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Philadelphia

Spinach and Komatsuna with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

I recently teamed up with my friend Nicole over at Vestige Home to create this fresh and easy spring meal. Nicole makes gorgeous hand-carved wooden creations, like that walnut bowl pictured above.

Photographing food is always ten times easier when you have beautiful dish-ware to work with!

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Inspired by a CSA bounty, we settled on a greens and shiitake saute over this brown rice mix that Nicole picked up from a local New Jersey farm. I had nooo idea that rice could be cultivated on the east coast, let alone right next door to me in New Jersey. Apparently the farm, Bloom Moon Acres, uses a dry farming technique, allowing them to produce rice on a local scale.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

The rice was quite tasty and the perfect nutty and chewy compliment to the tender spinach and mustard that came to top it. I’d recommend using a black rice or a black and brown rice mix yourself if making this recipe.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Both Nicole and I were quite pleased with how quickly and easily this recipe came together. After cooking the rice, you can just about?pull this all together in 10 minutes or so.

That’s one of the perks to working with spinach, which cooks up fast in comparison to other greens, as does the komatsuna.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

What is komatsuna? Komatsuna is a Japanese mustard green with a flavor profile that lays in between spinach and mustard. It’s definitely a bit milder than regular mustard greens.

Most Asian markets should carry it, as will Whole Foods. However, if you can’t find it, you could swap it for mustard greens, but definitely seek out a baby variety so that you don’t end up with something too bitter for the delicate flavors of this dish.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

We chose toasted almonds to top complete the meal, adding a crunch and a subtle nuttiness that wouldn’t overpower the rest of the dish.

To toast, simply heat a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the almonds. Stirring regularly, cook for 5 minutes or so, until the almonds begin to brown. At this point, you’ll want to remove them from the pan so that they don’t continue to cook and end up burning.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

A squeeze of lemon finishes everything off, drawing out the brightness of all of the ingredients.

Serve among two to three people for a light lunch or share among many (six) as a side. Nicole has some nice serving dishes that can help you with this step…!

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Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

I’ve been eating my weight in greens, thanks to this new community garden plot of mine. Some slightly poor planning has left me with little other than kale, collards, swiss chard and tatsoi. I’m waiting with patience for cucumbers and tomatoes, and am in the meantime throwing down a greens party nearly every night in the FoodFitnessFreshAir kitchen.

I really haven’t any serious complaints about it though.

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

I do have some little baby carrots and radishes growing, which make an appearance in this recipe. And some lettuce from a friendly neighbor. Both worked well to construct the bed of salad that’s placed beneath the real stars of this dish: salmon and collard green pesto.

Since crispy broiled salmon speaks for itself, let’s get straight to the pesto.

Currently, I have no basil in sight, aside from a few slow growing plants on my back porch. Likely you don’t either.

What there is an abundance of this time of year, however, is greens. And as mentioned above, thankfully I’ve got a ton with which to work. Regardless of whether you’re reaping the same harvest or not, I’d encourage you to give this a go. This time of year, I guarantee it’ll be cheaper, and just as tasty, as traditional basil pesto. And even a little healthier, too.

I tell you, collard greens make for one nutrient-packed pesto.

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

If you do have basil laying around, feel free to throw it in with the greens. You could also swap the collards for other greens, such as swiss chard or baby kale. Stay away from greens that are on the more bitter side or are more matured, which will reap a heavier flavor. These could have their place too in pesto, but not aside the delicacy of roasted salmon.

If you have any other green-loaded recipes, please share! I’m looking to freeze a bunch of this pesto for the winter, but would love to hear your ideas, too. Let me know how you’re using kale/collards this year!

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Vegetarian Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles

Hey there. It’s been awhile.

Since my last post, the sunset has shifted. The weather began following suit. And the official mark of spring stands just a handful of days away. (!!!)

I am feeling good about what’s to come.

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles

In these last weeks of winter that have been rolling on by, I’ve been working on my first photo assignment for a cookbook. The experience has been fun. Full of learning. And food. And photos and taste-testing and excitement…all of which have pushed my own blog a little to the wayside.

However, last week wrapped the final day of shooting, and so now I return. To my own cooking, and my own blog, and my own urges for warm-weathered recipes, even if they’ve arrived just a tad too early.

