Roasted Carrot & Wild Rice Salad


An enormous bunch of carrots called out to me last weekend at the market. I had a few in salads, made carrot soup, and somehow was still swimming in them. I like carrots as much as the next girl, but I can only eat so many. It would take quite a bit to inspire me to finish off the bunch. So I brought out the big guns.

This grain salad makes carrots (or you could use squash or sweet potato) sexy. Carrots roasted in garlic, wild rice, toasty hazelnuts, briny feta, maple dressing…whoa. Lay it out room temperature in a grand holiday spread or eat it warm for lunch.



Roasted Carrot & Wild Rice Salad

1 c. wild rice
4-5 medium carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. hazelnuts, roughly chopped
4 oz. block of feta, cubed or crumbled

1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, or 1/4 ground coriander
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. maple syrup
1-2 T. walnut or hazelnut oil (or more olive oil)
fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 425.

First start the rice by placing it in a heavy bottomed pot covered with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. When most of the grains have split open, it is done. You may have to drain off the excess water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the carrots, garlic, a few glugs of oil and a little salt on a baking sheet. Roast until just starting to shrink and turn golden, 25 minutes or so. Check on them every so often and flip at least once.

On a separate baking sheet, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer and slide into the oven under the carrots. These should only take 7-8 minutes to get toasty and fragrant. Then pull them out and set ‘em aside.

Next make the dressing. If you have whole coriander seeds, crush them up. Add the lemon juice and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Whisk in the oil, then salt to taste. You want the dressing to be quite strong tasting, because it will get watered down when tossed in the grains and carrots.

Combine the cooked rice, carrots and most of the nuts and cheese in a serving dish. Pour the dressing over top and toss gently to coat. Top with the rest of the hazelnuts and feta and serve.

serves 4-6


Un-stuffed Peppers

Some days are full of new experiences. But other times it’s all about nostalgia. Today’s a nostalgia day.

When I was a junior in college I decided that I REALLY wanted to pierce my belly button. So I convinced a friend to drive down to the best piercing parlor in the area. When we got there, the nice man at the front desk informed me that I didn’t have enough fat to pierce (don’t hate me, I’ve since gained the fat…) and he was afraid he might pierce an organ. So, no belly button ring for me.

And, along the nostalgia lines, this un-stuffed pepper recipe is one of the first things I started making when I became vegetarian, all those years ago. I wish I could remember the cookbook it came out of and give credit where it’s due, but alas, the actual recipe is  long gone and all that remains is the idea: slice bell peppers in half, lay them close together and pour and sprinkle lots of yummy stuff over them. Served alongside some rice or quinoa, they employ all the ingredients of stuffed peppers, but without the hassle of actually stuffing them.

So, back to those belly buttons. For those who aren’t familiar with acupuncture, it is based on a series of meridians that run along the surface of the body. One of the meridians is called the Conception Vessel, and it runs along the middle of the abdomen and chest. And yes, it is linked to, among other things,fertility (in men and women). So, if you have any concern about fertility, or any other matters below the belt, best to take out that belly button ring!

Un-stuffed Peppers

2 large bell peppers (any color, but I obviously used red)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T. capers, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella, or other melty cheese
1/4 c. breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
2 T. olive oil
1 c. quinoa

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the peppers in half, take out the stems and seeds, and lay, cut side down, in a baking dish that they just fit into in a single layer. Sprinkle the garlic, capers, thyme, pepper flakes and salt evenly over the peppers, then the cheese, then the breadcrumbs. Pour the olive oil over the whole thing. Slide the dish into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The cheese and breadcrumbs should be browned, and the peppers soft, but still retain some structure.

While the peppers cook, combine the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the water is gone.

Spread some quinoa on a plate and top with a pepper slice or two.

serves 2-3


Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Sesame Crust

The other night my boy Darren and I were talking about where to get the best pizza in the neighborhood when he mentioned an old pizza joint that he loved that put sesame seeds in the crust. I’m not sure what else he said, because by that time my brain had already come up with a handful of toppings for said sesame crust. Asian-inspired? Mediterranean? How about Middle Eastern? I ended up combining a few and came up with this gem.

