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Grace Dickinson

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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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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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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Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

When it rains, it pours.

There was a time a couple years ago when my car got towed while I was away, traveling for a month. An entire month in a Philly tow truck lot costs the equivalent to an entire month of a lot of people’s salaries. It was an unfortunate way to return home from a trip. To further this unfortunate nonsense, my wallet got stolen the week that followed. And in the days that followed that, I got hit by a car (luckily without much injury). To end out that week, I was laid off from a steady freelance gig, because times were apparently tough for everyone that year.

It was a month of rain – the kind where lighting seems to strike down without warning, and the power goes out, and you’re left in silence wondering what to learn from the entire situation as you wait for the lights to turn on again. (Part of what I learned is that tears don’t work on Philly tow truck guys, ever. Ever. Sometimes money situations aren’t fun, but they aren’t usually worth that whole breath-stealing mountain of your stress. And sometimes it just pours in life, and if you don’t learn to move on, you’ll become a miserable human being. Like I imagine the tow truck people are.)

Fast forward two years later, and again, it appears to be pouring. However, this time it’s that good kind of storm, where the sun’s somehow peaking out while the drops are still falling, and you’re looking at the sky in pure awe. Waves of rain. That is life, at least from my own experience.

Kale

It feels like everything I’ve been working at for awhile now is starting to all pick up steam. All at the exact same time, spearheading in one single month. I’ve had my soup spoon in a million different pots these past few years, so a lot is going on right now. Crazy.

It’s a weird, terrifying, exciting, overwhelming[ly satisfying] feeling that often leaves me in this bright-eyed, slightly wiped area. My time these days is running short, which is where food and cooking comes in.

I’m a firm believer in finding balance and space to connect with those you love – and what better way than through food? Ideally, that’s in the kitchen, over shared conversation and creativity, if you have any creative steam remaining.

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

This was one of those Sunday soups, dreamed up on a rainy (speaking literally here) afternoon with one of my good friends. She brought some tiny thai chilies from her parents’ garden, which inspired the hot sesame chili oil that gets drizzled on top. Collaboration – it’s the start of all good things.

Full of hearty-healthiness, this soup is perfect for when you need brain power and stamina, and just something that tastes downright awesome in your bowl. It’s nourishing, packed with kale, butternut, and seaweed, and warming for the winter. Feel free to adjust how many chilies you use in the sesame oil, depending on your desire for spice and warmth!

P.S. FoodFitnessFreshAir is coming alive tomorrow night! For all my Philly friends, I’ll be running the food truck inside Garage bar, serving up socca with tons of fancy sauces, and simple, quality toppings. 6p.m. till sold out! Introduce yourself. Come say hello. Join me.

On tap:
-Beet Pesto with Arugula & Bulgarian Feta
-Curry Coconut Lentils with Roasted Carrots & Spicy Thai Chili
-Fire-Roasted Eggplant with Black Tahina, Honey Labane, Crispy Chickpeas, and Pomegranate Sauce

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