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!Read More
Chard stuffed acorn squash with za’atar and tahini drizzle is a show stopper, but is surprisingly weeknight friendly! You could serve this as a vegetarian main for holiday entertaining! Simply roast acorn squash halves seasoned with za’atar, a Middle Eastern seasoning mix, and stuff with chard, feta, chickpeas, pistachio and top with a quick tahini drizzle!Read More
My favorite summer salad! This Mexican street corn chopped salad is inspired by my favorite food truck snack. And, it’s made entirely on the grill so you don’t have to heat to house up by turning on the oven. Top crunchy romaine with grilled bacon, peppers, corn, and scallion, add pinto beans and cotija cheese, and drizzle with a chili lime vinaigrette!Read More
Have you heard of soup bling? It's my favorite way to fancy up easy soups, like this simple white bean soup with smoked paprika oil, feta, and kalamata olives. Even without the toppings, this soup is PACKED with flavor, despite it's simple ingredients list. Make extra and freeze for later!Read More
Hi all! Just got back in town this weekend, but I've got one more guest post lined up for you as I get back to life and reality! This last one is from Meme Inge, one of my dearest dietitian blogger friends.Read More
Enjoy omega 3 rich walnuts in this Mediterranean spinach, feta and walnut phyllo pie!
“I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
California knows how to party...at least when it comes to food!
All my favorite foods come from California. If the movie 2012 came to life and California suck back under the sea, I would be quite distraught (and hungry). What would I do without my favorite Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam cheese? How could I celebrate without a bottle of Sonoma County pinot noir? And avocados?? NOOOOO! Not the avocados!
I would also have to mourn the loss of one of my favorite pantry staples, walnuts. Did you know 99% of the US supply of walnuts comes from California? I actually didn't until preparing for this post!
One thing I love about walnuts is that they're one of those foods you can judge by it's cover. It's appearance gives you a hint to it's health benefits. Think heart healthy strawberries, which kinda look like little hearts. And avocados, with their wrinkly skin, helps prevent wrinkly skin! Then there's walnuts, which kind of look like brains, and are my favorite nut for cognitive health.
Walnuts are the richest nut source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids with 2.5 grams in just one snack sized ounce. We've talked about omega 3s and brain health before, a type of fat that's powerfully anti-inflammatory and helps improve blood flow in the brain. That's one of the reasons walnuts seem to play a role in maintaining cognitive health. Walnuts are no one trick pony - there's also been research suggesting a diet rich in walnuts protects against certain types of cancer, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, promotes satiety, and may help prevent diabetes. Oh, and they're delicious too!
When I saw the newest campaign for walnuts, I knew I wanted to make something inspired by my travels. Despite being very much a California food, walnuts are a huge part of many different cultures cuisines. My first thought was a take on baklava, which I enjoyed in every shape and form when we visited Turkey a few years ago. But, my tastes were leaning more savory that day, so I decided to work walnuts into the spinach and feta phyllo pies I ate almost as often as baklava when in Turkey. Walnuts add a yummy crunch and break up the salty feta and herb infused filling. Plus, it packs about 4 grams more protein and 2 grams of fiber in each serving in for a more balanced and filling vegetarian main.
One thing I'll warn you, this is a pretty time consuming dish so save it for a showstopper on a special occasion. Phyllo dough is a bit finicky, so make sure you cover it with a just barely damp towel to prevent it from drying out while you're working with it. Traditional phyllo pie recipes call for brushing the dough with a whole lot of butter, which is tasty, but I find using a smaller amount of olive oil yields a similar flakiness.
Here's a few more recipes from the blog using walnuts:
Spinach, Feta and Walnut Phyllo Pie
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 2 lbs frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 egg
- To assemble:
- 1 lb phyllo dough, defrosted
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
- Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add smoked paprika and chili flakes and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add spinach, scallions and dill and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Scoop spinach mixture into a large bowl. Let cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Add walnuts, feta and an egg and stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees when ready to bake. Spray pie pan lightly with olive oil. Open phyllo dough and cover stack with a damp paper towel when not working with it so it doesn't dry out. Pour olive oil in a small bowl. Take one sheet of phyllo and brush very lightly with olive oil. Top with another sheet and again brush lightly with oil. Repeat until you have a stack of 4 oil brushed phyllo dough sheets.
