Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil

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This salad is a perfect dish to whip up right now as farmers markets and grocery stores alike are overflowing with tomatoes. It shows off the tomatoes fresh taste with the tried and true compliments of mozzarella and basil. Combined with the chewy farro this is a healthy dish fit for any lunch + dinner + or picnic table! Serve on top of salad, or with grilled chicken. I ended up doubling the amount of basil, olives, and tomatoes shown below, I would definitely recommend doing so as well.

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil ~ from Extra Virgin

1 pound farro

10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered

large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 (5-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks

2 ounces pitted kalamata olives

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook farro according to package directions, you want your farro to be cooked but still have a nice chew (usually just under 20 minutes). Drain and rinse the farro in cold water. In a large bowl mix the farro with the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or keep in the fridge.

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Chachouka

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Chachouka ~ adapted from River Cottage Veg

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 large onion, thinly sliced in strips

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp paprika (hot smoked if you have it on hand)

a pinch of saffron strands

1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and onion and saute for a for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden in color. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on low heat for around 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add in the paprika, a little salt and pepper, crumble in the saffron with your fingers, and add the tomatoes with any liquid from cutting. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Taste the pepper mixture and adjust seasonings if needed then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish. Make two hollows in the pepper mixture and add an egg to each. sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for around 12 minutes depending on how you like your eggs cooked. If you like your eggs runny (the way this dish is meant to be served) then stop at around the 12 minute mark. Any longer and your eggs will be more set.

Enjoy ~

The Taste of Spring

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The first rays of sunshine have touched down in Manhattan. The weather last week may have been cold and snowy and today may be filled with rain and gloom…but you can feel the difference in the air. Spring is on its way and I can already see that picnic in the park in the not so distant future.

Believe it or not but this recipe for lentil ‘meatballs’ with Meyer lemon pesto was my first experience using the tart yet lovely Meyer lemon. Both of these recipes come from the amazing Sprouted Kitchen cook book. The blog has been a top favorite of mine for a very long time and I highly recommend their book (The photography is stunning) and trying out some of their tasty recipes. I used red lentils for they were all I had on hand and the fennel seeds in the ‘meatballs’ pair so perfectly with this warm and sunny pesto.

Cheers to the warm weather, it may not be here yet but it won’t be long ~

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Spinach and Feta Almond Crust Tart

A Spinach & Feta Almond Crust Tart

I may be described by some as an odd child……when asked what my favorite foods were, from an early age, you can bet black olives and spinach to be among them. And if ever in the form of a spinach souffle I’m pretty sure I fought a few poor family members for that last bite and scrape of the side of the bowl. One of the many joys of growing up is having the ability to make my own spinach and cheese tart, exactly how I like, and I don’t have to share…..with anyone!  For future reference, though, if I ever do offer you a slice of my spinach pie, I must like you a hell of a lot.

So here is a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, it keeps well in the fridge, and makes for a splendid lunch served hot or cold with a salad on the side

Pie Crust:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup hazelnut flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

herbs/seasonings of choice (I used a little thyme and garlic powder)

Filling:

10 ounces or so chopped spinach (fresh or frozen) I favor frozen spinach here and probably used a bit more then normal.

1 yellow onion, chopped

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 eggs

feta cheese

kalamata olives

spices/salt/pepper (remember if using feta, the cheese adds a lot of salty flavor already)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients for the crust together, flatten out with your hands in a full-sized tart pan (grease first if necessary). Bake for around 10 to 15 mins, you want it to be lightly brown on the outside and the edges crispy. In a medium pot sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes then add the spinach and cook till the onion is translucent. Take off the heat and mix in eggs, seasonings, and as much or little feta as desired. Pour into the cooked crust, flatten the top of the mixture for a smooth appearance and top with kalamata olives. Bake for 15-20 minutes, times will vary but when the cheese on top begins to brown your tart should be ready.

*(note, when working with frozen spinach their can be a bit of unwanted water in the pot when you are cooking it…I poured or spooned out what I could but did not worry about it to much and the tart still turned out amazing. Feel free also to use all almond flour if you are not a fan of hazelnut, I found the hazelnut to add more of a nutty flavor and texture to the crust).

Have a lovely Holiday Weekend ~

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

The anticipation of summer is in the air. And along with the lazy afternoons I’m daydreaming of spending on a picnic blanket, somehow the work load picks up. Funny how these two are playing hand in hand. To cheer myself up I induldged in purchasing this lovely lovely book that I have been awaiting to read: la tartine gourmande. It is absolutely spectacular in every way. My friends laugh but I know that if you are reading this and love food/cooking like I do then wanting my life to be more like a cookbook is not crazy. One day…..one day.

BUT. . . . Until that day I have some equally delicious eggplant to share.

Eggplant has become my new favorite food. I can’t get enough of it….One evening I set out to make stuffed eggplant…became distracted by the roommate and ended up chopping and talking till I had a bowl full of eggplant circles instead of the intended slice down the middle. No matter…for then this dish was born and it is as easy as pie to make. Chop. Roast. Eat.

Roasted Eggplant with Tomato

One regular eggplant – rinsed and chopped (anywhichway)

I large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes (fresh will be great when in season)

2 cloves chopped garlic – or a large spoonful minced

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried basil)

Olive oil

Shaved parmesan cheese to top

Grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and chop the eggplant and mix in a large bowl with tomatoes. I drain some but not all of the juice, most will cook away regardless. Add garlic and a few dashes of spice. I normally toss a bit of olive oil in as well. Stir, then lay in an even layer on the baking sheet. Cooking times will vary around 45 min to an hour, I’ve done two before, and everything should be roasted perfection. Serve hot with shaved parmesan and Enjoy the tantalizing taste of eggplant.

