minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

minty pea pesto pasto + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

When I was growing up, my mom would often take on multiple jobs in order to send my brother and myself to good schools, and eventually to college … and somehow, at the end of every day, she would still manage to throw together a home cooked meal that we would all sit down to dinner at the table and enjoy together. My mom was the best cook I knew (aren’t all our moms) with a big love for vegetables, and would churn out things like escarole and beans, lentil soup, stuffed artichokes …. you know, some of my favorites still to this day.

Although in some ways that sounds idyllic, it wasn’t necessarily. Having a working mother definitely came with some prices and hardships. There were times when I wished my mom would be around more, or when she was around, that she wasn't stressed or worried about work. There were also many times I took those home cooked meals for granted. When you’re young, you just don’t know any better. I never realized how important those things would be in shaping who I am today, until I became a working adult myself. Witnessing my mom’s incredible work ethic, and tenacity to create the best life for her children, taught me so much about the kind of person I strive to be today.

I am forever grateful for the education my mom provided for me, for being able to send me to a university to study art and photography. For putting our schooling over everything else.  But most of all, for instilling in me a love for food, a passion for home cooked meals, and for gathering friends and family around a table.

I was thrilled when SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix asked me to participate in their campaign which is all about gratitude, because I think it is good to be reminded and be able to reflect upon the people and things that have shaped us into who we are now. The things we are most grateful for in our lives, whatever or whoever that may be. To kick off this campaign, they're sharing this video with LA chef Nick Liberato and his surprise story of gratitude for his former boss (you can watch this wonderful story and video below). 

 

Food really is #theotherlovelanguage and is the best way to show gratitude, so to show my gratitude to my mom, as well as to the first days of spring, I am sharing this minty pea pesto pasta with roasted cauliflower. The perfect kind of meal to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring, and also because pesto and pasta were favorites in our house growing up. 

This post was sponsored by SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix . All views are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL. 

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

SERVES
4

INGREDIENTS

For the cauliflower:
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and then thinly sliced
olive oil
salt + pepper

For the minty pea pesto:
1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
5 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
the squeeze of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta:
10-12oz of short pasta (fusilli, penne, cavatelli) – if making this gluten free, I love the Jovial brand brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon of sea salt (for the pasta water)

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 400º. Place the cauliflower onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.

Meanwhile, make the pea pesto. Place all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil in to the Vitamix or high powered blender. Pulse a few times, and then add in the olive oil in a slow stream while the blender is running. Do this until you have your desired consistency. I like to keep the pesto on the chunky side.

Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to it’s instructions. Strain.

Assemble the dish. In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, and then add all of the pesto on top and stir to incorporate. Add the cauliflower on top, and any other toppings you like and then serve.

 

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies ... from The First Mess cookbook!

first-mess-brownies-WCGL-01.jpg

I'll never forget the first time I stumbled onto Laura's (The First Mess) blog. I don't quiet remember how I got there, but I do remember spending pretty much that entire afternoon reading through every single post and drooling over every single recipe. I not only fell in love with Laura's charming "real" writing, I also fell in love with her style of cooking. Fresh, healthy, super creative, but (the best part) is that her recipes are really really approachable. It is exactly my kind of cooking. I felt like we were kindred food spirits. 

When Laura first announced that she would be writing a cookbook, I thought two things. There is no doubt this book is going to rock, and it cannot get into my kitchen fast enough. Well ..... it's finally here and it is everything I thought it would be. Beautiful photos, wonderful writing, thoughtful and easy to follow recipes.  There are also lots of tips and tricks (like her recipe to make almond milk when you forgot to soak your almonds) with each page turn, I kept saying to myself .... DANG, this is so smart! Laura also has a wonderful way of making plant-based meals that that would please the masses, beyond the usual plant-based coverts. You know, those people who might need a little convincing that plants and veggies can be indulgent, delicious, comforting, but healthy at the same, she's got that covered.  

As I read through each recipe and headnote, I had already bookmarked about 20 recipes before I even got close to the dessert section, but when I did arrive there and onto to these brownies, that's where I stopped.  I have been looking for a solid gf+df brownie recipe that isn't dry, or doesn't use a lot of unnecessary ingredients. When I read Laura's description in the headnotes, and read about how it was her crowning dessert achievement, I was sold. These would be the first thing I would be making from this book. This recipe is a winner, and it's gotten me even more excited to cook my way through this gorgeous book. Congrats Laura, you are a rockstar, and this book is such a plant-based gem. 