I used Joy the Baker’s version of Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough, subbing spelt flour for the whole wheat, and of course adding sesame seeds. Then I grilled some eggplant slices on my grill pan (it’s gotten a bit cold to grill outside – not that I have anywhere to grill outside…), added feta cheese and thin garlic slices. Straight out of the  oven I added fresh cilantro and a dukkah-like seed/spice blend. If you’ve never had dukkah, you’re really missing out! Two of my favorite food bloggers have recipes for it here and here. I totally dig it with a hunk of crusty artisan bread dunked in olive oil, then into the dukkah. With this recipe, though, I simplified – and made a not-quite-traditional version to sprinkle over the pizza for extra flavor. Don’t leave it off or you’ll be sorry!

Also, this crust recipe uses a decent amount of yeast which makes it rise during cooking. Keep this in mind, and if you’re not a huge fan of thick doughy crust, roll it out really thin. And sine it makes enough for two pizzas, you can freeze or refrigerate the extra dough and make a super quick easy dinner later on.

Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Sesame Crust

2 3/4 c. bread flour
1 c. spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
3/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 1/2 c. warm water

1 small eggplant, sliced in 1/4″ to 1/2 ” slices
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
olive oil
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as you can get ‘em

2 T. pine nuts
1 T.sesame seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. sea salt

a big handful of cilantro, chopped

Combine the flours, yeast, salt, sugar and 1/4 c. seeds in a large bowl. Pour the water over and stir until it all comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

Lay the eggplant slices out in a colander and sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over them. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to drain the excess water.

At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 and place a baking stone, or an upside down baking sheet in there to heat up.

Pat the eggplant pieces dry and coat them in a thin layer of olive oil. Lay them out on a grill pan (or in a skillet if you don’t have a grill pan) and cook them for 10 minutes until they get nice brown marks. Set aside.

Lay a piece of parchment out on your work surface, and with wet hands, transfer the dough onto it.  Divide the dough in half and wrap the half you’re not using in plastic wrap. Put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you need it to keep. Take the other half and roll it out using a flour dusted rolling pin. Remember, keep it extra thin because it will rise more in the oven.

Top the pizza with more olive oil, the eggplant slices, garlic slices, and the crumbled feta. Transfer the pizza, parchment and all, to the baking stone/sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set.

While the pizza’s in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet for about 1 minute, then add the sesame seeds and all the rest of the seeds. Toast for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and lightly crush.

Slide the pizza out of the oven and slice. Top with the cilantro and the crushed seeds and serve.

serves 2-3

Smoky Tempeh & Peppers

As the cold weather creeps in, bit by bit, our bodies start to crave more build-up foods. More protein and fat to keep the heat in and prepare for the Winter (what? already? I think we’ve got a while, but it never hurts to plan ahead). This dish fit the bill for me. Hearty tempeh and the last of the summer’s sweet peppers simmered in a paprika-chipolte-maple marinade and served with light but protein-rich quinoa. Quinoa, small as it is, is pretty mighty in this respect. The highest amount of protein of all the grains resides in this little guy (though he’s technically a seed…).

I used some cute little sweet peppers I found at the farmers market, but bell peppers will work just as well. And you won’t normally see me stirring delicate fresh herbs into a dish that is still cooking. The oils in the leaves that make them so fragrant and delicious dissipate quickly when cooked, so I almost always use them raw. However, in this dish I used the cilantro as more of a vegetable than an herb, and since I used a ton, I figured it was ok if a little of the flavor escaped. There’s still plenty to go around.

Smokey Tempeh & Peppers

2-3 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. tempeh
1 lb. sweet or bell peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. shoyu
2 T. maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or more if you’re feeling brave)
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the tempeh and  cook for 10 minutes, flipping once, to brown on a few sides. Stir in the peppers and cook for a few minutes while you prepare the marinade.

