Posts in entree
quinoa + white bean burgers with a ramp + chili pesto

I cannot believe that this is the first ramp recipe I am posting this season, since ramps have been on my plate at almost every single meal I've had at home over the past few weeks. Breakfast: side of crispy ramps, lunch: raw ramps in my salad, dinner: ramps any way I can think of. 

Ramps, all day every day. 

I'm hoping you have not been overwhelmed by onslaught of ramp recipes this year .... if you're anything like me, you'll never be sick of ramps. 

But this recipe is not just about the ramps. They're sharing the spotlight with this quinoa burger. If you've been following along here for a while, you know that I have done a few variations of a quinoa burger, shifting ingredients and preparations around each time. This might be my favorite one to date. 

The very first recipe I posted for a quinoa burger went internet famous on me. And by internet famous, I mean it has made it's way around Tumblr (not as exciting as being YouTube internet famous). To be honest, I don't even think it was the burger that was getting all of the love, I think it was the avocado spread.

Because let's face it, when it comes to a veggie-type burger, it is just as much about the sauce as it is the patty. 

And with that, the conversation gets turned back to ramps.

 

I've tried some pretty interesting and awesome ramp preparations this year. There is so much you can do with them. They're great raw, sauteed, pickled, or incorporated into a sauce, like this recipe here. 

Last night I watched my father-in-law chop a few up and mix them into some homemade guacamole (I'm pretty sure he thought it was green onion). It was so good. 

Ramps are a little more pungent and exciting than green onion, but the two can be interchanged in almost any recipe. So if you cannot find ramps where you are, or when their short season is over, then go ahead and sub green onion. 

Okay, back to the burgers. These burgers are super versatile. You can switch up, increase, or leave out pretty much any ingredient listed, including the egg, since I know some of you would prefer a vegan version. In the past, my quinoa burgers were made without egg, however the egg really helps to bind. If you prefer not to use the egg, by all means leave it out. Just be aware that they will be a little more delicate (they fall apart easier). 

You can go crazy with the toppings. For mine, I just added some arugula and some thinly sliced red onion but you can also add avocado, and any other veggie you can think of. If you want a gluten or bread-free option you can leave out the bun and serve it over a salad or in a lettuce wrap. 

The only non-negotiable part is the ramp pesto. You cannot leave out the ramp pesto, it really is the best part.

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falafel + herbed tzatziki

There are a lot of food trucks where I live. Not the really fancy cool ones, but the ones that serve your standard NYC hot dog, pretzel, or more recently, cupcakes. They're probably not technically food trucks, more like food carts. Yes, let's refer to them as food carts.

Food truck food, however, is the greatest. Food that came from a truck used to be a bit iffy, but not anymore. Food truck food is cool and delicious. Don't most food lovers dream of having a food truck one day? I do.

You know what my food truck would have? Lots of awesome tasting farm fresh vegetables. Edgy vegetable dishes like veggie empanadas and maybe even some crispy grilled veggies on a stick with an awesome sauce. And falafel. My food truck would definitely have some really delicious falafel. 

So now that I have my menu down ... I just need to name my food truck. I'm taking suggestions. 

 

Back to the food carts. A lot of the food carts by me serve falafel. I've never tried one of theirs, but if I had to guess it probably tastes pretty darn good. My problem is, who knows who made that falafel, where it has been sitting all day, and what kind of oil it was fried in. Thanks but no thanks. I'll make my own. 

Falafel is one of those things that can be so wonderful when it's done right, and so awful when it's not done right. The good kind of falafel is one that is not too fried, not to dry, crisp on the outside, made with fresh organic ingredients and loaded with lots of good spices.

That's the type of falafel I want to create in my kitchen. 

See, when I make falafel at home, I know what I am putting in and I know what it will turn out like. I know that I am making a healthier version because I know my ingredients are good, clean, and organic. How often do you see homemade, organic falafel advertised on the side of a food cart? Pretty much never. You know my food truck would .... in pink neon flashing lights. 

 

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whole roasted cauliflower + kale pesto

I feel like my recipes have been a bit of a celebration of vegetables recently …. and I like it that way.  

Part of my passion behind this blog is showing that vegetables can be the star, instead of just a side. This recipe is the perfect example, it take the cauliflower and makes it a big bright superstar. 

