Mediterranean Farro Salad

I love this salad! Mostly because it’s so versatile (see substitutions) but also because it’s a delicious crowd pleaser and can be made ahead. It’s the perfect side dish or can serve as a main if you add protein. So get to it and come up with your own flavor combo and let me know how it goes by posting your comments below! Cheers!!

Ingredients: Feeds 6-8

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked farro, rinsed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz haloumi cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 pomegranate, seeded
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups baby arugula

Directions:

  1. Cook farro according to package directions and let cool. Toast pine nuts and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine grape tomatoes, parsley and mint. Add haloumi, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and mix gently to incorporate.IMG_2983
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper.
  4. Combine farro and tomato mixture with 2/3 of the dressing, tossing gently to coat.
  5. Pour the remaining dressing into the bottom of a large shallow serving bowl. Top with arugula.
  6. Layer the farro salad on top of the arugula.
  7. Chill* and toss before serving.

*Salad can chill overnight.

Substitutions:

The best part about this salad is making it your own! The original recipe was adapted from Food and Wine magazine but I change it up every time I make it!

  • barley or orzo for farro
  • walnuts or almonds for pine nuts
  • ricotta salata or feta for haloumi
  • grapes for grape tomatoes
  • blueberries/raspberries/strawberries for pomegranate seeds
  • add protein like grilled chicken, steak or fish for a complete meal

 

 

German Eggs

I first tasted German Eggs while staying at a B&B on Martha’s Vineyard a few summers back, called the Outermost Inn. The Outermost is a magical place which literally sits on the outermost edge of the Vineyard, up-island as they say. The inn is owned and operated by Jeannie and Hugh Taylor. Hugh just happens to be James Taylor’s brother and although they look alike, you’d never make the connection because Hugh would never solicit that kind of attention. They are lovely people living a simple life on the edge of one of the most beautiful cliffs in the world (while running a five star B&B). But I digress… German Eggs changed my life and solidified a tradition which now involves spending a week or so every summer on the Vineyard at the Outermost with Jeannie and Hugh. When I first asked Jeannie how she makes her eggs she couldn’t really tell me amounts; she rattled off a bunch of ingredients and ended with, “just google it”! So I did! And since then I’ve been making German Eggs for my family and most recently for a great group of yogis from NYC on a yoga retreat upstate! My yogis raved and so I knew it was time it went on the blog! Enjoy!!

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German Eggs

Ingredients: Feeds 12

  • 15 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups cottage cheese, small curd
  • 1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour melted butter into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl slightly whisk the eggs. Continue to whisk while adding the flour and baking powder. The dry ingredients should be incorporated but the egg mixture should not be overly whisked.
  4. Add the cottage cheese and shredded Monterey Jack cheese and mix well.
  5. Pour egg mixture into the casserole dish. The melted butter will be pushed to the sides. Do not mix even though you’ll be tempted to do so!
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until eggs are firm and the top of the dish is bubbly and lightly browned.

*Adapted from cooks.com

Turkey Veggie Lasagna

This is what you get when you’re torn between making meat lasagna and veggie lasagna; an omnivores delight! There’s something for everyone in each layer of this delicious no-boil, oven-ready casserole.  The ground turkey and pepperoni satisfy the carnivores in your family while the veggies please the herbivores at your table. It’s cheesy, it’s flavorful, it’s easy to make and will feed a hungry crowd with leftovers to spare.

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Ingredients: Feeds 4 – 6

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • cooking spray
  • 1, 25 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I use Lidia’s Organic)
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles (I use Barilla, oven-ready)
  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (packed loosley)
  • 16 slices (thin) turkey pepperoni (I use Hormel, low sodium)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a frying pan, brown the ground turkey over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and Italian seasoning half way through the cooking process.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, Parmesan, oregano and a pinch of both kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, lightly spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the marinara into the dish and spread it out to cover the bottom.
  5. Line the dish with 3 of the lasagna noodles. They do not need to touch.
  6. Spread about 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the three noodles.  Top with half of the browned ground turkey using a slotted spoon to drain off any fat. Layer turkey with   half of the shredded carrot, spinach and pepperoni slices. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of mozzarella on top of everything.
  7. Repeat steps 3 – 5, starting with the marinara and layering three more lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta, the remainder of the turkey, carrots, spinach and pepperoni and 1/3 cup of mozzarella.
  8. Pour 1/4 cup of marinara over the top, layer with the last three noodles, spread the remaining ricotta on the noodles and sprinkle with the mozzarella.
  9. Bake covered for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until top is bubbly and lightly browned.
  10. Let rest approximately 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Don’t worry, it’ll be plenty hot!!

Suggestion:

When covering a dish topped with cheese with tinfoil, I usually lightly spray the underside of the foil before covering the dish.  This way even as the cheese melts, the foil can be removed without sticking to the top layer which is arguably the best part!

