Ugh, I swear this is how French women stay skinny. I crave vegetables in France. There’s just something simple and indulgent about how they’re cooked and presented, and my very favorites are haricots verts, or French green beans. They’re basically American green beans, but super skinny (very French). This is a super simple, incredible tasty side that I could have with almost every meal I make. Enjoy.
FRENCH GREEN BEANS WITH TOASTED ALMONDS (serves 3-4 as a side)
1 Lb. haricots verts (you can usually find these in grocery stores like Whole Foods, Wegman’s or Central Market, they’ll be labeled “French green beans.”)
2 Tbsp. walnut oil
Heavy pinch fleur de sel
Fresh-cracke black pepper
1/4 c. blanched and slivered almonds (you can find these in a bag in the grocery store, you don’t have to do this yourself).
Heat walnut oil in a nonstick skillet over a little more than medium heat.
Add green beans and a heavy pinch fleur de sel. Stir and cook for about three minutes.
Cover most of the pan with a lid and cook for 6 more minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium, then add walnuts and toast, shaking the pan frequently and watching closely so the almonds don’t burn. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat when golden brown.
Add salt and pepper to haricots verts to taste, then top with toasted almonds. Serve and enjoy. J’adore les haricots verts!
Annnnd, I’m back. What a year. For everything we’ve all been through in 2017, I’m really hopeful for everything ahead in 2018. As Nina Simone would say, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and I’m feeling good.
This hearty winter salad helps. Freekeh serves as the base and is loaded with protein and fiber. Roast up some veggies (including a sweet potato), toast some almond slices, whip up a quick lemon-maple vinaigrette and toss it all together. This is awesome and filling on its own, but Brendan has eaten it for breakfast, warmed quickly and topped with a fried egg. And it’s good for you!! Anyone else need a detox after the holidays? Hell, anyone need a detox after the dumpster fire of 2017? Start here.
ROASTED VEGETABLE WINTER SALAD (serves 4)
1 cup freekeh, pre-cooked
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 cups cauliflower, broken into florets (I had purple cauliflower on hand, which was so pretty in this, but any color will work)
1/4 c. almond slices
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 cup EVOO
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400.
In a small pot, bring one cup of freekeh (no need to rinse this, like you do with quinoa) and 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Cover and simmer about 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Toss brussels sprouts, sweet potato and cauliflower with a glug or two of EVOO and some kosher salt & fresh-cracked black pepper. Roast at 400 for about 25 minutes or until browned and tender.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice with the salt and pepper. Next, add the maple syrup and then whisk in the EVOO. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the almonds, flipping often, until golden brown – about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on these – they’ll go from perfect to perfectly burned in a span of about 30 seconds.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked freekeh, the roasted vegetables, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and the dressing. Mix everything together.
What’s better than grilled asparagus? Grilled asparagus, wrapped in bacon. These were so simple to make and completely delicious, and totally worth the little bit of a smoky kitchen. Throw open those windows and get ready to make this fantastic side!
BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS (serves 4)
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
4 pieces bacon
1 tsp EVOO
Pinch of Kosher salt
1.Preheat the oven to 400.
2.Trim the asparagus – you can either just snap off the ends or cut them. Wash and dry well.
3.Divide the stalks into four even bundles.
4.Wrap one piece of bacon around each bundle, making sure not to overlap the bacon as much as possible. This is key to getting the bacon to cook at pretty much the same rate the asparagus does.
5.Place each assembled bundle on a cooling rack over a foil-covered baking sheet (this will create a little convection-cooking and allow the bacon to cook evenly). Brush the asparagus with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
6.Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until bacon is cooked through. Serve and enjoy!
I swear, cauliflower is one of my favorite sneaky little foods. It seems so boring and basic, but then all of a sudden, it’s cauliflower mashed “potatoes” that would easily pass for the real thing. Or it’s an insanely flavorful roasted little snack. Or it’s blended with potatoes and a hearty, comfort-food-style soup. I kept reading about cauliflower “rice” and – amazingly – doubting its ability to be awesome. And then I tried it, and once again, cauliflower surprised me. This was so delicious (and healthy!), I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the real deal.
CAULI-RICE (serves 2)
Half a head of cauliflower
1 tbsp. EVOO
Carefully cut away most of the stems of half a head of cauliflower. Working in batches, pulse in a food processor until the texture resembles rice.
2. Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add cauliflower to the skillet when oil is heated, then cover and let cook for about 10 minutes. You want to let this sit a bit to pick up some flavor from browning, so don’t stir it more than once or twice.
4. When cauliflower is ready, serve alongside just about anything. We had ours with salmon in parchment for a super-simple, heart-healthy Sunday dinner.
Every good soft pretzel bite deserves something even better to dip it in or spread on it. There’s this awesome restaurant in town, POSH at The Scranton Club, which serves fresh-made soft pretzels accompanied by this incredible dip in lieu of your usual bread basket. Their food is fantastic, so even though I usually want to eat this whole basket, I try to show some self-control so I can still have room for dinner. Then, I just make this soft pretzel bite/roasted red pepper dip at home.
I don’t even like roasted red peppers, but this – blended with cream cheese, feta, lemon and seasonings – is out of this world. I’ve taken this combo to a couple parties this year, and it quickly became my most-requested recipe.
ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP (inspired by POSH at The Scranton Club)
This goes with just about any kind of fish, combines some of my favorite things (lemon, dill & greek yogurt) and is super, super simple to make. It’s tangy and bright and we just love it. This becomes a kind of creme fraiche, which is terrific since I can rarely find that around here!
