recipe: crunchy roasted chickpeas

chickpeas.jpg

I'm the opposite of paleo -- I definitely think everyone should be getting more legumes in their diet. Why? They're nutrient dense, high in fiber and protein, and have complex carbohydrates that keep you feeling fuller longer. Chickpeas (or call 'em garbanzo beans if you're feeling fancy) have a low-glycemic index, meaning they won't spike blood sugar. Regular chickpea consumption can also increase your intake of manganese and folate, minerals that support bone development and cell growth. Good stuff, right?

I'm a big fan of using dried beans whenever you can.  Dried beans are cheaper, lower in sodium, free of BPA, more versatile, and even tastier than their canned counterparts. I always recommend soaking your beans -- either overnight with a splash of apple cider vinegar or using my favorite quick soaking method -- to reduce the phytic acid and make them easier to digest.

sources 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

These crunchy roasted chickpeas are a great snack and an awesome topping for a salad or a nourish bowl. I seasoned mine with cumin, garlic and sweet paprika, but you could use whatever strikes your fancy -- Old Bay chickpeas are pretty popular with my crew, too.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
yields 3 cups

Ingredients
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions
Rinse chickpeas under cold water in a colander and remove any small rocks and beans that look shriveled or just plain funky.  Place beans in a pot and cover with several inches of water along with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Soak overnight or up to 24 hours. 

The next day, drain your soaked beans in a colander and rinse gently with cool water. They will have doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place your beans on a rimmed baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Dry the beans thoroughly with a towel. Mix together the sea salt, cumin, paprika and garlic powder in a small bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over your chickpeas and sprinkle with the spice mixture, shaking the pan or tossing with a wooden spoon to coat.

Roast the chickpeas until golden brown and crunchy, up to 45 minutes. Check the pan every 10 minutes and toss with a spoon. (Note: These can go quickly -- my oven tends toward hot and only took about 30 minutes -- so watch 'em like a hawk.) When they're cooked to your liking, leave the chickpeas out on the sheet pan to cool. When completely cooled, chickpeas can keep in sealed jars for up to 1 week.

recipe: weeknight lentil and vegetable soup

When the weather gets bone-chillingly cold, it's difficult to convince myself to cook a fresh, bright, veggie-laden meal. I'd rather have macaroni and cheese knowing I'll feel terrible and bloated after. Or a million leftover Christmas cookies. Or, or, or... you get it. But it's a new year and a time for intention -- see what I did there?

That said, I also love making a huge pot of steamy soup to warm myself up, to have plenty of work lunches for the week, and to soothe my soul. Turn to my quick refrigerator-clearing lentil and vegetable soup. We'll take the simplest ingredients, things you likely already have in the pantry and fridge, and turn it into a bowl of something comforting. We'll pre-boil the lentils to speed up the cooking time. We'll toss all the vegetables wasting away in the crisper into a pot. We'll save a few bucks on those lunches at work with ease. We'll feel victorious and virtuous.

This is another endlessly adaptable recipe, so give it a try and then make it your own. Here's my version.

Weeknight Lentil & Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 cups black, brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, deveined and chopped

Cover lentils with 2 inches of water in a saucepan. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, a few minutes. Then add carrots and garlic and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes. Add seasonings. Stir in tomatoes, lentils and 3 cups of water. Let the soup come up to a boil and reduce to a simmer for at least 30 minutes. Stir in kale and continue cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and check for seasoning.

recipe: mexican quinoa soup with chicken

Over Thanksgiving, I had the entire week off from work to spend time with family and recuperate. So of course, I got sick. On Monday (err, today), I started my new job and I already have a feeling that my coworkers are tired of hearing me sniffling. You can only drink so much hot tea and rinse your sinuses with saline so many times, so here's a marvelously tart and spicy soup to the rescue!

