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cannellini beans

White Beans with Kale, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

White Beans with Kale, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

One of my favorite fellow Philly food blogger friends, Emily, recently made a big move to New York.

I’ve been missing dinner dates with her ever since.
White Beans with Kale, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

After numerous failed attempts to plan a “Skype cooking session” together, the chance finally presented itself for me to head up and see Emily’s new place and get back into the kitchen with her.

We immediately got to scheming up dinner plans — soup for the first snowy night of the year!  — and Emily kickstarted the blender to create some homemade almond milk for the next morning’s breakfast.
White Beans with Kale, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

As two food bloggers, of course we also set out to create a new recipe for y’all, and this Italian-inspired white bean dish over quinoa is what we settled upon.

The salty combination of olives and sun-dried tomatoes is one I could eat on the regular, and for me, acts as the centerpiece of this meal.
White Beans with Kale, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

A generous helping of kale gets added to the mix as does a splash of acidity from some lemon and a punch of garlic, all together working to take white beans to the next level.

We loved this meal because it’s so full of flavor (shout out to the toasted pine nuts, too!) but also incredibly healthy — a welcoming addition to a holiday season full of richness and decadent treats.

We used quinoa as the base for this dish, but feel free to play around and get creative with the grain!

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Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Do you have a favorite veggie? One you love so much that you’ve considered getting it inked somewhere on your body? If so, we should probably be friends.

Carrot Top Spread

For me, that veggie is carrots. Particularly those that come in multi-colored bunches, beautiful green tops kept attached and in tact.

Carrots are simply a delightful sight, and I happen to absolutely adore their earthy, slightly sweet flavor, too.

Multi-colored carrots

However, it wasn’t until, perhaps just last year, that I would do much with a bunch’s tops. Despite this, it had always pained me to dump all of those elegant, lacy greens into the trash. I’m not one to waste food, especially when it’s the kind that comes straight from the ground and still appears rather fresh.

So, I finally decided to do some research. The result? Without too much surprise, I discovered that carrots were edible from head-to-toe, and that I no longer should be trashing their tops.

Since, I remain determined to find new ways to use them. I’d invite you to do the same. (And share your findings with me!)

Carrot Tops

What do carrot tops taste like? To me, the little leaves resemble the qualities of an herb – very unique in flavor and fairly pungent. I’d liken it to parsley, with a fresh flavor that can cut other rich foods, yet with a slightly bitter touch.

Like herbs, I love to loosely chop the leaves, and use them for topping salads and sandwiches. I also love them for a flavorful pesto-like spread, such as this one.

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

Given the flavor of carrot tops, this spread is a bit more bitter than a traditional basil pesto, which is why it pairs so nicely with the sweetness of roasted carrots. The beans add a boost of protein to it and also mellow out the flavor. Together with crunchy cabbage and sunflower seeds, all sandwiched into a pita, this creamy spread feels almost decadent. Yet, it doesn’t require much more effort than it takes to pull out the food processor and place it on your kitchen counter. Thank you to whoever invented this wonderful appliance.

Roasted Carrot Pitas with Carrot Top Spread

 

I chose to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add some goat cheese or feta on top. You could also swap the pita for a whole wheat tortilla wrap if pita is not available. Enjoy!

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Beans and Rice Italian Minestrone Soup

Beans and Rice Minestrone Soup

Yesterday, I put sweatpants over my tights, stuffed my hat inside my helmet, and zipped my coat up above my upper lip. Boots on, I braved the 20 degree weather that waited for me on my 2-wheel ride to work. Morning wake-up call at its best.

This was not, however, before tackling a stubborn frozen bike lock. Running late, I waddled my layered self back up to my apartment to grab a cup of hot water. Luckily, I discovered, that would do the trick. Anyone else ever have this problem with their lock in the winter?

Thyme

Ten frozen fingers later, I successfully made it to work. Good thing I forgot a change of shoes. I love rocking winter boots with tights and a dress, and all the funny looks that elicits. One of those days.

black rice

I’ve expressed before, winter’s not my favorite. But making soup is. There’s something about mindlessly throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pan, and knowing that meddling their flavors will produce guaranteed results.  Soup-making is pure simplicity. And brings the warmth that I crave after bike rides home from work.

This, I tell you, is one warming bowl of soup. Beans, rice and a kick of spice, it’s like bringing a thermal to the dinner table. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and a glass of wine, and you’ll be good to go.

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