This Asian-flavored tomato and nectarine salad is a highly fortunate outcome of having “You Put the Lime in the Coconut” stuck in my head all week, coupled with a garden bursting with tomatoes and a drawer full of farmers market nectarines. Who said tomato salads have to be Italian? Try serving this with a plate of pasta tossed with my Asian Pesto.
This pizza is about all things summer. I had a similar one from Rosso Pizzeria at a Tuesday night concert in the Healdsburg Plaza and knew instantly I wanted to reproduce it for NOURISH.
This is the recipe I wrote for the Sunday meal at Rancho La Puerta during my week as visiting chef. Originally, I’d planned on serving the polenta with slender spears of broccolini, but we had a giant box of snow peas and beautiful bok choy fresh from the garden, so Chef Eddy and I changed it up a bit. I love searing squares of this polenta in some hot olive oil—or charring it on the grill as I do here—and serving it with just about anything: An egg and some greens in the morning, a mushroom ragu or tomato sauce at night. It’s super versatile and a great thing to have in the fridge for easy meals throughout the week.
I’m big on milestones. New Year’s for reflecting and prioritizing, spring for weeding and cleaning out clutter (both literally and metaphorically).
So with April being Earth Month, it seemed a good time to look for ways to move the needle a bit on the carbon footprint front. I’m trying to ride my bike into town more instead of hopping in the car. I just built a new compost bin (we’ll see if I can keep a few worms alive this time!). And I was psyched to get an e-mail from Ashley at the Bulk is Green Council reminding me how buying from the bulk bins significantly cuts down on packaging waste.
If you’ve ever been in a grocery store with me, you know how very much I love the bulk bins. The variety! The beauty! The BARGAINS! It can get a bit embarrassing. But really truly, the bulk bins are a treasure trove, and an easy, dare-I-say enjoyable way to shave a good bit off your eco-impact.
Did you know that if all Americans bought their almonds from the bulk bins (instead of in packages) for ONE WEEK, we would save 1,500,000 pounds of waste from the landfills?
If you’re intimidated by the bulk bins, I hear you. At first, I found it tedious filling up the bags and writing those little tags. But now I’ve got it down to a rhythm.
First, I’m careful to get just what I need, so I’m not overwhelmed with all sorts of random extras later. Then when I write the bulk bin number on the tag, I also write what, exactly, I’m putting in the bag, along with any cooking directions that come along with it. That way I don’t find a bag of sandy colored nubbins two months from now and wonder whether they’re couscous or bulgur, or get home with my barley and have to look up how much liquid to use and how long to cook it.
If you’re new to shopping the bulk bins, you may be surprised by the huge variety. You’ll likely find half the ingredients for this recipe–all the spices, the chickpeas, the dates–in the bulk bins, for instance.
Get adventurous this week and take a spin down the bulk aisle … you know it’s where I’ll be hanging out on Earth Day!
This is one of my favorite basic recipes. I use these white beans in salads with tuna, in pasta, and often as a main dish … they’re almost to good to serve as a side! A couple of notes: 1) use any kind of white bean you want for this–just be aware you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on type of bean; 2) these freeze really well, so bag up whatever you don’t eat right away to have on hand; and 3) you can use all water or any combination of water and whatever kind of broth you might have on hand–vegetable, chicken, mushroom, whatever–adding broth adds flavor.
Quiche always leaves me feeling greasy and bloated. It seems like it’d be light, but so many quiches end up weighed down with cheese with just a smattering of bland veggies and a butter-loaded crust. This one, my friends, is different. The crust is crunchy-chewy (healthy) quinoa (and therefore, it’s gluten-free, too), and the midsection is filled with garlicky chunks of broccoli and the sharp tang of Cheddar. And, as my 7-year-old daughter proved, this is a quiche kids love, too. Thanks to Closet Cooking for guidance on the quiche shell!
Lentils and chickpeas are a match made in heaven, at least in my book. I was picturing this lentil and chickpea salad with a spicy dressing and pickled onions–a riff on a recipe I’d made last fall for Christopher’s birthday–and was inspired by the tahini dressing I found in [this version from Smitten Kitchen. I love this served beside a butter lettuce salad tossed with Go-To Vinaigrette and topped with crumbled goat cheese!
If I were being really specific, I’d call this dish “Sauteed Sweet Potato with Shallots, Chile Cobanero and Lime.” Because there’s a story there.
In Guatemala last week, as with our previous trip with Common Hope in 2012, Christopher and I went in curious about the stumbling blocks to better nutrition. One would think in a third world country the answer would end abruptly with “lack of money.” But it doesn’t. It turns out two other boulders loom just as large: 1) not knowing how to cook unfamiliar foods and 2) fear no one will like said foods.
I am so intrigued that the same roadblocks exist in developing countries as here in the land of more-than-plenty. And I have a story (yes, it has to do with chile Cobanero) that shows it’s possible to leapfrog past those roadblocks once you know what it takes to do it.
One of the things I did last week was to teach a cooking class to a dozen kiddos in the Common Hope youth group. Several of them had told the organizer that they were considering cooking as a profession, so I thought I’d teach them about flavor building–first how to sear and saute, then how to add flavor to steamed foods with things like citrus zest, flavored oils and whatnot.
Oh … and did I mention the whole class was about vegetables?
More than a few shoulders drooped when the kids saw green beans instead of brownies, but they were attentive and respectful from the get go. I started out by sauteeing cubed quizquil (pronounced ‘whiskEEL’)–which tastes to me like a cross between a sweet potato and a zucchini–in hot oil with shallots until it got nice and caramelized. Then I tossed it with lime juice and cilantro and was about to shake on a bit of local chile powder (props to you if you guessed it was called chile Cobanero) when I caught a look of utter disgust on the kids’ faces. I halted mid-shake.
“Are you telling me you don’t like chile Cobanero?” I asked. A dozen little heads nodded sheepishly.
I put the jar down and thought for a second. “Alright,” I said, “then I’m just going to have to make you food adventurers.”
They perked up.
“Where do adventurers go?” I asked. “Do they go only to places they know?”
Heads shook and someone piped up, “No, they go new places they’ve never been before.”
“Aha. Exactly. And that’s what I’m going to ask you to do.”
So I divided the quizquil between two plates while I explained that I would only put chile powder on one of them. Then it was up to them, as food adventurers, to take a bite of each and decide which one they liked. I wasn’t asking them to like the chile Cobanero, I was only asking them to try the chile Cobanero … they were food adventurers, after all.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I wouldn’t be telling you this story if it didn’t have a (very) positive outcome. Not only did those kids polish off that plate with the chile powder, they then insisted I sprinkle it on the other plate … and on everything else they cooked themselves that afternoon.
As I hugged each kiddo farewell, I could smell the woodsmoke that infused hair and clothes and knew they were going home to a very different kitchen than the one we were standing in. Yet they were leaving with a new understanding of themselves and a wider view of what was possible; I’m not kidding when I say joy literally sparkled in their eyes.
The whole experience left me pondering how often we allow road blocks to remain in our lives–no matter what circumstances we’re living in–simply because we don’t give ourselves permission to be curious and humble … the two absolute essentials for “adventuring” into places yet unknown.
I made this sweet potato side dish for a class I taught in Guatemala to a dozen youth group kids. They were skeptical (to say the least) about the chile powder, at first, but embraced it wholeheartedly after I dubbed them “food adventurers.”