The BEST Spring Lemon-Herb Orzo Salad

The BEST Spring Lemon-Herb Orzo Salad

The BEST spring lemon-herb orzo salad! It’s so easy to make and packed with fresh flavors from tons of herbs, lemon juice, feta cheese and crunchy peppery radish! I love to make this for potlucks, tailgating and make ahead lunches. It’s a vegetarian pasta salad everyone will love!

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Spring Salad with Sauteed Peas and Scallions

Spring Salad with Sauteed Peas and Scallions

Celebrate Spring (whenever it decides to get here) with this gorgeous seasonal salad! This spring salad with sauteed peas and scallions is also topped with briny feta, peppery radishes, creamy avocado and an easy lemon vinaigrette. Perfect as a side dish or bulk it up with protein to make a main course. 

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Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

This creamy spring pasta with oyster mushrooms, asparagus and mint was inspired by a trip to the farmers market.

After taking an unintentional extended break from the farmer's market, I finally made it back last weekend with a girls trip to Soda City with my friend Katrina and my Bernese mountain dog, Savannah. It felt so good to be back! When we moved to Columbia five years ago, I was none too thrilled with it. When we discovered Soda City, our local farmers market, and saw all the passion behind the local food movement, it got me really excited about what this town could be. To see it grow from a tiny, ramshackle building on the outskirts of downtown to a huge affair the city shuts down Main St. for has been really cool! In that time, Columbia has grown into a town I quite enjoy living!

I'm not the most intuitive of cooks, but I'm always inspired to create at the farmers market. And with such delicious and beautiful produce, it's hard to go wrong!  I snagged a ball of mozzarella from Charleston Cheesehouse, fresh squid ink pasta from Rio Bertonlinis and finally a little basket of oyster mushrooms from City Roots. I sauteed up the mushrooms with some asparagus (I admit, from TJs, not the farmers market) in plenty of olive oil to let the freshness shine through!

To make the sauce, I simply used a little creme fraiche. If you haven't tried it before, creme fraiche is made by fermenting cream, similar to how you make yogurt from milk. The result is a rich, thick, and slightly tangy cream. If you can't find it, a few tablespoons of heavy cream will work just fine!

Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh or whole grain pasta
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 1 cup peas, defrosted
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water then drain pasta in a large colander. Set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus and saute 2-3 minutes. Add oyster mushrooms and cook until asparagus is tender and mushrooms are browned.
  3. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Stir in creme fraiche, mint, and peas. Scoop into large serving bowl, stir in mozzarella, season with salt and pepper and serve.

More farmer's market inspired recipes for spring: 

Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto

Mediterranean Cobb Salad

For a twist on the traditional Cobb salad, try this Mediterranean Cobb salad with roasted asparagus, roasted red peppers and crispy chickpea croutons! 

Time for another round of Recipe Redux! This month's theme:

Limping Along for Lunch

Do you ever find yourself in a lunchtime rut? I quickly get bored of eating the same thing again and again. Packing leftovers from dinner for the next day's lunch has been my method for preventing lunchtime boredom for years! It works well for us since most recipes serve four,  there's always enough for our lunch.

Last month the hubs got a promotion that means a lot more travel the leftovers routine that I had down pat. If it's just me, I don't want to cook something and eat it for lunch and dinner, two days straight

For lunch, as stereotypical as it is, I love salads. They're bright, refreshing and don't leave me feeling groggy when I've got a ton to do the rest of the afternoon. But I also like tasty salads - no boring 'berg lettuce with ranch and cheese!

Last week I tried something new and planned a 'fancy' lunch salad then used some of the ingredients in making dinner the rest of the week. It was basically the reverse of my usual plan of using leftovers for lunch! This Mediterranean Cobb salad topped with roasted red peppers, crispy chickpeas, hard boiled eggs and roasted asparagus is what I came up with.

Here's how I extended my salad to dinner:

Asparagus: Roasted up two bunches and used the rest as a side dish with lemon and garlic chicken kebabs, roasted carrots and skillet potatoes.

Hard boiled eggs: One of my favorite snacks! I sliced them up over rye crispbreads with spicy mustard (one of my clients turned me onto this mustard and it's my favorite!)

Crispy Chickpeas: Roasted 2 cans and enjoyed the rest as a crunchy, salty snack!

Dressing: Leftover dressing is great drizzled over roasted vegetables for bright flavor, or over a side salad at dinner. I had this drizzled on roasted broccoli and it was heaven!

Here's some more ideas with some of my favorite salads:

Asian Tempeh Quinoa Salad with Wild Greens // Make extra tempeh-quinoa salad to serve with brown rice crackers as a snack.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples and Tempeh Bacon // Make an extra batch of tempeh bacon to scramble with eggs in the morning, or stuff into a vegan quesadilla with refried beans and guacamole. Use extra lemon dressing over roasted or sauteed veggies.