Friends, go out and buy this book!!! -----> HERE

This recipe is reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking
fudgy nut + seed butter brownies from the first mess cookbook | what's cooking good looking

fudgy nut + seed butter brownies ...from the first mess cookbook! 

As mentioned, this recipe is from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright. The only thing that I changed from Laura's recipe was that I used one pot (and skipped using a double broiler), in order to melt the chocolate and blend with the other ingredients. The only reason being I was hoping to have one or two less pans to wash (since I've been doing a lot of dishes recently). It came out perfect, and I hope Laura would approve! Enjoy! 

MAKES
9-ish brownies

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup of smooth nut or seed butter (almond, hazelnut, sunflower, or peanut butter) 
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
3/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup ( 1 bar) of 70% dark (dairy-free) chocolate, broken up into chunks
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of nuts or seeds (I used a mixture of almonds, and added some coconut flakes)

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8" square baking pan with parchment, leaving some hanging over the edges. 
  • Place a medium saucepan over very low heat and add the nut butter, maple syrup, apple sauce, and vanilla and stir until the nut butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Then add the chocolate chunks and cocoa powder and stir continuously until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the nuts, seeds, and toppings that you like on top. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until the brownies are firm, and lightly cracked on top. Cool the brownies completely in the pan, and then transfer them to a wire rack by gently lifting the sides of the parchment paper to release. Cover and place the brownies in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This is crucial in order for the brownies to set, and hold together while cutting. Laura recommends running a chef's knife until hot water and drying it off before slicing into the brownies. 

olive oil baked chickpeas + egg + spinach with sumac

olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking

Even though I am someone who loves to cook and spend hours and hours in the kitchen, recently I have been working on ways to simplify this area of my life. I have been challenging myself to use less pots and pans, less ingredients, and take less trip to the grocery store. I want to encourage myself to eat most of my meals at home (and not be tempted by takeout) by simplifying my day to day habits revolving food.

Since we are in deep winter, I loath trips to the grocery store where I have to lug back bags of veggies in whipping winds and freezing cold temps. So this winter I have been dedicated to using every single vegetable in my kitchen before making another trip to buy more. Even if that means I am down to only 1 onion, a couple pieces of kale and a half eaten banana. I will find a way to make it work.

I have to admit, I am often guilty of buying more than I need, and restocking before I need to, which means sometimes veggies and other things get thrown away. I hate wasting food, the guilt weighs heavy on me even if I am just throwing away a half-used bunch of wilted parsley. Because of this, I knew that it would be easy for to stick to using up what I have. The best part about this is that it has forced me to get even more creative in the kitchen, and I am loving the challenge of coming up with ways to use ingredients in new ways.

That was kind of how this simple, but extremely satisfying dish came to be. I always have both dried and canned chickpeas on hand, my favorite of the pulses. Pulses are delicious, sustainable, protein packed powerhouses that are ideal for stocking the pantry. I have been known to dump a can of chickpeas into a baking dish with olive oil and herbs and make that my dinner. Chickpeas and olive oil are definitely a winning pair …. so, one morning when I was craving those savory olive oil chickpeas, I decided to add those to a baking dish along with the last of my spinach. I cracked in a couple of eggs to make it more of a hearty breakfast meal, and sprinkled a little sumac (my favorite spice in my pantry) on top, and out came a breakfast that was destined to be a new favorite of mine.  This dish, with just a couple of basic ingredients, ones that can easily be interchanged based on what you have on hand, packs so much flavor …. and, if you happen make a little extra, the leftovers are even better the next day.

This post is by sponsored by USA Pulses + Pulse Canada. VisitPulsePledge.com for more recipes and information. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what’s cooking good looking.

olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking
olive oil baked chickpea + egg + spinach with sumac | what's cooking good looking

OLIVE OIL BAKED EGGS WITH CHICKPEAS + SPINACH + SUMAC

You can easily double this recipe by doubling the ingredients and cook it in a larger cast iron pan. Sumac is not necessarily easy to find, you usually have to seek it out in a specialty store or online. If you do not own it already, I will encourage you to find some (maybe on amazon) and add it to your spice rack. Otherwise, feel free to use any other spice that you like. Coriander or cumin would also work well in this dish. 

