Spicy Pea Mush

Although I will be making corned beef and cabbage tomorrow, (Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I’m so excited. I usually make it boiled and it’s a big fail. I never cook it long enough and it’s chewy and interesting…So I came across her recipe and it looked excitingly different compared to my sad, boiled down square of chewy meat.) Where was I? That’s right – although I will be making corned beef and cabbage tomorrow, I remember my vegetarian days and though my husbands impromptu recipe would help a vegetarian out on St. Patty’s day. It’s festive, being green and all and can be served with potatoes and roasted or sauteed cabbage. Or if you are in a hurry, on a bed of rice. My husband made this, in what seemed to be a flash and it was so good and I’ve never quite had anything like this before. Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 2 cubes vegetable bouillon
  • about 4-6 cups water
  • generous tablespoon curry powder
  • 3-4 allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine everything in a heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil on high heat. You want to cover the peas by about an inch of water. Once it comes to a boil, allow to simmer for about half an hour or more. Stir occasionally. Add more water as needed and the peas dry out. And if you want more of a soup, add more water. Once the peas are tender, bring out that immersion blend and blend your little heart away. (The cooking time varies as it depends on the freshness of the dried peas. I’ve had peas done pretty quickly and I’ve had a batch that took a looong time to get soft.) Serves about 4.

*non-vegetarians can use chicken bouillon cubes


String Beans with a Parsley and Lemon Dressing

This recipe is a little time consuming but I find it deeply therapeutic; splitting each individual string bean puts me in a deep meditative state that ends in a not only a pretty but delicious side dish. Each slightly sweet split bean is a perfect bowl, holding the fresh lemony dressing. You can find french cut string beans in your freezer but there is always something about preparing fresh string beans with the stems still attached; held in bunches, that’s always so appealing to me. Arranging the beans split side up makes an extra pretty dish so save this recipe for a special occasion. This is great served alongside almost anything. Enjoy!

  • 1 1/4 pounds string beans
  • 2 packed cups of parsley leaves, about a bunch
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons raw pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon good whole seed mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your string beans, allow them to cook for about 5 minutes until they are tender, to your liking. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Using an immersion hand blender or regular blender combine your parsley, olive oil, pistachios, garlic, sea salt and lemon juice (start of with the juice of half a lemon and add the rest if you feel you need more.) Whisk in your mustard and water and adjust the seasoning as needed. To prepare your string beans, trim the one end and with a paring knife and split apart with your fingers, separating the bean in two. Arrange on a platter and pour the dressing over them. You can give the dish a drizzle of olive oil for a nice finishing touch and serve with lemon wedges. This recipe make enough for the beans with a little dressing left over, which is great on top of fish, chicken or veggies. Serves about 6-8.

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Vegan Mizeria

There is a Polish cucumber salad, that I just love, “Mizeria.” It’s pronounced almost sounding like it would promise misery but I promise you it’s doesn’t. It’s oh-so-creamy, refreshing and is usually served alongside a typical hearty Polish meal, such as a deliciously pan-fried pork cutlet served with chunks of buttery yellow potatoes. It’s a nice salad served at a buffet as it compliments almost every meal. It’s just heaven on a plate and topped with lots of fresh dill, makes it herby and gives it a lightness. It’s such a simple dish consisting of cucumbers, sour cream and dill and I thought making it vegan would be a nice change. I thought that substituting coconut milk for the sour cream would give the salad that signature creaminess and it did. But when opening a can of coconut milk, it usually doesn’t have that sour cream texture of dense white clouds begging to be scooped up with kettle cooked chips, so I had to improvise and remembered a great tip that I came across on the blog, “Pastry Affair.” (An affair it is, decadent recipes accompanied by sexy pictures of heavenly, buttery richness. Go there now.) It was a recipe to make a sweet coconut cream and it requires refrigerating the can of coconut milk for at least eight hours and then carefully flipping the can over, opening it and pouring off the top and whipping the rest. I omitted the sugar and vanilla, added lemon juice and make a surprising bowl of sour cream. I think I need to experiment on this one a little bit but I loved it enough to make it again and it satisfied that mizeria craving. Enjoy!