Combine the garlic, shoyu, maple syrup, lime juice, the other tablespoon of oil, paprika and chipotle in a liquid measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup. Quickly whisk together with a fork. Add water to make 1 c of marinade. Pour the marinade over the tempeh mixture. Simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, until everything is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until tender and all the water is gone. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Serve the tempeh mixture over the quinoa, and top with some extra cilantro.

serves 4

Tomato & Coconut Rice

A number of years ago, before that big economic downturn, I took a trip to Dubai. In mid August. It was hot. Really hot. Like, 40 degrees Celsius hot. I saw a lot of pretty amazing things, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is a restaurant. It was an “Indian-inspired” place, like nothing I’d ever heard of before, or have seen since. They didn’t have your typical Saag Dal, or Chana Masala, or whatever it is that you always order when you get Indian. Instead, the chef took inspiration from the spice blends and flavors of India, and created a menu of unique, inspired dishes. They didn’t have many vegetarian things on the menu, and I honestly don’t even remember what I got, but the idea has stuck with me.

You’d think living in the biggest foodie city in the country I’d have stumbled upon a similar place here in the states. Unfortunately I have yet to find one. But if you know of a place, please let me know.

This is the kind of dish I imagine would be on the menu at a restaurant like this, especially if I was the one who ran it. A great mix of spices, juicy summer tomatoes, and brown basmati rice. It may not be authentic Indian food, but that’s not the point. Taking fresh, local, healthy food and giving a spicy twist – IS the point.

Tomato & Coconut Rice

1 T. ghee or coconut oil
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1″ knob of ginger, minced
1 chili pepper, minced (I used a chili d’arbol, serrano or jalepeno would be fine, too)
1 tsp. tumeric
3 big juicy red beeftsteak tomatoes, diced
scant 1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. water
1 c. brown basmati rice
1/2 c. large flake coconut, for garnish
chopped fresh herbs for garnish (all’s I had was basil, cilantro would have been my first choice, though – remind me to plant an herb garden next spring!)

Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and saute 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chili and give it another minute or two before adding the tumeric, salt and tomatoes and all their juices you can save. Once it is well combined and the tomatoes have started to release liquid, pour in the coconut milk, water and rice. Stir, cover and bring to a boil.

Turn it down to low and let it simmer for 50-60 minutes. While you wait you can toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet for a few minutes, and chop up your herbs. If you’re making something else to go with the rice, now’s a good time to do that, too!

When the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is done. Serve with coconut flakes and herbs sprinkled on top.

serves 4


Fresh Corn Polenta with Seared Seitan

Just today someone asked what my favorite way to eat corn is. If I was back in Ohio, I would say, “Steam, butter, salt and eat.” Right off the cob, typewriter style. And, I might add, make sure the corn was picked that day.

But alas, the corn we get here just isn’t fresh enough to eat this way. At least not to this Midwestern corn snob. Yet, there is hope for the last corn cobs of the season. Fresh corn polenta. If you like polenta, you’ll love this. And if you’re not a big fan, try this anyways. It’s a very different beast than polenta made from ground, dried cornmeal. In this easy version, you just grate the kernels right off the cob and throw them into a pot with a splash of olive oil and some salt. In a few minutes you are rewarded with a pot of sweet, milky and very “corn-y” polenta, ready to be topped with whatever your lovely creative mind can conjure. In this version I added some crispy seared seitan, and swirled an arugula/walnut pesto inside.

Something about the creaminess of the corn, the crispy bite of the seitan (feel free to use your protein of choice here), with the peppery bite of arugula cutting through – makes this one of the best things to come out of my kitchen for a long while. Thank you to Emily at 5 & Spice for the grand notion of grating the kernels of corn for the polenta. Genius.

Fresh Corn Polenta with Seared Seitan

14/ c + 3 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. seitan strips, or protein of choice
8 corn cobs, husked and grated
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 bunch arugula
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted*
1 small garlic clove, chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Lay the seitan strips down and let them brown. Once browned, flip them over to brown on the other side. It should take about 10 minutes in all. Set aside.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in a small pot or saucepan over medium. Pour in the grated corn kernels and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir occasionally until the mixture thickens a little, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, into the food processor goes the arugula, walnuts, garlic and the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Puree into a paste, then drizzle in the last 1/4 cup of the olive oil. It will now be a very moist paste, so I like to drizzle in about a 1/4 c. water to thin it out and make it extra creamy.