Black Rice Salad with Crispy Kale and Coconut // Make extra black rice for fried black rice with bok choy. Double the amount of dressing and use the other half to marinade chicken or tofu.

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad with Soy-Miso Dressing // Double the batch of quinoa and use the rest to make a grain bowl or quinoa tahini bars. Make extra ginger orange carrots and swap for the plain carrots in my creamy carrot coconut soup! The dressing is also great over roasted salmon or a simple bowl of brown rice, roasted broccoli and chickpeas. 

One note, there are anchovies in this dressing but PLEASE don't let it deter you! I've got a recipe in the que that will talk all about anchovy goodness, but until then, please give this a try! Know that they're a totally sustainable and delicious source of omega 3s that also packs a nutty, briny flavor into dishes. You can try it in my roasted cauliflower pasta with browned butter (and secret anchovy) sauce ;)

Mediterranean Cobb Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

Salad: 

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 8 cups arugula

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon
  • 3 anchovy filets, very finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss chickpeas with 1 teaspoon olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper, Roast for 20 minutes, toss with a spatula, continue roasting 15 minutes more until crunchy and toasted.
  3. Toss asparagus with 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on another baking sheet and roasted under the chickpeas for 10-20 minutes until browned and tender. Thinner asparagus will cook faster and thicker will take longer.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, make the dressing. Mix all dressing ingredients together and whisk until combined. Season with pepper (it'll have enough salt from the anchovy)
  5. If serving individually, divide arugula between plates then divide chopped asparagus, chickpea croutons, halved hard boiled eggs, walnuts, and red onion down in lines.

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Balsamic macerated strawberry yogurt cups are an easy and elegant snack, dessert or breakfast! Top creamy full fat yogurt with juicy ripe strawberries macerated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and honey, then sprinkle with crunchy toasted almonds! It’s a healthy way to fuel between meals!

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Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Easter is less than a week away so I’m excited to be partnering with one of my favorite brands, Bob’s Red Mill, for a sweet treat that’s perfect for sharing this Sunday!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Easter. It all started off great because, you know, being a kid...candy…what could go wrong? Oh, only MY MOST TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD MEMORY. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, and considering I did wear big purple glasses through elementary school, you know I had many traumatic memories.

The Great Easter Outfit Fail of 1991 began when my grandpa and his lady friend came to visit for the holiday and decided to gift me a new Easter outfit. By early 90s nostalgia standards, it was glorious. Matching floral print pants and shirt, but instead of normal pants, it was a pair of long stretchy shorts with a thick floral ruffle at the end, and instead of a normal shirt, it was a crop top, off the shoulder three-quarter sleeve top with, obviously, more floral ruffle on the sleeves. Being a gift, I was forced to wear it. Although in my parent’s defense, I had zero sense of style and there’s a strong possibility I thought I looked fabulous.

It was until I arrived at our neighborhood clubhouse for their annual Easter egg hunt and saw my friends, in their cute and very normal Easter dresses I realized I looked like a huge dork. The other clue was when they burst into laughter at the sight of me. My memories after that are pretty fuzzy, probably buried in my subconscious, but I’m pretty sure there were tears involved. And I know there’s at least one picture of me holding my Easter basket with a huge pout, which is probably floating somewhere around the internet in meme form.

Now that I know how to dress myself as an adult (#winning!), I haven’t had any outfit related disasters. But being born on April 4th and getting married on March 31st, Easter always has a way of interfering with birthday or anniversary celebrations. And when it comes to birthday/anniversary vs. Easter, Jesus wins.

Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a Debbie Downer on Easter, because we really do have wonderful celebrations every year at my mother-in-law’s house. We still get Easter baskets because we are 30 going on 9. Except mine is always full of dark chocolate and cooking gadgets, as it should be. That Easter bunny knows me well! Then we all sit down to a delicious Southern meal, followed by a dessert we are way too stuffed to eat more than a few bites of!

I made these Easter macaroons for that exact reason. After a day of candy and Easter ham and biscuits, no one is in the mood for a heavy dessert, but Easter without a cute spring inspired dessert would be a crime! These pastel macaroons will look so pretty as part of your Easter spread, and they have just a hint of sweet that’s perfect after a heavy meal. The whole batch has only ¼ cup sugar, relying on the natural sweetness of coconut.

So here’s a macaroon question for you all. Why are there two very different types of cookies, both called macaroons? There’s the pure shredded coconut cookies then those very pretty and dainty filled macaroon cookies (which always disappoint me because they look much better than they taste). These obviously are a take on the former.

