Fennel and Leek Soup

Fennel and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

This is great for a warm day is soothing on the belly. It’s light and cooling, with a nice touch of sweet, pungent and bitter qualities. Fresh herbs would work perfectly – for the flavor I wanted I only had dry herbs on hand. Also, if you enjoy the flavor of fennel, I suggest adding ½ teaspoon or more of crushed fennel to stock.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb with stalks, coarsely chopped, stalk ends and fronds set aside
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped and divided
  • 1 small red potato, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp dried fennel, crushed
  • 3 pinches dried summer savory
  • 3 small pinches dried rosemary
  • ½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped, and more for garnish
  • ½ raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté leeks they start to soften. Meanwhile, in another pot, heat stock, water, fennel ends and fronds, 1/3 of celery and chopped parsley on medium heat.

To leeks, add fennel, fennel stalks and remaining celery. Cook until fennel starts to soften, approximately 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Add potato and a generous pinch of salt. Stir then add all the contents from the pot with the stock. Add the summer savory and rosemary and bring to a boil. Once it boils, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, lightly toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet for 1 or two minutes. Immediately remove and pulverize in a food processor. Add a ladle of liquid from the soup to saturate the pumpkin seeds and set aside.

Remove large pot from heat and add the pumpkin seed mixture. Blend soup well with an immersion blend or transfer to a blender. Add Aleppo pepper if using and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6-8.

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

For this soup I used lots of summer/early autumn vegetables. Substituting the zucchini and corn with butternut squash and turnips and using canned tomatoes in lieu of tasty summer tomatoes would be an easy transition for a warming late autumn or winter soup. This soup is well balanced with flavor and texture and is quite fulfilling in the belly.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 ¼ cup corn kernels (2 cobs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, and more for garnish

In a large pot, sauté onions, carrots and peppers until onions become slightly translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute. Add Mexican oregano and tomatoes, cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the potatoes, stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes and stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, and possibly more smoked paprika. Stir in cilantro before serving and garnish individual portions as desired. Although not listed as an ingredient, a splash of lime adds a nice brightness.

Serves 6-8.

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Mains & Sides Recipe

Okra is sweet, cooking and astringent, making it a good balancer for the three doshas. It also said to be full of nutrients and have many health benefits. It’s generally in season July through September, although in California okra season extends through November. The cooked onion and red bell pepper are natural flavor matchmakers with the okra, although the red bell and paprika should be used in moderation for high pitta. Another option: try green bell pepper for a milder flavor or a yellow bell pepper for more sweetness. I made this as a side dish for my husband’s fine Southern cooking, but it can be paired with Indian, Moroccan, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisines. Simply adjust the spices and oils as desired.

  • 1 Tbs sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 lb okra, washed and dried; tips and ends cut off, cut into ¼-inch circles
  • ½ large red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp salt

Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add onion, bell pepper and salt. Sauté until onions become slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Add okra, cover and simmer until okra becomes tender, approximately 15 minutes. Stir mixture often to avoid burning.

Serves 4-6.

Zucchini and Leek Soup

Zucchini and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

One of my clients recently made me zucchini soup, and I had never ate it before. Expecting it to have a thin consistency with little taste, it was slightly creamy and surprisingly delicious. Her secret to texture and taste – leeks. Knowing that cooked zucchini is easy to digest and is good when your having gut issues (which I was) I decided to try making a similar soup myself. Not bad, not bad…

  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 7 large zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into 1-inch thick half moons
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Allepo pepper or ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add zucchini, stock, salt, pepper and Allepo (or crushed red) pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low-medium, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat, and butter or additional olive oil and blend using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt, pepper and Allepo pepper to desired taste.

Serves 6-8.

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Mains & Sides Recipe

This Sicilian-inspired pesto is perfect for summer. It uses raw tomatoes and a fresh mixture of herbs. The sauce is traditionally made with all basil, but this combination of herbs provides a burst of flavor. And, it’s simple to make. When cooking for two, I half the pasta and seal and store the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for the next day. If not having pasta, it works great as leftovers with quinoa or a white fish.

  • ¼ cup blanched or raw almonds
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom
  • 2 cups roughly chopped herbs*, 1/3 cup each of mint, parsley & basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated fresh
  • 1 lb pasta, farfalle, strozzapreti or similar

Toast the almonds and put aside to cool.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt then add pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, combine almonds, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt and pulse gently until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil in at a slow, steady stream while pulsing so the mixture begins to emulsify. Continue pulsing until all oil is combined and the sauce start to form a smooth paste. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer to stop pulsing while the pesto retains some color of the tomatoes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then fold in the Pecorino Romano.

Add the pasta to the sauce or put the cooked, drained pasta into another large bowl and add desired amount of pesto. Toss pasta and sauce until all of the pasta is coated, adding up to a ¼ cup of pasta water if needed to break up the sauce. Place in serving bowls and garnish with herbs.

Serves 4-6.

 

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Appetizers & Salads Mains & Sides Recipe

I posted this recipe over a year ago, but it wasn’t under a typical recipe heading. So, I’m reposting it. I created this as a tasty Summer/Spring salad, but it’s great for during any warm weather spell.

Combine the following chopped herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup or more olive oil. Add lemon or vinegar if desired,

  • 1 bunch cilantro
, packed
  • 1/2 cup parsley
, loose
  • 1/4 cup each dill, mint & tarragon

Mix with the following:

  • 2 cups (more/less as desired) cooked quinoa
  • small sautéed onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • generous handful of arugula, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste; I also added cumin
  • feta, optional

If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, you could skip it or experiment with another herb…basil, sorrel, lemon thyme.