To serve, ladle the corn into shallow bowls then stir in a bit of the arugula mixture. Lay some seitan strips on, and top with a dollop more of the pesto.

serves 4

* to toast the walnuts, heat them in a dry skillet over medium low for about 4-6 minutes, until brown and fragrant.

Smashed Tomato Penne with Crumbled Tempeh

My Papa and I are a lot alike. We both like hot weather, we’re both smart cookies (and, yes, we’re quite modest about it!), and we both like pasta. We  want to enjoy life, and live it to the fullest – well, who doesn’t, really? But one way we differ is in our philosophy about enjoying life, especially when it comes to food. Dad feels that he won’t enjoy himself unless he’s drinking a Manhattan, smoking a cigar, and eating lots of heavy, rich food. He refuses to compromise and think about his health, because, goddamn it, he’s enjoying himself. Me, I want to enjoy life too, and one way I do that is by eating delicious food (and sharing a drink with a friend). The difference is that I want to continue feeling my best, in order to do all the other things I enjoy. I know that I have a great yoga practice when I eat lots of greens, but that when my belly has been overstuffed with too much animal food my thinking gets foggy. One of my main goals in life is to help people, and I (usually) eat to support my body and brain, so I have energy for the challenge.

Good thing we were able to agree on this dish. I made a variation of it for him while I was visiting. Papa loves hot Italian sausage, so I flavored the tempeh with red pepper and fennel, and crumbled it up for a topping to the pasta. The cherry tomatoes got squashed in the pot, so that all their juices would release and thicken the sauce. Then at the last minute, I snuck in some baby spinach, chopped small and evenly distributed so that you never get a bite with a big hunk of wilted spinach on your fork.

This recipe was inspired by the great vegan cook Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her Tempeh Orzilla was on heavy rotation when I was trying REALLY hard to eat vegan. Well, since then I’ve realized that my body does better with a little animal protein here and there, and slowly my nutritional yeast stash dwindled, to be replaced by cheese. So, sorry Isa, to de-vegan-ify one of your already delicious dishes, but understand, it was all for love.

Smashed Tomato Penne with Crumbled Tempeh

8 oz. whole wheat penne (or other short pasta)
2 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz.tempeh
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 T. shoyu (natural soy sauce)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 c. white wine
1/4 c. grated fresh parmesan
a few big handfuls of baby spinach, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 T. of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Tear up tempeh and add to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to break up tempeh chunks into crumbles. Stir it occasionally for about 10 minutes, until it turns golden brown, then add the pepper fakes, fennel and shoyu. Stir to coat and cook for a few more minutes. Mine always sticks to the pan, and I throw 1/4 cup of water in the pan and swirl it around to scrape all the bits of stuck food from the skillet.

Once the pasta is done, use that pot (or while it’s cooking use a separate saucepan) and heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium. Cook the onion for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme and salt, and let cook for one more minute. Stir in the tomatoes, crushing them with the side of the spoon when they get soft. After about 3 minutes, when the tomatoes are starting to break down, pour in the wine. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. While it’s cooking, use the back of your wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes on the side of the pan/pot.

When you have a thick, crushed up sauce in the pan, turn off the heat. Stir in the cheese, then the pasta (you may have to rinse it in some hot water if it’s been sitting and all stuck together). Finally, while it’s still warm, stir in the spinach, making sure it gets evenly distributed.

To serve, transfer the pasta to a bowl (they’ll be lots of saucy stuff at the bottom) and top with the tempeh.

serves 3-4


Socca with Smoky Eggplant Spread

Usually when Mama comes to town, we splurge on a few fancy dinners. It’s always fun trying out new restaurants around the city. But this year, by the last night, we were a little tired of all that richness, and instead had a picnic. Hummus, cheese and crackers, fruit and of course a little Prosecco were on the menu. While I usually pick up local fruit, this time it was late at night, a spur of the moment decision, so we were stuck with supermarket fruit. An experiment took place – one “conventional” fuji apple versus an organic fuji. We sliced into both and ate them side by side. We were all agreed that the organic apple was about 3 times more flavorful and sweet, with a thinner, less chewy skin. They were both crisp and firm, but the organic was juicier. I’ve heard people mention that organic produce tastes better, and now I know.

What this has to do with socca, well, I don’t know. It would be good picnic fare. It makes a great appetizer. Or you can go crazy and just eat it for dinner like I did.

