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pine nuts

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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Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Does soup get any more gorgeous than this? I knew immediately after seeing this on Dishing Up the Dirt that I needed to whip up this vibrant creation for my own spoon and bowl.

Beets always yield such beauty.

Beets

Beets really do lend themselves well to easily dazzling up a dinner. Here are a few past favorites that deck out the kitchen table in red: Pickled Beets, Smoky Black Bean and Beet Burgers with Herb Yogurt Sauce, Purple Summer Tabbouleh.

I’m adding this soup to the list.

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Beyond feeling decadent from pure looks alone, this soup has a nice earthy flavor that gets complimented by some rather stellar toppings. First, there’s the tahini. You can almost always count me in for tahini-topped anything, and it’s creamy combination with beets is no different. This particular sauce adds a slight lemony-tang to the sweet beets, and is absolutely perfect with the specks of parsley you’ll catch on most bites. Feel free to omit the allspice from the sauce – it’ll add subtle, but not mandatory, notes of flavor.

Beets

Then, there’s the za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern herb and spice blend that is speckled with sesame seeds. Toasted in a pan with pine nuts, it takes on this woodsy flavor that’s hard to describe as anything but unique. Here, it adds an easy punch of flavor that allows this soup to remain simple to make, and to rely on the freshness of its garden ingredients.

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

But enough words already. Likely, if you’re going to make this soup, it was its visual representation that snagged your eye. Bring its beauty to your own bowl, might I suggest alongside a crusty, toasty slice of bread.

Beets

P.S. Stop by Andrea’s blog, Dishing Up the Dirt, if you get the chance. It’s a winner.

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Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

My first contribution to Greatist went up this week, and it’s a real spring treat. Sure, asparagus may still feel like a novelty at this early point in the season, but it won’t be long until plain ol’ roasted spears begin to lose their excitement. When that point hits, Asparagus Pesto is here to save the day (and save you from wasting any of this vibrant green veggie)!

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced SandwichAsparagus has a robust two month growing period, within which new spears can shoot up to 6-10 inches tall in just one day. I.e., if you have a garden equipped with asparagus, there will be tons of it. If you don’t, the farmer’s market won’t be running out anytime soon.

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

To keep things fresh, have options like this creamy vegan sandwich spread on hand. The slightly sweet, earthy spread goes perfect with peppery radishes and a hearty, crusty bread. Feel free to throw an egg on top, if that’s your style.

Asparagus

Head on over to Greatist for the recipe!

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca and tahini have pretty much been my main obsessions for the past year. Although, my love affair with tahini really extends much further back than that. If you’re not on the sesame tahini train, I advise you to get on it. (Come aboard the Soom train, and you’ll get an extra smooth ride.)

Socca still feels new to me though, with what seems like a never-ending number of ways I could imagine it being used. In fact, that’s what I love about both tahini and socca – they can be reinvented in so many different ways, including this latest creation where the two team up together.

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Swiss chard is of course yet another lovely ingredient. Add it to anything, and what will result is the magical appearance of something beautiful. Those colors…pretty much the embodiment of spring at its best.

It’s as vibrant as the weeping cherry tree and pink tulip filled gardens, and as tasty as the greens that are beginning to show up in them. Magic.

Swiss Chard Stalks

Here, swiss chard gets a simple saute to create a light and healthy, seasonal topping for the tender socca that’s placed beneath. A tangy yogurt-tahini sauce richens it up, and creates a meal you’ll want to make again. And again. And again. Until your tahini jar runs out, and you move onto a new socca creation.

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Cut into quarters and serve as a meal for two, or divide into smaller pieces for a fun pre-dinner or party app. Note, you will want to serve this up with a fork. You’ll find the socca dough to be rather tender in comparison to pizza or other similarly-styled dishes. It’s more than worth the fork though, and even slightly messy hands if need be!

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Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Spring has arrived in Philadelphia. Finally.

As I sit writing this post, the window to my left sits open, allowing a cool, but not too cool, breeze to flow in.

I could end my post here.

Spring is here, and that’s really all that needs to be said, right?

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

With these first few 70-degree days, I’m already feeling revived. My impulses to cook are breaking out of their winter hibernation and are quickly kicking back in. And my excitement for my new community garden plot is building by the minute.

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Hopefully, this garden will yield lots of fresh veggies this summer, which will then propel lots of seasonal, healthy recipes for you on this blog. A garden is my ideal summer project. If such a project could make any money, and didn’t attempt to kill me while doing so, I’d already have quit my day job by now. I could spend every waking second outdoors and not get bored.

In fact, I did that for a few summers. My body wasn’t entirely quite as thrilled with me as my mind. But both still long for those days.

Perhaps one day, my camera will reunite me with farm life. Dream.

Italian Roasted Eggplant TabboulehThis easy tabbouleh (pilaf? casserole? whatever you want to call it?) is also kind of dreamy. Filled with creamy roasted eggplant and topped with not-to-be-taken-for-granted pine nuts, this is my attempt to swap pasta for whole grains and create a dish that’s equally as delicious. It worked.

Add some cheese on top, and you’ll create an even richer lunch and/or dinner for yourself. And once summer tomatoes arrive, definitely throw a few slices of those on top, too.

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

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