Niçoise Salad Platter

Here’s my take on a simple classic Salade Niçoise – perfect for warm summer nights.  A bed of fresh greens, green beans, potatoes, tuna, and smoky niçoise olives are brought together with the simplest of dressings — a squeeze of lemon, sea salt, and your best olive oil.

Niçoise Salad Platter

I scattered chopped fresh oregano on top to add savory highlights to the beans and potatoes.  Using a wide platter instead of a bowl allows guests to select the parts they like best (and looks cool, too).  I used high quality oil packed tuna, but sliced seared fresh tuna steak would be even better.  Gluten and dairy free, and full of flavor, this salad is a summer dinner star.  Enjoy!

Niçoise Salad Platter
(serves 4, generously)

2 cans oil-packed tuna
6 – 7 cups greens, washed and torn
1/2 cup niçoise olives, pitted and halved
4 potatoes, cooked just until tender, cubed
8 oz green beans, cooked just until tender
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup best quality olive oil
sea salt
2 TB fresh oregano, chopped

Arrange all ingredients except oil, lemon and salt on a platter.  Just before serving, squeeze the lemon over the salad, drizzle the oil over the platter, and sprinkle with salt.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Savory, rich, and full flavored chicken thighs simmered with a few key ingredients — just what I wanted on a rainy evening.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Fresh garlic and diced red tomatoes combine with warm herbes de Provence and Parmesan rind to create the perfect simmer sauce for chicken thighs.  Parmesan rinds are just that — the hard outer edge of my wedges of Parmesan cheese.  I save them in bags in the freezer and bring out pieces to add wonderful umami to broth or simmer sauces.

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and Herbes de Provence

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and herbes de Provence

I consider this a pantry dish, as the ingredients are either shelf stable, or in my freezer.  Serve this warming dish with crusty bread or polenta.  Enjoy!

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence
(serves 4)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 TB olive oil
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Parmesean rind piece
Sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, more if needed)

Heat covered sauté pan over medium heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and sauté just for a few seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  Check toward the end of the simmer time to be sure the sauce isn’t getting too dry.  Add a bit of white wine or water to add moisture if needed.

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini dressing

Crunchy, subtly sweet, mild, savory, and a tasty nutrient powerhouse.  I’m talking about cabbage, of course!  This stalwart vegetable deserves some love, especially in the winter when quality salad greens can be scarce.  But cabbage — it’s there for you!

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I paired mine with a zingy, savory tahini dressing and added roasted garbanzos and pepitas for awesome crunch and a punch of protein.  The spicy tahini dressing is really creamy and zingy — but relatively low in fat, for a dressing.  The secret?  Tahini — which is just finely ground roasted sesame seeds.  Water, an unusual ingredient in most dressings, is important for proper texture in this dressing.

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Using an immersion blender makes the Spicy Tahini dressing super easy to make — but you can use a whisk or regular blender if that’s what you have.  (Consider purchasing an immersion blender.  I use mine regularly for puréed soups and dressings)

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Roasting canned garbanzos transforms these tasty beans into crunchy/chewy nuggets. This is a vegan main dish, full flavored, and easy on the budget.  And I consider it a pantry meal — because cabbage is such a long keeper in the fridge and the other ingredients are pantry basics.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini Dressing

for the Spicy Tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 TB olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blend until creamy.  May add more or less cayenne as desired.  The amount I included makes a mildly spicy dressing.

for the Roasted Garbanzos
1 can garbanzos
1 TB olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain garbanzos, and pat dry with paper towel.  Drizzle with oil and toss lightly, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the oven, until they are browned and crunchy.

To serve the salad:
Cabbage, finely shredded
Roasted Garbanzos (see above)
Spicy Tahini Dressing (see above)Pepitas
cherry tomato quarters

Quantity of cabbage, pepitas and cherry tomatoes depends on number of servings desired.  The dressing and garbanzo recipes double easily for more servings.  Toss the all ingredients together, and enjoy!

California Poached Eggs

Eggs poached in a flavorful, tomato-based simmer sauce is found in many cuisines around the globe.

Eggs poached with tomatoes and chilis

California Poached Eggs

My recipe has a California flavor — adding fresh cilantro, tangy green chilis, and creamy avocado to keep it west coast.
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Suitable for dinner, lunch, or breakfast, this fast tangy/creamy dish wins for taste, nutrition, and frugality.  Make ahead tip: prep the sauce when you have some free time, store in a jar in the fridge, then finish by heating the sauce and poaching the eggs right before serving.  Faster than take out — and way tastier.  Enjoy!