LEMON-DILL SAUCE (makes a little more than a cup)
– 7.2 oz. plain greek yogurt (usually the amount in 1 container)
– juice of 1 lemon – fresh chopped dill, about 1 tsp. – pinch of kosher salt 1. In a small bowl, combine the greek yogurt and the lemon.
Remember when you thought the only thing you could make with kale was some variation of a kale, sausage and bean soup? Oh, just me? It’s true, but what a difference a couple years makes. I use kale all the time now, and it’s such a great base for sides, quiches, smoothies and – okay, soups. You could throw this together in about 15 minutes and it’s a perfect little snacky dish or a substantial side for whatever else you’re making for dinner. The nutmeg is perfect in this, adding a little sweetness, and the beans get kind of crunchy on the outside while still remaining soft and creamy on the inside. Serve this with some good bread or just on its own.
WHITE BEANS AND KALE WITH PARM, NUTMEG AND WALNUTS (serves 3-4 as a side)
– 1 can large beans – butter beans are really good for this
– 3 cups kale, stems removed, washed and chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– couple grinds of nutmeg
– 1/4 c. freshly grated parm
– 1/4 c. toasted chopped walnuts
– kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1. In a large pan, warm the EVOO over medium-low heat until shimmery. Add chopped garlic and stir for approx. 30 seconds, until fragrant.
2. Add the beans (drained and rinsed). Let these kind of sit on one side for a little bit before flipping to the other side. You want the outsides to get a little golden brown color.
I cook with cauliflower so much that I finally looked up its health benefits, just so I could mentally pat myself on the back for making good eating decisions. So here you go: it’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and on top of all of that, it’s basically the tofu of vegetables since you can make it taste like just about anything. This was a really quick and tasty side dish, the onions make it a little more hearty, the thyme adds some dimension, plus: parmesan. Enjoy. PARMESAN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH THYME – 1 head cauliflower, cut into slices and florets – 1 onion, sliced – 4 sprigs thyme – 6 garlic cloves, skin still on – 3 tbsp. EVOO – fresh parmesan – Kosher salt & pepper 1. Preheat the oven to 400. 2. Slice the cauliflower into pieces and florets, add to a big bowl.
3. Do the same with the onion, then add the garlic cloves (these will roast and be amazing) and the thyme.
The incomparable Caravia’s does just about everything perfectly. Their food is amazing, their produce is the best/most organic you can find in the area, everything is selected with care and detail, and the health inspector, while visiting, told them “If every place was this clean, I’d be out of a job”. Oh, and it’s a family-run business (by one of my favorite families of all time) and you should go there immediately, if not sooner. Anyway, they make a ton of awesome food, but one of my favorites is their black bean and cilantro hummus. I tried to duplicate it, but I’ll admit a loss when I meet one – theirs is still better. So the next time you visit Clarks Summit, pick some up. If not, this will do as a substitute! BLACK BEAN AND CILANTRO HUMMUS (makes enough for a party-size serving) – 1 BPA-free can of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans) – 1/2 BPA-free can of black beans – approx. 3 tbsp. cilantro – 1/4 C. tahini – 1/4 C. EVOO – 1/4 – 1/3 C. chicken (or vegetable) broth – juice of 1 lime – 1 tsp. cumin – kosher salt to taste 1. Drain and rinse the black beans and the garbanzo beans. Add the garbanzo beans to a bowl, set the black beans aside for later.
2. In the bowl with the chick peas, add the tahini, EVOO, 2 TBSP of cilantro, cumin and kosher salt. Mix it all together pretty well.
3. Add the mixture to a food processor, pulse it until it’s combined.
4. Little by little, add the broth – continuing to pulse the mixture – until it’s pretty light and fluffy.
5. Put the mix back in the bowl, stir in the 1/2 can of black beans and the remaining 1 TBSP of chopped cilantro. Mix it all together and refrigerate. Serve with chips, veggies, pretzel chips, or even use it as a sandwich spread.
Tomatillos have to be one of the cutest foods out there. They come in their own little leaf packaging, they’re a bright green which would be fabulous in a wedding color palette, and they’re perfectly, adorably, palm-sized. They also have a really unique flavor – kind of tart, kind of tangy – and are a great, fresh base for an incredibly flavorful salsa. I used this as a topping to the fish tacos I made a couple of days ago, and it was terrific. TOMATILLO SALSA (serves 4) – 4-5 tomatillos, seeded and diced (approx. 2 cups) – 1/3 red onion, diced – 1 lime, juiced – 2 small cloves garlic, chopped – handful cilantro, chopped – 1/2 tsp. cumin – 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, couple of grinds fresh black pepper 1. Peel the “leafy” part away from the tomatillos. This has a bonus of smelling like crumpling leaves in the fall! Wash the whole tomatillo to remove any residue.
2. Cut the tomatillos into quarters, then with your fingers, kind of push out the whole middle part to “seed” them. These seeds are teeny, so don’t worry if you don’t get all of them. You also lose a lot of the bulk of the tomatillo in this process, but that’s ok too.
3. Dice a 1/3 of a red onion – make slits along the natural ridges of the onion, lengthwise, then flip it to the side and make horizontal cuts. The onion will dice itself naturally.
4. With a Citrus Reamer, juice a lime into a small prep bowl. Add the cumin, garlic, salt & pepper, stir to combine.
5. Combine the diced tomatillos, onion, chopped cilantro in a bowl. Add the dressing and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve as a topping to any mexican dish, or even on its own.