I made these with a mixture of shredded coconut and Bob’s Red Mill almond flour to make them a bit lighter and more cookie-like. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is my favorite brand of my favorite gluten free flour to bake with. It’s made with blanched, whole almonds so there’s no dark bits of skin then extra finely milled so it’s super soft. You can use it for lighter baked goods like cakes, pancakes and biscuits and it won’t have that grainy consistency you get with other almond flours/meals. Plus, being made with almonds, it's a rich source of vitamin E, manganese and monounsaturated fats. Grab a coupon for Bob's Red Mill here so you can try it yourself!

Feel free to experiment with different types of zest and freeze dried fruit to create a rainbow of colors. I think it would be cute to make a batch of all pastel macaroons with freeze dried blueberries, strawberries and mango! Just be careful not to let them overbrown or they’ll lose that pretty color – keep a close eye on them in the oven and you may want to check on them a few minutes before the end of baking.

Coconut Almond Macaroons, Three Ways

Makes about 40

Ingredients

Lemon Macaroons:

  • Zest of 2 lemons

Chocolate:

  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Strawberry:

  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with a little coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix coconut, almond flour and sugar. Add eggs and stir to combine. Divide dough evenly between four bowls.
  3. To make the lemon macaroons, stir in the lemon zest.
  4. To make the chocolate macaroons, stir in the dark chocolate, cocoa powder and almond milk. Add a little more almond milk if needed to combine.
  5. To make strawberry macaroons, place freeze fried fruit in a plastic bag. Crush with something heavy (I used a meat mallet) until it's a flour consistency. Add to dough with almond milk, adding more almond milk if needed.
  6. Scoop tablespoon sized dollops of dough evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes, checking a few minutes before it's supposed to be done to make sure it's not browning too much. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Store covered at room temperature a few days, then transfer to the refrigerator.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Strawberry Crepes with Honeyed Cashew Cream

I've been on a crepe kick for the past couple weeks, and this was one of the sweet creations I came up with. Perfectly ripe, in-season strawberries are so delicious, I didn’t want to cover their flavor up by doing too much to them. A little honey and creamy pureed cashews is enough to enhance their tart flavor. I prefer stuffing the sliced strawberries into the crepes, where they mingle with the honeyed cashew cream, but they look picture perfect sprinkled over the top.

To make these gluten free, try buckwheat flour or oat flour. Fresh crepes always taste best, but for me, convenience wins and I just cook all the crepes at once and refrigerate. You could always keep the batter in the fridge a couple of days, stored in the blender. Before making the crepes, give it a quick whir to blend. Since out of season strawberries are pretty awful, I suggest making these when strawberries are in season, or using frozen strawberries and chia to make a quick chia jam by blending frozen strawberries with a little sugar and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds, then letting it sit to gel for 10 minutes.

Easy strawberry crepes with honeyed cashew cream! #vegan #vegetarian #crepes #strawberry #spring #dessert #dairyfree

Strawberry Crepes with Honeyed Cashew Cream

Makes 14-16

Ingredients

  • Crepes:

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (the kind in a carton)

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour

  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Pinch of salt

  • Honeyed Cashew Cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours

  • 1/4 cup unsweetned coconut milk

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Pinch of salt

  • To assemble:

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

Directions

  1. Place the ingredients for the crepes (eggs, coconut milk, flour, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt) in a blender. Blend until combined. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the bubbles subside (this keeps the crepes from breaking).

  2. While the batter is chilling, make the cream. Drain cashews and place in a food processor with coconut milk, honey, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend, scraping down sides, until creamy, about five minutes total. Remove to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

  3. When ready to make the crepes, heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Using a quarter cup measure, pour a scant quarter cup into the hot skillet. Lift the skillet off the heat and quickly swirl the batter, helping it spread thin. Place back on the stovetop and cook about 30 seconds - you should see little bubbles forming. Carefully flip and cook another 10 seconds. Remove with a spatula and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, stacking the crepes on top of each other.

  4. When ready to eat, spread a little cashew cream down the center of each crepe (about 2 tablespoons), top with strawberries and fold the sides over.


More strawberry recipes:

Breakfast Strawberry Shortcake

Breakfast Strawberry Shortcake

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crumble


Easy strawberry crepes with honeyed cashew cream! #vegan #vegetarian #crepes #strawberry #spring #dessert #dairyfree

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Roasted asparagus and radishes with mint-pea pesto is a beautiful and tasty way to highlight Spring produce. 

It’s finally Spring! Except if you’re here in Columbia...then it’s actually kinda, sorta summer.

I’m not sure what happened, but the temperature basically went from the 30s and 40s to the 90s in about two weeks, skipping the season of Spring entirely. Obviously we still got the insane amounts of pollen typical to this area. And massive thunderstorms that seem to be timed to start exactly 2 minutes before I have to leave the house. Oh well. What’s important is that Spring produce and the dogwood flowers are here and that's enough to make me happy.