 

I mentioned a couple of recipes ago that I get a lot of inspiration from eating out, and our meal at the Fat Radish totally inspired this dish. We had a whole roasted cauliflower as an appetizer, and I just loved how they served it whole instead of chopped up into florets. It was so much more exciting. I thought with just a few added extras, this would make an impressive entree.

Michael and I shared this for lunch last week. I served it over some millet and tossed some currants on top. Each with fork in hand we tore into this cauliflower, and finished it in about 7 minutes. We both agreed, it was an awesome meal that was fun to share and full of flavor. 

I have something to admit. For someone who is obsessed with kale, I had been a bit skeptical of kale pesto. I thought, how can kale pesto taste good? Kale on it’s own is nothing special and it needs some love and a good bit of massaging to taste great. It does not have an exciting scent or taste like basil or mint, so how is it going to flavor a pesto? Well … after making one batch I now have a whole new level of respect for kale.  I’m not quite sure what it is, but kale pesto is crazzzy good.

 

I’m warning you now, you’ll probably be seeing a few more recipes with kale pesto in the coming weeks, but for now, if you've been skeptical like me and haven't tried it, well, you must. And then you must smear it on this roasted cauliflower and eat this for a meatless Monday or Tuesday ... or any day of the week. I'm certain you will be smitten. 

 

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baked sweet potatoes with mustard greens, leeks, white beans + a cilantro tahini

I've been getting asked a lot recently how I come up with new recipes and where I get ideas from. Well, first things first, I think about food. A lot. Constantly. Probably more than the average person (but probably not much more than you, if you're taking the time to read this blog about food). Constantly thinking about food is a necessary starting point, but there are many outside influences, some obvious and others not so much. 

I eat out a decent amount. It's hard not to living in NYC. I love to eat out just as much as I love to cook. It might be my biggest source of inspiration, and it's nice to have someone else do the cooking (and the dishes). Every new restaurant experience from the most casual to the most fancy has a way of getting the ideas flowing.  

Even just wandering around the streets, walking by a restaurant and checking out their menu in the window will get me inspired. This city loves food, and sure does it well. I'm constantly being bombarded with awesome ideas. 

It also helps that most of the people I know love food and love to talk about food, and if they have a good idea or a recipe or a restaurant to try they are always willing and excited to share it with me. These conversations are my favorite sources of inspiration.

Last week we had dinner with friends at the Fat Raddish in the lower east side (yum). I got a lot of inspiration that night, not only from the food from that restaurant but also from our friends. They're very into food, Andy is by far the most talented home cook I know, but they work late hours so home cooked meals on the week nights usually consist of something that can easily be throw together. Julie told me that she made stuffed baked sweet potatoes the other night, and it sounded so awesome ... I warned her I might be stealing her idea.

I couldn't stop thinking about baked potatoes. I love how easy it is to just throw one in the oven, but also how you can load it with all sort of healthy and delicious toppings. It quickly becomes an easy, tasty, complete meal. 

I'm sure you've heard the expression "eat the rainbow", and that's easy to do when you're starting with a bright orange potato. Greens were of course my next color of choice to add. You can use any green you like, but I really like the taste of mustard greens. They're hearty and have a bit of an edge to them. White beans round out the protein and add another element of color. Lastly, I wanted an awesome sauce to finish this off, and cilantro has a way of balancing everything out. 

I'll be making this many of the nights that I am not eating out. Thanks for the inspiration Julie. 

 

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braised lentils over grilled polenta

I know I've been harping on the weather a bit lately, but ... I'm optimistic this will be my last real wintry recipe. I am so ready for artichokes, spring peas, and ramps, but until it gets a little warmer outside I'm braising. Lentils. 

Braising is one of my favorite words in the culinary vocabulary. I love everything about it. I love what it stands for, I love to braise foods, and I love to eat braised foods. It's one of the laziest methods of cooking, and yet produces some of the most flavorful results.

When you hear the word braise, the first thing that might come to mind is meat. But not here, not today. Today we're braising lentils. Because braised lentils are delicious. They get the same amount of love and red wine that anything else that is braised would get. With a slightly healthier result. 