Socca, for the uninitiated, is a flatbread made from chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour, or besan at an Indian market). It’s crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and while delicious on it’s own, it’s really fantastic as a base for pretty much anything. This socca pizza looks especially inspiring.

While it’s not completely necessary, it’s best to make the batter ahead of time and let it sit. It helps keep it super creamy. And be sure not to scrimp on the oil, we don’t want any of that crispy goodness sticking to the pan, do we?

Socca with Smoky Eggplant Spread

1 c. chickpea flour
1 c. water
2 T. olive oil (plus more for the pan)
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Smoky Eggplant Spread:
about 1-1 1/2 lb. eggplant (I had four little ones, I think one medium eggplant would do), halved
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
olive oil
2 T. tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 c. water

toasted pine nuts and chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix the flour, 1 c. water, 2 T. oil and salt in a bowl. Set aside. (you want this mixture to sit at least 30 minutes).

Lay the eggplant on a baking sheet and brush olive oil over the cut side. Turn them cut side down, add the garlic to the pan, and bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and slightly collapsed. The garlic may brown before that, so keep an eye out, and take it out early if needed.

About 10 minutes before the eggplant is done, slide a cast iron skillet (or other ovenproof skillet or tart pan, etc.) into the oven to preheat.

When the eggplant is done, take it out to cool, then turn the oven up to 450 and remove the skillet.

Pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil into the skillet, then follow with the socca batter. Slide the full skillet back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until set (depends on how big the skillet is, and how thick the bread).

While it’s in the oven, peel the garlic (wait until it is cook enough to handle) and place it, along with the eggplant, in the food processor. Add the rest of the spread ingredients and process until smooth.

When the socca is done, move it to the broiler to brown for a few minutes before taking it out. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Run a spatula under the socca to loosen it from the pan, then slide it onto a cutting surface.  Spread the eggplant mixture on top and cut into wedges. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cilantro and serve.

serves 2 for dinner, 4-6 as an appetizer


Roasted Vegetables with Farro & Pesto

I used to be the “Whole Grains Girl”; it was my superhero name. I’m not sure what happened, maybe it was the heat, maybe I thought whole grains don’t make meals interesting enough to photograph and blog about, or maybe I just got too lazy. No more. I intend to be working those bad boys back into my diet in a major way.

See, I’m just getting around to reading Food and Healing, by the woman who founded the Natural Gourmet Institute here in NYC, Annemarie Colbin. It’s really a fantastic read for anyone interested in the subject. I plan on telling you much more about the book once I’ve finished, but right now I just want to mention a small point that really clicked for me. If we want to be whole people (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) and feel whole, then we need to eat whole food. This includes whole grains. What I mean by whole grains is the entire grain, in it’s whole state, not pearled, cracked, rolled or ground into flour. It’s ok to eat those things too sometimes, but in order to really feel whole, the majority of our food should be too. (This applies to things like eggs, chickens and beets, too).

Enter, dinner. All this may be easy to agree with (or maybe not) but the practical side is a little more difficult. Habits die hard, new tastes are hard to make, and sometimes we still crave our old ways. That’s why this dish involves lots of familiar flavors, plus things that we naturally eat whole anyways. It’s easy to eat whole foods when you take gorgeous baby eggplants, squashes and heirloom cherry tomatoes, grown nearby, and roast them to perfection. Mixed with farro, a deliciously nutty and creamy whole grain, and a flavorful pesto, we’ve got quite a meal that can be eaten warm, or room temperature like a grain salad.

You’ll notice that I don’t often make a traditional pesto. For one, I find most pesto very oily, and I don’t need that much oil to be satisfied. I turn my pesto into more of a paste, then add oil/water for the consistency I need. Also, pine nuts and parmigiano reggiano run me a pretty penny, and then to just puree them into other stuff – well, it seems quite a shame. So I use other nuts (almonds in this case) and just grate some cheese on top.