- Scoop spinach mixture in a line along the short end of the phyllo dough stack (about 2/3 cup total). Tightly roll the phyllo to form a "snake." Press the phyllo dough around the outside rim of the pie plate. Repeat with remaining dough and spinach mixture, creating a coil in the pie pan, stopping when the pan is full.
- Mix egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts. Place in the oven and bake 35 minutes until golden.
- Depending on how big your pie pan is, you may have leftover phyllo and spinach. If so, Wrap into another snake or triangles and bake on a separate baking sheet.
Better than breakfast tacos? These breakfast enchiladas are stuffed with sweet potatoes, black beans, scrambled eggs and topped with spicy salsa verde and feta!
Forget breakfast tacos. Let's make breakfast enchiladas a thing.
I mean, tacos and enchiladas are basically the same thing - tortillas stuffed with lots of yummy things. But these breakfast enchiladas have one significant advantage over breakfast tacos. Make-aheadability. While these are fabulous fresh out of the oven (and also make a mean breakfast for dinner), they are simple to reheat and eat all week.
So guys, let's lead a charge to make breakfast enchiladas the new breakfast casserole. Personally, I plan to do my part by making these for all the Clemson tailgates for noon games come fall.
These make a super filling breakfast, packed with protein and high fiber carbs. Enjoy one with a side of fruit salad or two to last till dinner!
Breakfast Enchiladas with Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Eggs
Makes 12 enchiladas
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sweet potatoes, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 6 eggs, beaten.
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 12-ounce jar salsa verde
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Optional for serving: hot sauce, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado, sour cream/plain yogurt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sided skillet. Add sweet potatoes and saute until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic, season with salt, pepper and chili powder. Saute until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Scrape potato mixture into a large bowl. Stir in black beans. Wipe skillet clean and add teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat. Pour in beaten egg and scramble. When eggs are fully cooked and scrambled, stir into potato mixture.
- Pour 1/2 cup salsa verde into the bottom of a large baking sheet. Take about 1/2 cup filling and wrap up with a corn tortilla. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour remaining salsa verde over the top. Sprinkle with feta. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes. Serve as desired.
More savory make ahead breakfasts:
Learn how to make a mason jar salad that will stay fresh for five days. Plus recipes for watermelon feta salad, spring quinoa salad with lemon-mint dressing and peach and arugula salad!
I’m a sucker for cute food packaging. Maybe that’s subconsciously why I married a packaging engineer. Yes, that’s a real job. No, he is not responsible for those impossible plastic containers you need a chainsaw to hack into (a rigid plastic clamshell in case you were wondering).
He’s invented some pretty neat packages. But to me, I think they’re significantly lacking in the cute department. So I’m constantly sending him pictures and ideas, to which he reminds me that a food package should not only be adorable, but also functional. What fun is that?
Enter the mason jar. Now, I can’t claim that I invented it, but it is cute and it is also functional, especially when it comes to packing salads.
The mason jar’s tall, narrow build allows you to build an entire composed salad, dressing and all, without the dreaded wilt. By using a layer of sturdy vegetables to separate delicate greens and dressing, you can create a salad that will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days. As long as you don’t accidentally tip it over, the greens will be fresh and crisp. Sunday food prep anyone?
It's not rocket science, but there are a few things to know. Here's how to compose the perfect mason jar salad, one that's filling, tasty and will last!
STEP 2 // Spoon 1-3 tablespoons of salad dressing in the bottom of the jar.