Mexican Quinoa Soup with Chicken
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 glug good olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne 
salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, juiced

Saute chopped red onion, chopped carrot and minced garlic in olive oil until soft. Add quinoa and toast a few minutes more being careful not to burn. Add stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and frozen corn along with seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes. If using chicken, add whole breasts with corn and tomatoes and continue simmering on medium high heat for 20 - 30 minutes until opaque. When fully cooked, shred chicken breasts and return to soup. Add lime juice prior to serving. If the quinoa has soaked up too much broth for your liking, add additional stock as desired.

Serve with fresh parsley, cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado -- whatever your heart desires. And I bet this would be fabulous with some green chiles for an extra kick! 

adapted from The Daily Muse Blog

recipe: lacto-fermented pickles

During my vacation in San Francisco, I came down with the most righteous of stomach viruses. Boy, was I down for the count. For days, nothing but brothy soups (if anything at all) sounded appealing.

That said, I really did a number on my gut flora. I've been feeling a lot of unpleasant gastrointestinal issues since then, which I will refer to as "crummy tummy" for politeness's sake. And when crummy tummy strikes, you want nothing more than to put on your coziest sweatpants and curl up in bed, which is particularly annoying when you're at the office. Or out on a date. Or just trying to live a normal life.

So here I am again, realizing that my diet needs a major overhaul, with a focus on good probiotics to get me through. Drinking a "tea" of hot water with a splash of apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized, the one with "The Mother," if you please) and a bit of honey has helped. Kefir is great with granola and fruit (just be sure to check the ingredients for sugar and other unnecessary additives). And pickles can do wonders! But no, not the ones you find in the regular grocery aisle -- those are really just brined in vinegar and aren't fermented at all. Luckily, proper pickles are easy to make at home, so here's my recipe:

Small batch lacto-fermented pickles 

3 tablespoons sea, pickling or kosher salt (no iodized salt, here!)
1 quart purified/filtered water
3 cups of veg, chopped into small, even pieces (think cauliflower, carrots, onions, red bell peppers and green beans) 
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1-2 grape leaves (optional, to help keep pickles crisp)

Combine salt and water in a mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Place the remaining ingredients in a large, clean mason jar. Pour the salt water over the veg, leaving one inch of room at the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave on your kitchen counter. Open the jar about once daily to taste and release any gases produced during fermentation. If any mold or scum appears, simply skim it off. When your veg tastes "pickley" enough for you, move the jar to the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. Your pickles will keep for well over a month in the fridge.

Recipe from The Kitchn.

recipe: cauliflower gratin

Sometimes, you're done with being virtuous. Your plan to eat only gluten-free or paleo or local or raw vegan or macrobiotic on Tuesdays and Thursdays can get tiresome. I know that psychologists say that we shouldn't seek happiness in food, but am I allowed a bit of kitchen comfort after a long, stressful week? I say yes.

I am a recipe hoarder. Don't look at my top desk drawer, full of clippings from newspapers and pages torn from my mother's copies of Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food (RIP) and Real Simple. (This is before I finally got the nerve to pinch the magazines from her wholesale.) My feed reader is a bottomless pit of saved articles. This is why I cannot use Pinterest. It would be a downward spiral. 

This is all to say that on Sunday night, I fell down the rabbit hole of my collected recipes to land upon a post I saved from The Wednesday Chef last year. Luisa's words are nearly as nourishing as her food, and I find myself poring over her posts time and time again, even for the simplest of things like the meals she makes for her young son, because her words make you determined that whatever she is cooking, you need to eat in that exact moment.

And there, I saw a simple photograph of cauliflower gratin. An bubbly, warm, comforting thing that I would call an entire meal with a small green salad (well, maybe) and a big glass of wine. And it was quickly settled that this was exactly what I needed. As I shuffled around the kitchen, stirring a pot of bechamel and par-boiling a head of cauliflower -- things I normally wouldn't do because I think them fussy -- I felt such contentment and pleasure. For a moment, I didn't consider seasonality or balance, as I always do. A very small rebellion, and oh, I savored it.

Cauliflower Gratin (serves 2, with leftovers)

one medium sized head of cauliflower
1-2c milk (whole or 2% are best), room temperature
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp each, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut cauliflower into florets and parboil for a few minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour quickly and cook for 5 minutes until the roux becomes a more golden color. Pour in a few tablespoons of milk and whisk vigorously to ensure no lumps. Pour the rest of the milk into the mixture and continue whisking until it thickens. Add in your spices now. Now you have a bechamel!

