, while also contrasting beautifully with the sweetness of the dates and persimmon. The nuttiness of the pecans rounds everything out. An autumnal symphony of delicious flavors! Serves 4-6 and can easily be scaled up.

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Roast eggplant cutlets with a creamy lemon-basil sauce (gf + v)

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Here is a simple, fresh and different way to serve eggplant when you’re in the mood for a change from the usual tomato-based preparations. The bright, fresh flavors of the lemon and basil contrast beautifully with the lovely umami of the eggplant. As always, the key is to roast that eggplant into sweet caramelized submission, so that it is utterly succulent and irresistible! Serves 2-3 as an entree.

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Super simple spaghetti pomodoro (gf + v)

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I was an overzealous tomato-buyer at Costco last week, and the next thing I knew there was a large tray of beautiful cocktail tomatoes threatening to spoil in my kitchen (the insane heat wave we’re having here didn’t help matters). A perfect opportunity to make a quick but delicious pasta pomodoro! This recipe has so few ingredients but each one is really crucial to its amazing, classic flavor (don’t even think of substituting dried ingredients for fresh in this recipe – total waste of time!). This is a totally different experience than eating your pasta with boring premade marinara sauce. Give it a try! Fair warning: your kitchen will smell amazing and this stuff is hard to stop eating. If you serve it with sides, you’ll get 4 servings – but if it’s a one-dish meal, count on just feeding two hungry adults!

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Brown rice fusilli with asparagus tips, English peas and pesto (gf + v)

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I hope you are well and that your week is off to a good start. Here’s a quick n’ easy pasta dish that is sure to be a hit even with pickier eaters! Simple enough for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for a festive meal, It features my homemade vegan pesto which is super-versatile and can easily be made up to about a week in advance (keep in fridge), or longer if you freeze it. Fully of bright green, springy veggies and the wonderful herbal scent of basil, it won’t weigh you down the way that some greasy pesto dishes do. I use brown rice pasta but there’s no reason you couldn’t use regular or whole wheat if you prefer. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 if it’s a side.

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Honey orange cake (gf + dairy free)

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Honey cake is a traditional dessert served on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), along with other sweet foods, served to symbolize our hopes and wishes for a sweet new year. My version is loosely adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s wonderful vegan ultra-orange cake recipe. The cake batter rises due to the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar, just like that science fair volcano experiment you did ages ago in elementary school! And, here’s the best part: because there are no eggs in this recipe, you can taste the delicious batter to your heart’s content without worrying about salmonella! This recipe will give you get a nice moist cake with a rich and complex honey-orange-vanilla flavor, not too sweet but very satisfying. Using fresh oranges for their zest and juice is an absolute must for this recipe. I like topping these cakes with sliced almonds but feel free to get creative 🙂 Makes two 8-inch round cakes (or one thicker cake in a 9 x 13″ pan). Best served still warm from the oven.

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Cinnamon-peach chia seed pudding (gf + v)

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I remember, as a young Girl Scout, being taught how to collect wild chia seeds that grow in the chaparral of southern California. I remember learning way back then, that chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans and that they are incredibly nutritionally rich…But I forgot about all that until, in the last few years, chia seeds became a super-trendy health craze. Now I can’t browse the blogosphere without being inundated with chia seed recipes. But I must say, this is one trend that I think deserves all its hype. Chia seeds really are a superfood – packed with protein, fiber, omega-3s, calcium, and antioxidants, filling yet low in calories, they make a perfect nutritional boost to many favorite foods. They also tend to absorb water, becoming somewhat puffy and gelatinous, making them a perfect vehicle for making puddings!

My version of chia seed pudding is super duper easy and involves combining a few basic ingredients, a quick zap in the micro, and resting overnight in the fridge – it’s a perfect thing to throw together at night so you can look forward to a delicious (think creamy coconutty pudding meets a cinnamony peach cobbler!) and fortifying breakfast all ready for you in the morning. Also makes a super yummy and healthy dessert. Serves 1, but can be easily scaled up.

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Simple white bean salad with fresh herbs (gf + v)

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At my new place, I finally have a little outdoor space and can actually grow fresh herbs – so exciting! (I have grown fresh basil indoors in sunny windows in the past, but it’s not the same…) – so now I have a little potted basil plant as well as fresh parsley and thyme growing on my balcony, all which feature in this recipe. This is a quick and super tasty salad you can throw together in just a few minutes to complement any number of wonderful Mediterranean-themed meals. Definitely an upgrade from those soggy canned three-bean salads of yesteryear.

I try to always keep a can of cannelini (white kidney) beans in the pantry because they are so versatile and recipe-friendly. Though hearty and filling, their flavor is very mild and unassuming, but this salad is quite lively thanks to a variety of aromatic fresh herbs and a little bit of purple onion for bite. Serves 2-3, but can easily be scaled up for larger crowds. Can be made 1 day ahead and pre-chilled, and will keep 1-2 days in the fridge.

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