SERVES
2

INGREDIETNS

14-15oz of canned chickpeas rinsed (or about 1 cup of cooked chickpeas, if using dried)
a handful of spinach, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon of sumac (optional)
½ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
black pepper
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs

optional toppings: some additional sumac, sliced scallions, sliced avocado, a spoonful of harissa or pesto or another sauce if you choice

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.
  • Place the chickpeas and spinach into a small baking dish, add the sumac (if using), paprika, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, and carefully crack the two eggs over the chickpeas and return to the oven. Bake for another 5-8 minutes. I like to check it at 5 minutes, and if they eggs are too jiggly and not cooked, return for another 2-3. You want the whites to be cooked, but the yolk to be a little runny. Serve right away, and top with any additional toppings you like. 

split pea + white bean chili

split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking

I am so excited to be back in this space, giving it some love after a little break to work on a super fun project that I will be sharing all the details on next week.

Because my workload has been full-force, I’ve being hygee-ing hard these past couple of deep winter weeks …..  if you’re not yet hip on hygee, it’s a Danish word that is used to describe all things cozy and comforting. A couple of months ago, when Michael and I went to Copenhagen, we decided to take a day trip to a quaint, lovely Danish city, Arhaus, a little over two hours from Copenhagen to visit my dear food friend, Sif. When we were there, Sif was so kind to give Michael and I a book that she loved and said was a great representation of Danish culture, and how they get through the very dark and cold winters, with a cheerful dispositions and big smiles on their faces. On the train ride back to Copenhagen, Michael and I thumbed through our gift, The Little Book of Hygee, and being the big-time homebodies that we are, we loved how this Danish word perfectly summed up living your best homebound winter life. It’s all about embracing those little comforts of home, the fireplace, the cozy blankets, the big mugs of warm tea, and the comfy stretchy pants.

Of course, for us especially, a big part about winter hygee is making food at home. Big bowls of simple, warming, delicious, comfort food. We also like to do this while taking minimal trips to the grocery store, which means keeping the pantry well-stocked with nutritious pulses such as lentils and beans. Recently I picked up some split peas to add to the pantry, and I was so excited to use them and make something beyond the typical split pea soup with ham. Split peas actually have a really wonderful texture similar to lentils when cooked, so I wanted to make something that emphasized that, instead of puréeing them like so many recipes do.

I have made chili with lentils before, I have also made it with white beans, but spilt peas I knew were going to be a refreshing way to make an easy, comforting bowl of this spicy goodness. Plus, why do darker beans get to have all the fun when it comes to chili? One of my favorite things about this chili is the contrast in texture between the spilt pea and the white bean, and with a little bit of spice and kick, it is the best kind of food to make when you are in full-on hygee mode.  

 

*This post is sponsed by sponsored by USA Pulses + Pulse Canada. Visit PulsePledge.com for more recipes and information. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what’s cooking good looking!

split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking
split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking
split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking
split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking
split pea + white bean chili | what's cooking good looking

SPLIT PEA + WHITE BEAN CHILI

SERVES
4

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 poblanos, de-seeded and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
14.5oz can of organic canned cannellini beans, drained
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
½ teaspoon of chili powder
¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of dried green split peas
4 cups of vegetable, chicken, or bone broth
sea salt

for the cilantro yogurt (optional):
1 cup of plain greek yogurt (cashew or almond milk yogurt if you prefer)
2 green onions, white parts minced (green parts reserved as a garnish for the soup)
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of lime juice (or lemon)
a handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped

additional toppings: sliced avocado and the reserved green scallions

 

METHOD

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat and add the onions, and poblanos. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the poblanos are soft. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the cannellini beans, coriander, cumin, and cook while stirring for about 1 minute. Then add the spilt peas, vegetable broth. Give it a good stir, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook partially covered for about 30-40 minutes. The chili should start to reduce and thicken, and the spilt peas will become tender. Taste and add salt if needed (this will depend on how salty your broth is, and it might not be necessary).

While the chili is cooking, make the cilantro yogurt by stirring together all the ingredients for the yogurt in a small bowl. 