Enjoy!

 

Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad

Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad

Appetizers & Salads Mains & Sides Recipe

This is a vibrant vegetable salad that’s full of texture and a great pairing with many proteins or cold noodle dishes. (Try with the Mint, Cilantro and Green Onion Soba Noodles.) It tastes great fresh or the next day. Keep in mind that the next-day vegetables will taste pickled with the dressing combined. I like this salad with a bigger sour and astringent taste of vinegar. If you’re sensitive to vinegar, try adding half of the quantity first and adjust to taste.

  • ­­­­1 medium cucumber
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 1/3 lb snap peas
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lightly toast sesame seeds on low to medium heat stovetop, tossing often, until golden. Set aside to cool.

Trim peas as needed. In a medium saucepan, cook peas in boiling salted water for 30 to 60 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop peas from cooking.

Peel and deseed cucumber. Halve cucumber and radishes and cut unto ¼-inch thick slices. Cut the larger peas in half.

Combine vinegars, salt and sugar in small bowl. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve.

Toss vegetables, vinegar mixture and sesame seeds in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

*If using seasoned vinegar, the additional salt and sugar may not be needed.

xo,

Julie

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

Mains & Sides Recipe

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

With the recent heat wave we had, I looked for recipes that were easy with minimal cooking. I found a soba noodles recipe and modified it below to my liking. Mint and cilantro are two favorite herbs that add a stimulating and cooling, respectively, effect to meals. They worked perfectly with this cold dish.

I paired this with the Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad (shown in photo.) If I were to pair the noodles with something less sour and astringent, I would add rice vinegar to the noodles. I’d start with a tablespoon and adjust from there.

  • ­­­­10 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 2 Tbs avocado oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook noodles in boiling water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain immediately in colander under cold water to stop noodles from cooking. Drain well and place in refrigerator.

For dressing, whisk together avocado oil, soy sauce, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste and adjust as needed.

Toss noodles with dressing, mint, cilantro and green onions. Add pepper to taste.

xo,

Julie

Cretan Dakos

Cretan Dakos

Appetizers & Salads Recipe

The first time I made this recipe I used a baguette. This time I got my hands on dakos (barley rusks.) It tasted like…more…

A friend from Greece sent me the original recipe. It’s simple to make and will look familiar – the Italian’s variation is bruschetta.

However, what makes this special is the flavor combination of the dako with flavorful tomatoes, along with grating the tomatoes. I wrote this recipe using Early Girl tomatoes, which are juicy and have the right touch of sweetness and don’t necessarily need added honey. If using other tomatoes, you many want the honey to balance the acidity along with the salt. You could add capers, olives or other herbs, and sometimes I’ll add green onion.

  • ­­­­6 small dakos (or 6 baguette slices)
  • 6 Early Girl tomatoes
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh basil, finely chopped
  • fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • ¼ fresh onion, finely chopped
  • soft cheese (optional)

Place the dako pieces onto a plate.

Cut 3 of the tomatoes in half and grate into a bowl. (If the skin doesn’t break down, pop those extra antioxidants in your mouth.) Dice the remaining 3 tomatoes and set aside.

In the bowl, add the vinegar, honey (if using), salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Toss. Adjust seasoning and herbs to taste.

Pour the mixture over the dako. Drizzle with olive oil. Top the dako pieces with the diced tomatoes along with the juices. Sprinkle with onion.

I do recommend trying this with the barley rusks. However, if you can’t find them you can make them or use a day-old baguette instead.

Enjoy!

xo,

Julie

Shown with dako pieces
Shown with baguette pieces
Fresh Corn Polenta

Fresh Corn Polenta

Mains & Sides Recipe

There’s something about exciting about corn season. It takes me to a happy place where I was born and lived until almost 6 years old. We lived by a Pennsylvania dairy farm surrounded by cornfields and rolling hills, where the scenery was lush and the smells in the air were plenty. It was long ago; however, the smell of fresh corn still sparks those childhood memories of walking through cornfields and swinging on a creekside tree swing.

Inspired by farmer’s market corn freshly picked that morning and selecting the vendor’sfavorite, bi-color corn*, I searched for a recipe that was new and refreshing. I found a recipe for polenta from fresh corn from Yotam Ottolenghi. Polenta made from fresh corn seems obvious, but I’ve never thought to make it. It was different than polenta made from cornmeal, and I loved it.

This is a slight variation of the recipe (proportions and my cooking time) and I would even try different or no cheeses in the dish, depending on with what I paired it. The photo shown here is with Ottelenghi’s eggplant tomato sauce he used with the polenta. I’m already planning on trying this again with the last of the corn harvest, making with a mushroom sauce.

Serves 3-4

  • 4 ear of corn
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 5 oz feta, crumbled
  • salt & pepper

Remove the husk and silk from each ear and shave off the kernels.

Put the kernels in a medium saucepan and cover them with the water. Bring to a boil then cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Using a slotted spoon, remove the kernels from the water into a food processor. Reserve the cooking liquid. Process the corn for several minutes to breakdown as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes to dry to process. (I didn’t have this problem.)

Return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 15-20 minutes. As the mixture thickens toward a mashed potato consistency, stir more frequently. Fold in the butter, feta, salt and pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add more seasoning as desired.

Enjoy!

xo,

Julie

*The farmer’s market vendor gave me a reminder of the differences of the corn: yellow is more buttery, white is sweeter and bi-color is the wonderful combination of buttery and sweet.