If you love sweet and spicy, make this harissa roasted butternut, cauliflower and chickpea bowl immediately! It's really simple to throw together. Just roast fall vegetables and chickpeas in a glaze of harissa paste and pure maple syrup and serve over quinoa with feta, pomegranate and herbs for garnish. A totally nourishing vegetarian meal for winter or fall!Read More
Enjoy this warm farro salad with kale, caramelized onions, grilled fennel and harissa topped with crumbled goat cheese or a fried egg for a hearty vegetarian lunch!
Happy Monday! Gah, I'm really wishing it was another Sunday - I could use a lazy day! This past weekend my parents came in town from Virginia. Turns out its tough keeping up with 50 and 60-year olds. Friday night we went to Craft and Draft for local beers, then out to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, Baan Sawan. Seriously, I would go out on a limb and say it's the best Thai food outside of Thailand and I feel 110% confident putting that statement out on the internet.
On Saturday, we went shopping on Devine St for their semi-annual sidewalk sale. I snagged a really cute winter skirt and a plaid poncho which I think will replace my beige knit sweater in it's weekly rotation. Then we went out to City Roots, our local organic farm, for a pig and oyster roast. We enjoyed incredible barbecue, awesome sides (holy blue cheese coleslaw and pimento mac and cheese!) and hot roasted SC oysters. Oh, and a few too many Westbrook IPAs, hence the need for a second Sunday.
If I could drag myself off the couch to do a little meal prep for the week, I'd probably whip up a batch of this farro salad. It's kind of a mishmash between a old favorite recipe from orangette and a heirloom brown rice bowl with harissa I had while we were in Arizona last month. Then I threw in some grilled fennel I had leftover and it was a smart choice.
Chewy farro is possibly my favorite choice for grain bowls. It reminds me a bit of barley, but better. Farro is a type of ancient wheat, thought to be the oldest cultivated grain. Look for it in the bulk aisle of your local health food store, or if you can't find it, swap barley or even brown rice.
Although it takes a bit to put together the different components of this dish, it's absolutely worth it. While I served this with harissa, you could also drizzle it with sriracha. If you're feeling extra hungry, top with a fried egg.
Warm Farro Salad with Kale, Caramelized Onions, Grilled Fennel and Harissa
- 1 cup farro
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sweet onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 head kale, stemmed and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup pistachios
- 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Lemon, in wedges
- Harissa, for serving
- Place farro in a medium pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Place lentils in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Head 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sided pot on medium high heat. Add onions, stir to coat with oil, and cook 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until deeply caramelized. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside until ready to use.
- Slice fennel into thick slices. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set an indoor grill pan (or outdoor grill) on medium-high heat. Place fennel on the grill and cook 5 minutes per side until charred and tender. Set aside and let cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the fennel.
- In a medium skillet (you can use the same one you caramelized the onions in if it's free), heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat. Add kale, stir to combine and coat with oil. Add 1/2 cup water, mince garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes, adding more water if needed, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss together farro, lentils, fennel, kale, caramelized onions. Divide between four bowls. Top with pistachios, goat cheese and serve with lemon wedge and harissa.
No sooner than we had packed up our leftovers from Thanksgiving, we were on the road again, this time to Clemson for our annual rivalry game. Since our group of friends is scattered throughout the Southeast, the game is a great excuse to get everyone together. We rented a cabin by nearby Lake Hartwell and spent the weekend in Clemson visiting our old stomping grounds, reconnecting and eating more pizza than I care to admit.
Of course, the main ingredients are most important when planning a healthy meal, but condiments are a great way to sneak in both nutrition and flavor. Harissa is a perfect example of this. Here's a look at the health benefits of harissa's main components.
CHILI PEPPERS// A substance called capsaicin gives chili peppers their heat. It also had powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which works by inhibiting a neuropeptide involved with the inflammatory process. It's actually used as a topical pain reliever. Chili peppers even boost metabolism, making spicy food a great, add-in if you're trying to lose weight. Studies have also found chili peppers to have cardiovascular benefits and reduce the risk of diabetes.