I was inspired to braise lentils after reading Melissa's Clark recipe for braised beans in dining section of the New York Times. It sounded like such a warm, hearty, good wintry dish, and when I made her braised beans and they definitely hit all of those notes. Then I tried a version with black lentils that were just as satisfying, and a little easier to prepare in a pinch since black lentils do not need to be soaked.

To make this a complete meal that would satisfy the gamut from vegans to carnivores, they needed a little something more. A dense pieces of grilled polenta to soak up all the delicious braising juices does the trick. Some kale or spinach as the base adds some bite and some green. I cannot think of a more satisfying and complete dinner for a chilly evening.  

 

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soba noodles + ginger tahini with crispy kale, shallots + romaine

Bayley, our sweet crazy mutt dog, turned three last week (that's 21 in dog years). His birthday is March 1st. He's adopted, which means we do not know what his exact birthday is, so we gave him a made up birthday when we got him.  I make sure to give him a few extra hugs on his birthday (he's a big time hugger, he loves getting hugs).

I am a bit of a crazy dog lady. I'm that person who has to stop every dog on the street just to give them a scratch and say hello. I love the dog culture and the conversations you have with other dog owners.

"This is Spot, don't mind him, he's a bit ant-social."
"Oh, Roofus loves to play, can he pay with your dog." 
"Jack gets really excited when he sees big dogs, he thinks he's bigger than he really is." 

It's amazing how much a dog's personality reflects their owner's. I like to think that Bayley got his happy and loving attitude from us. 

The other day I was walking him around our neighborhood and a random guy stopped us on the street and asked if he could pet Bayley. This guy spent a good couple of minutes scratching him, hugging him, telling him how beautiful he was. Bayley was eating it up. Then he told me he just lost his dog and that it felt good just to pet another dog. My heart sank, but I totally knew what he meant. It just feels good to get some love from a dog. 

I walked away with a giant smile on my face knowing that my dog made that random guy on the street so happy and brightened his day. 

Owning a dog is not 100% love 100% of the time. There are definitely moments when I think to myself, why on earth am I taking care of this pain the butt animal. When he jumps on my friends when they come over to our apartment, or when he whines to me during the day because he would rather be outside playing. There are many moments of frustration. 

But all of those moments added up do not even come close to negating the fact that animals bring so much happiness into a home. 

 

My all-time favorite thing that someone said to Bayley on one of our walks: "That dog sure does love life."

Yes ..... yes, he does. 

So for Bayley's birthday this year, he got hugs + I got a bowl of soba noodles with a ginger tahini dressing with lots of greens. Because I was more in the mood to celebrate with a bowl of soba noodles than a piece of cake.  

I could eat this every day of my life and be happy. There is something about the creaminess of the tahini that gets me excited. Since I stopped eating dairy, it's the healthiest way for me to get a creamy fix. 

It's no secret that I love a big bowl of noodles or a big bowl of greens, so combining the two is just double happiness for me. 

The great thing about this dish is you can add any type of green or vegetable that you like, it goes with just about anything. Collards, swiss chard, carrots, cucumbers + tomatoes when the summer comes back around. Same thing goes with pairing this dish. You can add soba and tahini to so many meals as a side dish, or you can just eat it alone for lunch. Yum.

I think I am going to make this every year for Bayley's birthday, and for many of the days in-between.  

 

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red beet gnocchi with a meyers lemon pesto // gf + vegan

Michael got me a food processor for Christmas. I asked for one. It was probably the last key piece of equipment I was missing from my kitchen.

It is kind of an embarrassing admission. A food processor should be one of the first additions, not the last, but I always seemed to get by without it. After using it once, I can totally see why they're so popular. This machine might change my life. 

As I was using my shiny new food processor for the first time I couldn't help but think about when I first started cooking a lot in college. I had nothing. No food processor, no vitamix, no mandolin ... I barley even had a sharp knife. I had one pot and no pans, which meant sauteing was done in a pot. YEP. Sometimes I'd even roast things in that darn pot. I always got it done. 

You know what .... it did not matter, because I loved to cook so much. 

 

This recipe is for my old college roommate, Kara, who willingly ate my home cooked meals back then ... the good ... the bad ... and the way too garlicky. Kara will never forget my love for pesto and she recently requested that I do a beet / pesto recipe for the blog. Thankfully I have a much better grip on the garlic proportions now (note: less is always more). 

Since I know she probably will not make this for herself, this is my way of coaxing her to visit me in NYC. 

