Roasted hake with potatoes, fennel, white wine and chile-garlic broccoli rabe

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Potatoes, fennel, lemon, garlic, olives, a mild, flaky white fish, and greens — it’s pretty much my dream dinner. Ultra-thin slices of potatoes and fennel turn tender and silky in their bath of white wine and olive oil, the fish turns out perfectly tender and sweet, and the top layer of lemon slices browns around the edges becoming crisp and fragrant  — like lemon chips — too good to leave on the plate, trust me!

This is a classic, super-balanced, Mediterranean-inspired meal that I’ve made in countless iterations over the years, and it feels good to finally commit a recipe to paper…or I guess to pixels would be more accurate.

For the fish, I always start with a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and fennel, shallot or onion, and garlic. This roasts until the potatoes begin to brown around the edges, and then I add lemon slices and a seasoned filet of fish (wild hake, wild cod, and halibut are favorites), more lemon slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.

When the fish is about two-thirds done I add a nice pour of dry white wine for the latter part of roasting, which fills the kitchen with wonderful aromas and helps bring together all of those wonderful flavors. This time I also threw in a handful of kalamata olives for a touch of brininess to complement the sweet, mild fish, savory potatoes, and herbaceous fennel.

As for the accompanying greens, I tend to rotate through sautéed kale, chard, escarole, broccoli, or just a simple raw green salad. But peppery, bitter, succulent broccoli rabe is my favorite and that’s what I did this time around. I trim the bottoms and peel the stalks so the rabe is less stringy (I just started doing this recently — it really makes a difference). Then I blanch the greens in salted boiling water, drain, and finish in a skillet with olive oil, garlic and chile flakes so the rabe can absorb all of their wonderful flavors.

Trimming and blanching the broccoli rabe ahead of time, in addition to using a mandolin to thinly slice the vegetables and lemon, help to make this a weeknight-friendly meal. But I love that it’s also special enough for the weekend or for a festive gathering. Just scale up the size of your fish fillet, the amounts of vegetables, and the size of your roasting dish.

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Sesame-crusted sea scallops with coconut ginger cauliflower rice and bok choy

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I know I should be sharing something pink, chocolate-y, and/or sugar-saturated today, but as usual I’m in a savory mood.

In that spirit, if you happen to be making a romatic dinner for you and your sweetie tonight, may I suggest these succulent, sesame-crusted sea scallops with gingery cauli rice and bok choy? It’s a super-easy (one-skillet!), feel-good meal that’s satisfying but also light enough that you’ll still have some room for dessert. A win-win.

For the scallops, my newest favorite seasoning method is to dredge both sides in a small dish of my Two-Tone Gomasio so they get a hit of salt and toasty sesame goodness all in one. Then I sear them in a nonstick pan so that the seeds remain adhered to the scallops rather than sticking to the pan. The sesame seed crust is salty, savory and crunchy — the perfect flavor and textural foil to the tender, sweet scallops.

And let’s talk about cauliflower rice. I’ve made it before and honestly I didn’t love it. It always ended up a bit soggy in my experience. This time, rather than blitzing the cauliflower in a food processor, which releases a lot of the its water, I grated it on the coarse side of a box grater. Game changer! The grated cauli releases much less liquid, and the cauli shreds stay perfectly al dente after a quick saute over high heat along with garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and scallions. Finished with cilantro and toasted coconut this is such a bright winter side dish and makes a great pairing with the savory-sweet scallops.

And for the final component – because I always like some greens on my plate! – baby bok choy seared in coconut oil, then quickly steam-braised with mirin (Japanese rice wine), which adds complex sweetness that’s lovely against the peppery bite of the bok choy. So good!

And perhaps the best part about this meal? It’s festive and kinda fancy, but only requires one (nonstick) pan! Toast the shredded coconut first, then cook the bok choy, saute your cauliflower rice and, finally, sear the scallops. Simply wipe out the pan between stages so you’re starting with a clean surface each time.

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One-skillet wild salmon with coconut curried vegetables

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This one-skillet wonder is one of the easiest and most delicious dinners I’ve made lately. It takes advantage of whatever vegetables happen to occupy the crisper drawer plus a few of my go-to pantry staples: canned coconut milk, dried turmeric and coriander seed, and coconut aminos. All that’s needed is a stop on the way home for a fillet of wild salmon and dinner’s ready to roll.