It’s still winter jacket weather here in Philly…hence why these zucchini noodles got a quick saute on the stove. I may be ready for spring, but I’m not quite ready for raw zucchini noodles. You can go that route if you choose. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Peanuts

Here, zucchini and/or summer squash replace the noodles in traditional Pad Thai for a lighter version full of bright, spring vibes. The quick cook-time they get in the skillet draws out their flavor, and softens them up just a bit before they get paired with crunchy red cabbage, and an array of other flavorful accompaniments.

That’s one thing in which this Pad Thai does not fall short – flavor. Feel free to add a little Sriracha to play up its spice, and use a combination of nuts, like peanuts and cashews, if you so choose. Tofu could be a nice addition as well.

Cheers to ringing in the new season with a bowl full of color – you with me?!

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Simple Veggie Lentil Soup

Simple Veggie Lentil Soup

Snow has been falling here all day. I’ve been looking at it out my window, admiring the slow, steady flakes as they blanket the ground.

Sometimes, I enjoy a day shut inside, cozying up behind my camera and simply letting the cool world around me do its thing from outside the glass. Just sometimes.

Most times, I’m dreaming of sun and palm trees and lakeside dives. But there is that seldom day, where the morning starts with a cup of hot coffee and a bright sky of snow reflecting back at me. The day where a mid-afternoon walk is followed by a lunchtime table of warm soup and bread that’s been toasted till butter can easily melt into all of its nooks. Sometimes snow can feel magical. Just sometimes.

Simple Veggie Lentil Soup

So here we go, yet another soup recipe to hit the blog. If you haven’t guessed by now, that is how me and my kitchen cope with winter. With a hot bowl of soup in our hands. And with the soft winter light casting down onto the finished product, staring back at us through a camera lens. It’s the little things that keep me excited, and that’s why I have yet to jump ship from the East Coast.

Simple Veggie Lentil Soup

There have been lots of little triumphs lately, here in cold Philadelphia. And I’m putting this beautiful soup onto the list. My new friend Jared helped me make it. It was his first attempt at soup-making. Simple and quick, it was a good recipe with which to begin.

Here, the veggies really take the spotlight, surpassing that of even the lentils. This is a lentil soup heavy on the mise en place. (I.e., the carrots, celery and onions. Tomatoes, too). Their flavors meld together with a boost of some dried herbs for light yet warming winter meal. Add some fresh scallions on top, and it almost feels like summer again. Just almost.

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Holiday Recipe Recommendations

Roasted Squash and Onion

I’ve been eating a lot of other people’s recipes lately. And it’s been great for inspiration.

If you ever feel stuck in your own cooking rut, go explore! Now more than ever, there is a vast world of cookbooks, food blogs, and restaurants out there for you.

Roasted Squash and Onion

One of my longstanding favorites is this one from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem. And by longstanding, I mean, as of last year when I was first introduced to this creamy Roasted Butternut, Red Onion and Tahini dish. It’s so simple to make, yet when it comes out of the oven and gets dressed with that 3-ingredient tahini sauce, it’s mind-blowing. I’ve been making it quite frequently since that first time last year.

Toasted Sesame Seeds

The original recipe calls for pine nuts, which are nearing the price of gold these days. You needn’t need them to make this recipe still taste like pure gold. A variety of toasted, nutty crunches would do. I went with sesame seeds to play off the tahini vibes of the dish.

Roasted Butternut and Onion with Tahini

If I were you, I’d put it on your next holiday meal’s to-make list. It’s easy, and memorable. Surprising, yet crowd-pleasing. And even healthy, too. Oven-roasted gold.

If you’re looking for something a little more sinful, or brunch-worthy, perhaps consider checking out this Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

If you do, I’d consider adding some walnuts (black walnuts, if you’ve got ’em) into the mix. Also, I like my cream cheese icing a little tangy, so I reduced the sugar, upped the cream cheese, and threw in a squeeze of lemon, too.

Aside from these lovely blogger and cookbook authors’ recipes, I’ve been relishing in the recipes of my two new fav. restaurants in Philly: High Street on Market, and also Good King Tavern. Both are adorably cute, and offer a solid menu from start to finish. The bread at High Street is some of the best I’ve ever had, and only helps enhance their well-crafted sandwiches. They make some rather memorable salads, too, if you’re looking for a light meal in between all of the holiday madness. Good King Tavern often has socca on the menu, which of course holds a sweet spot in my heart. Their Eggplant 3-Ways is also excellent, as is there bread pudding, when on the menu.

If you’re all over the place this holiday season like I’ve been, take a breather with someone else’s recipe. I can vouch that these won’t disappoint, and if you’re in Philly, would recommend a night out at one of the two spots mentioned above. Cheers!