STEP 3 // Add any hard, chopped vegetables to the jar. This will act as a barrier for the dressing and greens or other soft, absorbable ingredients. Carrots, radishes, whole cherry tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, snap peas, celery, and cucumbers are all good choices. If I’m using an ingredient that tends to brown, like avocados or sliced apples, I also like to add this to the bottom with an acidic dressing, which prevents it from browning.
STEP 4 // Add any softer, more absorbable vegetables and fruit, like berries, peaches, chopped tomatoes or roasted vegetables. You could also add any salty ingredients, like pickled vegetables or olives here.
STEP 5 // To make a more substantial salad, be sure to include a high fiber, unprocessed carb. Cooked quinoa, whole grain pasta, peas, beans, roasted sweet potato cubes, and brown rice are all nice choices. Layered on top of the vegetables, this will complete the barrier.
STEP 6 // If using nuts or seeds, add them now.
STEP 7 // Top with greens, like chopped kale, arugula, spring greens or romaine. Make sure the greens are tightly packed, which helps keep it fresh by minimizing the circulating air and keeping everything secure.
STEP 8 // Add proteins like cheese, diced cooked chicken, hard boiled egg or cubed tofu/tempeh on top. I add these no more than a day or two in advance.
STEP 9 // Enjoy! To eat your salad, pour out the ingredients on to a plate or bowl. This generally mixes the ingredients pretty well. You could try to eat it out of the mason jar, but it’ll be tricky to get a bite with everything on it.
One other tip: If you’re not using any sturdy vegetables, like in my peach and arugula salad, just pack the dressing separately in a condiment cup or in a snack sized zip top bag on top of your salad.
To get you started on mason jar salads, here are three of my favorite seasonal mason jar salads. The peach and arugula salad isn’t new - I shared it last year so head over to that post for the recipe. With our recent heat wave, all I've been craving are salads topped with chilled seasonal fruit! This peach salad is probably my favorite way to enjoy perfect South Carolina peaches!
Spring Quinoa Salad with Mint-Lemon Dressing
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup peas, blanched from fresh or defrosted from frozen
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa, from 2/3 cup dry
- Spring greens
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- To make the dressing, blend the ingredients together in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the dressing between four quart-sized mason jars. Add radishes, peas then quinoa, pressing down to pack lightly. Top with spring greens to the top of the jar. Sprinkle feta over the top and seal.
Watermelon and Feta Salad
This mason jar salad is perfect as a snack!
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 seedless cucumber, chopped
- Watermelon, cubed
- Basil leaves
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the dressing between six pint-sized mason jars. Top with cucumber, watermelon, basil leaves and feta. Seal and refrigerate until ready to eat.
These salads are perfect for packing in a mason jar:
Try this hearty summer salad, green panzanella with cucumber, zucchini, feta and basil.
Have you ever caught yourself eating a nice, light vegetable salad and thought to yourself, "Tasty, but you know would make this salad better? Big 'ole hunks of toasty, crusty, olive oily bread!"
If so, I think you'll like panzanella. Also, you're my kind of person.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad, traditionally made with stale bread, tomatoes, onions, and lots of oil and vinegar dressing. It's the second most delicious thing you can make with fresh, heirloom tomatoes (the first most delicious is my chopped Caprese salad).
But as you can tell from the photos, there are no tomatoes in this panzanella. Our tomatoes are still green on the vine (who else started singing Strawberry Wine?), we've got a refrigerator full of zucchini and probably will for the next four months. That is, unless someone (ahem, Scott) forgets to weed the garden yet again.
So, as you can tell from my most recent postings, we've been eating a lotta zucchini around here. When you eat a lot of the same thing, it's easy to get bored. Keep things interesting by changing how you chop them. Instead of cutting cauliflower into florets, try cutting it into steaks. Rather than slicing cucumbers and peppers into slices for your salad, cut them into teeny tiny cubes, Israeli salad style. And for zucchini, try shredding, noodling or as in this salad, slicing paper thin with a mandolin. It completely changes the flavors and textures.