It really doesn’t get any easier: saute your veggies in coconut oil, add coconut milk, nestle your salmon fillet into the mixture, cover and steam until the fish is cooked through (12 minutes or so). Season with coconut aminos and a big squeeze lime juice – that’s it! Add steamed jasmine rice (or cauliflower rice, if you prefer to go grain-free).

Everything cooks on the stovetop so there’s no need to crank up the oven or broiler, which I really love, and the fish cooks gently in the coconut milk so it’s tender and moist.

You might have gathered that I like recipes that are highly flexible and customizable: don’t have (or don’t like) kale? Use collards, bok choy, spinach, or mustard greens. No celery? Go with fresh fennel. You can also change up the type of fish (Arctic char, cod, or halibut would be great) or throw in a couple of handfuls of peeled, de-veined shrimp as a variation.  Read More


Creamy baked penne with kale, fennel + herbed breadcrumbs

 

 

 

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Creamy, luscious pasta strewn through with tender kale, sweet caramelized fennel, onion, and garlic… Are you into this? What if we added a bubbly, browned cheesy top and crunchy herbed breadcrumbs? Are we there yet?

It’s the ultimate winter comfort food!

I’ve lightened things up a bit by incorporating a lemon + garlic-infused cashew cream as the luscious, saucy element that binds all of the good things together, rather than a sauce based on heavy cream or roux (a toasted butter and flour mixture).

My version is both cashew “cheeze-y” as well as actual (dairy) cheese-y because I add shredded fontina and Parm to the mix, too. This might sound odd — why go to the trouble of making a non-dairy cream sauce if you’re going to add cheese to your pasta?!, you might be wondering. But hold on…

My reasoning is two-fold: (1) raw cashews are much easier to keep on hand than heavy cream (and quicker/easier to make than a roux) and (2) this is a “dairy/cheese-sparing” approach. The cashew sauce replaces the cream/butter in the sauce, and it allows me to use less cheese in the overall dish (about 2/3 cup vs 1-1/2 cups or more in the typical cheesy baked pasta scenario). So, the idea here is to lighten things up a bit rather than create something that’s entirely dairy-free.

However, if you prefer, you can very easily make a completely vegan, non-dairy version of this — simply use the vegan cheese of your preference (Daiya, Kite Hill, etc). Just choose a cheese that melts reasonably well, such as a mozzarella-style variety.

And when you’re in the mood for an even easier, no-bake version, simply toss the pasta and veggies with the cashew cream sauce, add some nutritional yeast to increase the cheezy factor or stir in a couple of handfuls of shredded dairy or non-dairy  cheese (such as a Parmigiano-style). Garnish with leafy herbs and toasted breadcrumbs, and you’ll be well on your way to creamy pasta heaven. Read More


Barley vegetable soup with lemon herb pesto

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Another delicious dish inspired by a random pantry find – in this case, the forgotten remains of a bag of pearled barley. Yay for pantry discoveries that turn into easy, tasty meals!

Loaded with satisfyingly chewy grains of barley, winter veggies, tomato paste for added richness, and green peas and spinach for green goodness, this soup is hearty, earthy, and perfect for a cold winter night. A spoonful of bright, lemony herb pesto stirred into each bowl makes for the perfect finish.

I love that this recipe is flexible and can be customized around the ingredients you have on hand: use brown rice or farro as the grain, add cubed sweet potato or winter squash for a sweet and starchy element, use veggie stock or homemade bone broth as the liquid (or water plus a cube of good veggie bouillon, such as Rapunzel), sub in shelled edamame or frozen corn kernels for the green peas – you get the idea! I had about a cup of leftover cooked vaquero beans in the fridge, so I added those in for extra protein — cooked lentils would also be a nice addition.

The lemon-herb pesto is more rustic in texture than the usual pesto — it actually leans in the direction of a gremolata, but with the addition of olive oil. Rather than use a food processor or mortar & pestle, I finely chopped the leafy herbs and used my microplane to finely grate the garlic clove and zest the lemon into a small bowl, then stirred in a couple of glugs of olive oil to bring everything together.