Put the cauliflower in a greased oven-safe dish and pour bechamel sauce on top. Bake until golden and bubbly. 

adapted from The Wednesday Chef

recipe: easy entertaining with a bruschetta bar

  image via  Brit+Co.

image via Brit+Co.

I love inviting friends for dinner, even if it's a last minute affair. I enjoy the company, and for the most part, your friends will be thrilled with practically anything you serve, even if it's pizza from the awesome place around the corner. That said, if you really want to wow 'em on short notice, a great summer dinner is a bruschetta bar.

This isn't really a recipe, more of a guide. Do whatever sounds good to you! Here's my method:

You're in the market. Stop at the bakery for a baguette to slice and toast. Get some dips and sauces like pesto or tapenade. Pick a cheese or two -- I usually just offer ricotta with a bit of good olive oil drizzle on top. Hit up the olive bar for (of course) olives, marinated veggies, artichoke hearts or whatever strikes your fancy. Grab a bag of arugula or something else fresh. If you really want to impress with very little effort, get some grape tomatoes or onions and roast until they're caramelized. Frozen peas are another great topper. Even get some cured meat at the deli for a more substantial meal. 

Set everything out on a big cutting board or platter, using small bowls for sauces or toppings as necessary. A few plates, napkins and serving utensils, and you're set.

And most importantly, never turn down your lovely guests if they offer to bring the wine or dessert. :)

recipe: endlessly adaptable salsa verde

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In episode 7, I talked about my favorite salsa verde recipe, inspired by Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal. What I'm offering is less a recipe and more suggestions on combinations of ingredients. I never measure when I'm making this and I fully suggest you taste while preparing, find the flavors you love most, and make it your own.

You'll need a mortar and pestle, a food processor, or a good old fashioned knife and cutting board to get this done. The resulting herby, tangy sauce is great on meats, fish or vegetables and brightens any dish. I particularly like it on top of poached eggs with toast and grilled meats.

Endlessly Adaptable Salsa Verde
Serves 4 - 6

ingredients
1 -2 cups good extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch flat leaf/Italian parsley
3 - 4 cloves garlic
1 - 2 tbsp capers, drained
1 - 2 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flake
a few pinches of salt
optional additions: a few springs of herbs of your liking such as thyme or tarragon, lemon zest, a few fillets of anchovy or anchovy paste, nicoise olives, or whatever suits your fancy.

directions
finely mince the garlic and capers, along with the anchovy, olives or other add ins you've chosen. add red pepper flake and mix well. roughly chop the parsley and whatever additional herbs you have and add to the garlic mixture. add your vinegar or lemon juice, then cover with olive oil until the sauce reaches your desired consistency -- thick or thin, it's up to you. add salt to taste. 

store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. if all ingredients are covered in oil, this sauce can keep for up to a week.

and where the inspiration all began:


recipe: baked oatmeal with apples and maple

We had a snow day at the start of this work week, and if I weren't feeling incredibly under the weather with a sinus infection (that I'm still fighting off, mind you), I would have made this baked oatmeal for breakfast for me and my roommate. I love this one because it's simple, easily modified and a real crowd pleaser. I like to combine all of the dry ingredients the night before and store them in an airtight container, so that I can get this in the oven all before the coffee is finished brewing. I've also posted this recipe on Food52, if you'd like to queue it there.

 baked oatmeal just out of the oven.

baked oatmeal just out of the oven.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Maple
Serves 8 with leftovers

Ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 handful (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup) golden raisins
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
4 tbsp (or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 fuji apple, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium sized bowl, mix first 6 ingredients together, being sure that brown sugar is evenly distributed throughout.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, maple syrup and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Fold chopped apple into the oatmeal mixture. Spread mixture into a greased 9x13" baking dish. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until oatmeal has puffed slightly and is browned on top.
Serve hot alongside pork sausage or cold and covered with milk.