ROASTED RED PEPPERS // Most people associate citrus with vitamin C, but red bell peppers actually contain 150% of daily needs in a 1 cup serving. Red peppers also contain some of the same sulfur-related compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
GARLIC // Garlic is one of my favorite foods for cardiovascular health. It helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides, protects blood vessel walls against oxidative stress and helps lower blood pressure. To increase the benefits, let chopped garlic sit for a little bit before using it, which allows enzymes to get to work to make the allicin compounds more available.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL // My favorite fat! We all know by now that it's great for cholesterol and heart health. But did you know olive oil can improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of cancer (especially breast and digestive cancers), and reduce the risk of diabetes?
CORIANDER // Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant, a fact I only recently learned. As a diabetes educator, coriander is a spice I tell my clients to incorporate whenever possible as it can actually help stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas.
CUMIN // Cumin is helpful for digestive health, increasing the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. Animal studies have also found cumin may protect against liver and stomach cancer, likely due to it's antioxidant properties.
- 2 1/4 cups mixed dried beans
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (BPA free)
- Balsamic vinegar, for garnish
- Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. Soak for 8-12 hours. Drain.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper. Saute 10 minutes until onion is translucent and lightly golden. Add harissa, thyme, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add broth, tomatoes and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 - 2 1/2 hours until beans are tender. Serve garnished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Other recipes you'll love:
|Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces|
|Simple White Bean Soup with Olive, Feta and Smoked Paprika Oil Garnish|
|Bulgur and Lamb Kofte with Harissa Yogurt|
Crispy roasted potatoes served with a spicy, roasted red pepper sauce, similar to romesco. This dish is inspired by an incredible tapas dish I had while vacationing in San Diego. Serve topped with a fried egg and sauteed kale for a full meal.
Writing Monday's post got me reminiscing about my favorite foodie experiences. I'm not gonna lie, going through old pictures and picking out the eight I featured took me much longer than it should have.
I stumbled upon pictures of my first trip with Scott, a week in San Diego and LA a few years before we got engaged. That trip probably sealed the deal for us, because goodness knows I couldn't marry a man who wasn't fun to travel with. The pictures reminded me of this incredible recipe, hanging out on my camera's memory card. It was inspired by our second favorite meal of that trip, which was only second because the first place prize has to go to Spago, where we met Wolfgang Puck, sat next to Jenna Fisher, spotted Janet Jackson, and I got to eat lots of smoked salmon. So yeah, clear winner).
Although there were no celebrity sightings, our meal at Cafe Sevilla in San Diego was just as memorable. After spending the day exploring Point Loma and the Mission District, we stumbled upon this authentic tapas restaurant. Over a pitcher of sangria, we savored seafood paella with a perfect crust, croquettes, ceviche and the highlight, patatas bravas, crispy roasted fingerling potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. Social etiquette was the only thing that kept us from linking the bowl!
A few months ago, I decided to recreate the dish for the hubs after he came back from a long business trip. While scanning the internet for recipes, I decided on romesco sauce instead of the traditional spicy tomato sauce. Then I decided to completely butcher every recipe I found for authentic romesco and add crazy ingredients like red onion and harissa. This dish is a total blasphemy. But a delicious blasphemy, so there.
This sauce was so tasty and versatile, I regretted not making more. The recipe makes about 1-2 extra servings or sauce, but you may want to double it up, because once you taste it, you'll think of all sorts of different uses for it. Use it as a dip for raw crudites, toss it with whole grain pasta, stir it into scrambled eggs, spread it on a sandwich, stuff it in a baked sweet potato, serve it with crostini, scoop it into grilled zucchini boats, serve it with poached shrimp instead of cocktail sauce...did I mention it was versatile?
I served mine with braised kale and a fried egg, a winning combination if you ask me. I loved the bitter kale with the sweet red pepper sauce and crispy creamy roasted potatoes. And a fried egg made it dinner.