You might want to consider making a double portion of this pesto-gremolata hybrid, since it’s amazing as a bright finish for any wintry soup, and would also be perfect slathered on crostini and topped with crumbled chèvre, added to a veggie sandwich or used to enrich a dressing, vinaigrette, or dip (I’m thinking hummus – definitely!). Feel free to use the fresh, leafy herbs of your choice: I imagine it would be delicious with dill, basil, or a bit of marjoram or oregano (and since those last two are quite pungent I would use just a teaspoon or so as a flavor accent, along with another herb).  Read More


Crispy chickpea salad with roasted beets, watermelon radish + herbed tahini-yogurt dressing

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I love this salad. It makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner when you’re in the mood for a light meal, but it’s also festive enough to serve to guests or bring to a potluck.

Earthy-sweet roasted beets, crispy spiced chickpeas, chewy currants, and crunchy pumpkin seeds make for a delicious and satisfying plant-based combination, and the creamy herbed dressing is the perfect complement. It’s a dish that comes together into something greater than the sum of its parts.

And if you can get your hands on a watermelon radish (I’m lucky that one of the farms that sells at my local greenmarket grows them year-round), slice it up and add that, too – instant cheer on a cold winter night!

If you’ve never made crispy roasted chickpeas before, they really are a revelation. Perfect as a cocktail snack, they’re also one of the best salad toppers around. Nutty and rich in protein, the humble chickpea is the perfect vehicle for flavor.

I love a combination of curry powder with spicy chipotle pepper, and some other favorites are garam masala, lemon zest + black pepper, and smoked paprika + cayenne. You can take these crispy little guys in basically any flavor direction. And be warned: you might want to make a double batch, because they are extremely snackable right from the sheet pan.

This creamy herbed tahini + yogurt dressing is one of my go-to dressings. It’s great on a leafy green salad, and also makes the perfect drizzle on a grain bowl, sandwich, or veggie burger. I use Seed + Mill’s Green Tahini, which I buy at Chelsea Market (they sell online as well), but if you only have plain tahini in the pantry add a pinch of dried herbs (such as an herbes de Provence blend) or a tablespoon of minced fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill + cilantro). This might be one to make a double-batch of, too, since it stores well in the fridge for several days, and once you have some on hand you’ll think of a million ways to use it. Read More


Smoky lentil and zucchini chili with Jalapeño-cheddar olive oil cornbread

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Chili and cornbread: is there a more perfect combination for Sunday night football watching (or pretend-football-watching, if you’re like me)?

I don’t think so.

Multi-bean chili is one of my favorite winter meals, but I haven’t been making it as often as I’d like to because (a) I always seem to forget to soak and cook my dried beans in advance, and (b) I hate lugging canned beans home from the grocery store, making my odds of spontaneous chili-making close to zero.

Then last week my NYC foodie friend Jill, an amazing cook who is always coming up with interesting new recipes and flavor combinations, posted her lentil chili on Instagram.  And it hit me – of course! – quick-cooking, no-soaking-required lentils were the answer to my chili conundrum. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

Inspired, I set about creating my own version, combining French lentils with lots of aromatic veggies, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and zucchini, classic chili spices (cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, sweet paprika), along with smoked paprika and dried chipotle pepper for heat and smoke.

From start to finish this chili takes only about an hour to prepare, but it tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove for hours. It’s thick and rich, with deep flavor and mellow sweetness from the red bell pepper and tomato taste, wonderful smokiness from all the spices, and satisfying texture from the hearty lentils and tender chunks of zucchini. I like to finish my bowl with lots of lime juice, diced avocado, scallions, cilantro, and sometimes a dollop of Greek yogurt and shredded raw cheddar.

As with any chili the flavor just keeps getting better for several days after this is made, so it’s a perfect dish for Sunday batch-cooking that will enable easy meals throughout the week.

And, if we’re having chili we really should make cornbread to go with it, yes?! Read More


Chestnut and roasted cauliflower soup with lemon-parsley oil

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Am I the only one who waits to buy their chestnuts until they go on post-holiday sale in January? I love Williams-Sonoma’s steamed French chestnuts that are packaged in a jar, but they are SO expensive (most of the cheaper packaged chestnuts you’ll see in stores are imported from China). And living in NYC, sorry but I’m not about to roast a bunch of chestnuts over an open fire. Just not gonna happen.