On a related note, have you seen the new vegetable butcher column on The Kitchn? I have learned SO much from it.
Anyway, back to this salad. Being a bread salad and all, as you can imagine it's an important ingredient. No, sandwich bread won't work here. Just don't. You'll definitely want to splurge on a nice, whole grain loaf with a good crust and chew. If you don't have a local bakery, I am a huge fan of Trader Joes whole wheat pane. If you're getting bread from the bakery, check the ingredients list. Most grocery store "multigrain" loaves are just white bread with a sprinkle of seeds and grains on the crust.
To help stale your bread, cut it into cubes and leave it out overnight. If making in advance, store bread and dressing separate from the salad and mix before serving.
- 1/2 lb day old crusty whole grain bread, cut into bite sized cubes
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 small Persian cucumbers
- 1/2 large red onion
- 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Set oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray bread with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Toast for 10 minutes until lightly toasted and warm. Set aside to cool.
- While bread is toasting, using a mandoline, slice zucchini, cucumbers and red onion into paper thin rounds. Combine in a large bowl with cannelini beans and basil. Mix in the bread cubes.
- Mix olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving and up to an hour. Toss in feta right before serving.
This gluten free millet and quinoa crust pizza is made with soaked whole grains and topped with pesto, spinach, grilled squash and scallions.
For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.
It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.
Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :)
I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .
When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way.
This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!
Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash
Makes 2 small-medium pizzas, serves 2-4
Adapted from The First Mess
- 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
- 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lightly packed basil
- Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
- 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- Fresh basil to garnish
- First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
- Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.
Oh man guys. These tacos are to die for. Definitely comfort food to the max with Greek spiced beef, garlicky braised kale and a creamy feta sauce. It's the kinda meal you want after a long day when you come home ravenously hungry. It's a meal the whole family will love!Read More
Charring vegetables under the broiler is the secret for creating a smoky, flavorful broth for this best ever vegetarian tortilla soup. Serve topped with all the delicious things!
Quickie post for y’all today. Scott and I are exploring the Yellowstone wilderness this week.
I’m hesitant to refer to any of my creations as “the best ever.” Considering I’m a home cook and not a trained chef, I doubt anything coming out of my kitchen deserves that designation, despite what my husband tells me in his feeble attempts to butter me up.
But this tortilla soup, man it is good! I admit, it's probably not the best tortilla soup ever, but it’s certainly the best one I’ve ever had. And I've eaten my fair share of tortilla soup. The trick is charring the vegetables, which adds a smoky flavor to the broth.
Back next week! That is, if we don't get eaten by a bears.....
Sidebar: I wrote that last week half jokingly. Within our first hour of being here, we had a close encounter of the bear plus three cubs kind. It was simultaneously the most adorable and most terrifying moment of my life.
Best Ever Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 fresh hatch chili or poblano
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 sprigs cilantro
- 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
- 6 stone ground corn tortillas, cut into strips
- For serving: chopped or thinly sliced radish, roasted chili, feta/queso blanco, avocado, lime,
- Turn on the broiler. Spread garlic, onion, and chili on a baking sheet and broil until onion and garlic are charred and pepper is charred on all sides. You may have to take the garlic out early. Remove onion to blender, let garlic cool a bit before peeling and adding to the blender. Place chili in a bowl topped with plastic wrap and let sit to cool while preparing other ingredients.
- Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the garlic and onion to the food processor and puree until smooth.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the tomato puree and cook for a couple minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until it thickens and reduces slightly, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups stock. Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the tortilla strips and fry until browned and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
- Carefully peel the skins off the chili, Cut the stem off and remove the seeds. Carefully cut into thin slivers.
- Divide the soup between 4 bowls. Garnish as desired with
This crunchy lentil and brown rice salad features my absolute favorite salad dressing! The honey-citrus tahini dressing is slightly sweet with a tart lemon kick and creamy texture! Make this salad with any of your favorite crunchy vegetables. This recipe features radish, celery, and red onion.Read More