  • 3/4 pound kirby cucumbers (about 5), peeled and sliced thin, (a mandoline works great for this.)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • a little less than a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh dill, minced plus more for garnish
  • sea salt

Begin by gently salting your cucumbers, tossing them and allow them to sit while you make your “sour cream.” As explained above, take your can out of the fridge and flip it over, open your can of coconut milk and pour off the top liquid which is more of a creamy coconut water and reserve for another use. What’s left is the consistency of a thick creamy soup with the bottom holding more of the coconut cream. I think it really depends of what kind of coconut milk you use. I’ve opened a can of coconut milk and it was very watery and some were oh-so-thick. The bottom should measure out about 3/4 of a cup. Using a hand held immersion blender, blend with the lemon juice, until it is about the thickness of sour cream. Take a paper towel and run it through the cucumbers, so you dry them. Combine the cucumbers, “sour cream” and minced dill. Season as needed with more salt and garnish with fresh dill. Serves about 4. Double the recipe as needed.

DSC03424/vegan mizeria

Buttery Strascinati & Fava Beans with Tomatoes

As crazy as it may sound, I was in the mood to make a pasta dish over the weekend in this heatwave we are having. It sat on the stove, I enjoyed a little and then put it in the fridge and forgot about it until about midnight…(I know, is that the worst for a dieter? Let’s not forget the pasta. What was I thinking? I can just give pasta a glance and gain a pound. I had a costly, momentary lapse and was only thinking of having something delicious to eat.) And it was cold, refreshing with lemon flavor and dee-licious…The perfect thing to enjoy at midnight during a heatwave. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound strascinati, cooked al dente
  • 3/4 pound fresh fava beans in the pods, or about 3/4 cup shelled
  • 5 small Campari tomatoes, quartered and sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • heaping teaspoon lemon thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt

Bring a potful of water to a boil. In the meantime, cut the fava beans in half. Blanch the beans for about 2-3 minutes, until the outer shell separates from the inner beans. Drain and allow to cool until you are able to handle them. Discard the outer shell and set aside the inner beans.

In a saucepan, combine the butter and olive oil on low to medium heat until melted. Add in the tomatoes and the lemon thyme leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally. Add in the lemon juice and sea salt, cooking for about a minute or two more. Toss in the strascinati and the fava beans until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil when serving, along with a lemon wedge. Serves 2.

Blue Potato, Goat Cheese & Lemon Thyme Bake

It’s that time of year where red, white and blue is everywhere with the fourth of July right around the corner. If you aren’t hosting a barbecue, you most likely going to one. And this is a great dish to bring or to have on the table, as it’s tasty at all temperatures. I thought the potatoes came out nice on their own but then I paired them with tomatoes sauteed in butter with slivers of garlic and fresh lemon thyme leaves and then it became extra special. It’s not only nice to have on the fourth, but great for a light lunch with a green salad or part of a brunch…or a midnight night. It’s good at all times…Enjoy!

  • 1 1/4 pounds blue/purple potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 5 oz. creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon lemon thyme leaves plus for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a saucepan, combine the goat cheese and heavy cream. On low heat, whisk the cheese and the cream together until blended. It takes about five minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and add in the yogurt, pepper and the lemon thyme leaves. Set aside. In a 8×8 square baking pan, (a heavy bottomed one works best) take a tablespoon of the butter and grease the pan. Begin layering the potatoes, alternating between the gold and the blue, gently salting in between layers. After you have four layers, about half of your potatoes, spread a thin layer of half the cheese and cream mixture on the potatoes, along with the rest of the butter, broken up. Continue layering, topping the potatoes with the cheese and cream mixture. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees, until brown on top. Makes 9 squares.

Can you find the spot where I snuck off a perfectly crisp blue potato? I couldn’t resist! (lol)

Creamy Chickpea Dip

I bought these two big cans of organic chickpeas on sale and I was so excited. (Sales, sometimes give me a little thrill. ;) ) But they have been sitting in my cupboard for a while already and I thought to myself, I gotta do something with them already. And I thought a creamy dip would be nice with some cut up veggies. To make your dip extra creamy, peel your chickpeas. I know it sounds a little labor intensive but I find it meditative. (Maybe that’s even weirder than peeling the chickpeas, lol.) Either way, enjoy and have a fantastic weekend!

  • 3 cups chickpeas (about a 29 oz. can, drained and rinsed)
  • 7 oz. full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • sea salt
  • a handful of sorrel leaves, minced

Using a hand blender or an immersion blender, puree your chickpeas, add the yogurt, oil and lemon juice and continue blending until nice and smooth. Add in the sorrel and the seasonings, adjust as needed. If you don’t have an sorrel on hand, don’t worry and just add in some lemon zest. Makes a nice big bowl, perfect for a party.

Porcini Scented Beans with Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

I love mushrooms and I found these great porcini mushroom bouillon cubes at Fairway and they make just about everything extra special and this includes a good old pot of beans. Pair them up with super flavorful balsamic portabella mushrooms for a little fancy feast. Enjoy!

