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Mediterranean

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

At the arrival of spring last week, sitting in a wooden basket in the corner of my kitchen, one lone butternut squash remained. A butternut from last year’s fall harvest and my days selling and slinging veggies at a weekly Saturday farmer’s market. Oh how time flies. And yet how sturdy and strong winter squash can stand through it all.

When I get all sorts of confused about life, which seems to happen a lot as a transient 20-something college grad, I remind myself to think like a butternut. Stay strong on the outside, but sweet and a little nutty on the inside, with the ability to open up and get all soft when the right times arrives. (That analogy is my nuttiness coming out…but I do quite adore and look up to the butternut.)

Red Quinoa

As time is flying, another growing season is upon us, and I am beyond psyched. Living in a city, I don’t yet have a garden of my own, but I do have some plans to get involved with some urban farms this summer, and of course, return home to help my parent’s kick butt in their own backyard plots. Heck yeah for spring. And please move a little faster! (It snowed here last night. I’m not the fighting kind of gal, but I sincerely wanted to punch the sky in the face.)

Until then, I feel fortunate to be savoring the last of the cold weathered season. With one golden squash remaining in my basket, I wanted to make sure it received some memorable treatment. As soon as I saw this pizza recipe from Dishing Up the Dirt, it was a no-brainer as to where that squash would be heading. The uniqueness of this dish had me hooked!

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

After making this pizza, I can 100% say that if you don’t already have a butternut laying around in your own home, it’s worth making the trip out to buy one. This was awesome! I honestly wish I could say I made up this recipe on my own because I just love how creative it is…I mean, quinoa-based crust made with a little love from the food processor?! How cool is that. (Props to you Andrea.)

Tahini Sauce

This obviously isn’t your traditional cheesy, red-sauced ‘za. But if you were craving that, you probably wouldn’t be eyeing this recipe anyway. The good news? It’s will make for an every-bit-as-satisfying pizza night, especially once you get that tahini sauce drizzling on top. This is the kind of healthy app I’d love to see at a restaurant. It feels light but rich all at the same time. If that makes any sense. Make this yourself, and you’ll get what I mean.

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

The pizza does take several steps to make, but all are incredibly easy to execute. A simple 3-ingredient quinoa crust presents a base for a naturally creamy sauce stemming from butternut squash – i.e., no dairy needed. It gives a very gentle sweetness that contrasts with the mildly tangy tahini dressing that goes on top. I’m always in favor of a saucy pizza. With this pizza, you get to have two. Their richness (though as I mentioned before, not in a heavy way) is cut by cilantro, and are then finished with a crunch via fresh chickpeas on top. A pizza that has everything going for it – health included. Heck yeah.

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Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

After dodging glaciers all week and layering up till I could’ve been mistaken for the Pillsbury doughboy, today I’m hitting you with another soup recipe. There were one too many icy bike rides taken to work this past week. All called for soup immediately upon return home. Here it is.

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

‘Tis the season for complaints about the weather, long movies, hibernation and honey. Maybe you should call me Pooh Bear rather than the Pillsbury Doughboy. I hear he likes raw honey in his Earl Grey tea, too.

‘Tis also, of course, the season for soup, and always the season for tahini. Naturally, the two form a partnership in this warming bowl, inspired by a glimpse at Smitten Kitchen. Cue the wedding bells and tears of joy, please.

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

This is hands-down one of my favorite soups I’ve had yet this season. It’s creamy and sweet from the carrots, and hit with a contrasting tang from a little Greek yogurt and squeeze of lemon. Then it’s topped with a satisfying drizzle of tahini and roasted chickpeas to add in some texture. Seriously ? it has everything going for it.

By the end of his bowl, I caught my friend clanging around his soup spoon as if it were a percussion instrument. Picture a more obnoxious version of a triangle. This soup is that good. It brings music to the ears – good or bad. And is worth every last minute of poorly played instrumentation you might have to endure.

Enjoy!

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Swiss Chard and Black Bean Fritters

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Fritters

Random mornings off from work are my favorite. The streets are quiet. The sunlight is spilling itself through the windows. The music is whatever I want it to be, and however loud I choose. And the kitchen is mine for the taking.

Talk about a me-centric morning. But sometimes those are very much in need.

I shot a wedding on Friday, which allowed me to take the start of the day at my leisure. Rather than logging all those hours in front of the computer, I decided instead to spend some serious “me” time in the kitchen. Rarely a bad choice. Especially when you’re working hard, and a long day awaits.

Swiss Chard

A meal filled with greens and protein is never a bad idea before (or after one) one of those days. I particularly love how much swiss chard fits into this recipe. That rainbow stemmed green is a warrior, I tell you.

Putting up a fight against the first few frosts, swiss chard still seems to be holding its own in the gardens around here. It’s one of my favorites to view, so naturally filled with beauty and color. The day it leaves the garden will be a sad one for me.

Luckily, it’s still going strong, ready to lend its nourishment in recipes like this. These fritters are crispy on the outside, yet incredibly moist inside, and filled with all the energy you need to take on the day. Pair with a dollop of yogurt, or maybe even a ketchup/hot sauce combo if serving for breakfast.

Swiss Chard and Bean Fritters

 

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Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

When I get eggplant, it heads straight to the oven. Forget stir-fry. Forget sautés. Forget the grill. Forget anything else you’d ever do with the purple beauts.

Like wine is made for sharing, eggplant’s made for roasting.

This applies 95% of the time in my kitchen. Nothing beats a soft and caramelized, creamy bite of eggplant. And nothing’s worse than an undercooked bite, either.  This happens all too often in stir fry, often with restaurants that don’t know what they’re doing.  Stick with baking and give yourself ample time, and you’ll be golden. Your eggplant too.

Heirloom eggplant

Baba ganoush is a classic, Middle Eastern dip. It’s similar to hummus, but swaps the chickpeas for roasted eggplant. It’s creamy, cumin-y, and the perfect smearer for a slightly toasted pita. Try it out while you can because the summer season’s quickly coming to an end, and along with it, farm-to-table eggplant.

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Mediterranean Garlicky Eggplant

Mediterranean Eggplant

When eating Italian, I feel like I’m often on an Easter egg hunt. Like my little nieces and nephews this past weekend, I am on a search. Only this search is for the garlic. And when my fork and spoon come across a clove, rejoice, my taste buds do. I am one who can never get enough garlic. Hence the 20+ cloves that went into this eggplant dish.

There are instances where, yes, I admit, you can go overboard on garlic. But with eggplant, I find that rarely rings true. Like it does with oil, eggplant is a sponge for flavor. The sweetness of sautéed or roasted garlic is often what I bring out to get soaked up.

Here, the eggplant and garlic is paired with a bite of arugula and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a flavorful dish that holds up well to whole grains or pasta. Enjoy with others if you don’t want your flavorful perfume to go noticed.

Eggplant and Garlic

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