California Poached Eggs
(serves two for dinner)

2 TB olive oil
onion, 1/2 cup small dice
diced tomatoes, 14 oz can
diced green chilis, 4 oz can
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder (add more if you like it spicy)
sea salt
4 eggs (may add up to two more eggs if desired)
cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped
one avocado, diced

Heat wide frying pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and onions, and saute for a couple minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chilis, garlic, chipotle powder, and some salt.  Stir and simmer the sauce for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for salt, and adjust if needed.  Gently add each egg to the simmering sauce, being sure to leave space between each egg.

eggs just beginning to simmer in the tomato and chili sauce

eggs just beginning to simmer in the tomato and chili sauce

Cover the pan and simmer on low for about 7 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs have changed from clear to white.  I like the egg yolks to be a little runny, but you may prefer yours on the firm side.  Just simmer for a little longer to desired firmness for the eggs.  Garnish with diced avocado and cilantro.  Serve with toast or warmed corn tortillas.

Peanut Ginger Soup

When I want a deeply savory, easy to make soup for a cold, gray day – this spicy, gingery, garlicy soup is the one.

Peanut Ginger Soup

Peanut Ginger Soup

Stunningly flavorful, this vegan soup is simple to make with almost all pantry staples.  The base of this soup relies on the powerful trinity of garlic, ginger, and chili flakes.
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Peanut butter and tomatoes adds richness, body, and tangy umami.  Top with chopped peanuts for texture and cilantro for freshness. Enjoy!

Peanut Ginger Soup

1 1/2 LB ripe, red tomatoes, chopped or 1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic
fresh ginger, 2 inch chunk, peeled
2 tsp. red chili flakes
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 – 6 cups water
sea salt
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, rough chop – for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro – for garnish

Using a food processor or blender, puree the ginger, garlic, and chili flakes with 1/2 cup water until pretty smooth.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed covered soup pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, water, garlic/ginger/chili flakes mixture, peanut butter, and 2 tsp. salt.  Stir together until the peanut butter is incorporated into the liquid.  Bring to a light boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes or so.  Stir the soup, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.

Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Adjust salt and chili flakes to taste.  If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water.  If the soup is too thin, add another TB peanut butter and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves.  This is a deeply flavored, richly nutritious soup – so keep the serving size modest.  This soup is delicious with levain bread.

White Bean and Kale Soup

It was cool and cloudy this week — a glimmer of wet weather relief for California.  I was inspired by the weather and the abundance of produce at this year’s National Heirloom Expo to make this very simple soup.

White Bean and Kale Soup

White Bean and Kale Soup

It’s a remarkably savory vegan soup, made with cannellini beans, garlic, and deep green kale.  Top with your best olive oil to heighten the flavors.  Enjoy!

White Bean and Kale Soup

6 oz dry cannellini beans (or two cans prepared beans, drained)
3 TB olive oil, plus more for drizzling
one large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunched lacinato or tuscan kale, chopped
water
sea salt to taste
black pepper, fine ground, to taste
a handful of dry pasta (optional)

If you are using dried beans, begin by soaking beans for 6 – 8 hours, or overnight.  Cover with at least 2 inches of water in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, then simmer until almost tender.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion.  Sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic, kale, water, beans, and about 2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a simmer, and cook – covered – for about 45 minutes.  Add the dry pasta, then simmer for another 15 minutes or until tender.  Add some pepper to taste, then adjust salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls and drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil.

 

Asparagus Arugula Soup

I just got some true harbingers of Spring in my CSA box — asparagus and arugula.  I also got a rare seasonal treat — green garlic.  What better than a tasty soup to combine these three flavors for a green, savory, creamy soup for supper.

Asparagus Arugula Soup with chevre toast

Asparagus Arugula Soup with chevre toast

This soup is creamy and flavorful, yet has no cream and can easily be adapted for the vegan eater.  Green garlic is the immature garlic plant.  It looks like a cross between a leek and a spring onion, but the flavor is different than either of these.  It’s garlic, but softer and fresher.  If you don’t have access to this, please substitute yellow onion.

green garlic

green garlic

Asparagus 2

asparagus

The cayenne pepper doesn’t make this soup hot — just accentuates the flavor.  I served this soup with toasted baguette spread with goat chevre drizzled with best quality olive oil.  The flavors combine very nicely with the soup and altogether makes a satisfying Spring soup.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Arugula Soup

1 large bunch asparagus, chopped into pieces (reserve a few tips for garnish)
3 green garlic bulbs, or one medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 stick butter or 3 TB olive oil
1 bunch arugula, rinsed and chopped
sea salt
water
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
lemon juice, a squeeze (optional)

In a covered saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter (or use olive oil) and gently saute the diced garlic or onion for a few minutes.  Keep the heat low enough to sweat them without browning.

asparagus and green garlic, sauteing

asparagus and green garlic, sauteing

Add the asparagus pieces and just enough water to barely cover the asparagus.  Add 1/2 tsp. sea salt and cayenne pepper.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the arugula and more water to barely cover vegetables, if needed.

When all vegetables are very tender, use a blender or immersion blender to create a rich, smooth texture.  Add more water if needed.  If you’d like a very smooth texture, blend thoroughly and strain through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Adjust seasoning with salt and, if needed, a few drops lemon juice to brighten flavor.

Saute the reserved asparagus tips in a bit of oil to garnish the soup.