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pizza

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

The best Saturdays are ones where you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and immediately start scheming lunch creations with your friend. (Foraging figs, going on a photo adventure, and scheming up breakfast, all follow close behind.)

This was the first full weekend I’ve been completely free in awhile. Two Philly mornings in a row with no set agenda. No photo gigs. No work engagements. No client meetings, camping trips, or out-of-town excursions.

While I love all of the above, it felt great. And it felt even greater once this socca landed on my Saturday plate.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

On Friday night, I saw Aziz Ansari do stand-up. His act was hilariously relatable, to say the least, ranging from riffs on the factory meat industry to creepy boys to relationship vs. single life status. He hit all the right topics, and made my abs hurt from laughing so much.

Although, there was one joke with which I just couldn’t agree. And it had to do with carrots.

Carrots

You see, Aziz claims, you walk into a house and someone’s cooking bacon, and often you’ll say, “Plate me up a few pieces!” Aziz is convinced bacon exudes a pheromone-like lust that veggies just don’t have. He says, walk into a house where someone’s steaming carrots, and you won’t find anyone screaming, “Pull me up a plate of those.”

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

But Aziz, I must tell you, you’re wrong. This carrot-loving [weirdo?] individual would far prefer carrots to bacon. And no, not for health reasons. For taste.

Carrots are hands-down my favorite, and since the mention on Friday night, my Saturday morning mind inserted them straight into that afternoon’s lunch plans.

Roasted carrots? One of fall’s best assets, if I have to say so myself. Perhaps steaming wouldn’t do the trick, but throw carrots on a baking sheet and into the oven, and I bet at least a few would be enticed by the caramelized smell they give off. Plate me up, please.

Black lentils

With the orange beauties in mind, my friend and I got to work on this fall-inspired socca pizza.

Here, carrots are roasted up, and then pureed into a slightly sweet, slightly spicy curry sauce that lends itself perfectly to a flavorful flatbread destination. Topped with salty feta, fresh cilantro and some crispy baked onions, this is a better-than-restaurant-quality meal, fit into a single cast iron pan.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You’ll find multiple steps below in making this recipe. Don’t get intimidated. Each is simple, and you can get going on many of the layers simultaneously. For instance, as the carrots roast, prep everything else.

Roasted carrots

Far better than bacon? A definite. Stemming from carrots? Heck yeah.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You tell me – what healthy fall ingredients are on your mind? Any featuring veggies that you know could out-do bacon in a heartbeat? Please share!

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Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Guys, serious news here. I think I’ve found my new food obsession. And it goes by the name of Socca.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

On Saturday, I made my first socca – a thin, pancake like crepe derived from chickpea flour. It was an instant hit (on my Instagram, too).

So on Sunday, I made my second one. I brought it to a cookout, and again, I went home with a clean plate.

Now that it’s Monday, I’ll eat my third meal of it, by the way of lunch. And by tomorrow, Tuesday, you can consider me socca-swooned.

I’m declaring right now — June is going to be a month of Socca. Get ready.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

Socca has a flatbread feel to it, with slight falafel-like undertones of flavor, hence the chickpea flour it comes from. However, like a pizza pie, it can take on whatever genre you desire. You choose the ingredient spread, and it will choose the feel of your socca.

For my first one, pictured here, I chose a hearty dose of pesto, paired with a whole bunch more greenery. Feed me this every day of June, and I would be a happy girl.

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Aside from its versatility and tender texture, what blows my mind is how incredibly easy it is to make socca. Forget yeast. Forget dough-rising. And, let’s all praise chickpeas for this, forget kneading. All you need for socca is a 30-minute wait time and a handy spatula. Oh, and ideally, a cast iron pan. (Given how beautiful cast iron can make anything look, I suggest you keep one of those on hand regardless.)

In this variation, you’ll find inspiration from light and fresh spring veggies, richened up with a layer of summer pesto. It’s a pizza-like app/meal that feels so classy and restaurant-worthy, yet entirely attainable in your own home. I recommend you put it on your to-make list. ASAP.

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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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Roasted Ratatouille Pizza

Pre-cheese phase

“Homemade” anything, and it’s usually 100 times better than its pre-packaged counterpart.  Except for pizza.  I almost always find homemade pizza to be subpar.  It’s comparable to the frozen version, which is almost never as good as your neighborhood delivery.  Or better yet, that brick oven joint whose pizza stone you dream of.  Nope, never had a homemade pizza that tasted like that.  Then again, maybe that just means I need to introduce some more dough boys into my life.

But I still enjoy making a homemade pizza from time to time.  They’re fun to make, and the possibility of combining whatever toppings one could desire always gets me excited.  When you have quality toppings, homemade pizza can actually turn out better than delivery.  Even when your crust skills are terrible and the store-bought one doesn’t pull through.  Take the previous pizza I made before this one, which included an avocado so ripe I was tempted to devour the whole pie in one night. (Wouldn’t want a good avocado to go wasted…that always merits a few too many “I shouldn’t eat anymore” bites, right?)

And then there’s this one— a ratatouille pizza filled with so many roasted garden veggies, there’s virtually no way it could be deficient in flavor.  In fact, this was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, and certainly one of the best I’ve ever made, even with the store-bought, whole wheat crust.  The roasted veggies create an all-in-one, caramelized topping/sauce combo. that is heaven in a slice.  Add some Daiya for an extra creamy pie, and don’t be shy on going heavy on the veggies.  I may not have the dough-stretching, pizza-tossing skills of a multi-generational pizza-making family, nor will I likely ever, but man do I have the top half covered.  More pizza please.
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Eggplant Arugula Pizza

Pizza is undoubtedly a classic American favorite.  Often even the smallest of towns have a mom and pop pizza joint, whipping up pies to feed the insatiable pizza appetites of locals.  There’s just something about the simple combination of lighty, airy dough, rich cheese, and fresh toppings that makes pizza a timeless treat.

While finding a slice typically isn’t too hard, making your own pie guarantees a great time.  After a little fun in the kitchen, a crowd-pleasing, homemade pizza, topped with any ingredient of your desire, can be in your hands in less than an hour.

The following recipe revamps pizza into an adult version, loaded with quality ingredients and a ton of flavor.  Starring a variety of fresh, flavorful ingredients, you won’t even notice that the crust holding these toppings is whole wheat.  For pizza crust connoisseurs, well, feel free to ditch the healthier crust and stick with you own favorite dough recipe.  Either way, get ready for the show full of taste rocking out on top.

Eggplant Arugula Pizza
-1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 – 1/3 inch slices
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 loosely packed cup arugula
– 1 cup asiago cheese, grated
– 1/4 cup fresh gorgonzola, crumbled
– 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing/drizzling
– 1 tsp. lemon juice
-1 16-ounce ball whole wheat pizza dough
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Place eggplant on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Brush both sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Place on top rack of oven, and broil 4-8 minutes on each side, until golden brown and tender.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a small saute pan.  Add garlic, and saute until golden.

Preheat oven 450F.  Spread rolled out pizza dough onto a lightly greased circular pizza pan.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle asiago cheese across entire crust.  Cover with baked eggplant and sliced tomato, overlapping the slices around the dough.  Sprinkle garlic on top.

Place pizza back in oven and bake 8 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss arugula with 2 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove pizza from oven.  Add arugula and crumbled gorgonzola.  Return to oven and bake another 3-5 minutes, until arugula just begins to wilt.  Serve.