Vegan Peas and Pas(ta)

This was a first for me! While working on the menu for an upcoming yoga retreat (which I am catering), I was told the meals not only needed to be vegetarian but that one participant doesn’t eat cheese! Bottom line, I had to come up with a substitute for parmesan which is featured in one of my favorite dishes on the menu! After finding a highly rated recipe for a vegan parmesan substitute, I wanted to see how well it performed so I put it to the test! Basically I pulled out all the stops and used all my tricks to create my favorite “parmesan cream sauce”. The final product included fresh black pepper and parsley which I usually add, but it’s the added lemon zest that really brought it home! I think you’ll agree (even if your not a vegan like me) that this is a really tasty dish and that the real parmesan isn’t missed!!! Check it out!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) of flour
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 1  1/4 cup mushroom stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp vegan parmesan (recipe below) plus additional as garnish
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 lb cooked rice pasta (spaghetti style)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. In an enamel coated cast iron saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and and cook for 3 – 4 minutes allowing it to soften and begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Add the flour and mix to form a paste.  Slowly add the wine and whisk to incorporate. Allow mixture to cook and alcohol to burn off for 2 – 3 minutes. Mixture will begin to thicken.
  3. Slowly whisk in the mushroom stock.  Once added, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Continue to stir. Add the peas and heat until peas are cooked through, approximately 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tbsp vegan parmesan* and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss the cooked pasta (reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water) in the saucepan with the sauce, adding reserved pasta water if needed to thin the sauce to desired consistency.
  6. Serve immediately (family style is fun!) with fresh chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Vegan Parmesan:

In a food processor or coffee grinder, pulse 2/3 cup unsalted cashews, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

*Recipe for Vegan Parmesan is from karissasvegankitchen.com

 

Farro Salad with Roasted Veggies and Grilled Chicken

This deliciously refreshing and filling salad is perfect for a weeknight when prep time is limited!  The veggies roast up in under 20 minutes and if you have the farro and grilled chicken on hand already, from start to finish you can be enjoying this healthy and hearty dish in 30 minutes or less! On the flip side, this is a great dish for a get together and if served family style, is sure to impress!!

Ingredients: Feeds 4 – 6

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 carrots, sliced on a bias
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • black pepper
  • 5 oz baby arugula (1 package)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked farro (approx 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 lbs grilled chicken, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss asparagus, carrots and shallots in 2 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.
  3. Roast the veggies in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the tarragon vinegar, parsley, lemon zest, a pinch of both black pepper and kosher salt, and remaining olive oil in a large bowl.
  5. Add arugula and cooked farro to the bowl and toss to coat.
  6. Divide the salad mixture among your plates. Top each with a serving of roasted veggies and slices of grilled chicken.
  7. Sprinkle each dish with chopped almonds and grated Parmesan.

Suggestions:

  • For a meatless meal, eliminate the grilled chicken! Farro provides ample fiber to this dish and will leave you feeling satisfied.
  • Or sub your favorite meat/protein for chicken; try grilled pork, steak or salmon filets.
  • Cook a large batch of farro ahead of time and keep it on hand for recipes like this.  It keeps well for 3-5 days in the fridge.
  • If you don’t have tarragon vinegar on hand, combine 2 tbsp white wine vinegar with 1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon. You may wish to eliminate the parsley from the dressing and use it as a garnish if you go this route.

*Original recipe adapted from Cooking Light

 

A Better Blondie

I was skeptical when I came across this recipe for a “lighter” blondie, but after reading through the intro and ingredients list, I was intrigued enough to give it a try! The only change I made to the original recipe was the type of brown sugar used; it calls for dark brown sugar but I only had a stevia based light brown sugar on hand so I used that instead! These blondies are nutty, almost savory, richly sweet and dense.  Basically, they’re delicious and I highly recommend giving them a try!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1, 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp low fat milk
  • 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat until light brown. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, blend chickpeas, tahini and milk in a food processor until smooth.
  4. In a operate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.
  5. Stir chickpea mixture into butter mixture and mix well.
  6. Fold in flour mixture, then add the pecans. Stir until incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 baking pan.
  8. Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool before removing from pan to slice and serve.

*Adapted from Cooking Light

Bucatini Carbonara with Peas

I love to eat but truth be told, I love to feed people just as much! Tonight we hosted my neighbor and her three small kids for supper. Her husband has been away all week traveling for business and I figured she could use a night “out”! I made two pasta dishes; one for the kids and one for the adults and poured her a much needed glass of wine! My older kids helped entertain her younger ones and when it was all said and done, everyone was “fat and happy” as I like to say!  Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show that hosting and sharing a meal with people doesn’t have to be super fancy or stress you out, especially if it’s rather spontaneous!  Make it simple, keep it low key, set a few extra seats at the table and dig in!  It’s truly the thought that counts!! 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 oz bucatini (I use Barilla)
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus additional as garnish
  • salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta and peas. In a skillet, start browning the pancetta over medium heat.  As it cooks down and the fat renders, add the diced onion and continue to cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the skillet.  Once pancetta is nearly cooked and the onion is soft and starting to caramelize, add the garlic and the frozen peas.  Continue to cook another 2 – 3 minutes allowing peas to defrost and warm. Remove from the heat and set entire pan aside.
  3. Once the water boils, cook and drain the bucatini, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and add the egg yolks, tossing to cook the egg and coat the pasta. Stir in the pancetta and peas mixture.  If dry, add small amounts of pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Add the grated parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste).
  4. Serve immediately, garnish with additional parmesan and red pepper flake if desired.

Suggestions:

This dish could be made with any of your favorite pastas or pasta substitutes like zoodles or spaghetti squash “noodles”!

*Adapted from Sun Basket, Bucatini and Pancetta Carbonara