So this year as usual I stocked up on my half-price WS chestnuts a few days after Christmas. Even though the holidays are over it’s not too late — there’s still a long stretch of winter ahead of us, and chestnuts are wonderful in so many wintry dishes, from stuffing to soup to cake to the famous marrons glacé (candied chestnuts — which I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to making, but the possibility is always there…).

For my first chestnut cooking adventure of 2017 I went with a soup, pairing the sweet, nutty chestnuts with earthy roasted cauliflower, the usual aromatics (onion, celery, garlic), and a pinch of herbs de Provence. The soup is rich, earthy, hearty, and very satisfying on a cold winter day. For a bright, punchy element I swirled each bowl with parsley-lemon oil, and a scattering of crispy sprouted pumpkin seeds and my two-tone gomasio adds crunch and a savory-salty finish.  Read More


Wild rice salad with tahini-roasted butternut squash and creamy pomegranate dressing

 

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Like so many of my favorite meals, this hearty winter salad started with a chance pantry encounter — I accidentally knocked a half-full bag of Rancho Gordo wild rice off the top shelf while trying to reach a can of coconut milk (luckily the attempt ended with neither the rice nor the coconut milk bouncing off my head). Rather than lug over the step-stool to reposition said bag of rice in a more favorable spot, I tossed it (minus the bag) into a small pot of salted boiling water to cook for a while, assuming that a plan for what to do with it would come to me later. Because since when is having a batch of cooked whole grains in the fridge a bad idea?

A little later the idea of a simple, warm salad arrived, and going with what was in the pantry and refrigerator I decided to pair the chewy, nutty wild rice with earthy and tender tahini-roasted squash, crisp sprouted pumpkin seeds, rich and resiny toasted pine nuts, sweet currants, briny salt-cured capers, verdant fresh parsley, and juicy pomegranate jewels. A fantastic combination of flavors and textures to wake up those winter-dulled taste buds!

Drizzled with a bright dressing featuring tangy pomegranate molasses, tahini, and grainy mustard, this is an entree-worthy salad I’m going to be returning to again and again. It makes a delicious plant-based meal on its own, and would also be a perfect side with the protein of your choice. And while you’re in the kitchen it might be a good idea to make a double batch of that dressing — it keeps in the fridge for several days and is wonderful on salads of all kinds. Read More


Chocolate chunk tahini banana bread

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Snowy January Saturdays — that’s when the baking tends to happen around here.

Just when I think the last thing I need is another banana bread recipe in my life (because we already have this one, and this grain-free one, oh and this brown butter one, too), along comes an idea for a new iteration that just demands to be tested. And I guess for us tried and true banana bread aficionados there can never be too many options, right?

On this particular blustery morning, bumping into a few bananas tucked away in the freezer (while searching for something wholly unrelated, of course) provided just enough motivation to get the oven going and the loaf pan greased. My latest vision was for a loaf that would be not overly sweet, enriched with tahini for nutty richness, yogurt and almond flour for extra protein, and studded with chunks of dark chocolate for good measure. And less than an hour later that’s exactly what emerged from the oven (yay!).

This banana loaf is pleasantly dense-crumbed and less cake-y than others I’ve made recently (like that brown butter one linked above, which I’m pretty crazy about and makes more of a dessert-appropriate cake). I actually like this new version best toasted on the day after it’s baked (and just a note that if you’re going that route, set a piece of aluminum foil under your slice lest you end up with burnt chocolate dripping all over the bottom of your toaster oven!).

Said toasted slice is wonderful for breakfast, slathered with tahini or nut butter and sprinkled with gomasio, and is particularly satisfying as an afternoon snack alongside a cup of tea or hot chocolate, preferably after an invigorating walk in the snow during which you are dragged along by a 14-pound personal trainer who will not take no for an answer.

The recipe is flexible, so tweaks are always welcome: leave out the chocolate if you like, add toasted walnuts, pecans, pumpkin and/or chia seeds, coconut flakes, even a couple of handfuls of crispy granola. It’s all yours. Read More