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dressing

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Often it’s the simplest dishes that make for the tastiest meals.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients, a pinch of spices and chopped herbs, and really that’s all you need to create a recipe that’s memorable, many times even more memorable than a combination that calls for hours upon hours of cooking.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

I’ve been getting into swimming lately, which generally leaves me ravishing upon arriving home.

My patience doesn’t have time for anything fancy when I show up to the kitchen counter. And when I have quality ingredients on-hand, I don’t need anything complicated either.

Luckily, my stockpile of winter squash has been conducive to all of this. A hearty tray of simply seasoned kabocha or a steaming baked sweet potato can really knock the edge off of hunger in a satisfying way. I find this to be one of the richest parts of winter.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

This recipe draws upon that heartiness of squash to create a nourishing meal that stays both light and satisfying. Baked with a little spice and tossed over crunchy, massaged kale to ever-so-slightly wilt the leaves, this becomes a powerful salad.

Salty chickpeas top it all off along with a creamy tahini dressing, where you’ll find the strength of fresh herbs kicking in.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Serve with a slice of crusty bread, and feel free to sprinkle a few toasted nuts and seeds on top to give the meal a boost.

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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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Warm Smoked Russet Potato Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing + GIVEAWAY

Warm Smoked Russet Potato Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

My latest column in Grid magazine dropped earlier this month. The recipe component of the article, picture above, is comprised of a Warm Smoked Russet Potato Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing (and grilled leeks, lemon & herbs).

It was given to me by Chef Prensky of Supper, and far exceed my expectations. Pick up the issue and whip it up for breakfast alongside scrambled eggs or tofu. As I relayed in an earlier post, this is what converted me into an anchovy believer, so if you’re a newcomer or a little wary of the ingredient, I suggest you give this a try. For the digital version of the February issue, click here.

Russet Potatoes and Leeks

Warm Smoked Russet Potato Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

Undressed.

I’m also hosting a giveaway today that you can enter now through February 6th. The folks at Brookside Chocolate are giving away an array of items to one lucky reader.

Enter to win: 3 packages of  Brookside® Dark Chocolate covered fruit, a 3-compartment serving bowl with a central loop handle, stainless steel cheese server, ceramic cheese serving board, stemless wine glasses, and a few other fun items.

To enter:

(Leave a separate comment per entry. Each separate comment will give you one entry in the contest.)

This contest closes on **February 6, 2013 at 8:00pm EST**

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to use a Russet potato.
2) Leave a comment on this post telling me what food/drink you’d bring to really make a party.
3) Become a fan of F-F-F on Facebook
4) Follow me on Twitter
5) Link this giveaway on one of your blog posts and let me know that you did.
6) Tweet a variation of this on Twitter:@GraceDickinson is giving away everything you need for a party – including choc., wine glasses & more – at FoodFitnessFreshAir.com.

One winner will be chosen at random by random.org.

Quinoa Stuffing With Butternut Squash and Pecans

I am ridiculously excited for Thanksgiving! I can’t wait for the winding drive back to the country, the welcoming slobber from my dog, and my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing cooking in the kitchen. Her stuffing is hands down my favorite part of every holiday meal. It’s always brimming with fragrant whiffs of sage and thyme that have me going back for one too many samples while she’s tweaking it on the stove. “Grace, keep your fork out of the pan!” It’s a yearly tradition…

In anticipation of her stuffing, I tested out this recipe I found via the NY Times to bring to one of the pre-Thanksgiving potlucks I was attending. I thought about calling my mom for her recipe, but then I decided I’d wait for her to feed me her signature dish. Just like Saturday morning omelets, it’s always better when Mom makes it.

I love the NY Times vegan collection they always publish leading up to the holidays. This particular recipe got bookmarked because I thought the healthy version of stuffing would bring a lot to a table full of heavy traditional dishes. Plus, ever since I started cooking quinoa, I haven’t gone back. I love the nutty grain, almost as much as I love toasted pecans.

I found the original version to be slightly bland, so I upped the traditional stuffing seasonings, adding an extra dose of sage and thyme. It’s a light and savory dish that would lend itself well to any Thanksgiving feast. It has all the flavor of stuffing, without that heavy bread feeling you get after finishing a pile of the standard version. I’ll definitely be making this again after the holidays finish up.

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