Roasted Vegetables with Farro & Pesto

1 c. whole farro
2 c. water
3 baby eggplants, or 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced on the bias
1 pt. cherry tomatoes (romas might be good, too) halved
1 very small summer squash (I used 2 super skinny zephyr squashes), thinly sliced on the bias
a few glugs of olive oil
a few pinches of sea salt

1 big bunch of basil, just the leaves
1 clove of garlic
a small handful of almonds
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. (or more) olive oil, just enough to bring it together

parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the farro and water in a large, heavy bottomed pot with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes with out lifting the lid. Set aside.

Lay eggplant, squash and tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and salt. Toss to coat, then make sure that the tomatoes are sitting cut side up, and everything is in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, until browned.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Combine everything but the oil in the bowl of your food processor and puree. Drizzle in some oil, with the machine still running, until it comes together in a paste. You may have to stop and scrape the sides of the work bowl.

To serve, gently toss the roasted veggies with the farro. Stir in about half of the pesto. Serve with a small dollop of pesto and cheese on top. You probably won’t use all the pesto, but it tastes great on everything.

serves 2-3 as a main, 4 -6 as a side

Beginners Series: Quick & Dirty Green Pasta

Apparently, writing a food blog makes you an expert on cooking. I now get lots of questions from family and friends about healthy eating. It’s cool, I kinda like giving advice, especially about something I know a little bit about. For example, a friend, who, well, eats roller dogs from 7-11 for lunch, wanted to know how to eat more vegetables. “I know I should be eating them, but they just don’t taste good.” Well my friend, I’ve got advice for that!

In general, I’m not a huge fan of vegetables either. The way they taste, I mean. Especially when someone else (over)cooks them, then serves them on the side, saying “Here, I made you some vegetables!” Being a vegetarian, I get that a lot. It’s an awkward situation, where I have to gracefully decline the slightly brown, wilted lump of broccoli and fill up on bread and pasta until I can get home. However, there is a silver lining. When I do get home, I take my veggies (the fresher and more local the better) cut them up small, and mix them with all kinds of wonderful flavors that I do like. That’s the trick. Take a little broccoli (or in the case of this recipe, some leafy greens) on your fork, along with food you do like, such as pasta, cheese, etc. It really makes all the difference.

This particular “recipe” is one I use when it’s just me and I’m hungry and I need food fast. All the measurements are for one person, so if you’re cooking for more, just up the numbers. All’s you really need is pasta, some light leafy greens (baby spinach, baby arugula), olive oil and salt. Everything else is up for interpretation. I make this all the time, but it’s never the same dish twice. I love to add in toasted almonds or pumpkin seeds, avocado (great sub for cheese for those of you not partaking in dairy) leftover cooked vegetables, fresh herbs, or whatever spices I’m feeling (spice blends are really great for this kind of thing – when I’m lazy!). Raid the fridge for the extra dressing or sauce from dinner the other night, it’s always welcome here.

So, in the beginner’s series way, read on for the step-by-step breakdown.

First, gather all your ingredients. Remember, these here are just ideas, rummage around the kitchen a bit and see what else you’ve got.

Next, put on a pot of water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add the pasta. Keep it boiling, stirring it every once and a while, until tender, 10-12 minutes usually. Taste it to make sure before you drain in.

While the pasta is cooking, mince the garlic:

 Then chop up the greens. The smaller you chop them, the more they will distribute evenly throughout the pasta, and the quicker they will wilt when you stir them in.

All’s you have left to do is put it together. In the same pot you boiled the pasta, add the oil, salt, spices and garlic. Cook for about a minute over medium heat, then turn off the heat. Throw the drained pasta back in, then the greens, and mix it all together. Garnish with cheese, or chopped fresh herbs, or toasted seeds.

Quick and Dirty Green Pasta

 enough pasta for 1 person
a splash of olive oil (maybe a tsp. or 2)
a few pinches of sea salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1 garlic clove, minced
a handful of tender baby greens, chopped small
cheese (I used a raw white cheddar) grated, for garnish

other garnish ideas: toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs, avocado, etc.

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, prep the rest of your ingredients.

When the pasta is done, pour a little oil into the same pot, over medium heat. Add the salt, red pepper and garlic, and cook for about a minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the pasta and greens. Give it a good toss or two to coat everything in the oil and wilt the greens.

Serve, topped with cheese and other garnishes.

serves 1