This recipe is packed with everything I love about Spring. I’ve been obsessing over roasted radishes ever since I saw this article on The Kitchn. When The Kitchen tells you there’s a roasted vegetable that’s missing from your life – you listen. I love raw radishes in salsa, garnishing a bowl of posole or on rye crispbreads with a little butter and sea salt, but I honestly never thought about cooking them. Roasting radishes mellows their peppery bite and turns it into something sweet, tender and almost juicy. 

This recipe makes more pea pesto than you'll need, and you'll still wish you doubled the recipe! Use leftover pesto as a sandwich spread (it would be amazing on my smoked salmon breakfast sandwich), tossed with whole grain spaghetti, or as a dip for whole grain crackers. You can even freeze it, but you might want to put a light layer of olive oil over the top to keep the bright green color.

I whipped up this recipe during a photoshoot for lululemon's Columbia showroom with Celia from Celia G Photographie. It was so much fun! Celia is incredibly talented, fun to work with, and how cute is the outfit she styled? The Refine Crop I'm wearing is probably the most comfortable thing I've ever put on my body...and for the record I'm currently in 10-year old, hot pink Juicy Couture velour sweats. Don't judge, it's laundry day. And who knows, maybe they'll come back in style. Maybe??

Anyway, wanted to share a couple pictures from the shoot with you all as well as a sneak peak into my kitchen. Please know my kitchen is never this clean and is usually much more chaotic with the two big fluffy dogs at my feet!

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 8 ounces radishes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pesto:

  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus and radish with olive oil in a large bowl and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for two minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking.
  3. Drain the peas again and add to a food processor along with the garlic, walnuts, mint, lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper. Process until pureed, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Serve roasted vegetables dolloped with pea pesto, or toss it all together.

 You Might Also Like:

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins

Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

A quiche for my gluten free friends. This spinach and goat cheese quiche is made with slices of sweet potato for a crust. Best served with plenty of hot sauce! 

Earlier this year, I challenged myself to go gluten free for a month. As you regular readers know, I'm not one who feels gluten is the root cause of our ills, nor do I think it's bad for most people. I don't have any major signs of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So why would I voluntarily subject myself to a month without pizza?

A couple of reasons. As a dietitian who works with many people diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, I wanted to gain a better understanding of what it's like to live gluten free. Also, I was curious. Would I feel different? Maybe...or maybe not. I would never know without trying.

But mainly I did it because I thought it would be easy. After all, eating such a varied diet, more than half the meals we eat just happen to be gluten free, so it wouldn't be that difficult, right??

Wrong.

I've told clients a million times that gluten is everywhere, so I have no idea why it came as such a surprise to me. I suppose I thought because we purchase mostly unprocessed foods, it wouldn't be difficult to avoid...but it was.

Also, beer contains gluten. Should have thought that one through.

So what were my results? I didn’t notice a difference in my energy, mental clarity, digestion or really anything at all that month.

But, it did give me a chance to experiment with a few new foods, including this gluten free quiche made with thinly sliced sweet potatoes as a crust!

The trick here is thinly and evenly slicing the potatoes, which allows them to cook evenly without burning and helps them get a little bit crispy. If you don't have a mandoline slicer, I suggest you add one to your kitchen arsenal. Mine is fairly large, so if you don't have much storage space, they make plenty of smaller ones that will fit into any overstuffed drawer. I love them for slicing vegetables evenly, a skill I have not yet developed and for quickly julienning vegetables without a headache.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

Serves 4

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic, whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 small sweet potatoes or 1 large, thinly sliced with a mandoline
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Whisk in the cumin and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Cook, flipping occasionally, until cooked through, browned and a little bit crispy, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the green onions over the potatoes, then top with the spinach. Cover with the lid or a cookie sheet to wilt the spinach, about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the eggs over the spinach and potatoes. Cook until mostly set around the edges. Sprinkle the goat cheese evenly over the top. Place the quiche in the oven to finish cooking for about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven when the eggs are set. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro and hot sauce and slice into sixths.

My Two Favorite Salads with Seasonal Asparagus

My Two Favorite Salads with Seasonal Asparagus

Celebrate asparagus season with my two favorite salads featuring fresh from the farmer's market asparagus! First up, mixed greens topped with roasted asparagus, prosciutto and goat cheese. Next, a tapas inspired salad with grilled asparagus and chickpeas in a smoky paprika dressing with oil-packed tuna. 

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Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Easy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Cure a cold with this easy lemon chicken orzo soup, packed with arugula, basil, carrots and whole grain orzo. The bold yet gentle flavors in this recipe are the perfect combination to soothe a scratchy throat. The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to whip up a richly flavored soup on a weeknight!

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