Divide the chili amongst bowls and add a spoonful of the cilantro yogurt and any other toppings you like. 

salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce

salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking

If you've come over to my place for dinner in the past few months, it is likely that I've made this for you. It's been one of my favorite recipes for both small and large dinner parties, mainly because this is something you can make for eight people as easily as you can for one. But also because it has a fancy feel to it with out of control flavors. Actually, I will let you in on a little secret. What I really do is make this for myself, and make a double batch of the caraway paste (which is the base of the sauce) while in my comfy pants binge watching netflix. Then, when I make this for a dinner party, it's that much easier to throw it all together. 

I stumbled on this recipe several months ago when I had an unusual craving for salmon + spicy tomato sauce ..... so, of course, I did what you do when a specific craving comes on ...... I googled salmon and spicy tomato sauce. I came across a recipe on bon appétite that was exactly what I was looking for. After carefully reading through the instructions, I noticed that it was an Ottolenghi recipe. Of course it is. That is why it looked so flavorful and so delicious. I have so many internet recipes bookmarked, some I come back to more than once, but there are very few that I revisit over and over. This is one of those recipes. 

The thing that is great about this dish, is that this spicy tomato sauce can be paired with ANYthing. If you don't like salmon, or it's not in season, you can use a white fish. If you are a vegetarian, you can make this with cauliflower or broccoli. I cannot think of a fish/veg/meat that this would not go well with. You can make the caraway/garlic flavor bomb paste in advance, or, do what I do and make a double batch each time you make this, store it in the fridge, and then you can quickly throw this together in under 30 minutes. One more bonus is that this uses tomato paste, and only tomato paste to make the tomato sauce. I was kind of skeptical, since I do not really understand or love tomato paste. Mostly because when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of it, I put the rest in the fridge and find it months later, way in the back, moldy, and into the trash it goes. I bet that you've throw out a jar or two of half-used tomato paste too. This is a recipe that you can make to use up that half-filled jar of tomato paste, or if you're opening a new jar to make this, I bet it won't be long before you make this again and use up the rest. 

salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce | what's cooking good looking

salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce 

This recipe is adapted from THIS recipe on Bon Appétit by Ottolenghi. If you do not like salmon, or it is not available, you can use a white fish. A thicker version would be best, such as halibut. If you are a vegetarian, you can switch out the fish for cauliflower or broccoli. The method for cooking the vegetable would be pretty much the same as described here for the fish. Lastly, you can make the caraway/garlic paste in advance, and store it in the fridge until you're ready to use. 

SERVES
2-4

INGREDIENTS

for the caraway / garlic paste:
1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
about 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

2-4 8oz pieces of wild salmon
sea salt + pepper
about 3 tablespoons of sunflower (high-heat, neutral) oil


2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of filtered water
a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sugar

optional toppings: a couple of minced scallions, a handful of chopped cilantro, a handful of microgreens

NOTES on serving: I always serve this with quinoa or rice on the side, since it asborbs the sauce nicely. 

METHOD

First, make the caraway / garlic paste:

  • Toast the caraway seeds for a couple of minutes on low heat in a dry frying pan. Grind the seeds using a mortal and pestle or a spice grinder, until FINELY ground (if using a mortal and pestle, this takes a bit of elbow grease).  
  • Add the ground caraway to a food processor,  along with the garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon, and pulse a few times until combined. Add in the sunflower oil and run continuously until a thick paste has formed. Set aside until you're ready to use. You can make this paste ahead of time and keep it in the fridge in an air-tight container for at least a week (maybe two). 

Sear the salmon:

  • Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large cast iron over medium high heat (the pan should be hot enough so that the salmon sizzles when it hits the pan).  Add the salmon, skin side up, and cook for two minutes, flip, and then cook for about three minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate while you cook the tomato sauce. 

Make the sauce, and finish cooking the salmon:

  • Using the same pan and oil you just cooked the salmon in, add another tablespoon of the oil and lower the heat to medium low. Add the caraway garlic paste and cook for about two minutes, while stirring, until fragrant. 
  • Add the tomato paste and water and stir until everything is combined. Add the salt, lemon juice, and sugar, and stir again. Lastly, add the salmon back to the pan. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes (for medium rare) or 8 minutes (for medium well). Serve immediately with any of the suggested toppings.