Gnocchi is easier to make than you might think. The ingredient list is short, and it is pretty hard to mess it up. The most challenging part is to get that dreamy, pillow-like texture. I give some tips in the recipe to tackle that. For this particular recipe, I used a gluten-free flour blend and I did not taste the difference from when I made gnocchi with whole wheat flour. If you would like to use all-purpose or whole wheat flour, just switch out the brown rice flour (same/similar proportions). You can also use an egg or not use an egg. I find that the eggs helps bind so that you use a little less flour, but if you do not want to use the egg, the recipe will work fine without it. 

I just love the gorgeous color that the beets add to this dish. It would make for a great valentine's dinner for two, or this would also make a great meal for a friend who comes to town to visit (wink wink Kara). 

 

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crisp kale + brussels sprout tacos with avocado + a white bean "creama" // vegan

The other day I had lunch with my dear friend, Laura. We had tacos here. They were awesome. 

Our waitress insisted that we order a side of brussels sprouts with the tacos. I am never one to turn down brussles sprouts. The brussles sprouts were awesome. 

When I was eating the tacos, I wished that the brussels sprouts were in the tacos. So the next day I made myself some brussles sprout tacos. Brussels sprout tacos are AWESOME. 

The End. 

 

 

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pho noodle bowl with a spicy lemongrass broth


Big bowls of noodles make me happy. If I had to guess, I would say that you would agree. 

You know what else makes me happy? Easy recipes. I have a feeling that makes you happy too. 

Now that we have determined that we have two things in common, I have something I want to share with you. It's a easy recipe for a big, delicious bowl of noodles. Enjoy :)

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acorn squash stuffed with a warm farro and pine nut salad

Since moving to nyc, I have been fascinated with the unlimited amount of choices and variety in grocery stores farmers markets, speciality stores, and produce. I walk around this city like a kid in a candy store. Anything I can think of, I can find it here. It is wonderful, exciting, and at times can be overwhelming. 

Back where I lived in CT, there were not many choices. I had a Whole Foods down the street which was my go-to. There was also a small Italian speciality store that I enjoyed going to for fresh pasta and interesting produce. That was really it. I was always able to find what I needed. Comforting and predictable, but not very exciting.  

Now, I live a walking distance from the Union Square Greenmarket which is one of the great food experience of nyc. It runs 4 days a week, all year round. I try to make it there at least once a week, more if I can. I always end up with way more {ahem ... pastries} than I need. 

The following are some shots from my visit last week.  

 

While I was there I picked up a few acorn squashes, some lovely herbs, a couple of gorgeous golden apples, and a few vegan and gluten-free plums tarts + corn bread {which are not pictured because they were promptly devoured}.

I had some farro at home and was looking to stuff the squashes with a warm farro salad. It seemed like the perfect lunch for these brisk fall days that we've been having recently. 

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raw zucchini "pasta" with an avocado & pea pesto // raw, vegan

I probably wouldn’t describe myself as someone with a green thumb.  It’s not that I am not one with nature, or have no instincts when it comes to plants, it’s probably more because I approach growing things the same way I approach cooking. I prefer to go in blindly with little direction and see what works and what does not.

I planted my first garden this summer and it was very apparent that this approach probably does not work as well in the garden as it does in the kitchen.  Or maybe it does, depends on how you look at it. I did make a lot of mistakes, and I learned some key lessons from those mistakes, so maybe that will make my garden next year that much better? I sure do hope so.

Last summer I volunteered one day a week at The Stone Barns Center for Agriculture in their dooryard garden hoping to learn a little from the experts: the passionate farmers and gardeners who work there. I did learn to make a killer trellis from found objects, and I learned about all kinds of plants and vegetables that I had never heard of, but most of all I learned that I had a lot to learn. 

It was kind of overwhelming, especially for someone with very little knowledge of gardening.  So when it came time to build and plant my garden this summer, I decided that I was not going to try and learn everything. I was just going to plant some seeds, give it some love, and see what happened.

The result? An out of control amount of zucchini, cucumbers that are popping up in and around my grape tomatoes, and enough pumpkins to charge for hay rides and pumpkin picking in my backyard this October. As well as a bunch of lettuce that never surfaced, and carrots and scallions that I’m certain were eaten by some sneaky little creatures.

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