  • 2 1/2 cups Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • a few allspice berries
  • 1 porcini mushroom bouillon cube
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 4 tablespoons for the mushrooms
  • 4 portabella mushrooms, sliced or a 6 oz. package
  • a small shallot, thinly sliced, about 4 heaping tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • a few capers in brine, given a quick rinse

In a Dutch oven, combine the beans, water, bay leaf and berries, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Skim the surface of any foam. Once it comes to a boil, add the tablespoon of olive oil and the bouillon cube and dissolve, lower the heat to low and simmer for an hour and 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Add any sea salt if needed. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining olive oil and the shallots on low heat until the shallots are translucent. Add in the mushrooms and lightly brown on one side, about 3 minutes or so. Turn and add in the balsamic vinegar. Allow the mushrooms to soften and the balsamic vinegar to reduce, about another 3 minutes. Toss in the capers and adjust the seasoning as needed. Drizzle with a fruity balsamic vinegar to finish the mushrooms or have a balsamic glaze at the table so everyone can top their own mushrooms. Discard the bay leaf and berries and garnish with any fresh chopped herbs you have on hand. Great as leftovers. Serves 4.


Asian Inspired Wild Rice Salad

I love a nice Asian inspired salad but I’m trying to cut the calories without sacrificing flavor. I would have loved a nice plum sauce to sweeten this dish up but instead used a pear infused white balsamic vinegar for a little bit of the sweetness and it did not disappoint! Adjust the seasoning of the dressing to your liking. And topping it with a wasabi flavored sheet of seaweed adds an extra bit of flavor, without the added calories. They are so addicting, I just love them and at only three calories per sheet, they pack a lot of flavor. Serve with grilled salmon on the side for a nice meal. Enjoy and have a great weekend, it looks like it’s going to be a beauty!

  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
  • 3 scallions, use the pale part, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pear infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Gomasio (a mix of black & tan sesame seeds)
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of wasabi powder*optional
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • flavored roasted seaweed, for garnish

In a small separate bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, ginger, wasabi, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the rice, edamame and the scallions. Use scissors to cut the seaweed into shreds, to save a little on time. Garnish with the seaweed shreds. Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish.

Linguine & Smashed Tarragon Peas with Pistachio-Panko Crumbs

Happy Earth Day! What a great day to renew some vows to take care of the earth, whether it be to recycle more, shop at the local farmer’s market, start a composting bin or to make more veggie meals. Here’s a great veggie meal that is tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time. The smashed peas adds the creaminess of this dish, so you won’t even miss the cream and what I love about making pistachio-Panko crumbs is they are a great substitute for grated cheese. And the best part, you have a great meal on the table in no time, which is great on a day like today, so you can spend some time outdoors. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. linguine, cooked al dente
  • 1 heaping cup petite peas, cooked and roughly smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain Panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon raw pistachios, minced to the texture of Panko
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
  • sea salt

First, start off by making your pistachio-Panko crumbs. They can easily burn, so they require a little extra attention. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat, when the oil is not quite sizzling toss in the Panko crumbs, give it a good stir and add in the pistachio crumbs and a nice amount of sea salt. Keep stirring the crumbs allowing them to lightly brown. Once they are golden, allow them to dry and drain on a paper towel. While you cook the linguine, in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes until the oil is sizzling, add in the smashed peas until heated through. Toss in the tarragon and season with sea salt and keep warm, until the linguine is cooked. Once the linguine is done, drain, reserving a tablespoon or more of the pasta water. Toss the linguine and water with the peas. Divide among plates, or share from one and top with the crumbs. Serves 2, double or triple, as needed.

Creamy Beet, Potato & Petite Pea Salad

Don’t limit your potato salads to summer barbecues, add in seasonal peas and beets and it puts a nice spin on the humble tuber salad. Yukon Gold potatoes are my favorite potato, golden in color and just deliciously creamy. Last night, I had one right out of the pot, sliced and steamy hot with a little butter and salt. It was so satisfying that I didn’t even need anything else. Sometimes, I just love simple dinners. But today is another day and it’s a salad day! Enjoy your creamy beet, potato and petite pea salad with anything from sauteed portabella mushrooms to grilled fish on the side. Enjoy!

  • a little more than half a pound beets, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • a little more than half a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 1 large), cooked until fork tender
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh petite peas, cooked until tender
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • small handful fresh dill, finely chopped and a little extra reserved for garnish
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Cool all of your ingredients. (I cooked them the night before and let them cool so they are easier to handle.) Cube your beets and potatoes and add in the egg, mayonnaise, heavy cream, dill and seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Makes 3-4 side salads.