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thick slices
- 1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 tablespoon balsamic
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1-2 tablespoons harissa
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- First, roast the vegetables for the sauce. Toss together tomato, bell pepper, red onion and garlic cloves in a large bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables evenly in one layer on a large baking sheet. Place on the bottom rack in the oven and roast for 30 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized. Add almonds and roast another 5 minutes.
- After putting the vegetables in the oven, toss the potatoes with olive oil and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd, and roast 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway, until crispy and browned.
- After the vegetables for the sauce have been roasted, let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the peel from the garlic. Transfer to a food processor and add balsamic, paprika, and harissa. Blend until you have a coarse puree, season with salt and pepper and add parsley. Blend again until parsley is chopped.
- Serve potatoes topped with sauce or with sauce on the side for dipping.
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Baked green falafel, studded with fresh herbs and pistachios, are a treat on their own. But for maximum fun, serve with this selection of three dipping sauces - green mint chutney, harissa tomato sauce and tahini yogurt.
I'm so indecisive when it comes to ordering food. Either nothing on the menu looks good (which turns me into a pouty teenager) or I want everything. I seriously wish having a hallow leg was a real thing so I could order all the things and have a place to put it.
When I was trying to come up with a sauce to go with my baked green falafel, I was struck with a similar case of indecision. But lucky for me, at home I can make all the things and no one will stop me. The week before, I created a spicy harissa tomato sauce I was completely smitten with, but I also had some yogurt and tahini to use up. And ever since I made this cilantro and mint chutney last year, I basically throw it in anything that might remotely pair well with it. So, with no one to judge other than my husband (who knows better) and my dogs (who could care less), I gave in and made all three. No regrets! Certainly, you could save time and make just one, but what's the fun in that? Remember "suicide's," the soda fountain drinks made by mixing everything? It's kinda like that, minus the sugar rush.
With these falafel, I found two tricks to getting a crispy texture without deep frying. Falafel is typically made by blending soaked, uncooked chickpeas with the other ingredients then deep frying, creating a perfectly crispy outside and tender, but textured inside. Every baked recipe I've tried calls for canned chickpeas, which creates a totally edible and delicious falafel, but a softer, creamier texture than I would prefer. This time, I cooked the beans al dente (a happy accident), which along with the chickpeas, added great texture.
I served the falafel over a bed of arugula with all three sauces to mix and match, but you could also stuff them into a pita with plenty of cucumbers and greens.
Feel free to substitute walnuts, pepitas or even almonds if that's what you have on hand. You could also use cilantro instead of mint.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup mint
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 3 cups chickpeas, cooked al dente
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chickpea flour (or any other flour is fine too)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a food processor, blend garlic, shallot, pistachios, mint and chickpeas until finely minced. Add chickpeas, olive oil, flour, spices and salt and blend until combined.
- Spray a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Form golf ball sized balls with the falafel mix and place evenly on the baking sheet. Spray falafel evenly with olive oil. Bake 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway until lightly browned with a crispy exterior.
Harissa Tomato Sauce
Makes 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons harissa
1 cup tomato puree
- Heat olive oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add harissa and saute an additional 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add tomato puree, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove to bowl and refrigerate to room temperature before serving.
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup
- 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice from 1/4 lemon (a little more than a tablespoons)
- Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt.
Mint and Cilantro Chutney
Makes 2/3 cup
Adapted from My New Roots.
- 1 1/2 packed cups cilantro
- 1/2 packed cup mint
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 dried red chili or 1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they form a pesto-like sauce. Season to taste with salt.
A small amount of lamb is stretched with the addition of whole grain bulgur in this spicy kofte. Served on a whole grain pita with harisa yogurt, greens and red onion.
As I write this post, I'm looking out my front window, enjoying the view of our historic neighborhood blanketed in pure white snow. Other than a few USC students drinking beer on the front porch, it's completely silent. Columbia, SC is all but shut down with the 3 inches of snow and ice on the ground.
I love the snow. I love to see our furry mountain dogs playing in their element. I love hot chocolate on the front porch. I love the extra day at home with my husband. What I don't love, however, is being cold, which unfortunately is quite necessary for snow.
