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dijon

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring is made for salads, especially those tossed with asparagus fresh from the farm. Nothing beats a topping of crisp radishes, too, to compliment the butteriness of the season’s lettuce.

Spring Nicoise Salad

This season – which I long to never part – let’s us rethink our salad bowl – which I love. Love. Love. With it, it brings endless light options for lunch that would be a disgrace to label as boring.

Salad can be fun. And this one more than proves that to be so.

Spring Nicoise Salad

Here, asparagus takes the place of the green beans in a classic Nicoise salad. Aside from that, the make-up is pretty straight forward. Hardboiled eggs? Check. Tuna? Check. Thinly sliced onion? Check. Radishes? Check.

For the asparagus, a simple steam actually works well with this salad, given the complexity of the other flavors. However, if roasted spears are your absolute fav., by all means, get the oven going and go for it.

SpringIf you want to get fancy, you could sear some fresh tuna instead and add it on top. Or reserve that fanciness for the olives and bread you may wish to serve alongside this.

Bright, light and easy to assemble, this is spring at its best.  Cheers.

Spring Nicoise Salad

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Tahini Goddess Dressing

Tahini Goddess Dressing

It’s not all that infrequent that I’m caught engaging in a long, passionate conversation about tahini.  Me and tahini are good friends. And me and tahini make new friends together.

Somehow in recent months, it’s been showing up a lot. At random parties. At bars. At food events. There I am, talking about tahini. You could say it’s kind of like the weather, although a much more dynamic discourse.

Soom tahini

As such, bonding sessions over its magnificence aren’t uncommon in my life, nor are shared meals with tahini at the center. I go through a lot of jars, and there’s an instant connection with others I meet who do too.

So, of course, I was thrilled to come across Soom Foods Tehina, a new company started by three sisters in my very own city. Girlpower + tahini (aka, tehina) + Philadelphia…boom.

Without much effort, these ladies convinced Zahav — undeniably not just one of the best Israeli spots but also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia — to switch completely over to their tahini. When I got word of that, the rest was history. I needed to try Soom’s Tehina. And before Zahav took it all. (They go through 100 lbs each week! The owner/chef also has a hummus restaurant in the works…)

As written on the jar, “Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, Shelby, Jackie and Amy Z (SheJAmz for short). Shelby had a business degree. Jackie married a Tehina expert. And Amy needed a job.” What’s come of it? A paste made from white Humera sesame seeds that’s starting to gain some buzz. It’s the high quality Humera seeds that distinguish Soom Foods. They provide a rich, smooth, oiliness that’s just not quite there in standard tahini you’d get. Like a good peanutty version, this is the kind of butter you could eat by the spoon.

Clearly though, it’s best in recipes like this. Tahini dressings are my jam – for roasted broccoli (Dishing Up The Dirt knows what I’m talking about!), for grain + veggie bowls (see suggestion to follow), for salads, veggie sticks, and more. It’s a great go-to to have stored in the fridge for when you want to whip up a quick, simple dinner and have an addicting sauce to pour over it. Steam up some veggies and/or cook up some grains/lentils/beans, add this, and you’ve got a memorable meal after very little effort.

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Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans

Snow is falling, flannel PJ’s are on, and my parents house is my office for the day. Suddenly, I feel the holiday bug has hit me. I am ready for the feasting, and gifting, and extra special loving to begin.

In preparation for tomorrow, I whipped up my family a healthy, wholesome lunch this afternoon. Perhaps consider doing something similar for your own dinner, pre or post Thanksgiving day.

Light meals are extra welcomed this time of year.

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans

Salads are rarely rocket science. For this one, I tore up a bunch of washed romaine, while I let a butternut squash roast. For the squash, preheat your oven to 375F. Slice it in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds, and then cut into 3/4-inch half moons. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum oil, and lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and add a bunch of fresh thyme. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until soft and creamy, but still together enough to slice.

For the vinaigrette, mix 2 parts oil to one part apple cider vinegar, and throw in a few Tbsp. of Dijon mustard. Season with pepper. If you use enough Dijon, likely you won’t need any salt. The Dijon should make it creamy, but not be overpowering in flavor. Taste as you whisk.

Toast up a handful or two of chopped pecans, depending on how many heads of lettuce you’re using. Simply add to a dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir with a spoon until edges of the pecans are browned.

Toss lettuce with the vinaigrette. Chop the cooked squash into bite-sized pieces, and add to the salad bowl. Throw in toasted pecans and a handful of pomegranate seeds. Share, eat, enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving, FoodFitnessFreshAir friends!

 

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

There’s this new spot that opened up in Philadelphia last year called COOK, designed for cooking demonstrations and classes. It features a 16-seat bar that sits in front of a workspace and large open range, with mirrors that hang above for the audience’s viewing. Here, foodie experts and chefs come to hold tastings and learning sessions. And the audience watches/joins in/eats, depending upon the night’s topic. The place is an absolute gem.

Brussels Sprouts

A newfound friend recently invited me to a vegan Thanksgiving class being held there, which would bring me my first COOK experience. By the end of the experience, I was entirely smitten. I do hope this means more nights there to come.

The event was held by a sweet lady named Rachel who owns Miss Rachel’s Pantry, a vegan catering and delivery service as well as a communal table styled restaurant. During the session, she whipped up recipes like cashew brie with toast, winter veggie stuffed seitan roast, and the recipe I bring you today. As the cooking transpired, the audience tossed out questions while COOK’s event host poured an endless supply of wine. Rachel’s responses were incredibly warm and so was the night.

Coconut Flakes

For me, this salad was definitely the highlight of the menu. I had only ever had coconut bacon once or twice before, and the raw brussels sprout concept was entirely new to my taste buds. Together, they make a combination that gives memory to a salad.

This is a bowl of leaves that’s far, far more than just a salad. With the toasty sunflower seeds, sweet and tart cranberries, and smoky coconut-y bacon, theres a huge depth of flavor going on here, all complimentary to the earthy, cabbage-like flavor of the brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

COOK often sends you the recipes from their events, which is awesome because I had been planning to recreate this recipe since my last bite. I whipped it up yesterday for a lovely Friendsgiving, and plan to make it again for my family’s own Thanksgiving. When a salad gets rave reviews at a party, you know its worthy of remaking and eating twice within a week’s time. If you don’t get around to it for Thanksgiving, I recommend you bookmark this for later. Thanks Rachel!

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Baked Salmon with Creamy Dijon Dill Sauce

Salmon with Creamy Dijon Dill Sauce

Another salmon recipe coming your way. This one’s surely graced the blog before, but seeing as though it’s a definite go-to of mine, I felt it worthy of a second post.

There’s something about yogurt (esp. Greek) that turns recipes into effortless creations. Overnight oats, stuffed baked potatoes, and this “cream sauce”, formed from a handful of ingredients stirred together in a bowl, are all great examples. Here, yogurt makes a surprisingly smooth, rich-feeling sauce without any heavy cream or butter needed. Another reason why the ingredient shines in my kitchen – it’s a trickster in all the right ways.

When it comes to the kitchen, there are definitely good occasions to be tricked and bad ones. Finding an empty pizza box put back in the fridge – killer. Discovering your cupcake is stuffed with peanut butter mousse – win. I’d say turning low-fat yogurt into a successful, creamy sauce undoubtedly goes on the plus side. You tell me your thoughts after giving this one a try.

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