Fregola Salad with White Beans and Arugula

Fregola is an Italian rolled pasta similar to Israeli couscous, and it’s wonderfully toothsome in this summer salad. Think of it as a new twist on old-school pasta salad. If you can’t find fregola (or wanted to go gluten free), millet would be a great substitute. Top with a few chunks of good quality tuna packed in olive oil (unless you want to keep it vegan) and you’ve got a nice, hearty, nourishing meal.


NOURISH Evolution Serves Up a Taste of Sonoma

Serving food to 2,500 hungry people is lots of fun–especially if you do it on a perfect September Saturday in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country. That’s what we did at last weekend’s Taste of Sonoma at the historic MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg. The sell-out crowd came to spend the day sipping Sonoma County’s best wines, watching chef demonstrations and sampling tasty treats.

Healdsburg is Lia’s home turf, so of course NOURISH Evolution Partnership Director Mary Beth Burner and I gussied up to join the fun (that’s us with Lia in the lower right-hand photo).

We spent two days cooking up Corn & Quinoa Pasta Salad, Asian Pesto and Hot-Smoked Sablefish (the recipe is below). People relished tasting new-to-them foods, such as quinoa and Jovial einkorn whole grain pasta (it’s rolling out at Whole Foods nationwide in coming months) or the zippy pesto with Asian flare.

“I love this sablefish!” said one new fan. “I’m sick of salmon, it’s nice to have something new.”

“This is food I live for,” raved another.

Hungry festival-goers gobbled it up, and lots of peeps came back for seconds–with friends in tow. Many lined up to watch Lia demo the pasta salad, pesto and our Sauteed Sablefish Ginger-Soy Glaze. She also demonstrated a cumin-crusted grilled scallop recipe at the Alaska Seafood station.

The most fun for us was meeting NOURISH Evolution fans in person and making lots of new friends. If we didn’t see you there, you can enjoy your own Taste of Sonoma with the recipes on our site (they’re exactly what we served on Saturday). And we hope to see you at next year’s event. It’s a delightful way to spend your Labor Day weekend!

Celebrate Labor Day with Our Make-Ahead Menu!

Fall may not begin until Sept. 22, but Labor Day, which falls on Monday, marks the official end of summer. Heck, lots of kids have already begun their school year, and the rest will head back to the classroom on Tuesday. Celebrate the end of the season with our easy Labor Day Menu. It boasts lots of fresh, end-of-season flavor, and it’s good for you too.


To sip: Watermelon-Basil Agua Fresca
Nothing says “summer” like watermelon, which is the base for this not-too-sweet Mexican refresher. Add a splash of tequila for the adults–we won’t tell!
Make-ahead tip: Cube the watermelon up to a day in advance, but wait until just before the guests arrive to blend it with the rest of the ingredients so the flavors stay nice and bright.

To snack: Guatemalan Guacamole
Our guacamole, which pairs buttery avocados with red onion, crunchy jicama and hot chiles, is the perfect match for the agua fresca. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
Make-ahead tip: Chop the egg, onion, chiles and oregano a day ahead, and then combine with the rest of the ingredients when you’re ready to serve.

To start: BLT Bread Salad with Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
This salad combines the elements of the classic BLT sandwich with a luscious dressing.
Make-ahead tip: Combine the dressing ingredients and refrigerate; toast bread.

The main attraction: Buffalo Blue Burgers with Celery Slaw
Grass-fed ground buffalo is a lean, eco-friendly alternative to beef. Paired with creamy blue cheese sauce and a crunchy celery slaw, these burgers will be a crowd-pleaser.
Make-ahead tip: A day ahead, form the patties and refrigerate. Prep the hot sauce, blue cheese sauce and slaw; chill.

On the side: Corn and Quinoa Pasta Salad
This riff on traditional American picnic fare is a whole-grain bonanza, thanks to the quinoa, whole-grain pasta and fresh corn.
Make-ahead tip: Cook the quinoa and pasta the day before; combine with the remaining  ingredients on party day.

Don’t forget dessert: No-Bake Peanut Butter Popcorn Treats and Mexican Chocolate Brownies
Hey, it’s a celebration, so serve two desserts! The popcorn treats are a crunchy, salty-sweet indulgence. The brownies have the complex flavors of Mexican chocolate (cinnamon, a touch of chile).
Make-ahead tip: Prepare both up to 2 days ahead and store in airtight containers. But we’re not responsible if they “disappear” before the party!

Corn and Quinoa Pasta Salad

This pasta salad was a hit when Alison and I made up a giant batch of it to serve at the Taste of Sonoma event a few years ago. I first made this for a potluck picnic at church and no less than five people came up to me and said, “Did you by chance make that quinoa salad? It was de-LICOUS!” (when pondering what to name it, Sierra even recommended Really Yummy Pasta Salad). And here I was afraid the quinoa would freak people out. Truth is, there’s a lot to love about this salad: a healthy dose of whole grains in the form of quinoa and whole grain penne, a break from basil with chives and parsley, and a lip-smacking tart-sweet balance from the corn and lime juice combo. This pasta salad is a potluck winner, whether you’re making it for a backyard barbecue or a high-end event. And, yep, you can make this pasta salad a day in advance — in fact it tastes even better when you do because the flavors have time to develop.