Chickpea Flour Coconut Chocolate Muffins

One word to describe these:   AMAZING.

These came into existence when I was searching to make a grain and nut free cookie. I came out with a healthy, high protein cookie-muffin-scuffin-mound-nougget. YES. Dense yet satisfying.. they quickly disappeared!

Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour is a new exciting world waiting to be explored. How many people have thought of this ingredient past hummus? I can’t wait to try it in a pizza crust.

Chickpea Flour Coconut Chocolate Cookie-Muffins:

1 cup chick pea flour

1 small container of unsweetened applesauce (4 oz)

1 tbsp ground flax

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp honey + more for drizzle (you can use more for sweeter)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

handful dark chocolate chips

handful raisins

handful shaved coconut (coconut chips)

Combine the flax and water in a bowl and set aside for a few minutes to thicken, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl (or your bowl with the flax) combine the wet ingredients then add everything to the dry and stir until combined. Stir in the raisins, chocolate and coconut last. I spooned my batter into a mini muffin tin, any size will work and baking times will vary. At 350 degrees bake for around 20-30 mins depending on your oven. Keep an eye out, when they begin to get golden and crispy around the edges they are done.

Happy Monday ~

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

It’s still not to late for soup.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

Spring is around the corner, you can smell it in the air. I find myself daydreaming at work of beach towels and lemonade.

Unfortunately, at least here in New York, the weather has not completely caught up with my mind yet. So pull out that soup pot and take advantage of our last few chilly weeks. This soup is simple and warms you from the inside out, the ginger gives it a spicy kick and when topped with chopped pear the combo of chilled/sweet with spicy is quite pleasant.

This recipe was scribbled down on a piece of scrap paper at work, I cannot remember where I found the inspiration for this wonder, but will update if I come across it again.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

Olive oil

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 minced garlic clove, or 1 to 2 tsp of already minced garlic

3 tbsp diced and peeled fresh ginger (use less if you don’s want your soup to have a kick)

1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash

1 peeled and diced apple (I used pink lady)

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

12 ounces coconut milk

diced pear

In a large soup pot heat about 2 tsp of oil (I used olive oil) over medium heat. Saute carrots and onion until soft, then add the garlic, ginger, butternut squash, and apple. And continue to saute for another couple minutes. Add broth, and salt if desired, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for around 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Blend, then stir in coconut milk and add any additional spices to taste. Serve hot topped with fresh cut pear.

Have a lovely Sunday ~

A Very Broccoli Soup

Soup has to be one of my favorite things to make.

You can take almost anything, mix it together, and voila! You have a tasty and healthy meal my friend.

Back with an old recipe here in the spirit of winter. And YES it still knocks your socks off.

The old recipe can be found here The only changes I made are below:

Only used one potato, no corn, a bit more carrot and celery, and used coconut for the milk. And lets not forget that goats milk brie. I managed to not eat enough to top my dinner with a few delicious slices.

So go forth, make this soup your own and enjoy a good bowl of broccoli soup while the weather still permits.

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Click HERE for recipe

Carrot Zucchini Almond Meal Muffins

The king of all muffins

What better way to start off your weekend then with a lovely muffin recipe. While I am not strictly gluten free I have been reading into a lot of the benefits in eating palio/or grain free. I LOVE cooking with almond meal now and have so many exciting recipes buzzing around in my head. These muffins are almost like cake and absolutely delicious.

I made them again but only with zucchini, since I was out of carrots, and they definitely were not as sweet. The carrots, with their subtle sweetness, are crucial in making these as tasty as possible.

~ Carrot, Zucchini, Almond Meal Muffins ~

2 cups Almond flour (almond meal)

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup oil of choice

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

grated zucchini and carrot (at least 1 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I grated 2 small zucchini and 1 large carrot. You can do more or less it is up to you. Combine your eggs, honey, and oil in a small bowl and mix. Combine your dry ingredients in a larger bowl, mix. Add the wet to dry, stir till combined and a batter like consistency is achieved. Then stir in the grated carrot and zucchini. Spoon into a muffin tin (greased if necessary) I had left over batter which I baked alongside the muffins in a mini loaf pan.

You can bake in any size baking dish, just allow extra baking time for larger sizes. Cook for a good 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Soup & Biscuits

On a Chilly Winters Night

On a chilly Friday evening I invited a friend over for dinner where we shared soup and biscuits. I can’t think of anything better… Taking inspiration from two of my favorite food bloggers: Roost & Cannelle e Vanille

A leek, fennel, & watercress soup accompanied by rosemary & almond meal biscuits came into  being.

I actually had to look up the proper technique for chopping a leek. I was a first timer, with about every ingredient in this soup, but now when someone asks I can say “of course I can clean and cut a leek” (a very superior feeling).

The delightful licorice tast and smell of fennel was also a pleasant surprise. Not having a grinder on hand I bashed the seeds a bit with the end of a wooden spoon and threw them in the pot. I am still around to tell the tale..But I am sure the flavor is bit enhanced when freshly ground.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately to do with a grain-free lifestyle. Much of what I have been finding is quite intriguing and has gotten me on the nut meal/flour train for a bit. So far I am hooked and am loving the array of new and healthy flavors.

The biscuits took a total of 5 mins to mix all the ingredients together and throw in the oven, I ended up making mine as a loaf but will be taking the time to divide them in the future, my dinner guest liked them almost more then the soup. They also made a lovely breakfast accompanied with a bit of jam and fresh fruit.

recipes can be found here:

soup

biscuits