I'm such a baby. When I go outside, I look like a toddler, bundled up in 9 layers of unmatched, oversized winter apparel. Having lived most of my life in the South, I never built a tolerance for the cold. These freezing temperatures are making me nostalgic for the hot sun, specifically, the Mediterranean sun.
When the temperature dips, I find myself reminiscing of our week sailing the Turquoise coast. I'd love to hop on a plane and go back, but I'm settling for bringing a little bit of Turkey to my kitchen. Somehow, I feel a little warmer sitting down to a plate of creamy eggplant, herbed rice stuffed peppers, or this spicy lamb kofte.
After the breakout popularity of the cookbook Jerusalem, Middle Eastern cuisine has entered the mainstream. I'm pretty excited about this, as Middle Eastern food is not only delicious, but healthy too. Actually, it could be considered a subset of Mediterranean cuisine, with it's well known health benefits. Middle Eastern food has the same elements - plentiful amounts of seasonal vegetables, small amounts of meat, a little bit of cheese and yogurt for flavoring, lots of nuts and fresh fruit, often as dessert. Some common ingredients are lamb, figs, phyllo, eggplants, dates, honey and of course, olive oil. What sets Middle Eastern cuisine apart from standard Mediterranean food are the unique spices and condiments, often used judiciously.
The berry of the sumac plant is dried and ground, making a reddish spice with a flavor reminiscent of lemon. It is often used to make tabbouleh and fattoush, and is used in the spice mix za'atar. Try it in my eggplant, chickpea and wheat berry salad, heirloom tomato caprese or sprinkled over plain hummus.
Made by boiling down pomegranate juice until it forms a thick syrup. It has an intense, sweet tartness. I admit, the last time I had this in the house, I ate more of it by the spoonful than I incorporated into recipes. Also delicious drizzled on hummus, use it to make a sauce for grilled meats, stir it into Greek yogurt, or make muhammara, a dip made with roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
A Tunisian spice paste made from roasted red peppers, chilies, garlic and spices. Toss it with roasted root vegetables, use it in a marinade for grilled meats or stir a little into a tomato sauce for a unique heat.
Za'atar is a spice mix made with sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, and salt. Sometimes other spices, like marjoram or oregano are added. If you can't find it at the store, it is simple to make a batch at home. Sprinkle it on toasted pita, roasted winter squash or use it to make crunchy chickpea snacks.
A medium heat chili powder commonly used in Syrian and Turkish cuisine. It is both smoky and fruity at the same time. Mix it with yogurt, olive oil, and garlic to create a marinade for chicken or sprinkle it in a pineapple or watermelon fruit salad.
Bulgur and Lamb Kofte with Harissa Yogurt
Bulgur, which is cracked wheat kernels, is a whole grain common to Middle Eastern cuisine. I love to use it in meatloaves and meatballs to stretch the amount of meat, as it keeps a similar texture. I served this with a simple tomato and cucumber salad, which provided the perfect amount of crunch and softened the spiciness of the dish. To recreate it, simply toss diced cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes with lemon juice, olive oil and spices. I used an olive oil spice from Turkey, but you could also use a little sumac or za'atar. Adapted from Serious Eats.
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons harissa
- 4 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane grater
- 1 cup mint, chopped
- 1/2 lb organic ground lamb
- 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 small onion, grated on a large holes of a box grater
- 4 whole wheat naan or pita, toasted
- Thinly sliced red onions, soaking in cold water
- Handful of arugula
- Set oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix yogurt, 2 tablespoons harissa, half the garlic and mint in a small bowl and set aside.
- Mix the lamb, bulgur, egg, 1 tablespoon harissa, the remaining half of the mint and garlic, spices, and grated onion. Season with salt. Mix by hand until well combined. Form 12 golf ball sized meatballs and space evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
- When the kofte are cooked, spread the naan with a layer of harissa yogurt. Top with sliced onions, arugula and 3 meatballs.